A Hidden Gem in the Heart of Paris
4 mins read

A Hidden Gem in the Heart of Paris

Before arriving in Paris, it was 2020, smack in the midst of COVID with the city emptied of tourists. I got myself a list of restaurants to hit, a long one at that. But there was this one place that caught my eye: Le Baratin. I’d heard Chef whispers about its badass dishes and shockingly low prices for Paris. Sometimes diving into an experience with no expectations forces you to approach it with an open mind, adding that element of surprise. The name itself sparks curiosity—it could mean “chatter” or “bragging,” but in Spanish, ‘baratin’ suggests something affordable.

We arrived at the restaurant, a classic bistro on a steep street. Outside, there was a lady, at least 50 years old, sporting an partisan style cook’s or waitress uniform, puffing on a cigarette. A friendly young lad guided us to a table on the terrace and warned us, “Don’t leave your phones on the table; we’re in Belleville.” I was there with Pamela and Raúl, both chefs. We ordered a bit of everything, though I can’t recall the wine. But the menu? Oh, that I remember vividly.

For starters, they brought out shoestring potatoes, thin rectangles like fine chopsticks, nicely fried and perfectly salted.

Then came a rabbit pie wrapped in a slightly sweet pastry crust, where the grandmotherly spirit of this restaurant shone like no other.

Next up, veal brains atop ratté potatoes and a powerful butter sauce. Nothing to say but masterful.

When the beef cheeks arrived, Raúl, being Catalan, couldn’t help but exclaim, “This chef really knows how to stew!”

The crispy lamb shoulder, crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, effortlessly falling apart with a spoon.

Sweetbreads, another dish requiring skill to execute well. In this case, they were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, just as they should be.

The sides were, in most cases repeated, vegetables cooked until soft but not too much, then sautéed in butter. 

Before dessert, I headed to the restroom. Up to that point, I hadn’t ventured far into the restaurant. In the hallway, I stumbled upon a library brimming with books—not the ones I’d expected to find. I vividly recall spotting “Anarkia” by Jordi Roca. Most were books by modern professional chefs. As I was leaving, I glanced at the bar, then back at the kitchen, and I realized the woman I saw in the kitchen was the same one I’d seen smoking outside the restaurant.  I caught sight of the woman—in the kitchen, all by herself! She’d been single-handedly running the entire restaurant, while her husband, with a Frank Sinatra vibe, manned the bar. I was astonished. This woman was cooking solo, and she was a nerd for cutting-edge chefs. I couldn’t believe it.

As I got back to our table, we indulged in desserts—classic and simple, perfectly in line with the rest of the meal. There was custard with raspberries, a hearty chocolate tart with Crème anglaise, and a hazelnut ice cream. No frills or fancy twists, just the pure essence of a Parisian bistro. I searched online for information and found very little. I recalled a review mentioning that the chef was Argentinean. I also found out it’s frequented by big-name chefs like Fergus Henderson and my buddy Phil.

For me, the greatest achievement of this place—and what truly embodies the essence of a gastronome—is its ability to replicate the warmth of home in a business. Rarely do restaurants, let alone hotels, manage to evoke that feeling.

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