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Dersou: Vegetable-focused Dining Near Paris’ Bastille Neighborhood

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

Japanese chef Taku Sekine, formerly of Clown Bar, and Sherry Butt alum bartender Amaury Guyot have teamed up to open their first restaurant in the Bastille neighborhood, Dersou. Situated smack in the middle of an area lacking in fine dining – between the Marais and Bistrot Paul Bert territory – Dersou is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

The owners of the restaurant wisely decided to open early (9am) and leave the porte ouverte almost all day, save a brief late-afternoon pause. Tired shoppers, area employees, and intrepid tourists now have a place to rest their weary feet and enjoy a cup of coffee, thoughtful food, or even a much-needed cocktail.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

A day at Dersou starts with a breakfast of something like granola and porridge paired with coffee from Caffè Cataldi, which isn’t locally roasted, but is probably better than anything you’ll find along the chain-store-lined Faubourg St Antoine.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

A reasonably priced lunch is ordered à la carte from a menu offering more small plates than mains and a limited wine list made up of natural wine options. We enjoyed a dry white from the Languedoc region, which had a nice minerality and notes of apricot, perfect for a vegetable-focused mid-day meal.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

The first dinner service at Dersou must be reserved and consists of a five-course 90€ tasting menu, each course paired with a cocktail. After 9:30pm, diners are welcome to order off the menu and pair their own choice of cocktails with a selection of small plates.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

As far as the space, Dersou is both remarkable and unassuming. The interior of the restaurant is airy and open; a distressed concrete wall is left undecorated and plays with the sleek wooden bar, tables, and trays that meals are served on. Not going overboard with any of Paris’ current restaurant design trends (Scandinavian, Industrial, Brooklyn), Dersou humbly announces its presence as a result, but not a reproduction of, its environment.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

The menu, however, seems to still be seeking its identity. The lunch options included a Japanese curry and a shell bean ragout along with spaghetti all’arrabbiata, making for a collection of what seemed like unlikely bedfellows. My lunch date ordered the pasta with the thought that it, like many of the other menu items, would have some sort of Asian-inspired twist. It didn’t.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

The multiple personalities of the menu are reflected in the flatware that accompanies it; meals are served in pretty, but basic tin dishes that look ready for a camping trip, though they come delivered on Japanese-style wooden trays. Each tray is equipped with a fork, soup spoon, and chopsticks: the rock, paper, scissors equivalent of modern dining.

Inside Dersou, veggie-focused dining in Paris' 12th arrondissement

While Dersou’s culinary influence or niche may not yet be clear, I did enjoy my ragout made with fresh shell beans and lightly cooked vegetables along with a side of cauliflower dhal. Vegetarians will be happy to find more than one option on the menu for them, and late night diners will be reassured that they can eat out in this neighborhood without being obliged to endure overly lit bistros or the pulsing music and awful cocktails of the area’s lively nightclub scene.

Dersou – 21 rue Saint Nicolas, 75012. Tel: +33 (0)9 81 01 12 73. Open 9am-4:30pm, 7:30pm-1am.

Related Links:

  • Looking for a quaint coffee address in Paris? Emily also checks out CREAM.
  • The Bastille area has gotten a bad rap in the recent past, by the NY Times says it’s recuperating its cool.
  • Head a bit further into the 12ème arrondissement towards Nation and check out these addresses from Lisa.

Written by Emily Dilling for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Briag Courteaux. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Emily Dilling

Emily DillingEmily Dilling is a France based writer and author of My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes. In 2005 Emily moved to Paris from her native California and began exploring the cities markets, restaurants, and cafés. In 2010 she founded the blog Paris Paysanne, where she writes about her favorite addresses and artisans in the city. Emily currently lives in the Loir-et-Cher region of France, where she writes and works in the grapevines.

Website: Paris Paysanne

Photos by Briag Courteaux

Briag Courteaux has been living and working in Paris independently since 2009 as a photographer, working between documentary, personal research, institutional assignments, and private projects.

Website: Briag Courteaux

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