May 28, 2014
Aristide Boucicaut opened the world’s first department store in the 1850’s. Le Bon Marché was an instant and enduring success, changing shopping habits (and the neighborhood) forever.
The magnificent Hôtel Lutetia was built across the street to host out of town shoppers, and restaurants opened to feed them. Little has changed in the last 150 years and there are still a lot of great lunch options in the area, making it hard to choose just one!
Café Varenne – Although they all have similar menus, not all cafés are created equal and Café Varenne is a cut above the rest, using fresh, quality ingredients for simple, seasonal meals. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 8 Comments »
April 23, 2014
Lise Kvan and Sarah Mouchot at Holybelly (Holybelly & Kim Laidlaw)
As we know well, the promise of gastronomic delights is enough to inspire travelers to explore the world, seeking out hard-fought reservations and off-the-beaten-path restaurants in the name of really good food.
It’s easy to forget that behind these curated culinary experiences there is a team of dedicated professionals committed to using their talents and passions to improve and diversify the general landscape of food and dining. Certain events, TV shows, publications, and guidebooks spotlight some of these talented and resolute food professionals.
While these “foodie guides” are becoming more and more ubiquitous, they are unfortunately not always comprehensive as they far too often exclude women from their lineup. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 2 Comments »
April 4, 2013
As my husband and I prepared to leave Paris a decade ago, we thought long and hard about where to go for our “au revoir” meal. After three years of steady devotion to classic French food, we decided instead on Hiramatsu, then located on the Ile St-Louis and newly anointed with a Michelin star. Our two-hour lunch included course after aromatic course of Hiramatsu’s inventive and refined Franco-Japanese creations. It was a meal neither of us will ever forget.
I was reminded of that lunch recently at Le Concert de Cuisine, chef Naoto Masumoto’s sleek, bento box of a restaurant tucked away in the 15ème. Unlike Hiroyuki Hiramatsu — whose lofty sights were clearly set on les etoiles — Masumoto seems to have achieved his highest aspirations simply in the studious and precise preparation of his dishes.
Acclaim seems almost beside the point for the chef who cut his teeth at (the much much pricier) Benkay. A steady and devout clientele (composed largely of Japanese business men and suit-clad ministry types) fills the restaurant daily in an unfussy space that says eating here is serious business. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »
January 24, 2013
Dining in Paris is the stuff dreams are made of: elaborate dishes made with top notch ingredients, artfully presented by passionate chefs.
Unless, of course, you happen into one of the infinite restos where instead of having a mind-blowing meal, you’re served mediocrity along with impressive attitude. In fact, doesn’t it taste like those vegetables on your plate came straight from a bag?
Of course every town has its dining hits and misses. But for so long, it was unfavorably risky to gamble on your average neighborhood bistro in Paris. But finally the tides have turned. We seem to have arrived at a place where you don’t have to break the bank to have a fantastic meal that gets your heart and stomach juices pumping. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 12 Comments »
November 23, 2012
This was my second visit to Yam’Tcha, my follow-up reservation having been made on the spot after my first dinner. So my expectations were high for my return. Happily, it did not disappoint.
Yam’Tcha occupies a spot on a sweet little street in the 1st arrondissement – a street you might amble down if you like getting lost in Paris’ picturesque older streets, but one that most locals and tourists strolling down the busier Rue Faubourg St Honore would probably pass without seeing. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »
September 26, 2012
I was born in London, and have lived here all my life apart from extended sojourns to other parts of Europe that are more conducive to joie de vivre, and, well, Paris. I can’t help but compare the two lifestyles and poor London always comes limping in at second place, looking all harassed with its suit creased and carrying a can of lager and a half-eaten burger.
Left: Paris, right: Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House in London (Andrew Griffith & Laurabot_wrigh)
The aspect of quotidian life that gives me the most pleasure in Paris and that has the potential to have me hopping on the Eurostar to Paris from London on a whim is… lunch.
At Le Comptoir in Paris (pussnboots)
In Paris: At 1pm lock up the office, switch your phone off and go for a two and a half hour lunch with your colleagues at a charming local restaurant, dining from the three-course prix fixe menu. After a leisurely coffee and some more chitchat, pay the reasonably priced bill (probably with luncheon vouchers), and it’s back to the office well rested and energized for the rest of the day’s work. (Note: I did say stereotypical.) Continue Reading »
Posted in London, Parisian Living | 1 Comment »
August 9, 2012
Located by Parmentier bobo hipster central and one of my personal favorite up and coming Parisian neighborhoods, Chateaubriand is certainly no new kid on the block.
After following the ups and downs and mixed reviews of Chateabriand for years — the best, most creative food in Paris for some, too inventive for others, small portions, amazing service, rude service, not accommodating, very accommodating, noisy, quiet… the list is long — my curiosity finally got the better of me. Being of a somewhat pessimistic nature, my expectations were low. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 9 Comments »
July 17, 2012
When a famous chef opens a restaurant, be it in Paris, New York or Kansas City, expectations always run high. Yannick Alleno’s new outpost, Terrior Parisien – open since March in an über cool space in the Latin Quarter – was certainly no exception.
Adding to the buzz was Alleno’s fresh concept – using ingredients sourced primarily within Ile-de-France – that led to almost frenzied expectations.
Would the passionate maestro behind the three-starred Le Meurice live up to the hype? Most critics and foodies have answered with a resounding “oui.” On a recent breezy summer evening, my husband and I happily agreed. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 2 Comments »
June 22, 2012
With our kids in their PJs and the babysitter on her way, everything was set for a perfect date night in Paris. Except for one thing. We had no plans. A busy week meant neither Greg nor I had made reservations, bought tickets or planned with friends.
So he grabbed the bistro guide and started dialing. The first five calls were met with terse “On est complet, monsieur,” until we scored with a last minute reservation at Claude Colliot in the Marais. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 4 Comments »
June 18, 2012
I have a friend who travels for the museums, spending each day snapping photos next to ancient art, otherworldly architecture, and every single monument she comes across.
All I can say is: pfft.
While I adore her, if you’ve seen one thousand-year-old building, you’ve seen them all, right? Okay, I’m teasing. But for me, history, art and language are pleasant fringe benefits best served on the side. Call me names and throw Monets at me, but I travel for the food.
In one flavorful bite, I experience history, art and years of culture passed down from generation to generation. For this humble foodie, an entire plate will tell me a story far longer and more interesting than the line at the Louvre on a free Sunday. You stand in line, mon amie, and I’ll skip around the corner to a 500-bottle wine bar to taste and learn the history of French wine.
Sadly, all Paris food spots don’t tell such fine tales. In fact, Paris food can be – gasp! – kind of bad sometimes. If you’ve dreamed of perfect foie and crispy frites on every corner, wake up, lovely. You actually do have to work for your food. And since I’ve narrowly escaped a lot of bad dishes, I’d like to share here five bits of advice that may help with your next visit to Paris – or any city, for that matter.
1. Charm doesn’t mean quality. Quaint Parisian bistros may bewitch you, but often the beautiful facade is not reflected in your plate. In fact, it feels like there’s a direct and opposite correlation between the two: the higher the cheesy charm quotient, the worse the food. I found charm and deliciousness at Coquelicot, Le Baron Rouge, Bistrot Paul Bert and Le Petit Pontoise. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food | 14 Comments »