A classical bistrot with charm

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The decor is cosy and the waiters handsome at Café Max

I was complaining last week end to members of Club des Cent, a very exclusive French association of gourmets founded in 1912, that there were no real bistrots left in Paris, when one of them told me about Café Max. A place where you can bring anyone, for a confortable dinner with good service, nice white tablecloth and traditional cooking for under 70€. So I went for dinner with an old friend and we both enjoyed the atmosphere and the owner, Valdo Riva, very much.

The kidneys were perfectly grilled with a good purée

The clients are all “habitués”, who come there for the great bavette or the pig ear and have a carafe of wine. I chose the mille feuille of grilled vegetable which was a little too oily but the grilled aubergines were delicious and my friend had the snails with fried shrimps and calamari to follow. We could have picked oeufs en meurette, tartare or andouillette or even ravioles.

Mozarella and grilled aubergines to start

What I mostly liked in this place was the kind welcome, the elegance of the young waiter who could have been featured in GQ  and the professionalism of all. While booking on the phone I had a nice chat with the waiter and already knew that I would feel welcome.

There is none of this chichi trendiness that has overtaken Paris restaurants and the crêpes Suzette flambées with grand marnier were wonderful. They serve cheese which has become rare in restaurants and the food is classical home made style with a slight Italian influence. It is conveniently located near the Invalides and has tables outside for warm evenings.

Fried shrimps and calamari with tartare sauce

It is very small at Café Max, so booking is imperative at 01 47 05 57 66, 7 avenue de la Motte Piquet, 7 th.

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