The very last restaurant I went  in Paris was l’Avant Comptoir (meaning: ‘the front counter’). I warned about the size of the place, but still I got some suggestions to join me there. I think most people could not comprehend just how small is this place. It’s tiny! There is not a single chair there, it fits only about ten customers standing up very close together. Nevertheless, I really didn’t want to miss that one!

It’s more like a narrow hallway, the menu hanging from the ceiling, pork is the main theme – the decorations, the dishes, the menu, the logo. In fact it’s a pork shrine.

Jacqueline and Mounir joined me to this adventure, even though Mounir isn’t eating pork. There were still many things he could taste and enjoy and we all had a fantastic evening.

Pretty much the whole place in one picture.

There’s a crêperie window for T.A. and at lunch time there’s also sandwiches lunch menus. But only at night time the real magic of the place is happening.

After successfully squeezing in, don’t expect to get a personal and attentive service. There are two cooks and one bartender (who’s also taking orders) in the other side of the counter, that’s all.

The wine list, printed out on this cool piggy menu

The selection of tonight’s French style tapas to go with the food are hanged from the ceiling. Nice concept, a bit of a neck pain.

Unconventionally we started with the red and continued to the white wine.

The bread was one amazing wonder. It was warm, fresh and orange (!). I’m not sure what was in it but it was so good. People were fighting for it on the counter, we tried to keep it all to ourselves but standing so close to everyone around us suspiciously made it disappear!

A communal butter, a bit nasty but fits to the style of the place. If someone has problems with sharing, this is not the place for you.

Mounir, ironically standing under the pig’s head, ordered a crêpe from the wide and original selection of crêpes.

I think it was mushrooms, onions and cheese in a buckwheat flour galette. Pretty good value for what you can get around the city. Ask for the day’s special combination or make your own preference, it’s fresh, it’s good quality and costs around 4-6 euro. 

Tataki thon, came with a fishy foam.

The fish was well seared and red inside, just not that interesting.

Cœurs de canards, Croque queue de bœuf
Duck hearts, Oxtail crouque 

This oxtail dish was like a sandwich of mashed potatoes and in the middle the shreds of the beef, this whole thing was caramelized on the plancha. Came with a green spicy pepper and a savory whipped cream.

Pretty good variation of the classic shepherd’s pie, the whipped cream and spicy pepper was an original extra ‘touch’.

One of the surprises of the night was this innocent dish of duck’s hearts. Amazing! Well cooked with just some crispy garlic and parsley. Simple but delicious.

So red inside!

One of the specialties of the night was this marinated salmon with beetroot cream, pine nuts, green tobico egg roe and sour cream. Interesting and unique combination. A bit difficult to eat in a small bowl with mini wooden forks.

The ‘Macaron’ – the pride of the place this evening. It’s a macaron with boudin noir (blood sausage) and sticky balsamic vinegar.

I loved it. Everything melting together. All the textures: soft, creamy, crunchy, crispy and all the flavors: sweet, salty and tart, all wrapped in one perfect bite, like this small “comptoir”: small but hits all the right places.

A really nice glass of Pouilly Fumé to continue the night.

Seeing this carapaccio being eaten by someone made me what to try. It looked comforting and nice.

It’s seared veal that was then slices in the Jambon machine very finely and all the good things put on top. Big potential but a miss in seasoning, some vinegar salt and pepper was lacking. We could not finish it and asked to wrap it up. I expected them to laugh at our face but they did it gladly.

A night at l’avant camptoir is to mingle with everyone around you. This couple next to us just slowly enjoyed a big artichoke with their drinks.

For dessert: crumble de chocolat. This was definitely a weird one. It was chocolate flavored whipped cream with rhubarb and crumble of cookies. Sounds good but they took the salty-sweet concept one step too far, it was more salty than sweet. Disappointing.

These crispy chocolate cookies on top were very salty.

The other dessert was a classic one – petit pot crème chocolat et crème Chantilly. Sweet but not too much, a nice creamy finish to this dinner.

The bill – prices vary between 2.5 – 6 euro for a small plate. 

Very full, pretty drunk and happy hearted we made our way out of this crowded little corner. Our place was taken over in an instant. Something was very charming about this place. It’s one of a kind: you have to be assertive to get noticed and it’s not so comfortable to eat like this, but it’s all part of the charm. The little plates of food were ranging from weird to nice and to amazing. What’s fun is to take it all in, to see how lively and hectic this place is, but at the same time fun and laid back. The big pig looking at you from up there, the communal garnishes (not only the butter, the cornichons, mustard.. all passed over all around the place.), talking to people around you. In short, it’s fun and yummy. Visit no more than 2-3 people together or you will stay out!

After a short walk around Odeon and going to drink some tea, I asked my two friends: where is the carapaccio?!?!? It was nowhere to be found, we left it on the counter. My next morning breakfast was lost.. 🙁


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One Response to L’Avant Comptoir, Size Matters!

  1. […] remember a restaurant only by their excellent bread (the meal was good, but the bread… was heavenly!) I even seen (and tried it for myself) baguette for dessert eaten dipped in a chocolate […]

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