This was one of our favorite spots in Paris. Unlike the other bars I’ve reviewed, A La Française operates on the traditional bistro model; outdoor cafe seating, a limited drink list, and full menu of delicious food. A second bar downstairs has a larger selection of bottles and stiffer drinks. I’ll cover it all.
The cafe portion (upstairs) focuses on aperitifs. They stock exclusively French spirits, and get creative with their menu. The “Sazerac” is made using cognac instead of bourbon (plus numerous other tweaks), and the Green Beast is an absinthe drink invented by a famous French bartender.
We chatted a lot with Tristan, one of the bartenders, who was super excited about the craft. These guys are very into tradition; they even have an original Jerry Thomas Bartender’s Guide from 1862. While they share the same French-only focus as Le Syndicat, A La Française focuses on the traditional craft of cocktails, avoiding the molecular gastronomy/mad scientist style work at Le Syndicat.
Tristan shared a lot of both knowledge as well as samples of some of the ingredients they use:
Prices are incredibly reasonable; happy hour is €6-7, which makes them about half the price of other top tier drinks in the city. There is also a downstairs lounge bar open during nights only.
There’s also a downstairs bar that I didn’t succeed in getting good pictures of. It’s more loungy and has the club lights, as you can see in this snap of an incredibly awesome rum Tristan shared with us:
The highlight from downstairs was the house Old Fashioned, which again was an all French adaptation of the American classic. Sadly I neglected to take a photo, but I encourage you to go take one for me.
We came for the drinks, and happened to be hungry on one of our return visits. Lucky us, the food was outstanding. I already posted about their epic hamburger, but here it is again:
I just can’t say enough good things about that burger. Gravy, shredded potatoes, tomatoes, perfectly cooked ground beef, and french cheese to top it off. Best burger I’ve had in any restaurant.
A friend got the fish of the day (trout) which was also delicious.
You should absolutely go here while in Paris, preferably around lunch or dinner. Get the burger. Start with the Eau Fraiche, or the Caïpi Byrrh if you want something fruity. Then put yourself in the hands of the more than competent bartenders.
The bistro is just a 10 minute walk from Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which you are probably visiting anyway. So really you have no excuse not to go.