Becquetance, For a Cheeky Bite to Eat

Becquetance, For a Cheeky Bite to Eat

Some people like to share a snack with friends; others will say it’s all about nibbling! But for Vincent Bielhy and Anastasia Rohaut, there is nothing better than sharing a bite to eat. These are the best moments life has to offer, with friends gathered around the table. A culture of great but uncomplicated food that they were itching to present in the Paris bistrot they have named “Becquetance”. A light-hearted play on words that perfectly embodies their love of language. A language that laughs, delights and savours. The premises they redesigned together as a family – from the renovation to the structural work – are intimate, to say the least, and the duo does not deviate from the rule – quite the contrary – of closeness and camaraderie that is so typical of places up on the Butte de Ménilmontant. “Honest, unpretentious and generous”, the chef’s cooking combines with her team-mate’s assured taste in selecting “eclectic and serious” organic wines. The meaningful marriage of a mutual desire for simplicity to create a restaurant that is “demanding but readily accessible”. Because there is no question of the chef theorising about her cooking. She doesn’t intellectualise; she follows her instincts and adopts a fresh, new approach to traditional concepts by “(associating) one or more elements from other culinary cultures”. A true taste for mixing and mingling that is reflected in the very fabric of 67 Rue de Ménilmontant. The old, like the Trash wall – a genuine vestige of the past life of the place – rubs shoulders with vibrant ceramic creations from the Zoug Zoug workshop and the graphic lighting by Clément Jacq. These creations form an ideal backdrop for meeting up with other cheeky food lovers to (re)discover seasonal dishes that have as much spirit as their creators!

Restaurant Becquetance, 67 Rue de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris. Open Monday to Friday from 12pm to 3pm and from 7pm to midnight. Reservations at 01 40 30 22 97.

Comptoir blanc et tabouret en bois au bistrot Becquetance Paris
Trash wall et chaises de bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Bouteille de vin et fleurs au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Tables en bois et chaises de bistrot chez Becquetance à Paris

Anastasia and Vincent, can you introduce yourselves, please?

Anastasia
Anastasia, 33 years old, chef of the restaurant Becquetance.
Vincent
Vincent, 34 years old. I look after the dining room and the wine at Becquetance.

What is your background?

Vincent
I got caught up in the restaurant business after various unsuccessful attempts at studying. My achievements can be summed up by a great deal of experience in an establishment on the Canal Saint-Martin (La Marine) and two or three other spots.
Anastasia
My academic background is more oriented towards architecture. After I graduated, I worked for three years with the Saga Collective on facility construction projects in Joe Slovo township, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I was already cooking a lot at the time, especially to finance part of the project through fund-raising dinners. When I decided to return to France, I started a CAP by correspondence, and I was lucky enough to get a job as a commis at Bistrot Paul Bert, which is a terrific school. I stayed there for a year-and-a-half, and then I was offered a job as the sole chef in a canteen in Le Sentier, La Pince à Cornichons. I stayed there for 18 months too. Then Covid came along, then a short contract as a second chef and then setting up the project with Vincent.

Why did you both decide to become partners?

Vincent

We met through our respective spouses, both architects. They were working in the same agency at the time. Anastasia was running the kitchen of a small bistrot near the Bourse, and we were both looking for something to reflect our personalities. The outlines of what we wanted were very vague at the time. We got to know each other by discussing what we liked about food and morning and by drawing upon our respective experiences. I thought Anastasia’s cooking was both traditional and generous, with a touch of creativity that kept the food from being boring. And it goes without saying that it was delicious.

Anastasia
Our complementary profiles were an obvious asset. I love wine, and I’m very good at appreciating it, but I wouldn’t be able to retain all this information about the different vintages without getting confused. We found ourselves coming round to the idea of a bistrot, a welcoming neighbourhood place where you eat a variety of unpretentious seasonal dishes prepared without fuss but with great care.
Table et plats au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Table et chaises en bois au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Trash wall et applique murale ronde au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Tablette et table en bois au bistrot Becquetance à Paris

We found ourselves coming round to the idea of a bistrot, a welcoming neighbourhood place where you eat a variety of unpretentious seasonal dishes prepared without fuss but with great care.

Ouverture au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Les fondateurs Vincent Bielhy et Anastasia Rohaut dans le bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Assiette et carrelage noir et blanc dans le bistrot Becquetance à Paris

What is the aim of Becquetance in terms of its offer?

Vincent
The idea was open an accessible bistrot serving high quality local products. A restaurant that is demanding but readily accessible. Anastasia’s cuisine lends itself very well to this. As for the wines, only natural wines. A selection that is both eclectic and serious.

Why did you choose such a small space to set yourselves up in?

Vincent

When we first visited the premises, we had to be really imaginative because there was nothing inside. Everything was a shambles, but we felt we could do something good with it. We wanted a small place, because it has a feeling of closeness and camaraderie. And a small place was ideal because we are a small team. Our friend Hugo Marchal has joined us in the kitchen for the evening service. And finally, we wanted a small space because our setup budget was limited.

 Why did you choose this name for your bistrot?

Anastasia

This name had been on Vincent’s mind for some time, I think. We share a certain taste for the French language and its different shades of meaning. “Becquetance” is a slang word for food, and slang is a dialect more than approved on the Butte de Ménilmontant. We wanted a word that evoked simplicity and conviviality, while showing our cheeky side. The idea of honest food, unpretentious and made with high-quality products.

Anastasia, how did you use your former profession as an architect in this project?
Anastasia
Obviously, it was useful when we were designing the place, which we did alongside our respective spouses, Amandine Paty (Brenac & Gonzalez) and Yannis Frémont Marinopoulos (Parages. Architectes), who are also architects. Then, as my experience with architecture has included a high proportion of work on building sites, it was very useful for me in monitoring the progress of the restaurant project. My father and my brother, Anthony Rohaut, a tiler and mason in the Creuse region, also worked with us on the project.
Cuisine et bar au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Bar avec bouteilles de vins au bistrot Becquetance

We share a certain taste for the French language and its different shades of meaning. “Becquetance” is a slang word for food, and slang is a dialect more than approved on the Butte de Ménilmontant

Assiette au bistrot Becquetance
Verres à vin au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Becquetance, For a Cheeky Bite to Eat

What materials did you choose to use here, and why?

Vincent
We needed warmth in this small space. Wood seemed to us to be the obvious choice. Oak lends itself perfectly to this. From the woodwork in the bar to the glass roof in the kitchen, the shopfront and the stairs. It seemed important to us to create a coherent whole, the rest being composed of raw materials already on-site (concrete and stone for the basement). To create this floor, we were inspired by the work of the architect Carlo Scarpa in several of his projects.
Anastasia
The initial idea was to create an irregular, but gridded mosaic. The deep green marble inlaid in the polished concrete gives a taste of both roughness and sophistication. As for the trash wall, we wanted to keep a remnant of the old premises in the space where we welcome customers. It works like a canvas on the wall. We left it as it was; the inscriptions from the old building works are still there.
 

Which craftspeople did you work with when it came to decoration?

Vincent
The work was largely carried out by Costaud Rénovation. The tableware we use was created by Charlotte Auroux from the Zoug Zoug workshop (Gambetta). The coffee service was made by Emmanuelle Angot, whose workshop is further up the Rue de Ménilmontant. The Agecop team produced the oak structures. And finally, the wall lights were designed and made by our mutual friend, Clément Jacq.
Anastasia
Some elements of the work were carried out by the family. My brother and my father did all the tiling and marble work, and my mother made the cushions for the benches. The table bases were already in the restaurant. We had the tops made by Placages André. And as for the chairs, most of them come from the splendid collection at Cartel de Belleville.
How would you define your cooking style?
Anastasia

This is probably the most difficult question for me, because I don’t theorise about my cooking at all. My dishes and menus are mostly conceived instinctively, using the season and what it offers us as a basis. I like to work on the principle that things that grow at the same time must go together in at least one way, perhaps even in a hundred ways. I work closely with producers and suppliers, and quality is of primary importance. Jean-Luc Larcade, from Les Petites Fermes, has had my complete trust for years now. We have been working with wonderful vegetables from Les Trois Parcelles farm since the beginning, and Tom Saveurs and Le Bateau de Thibault supply us with seafood. The delicious creams and cottage cheese from Maison Borniambuc are also great allies. And we mustn’t forget our local friends, Benoît Castel, for the bread, and Crème for the cheese. As well as carefully chosen seasonal products, the basis of my cooking is traditional bistrot food and sometimes even the food my grandmother made. I love honest, unpretentious and generous cooking. I especially like to take a new approach to a dish by adding one or more elements from other culinary cultures. Mixing cultures in cooking is something that is quite central to what I enjoy doing.

Verre à vin et assiette au bistrot Becquetance
Cuisine en inox au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Étagères en bois au bistrot Bequetance à Paris
Cuisinière en inox au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Which dish should I be sure to try when I come to your place?
Anastasia & Vincent

The menu changes very frequently, several times a week, and some dishes are one-offs. I work a lot on instinct, so it is rare to eat exactly the same thing twice at Becquetance. However, a few dishes come up regularly, and are very popular: there’s the country terrine, the gravlax salmon and sticky rice, and the sausage with a purée on Monday lunchtime. Then there’s the bao with smoked black pudding, the chocolate buckwheat fondant and a pistachio-orange blossom cottage cheese brûlé. The lunch and dinner menus are published each day in a story on Instagram.

You keep a very good cellar. Where does this love of wine come from? Ans what will we find on the wine list?

Anastasia & Vincent

My taste for wine, and especially for natural wine, came gradually. I was converted after being stopped in my tracks by an amazing bottle of wine at Michel Guignier, La Petite Oseille. I wasn’t really a wine drinker, to begin with. I became passionate about it because the wines tasted different from what I had seen of “conventional” wine – that is, the sort of wines we drank when we were younger, on a night out, or with the family when they were medium-quality bottles at the table. We took some time to build up this cellar. In terms of atmosphere, we want the wine in our restaurant to be a friend thing, wine of quality, of course, but above all, to bring people together. You can enjoy wines from talented young winemakers such as Lambert Spielmann or Corentin Houillon, as well as those from more experienced winemakers such as Gérald and Jocelyne Oustric and Patrick Meyer, or Georgian wines that we share with the Supra cellar in Belleville.

Your bistrot is located in the 20th arrondissement. Why did you choose this particular district?

Anastasia & Vincent

We wanted to set up in the 20th arrondissement because we spend most of our time there. We feel comfortable there, and we wanted to set up a canteen in a place where we like to be. Ménilmontant is a neighbourhood that still has a real social mix and a friendly atmosphere maintained by the inhabitants, the shopkeepers, and the community.

Where will we find you in the coming months?

Anastasia & Vincent

We’ll be at Becquetance from Monday to Friday, obviously! We’re closing in August, but we’ll be back in full swing in the autumn.

Étagère en bois et table au bistrot Bequetance à Paris
Bouteilles de vin et coffrage en bois au bistrot Bequetance à Paris
Escaliers en bois au bistrot Becquetance à Paris

The menu changes very frequently, several times a week, and some dishes are one-offs. I work a lot on instinct, so it is rare to eat exactly the same thing twice at Becquetance.

Cave à vin au bistrot Becquetance à Paris
Baie vitrée au bistrot Becquetance à Paris

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