Derriere may be a funny name to us english speakers, but in french it isn't just the behind you have above your legs. And considering the location of this quirky eatery, it's a perfect title. Derriere is at metro Arts and Metiers and sits in one of the many small courts hiding behind the giant doors of Paris. There are a few little establishments in this particular court, each as charming and welcoming as the next.
Derriere is the most sought after location for dinner and is extremely intriguing. The design is what you could call "home-chic" since it's seating ranges from old kitchen tables with a plethora of different chairs, coffee tables with mismatched uposltered seats, a bed sitting next to a big dining table, and a long wooden table flanked by two long wooden benches.
You really feel like you've stepped into somebody's home
with all the clutter, giving the restaurant an "lived-in" feeling
We sat in a room where one whole wall was taken up by a gigantic red couch and ate from a tiny squat coffee table that hit me at the knees. It was oh so fun and comfy and while there were some older people there it was obviously a hot spot for young Parisians. The menu had multiple items that sounded quite wonderful to me (especially the veal sweetbreads) but I was swayed toward the plate of the day of venison (described insensitively by our waiter as Bambi's mother) and so went ahead with that, doe-eyes and all.
While waiting for our food Segolene shared with us the hidden secret of Derriere and perhaps my favorite thing in Paris. Any C.S. Lewis fans out there will love this nod to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe since Derriere has a wardrobe of its own. Upstairs past the bathrooms is an unassuming mirrored wardrobe that, while pretty to look at, doesn't seem to be anything special. Segolene, however, led me straight for it and opened one of the wardrobe doors to revel what appeared to be nothing but an empty dresser. But if you push on the lefthand panel you will uncover a hidden passage way into the unofficial smoking room of the restaurant. I was giddy with childlike wonder as I stepped through the doors and into the mysterious room.
The smoking room looked as if it was a parlor in some eccentric old woman's home. There were creepy stuffed animals that (reminding me of the evil twin version of what you see at Deyrolle) with teeth bared, matted fur, and red eyes. The furniture was old and dusty, most likely from all the smoke, and the springs in the couch we sat on creaked and collapsed underneath our weight. There was a foosball that a group of twenty-somethings were playing aggressively on in front of us, and a drunk old man slumped over behind us with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other. There is really no other word to describe it but cool.
We returned to our table in perfect timing and received our delicious meals just as we sat down. And everything was perfect. No frills or stacked food, this was classic french cooking and all of it was good. My venison was served with a glorious sauce and a side of turnips that I gobbled up happily. Our wine was some of the best Rose I've had and by the time I was done with my dinner I was feeling more than happy with my plate was practically licked clean and the wine settling nicely in my tummy.
Our second bottle of the delicious
Côte de Provence, Château Minuty, Cuvée Prestige 2010
The Star from St Tropez
Overall, it was one of my favorite dining experiences, and not only here in Paris. (Even the bathroom is cool with a tub sink). With the combination of good food, wine, service and an incredible unique atmosphere, I left knowing that I had experienced something more than worthwhile. It was as if, for a few moments, I had stepped into a scene of a moving set in Paris. This is what this city is all about.
The menu was not overly expensive, for Paris, with plates at 17+ euros, and our wine at 32 euros. However, according to Segolene it is one of the trickier places to get a reservation. They only take bookings on a weekly basis and so you must call first thing Monday morning to try and secure a spot. I imagine it must be similar to trying to be the tenth lucky caller for a radioshow competition, the line busy and busy until finally you break through, only to discover you're too late.
All the same, I certainly feel that it is worth a try. I know I'm hoping to get a table for when my sister, Kathryn, and her husband, Ryan, are here since it is something I am sure they will enjoy and love. And even though we're non smokers, a visit to the hidden wardrobe room is a must.
The entire restaurant was filled with decor from numerous eras, including this fun lights
address: 69 rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris
phone: +33 1 44 61 91 95