Hiding away around the corner from Boulevard St Germain, down a little alley, is “Treize, A Baker’s Dozen”. It is unlikely that you would just stumble across it as it is well concealed in a rather unassuming courtyard. I had the address written down and a mental photo imprinted in my mind of the location and I still nearly missed it. However I generally find good things hide in discreet and overlooked places and this is no exception.
The menu and staff are fully bilingual, a blessing if your French is not up to par or you are visiting and the last thing you want in your hectic day is to blurt out something you think is what you want, only to be met with a plate of food that was most certainly not what you thought it was. In fact the whole atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed for a place that is so small and busy. The menu is limited, but seeing as everything is either made on site (the sign claims that even the cheese is made by them), or is free range or organic, or “better,” (though I am not totally sure what is better than free range and organic), I think they can be forgiven.
As it was around midday I opted for “Fancy Brunch”, with “French Toast Biscuits and Not Fried Fried Chicken” (€21). The very friendly waiter that served me recommended this over the other brunch option of “What Came First” (buttermilk biscuits with fried eggs and honey glazed ham steak). Though I am not a fan of fried food, especially for brunch, I decided to give the recommendation a try. Fancy brunch comes with a coffee of your choice (latte for me) and a fruit juice concoction.
The coffee arrived fast so I sat reading one of the many New Yorkers piled on the table whilst they prepared my food. I was pleased to notice that the coffee was from “Coutume Café” so I knew it would be good. The “Not Fried Fried Chicken” has the crunchy exterior characteristic of fried food but without the sickening greasy feeling, a winner in my books. It was lightly spiced which went very well with the sweet honey, cooked apples and wonderfully soft biscuits. American “biscuits” for those of you who are not familiar (I was introduced to them last year), are not anything like English biscuits. They are soft and fluffy and resemble something like the offspring of an American pancake and a British scone. These had the French toast treatment and the result was very satisfying and complemented the chicken well.
Whilst reading the menu on arrival I noticed that they claimed their carrot cake (€5) was legendary, so even though I was actually quite full, I had to try it. Thankfully due to how busy it was (they stopped taking phone reservations for the day as early as 13:00 and had started turning people away), I did have to wait a bit. I was content with my reading material though and it gave me time to enjoy my juice and recover in time for the next round. A note on the juice, though it perhaps was not my favourite, I think this was partially my own doing. I very enthusiastically accepted all the waiter’s recommendations and when he asked “are you OK with ginger?” I should have said “OK but not thrilled, what else do you have?” I did not so I was given very gingery fruit juice. Like I said it was OK, but if you aren’t a fan of ginger I would ask for something else.
This was more than compensated for with the carrot cake. It was really good and definitely among the top carrot cakes I have sampled. It was soft, moist and not too sweet. Perfect.
Overall I was very impressed. It is not haute cuisine or gourmet French cooking but it is the perfect place to have brunch, an early dinner, or an afternoon pit stop. They close at 6pm so a late (or even normal) timed dinner is not an option, but with the kind of food that’s offered here it is more suited to an earlier meal anyway.
I was lucky and did not have to wait for a table, but I would advise booking if you heart is set on eating here. Laurel, the owner, is very accommodating and if you are required to wait she will ring you to let you know when your table is ready, so you don’t have to wait around outside staring at the yummy food flying around. It is tiny in there so bear this in mind too. Though there did appear to be a decent sized party going on by the window. If you want honest, French inspired American food, then this is THE place to go.
Address: 16 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 Paris
Phone: 01 73 77 27 89
Open 10:00-18:00 Tuesday to Saturday.