I’ve got a very short but very serious list of places in Paris on my restaurant bucket list: Septime, le Chateaubriand, and Frenchie. That’s it.
If I haven’t fulfilled these dreams, it’s because reservations are nearly impossible to come by – but in the case of Frenchie, at least, I haven’t tried all that hard, given the presence of a truly exquisite wine bar that many Marchand fans say is as good – if not better – than the restaurant. So when I found out that Septime’s Bertrand Grébaut had followed suit, I knew needed to pay it a visit, and I finally made it there with a lovely wine-loving friend this week.
Septime la Cave is just around the corner from Septime restaurant, hiding behind the beautiful old façade of a cordonnerie (cobbler). Given its previous life, it’s no surprise that the space inside is a bit on the smaller side… even by Parisian standards.
There are just two low tables and a handful of stools at the bar and at the window. When we visited, at 6:30 on weeknight, all of the seated spots had already been spoken for, so we grabbed a corner of the bar (and held on for dear life).
The diminutive wine by the glass menu features a handful of reds and whites – with a focus on natural wine – as well as an orange wine I just had to try. Orange wines are skin-contact wines made with white wine grapes; they take on a deeper, richer flavor that I just love.
Septime la Cave also boasts a handful of small plates, which change with the seasons. Charcuterie and cheese both feature (this plate had two exceptional cheeses – a delicious blue fourme and a positively life-changing vin jaune-aged tomme).
I’ve noticed (based on my Instagram stalking) that mozzarella also usually features on the menu; in the past, I’ve seen it paired with lime, but on our visit, it was served with anchovies and Buddha’s hand, a member of the citrus family. It’s an intriguing departure from the traditional pairing with tomatoes, and I think I actually preferred it: mozzarella tends to be a bit bland on its own, and the power of the pungent anchovies and bright citrus really kicked it up a notch and brought the focus onto the mozzarella’s freshness and creaminess.
Enjoying your time at Septime is all about expectations. While the current trend has created a host of wine bars where you can sit and make a full dinner out of the small plates, that’s not what Septime is trying to achieve. If you’re looking to discover a few delicious wines (and have some equally delicious nibbles alongside), then be sure to pay Septime a visit – just don’t expect you’ll find a seat!
Septime la Cave – 3 Rue Basfroi, 75011