After a discreet patio, discover a new haunt for gourmets with plates inspired by the market. Le 44 is a number to be passed between insiders who dine smart.
Though just up the stairs from the perpetually packed patios of cours d’Estienne d’Orves and situated on busy rue Sainte, le 44 feels somehow secluded. This is partly thanks to the white brick archways that hide the convivial bistro from the street. And partly since its team is more concerned with what’s on the plate than what’s on social media.
Owner Marc-François Fratelli “worked every job from dishwasher to waiter” before deciding to open his own place, lured by the conviviality and the “wearing many hats” energy of the restaurant biz. The 30-something varois revamped the old Echevins into a stylish space that echoes the design trends around town—rafters, straw lampshades, and artsy wallpaper—with eye-catching photographs by local Vincent Driancourt. By day, the room is bathed in natural light that streams through the windows and glass wall, while at night, the dangling Edison bulbs give le 44 an inviting glow.
After the initial chef didn’t work out, Marc-François lured Olivier André from the Courchevel slopes to the Mediterranean, the two becoming fast friends as le 44 found its footing. The boyish, 27-year-old chef, who trained at the Institut Paul Bocuse, in Ecully (Near Lyon), and at the Intercontinental, dishes up pretty plates that blend bistro classics with gastronomic flair—the calling card of bistronomy. Think fork-tender 24-hour confit beef in a delectable red wine sauce and perfect pommes dauphinois, or pork tenderloin served with cheesy polenta drizzled with basil-scented olive oil. The market-driven menu makes the most of what’s in season with its daily plat du jour special plus a velouté and vegetarian dish to please produce lovers. A selection of tasty desserts—tarte au citron and chocolate hazelnut delight—is made by Monsieur Martin, a talented local pâtissier.
Open since May 2018, le 44 is now in full swing, seducing those who return for the food, the convivial atmosphere, and an enjoyable escape from the surrounding bustle.
Le petit plus: Once the temperature goes over 20˚, le 44 plans to make the most of its patio with an apèro menu.
Par Alexis Steinman