July 22, 2011
A typical Parisian night out can mean any number of things. Some people like the club scene, while others prefer a quiet drink along the Seine. Some can knock back shots at the bar, and others look for a cultural infusions via acoustic guitar sets or art gallery openings. To accomplish all of these things in one night would, at the very least, tax your Navigo pass as you zig zag across town. Most likely, it would drive you crazy.
However, Hip Paris readers, I recently visited a place that is so all-encompassing, so varied in its vibe, décor and mission, that you and any number of your difficult-to-please friends can enjoy yourself, no matter what you’re looking for that night — or even that moment.
Entrance to La Halle Aux Oliviers (Kygp)
La Bellevilloise is an expansive, multi-tiered space in the hills of Belleville that, with seeming ease, incorporates every type of good time to be had under one roof. It is a jack-of-all-trades, where bar meets restaurant meets dance floor meets performance space meets brunch spot. Walking into each different area of the space brings a new experience, and I was drawn from doorway to doorway in a pleasant yet mildly schizophrenic frenzy of entertainment.
Entering from the street into the Forum drops you into a cavern-like club, dark and inviting. It’s like an Art Deco museum with a pulse. It’s a casual setting, and the various, mostly acoustic sets trade places up on the center stage for a packed room. Multiple floors of seating on both sides of the room allow patrons to watch the staff move with symphonic rhythm through the space, delivering tapas (the salmon wraps caught my eye more than once) and strong mojitos out from behind the imposing bar. The mood, despite the low lighting, is vibrant, cheery and unpretentious. On my last visit, I saw trenchcoats mixing with Nikes and flannels and fitted caps bumping hips with mom jeans…
After the cavernous Forum, emerging onto the Terrace, with its relaxed atmosphere among the Belleville rooftops, is a breath of fresh air. Gorgeous evening light is the setting for another bar, a partially covered deck, abundant greenery and wheelbarrow tables. Reminiscent of a Brooklyn beer garden, this space offers a reprieve from the energy and intensity of the other rooms. The rumblings of upright bass from the Forum are just a whisper out here. Everything about this cozy balcony says: take your time, have a drink. So I did. Continue Reading »
Posted in Arts, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 3 Comments »
July 11, 2011
In La Ville-Lumière, where the wine can be cheaper than the water, there are times when we forget that there is something other to drink than the humble grape: I refer you to the classic cocktail. Paris is full to the brim of kitsch cocktail bars popular with les bobos, über-cool joints where the process of whipping together a cocktail has more oomph than the finale of the Cirque du Soleil. But sometimes nothing beats going back to basics. And where better to enjoy the perfect Bloody Mary than under the very roof where it, along with other classic favorites, were invented and have been drunk for 100 years.
Harry’s New York Bar is the oldest cocktail bar in Europe, and first opened minus the ‘Harry’s’ prefix in 1911. It’s since become the darling of Parisians and expats alike, celebrated for its extensive cocktail list, beautifully prepared drinks and excellent service. It sits just five minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of Opéra and, in tribute to their loyal expat clientele, a sign outside reads ‘Sank roo doe noo’ – a phonetic transcription of the bar’s address to help lost and thirsty compatriots find there way there.
A warm greeting from the sweetly smiling hostess and a push through the swinging saloon doors, and I feel like I’ve tumbled into New York in the days before prohibition, when the men wore top hats and women feathers and fur. There’s not such stylish attire now, alas – more button down shirts and loosened ties, but the décor and atmosphere still shimmer of debonair early 20th Century days: smartly adorned bar staff, beautiful dark reddish oak panelling, walls plastered with triangular American state flags and rows upon rows of glittering bottles of all shapes and sizes — alcohols, mixers and syrups, all ready to be whipped up into a perfect cocktail creation. Even the old style hot dog stand on the bar counter pays tribute.
I’d missed lunch, which is the only time they serve anything other than New York style hot dogs; so instead, I sipped mojitos – I’m still une bobo at heart – in the piano bar downstairs and listened blissfully to the jazz pianist work his magic on an upright piano into the small hours. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 8 Comments »
May 7, 2009
photo courtesy of womenmanagementparis.blogspot.com
At first you thought you’d never tire of your pre-dinner kirs or pastis on traditional café terraces. But after one-too-many botched martinis, you’re willing to start considering alternatives. And if those alternatives happen to come courtesy of a group of fresh-faced Parisians enamored with New York cocktail culture, so be it.
Determined to bring Parisians around to the idea of “real” cocktails, drawing on only the finest spirits and fresh-squeezed fruit, the team behind the Curio Parlor first landed on the Paris scene a couple years ago with the Experimental Cocktail Club, an aptly named velour-lined drinking den in the 2nd arrondissement.
Although the two bars share their inclination towards taxidermy, designer’s guild prints, Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 5 Comments »