Thursday, August 21, 2014

Juvéniles in Paris: Legend Tim Johnston Pulls Back and Daughter Margaux Moves In, France

Picture: Margaux and Tim Johnston, and Christian G.E.Schiller, in 2014 and 2013.

One of the best wine bars on the contemporary Parisian wine scene is Juvéniles, a cosy wine bar cum wine shop.

Juvéniles - in the 1st Arrondissement on the Left Bank, at 47 rue de Richelieu, very close to Palais Royal, the Louvre and the Grands Boulevards further north - has been a cult winebar/bistro for 2 decades, at least for the Paris expatriate community, run and owned by Tim Johnston from Scotland. Tim Johnston is a highly likable wine-loving bon vivant. It is fun to talk with him. And, of course, he speaks not only French but also English. He was now handed over to his charming daughter Margaux.

As a result, the interior has not changed a bit, the wine list has remained as interesting as under Tim, but the food has been pushed to a new level by the new chef, Romain Roudeau.

Picture: Juvéniles

Tim Johnston reacting to the above (which I had posted on facebook): Strictly speaking, I still have not "handed over"- I still look after the wine side, which has always been of utmost importance in Juveniles. However, I am delighted to have Margaux and Romain with me and Romain has achieved wonders in the six months he's been cooking at Juves. The interior has in fact changed with Margaux taking down all the "purple "labels (done by her & her sister, Caroline) and giving a coat of fresh paint!

Regardless, a new area has begun at Juvéniles.

A Cult Paris Wine Bar - Juveniles


Juvéniles was started by a Scot and a Brit a a number of years ago, Tim Johnston and Mark Williamson. Tim Johnston worked at Mark Williamson's (the Brit) Willis' Wine Bar from 1981. They created a wine dealership under the name of Great Grape Traders in 1984.

In 1987, they opened the Juvéniles shop, selling wine and serving some tapas with wine. Juveniles became an outlet for off the beaten track wines that they would dig up from all over France.

In 1998, the two long-time associates separated and Tim took the wheel on Juvéniles and Great Grape Traders. By that time, Juveniles had asserted itself on the Paris wine bar scene and began sourcing wines from further away. In the early 1990s, Tim made two trips to Australia and started to import wine from there. Juveniles became, with Willis' Wine Bar, the only place in Paris at the time to sell Australian wines, causing quite a stir.

Pictures: Toilette of  Juvéniles with my Business Card

Today, Juvéniles remains a 'cult' Parisian wine bar and a fabled pit stop on the international wine bar circuit. Not only does it offer a wonderful selection of both French and other Old World, but also New World wines; and it maintains an excellent kitchen, which recently got a boost, with Tim’s daughter Margaux taking over the service and her boyfriend Romain Roudeau taking over the kitchen.

Pictures: Juvéniles: Now and Before - Has it Changed?

The Wines

Last time, when I was there, Juveniles offered about 2 dozen wines by the glass, including a sparkler from Australia, but overall surprisingly little New World wines; the list is basically comprised of off-the-beaten track Old World wines. One thing to note is that since 1990 Tim doesn't sell any reds from Bordeaux or from Burgundy any more. He likes the Rhone wines, dating back from the time he was living in Aix en Provence, before working at Willis.

Juvéniles is also a wine shop where you can choose among about 60 different wines and pay to go as you would do in your usual wine shop. The wines on the shelves have both prices displayed, the one to go, and the one to drink on the spot.

The Food

The food was always excellent, but got another boost with Chef Romain Roudeau taking over the kitchen.

Nick Lander earlier this year in the Financial Times: The welcome and wines at Juvéniles have been under the care of Tim Johnston, a Scotsman, for the past 27 years but he has now passed on responsibility to Margaux, his 25-year-old daughter. I have rarely seen someone so happy in this role. She is obviously devoted to the family business and she is also now in love with Juvéniles’ 26-year-old chef, Romain Roudeau, whom she met while part of the team at the renowned bistro La Régalade, in the 14th. Roudeau has made the tiny kitchen behind the bar his own and although he has kept certain dishes from the previous menu, notably the Macsween haggis and a couple of English cheeses, he has composed an intriguing, great-value menu. Our first courses of green asparagus soup and a duck consommé with burnt onions gave an inkling of the excitement to follow, but it was the manner in which our main courses were served that was really impressive. Far too many French chefs consider vegetables to be a second-class ingredient, but not Roudeau. Here came leeks and rocket with poached chicken breast; peas and broad beans with duck breast; and carrots and turnips with tenderly cooked beef cheeks. His desserts are just as good and the €28.50 three-course dinner menu is a steal.

47 rue de Richelieu
75001 Paris
Metro Palais Royal (line 1 & 7)
phone 01 42 97 46 49

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