Like many expats who live in or around Belleville, I’ve long made the habit of declaring to anyone will listen that the famously colorful quartier is undergoing a renaissance. I’ve done this for years, even in the face of apparently contradictory evidence, like the closure, a few years ago, of Olivier Camus’ cave-à-manger Le Chapeau Melon, or closure of Naoufel Zaïm‘s original O Divin bistrot, or the brief lifespan of the one decent coffee shop.
A steady procession of new openings has always sustained hope. The most impressive, since last year, has been Le Cadoret, a broad and airy corner bistrot where the gentle pricing of an outwardly simple country menu belies razor-fine ambition in both service and cuisine. Open, café-style, from 8AM – midnight, on a street where my bike was once stolen, the young restaurant is remarkable for its faithful adherence to the egalitarian notion of a corner bistrot, even as it exceeds the genre at every turn.
Chef Léa Fleuriot’s cuisine is radically spare, both in concept and execution. Portion sizes have perceptibly been adjusted to offer immaculate ingredients at low prices – yet the overall effect is never meagre or mean. It feels instead like a persuasive sermon on how to dine responsibly in an overpopulated world.
The wispy potato dumplings that accompanied two note-perfect, melt-in-mouth orders of lamb leg were plated to share, a pleasant familial gesture. A lunchtime appetizer of caillette (an Ardèchois meatball) arrived the size of a clementine, nestled in a snow-white cauliflower purée. Fleuriot’s menu possesses a matter-of-fact confidence, a simplicity, that will be familiar to anyone who ever wished Chez Aline‘s Delphine Zampetti would open a restaurant. I’d never had the occasion to visit Fleuriot’s former project, the Bourse area sandwich shop Du Bout des Doigts, so nothing prepared me for the maturity and brilliance of her work at La Cadoret.
Fleuriot’s brother and co-owner Louis-Marie Fleuriot runs the dining room and the wine list with equal aplomb. The latter is a smorgasbord of offbeat natural wines from a younger generation of vignerons, supplemented with an enthusiast’s selection of craft beers and geek spirits. Like on the menu, prices tilt low, but here too at no sacrifice of novelty: for the soirée of Beaujolais Nouveau this year Fleuriot frère proposed an exclusive early-release of toothsome grenache primeur from hotly-tipped young natural winemaker Julien Besson of Domaine de la Cavalière in Provence.
Service at Le Cadoret is impressively trim. It borders on the heroic when one considers the challenge of a handsome, inexpensive public space like Le Cadoret, which daily must run the risk of being invaded by local cheapos and layabouts, coffee squatters and nine-hour nursers of half-pints. It is a sad fact that the reason most fine Paris restaurants close between services, and the reason most fine Paris restaurants are more expensive than Le Cadoret, is precisely to exclude the city’s pervasive time-waster clientele. Some sort of halo must shimmer over Le Cadoret, for over the course of several visits I’ve yet to encounter any significant tension between the restaurant and its surroundings. It is the rare, timeless sort of restaurant that holds sentimental appeal for all and sundry.
1, rue Pradier
Métro: Belleville or Jourdain
Tel: +33 1 53 21 92 13
François Simon, in his June 2018 review for Le Monde, praises the “biblical simplicity” of the cuisine at Le Cadoret.
Le Fooding‘s 2018 review of Le Cadoret opens with an iffy sexual pun that becomes genuinely queasy-making when one realizes it refers to the work of siblings. To summarize, the author is assuring us that siblings Léa and Louis Fleuriot prove you can indeed “sausage around with love” because they “infuse their rich boudin noir terrine with plenty of it.”
François-Régis Gaudry’s laudatory 2018 review of Le Cadoret in L’Express has a lovely and apt headline: “The Golden Destiny of Le Cadoret.”
Télérama‘s undated review of Le Cadoret is chiefly notable for including, in its interior photo, two veteran Paris wine personalities, the agents Clovis Ochin and Marc Grand d’Esnon, both staring straight ahead, apparently awaiting other guests.
Time Out‘s December 2017 review of Le Cadoret delivers the following memorable summation of who will enjoy Le Cadoret: “The workers and residents of the quartier who want to eat well.” In other words, Le Cadoret is not for local workers and residents who want to eat garbage, or be flogged, or be tied up with fishing line and pelted with dirty socks.
In his succinct Nov. 2017 review of Le Cadoret, John Talbott seems particularly moved by the restaurant’s cloth napkins, mentioning them twice.
Fulgurances‘ review of Le Cadoret opens with the following critical salvo: “In the plethora of Parisian [restaurant] openings, we don’t know why certain ones speak to us more than others.”