Bistrot Blanc Bec - as near to perfection as possible

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Bistrot Blanc Bec straddles the traditional and contemporary, both in terms of its food and itsatmosphere. The beautiful tiled floors contrast against the modern décor, and the food, thoughmostly traditional dishes, does not give that feeling of being overdone and boring.

The menu is all homemade and changes regularly. This shows. I popped in for a weekday lunch and it was buzzing, so I imagine that in the evening, booking must be necessary.

There was a reasonably priced set menu, €16-18, but I was more taken by the à la carteofferings. So I ordered the salmon tartare to start (€9), and the moules marinières (mussels,€18) for my main, with a glass of sauvignon blanc (€5.50). I have had salmon tartare before that was over seasoned or even almost acrid and hard to finish. This seems to be an easy trap to fall into, but not at Bistrot Blanc Bec.

I am hesitant to say it was perfect, but it was close enough. The fennel salad provided a nice contrast in texture although it perhaps needed just a bit more oomph. But this is almost splitting hairs in terms of quality.

The mussels, though small, were plentiful and full of flavour, served with a small bowl ofpotatoes which were a great way to soak up the sauces at the end. They were a pleasure to eat. The taste of the mussels was enhanced, not drowned by the flavours, again a hard note tostrike.

I always look at the dessert menu, but rarely order unless something stands out as unusual (or Iam hoping to compensate for a less than exciting meal). But I had enjoyed my food sothoroughly that I decided it would be a shame not to sample a dessert here too, so I ordered thelime and mango cheesecake (€10). I would perhaps have liked a little more mango, and aslightly lighter cheesecake, but again, this feels a little like trying to find a fault in a very good dessert.

The reviews of Bistrot Blanc Bec are unanimous, practically five out of five on most counts and it is easy to see why. The service was a little slow, but it being as busy as it was, I can forgive them, and if I have to force myself to find bad points, then this must be a good enough reason to check it out yourself.

Address: 15 Rue des Panoyaux, 75020 Paris

Metro: M2, Menilmontant

Phone: 01 43 58 45 45

Open: Monday to Saturday, 09:00 to 14:30 and 19:30 to 23:00

Online: www.facebook.com/bistrotblancbec/

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