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.
Although it’s won awards (Le Prix Staub-Lebey for best Paris bistrot in 2010) and is helmed by its eponymous, celebrated chef (formerly of La Bamboche), neither of us had heard of it, making our “discovery” feel like a sweet surprise.
The illusion of exclusivity begins as you enter the secured doors that require prospective diners to be buzzed in. Off-putting? Just a bit. (We’ll always take great food in a forgettable setting over slick décor and so-so cuisine.) But this address is big with celebs like Marion Cotillard and Sofia Coppola. Maybe they need the buzzer?
Anyway, sometimes knowing little about a place is the best way to discover it: no expectations, no disappointment. At Claude Colliot, we were delighted by what we found – creative, market-fresh nouveau bistro cuisine served in a contemporary setting that’s comfortably chic without being sterile. (Think washed stone walls and aubergine leather Parsons chairs plus a fab chandelier made of graphite drafting lamps.)
The attentive servers were clearly proud of their chef’s creations and seemed anxious for us to like them too. We opted for à la carte instead of a menu (there are two), although mysterious names like “couleur maraichere” and “tout blanc” made us a tad unsure of what we were ordering. Our fears were quickly dashed, however, by the fresh, inventive dishes placed before us.
No Parisian chef can resist offering asperges in the spring. As it happened, I couldn’t resist ordering them and was pleased to discover Colliot’s white variety were perfectly done to enhance their slightly nutty freshness. My volaille cuite was served with sweet baby veggies in a light herb broth. Yummy, if not life-changing.
The unexpected highlight was an unusual and delicious “pomme de terre cappuccino,” a frothy, creamy potato puree that nicely rounded out an otherwise light meal.
Dessert was memorable for its originality – and for the fact that few chefs seem equally adept at first courses, mains and desserts. Colliot’s “ananas confit, fleurs & foin” (hay? really?) was one of the best desserts my husband says he’s ever had. Now that’s something worth planning for.
40, rue des Blancs-Manteaux, 75004
+ 33 (0)18.104.22.168.45
Open: Tue – Sat
Written by Paige Bradley Frost for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos Didier Gauducheau. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.