Portrait: Bonhomie in Strasbourg-St. Denis

I could start with their drinks, but that wouldn’t be fair to their food. I could start with their food but that wouldn’t do justice to Bonhomie’s atmosphere. You’ll find an equilibrium at this Mediterranean themed bar near Strasbourg – St. Denis that is rare in Paris.

The word Bonhomie means a feeling of friendliness among people.

The elegant mid-century decor, touches of flair, vases, and candles wrap you like a warm breeze. But the dark wood accents, and plush leather chairs tell you that they take their craft in earnest.

A Bar in Paris To Make an Impression

The first time I visited Bonhomie, it was a windy night in late fall. The streets were black with glimmering corners of nightlife. A group of Internationals–a Korean, Japanese, Australian, and a Brit–gathered at a small round table for a drink.

It was my first time meeting some of them, and in an international atmosphere, it’s difficult to make everyone feel at ease. Anglophones have an inherent responsibility of making sure they don’t dominate the conversation.

The Allora and Michelada

Bonhomie proved to be the perfect venue for us. The conversation and drinks flowed smoothly. I can’t speak for others, but I left without that residual anxiety from a first encounter, in complete high spirits, with new friends and new memories.

Cour des Petites Ecuries

One of my favorite micro-quarters of Paris, Petites Ecuries is a private walkway on a sunny afternoon and an insider’s party at night. It’s one of those places you seriously won’t know about unless you happen to stumble upon it and have the spontaneity to try something new.

After our group broke up, a few of us decided to go for a small walk through the neighborhood. We fell on this small walking passage.

Half of the city was out on a Thursday with pints of beer, wine glasses and lit cigarettes, laughing, yelling, and looking cool in that particular Parisian way. This stroll was the first time I’d seen the promise of Paris.

The Cocktails at Bonhomie

My most recent visit to Bonhomie was on a breezy, early fall day. The service was chatty behind the bar, as the hour was still early. The sun struck onto the street out front, so the terrace doors were open to air out the place.

We sat, shared small plates and cocktails, our drinks priced at 8€ each (an absurd find in Paris). And.. they were good!

This was my introduction to the Michelada, a savory tomato-based drink with beer and in this variation, Mezcal. The other was the ‘Allora’ a Pastis drink (Southern France Spirit) with Basil, pine nuts and lime.

It didn’t strike me as a drink I’d like when I ordered it, but the savory, smokey sides of the Michelada, were a perfect complement to the tapenade and harissa. It easily registers as a Tier 5: Specialty Drink, as they had a unique take on a fairly arcane cocktail.

The Equilibrium of Bonhomie

Bonhomie is such a well-balanced establishment; from the aromas and visuals, you can feel a passion for high-quality products, but you don’t sense the pretension that normally comes along with that feeling.

That is a rare feat in Paris, a city where pretension is commonplace, and high quality is well, not rare, but sometimes harder to find than you’d think.

As a new opening, I hope that Bonhomie becomes a blueprint for other new openings. Their attentiveness to each sector, food, drink, service, and ambiance makes it a place you want to take a friend, date or parent. It makes you want to recommend it, or put it on a shortlist. It makes you want to try each item on their menu, to return, and most importantly to spend a lot of time at Bonhomie.

Bisous,

Alexander

Published by AlexanderGittleman

Alexander Gittleman aka Mr. Cohiba is the writer, editor, and creator of the cocktail blog African Bowtie. He has lived in Seattle, New York, and currently lives in Paris where he covers the burgeoning cocktail scene.

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