I don’t know that I can describe Allard as anything but a portal into old Paris. This historic bistro is tucked away on Rue St Andre Des Arts in the 6th arrondissement, in the famous district of St.-Germain-des-Pres. The dining room is decked out in floral wallpaper and dotted with framed etchings and other antique memorabilia, the tables are set with pristine white tablecloths, and the red leather banquettes are reminiscent of a bygone era where people dressed to the nines for a restaurant visit. I remember feeling underdressed in jeans and a sweater next to the long-aproned, starched shirt uniforms of the waitstaff, but relaxed into my seat with a glass of wine – it was lunchtime, and my outfit could probably be forgiven during the day.
Allard is on the higher end as far as restaurants go, and though it doesn’t command the same prices as somewhere like La Tour d’Argent or Guy Savoy, you will end up spending a pretty centime here. If you’re cost conscious, you can often catch the lunch menu at restaurants that are more expensive during dinner service, which is what we ended up doing. Allard’s lunch carte is 34€ per person and includes the typical entree, plat, dessert format (wine is not included). While the price tag is still considered somewhat on the higher end for lunch, it is a very fair price for the quality and ambiance of this type of bistro. The atmosphere and waitstaff might be quite formal, but don’t let the outfits intimidate you—they were very friendly and all spoke English, so even if your French isn’t that great, you’re still in good hands here.
The first course to come out was the Artichokes à la Barigoule, a classic recipe of baby artichoke hearts braised in white wine and aromatics. Light, simple, and deeply satisfying, it was so good that I immediately started to look for recipes to remake this dish at home (I ended up with a book by the legendary Paul Bocuse). This was an item that isn’t even part of the entree-plat-dessert formula, and was a nice surprise to start our meal.
The next course was a savory mille-feuille with fish. My husband ordered another fish dish and I ordered blanquette de veau, something I’ve been trying to learn how to cook but haven’t quite mastered. Like many of the great restaurants in France, this menu changes every so often, and is largely dependant on what produce and meats are in season. Many restaurants in Paris aren’t going to list their menu online, so it’s best to just make a reservation and go without any expectations as to what you might have on the menu!
If you must plan ahead, there are a few iconic dishes that seem to live permanently on the menu, like Allard’s Canard aux olives, a stunning dish of roasted duck on a bed of green olives. This is available for lunch or dinner, but it not part of the prix fixe menu. Whether you decide to go for the formule or wing it and order a la carte, it’s a truly lovely, very Parisian dining experience that I can’t wait to get back to.