La Cantine d’Aznavour is not a place you stumble upon; even when you know the address, it’s tricky to find. Tucked at the far end of a cobblestone courtyard in the 9th arrondissement, this unusual little restaurant serves traditional Armenian food with a generous helping of hospitality.
Located on the second floor of the Maison de l’Arménie (the Armenian cultural center), the “cantine” looks more like a welcoming church basement. The jury is still out on whether Aznavour is a actually a regular, but other well-known members of the Armenian community have been known to drop in for a plate of meaty Georgian raviolis.
If you come for lunch, you’ll likely share a table with young professionals on their afternoon break, while the evening is popular with the clubs that meet in the cultural center. On a Tuesday night we heard a chorus of voices outside the door; the choir was practicing upstairs.
The cheerful proprietress and her husband have been running the kitchen for three years. “These are all my mother’s recipes,” she explains. “The flavors are the ones I grew up with, that I’ve eaten since I was a child.” Coin-sized Georgian raviolis with sour cream, stuffed eggplant, roasted chicken… There’s no fixed menu, Madame simply arrives with a smile and tells you what she has that day. Everything is made in-house, including the pickled gherkins, peppers, and cabbage set out as starters. “In the winter I’ll add cauliflower,” she confides.
There’s nothing luxurious about La Cantine d’Aznavour, and it’s exactly this simplicity that gives it so much charm: sunny yellow cotton on the large wooden tables, Armenian generals and oil paintings of purple mountains and golden fields of corn on the walls, a friendly “Bonjour mes enfants!” at the door. Whether you head there for a quiet dinner or lunch with friends, you’ll be treated to homemade food prepared with care and served with pride. If you come back often enough, you’ll be part of the family in no time at all.
La Cantine d’Aznavour – 17 Rue Bleue, 75009. Tel: +33 (0)1 48 24 63 89
Open Monday to Saturday from noon to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm (code after 9pm).
- Discover another hidden but delicious lunch spot – La Maison des Frigos, located in a former artist’s squat.
- Check out Erica’s review of nearby L’Office, a neo-bistro in the 9th.
- The Armenian Kitchen gives us the scoop on another Armenian joint just outside of Paris.