Concealed behind an unassuming rusty metal and white tile facade is Paris’ latest culinary incontournable, Gare au Gorille. The peculiar name, lifted from an offbeat Georges Brassens song about an escaped gorilla, lends to the old-world-meets-new atmosphere.
Head chef Marc Cordonnier and sommelier Louis Langevin are longtime friends who talked of opening a restaurant together before they turned thirty, a high school pipe dream realized this year when the pair left Paris’ renowned Septime to open their own restaurant in the 17ème.
Not far from the tracks of Saint Lazare, Gare au Gorille occupies a narrow, elongated room with minimalist tile and wood design. The atmosphere is warm and the service irreproachable. Louis, known by clientele as “the tall friendly one,” greets patrons from behind the bar at the entrance. Marc’s rotating menu du jour is explained by attentive and knowledgable staff who are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions.
The cuisine itself is inventive and flavorful, drawn from Marc’s background as a chef under Alain Passard as well as his experience with organic food and natural wines.
I stopped in for a late lunch with a friend on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Our menu began with a colorful plate of mackerel, bits of oyster, and smoked saucisse, topped with fresh greens and radish. The featured plat was duck served with tamarind fruit, seasonal vegetables, and a rich prune sauce.
We tried two desserts, both delicious — a beautiful and light dish of citrus fruits with feta cheese and creamy honey-flavored ice cream, followed by a very rich chocolate cream sprinkled with caramelized peanuts and a surprising dollop of pepper ice cream.
Combining the charm and friendly manner of an old French bistro with the enthusiasm and inventiveness of neo-gastronomy, Gare au Gorille is a success all around. And delicious food doesn’t have to come at a high price. The restaurant features one of the best weekday lunch formules in Paris (€25 for two appetizers, entree, and cheese or dessert!)
Opening hours run from 12h15 to 14h30 and from 19h30 to 22h. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Gare au Gorille – 68 rue des Dames, 75017. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 94 24 02.
Written by Emma Stencil for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Emma Stencil. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.