HiP Paris Eats: Communal-Style Dining

by HiP Paris
GLOUGlou Restaurant – Picture by Erica Berman

Our friends over at Parisien Salon, a website with great tips on things to do in Paris, recently posted  a helpful list of tasty restaurants that feature canteen-style (communal) tables. Perfect for large groups, eavesdropping on your neighbor’s conversation or making new friends, communal tables offer diners a more relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy their meals.

“Whether they be arty, chic, historic or regressive, Parisian canteens have in recent years defined a new style of eatery. Now found in all districts, they’re putting an air of hospitality back into gastronomy and reshaping the rules of dining. (…)

Thinking about canteens takes us back to our tender childhood years, in school or at summer camp. These Parisneo-canteens are nothing of that. Instead, they’re all about chic decor, arty atmosphere and good food.

A canteen table was introduced a few weeks ago at Merci, the ethical (and trendy) concept store in the Bastille district. On the basement floor of the shop, the tables are placed in lines opposite the glass bay window, looking very like an artist’s workshop and offering a view of the restaurant’s organic vegetable garden. The atmosphere is cheerful, the tableware recyclable and the seasonal dishes all organic.

Photo courtesy of Parisien SalonPhoto courtesy of Parisien Salon

The canteen trend can also be found in mixed venues such as Uni-ver (photo at left), located in the heart of a passageway in the FaubourgSaint-Antoine. This gallery offers visitors lunch and dinner at its table d’hôte. Guests enjoy dishes together – prepared by theresident cook – at the large wooden table in the gallery or in the small indoor garden.

A favorite with fashionitas in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré district is the Cantine du Faubourg.A gastronomic pause here between the district’s haute couture boutiques will let shoppers enjoy the ultra-design decor, contemporary furniture and lighting effects. A table d’hôte welcomes groups of guests, while thelounge area adds a touch of glamour and chic to this neo-canteen.

Finally, when the 58 Tour Eiffel reopened on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower it was in the canteen spirit for lunchtime eating. So while enjoying an exceptional view of Paris, diners go to the counter to collect the dishes that they have ordered from the chefs at work in the open-kitchen right in front of them.

Bobo and Organic

Photo courtesy of Parisien SalonPhoto courtesy of Parisien Salon

The canteen trend also includes those who favour seasonal organic produce along with the Parisian bohemian spirit. One example is Supernature (photo at left), the organic 9th arrondissement canteen located just a few steps from the Grands Boulevards. In this restaurant, the emphasis is on healthy food. On the menu are lots of vegetable dishes, and even the wine list is natural. As for the decoration, small glasses and canteen carafes together with country photographs set a simple and friendly tone for this place.

In the same spirit, the organic canteen Soya in the 11th arrondissement, newly-installed behind a black facade, offers an organic menu in a decor of solid wood, cut stone and cast-iron columns.

Much appreciated by Parisians and foreigners, Rose Bakery now has two addresses, one in the 9th on the rue desMartyrs and the other in the Marais. On the menu at both locations are crates of fresh vegetables, organic fruit juices,small quiches and delicious scones. On Sunday, these not-to-be-missed local canteens become a very popular placefor a brunch with the family or friends.

A new arrival in the Marais district, Glou has quickly become a hot spot. The large, industrial-style tables d’hôte serve up a list of natural wines and simple dishes that allow the palate to rediscover simple sensations. A few steps from the Musée Picasso, galleries and shops in the rue Vieille-du-Temple, it is an address worth noting.

The Originals

This final category of canteens puts the emphasis on originality in every sense of the word.

Photo Courtesy of Parisien SalonPhoto Courtesy of Parisien Salon

The restaurant Chartier (photo at left) is in fact considered as being the origin of Parisian canteens. For three centuries, this Parisian institution on rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, a few steps from the grands boulevards, has been serving meals at affordable prices – the great classics of French cooking – in its belle époque-style dining room. The waiters play on the friendly atmosphere in this canteen, where guests sit side-by-side. On the menu are popular and simple dishes: egg mayonnaise or grated carrot salad for starters, chicken and chips or sausage and purée as a main course, and all at budget prices.

Playing on the concept of originality with its back-to-school decor, Le Réfectoire, offers large tables, tiles onthe wall, Goldorak or Superman glasses, and popular school meals on the menu. It’s a favorite with residents of the 11th arrondissement in their thirties. For visitors to Paris, this is anopportunity to sample popular French dishes at its source.

When the canteen trend meets pizza (another hot style of Parisian cuisine), the result is Pink Flamingo. With a simple concept that’s proven quite successful, the restaurant has its original location near the Canal Saint-Martin and a second one in the Marais. The pizzeria serves it’s dishes in a comfortable environment at one of the large tables d’hôte with a spotted wax tablecloth and large plastic carafe. The concept goes beyond the boundaries of the restaurant, since Pink Flamingo pizzas can also be ordered and delivered, whether to a park for a picnic, along the canal, or even to an apartment.

Finally, the canteen-grocers should not be forgotten. They can be found in all districts of the capital, with Italian inspiration, like the grocer Chauvoncourt, in the 9th arrondissement, or Franco-Japanese-Auvergnate at Mon Oncle le Vigneron, in the 19th arrondissement. There’s something for every taste in the Paris canteen. Bon appetite!”

Article by Linda Donahue — Parisien Salon.

58 TOUR EIFFEL 5 Champ-de-Mars, Paris 7th, +33 (0)8 25 56 66 62

CANTINE DU FAUBOURG105 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Paris 8th, +33 (0)1 42 56 22 22

MERCI, 111 bd Beaumarchais, Paris 3rd, +33 (0)1 42 77 00 33 ** Also see our article about Merci here. **

UNI-VER, 6 cité de l’Ameublement, Paris 11th Tel +33 (0)1 43 67 00 67

GLOU, 101 rue Vieille-du-Temple, Paris 3rd, Tel +33 (0)1 42 74 44 32

ROSE BAKERY, 46 rue des Martyrs, Paris 9th, Tel +33 (0)1 42 82 12 80

or: 30 rue Debelleyme, Paris 3rd, Tel +33 (0)1 44 78 08 97

SOYA, 20 rue de la Pierre-Levée, Paris 11th, Tel +33 (0)1 48 06 33 02

SUPERNATURE, 12 rue de Trévise, Paris 9th, Tel +33 (0)1 47 70 21 03

CHARTIER, 7 rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, Paris 9th, Tel +33 (0)1 47 70 86 29

ÉPICERIE CHAUVONCOURT, 22 rue Henri-Monnier, Paris 9th, Tel +33 (0)1 48 78 26 03

MON ONCLE LE VIGNERON, 2 rue Pradier, Paris 19th, Tel +33 (0)1 42 00 43 30

PINK FLAMINGO, 67 rue Bichat, Paris 10th, Tel +33 (0)1 42 02 31 70 or 105 rue Vieille-du-Temple, Paris 3rd, Tel +33 (0)1 42 71 28 20

LE RÉFECTOIRE, 80 bd Richard-Lenoir, Paris 11th, Tel +33 (0)1 48 06 74 85

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HiP Paris

HiP Paris is a blog on everything new, and tried and true, on Paris and beyond. We hope you enjoy reading our updates. View HiP Paris's Website

One comment on “HiP Paris Eats: Communal-Style Dining

love all the great advice. thanks, so much!

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