May 7, 2010
I was pleasantly surprised to discover Pramil with Rosa Jackson and Paule Caillat for a tasty dinner of refreshingly delicious, and reasonably priced French fare and excellent company. Pramil is a tiny bistro tucked away on a small side street in the hip Arts and Metiers neighborhood of Paris. I’m already plotting my return and thanks to Rosa’s great write up, I can re-live the savors and the experience until I’m able to find my way there again! — Erica.
When it comes to restaurants, I’m not really that demanding. I want the basic ingredients to be seasonal and good. I want the cooking to show restraint: nothing puts me off more than an overly complicated plate. And I want the chef to have a heart that shines through in the food.
Sounds simple, right? Yet these three elements come together more rarely than you might think, even in Paris. That’s why a recent meal at Pramil felt so refreshing.
I had walked past this bistro a few times on my way to my friend Paule‘s place in the fashionable northern Marais, and it seemed to have a nice buzz. I liked the understated elegance of the wood beams and white tablecloths, and the burly chef appeared to take his food seriously. The restaurant hadn’t had a lot of press, but what I did find was positive. So I booked a table for a small group of friends, including Paule and Erica.
The short menu made an intriguing read with dishes like choux pastries filled with foie gras and cauliflower “cake” with pepper jelly. It’s not easy to make cauliflower interesting and this dish succeeded with a texture that was somewhere between a cake and a terrine, and just the right dose of chili to lift the vegetable’s bland sweetness. I could easily have polished off the two big slices if I hadn’t been anticipating the main course.
Salmon rarely appears on my plate these days what with overfishing and other controversies, so when I do get a craving I don’t fight it. Just as our waitress was beautiful without a trace of makeup, this dish made no apologies for its lack of frivolous garnish. A smear of tapenade, lightly crushed Pompadour potatoes topped with butter and parsley: this pale pink fish needed nothing more. (In case you’re wondering about the word Pompadour, it’s a waxy potato variety grown in Picardie which has a Label Rouge guaranteeing its origin.)
I was too wrapped up in the conversation to pay much attention to other people’s plates, but I did notice how Erica’s slow-cooked lamb had collapsed into a delicious mass of shredded meat, its juices sopped up by a broccoli dariole (a kind of flan).
For dessert, chocolate and chili ice cream with passion fruit was no more and no less than what it claimed to be – not especially memorable, but a satisfying ending to a meal that tasted like very good home cooking and seemed reasonably priced at €30 for three courses. The burly chef did the rounds shaking hands, obviously proud to meet happy customers. Now, if only there were a restaurant like this in every French street.
Pramil, 9 rue du Vertbois, 3rd, 01 42 72 03 60.
- Rosa’s mouth-watering blog
- Vingt Paris‘ write-up of Pramil
- The Telegraph’s list of Paris’ best neo-bistrots
- Tory’s Best Prix-fixe lunch spots in Paris
Written by Rosa Jackson
Rosa Jackson is a Canadian-born food writer and cooking teacher based in Nice and Paris. After ten years in Paris, where she wrote about restaurants for a number of guidebooks and magazines and founded the company Edible Paris. She now spends most of her time in Nice where she teaches Provençal cooking in her home. She spends a few days every month in Paris keeping up with restaurants, conducting food tours, and sampling the finest patisseries and chocolates.
Website: Rosa Jackson