I’ve said it before, but I have a fascination with the seedier side of Paris. I live near Pigalle, so I get daily doses of kinky sex shops, working ladies in action and the famous museum of erotica. So when i heard that Greg (formerly of Costes, le Secret and Royal Monceau) was opening a spot in a former girlie-type club in the relatively quiet neighborhood near Trocadero, I was clearly intrigued.
Still sporting the sign of the prior establishment, le 29 is somewhat sketchy (in a good way) and unassuming from the outside. With no windows, red lights to signal they’re open and an imposing heavy closed door, you’ve little idea what you’re in for when you buzz for entry. But when I slipped into this modern day den of sin, I was completely enamoured by the decor. I’d heard that they’d done little in terms of remodel when taking the place over and fortunately
that’s true. Instead of having eradicated all traces of its prior existence, they play it up. It retains a slightly naughty and underground feel with its red walls and cushy red armchairs and lounges and the remaining shiny dance poles (check it out – you can see one in the pic). Yet elegant touches like the silver bar accessories, cocktails picks and gorgeous mixing glasses elevate it to something more luxurious and classy. I’d call it glamorous salacious boudoir chic at its best.
I stopped in early evening around 19:30 when mellow jazz and soul music played and I was joined by one of my usual cohorts, Matt, as well as Susie
and visiting Seattle LUPEC
and Tracy. Similar to a few other spots like le Carmen
and un Dimanche a Paris
, le 29 doesn’t have a printed cocktail menu. Options vary depending on what’s fresh and what kind of new syrups are lined up behind the bar. So, Greg chatted with us to get an idea of what we might want to get in our gullets. I started with my usual and had a very nice No. 3/Noilly Prat martini, stirred with olives. Matt started with a side car variation that included lemon grass and the girls had some well-made Manhattans.
Thus began a couple of hours of tasting and sampling and general conviviality. My next drink was a margarita with thyme and salt infused syrup. I lost track of what everyone else was sampling and sipping for each one. But I do recall an Armagnac, red vermouth and bitters combo as well as another with gin, Thai basil, green chartreuse, absinthe and syrup. The booze selection, while not huge, is very respectable. Gins available were Tanqueray, Monkey 47, Junipero, Gordons, No. 3 and Hendrick’s.
I’ve also said before, I think it can be intimidating for customers faced with no cocktail menu to order without knowing the prices. In this case, they run about 14 Euros a cocktail (similar to any other bar in Paris going sans carte) which are prices I’d be happy to pay here.
I love seeing a worthwhile bar arrive in this area, which previously had nothing cocktail-worthy to boast. Other things of note: For night owls, this is a spot that stays open until 4am (sometimes as late as 6am). It looks like they’ll hopefully be bringing in some finger foods come October or so. Smokers will appreciate the discrete and comfortable fumoir in the back with more cushy red armchairs and elegant lamps. Also, for the moment they don’t have a card machine, so take cash. Lots of it, because you can easily get sucked into the underbelly elegance of the place and not want to give up your bar stool for awhile.