April 11, 2013
As I very much enjoy drinking natural wines in London, I thought I would probably enjoy drinking them even more in France. So my thinking went when planning my trip to Paris last month. I can’t remember where I first heard about La Buvette, but it was on my list of natural wine places and also on my list of places that have been opened by ex-staff of Le Chateaubriand or Le Dauphin, where the owner of La Buvette, Camille Fourmont used to work.
That part of rue Saint-Maur is uninhabited enough at night that, as I stopped outside La Buvette to take a photo of the neon lit sign spelling out its name before going inside, my friend E coming up behind me and saying hello made me jump and let out a small shriek.
It’s actually not that far from Parmentier metro, but it seems so when you’re walking up the street in the dark, not knowing where it’s going to be. E, who knows the area well (and shares a surname with the owner Camille Fourmont – but is no relation as far as we could all discern) said she thought Camille was forging interesting new territory by opening there.
Once inside, it was pleasantly refreshing to be in a wine related space that had clearly been put together by a cool girl, rather than a man. Not that it’s girly. It wasn’t dark and there were no ancient dusty bottles gathering mold as décor. Instead, the white tiled walls with shallow wooden shelves held bottles of mostly natural wines, with the prices clearly written on them (add €8 for corkage). There were vintage glass light fixtures, each one slightly different, and a pot containing a fresh arrangement of white flowers and eucalyptus. The whole effect was light, unfussy and modern. Continue Reading »
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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 »
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March 27, 2013
When friends come to visit in Paris, I always get a little nervous. It’s Paris after all, the most-visited and eulogized city in the world. They’re expecting a lot. And I live here.
That means I’ve got the place wired, right? No exhibition ticket should be too hard to acquire, no chic table impossible to book. Such were my anxieties as I prepared for a recent visit from my sister and brother-in-law. We’d have ten days together but only a couple of kid-free evenings. Those dinners had to be perfect.
And so I searched. I scoured reviews, made calls and asked friends for recommendations. Of course I know plenty of great restaurants. I have dozens of favorites and an ever-growing list of places to try. But could I select the perfect place to eat? The one that says “this is the best of Paris” – that elusive combination of great food, distinctive atmosphere and, most importantly, a place where I could actually score a table on the night we had free?
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January 31, 2013
If you follow the Paris food scene, you’ve no doubt spotted a trend: eateries, bars and even desserts have gone decidedly American. From cupcakes and coffee bars to cheeseburgers and cocktail lounges, there’s no denying that all things New Yorkais are très à la mode. In a land famously derisive of American cuisine, it’s surprising to say the least. For those of us who adore Paris for its singular Parisian-ness, it’s a tough trend to love.
That’s why Le Foodist — a new series of deeply French “dining events” launched by Fred Pouillot, a French-born, erstwhile U.S. corporate exec — is a welcome newcomer on the local food scene. It started with a simple idea: offer a select group of diners the chance to discover French culture and history through its most prized creations — food and wine.
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October 23, 2012
To be honest, eating at Le Galopin was a bit of a leap of faith initially. I had heard positive things, but its location on Place Saint Marthe (a great neighborhood, but far from my usual stomping grounds) and its link to television (the chef-owner is the 2010 Top Chef France winner Romain Tischenko) made me slightly skeptical.
However, willing to make sacrifices in the name of discovering delicious new things to eat, I went. And I was glad I did. In fact, I was so glad, that I found myself returning recently for my second dinner.
Place Saint Marthe in the 10th arrondissement is actually a bustling square, off the most well trodden parts of the Parisian dining grid, but clearly not unknown. Continue Reading »
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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 »
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May 8, 2012
Last spring, every food-following Parisian had their sights set on one restaurant: Rino. After it opened in February 2010, chef Giovanni Passerini’s cozy, modern bistro quickly became the place for innovative, market-driven fare at reasonable prices. At the time, nearly every review was favorable (if not positively glowing); a year later, we stopped in again, for lunch this time, to see whether Rino has lived up to the hype.
The restaurant is tucked away on a fairly unsexy street in the 11th, and offers clean and unfussy décor, suggesting that here, the focus has always been on the food. As soon as we entered, we noticed a team of busy line chefs, chopping and arranging dishes in a small open kitchen.
In the tradition of Le Chateaubriand, Le Chapeau Melon, and Les Papilles, Rino offers a set menu (with little-to-no choice) that changes daily based on available ingredients and the whims of the chef. Luckily, Passerini’s impressive training (he previously worked at Arpège, Le Chateaubriand, and La Gazzetta)and innovative instincts mean that culinary missteps are rare—he has an innate sense for how to make seasonal produce shine in dishes that draw on tradition but play up surprises.
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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.
Phyllis Flick/Erica Berman
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.
Fois Gras and Artichokes – Phyllis Flick
The wines on offer are 100 % natural — or “living”, as Jancou calls the wines he likes to serve. So what does that mean exactly? Continue Reading »
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October 18, 2010
Amy Thomas (God I love Paris), Kim Laidlaw (I Heart Paris), Forest Collins (52 Martinis) and our very own Erica Berman recently got together for a very special meal at the elusive Montmartre restaurant, Guilo Guilo. Renowned for its Japanese wunderkind chef Eiichi Edakuni, its fixed menu (which changes daily), and the near-impossibility of scoring reservations if you’re not prepared to make the treck up to Montmartre in person, it did not fail to impress these serious food-blogger dames…
Amy Thomas – Guilo Guilo’s open kitchen and staff
Eight Courses and Four Reviews of Japanese Gem Guilo Guilo
What do you get when four foodie bloggers come together for reservations at one of Paris’ most under-the-radar yet hard-to-get-into spots? A mélange of approving opinions and happy bellies. A review of Guilo Guilo, sliced four ways:
Let’s start with the food
Forest: Chef Eiishi Edakuni concocts beautiful, intricate, tasty, tidy, subtle, little mystery-mouthfuls. Not being certain about all the ingredients is part of the fun— but maybe not for the vegetarians!?
Kim: It was a seemingly never-ending flow of courses presented in bite-sized gems, bursting with flavor. I love this style of eating where you get to try so many different tastes. It’s a real success at Guilo Guilo where you are able to sample a far more interesting side of Japanese gastronomy than you would in sushi-centric joints.
Erica: Creative, original and delicious. The chef expertly pairs diverse and unexpected ingredients to create some of the best food I have had in 18 years of Parisian living.
Amy: Oh, how I love experiences like this. Every little dish was a gift: pretty to look at, thoughtfully constructed and artfully crafted, creative but pure and, bien sur, delicious. And the hits just kept coming! Eight courses? Gift after gift…
Erica Berman – Guilo Guilo delicious morsels
And to go with the food?
Forest: For a nice change from French bubbly, crystal clear sparkling sake isn’t as strong as expected but it still delivered a delicate kick with a dry, clean and refreshing finish. Continue Reading »
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June 28, 2010
I’ve been in Paris for over a year, and I’ve wanted to dine at Le Temps au Temps almost the whole time. I’m not even exactly sure where I first heard about it. But little details stuck out in my mind: that it’s pocket-sized, that the food is playful… I think the descriptor “new wave bistro” made it in there somewhere. When an intimate dinner with two good friends—one local, one from New York—came up, I knew I had my opportunity to go.
We walked into to the (indeed, pocket-sized) restaurant and our table was a bare beacon in a crowded room. With only 24 seats, reservations are a must and I was happy to have secured our 9 o’clock spot on a Saturday night. After settling in, but before the gabfest began, I took a minute to absorb the decor. Though the space is clean and modern, Le Temps au Temps keeps some of the best Parisian bistro traditions: a couple of giant chalkboard menus featuring the prix-fixe options (€26-€29) hang on the walls along with a smattering of brocante charms, like an oversized clock. (Get it? “Time to time”!)
The environment noted and a bottle of Chinon ordered, it was time to turn our attention to the menu. The restaurant features a small selection that changes every few days, with dishes—as we would soon confirm–that are expertly executed.
There were four entrée options, five plats, and three of us at the table, so we had nearly the whole menu covered. To begin, I opted forsliced volaille in a savory,spicy sauce that reminded me of a childhood comfort dish, yet was plated more artfully than my mom ever could have managed. I tasted my friend’scream of carrot soup that had tender shrimp tails hiding within—deceivingly light and fresh-tasting, givenhow much <dairy must have been in there. But the winner between the three entrées was the salmon tartare. Though this dish is offered ad nauseam throughout Paris, at Le Temps au Temps, the fish is sliced thickly into chunks, topped with greens, and accentuated with a horseradish sauce that hit all the right notes.
Although I secretly coveted the salmon starter, when it came to the plats, I felt like I chose the winner (I silently cheered). I’m not a veal eater, but my friend confirmed his langue de veau was divine, as were the mashed potatoes it covered. My other friend’s swordfish, which I did sample, was a thicker cut than I think I’ve ever seen anywhere, and the firm meat was deliciousatop quinoa and cauliflower. And then there was my dish. A celery mousseline, the creamiest, fluffiest bed of savoriness you could ever imagine, cradled a generous filet of cabillaud and perfectly-cooked spinach. It was heaven. Continue Reading »
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