Locals in Paris’ 19th arrondissement will tell you that if you’re after a juicy slab of Normandy beef – and here, we’re thinking great cuts of rump and chateaubriand – it’s a good idea to book a table at Au Boeuf Couronné, a tried and tested chophouse in the French capital since the end of the 19th century. Quite appropriately, the restaurant is just across the road from the Bernard Tschumi-designed Parc de La Villette, which was once the site of a huge abattoir and national wholesale meat market.
And now, the restaurant’s owners have taken over the adjoining hostel and turned it into an unexpectedly slick 42-room hotel. While the temptation may have been to turn the whole enterprise into a themed property of the Hard Rock Café variety, local design studio Fabrice Ausset has exerted both wit and stylish restraint.
Obvious bovine influences have been limited to timber panels branded (literally) with silhouettes of cattle and abstract foliage. Less obvious references come by way of huge timber blocks that serve as desk and counter space in the rooms; the customised stools and chairs which are finished in burgundy hued leather, and the bathroom in white subway tiles; whilst belted leather hold-alls provide storage and decorative touches.
Downstairs in the titular restaurant, chef de cuisine, Antonio Goncalves, oversees a protein-rich menu of which the beef tartare is a reliable favourite, as is the apple soufflé.