Alsaco

10, rue Condorcet

Telephone: 01 45 26 44 31

Métro: Poissonnier

On a cold winter day in Paris nothing satisfies llike a heaping, steaming platter of choucroute, a heaving mound of brased sauerkraut teamed up with a parade of sausages and meats. You can find it on the carte at many popular brasseries and often this Alsatian specialty is quite good.

But if average isn't good enough, and what you are looking for is a choucroute platter that's really fragrant, with a mild hint of smokiness, the scent of cumin, and the fresh and mildly acidic aroma of freshly cured cabbage, then try one of the city's best winstub, Claude Steger's Alsaco near the Gare du Nord. In a cramped and tiny wine bar with a few tables stuck in the back of a narrow dining room, you can enjoy the cabbage, sausages and pork products, ranging from bratwurst to boudin noir, as well as meaty slabs of bacon and pig's knuckle.

Choucroute

Start your meal with the delicious warm potato salad. It is one of the best we have found.

If sauerkraut is not one of your favorites, choose a simple platter of grilled cervelas pork sausages, a hearty and warming dish of Alsatian munster cheese melted on a platter of potatoes and served with a side dish of "lard" or beautifully grilled bacon. There's also baeckaoffa, (a braise of meat and potatoes) as well as the huge braised pork knucle.

A favorite starter is the traditional Alsatian "pizza," a flatbread tart topped with strips of delicious bacon, cream and onions.

Add to this a cellar of more than 130 different wines, and some 30 Alsatian varieties of eau-de-vie.

At the end of the meal they offer a wonderful plate of Alsatian cheeses.

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