Shay Ola cuts an imposing figure in the tiny kitchen of DBB, his newly opened restaurant just around the corner from République. Tall and clad in a brown leather apron, he looks more like a blacksmith than one of the most recent chefs to take up residence in Paris.
Originally from London, Shay came to Paris for what he describes as, “a scene where it’s still all about the food. Things are happening here at the moment and I want to be at the forefront of that,” he says.
A reinvention of his former London restaurant, Death by Burrito, DBB manages to be incredibly cool, genuinely friendly, and surprisingly affordable. This combination is no longer so hard to come by as young chefs like Shay, many of them foreign, flock to Paris and add their personal touch to the food scene.
Shay’s contribution is a combination of bold, elegant flavors inspired by French and Mexican cuisine. Self-taught, he has no traditions tying him down, only a fierce desire to make impeccable food. “I like to start with local food and then find the connections to Mexican flavors,” he explains. DBB is a blank canvas that he intends to have fun with, adding a touch of the unexpected to come up with creations like soy-braised pork and kimchi tacos, guacamole with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, and mezcal-cured trout.
A selection of imported Mexican ingredients impart authentic flavor to seasonal produce. “I’ve had people in from Mexico who tell me, ‘Wow, this reminds me of home!’” he says. Traditionalists will appreciate the handmade corn tacos; three hundred fly out of the kitchen every day.
But soft-shell lobster tacos and sausage-laden oysters are only half the picture. Behind the bar, Candice, a veteran of Candelaria and Mama Shelter, crafts a rotating menu of inspired classics and all-new creations based on small-batch tequila and mezcal. If you’re curious like me, pull up a stool and ask her about meat-distilled mezcal.
To top it all off, DBB regularly hosts some of the hottest DJs in London and Paris, adding good vibes to the list of reasons to make DBB your next evening destination.
And be sure to follow DBB on Facebook to find out about upcoming events. Shay has big plans for the bar in 2015 …
DBB/PARIS – 4 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 75011. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 55 14 40
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 7pm-2am. Kitchen closes at 11:30pm.Online reservations possible.
- For more fabulous Mexican food in Paris, peek at Casey’s top picks for the HiP Paris Blog.
- Check out this Omnivore interview with DBB Chef Shay Ola.
- In case you missed it, Kate also brings us inside La Distillerie, the first micro-distillery in Paris in over a century.