Has a restaurant ever haunted you? Well Avant Le Comptoir has haunted me for a couple of years over several trips to Paris.
Much is written about chef Yves Camdeborde. His bistro Le Comptoir de Relais is in all of the hip guides to Paris. But I don't have the patience to line up for an hour to get in. Instead, I have had my eye on his little wine shop/cafe located next door, L'Avant-Comptoir.
This tiny, crowded temple of gastronomic delight serves wonderful small plates of modern French food accompanied by a well-curated wine list. It has a sort of slightly bourgeois, working-professionals vibe where it's best just to let the river of baguettes, butter and wine wash over you.
To order, you'll need to get the bartender's attention—and that is going to be tough because it is loud, it is busy and he is doing most of the cooking too. Once you've been served your wine and tapas—maybe ham croquettes one day, grilled chicken hearts the next—carve out your space among the standing-room only crowd and eat and drink to your heart's delight. Your day will be better.