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"Le Cochon à l’Oreille", a historic restaurant in Les Halles

We discovered this discreet little restaurant in the bustling Montorgueil area and suddenly felt like we’d travelled 100 years back in time…

photos : JasonW

Whilst trying to find a restaurant not far from the new designer apartment we have to rent, we came across the little beauty. Little, because there are very few tables (five inside and three outside – you’re advised to book), and ‘beauty’ because almost the whole place is decorated with period ceramic tiles showing the past glory of Les Halles, back when it was the city of Paris’ main market. It looks like it hasn’t substantially changed since the very early 20th Century, and the décor is amazing…

The walls and ceiling haven’t been touched, and you can tell that people smoked here for many decades from the ceiling: it has that authentic nicotine yellow colour to it!

The menu looks fairly ordinary, and the prices are not too expensive, but the real surprise was the great food…

The restaurant is speciliased in meat dishes (I dread to think what they do with pigs’ ears) which the other tables seemed to be very much enjoying, but we managed to find alternatives that we liked also. For example, my co-diner decided to opt for the gambas (king prawns) which were served with broccoli and red rice. It was really delicious; the king prawns were juicy and tasty and the rice cooked to perfection, just a tiny bit crunchy.

I decided to take the vegetarian plate of the season’s vegetables. I can honestly say that it was the best that I’d ever tasted in Paris! Firstly, it was a very large plateful, a nice change from the couple of dollops of greens you usually get. Secondly, and most importantly, everything was delicious! The mashed potato was incredibly creamy, the courgettes were succulent, and the fresh vegetable crunchy and full of vitamins. It was tough getting through it all, but I valiantly made the effort!

We deliberately waited ten minutes before ordering dessert, otherwise we weren’t sure that we would be able to eat it (despite really looking forward to it!). My companion’s almond millefeuille (a house speciality) was a ‘tour de force’, nothing like the dry stodge often to be found in bakeries.

I went for the chocolate and Grand Marnier ‘gourmandise’. You know when you take your first mouthful and just have to stop in surprise at how amazingly lovely it is? That’s exactly what I did. The next five minutes contained a lot of contented grunting with my mouth full. It’s the sort of dessert you can’t stop eating, and you’re almost disappointed when it’s over, even if you know that your stomach would explode if you ate any more! Frankly, there were at least three other desserts on the menu that I would have loved to try as well…

You should know that if you decide to order wine at the restaurant, it is served ‘à la ficelle’ (literally ‘by string’). This means that if you don’t finish your bottle you only pay for what you drink. In the past they would dip a piece of string into the bottle to judge the level, and the bottle were opaque at the time. Funny story! As you might imagine, we managed to finish our bottle of wine without much problem… 🙂

We were extremely please with our visit to the Cochon à l’Oreille. The waiter was helpful and happy to suggest dishes or wine to go with them, the décor is exceptional and the food was a really pleasant surprise. We have seen some mixed (or positively poor) reviews on the web, but our experience there was brilliant. If you’re looking for an authentic Parisian bistro atmosphere and setting in the centre of the city, look no further.

You can see our complete photo gallery of the restaurant here.

Le Cochon à l’Oreille is at 15 rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris. Tél. 01 42 36 07 56

They are open Tuesday – Saturday from midday to 2.30pm for lunch and from 7 – 10.30pm for dinner. During the afternoon the kitchen is closed, but the restaurant is still open for tea and other drinks, and cold dishes and desserts can be served.

Bigger map here