Five years ago I wrote a piece for PUNCH describing how Paris’ then-nascent cocktail culture was liberating young Parisiens from the cultural baggage of the native wine scene. But as Paris cocktail bars became more professionalized, and as cocktails normalized in the City of Light, the trend reversed. Natural wine, in particular – by dint of comprising a younger, more informal scene than wine-at-large – emerged as a choice nightlife beverage at places like Pierre Touitou’s Déviant and Oliver Lomeli & Rémy Kaneko’s Chambre Noire, while the latest generation of cocktail bars has struggled to have the impact of predecessors like Candelaria.*
The fall of opening of Goguette, a versatile and dynamic new restaurant and wine bar in the haute-Marais by métro Filles du Calvaire, marks another sign of the times. A collaboration between veteran natural wine champion Guillaume Dupré (of Coinstot Vino) and the Paris restaurant group Vertigo (Glou, Jaja, Grandcoeur, Bonvivant, etc.) Goguette is housed in the sinuous, tunnel-like space once occupied by Pasdeloup, a well-liked but slightly indistinct second-wave cocktail bar opened by some friends a few years ago.
Goguette is primed to succeed there for a number of reasons. They all might be summarized by saying that Goguette actually is what many wine tourists mistakenly believe the nearby Clown Bar to be.
The latter natural wine destination, despite its name, is definitively a restaurant, requiring reservations, serving expensive meals, etc. Goguette, with no less than two bar areas, is a natural wine destination that truly incarnates the winning informality of the movement.
What’s more surprising is Goguette does this without sacrificing fine cuisine. The basic pizzas of Coinstot Vino are nowhere in sight. Goguette chef Gianmarco Gorni’s menu may be padded with the épicerie staples of Paris wine bars – oysters, smoked duck, dry sausage, fromages – but its foundation is entirely haute-bistrot chic: a nuanced salad of leek and haddock, enthroned in another flamed leek; a daringly rich mushroom mousse, less a soup than a spread. A deconstructed cheesecake is so divinely saline as to represent a compromise between dessert and a cheese course. Gorni, who previously cooked at Sylvain Sendra’s Itineraires, still knows when less is more, offering a note-perfect hangar steak whose modest portion size feels downright virtuous. (Nor are vegetarians left in the cold: throughout my visits, Goguette’s menu has always contained at least one vegetarian appetizer and one vegetarian main course.)
Guillaume Dupré, meanwhile, is a one-man-band of natural wine know-how who could fill a dining room purely on his own charm. I rarely had occasion to visit the city-center location of Coinstot Vino in recent years, so I consider Dupré’s migration to my adoptive home of the 11ème arrondissement an increase in my own quality-of-life. His wine list at Goguette is slightly overwritten, crammed with a lot of jocular chatter; I don’t know whose fault that is. It’s also never up-to-date. It’s best to ask Dupré himself what’s tasting good at a given moment. Between the Goguette owners’ shared experience, I assume they’d have no trouble sourcing all the dependable classics of the Paris natural wine world, if they so desired. So I applaud Dupré for highlighting instead at Goguette the work of a newer generation of diehard natural winemakers: Alsace-based négoçiant Farid Yahimi (Sons of Wine), transatlantic Loire-South America winemaker Vincent Wallard, original “troll” Beaujolais vigneron Cyrille Vuillod.
Goguette’s front awning bills it as a “Caviste – Cuviste,” in reference to a nascent program to sell pitchers of wine from tanks stored on premises. This strikes me as a concept better suited to larger sites with less potential for high check averages, but I suppose it’s amusing for clients who are afraid to take the risk on opening a bottle.
Goguette contains, in addition to the two aforementioned bar areas, a private dining room upstairs, and two adjoining dining areas. As with any multivalent restaurant space, service can become distracted. It’s part of the charm. Natural wine, on export markets, is often such a luxury as to be restricted to high-end dining environments. Goguette, befitting an establishment named for the popular 19th-century pastime of drunken group singing, is a place to appreciate natural wine as nature intended – offhandedly, with spontaneity and feeling.
* A notable exception to the bear market for Paris cocktails is Belleville bar Combat, which is groundbreaking and wonderful.
108 rue Amelot
Métro: Filles du Calvaire
Tel: 09 54 74 16 36
My 2015 article on the nearby Clown Bar.
A round-up a new Paris wine bars I wrote earlier this year for Sprudge Wine.
Le Figaro‘s November article on Goguette suggests dining there in the company of “a foodie faun.” (Nb. I’ve yet to witness any woodland creatures dining at Goguette.)
L’Express Styles calls Goguette’s English cheese plate “a final pirouette of this joyous goguette.”
“Pasdeloup and its cocktails are no more – make room for Goguette and its supernatural wines chosen by Guillaume Dupré,” says Le Fooding.
Omnivore‘s glowing review of Goguette observes that the former Pasdeloup was “without a doubt too self-centered on the cocktail.”