When I was a student back in 1995, the Rue des Lombards was my primary hangout in Paris, mostly because it was the address for both my best friend and my favorite café, and later just a block from the Irish bar I briefly tended while waiting for my real working papers. It's a lively bar-hopping street on the east (read: less sleazy) side of the Boulevard Sebastopol between the Tour St Jacques (photo, newly unveiled after years of travaux) and the Centre Pompidou. There was certainly something else at #26 back in the late 90s, but it wasn't the metal bar it is today.
Now you're confused. "Where's the beef?" I'm getting to that. You see, I have no aversions to metal music, and I have even considered stopping in to check out the HR Giger exhibit last year, but I had no idea there was an Argentinean steak house in the back. And a good one, at that!
So how did I stumble upon my tasty steak feast? I was invited by Sebastiaan (below), a fellow American expat in the Paris guiding business, who wanted to tell me about his new Mysteries of Paris night tours ("The Macabre Paris Walk", just €20, starts at another bar just a few doors away).
I brave the smoke cloud outside the entrance (of most bars these days) and wait by the bar. The decor is predictably neo-industrial, but with more flair than I've seen done in most bars of this genre. I quite liked the faux stone garden (cemetery?) urns as table bases. The music was definitely metal, the crowd young and wearing a lot of black and...well, metal (to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Parisians wearing all black).
When Sebastiaan arrives we head to the back of the bar, where it suddenly opens into a cozy restaurant set with two rows of sturdy tables set with red liners. The music is, kindly, not as in-your-face here. The kitchen is open to the dining room, so you get a view of Luis (from Mexico) cooking up a storm. The menu (which you can peruse online) has everything from the humble 150g steak au poivre (€12) to the 1-kilo "Tant Pis Si j'en Crève" faux filet (€69).
All come with perfectly cooked potatoes and a selection of secret sauces (secret because neither of us could figure out what was in them, but we very much enjoyed every single one). I got the Lomo, because the menu in the restaurant says it's "The Best". I took a gamble and ordered it à point ("medium?" says the darling waitress who shyly speaks enough English for anyone to get by). We order some Argentinean wine to accompany the steaks, of course. And the steak is superb. Perfect. Juicy. And tiny enough that I could actually finish it (and most of the potatoes), and still have room for dessert.
Sebastiaan orders the Black Orgasm (chocolates in puff pastry surrounded by a caramel pentacle and puffs of whipped cream), which, as lovely as that sounds, can't hold a candle to my tombeau au chocolat (chocolate coffin with a caramel cross and more whipped cream puffs). Two thumbs up!
Make sure you either reserve a table or get there early-ish (before 9pm), since even on that Wednesday night it was packed full.
No need to wear all black or pierce your face in ten places to feel welcomed, but you should probably be comfortable enough to eat around others who are. ;)
Open daily from 8pm.