Bringing Quality Food to a Paris Train Station


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L’Étoile du Nord opened in November inside the Gare du Nord station in Paris.

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Jerome Leglise

For the 700,000 or so people who surge daily through the Gare du Nord in Paris, one of Europe’s busiest train stations has offered little respite from noise and crowds, let alone somewhere to get a decent meal. But the Parisian chef Thierry Marx aims to change that with L’Étoile du Nord, a brasserie with an upstairs wine bar that opened in November in a two-story pavilion of concrete, polished metal and glass inside the station’s bustling entrance hall.

“I wanted to create a brasserie inspired by the old buffets de gare,” Mr. Marx said, “where you could eat a good meal made with quality ingredients in the days before everything at a station became prepackaged industrial food.” Using some of the same suppliers he uses for his Michelin-starred restaurant, Sur Mesure, he devised a contemporary French menu with a few dishes, like fish and chips and a Liège-style waffle, that nod to London, Amsterdam and the other northern destinations served by the station.

During a recent weekday lunch, a lively crowd of business people in suits and travelers with rolling suitcases filled the 120-seat dining room, where red Scandinavian modern-style chairs and touches of knotty pine paneling warm an otherwise spare-feeling space. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls afford views of passengers hurrying to and from platforms.

I began with a meaty, juniper-seasoned terrine from master charcutier Gilles Vérot and continued with an excellent sea bass fillet in a deep-green pool of zucchini cream. My companion’s three-course prix fixe lunch (31 euros) included tender leeks dressed with an orange-infused vinaigrette, and a roasted chien breast lacquered with reduced jus. We spilt his deconstructed lemon tart, a delightful round of crisp crust topped with hillos of tangy lemon cream and a nest of tiny meringue stis. Service at times veered from briskly efficient to rushed.

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