Best Paris Wine Bars: Alfred
Gaullist politician William Abitbol lost his bid for reelection to the European Parliament in 2004. So he opened Alfred (his middle name) across the street from the 17th-century Palais Royal, one of the loveliest hidden gardens in Paris. Abitbol’s favorite wines are bottles from his winemaker friends (vins d’amis), who, like Abitbol himself, are on their second or third careers. The Provençal rosé L’Apostrophe, for instance, is a fresh and fruity blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Carignane from former professor Jean-Christophe Comor.
Abitbol oversees the inspired but unpretentious French food at Alfred. Downstairs, at the zinc bar in the vaulted, stone cellar, he serves small plates like warm lentil salad tossed with sherry vinegar and hazelnut oil and poached baby artichokes in a lemon-and-herb broth. Upstairs, in the dining room set with white linens, he cooks slices of earthy celery root like potatoes to make a creamy gratin, which accompanies ultratender beef tenderloin.
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