The sun was setting over the Eiffel Tower not too far away as we made our way to Café Constant in Paris’ 7ème arrondissement. Located on the restaurant-lined Rue Saint-Dominique, Café Constant is just one of the area’s handful of restaurants owned by Christian Constant, whose Michelin-starred Le Violon d’Ingres was just a few doors down the street.
In the style of a true Parisien bistro, Café Constant specialises in classic brasserie food inspired by traditional recipes. This was my second visit, and I wasn’t the only repeat customer there that night. Shortly after we arrived, an older lady entered the restaurant and was warmly welcomed with kisses and “Bonjour Madame”s from each of the attentive waitstaff. Obviously a much-loved regular, she was ushered to the table next to us and was quickly brought some bottled water and a silver bowl for her dining companion – a well-groomed terrier who I later learned was named Dolly.
As Dolly sipped her water, Madame was informed of the evening’s specials. Her eyes smiled in our direction and I asked her if she dined here often. She told me she lived very close by and that the quality of the food and the kindness of the staff kept her returning regularly. I couldn’t blame her. The grilled bream with pesto and ratatouille I selected for my main course was simple yet flavourful, and my dessert of apple tart with vanilla bean ice cream was just as delicate and delicious as I remembered it to be. The homestyle cooking and warm service made us feel very much at home at Café Constant. And this sentiment was obviously shared by the dame and her Dolly who so happily return again and again.
When we arrived at Café Constant we were seated at one of the corner banquettes underneath the stairway to the first floor dining area. This turned out to be prime position – we had a view of the entire ground floor of the restaurant and bar, and the gradual mass of prospective diners that began to queue outside in the hopes of getting a table.
The restaurant was noisy and had a good mix of people – tourists and locals, young and old, groups, couples and solo diners. The waiters were swift and spoke English perfectly. With an authentic bistro feel, the website described the food at Café Constant as “inspired by grandmother’s recipes” so I was looking forward to a simple homestyle French meal. What I didn’t expect was the physical incarnation of this food philosophy in the form of an elderly lady who was seated next to us and greeted by the maître d’ with a kiss on both cheeks. The waiters warmly greeted her as well. The staff were going above and beyond to make her feel welcome and comfortable, treating her like their own grandmother. It was wonderful to see such kind attentive service.
My expectations for the meal were now heightened, and I was not disappointed. My main of poached cod with vegetables and garlic mayonnaise was flakey and perfectly cooked, but it was the aioli that was the standout on the plate. I was equally impressed with the dessert of the day, a cheesecake with fresh berries and berry coulis that was creamy and sweet but surprisingly light. I can understand why diners keep returning to this place.
139 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris