July 25, 2011
Slightly off the beaten track in an up and coming part of Paris’ 10th Arrondissement, Vivant was a delightful find for a fresh, simple dinner in a super cool ambiance with lovely service. Phyllis expertly sums up the restaurant in her review below. – Erica
It was no surprise that Pierre Jancou’s latest restaurant would be beautiful—his last two spots, Racines in the Passage des Panoramas and La Crémerie on the rue Quatre Vents in the 6th —are both stunning. Even so, I was still struck upon entering by Jancou’s knack for uncovering hidden gems. This one, located on the Rue des Petites Ecuries in the 10th, was an exotic bird shop in a previous life, hints of which appear in the motif of the bright green Art Nouveau tiles which cover the walls from floor to ceiling. It may be a new restaurant, but you wouldn’t know from the decor. With its faded charm and cool ambiance, it blends perfectly with this part of the up-and-coming 10th arrondissement.
Like its predecessors, Vivant serves meticulously sourced products and only natural wines. On the night of my recent visit there was a small blackboard menu and between three of us we were able to try nearly everything on offer. We started with a creamy Burrata from the Cooperative Latte Cisternino with tiny capers from the island of Pantelleria off of Sicily; delicate slices of fragrant Parma ham that were slightly salty and sweet; and seared Dupérier foie gras over shaved baby artichokes and a handful of greens—all delicious. Mains included cochon de lait (suckling pig) with hearty mashed potatoes, Challans Duck and line caught merlu (hake) from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, both expertly cooked and served with an assortment of vegetables that included fava beans, carrots, celery-rave, and spinach.
The wines on offer are 100 % natural — or “living”, as Jancou calls the wines he likes to serve. So what does that mean exactly? According to More than Organic, Jancou’s website, natural wines are wines “made in small quantities, by an independent producer, from handpicked, organically grown grapes, with no added sugar or yeasts, no adjustments for acidity and no micro-oxygenation or reverse-osmosis”. So, in short, all you are getting are the grapes and what the wine maker is able to express with them. If sulphur dioxide is used, it is used in minimal quantities and only at bottling.
Natural wines are fragile and their tastes tend to differ from year to year and even from bottle to bottle. They can be unstable and unpredictable. Upon opening they might be fizzy and have a funky smell. Nothing a little decanting won’t normally fix but many people are put off by them and dismiss the natural wine movement. I’m not sure where I sit on that fence, and don’t know enough to make an informed opinion, but I like natural wines and am not put off when I come across a quirky one.
We trusted Jancou’s judgment for the wines and started with 3 different whites by the glass to share. I was busy catching up with friends in from the US and before I knew it, our chalk board was whisked away and I have no idea what they were. Next up was a bottle of Moulin à Vent, which was simply delicious.
This is a lovely neighborhood restaurant, serving simple but well-prepared cuisine using only exceptional products. The prices are steep—we paid 180 € for three without coffee or dessert—but these sorts of ingredients don’t come cheaply. If you aren’t interested in knowing where your ingredients come from or don’t care what techniques were used to make your wine, you probably won’t “get” Vivant, and I imagine there will be plenty of folks who will walk away disappointed. But if you do care, you just might walk away feeling delighted, like I did, that little restaurants like this exist.
43, rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010
Métro: Château d’eau or Bonne Nouvelle
Open: Lunch and dinner Mon – Fri, closed Sat and Sun
- Parisian Party demystifies the art of the aperitif in France
- Check out Alan Richman’s extensive piece about Paris’ best new restaurants and the bistronomy trend
- HiP Paris friend Kim Laidlaw Adrey writes about new SOPI coffee shop, Kooka Boora (which HiP Paris Blog’s Erica Berman included in our roundup here)
Written by Phyllis Flick
Phyllis Flick is an American living in Paris who has written about Paris and French life for various publications, including the Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide to Paris. She has worked as a culinary translator for the Pudlo Guide to Paris & France and was lucky enough to have been a judge for the 2010 “Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris” (best baguette in Paris competition) run by the Mairie de Paris. You can find some of her favorite places in Paris on her blog My Paris Notebook.
Website: My Paris Notebook