5.7 Le Petit Celestin, 12, Quai des Celestins in the 4th, 01.42.72.20.81, open 7/7 (Metro: Sully-Morland) is all one could hope for in a crusty old bistro in the Marais: red red red awnings, paint and tableclothes, cool modern decor touches and attentive staff. I entered on a great sunny day to see my friends ensconsed in front of the bar on which sat a huge tarte tatin which looked mighty tempting, but wait....
My old friends were already working on some white wine and a Ricard but I caught up with some Sauvignon (they are very proud of their unfiltered wine selection and justly so) and off the bat we got delicious bread from Thierry Breton and a lovely petit pois soup with raw onion and chives and were off to a great start.
One pal started out with a gigantic artichoke heart filled with creamy chopped pleurottes with a boiled egg atop, the other with sardines in a can (I've got 4 in my cupboard - Sorry) and I had a batch of sauteed girolles, parsley and garlic which were crispy, crunchy and captivating. Off to an even better start.
Then the guy to my left had the heirloom tomatoes which were Gold Standard but as a main, puhlease! and the rest of us luxuriated in grilled gambas atop a duxelles of pleurottes which my chef friend complained had lost their heads (the best part he claimed, which I tried to calm him about) and I complained about their strange toasty shelly taste (which he tried to calm me about). At this point all of us agreed that "We're coming back.")
For our finals we shared a cheese dish of compte and Brie de Meaux (quite good, although my palate was already reeling from some tasting I'd done on the way at Laurent Dubois up at St. Paul) and that tarte tatin with creme fraiche (very good if I say so myself).
Our bill, OK there was a lot of booze because of our celebrating my new heart and all of our rentrees and one coffee but no bottled water. so it came to 188.10 E: but a normal couple's bill with a bottle of wine and 3 courses each would be more like 99 E.
Go again? You betcha, in a flash, and I'll tell my visiting friends from the US of A this is a real bistro with updated farm to table food.