This is the kind of French restaurant that catches my eye. It has everything; affordable hearty fare, a sense of community (close tables mean your neighbors often become part of your conversations), a casual, relaxed atmosphere where no one will judge you for shopping at Primark or Lidl, and best of all- HISTORY.
First opening in 1845 as a dairy shop that served meals before becoming a full-fledged Bistro in 1890, the Polidor is considered to be one of the oldest restaurants in Paris. Welcoming everyone from students to authors to poets and playwrites, what has made this place succeed over the years is its’ simplicity and stubborn unwillingness to cater to modern times, which extends from their refusal to use credit cards (a cheeky sign proclaims that haven’t accepted them since 1845) to their vintage latrine.
From the rustic décor to the no fuss yet hearty dishes (think French classics like Boeuf Bourguignon and Confit de Canard) coming here makes you feel like you might have stepped back into time to the epoque of James Joyce or Hemingway, who mentions the Polidor in “A Moveable Feast”.
If that doesn’t convince you of its authenticity as a historic hotspot, Woody Allen used the restaurant for a scene in “Midnight in Paris”, the one where that whiny little bitch known as Gil meets the legendary manly Hemingway himself.
I don’t know where I read that this toilet (known as a Turkish Toilet) was here, it’s a bit of an urban legend; but when I went for the first time a few years ago, I made a point to visit it before our meal arrived. When I inquired with the waitress where it was, she started to warn me that it wouldn’t be what I was expecting, but then laughed when I said I knew all about it!
The Polidor is currently closed for renovations and expected to reopen in spring. I’m excited to see it, but I hope they haven’t altered the unique historic charm here to suit 21st century sanitary standards. (Check out Google Reviews to see how many surprised diners complain about the toilet).
Maybe I’m just a weirdo, but there’s something coyly delightful about using the same shitter as Iconic Paris Legends of our past. Walking in the footsteps of someone you admire is great, but here you can take it one slippery step further!