When in Paris, LeDuc is an impenitent gourmand, so we spent most evenings dining. But on our last day, he had a late-afternoon errand, and suggested we meet for a drink around 6:30. Our rendezvous: The Rosebud (11 rue Delambre), a beloved bar since Hemingway, Sartre and Fitzgerald warmed its stools.
After cocktails, we planned to eat at Le Dome, the classic Montparnasse brasserie. At 6:30, The Rosebud was shuttered tight, and as I kicked the leaves, I saw, like Excalibur in the mist, Le Scott Bar. Yes, I found my spiritual home.
If The Rosebud is a white dinner jacket (and indeed the bartenders wear them to serve its brancheé barflys) Le Scott is a black lace teddy, slightly louche and up to no good.
Just a skip down the street, but a parallel universe. You may order an apero, digestif, wine, but no complicated cocktails (that is, with a mix other than water or soda), and their business doesn't really pick up till 2 am. (closing, 5 am.)
Commedia del'Arte masks on the wall, deep red walls and banquettes. Its pedigree goes back to the '60s, one family has owned it since then.
If Le Scott absorbs you, The Rosebud presents you. LeDuc first visited 30 years ago, and says their Irish coffees are as unctuous as ever, but it's another planet in sensibility: Rosebud plays Billie Holiday, Le Scott, Sharon Jones. At The Rosebud, I was glad to get an honest to god vodka martini; hamburgers and chili nod to its American roots- but the cream in your coffee is creme fermiere, redolent of the barnyard in the best possible way.
Another great bar we passed almost every evening is Le Pantalon, tucked into a tiny street near Le Sorbonne (7 rue Royer-Collard, 5th arr.). This bar attracts every kind of convivial person, speaking every language, and wraps them in a tiny, surreal room. Perhaps the new Hemingway and Fitzgerald are holding forth here, in the neighbourhood called "the brain of Paris".
Prices at Le Dome had risen so ferociously that we decamped to Brasserie Le Dome just across the street. The less ornate room shares the same kitchen, which provided a last feast of splendid oysters, skate wing and St-Jacques with mushroom risotto.
Since our return, Le Duc pines for Paris, so I hope our return is not more than a year or so away.