Joie de Vivre

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FEB12_Le_bon_vivant

Photography by Chris Smith

Like many big ideas, the new Franco-philic emporium in De Sales Corner began with a modest mission: to find a jar of sweet chestnut spread. Catherine Meguire—born of a French mother and American father—was searching the city for quality French ingredients and coming up empty-handed. “The French products I managed to find were tucked away on a back shelf,” Meguire says. “And I didn’t want to order online every time I needed something.” So she took matters into her own hands and opened Le Bon Vivant a hop, skip, and a saut away from historic St. Francis de Sales Church.

Veterans of high school French might remember that a bon vivant is a lover of the good life. If you’ve traveled in France, this place sends you into a nostalgic stupor. If you haven’t, the tiny tins of lavender candy and bottles of truffle oil will transport you there. Bright table linens drape over rustic shelves while others are stocked with bonbons, herbs, and Alsatian vinegars. But Le Bon Vivant isn’t just for aficionados—even a finicky eater will fall for the bread. Wrapped in nondescript white paper, the baguettes and pain bâtard come in regular parbaked shipments from Tribeca Oven in New Jersey (the same bread Jean-Robert uses in his restaurants), and a loaf can be yours for $3.50. Pair it with a great bottle of red, plus cheese and chutney, and park your perfect lunch-for-two on the nearest bench.

Meguire’s next project? “What I’d love to do now is open a good boulangerie next door.” Seconded.

Le Bon Vivant, 2801 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills, (513) 221-2921, lebonvivant.us.com

Originally published in the February 2012 issue.

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