Restaurant Reviews

Le Conservatoire: An Indoor Parisian Picnic, Italian Style

by Kim Laidlaw

The Paris weather has been decidedly grey and overcast this spring, with only brief displays of sunshine punctuating what seem like never-ending downpours. The usual sunny Paris picnic season has been mostly rained off—and this is where Le Conservatoire comes to the fore.

Le Conservatoire, the latest private dining experience from Cédric Casanova, is a Sicilian grocery store-cum-restaurant, much like its predecessor and sister establishment, La Tête dans les Olives. Most of the time it’s a small shop selling Sicilian produce. During mealtimes, however, it welcomes a table of up to nine lucky diners for a no-choice menu, created in front of you by your amiable host Alix, who showcases the Italian ingredients for sale in the store with simple, fresh Sicilian fare.

It is, as Alix explains, a laid-back way to sample a selection of small dishes, on a table set with a blue-and-white checked tablecloth, bread, olive oil, olives, tapenade, and sun-dried tomatoes for all the guests to pick at—much like a picnic but without the risk of getting drenched.

On a recent grey Parisian day, Erica from HiP Paris, Kasia from Love in the City of Lights, Caroline from Sweet Caroline in Paris and I from I Heart Paris, checked it out for lunch. As well as the bread and delicious olive oil, we also had a vegetable course including pickled carrots and bite-size mushrooms, followed by perfectly al dente tomato and eggplant pasta and a sweet and light dessert of granita and Sicilian almond cookies.

After our meal, I went round the table to see what each of us thought of the Conservatoire experience.

Erica, what did you think of the one-table experience?

First with La Tête dans les Olives and now with this, his new venture, Cedric Casanova proves (and improves upon) his one-table concept. More space, same hip neighborhood, slightly different products (most straight from Sicily). The emphasis is on preserving and conserving vegetables and fruits brought in from Sicily. The signature Cedric Casanova olive oil and olives are, of course, on hand as well.

This is another ‘must do’ for those seeking an offbeat and intimate dining experience. At Le Conservatoire, it’s just your group, the host, and a lot of tasty picnic-style delicacies. Not to miss: the mandarin orange granita covered in almond sprinkles. With a bit of sea, sun and warmth, we just might have been in Sicily.

Kasia, what about the products?

With jars of fresh preserves and a variety of olive oils lining the shelves, ripe lemons spilling out of cartons as though just picked from the orchard, you can easily imagine being at the local market of a quaint Italian village, right in the heart of Paris. It is these ingredients that set Le Conservatoire apart.

Caroline, we all loved the dessert Erica mentioned. Tell us a bit more about it.

The day we shared our lingering lunch at Le Conservatoire was grey and cold—as it has been for the majority of spring so far in Paris this year. The time arrived for dessert, and gazing outside, I couldn’t help but hope it would be some kind of warm hazelnut cake. But this was Sicilian food, after all, and keeping with the theme, little glasses of mandarin granita arrived in front of us. It was topped with an almond crumble, and I seriously wanted to lick the glass.

This is what I want to eat all day, every day, in summer months. And now that the weather will hopefully take a turn for the better, I think the people behind Le Conservatoire should very seriously consider opening a granita stand, or even better a granita truck. I’d be happy to lend them my parking spot, should they be inclined.

In the meantime, you can sample the delicious, simple Sicilian food and the intimacy of the private dining experience in the comfort of this charming little grocery shop, come rain or shine. Buon appetito!

Le Conservatoire
14 rue St Marthe, 75010
+33 (0)
Métro: Belleville, Goncourt, Coloniel Fabien
Open: Monday – Friday, for lunch and dinner

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Written by Kim Laidlaw Aidrey for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos Didier Gauducheau. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Kim Laidlaw

London-import Kim Laidlaw is the creator of insider city guide Unlock Paris. After studying History of Art at the Ecole du Louvre, she decided to make Paris her home and has lived here for 8 years and counting. Kim writes travel guides for Lonely Planet, Thames and Hudson and Dorling Kindersley, and articles for the BBC and Conde Nast, as well as copywriting for ad agencies in Paris and copyediting for several fashion magazines, including Fashion For Men and Self Service. View Kim Laidlaw's Website

10 comments on “Le Conservatoire: An Indoor Parisian Picnic, Italian Style

One addendum. The proprietor, Cedric, is actually half-French, half-Sicilian.

What a fun dining concept and its great that you have a community of bloggers to go sample, review and share that experience with. I wish I had the same in Prague! Thanks for sharing, the pasta looked delicious.

Do, Géraldine, and let us know what you think! 🙂

ahaha. I was not questioning your honesty. 😉

Great. I’ll put them in my to-try-list.


@Anna – it’s an incredibly reasonable €30 per head. You also have the option of adding on a cheese course or a fish course featuring delicious tuna bresaola, at €15 for the plate to share for the whole table. Not bad!

@Géraldine – I found out about it through Cedric Casanova’s other establishment, La Tete dans Les Olives (which you can read about here who told me about their plans for a second venue last autumn. Erica from HiP organised this lunch but we footed the bill ourselves – so all opinions are unbiased and uninfluenced 🙂

WOW, Thanks for this address! Looks fantastic. I’ll try to take some time to go next time I’m in Paris. How did you find out about it? Where you invited?

How much did it cost ? La tête dans les olives is around 25€, if my memories serve me well, for the diner “table d’hôte”.

@Rachel: Fingers crossed – but at least if it stays grey and rainy in Paris, we now know where to have a delicious indoor picnic!

Fantastic photos, love the concept!

Yum all that food looks delicious! It’s been a cold spring in London too…let’s hope it’s a nice hot summer in Paris!

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