Le Petit Pergolèse and Café Max, two Parisian institutions combining culture and pleasure

The Little Pergolesi

Le Petit Pergolèse is making its comeback, and all the faithful flock there as it feels like home. Its advantages: an ideal location in a quiet street, halfway between Porte Dauphine and Porte Maillot, a warm and joyful decoration in a chic bistro style. A delicious home cooking. And a mix of art and gastronomy.

After more than thirty years, seventeen of which spent at Petit Pergo, Albert Corre threw in the towel in 2019. The former pupil of Joël Robuchon, Alain Senderens, or even Jacques Cagna handed over to Alexandra and Serge Damas, she was a former sommelier at Pergolèse then at l’Arpège and together owners of the Moulin à vent, an essential address in the Ve Parisian district.

Alexandra and Serge Damas took the lead at Petit Pergolèse in 2019. | The Little Pergolesi

Their bistronomic restaurant is unlike any other. Seated on comfortable red benches, you can have lunch, dinner or enjoy a glass of Drappier champagne facing a work by the artist Robert Combas, a painting by Frank Stella, a photograph by David LaChapelle, a sculpture by Jeff Koons, under the brand new balloon ceiling. Their passion: contemporary art. This first and only restaurant-art gallery in the capital offers good food and beauty for the eyes.

Chef Joss Séri, for twenty-one years, has been presenting a very extensive menu around signature dishes such as warm lobster salad with truffle vinaigrette… And for dessert, not to be missed: the Grand Marnier soufflé.

At Petit Pergolèse, warm lobster salad, truffle vinaigrette. | lesrestos.com

Alexandra and Serge Damas perpetuate the legacy of Albert Corre, the former owner, who made this place the meeting place of all Paris for bon vivants, businessmen, people or politicians. Thierry Majtka, the room manager, is none other than Albert Corre’s former right-hand man.

Le Petit Pergolèse is an institution highlighting contemporary art. | The Little Pergolesi

The good plan of this restaurant-art gallery? A lunch menu at 34 euros: starter and dish of the day or dish and dessert of the day, a glass of wine or mineral water, coffee included. Fair and affordable prices. And a superb cellar of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines.

À la carte, traditional French cuisine

To start: the homemade duck foie gras terrine (21 euros); the warm lobster salad, truffle vinaigrette (37 euros); the sea bass tartare with Sologne caviar (25 euros); langoustine ravioli with lobster cream (26 euros); the fresh crab with guacamole (22 euros); the artichoke carpaccio, vinaigrette with truffle juice (19 euros); the gravlax salmon with beets, vegetable pickles (16 euros); entry of the day.

Homemade duck foie gras terrine. | The Little Pergolesi

To continue: cod roasted on its skin, linguine with arrabiata (29 euros); the fillet of sea bass, mashed potatoes in oil from Charles Aznavour (35 euros); the roast rack of lamb, baby vegetables, thyme jus (34 euros); the Petit Pergo beef tartare (21 euros); the grilled tuna steak, ratatouille with pesto (30 euros); the pan-fried Chateaubriand, pepper sauce (36 euros); pan-fried veal sweetbreads, potato pancake, cream of morels (35 euros); the truffle risotto (32 euros); the dish of the day.

Pan-fried Chateaubriand, pepper and cream sauce. | The Little Pergolesi

To finish: the cheeses of the moment (15 euros); the pavlova with red fruits (16 euros); the citrus soup and its blood orange granita (16 euros); the Grand Marnier soufflé (17 euros); the dark chocolate charlotte (16 euros); the vanilla floating island (15 euros); hot chocolate mousse, vanilla ice cream (17 euros); dessert of the day.

The pavlova. | lesrestos.com

38, rue Pergolèse, 75016 Paris. Tel.: 01 45 00 23 66. Possibility of privatizing the place. Card from 55 to 70 euros. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Cafe Max

The Café Max was, from 1941, the clandestine backstage of the resistance. Eugène Germain, owner at the time and former pilot who survived the First World War, hosted in his café, called at the time “Hélice”, dance evenings of a particular dimension which the Germans loved. They came to have fun there every Thursday evening, in good company, around a small orchestra.

Eugène Germain and his group of friends, who would prove to be recognized as great French resistance fighters, had set themselves the task of “Tender ear”. The curfew sounded, the Germans returned to the Invalides or the Military School located close by, while the small group of resistance fighters was just beginning their evening.

First, it was necessary to take out the transmitter hidden in the accordion, then to contact the services of General de Gaulle in London, in order to disclose to them the information collected. Every Thursday, it was the same ritual and many plots were foiled.

The Café Hélice was renamed Café Max when Eugène Germain sold it in 1972, in honor of Max, a resistant hero who fought alongside Jean Moulin and was part of the small group of spies on Thursday evening.

The Café Max has been, since this historic period, a discreet haunt, conducive to cozy exchanges where one simply slums around discussions between colleagues, friends or family.

Café Max bears the name of a resistance hero. | malou

This emblematic 28-seat tavern with its original decor, with its zinc counter from the beginning of the century, its wooden tables and its red benches, remains a must. We come here for its bistro style, its generous cuisine, its atmosphere and its team that loves good products.

Frédéric Vardon (second from left), at the Café Max bar with his team. | malou

Valdo Riva, owner of the establishment for more than eighteen years, sold Café Max in September 2022 to chef Frédéric Vardon, a pupil of Alain Ducasse: “I am honored by the privilege that has been given to me to be able to continue to bring this historic house to life, rabble and good living”says the latter with emotion.

À la carte, the cuisine of Frédéric Vardon

Supported by Régis Letourneur for eighteen years behind the stove, this educated chef enjoys unearthing quality products in perfect harmony between nature and men: pretty winks to the French terroir.

At Café Max, seasonal vegetables cooked together. | malou

Julio Levée ensures the hospitality of the place with a masterful hand. Taking great care of Café Max guests for ten years, he likes to perpetuate the friendly spirit of the restaurant and offer a wide selection of wines, with a few nuggets of great vintages.

Café Max offers suggestions on the slate every day. | malou

With friends, to share: the sardinillas (12 euros); Olivier Brosset’s friend or peasant terrine (13 euros); dry sausage from the Montalet house, 200 gr (14 euros); the Tarn pork ham cured for 24 months from Maison Montalet (29 euros); dry sausage, about 250 gr (23 euros); the “La Nutria” tuna belly, toasted bread, for two to three people (58 euros).

The terrine of friends. | malou

Right now: organic mimosa eggs (9 euros); razor clams sautéed in semi-salted butter (16 euros); the vitello tonnato (20 euros); the crispy pig’s ears (22 euros); the Salers beef tartare cut with a knife (27 euros); macaroni au gratin with old Comté, chanterelles (28 euros); seasonal vegetables cooked together (26 euros); the butcher’s cut of beef (on the slate); the Normandy-style veal kidney (34 euros); wild-caught fish (on the slate).

Organic mimosa eggs. | malou

To finish: Raw milk cheese, salad (15 euros); caramel cream (13 euros); rice pudding, salted butter caramel (13 euros); the chocolate profiteroles (13 euros).

Salted butter caramel rice pudding. | malou

Wines by the glass: Lenoble brut champagne (16 euros); the Crémant de Bourgogne blanc de noirs from the Huber-Verdereau estate (9 euros); Burgundy Côte d’Auxerre 2020 from Domaine Goisot (9 euros); the Médoc Chapelle de Potensac 2015 (9 euros); the Dames Huguettes from the Bertagna estate of Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits 2020 (10 euros); Bandol from Domaine Dupuy de Lôme 2021 (8 euros). Excellent selection.

7, avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 75007 Paris. Tel.: 01 47 05 57 66. Menu around 60 euros for three courses. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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