Cafe Pinson (Diane Yoon)
Tucked away on a tiny side street near Square Temple, across the street from hipster hangout Nanashi and bobo haven The Broken Arm, Café Pinson is serving up quality coffee and healthy eats to expats and natives alike.
Eschewing the grungy chipped paint aesthetic of so many new openings in the city, the bright, welcoming space features classic details like white-paneled walls, wicker chairs, and geometric-patterned tables. It’s the kind of place that invites any and all to come in and get cozy – I would feel comfortable cuddling down into one of their sunken chairs with an engrossing book and tea and pastry for a couple of hours, just as I would be happy meeting a big group of friends for a quick catch-up session or hunkering down with my laptop for a good old-fashioned work crunch. The honest-to-goodness friendly staff was all smiles as I took up a precious corner table for hours and hours one busy Friday afternoon.
Café Pinson is unique among its hip coffee shop brethren in that all of the food it serves is vegetarian, and much of it is also vegan and/or gluten-free. But it’s about more than just a specialty restaurant for those avoiding or allergic to animal products or gluten. One of the owners, Agathe Audouze, practices naturopathy, whose proponents believe in the healing properties of fresh, whole, natural food.
As such, everything at Café Pinson is selected for its “vitality.” Instead of cow’s milk, they prepare all of their espresso drinks with almond milk, which lends a sweet, nutty note to the cappuccinos and lattes. The sweeteners on offer are raw sugar and agave syrup. The juices are fresh-pressed before your eyes, and the mélange of fruits and vegetables used is changed daily. Even the pastries are mostly vegan and gluten-free, and everything, including their vegan butter, is made in-house, overseen by American chef Cameil Kaundart.
As is to be expected, they’ve been getting a lot of interest from the expat community. Many of us miss the vast network of vegetarian- and whole-foods focused restaurants available in cities like San Francisco and New York, after all. However, the café appeals to locals and those who have no notion of those movements as well. The goal of the place is not to define itself strictly as a “vegetarian restaurant,” particularly in the Parisian sense. One of the managers I spoke to mentioned that some of the strict vegetarian establishments can be “kind of scary.” The point at Café Pinson is to be your friendly neighborhood café that just happens to also serve vegetarian food. Random customers who come in seeking an afternoon coffee and goûter often leave without realizing that the madeleine they tasted was gluten- and butter-free.
Café Pinson offers a a €12.50 breakfast menu and a €17 three-course lunch menu every day. They also do a very popular Sunday brunch (for which reservations are, if not required, are highly recommended). Though their brunch has been receiving rave reviews, on my visit there I found the service and food to be much more indifferent and scattered than on occasions when I dropped in on other days, especially for a check that came out to €35 (including drinks).
Dishes I sampled included a barely-cooked purple potato salad served with fennel salad and soft-boiled egg, as well as soy yogurt with granola for the sweet course. Perhaps they are still working out the kinks during this very hectic service period, so for now I would recommend avoiding brunch and sticking to Pinson for an afternoon snack, during which their pastries shine.
It can sometimes be a struggle making “healthy” food appealing to the masses. Café Pinson is proving that virtuous food can be not only accessible, but downright craveable.
6 rue du Forez
75003 Paris, France
+33 9 83 82 53 53
Written by Diane Yoon for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.