Saturday, June 06, 2009

Paris 66 Great New Bistro

Today we stopped by a brand new restaurant for lunch. Our friends Fred and Lori Rongier had their "soft opening" on Friday, June 5th. Fred is French and has created an authentic bistro like you would find in Paris. We have been hoping Fred would open a place ever since tasting his wonderful crepes at our son's school parties at Linden Academy.

The menu features crepes but also has entrees, salads, pastries, coffee etc. Prices are amazingly reasonable. The food is to die for. Located in the sprouting East Liberty/East Side area, the design and decor is right out of Paris. As you walk in you are greeted by a long case filled with delectables. Behind the case is an open kitchen gleaming with shiny stainless. The chef, Ceasir, is from the Brittany province of France. He is friendly, greeting customers to make sure they are happy with their meals and bellowing "Merci" to every compliment.

The service is great. Fred and/or Lori greet guests as they arrive. They are warm, outgoing, genuine people. Bussing are their two oldest children. The rest of the wait staff is very professional and experienced. Many worked at the recently closed Au Provence in Squirrel Hill. Our waiter was American, but spoke fluent French with a perfect accent and was extremely knowledgeable. In addition to the head chef, Paris 66 also has a French pastry chef.

We each had a savory crepe: the La Montmarte, made with organic buckwheat flour, chicken, mushrooms and bechamel, and the La Paris 66 with ham, swiss cheese, egg, mushrooms and tomato Provencal. Both were amazing. We split a chocolate mousse for dessert; this almost resulted in a brawl over the last morsel. It was fantastic, perfect flavor and consistency.

The dinner menu is very impressive. I can't wait to try the Seafood Spring Roll or the Salmon filet a la Parisienne. The most expensive item on the menu, Duck Confit is only $22.50. Also they have a BYOB policy with a specialty State Store only steps away at the Eastside Shops.

With summer upon us there is a back deck which will be full furnished by the June 21st official grand opening. They open early, 8:30 and stay open most nights until 10. Fred and Lori welcome cyclists to give that true spirit of France. Lou's Crew will be stopping by soon for coffee and crepes following a ride. With great food, atmosphere and prices Paris 66 is sure to be the hot Pittsburgh restaurant for 2009.


Rebecca said...

My husband and I also ate here on their first day, and we loved it. Lori and Fred are wonderful hosts, and the food is excellent! Looking forward to our second visit!

Auntie Mo said...

Transport yourselves to Paris 66 and savor exceptional warm ambiance, subtle but robust seasonings, top-notch ingredients, generous portions, and charming and genius house staff!!!!!! Chefs should be canonized ASAP and Fred's pretty good at the griddle himself!!!!!! Lori and Fred, et al.,(who have the panache to bring graciousness to a hectic opening day) bring the words "made with love to life" !!!!! Famille Rongier has a winner here and I predict more success to come.

BabelBabe said...

think i'll take my kids for crepes this weekend. they went to preschool with fred and lori's youngest daughter...time to support the neighborhood and our friends. plsu I am in a good mood after the Cup win : ) thx fo rthe informative post!

Chris said...

The hot Pittsburgh restaurant of 2009 is right! The power briefly flickered off Saturday night amidst the crowded, overheated din, and somebody, perhaps the owner, rushed in the side door and upstairs with two electric fans. Fortunately, we got to eat on the back deck, where the view of the busway and coal cars was nicely offset by the unshaded porch light blaring in my eyes.

Besides that though, a nice addition to the Pittsburgh restaurant scene, and you can't beat BYOB, even with a $5 screwage--sorry, corkage--fee.

(At what point does a corkage fee cross the line from token charge to profit motive? I mean, they don't have to stock a bar or buy a terribly expensive liquor license, right? Guess they do have to cover the ice buckets and corkscrews though. I think there's an article here for China Millman--survey of corkage fees. And here's an interesting article from Time Out Chicago that says that corkage fees are illegal!

BTW, I found my crepe to be rather undercooked, although I kind of excused it because of the late hour, the fairly large crowd, and the fact that it must have been really hot for the guy working the crepe disks in the window.

Also, the music? I was pretty successfully ignoring the New Age-y stuff burbling from the speaker over my head, wishing for some good old Edith Piaf (trite, I know, but it seemed like the right time and place). I mentioned it to Sarah and she observed that the New Age music was probably what French people listen to in restaurants nowadays (as opposed to Piaf). Suddenly, a hip-hop tune with rapping snaps on and, after a few second of boom-boom-boom, was abruptly replaced by ... Piaf! We mentioned the whole music thing, including the hip-hop transition, to our waitress. She said it happens a lot because the cook puts his ipod on the sound system and sometimes the customers get a surprise. Seems like a slapdash way to set the aural mood, but maybe like the captain of a ship, French bistro chef's get the last word.

Still in all, a good experience, especially for East Liberty. (I found a small stuffed bear on the curb where we parked and left it on the roof of our car to ward off a break-in. It worked!) Things will probably really look up for Paris 66 if/when the next phase of Eastside replaces the Stevenson Pl. parking lot and my favorite indoor tennis venue.