Christian Constant is a household name in the culinary world – a celebrated chef in Paris, writer of numerous cook books, and one of the judges of Top Chef France. Rue Saint-Dominique, a street in the 7th arrondissement in Paris, is also known as the “Christian Constant” district since it houses three out of four restaurants founded by Christian Constant. I was fortunate to dine at Cafe Constant, a no reservation Parisian bistro, on my recent trip to Paris. Cafe Constant is immensely popular and the wait for a table could be up to 2 hours. Lucky for me and my dining partner, we arrived at the restaurant at about 6pm, an hour before they “opened” for dinner. We sat downstairs, had a drink (beer for him, hot chocolate for me – which was very good as a matter of fact) and waited patiently for the clock to strike 7. We were the only ones in the restaurant and it was interesting to see the staff prepare for the dinner service. At about 630pm, other early diners started streaming in and like us, had an aperitif or two while waiting for the restaurant to open.
My dining partner had the best seats in the house, a little table on the second floor right by the giant french windows. Being in this corner gave us more room than the rest of the diners, which was great since Cafe Constant, like other French bistros, do not provide one much “personal space”. As usual, my dining partner and I couldn’t decide on what to eat despite spending the whole time before the restaurant opened “studying” the menu. We decided on 2 starters, 2 main courses, 1 carafe of red wine and 1 dessert.
The first starter was a “special” of the day. A lobster ravioli in a shellfish bisque. The bisque was sweet and creamy (but not too rich) with a few pieces of croutons swimming on its surface. The gigantic lobster ravioli was hidden at the bottom of the bisque. This dish warmed us up almost immediately in the 0 deg weather.
This was probably my favourite dish that night. A tartare of salmon, oyster and seabass seasoned with ginger and lemon. Simple, but so tasty. It was extremely fresh and the textures of all the different fishes complemented each other very well. Incredible.
My dining partner had the Blonde Aquitaine steak, while I had the veal. They looked pretty similar but the taste very different.
The Blonde Aquitaine Steak is a breed of beef cattle originating from the south west of France. The meat was extremely tender. Cooked perfectly rare in a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.
For dessert we had the classic french profiteroles. The wait staff served the profiteroles first, and poured the chocolate sauce over the gigantic profiteroles in front of us. The puff pastry was fresh and crisp, not soggy and soaked in chocolate or ice cream. We devoured this dish despite being pretty full at this point.
Cafe Constant is a lovely French bistro serving tasty and affordable food, in an area which is known for exorbitant and bland food (Cafe Constant is just 5 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower). Starters are all priced at €11, mains at €16 and desserts at €7. The “specials” cost more (I believe the lobster ravioli was almost €20) but definitely worth trying. I can’t remember how much the wine was, but it was delicious (and definitely not expensive).
The restaurant gets quite loud and busy, definitely not a place for a “quiet romantic date”. But this is what you would expect from a French bistro, it is part of the restaurant’s charm and is what I love about Paris. The staff were friendly and helpful as well. Extremely accommodating (since we were, after all, sitting around the restaurant an hour before they actually opened). My dining partner and I will definitely be back on our next trip to Paris, or maybe we’ll try one of the other 2 Christian Constant restaurants on the same street 😉
139 Rue Saint-Dominique
Ambience: 3.5/5 Forks
Service: 4.5/5 Forks
Food: 4.5/5 Forks