One Paris restaurant we really enjoyed for a casual Saturday lunch in early December was Rino in modest premises in the rue Trousseau just east of Bastille. The ever-changing menu is very simple without much choice and with a strong Italian twist (wonderful tagliolini, either cacio e pepe or with shaved truffles on the day we visited) and a choice of two main courses that showed a much greater love and mastery of vegetables than is usual in France. The fish (called tombe in a feat of wordplay I failed to understand) and juicy fillet of mallard came with mashed Jerusalem artichokes with fresh mint, deliciously sautéed bitter greens the French call chicorée and black olives. We then all guzzled their super-refreshing Christmassy dessert of ewe's milk yogurt, clementines, dark chocolate and dried fruits.
But it's particularly worth mentioning to wine lovers because the wine list is truly cosmopolitan and consists of hand-picked favourites described with unusual confidence and enthusiasm by the waitress/sommelière. She seemed to be running service of both wine and food single-handedly when we visited but told me that in late March 2014 Rino is being taken over by another team, whom she admires. So this recommendation may be relevant for only a few more weeks.
We lunched with a couple of French friends of whom the female half ordered from the menu of fine Chinese teas, declaring she was not going to drink wine. I spent a happy five minutes communing with the wine list and was just about to order one of their Spanish reds made by Olivier Rivière, knowing that Spanish winos Luis Gutiérrez and Victor de la Serna were big fans, when our female French friend started to enquire about the Auvergne wines on the list. We ended up therefore with a particularly fruity, frank old-vine, low-sulphite Auvergne Gamay, Cuvée Lulu 2012 made by Patrick Bouju and offered at €36.
Two courses were €23, three courses €28.
Note that Rino is closed on Sundays and Mondays and seems to be open for lunch only Wed-Sat inclusive. I got the impression that Sundays and Mondays are used by the sommeliètre for visiting wine producers.
Rino 46 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris; tel +33 (0)1 48 06 95 85. Métro Ledru-Rollin