In my quest for good quality, not too expensive, traditional French food, I was recommended La Biche au Bois. I made a reservation the morning of the day I intended to go— the Friday after a Thursday bank holiday, thus I expected it to be busy since it was another long weekend in Paris. I am certainly glad I did book as when I arrived people were crowded outside waiting for it to open.
We arrived for our reservation at 7pm, and joined the several others waiting to be seated that were also on the list that the waitress was ticking people off as they entered. I knew it was popular for its old fashioned and well portioned meals, but did not expect it to be this busy, this early, as typically the French do not eat as early as 7pm.
The atmosphere was pleasant, not remarkable, and rather typical of a Parisian bistro. Mirrors had been installed all down one wall in order to make it appear twice the size (and perhaps twice as busy) than it really is, however this did add to the charm of the packed, lively French bistro. The wait staff were helpful, flicking back and forth between languages with ease, letting us talk in French but helping us out when we tripped up on certain words. We ordered half a bottle of white and the terrine de lapin for our entrée and was pleasantly surprised by the portion size (please note that there was actually twice the amount of terrine served than pictured). The terrine was good, not as good as the one I had at Le Coupe Chou, but it bearing in mind Le Coupe Chou is a class above La Biche au Bois and thus a price level above, it was worth it. It was also served with a large pot of gherkins for us to help ourselves to.
For my main I had le fillet de boeuf poele au poivre avec frites maison and my friend had boeuf grille (also with house fries). The portions were indeed good, the fries were served on a separate plate to the meat (which we had both requested to be cooked medium). The beef was cooked perfectly however I was unsure about the sauce on mine. It was very rich, a bit sweet to the point that I was actually reminded of caramel and I could not taste much pepper. I much preferred the main that my companion chose which came with a homemade Bearnaise sauce on the side, this was truly delicious. Basic but nonetheless good.
For dessert I had their namesake cake, l’opera biche “maison,” avec crème anglaise (dark chocolate cake with custard). The cake was really very rich but not too sweet, and the crème anglaise was a lighter version of English custard which I very much appreciated as the heaviness of custard is not something I am keen on.
Overall it was very good value for its price. Perfect if you want a traditional meal that will not break the bank. Though I would recommend the grilled beef over my choice, or perhaps choosing something else altogether to try.
Address: 45 Avenue Ledru-Rollin, 75012 Paris
Phone: 01 43 43 34 38
Open: For lunch, Tuesday to Friday, 12:00 to 14:00
For dinner, Monday to Friday, 19:00 to 23:00