Congratulations, you’ve landed in Paris, the world’s food capital. So, what now?
If you’re anything like me, you did your homework and probably watched a few episodes of Anthony Bourdain, if only to make a list of his favourite Paris restaurants. And let’s not forget that drool-worthy scene of Tony devouring a perfectly grilled steak smothered in creamy, rich and delicious peppercorn sauce from Bistrot Paul Bert; omg, it’s insane! But, sadly, that’s all we have left of Tony and his F-bomb commentary.
That said, while we’re all trying to land that fantastic restaurant that no one has heard about. Which, by the way, is nearly impossible. Tourists are savvy connoisseurs and are no longer satisfied with a mere croque monsieur or onion soup. Not that there’s anything wrong with either; they happen to be a personal favourite. However, I think we can agree (myself included) we’re looking for next-level French food without the stuffiness or the price tag of their formal counterparts.
Bistronomy, a popular food movement, means; french casual fine dining: casual decor and quality food. Traditional dishes are prepared with simple and seasonal ingredients but are elevated by high-level cooking techniques. The focus is on the dining experience rather than the Michelin stars that its chefs often rebel against.
Even the wine bars have evolved, serving more than an uncorked bottle accompanied by olives. Oh ya, we’re drinking natural wines, which has taken off in a big way, elevated charcuterie boards, and inventive plates such as duck foie gras skewers with piquillo peppers, and oxtail croquettes with red wine and horseradish…they’re definitely not your average. But it’s the perfect solution to a light snack or meal. They have you covered.
Tasting and sipping
This lively restaurant & wine bar, hosting travelling chefs, is tucked away on a narrow street in the Canal Saint Martin area (10th Arr). Guest chefs Francesco, Laura & Carlo from Florence, Italy, were our hosts the evening we dined. And as you’ve guessed, there was no croque monsieur or onion soup.
Instead, we shared plates of beef carpaccio with beets & toasted hazelnuts, roasted carrots with cream & chervil, Tuscan roast pork and pasta with a slow-cooked ragu, and yes, there was more… yum!
The plates are small. So, with that in mind, we ordered accordingly, sampling almost everything (notice I said almost) on the menu; we were stuffed! In addition, there are plenty of natural wines to choose from for all tastes and budgets. Our dinner in early December will have me dreaming of Early June for a while. Such a fun evening!
Reservations are recommended.
This tiny, hip(ster) wine bar in Oberkamph (11th Arr) is in a great neighbourhood and worth a stop, or at least a pint 😉 The staff are friendly, and they know wine. They have an extensive selection of natural wines and a few old-world ones for traditionalists. Tapas are posted on the chalkboard above the bar, and the daily specials are handed to you on a notepad. Very basic. However, the food is anything but basic.
Fresh, thinly sliced scallops served with a tangy orange vinaigrette, crispy bacalao (aka fish balls) with aioli, annnd tender, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi with nutmeg, butter and parmesan cheese. All accompanied by a gorgeous pinot noir, perfection.
Go early if you want a table; otherwise, reservations are recommended.
La Fontaine was a convenient walk from my apartment in the 10th Arr. But honestly, it was the homestyle food that kept bringing me back. Or their killer espresso martini; just say’n. This was one of my favourite places, having a real “locals” vibe. Keeping in mind, we were here in December, much different during the touristy summer months. However, the restaurant itself is charming and has a lovely ambiance overall. We enjoyed several meals here, including drinks. However, with a sizeable menu and daily specials, there’s something for everyone. Sadly we missed the live jazz on the weekends; We’ll need to revisit for next time.
Reservations are recommended.
A cozy neighbourhood bar in the Haut-Marias (3rd Arr) is a buzzing enclave of hip cafes and wine bars. The popular Le Mary Celeste is no exception. It’s packed for a good reason. Serving small plates; fresh oysters, duck tartar with smoked beets and rice chips, stuffed cabbage with pork loin, adobo sauce and green lentils, OR grilled hake fillet with a gremolata and mashed potatoes, taking bar food to the next level.
They serve predominately natural wines and beer; however, if you’re craving something other than wine, there’s a seductive menu of crafted cocktails, leaving you satisfied with an ethereal buzz.
Reservations are recommended.
This wasn’t my first rodeo to this buzzy little wine bar in the Odeon (6th Arr.) neighbourhood. It’s easy to understand why this made Tony’s top Paris favourites. It’s simple elevated food. No tables, no problem. Pull up to the bar cuz it’s standing room only and order one or several of the MANY tasty mini-size tapas from (put your glasses on) the menu above. It’s a real modern wine bar, select your bottle from the many thousands stored in the large glass refrigerators, or order a simple glass of wine starting as cheap as 4 euros.
Close to the Marais, in the (4th Arr.) or quatrième. We stumbled upon a long que of
stylish hungry-looking people, which was our clue to investigate something very delicious beyond the doors of Benedict. If you’re not fussed about having a table, i.e. ok, sitting at the bar, then saddle up! We were seated immediately. Otherwise, expect a long wait.
With a substantial menu, including eight variations on a classic eggs benedict, it wasn’t easy deciding what to order. It ALL looked delicious! And if the sound of the cocktail shaker going non-stop wasn’t enough to make you thirsty, it was all I could do to say yes, please! Great energy and a fun spot to people-watch!
The name Holybelly kept popping up on my radar. Located in the 10th Arr. I eventually bumped into this lively restaurant on a walk back to my apartment. Having seen the crowds and the menu, I knew immediately that I needed to eat there. Not to mention, the smell of bacon was calling to me;)
And guess what?
Breakfast is served all day! What?! Stacks of pancakes, sweet (seasonal fruits, toasted hazelnuts and whipped cream) or savoury (bacon, fried egg, bourbon butter), be still my heart! OR eggs any style with a choice of two sides. There are other delicious options for those seeking something other than breakfast. Portions are generous, and everything is homemade daily in their kitchen. Did I mention delicious?
Last but not least. We walked by this adorable little creperie (10th Arr.) numerous times and commented, “we should try this place.” It finally summoned us on our last day in Paris. Lulu creperie did not disappoint. A huge plate was set before me. Wow! I thought to myself, there’s nooo way I was going to finish this. I’ve had my share of crepes before, but none were so light and fluffy as these. But, not surprisingly, I finished my entire crepe! Shocking, I know, but so good 🙂
Our Paris food journey will not be forgotten. A new generation of chefs is raising the bar on the food scene and evolving when it comes to traditional dishes. One does not defy the other, keeping the tradition alive with simple ingredients with an elevated twist.