Over a hundred years old and the classic and stylish Benoit is a Michelin-starred bistro located just steps from the iconic Hotel de Ville in the heart of Paris. A warm and elegant atmosphere is the perfect complement to Benoit’s fine cuisine. Benoit Matray, a butcher, and master of many culinary tricks opened the restaurant in 1912. Since then, it is one of the most authentic bistros in all of Paris.
The artists, merchants, and residents of the district of Les Halles were responsible for spreading the word about a place that served traditional cuisine with excellent service, where the same person who prepared the elaborate dishes welcomed and served his customers with the cordiality of a friend in a family atmosphere.
By 1961, Michel Petit, Benoit’s grandson, became the executive chef and assumed leadership of the Parisian bistro. And with this change came others, the kitchen was renewed and modernized, the cellar was remodeled, the guest lounge was extended; and on the top floor, he installed a private room with terracotta floors, decorative panels and a fireplace to provide warmth to the space. Whatever changes were made, the restaurant always kept its original spirit. The use of handmade tile, the presence of precious woods, the red velvet seats, etched glass windows; large mirrors and festive paintings that adorn the walls recreate an atmosphere that transports guests back in time to relive the past.
Even today, the restaurant maintains the original concept and guards it as a precious jewel. Following the Beaujolais tradition, the wine is bottled in-house. At the entrance, you can still see the hook that was used to lower the wine barrels to the cellar.
Similarly, they even kept the menu card designed by the artist and engraver Lesage, one of Benoit’s most loyal customers. It is said that the original slogan “At Benoit, drinking, and feasting like kings“, was the result of an extremely joyous night at the restaurant. Another treasure is the manuscript of Grandma Mary’s recipes, which is on view for all to admire. Customers say these recipes are responsible for the restaurant`s triumph.
After years of success, Michele Petit and his wife Catherine decided to sell the business. That is how Benoit passed into the hands of the celebrated chef Alain Ducasse. The goal of chef Ducasse, who owns other famous restaurants around the world, was to perpetuate the tradition of the Parisian bistro, add a pinch of modernity and launch it to international fame. Ducasse‘s wishes came true. In 2005, as a tribute to the legendary Parisian restaurant, an extension of Benoit opened in one of the most famous areas of Tokyo, and later another in New York City.
Chef Fabienne Eymard of Benoit Paris personally prepares every recipe with utmost care and respect. It would be unforgivable not to try the pâté in croûte served on lettuce leaves with walnut oil or the classic homemade foie gras. For the main course, we recommend the terrine of oxtail gelée with celery rémoulade in the Dieppoise style, his famous mollusks in their shells with garlic butter and herbs or the gourmet sauteed sweetbread casserole.
Benoit serves an assortment of delightful French cheeses, and to conclude the feast, try the Savarin in Armagnac with a lightly whipped cream or the vanilla mille-feuille cake. To complement these delights, head sommelier, Gandilhon Pierre, offers more than 350 premium wines from the most famous vineyards in France.
Definitely, if you are interested in traditional gourmet French cuisine, Benoit is a required visit, one of the last genuine bistros with true Parisian flavor. ■