As a type, the wispy Paris student with holes in his soles is alive and hungry, and you will find him here, tucking into mountain-man portions of chicken, tripe, snails, tuna, and baby squid—all à la basquaise (with onions, tomatoes, and green and red peppers). Apart from the plasticized tablecloths, patterned cement floor-tiles, and salads delivered in stainless-steel mixing bowls, the real tip-off that you’re not at the Ritz is the potatoes. They’re offered as a main course, fried with cured ham and Cantal cheese. Or is it the escalope of veal hanging over the sides of the plate in buckets of caramel-colored cream that says it all? It would be peevish to point out that the food is leaden. So let’s just split the difference and call it "gripping."