The Café Au Chai de l'Abbaye at 26 Rue de Buci received the annual Prix du Meilleur Pot de Paris recently in recognition of its efforts to serve only honest "vins d'origine."
Each January, since 1955, the gastronomic review La Table et la Route, and its related brotherhood of gourmets and bons vivants, l'Académie Rabelais, has awarded the permanent trophy for one year to a deserving café.
The rather unprepossessing wood and nickel trophy announces to wine lovers that they need not fear for their livers when during the course of 1967 they drink the Beaujolais, Sancerre and other wines served by Guy Mauchien, the owner.
Only a few months ago a rather grubby establishment, the new expensive modern rustic décor of Au Chai de l'Abbaye has begun to attract "le Tout-St.-Germain." It makes one wonder if now wine is to be "discovered" in some sort of about-face rejection of "le whisky."
In any case for those who like to pursue the quest for good wine, here are a few of the recent if somewhat less chic holders of the Prix du Meilleur Pot:
Jean Bouscarel, last year's laureate, serves a superb Sancerre in the pleasantly old-fashioned La Tartine, 24 Rue de Rivoli.
At La Bonne Cave, 20 Rue Geoffroy-St.-Hilaire, Jean-Baptiste Chaudet, a wine merchant who also sells by the glass, has some of the finest wines at bargain prices to be found anywhere. Note especially his Beaujolais, vins de Savoie, Sauternes, and Burgundies.
Léon Gouin has evidently named his bistrot Le Rubis at 10 Rue du Marché-St.-Honoré, after the color of his Beaujolais. He has a good Chénas, which you can also take home with you.
At Henri Vergne's mini-café Le Sauvignon, 80 Rue des Sts. Pères, you can taste the best sandwiches in Paris with his Quincy.
The view is as pleasant as the wines Robert Cointepas serves in his bar-tabac Le Henri IV, on the Pont Neuf just opposite the statue of its wine-loving namesake.
And finally the café Ma Bourgogne, 133 Boulevard Haussmann, has the distinction of having twice displayed the Prix du Meilleur Pot, under its present and former owners. Louis Prin bought it from Mr. Charvet, who now owns Le St. Amour, at 4 Rue de Rome.
This list is by no means complete but it is guaranteed to bring back your taste for wine, and perhaps it will develop it to the point where you may discover for yourself the other five bistrots that were in the running for this year's award.