Third time’s the charm, and L’Avant Comptoir is the poppin’ example of that.
A popular tapas bar sitting right in the middle of the center of Paris near Odeon, this was where my friends and I have been trying to go to twice before and had reluctantly turned away because it was simply too packed. The third time, we arrived at 5:30PM on a Friday, to snatch a spot in this tiny, quirky place. There is a seafood counterpart, L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer, and the actual sit-down restaurant, Le Comptoir.
I am no tapas connoiseur, and the last time I’ve had legit tapas was… actually, never. I’ve been to mediocre Spanish restaurants, but that’s about it. This was an eye-opening, eyebows-raised experience. But in the best possible ways.
First of all, we have to talk about the menu. I proabably haven’t looked so frazzled in a restaurant before.
Yes, the bar’s classic menu items are hung up on the ceiling. There are daily specials written on chalk boards, but you would literally gawk at all the options above you while awkwarding maneuvering through the crowded bar. The menu is a genius idea.
Then there’s the bread. We have to pause a moment here to talk about this amazing, complimentary, pipin’ hot bread that the bartender cuts out every now and then for the customers to share. I do not know what exactly the bread is, but it has a thick, hearty crust, the kind that you can break off with a satisfying crunch. Basically, my favorite kind. The bread is fresh, still warm to the touch, savory with a nice kick of spices. One of the most ususual, bold complimentary bread I’ve had and am still dreaming of. There is also a huge slab of butter sitting on the counter that everyone has access to. When the bread basket starts to become empty, fresh slices are dished out to meet the eager hands and rumbling stomachs.
*The prices are inside brackets – for some reason I can’t type in special characters in the captions*
After a lot of weaving through the tiny, packed bar and yelling my orders over the noise to the multi-tasking bartender, I got my tapas dishes down.
Prepare to be flustered and overwhelmed, and to get really cozy with the person right next to you. It is not the best place for groups of more then 3 to 4 people, but the experience itself is out of the ordinary. This is where tapas is done right – small portions, perfect for sharing, packing just enough sophiscated flavors into this tiny dish. They hit the right notes, which is especially hard to do since the margins of error are so small for such a tiny dish. If you’re looking for bold, creative flavors and a party in your mouth, this is the place to be.
Phone: 01 44 27 07 97
Address: 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006 Paris