When Holybelly had its one year anniversary in October 2014, co-owners Nico Alary and Sarah Mouchot had more to celebrate than 365 days of serving quality food to hungry Parisians. The date also served as a reminder of how, in a relatively short time, a unique and well-thought-out restaurant that pays attention to its food and customers can come to occupy such a special place in so many diners’ hearts.
True to the motto emblazoned on their brand new mugs, “It’s Good Because We Care,” the Holybelly team takes caring to a new level. This is evident throughout the dining experience one has here – from Nico’s friendly smiles and greetings as soon as you enter the door, to the servers who know your names (and often your orders) after only a few visits, and finally the frequent and observant glances from the kitchen into the dining room checking to see that customers are enjoying their meals.
In Holybelly’s second year of operation there have been a few changes. There’s some new swag – like the aforementioned coffee mugs (which you can buy for 12 euro at the restaurant) and some pretty awesome stickers (which can be bought online for 2.80 or 3.80 euro). But most notably, beloved chef Lise Kvan has left to pursue other projects after a year in the Holybelly kitchen alongside Sarah. She was replaced by Martin, who has kept up the tradition of the restaurant’s seasonal, locally sourced menu, working with Sarah to offer the standards that Holybelly’s regulars love (the eggs and sides served all day always hit the spot) as well as more elaborate dishes that show off the team’s culinary prowess.
As Nico prepares specialty coffee drinks with locally roasted Belleville Brûlerie coffee – as well as an assortment of other hot beverages to start off your day (the London Fog, made of Earl Grey tea, vanilla syrup, and hot milk is a particular favorite) – Sarah and Martin work away in their small, open kitchen to prepare dishes from a menu that changes on a monthly basis. Recent menu options include a Beef Cheek Ragout, Udon Miso Soup, Creamy Mushroom Risotto, and Roasted Camembert, all hearty and filling options for a chilly Paris day.
The commitment to quality is evident throughout the restaurant, with a centerpiece of the casual decor being an enormous blackboard that announces which vegetables and fruits are in season as well as the origin of all the meat and dairy products used in the dishes. In addition to the craft roasted coffee sourced from the capital, Holybelly has also partnered with other local producers including Montreuil-based brewers Deck & Donohue, whose superb Mission Pale Ale and Trouble # 6 Farmhouse Ale have a happy home on the menu.
The warm welcome, cosy atmosphere, buzz of multilingual conversations, and occasional cries emitted as friends unexpectedly run into each other is enough to keep anyone coming back for more, but these creature comforts can’t overshadow the underlying reason for our addiction to this bit of holy ground.
At Holybelly, the stomach truly is treated as sacred, and the thought that goes into the food presented for the holy bellies of Paris is something that does not go unnoticed. From grains to garnishes, traditional French comfort food to recipes inspired from abroad, each plate is destined to satiate the eyes, appetite, and whole être human. You go to Holybelly hungry and you leave full and fulfilled, most often staying at least an hour longer than you planned to. Because it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re surrounded by good food and people, which explains why the first 365 days seemed to go by so fast. Here’s to another year of happy, holy bellies!
Holybelly -19 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010. Tel: +33 (0)9 73 60 13 64. Open Monday, Thursday and Friday 9h-18h, Saturday and Sunday 10h-18h.
- Just down the street look for Le Poutch, a comfy café with great salads, sandwiches, and fresh juice.
- We love this interview with Nico in Kinfolk’s Paris city guide.
- Looking for a quaint coffee address in Paris? Emily also checks out newly opened CREAM in Belleville.