Opéra and Les Halles
best bars in Paris" width="" height="" border="" />This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list. This wine bar, near to the former Samaritaine department store building, will please even the most demanding epicureans. No Saint-Emilion or Château Latour here. Instead, with advice of the friendly owner, a self-taught wine buff (and depending on your budget) you’ll encounter unusual natural, organic or ‘biodynamic’ bottles from local growers. Biodynamic vineyards favour natural methods, managing the exchanges between the soil and the vine to better express their specific terroir, or spirit of the earth,in the grape. Does it really change anything? The purity, the complexity of the aromas, the minerals? You’ll have to taste them yourself to judge. To go with the booze, choose between superior boards of cheeses and Parma ham, or oysters if you’re drinking white. With its brick walls and its ancient floorboards, Le Garde Robe is a warm and intimate address, if a little pricey (and there’s an obligatory corkage fee of €6 a bottle if you want to BYO) – but the bottles are worth their weight in gold.
A restaurant called Pirouette suggests both deft maneuvering and a dash of panache. Set in a secluded little courtyard behind the concrete mess of Les Halles in the 1st arrondissement, the stage set for the meal is immediately promising, so shiny new behind its huge plate glass window that the first thing you notice as you walk in is the fresh smell of the wood pannelling. So, with a swift arabesque, to the menu, which includes a formule for a mere €36. We started with a perfect coddled egg on a bed of greens, over which a subtle mushroom and chestnut was poured at the table, and the ‘alouette sans tête’ (headless lark), a fanciful name for a ‘paupiette’ (stuffed piece of meat) of pigeon and foie gras enriched with lardo di Colonnata.Then a cabriole leap into the mains – a lovely piece of mullet with salsify and meat gravy, and beautifully tender and pink pigeon royale with a delicate foie gras sauce. Down into the final plié and dessert, with a delicate mango tart and a salty Ossau Iraty sheep’s cheese presented as a cheesecake and topped with a black cherry compôte. All in all, a round of applause for the chef (Tommy Gousset, trained in some of the city’s best kitchens), the excellent wine list, and the company overall for an elegant, affordable whole (the lunchtime menu is even better at €15).
American team Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian started out in Paris running a well-regarded supper club, ‘Hidden Kitchen’, so it's little surprise that Verjus – opened in 2012 after rave reviews paved the way for a full-blown restaurant – hasn’t quite lost its word-of-mouth feel. You reach the small, stylish dining room through an unmarked iron gate on the Rue de Richelieu, up some well-worn steps and through a plain grey-painted door. The adorable, pocket-sized wine bar on the floor below is accessed via a different street altogether – Rue Montpensier, which runs parallel to the Jardin du Palais Royal. A discreet corner, then, in an achingly sophisticated neighbourhood – where Verjus is both charmingly at ease and elegantly distinctive. Though much patronised by Brits and Americans, the light, inventive, precise cooking deserves recognition across Paris. There’s one eight-course tasting menu, updated monthly (plus an optional cheese board, and optional matched wines). At €60 a head without the extras, save it for a special occasion – but it will be special. On our visit, a Scandinavian-inspired plate of trout and potatoes brought a vivid citrus-cured curl of fish with slices of smoked potatoes and a salty scoop of bright orange roe – the best of the seaside in a couple of memorable mouthfuls. Creamy cherrystone clam soup had a piquant dash of harissa and a lingering, many-layered infusion of thyme and garlic, while thick slices of tender pink duck breast with their rich fat
Grégory Marchand’s restaurant Frenchie has become legendary not just for the quality of its food, but for the almost superhuman effort required to secure a table in the tiny dining room. Luckily there is Frenchie Bar à Vins across the street, where you can sample his Anglo-influenced take on bistro cooking without a reservation.Showing up just after 7pm, we were able to take our pick of the high tables, some of which already had a few occupants. This is the sort of place where neighbours quickly become friends, and before long we were exchanging cards and even bites of food with the Japanese-French group on our left and the journalist from New York on our right. Divided into categories such as meat, fish and antipasti, with two or three small plates on offer for each, the menu encourages nibbling and sharing. Burrata, a bit of a cliché on Paris bistro menus this year, came with slices of boudin noir (black pudding) and one of the chutneys for which Marchand has become famous, made here with apple. There wasn’t a lot of boudin in relation to the wobbly cloud of cheese, but the balance seemed right and the chutney added a welcome sweet-sour note. The adventurous-sounding tête de cochon (pig’s head) turned out to be mostly pork cheek, served with a dab of creamy parsnip purée, white coco beans and girolle mushrooms. Continuing with the piggy theme, we ordered the pulled pork sandwich, a classic from the American south. Served on a brioche bun, the shredded meat seasoned with vin
After a career as an architect, the round-spectacled owner of La Bourse ou la Vie has a new mission in life: to revive the dying art of the perfect steak-frites. The only decision you'll need to make is which cut of beef to order with your chips, unless you pick the cod. Choose between ultra-tender coeur de filet or a huge, surprisingly tender bavette. Rich, creamy pepper sauce is the speciality here, but the real surprise is the chips, which gain a distinctly animal flavour from the suet in which they are cooked.
Burgers, hot dogs and fish ’n’ chips have all had the gourmet treatment in Paris, and now it’s the turn of the humble kebab. Grillé has vowed to turn these greasy late-night embarrassments into something healthy and full of flavour. The décor matches the intent, with a studiedly simple blue and white ceramic look under plain neon lights. Opened on the corner of the Rue Sainte-Anne and the Rue Saint-Augustin and run by three well-known names (Marie Carcassonne, famous butcher Hugo Desnoyer and Frédéric Peneau of Chateaubriand), it draws the crowds – we had to wait 40 minutes, and there’s no guarantee of a table at the end, as there are just three available. Bit once you do have your kebab in hand, it is a cut above the average. Organic homemade wrap, salad, fresh mint and coriander, and meat selected by the honourable Mr Desnoyer – no greasy gyro this, but milk-fed lamb marinated in rosemary, soya and sake. Sauces are also homemade, and the overall feeling is almost like you could squeeze the kebab into diet plan, washed down with one of Grillé's blood orange or blackcurrant juices. The prices could be worse as well, given the competition for gourmet fast food, but €10 for a set menu seems reasonable. Whether the kebab houses of Paris will be put out of business remains to be seen, but this is, at least, good news for cardiologists.
A tiny canteen on the Rue Chabanais in the 1st – also known as the ‘quartier Japonais’ – Hokkaido is very basic , but always promisingly full of regulars. Generous, well-priced dishes are offered to take away or sur place – a bowl of ramen noodles for around €8, pork gyoza with white cabbage and ginger around €5 for six.
At the stroke of midnight, this place is packed, jovial and hungry. Savoury traditional dishes, washed down by litres of the house Brouilly, are the order of the day. Les Halles was the city's wholesale food market, and game, beef and offal still rule here. Diners devour towering rib steaks served with marrow and a heaped platter of chips, among the best in town. Brave souls can also try tripes au calvados, grilled andouillette, or perhaps go for a stewed venison, served with celery root and home-made jam.
The Left Bank
Yves Camdeborde runs the bijou 17th-century Hôtel Le Relais Saint-Germain, whose art deco dining room, modestly dubbed Le Comptoir, serves brasserie fare from noon to 6pm and on weekend nights, and a five-course prix fixe feast on weekday evenings. The single dinner sitting lets the chef take real pleasure in his work. On the daily menu, you might find dishes like rolled saddle of lamb with vegetable-stuffed 'Basque ravioli'. The catch? The prix fixe dinner is booked up as much as six months in advance. If you don't manage to dine, you can sidle up the bar, an area the locals call L'Avant Comptoir, for wine and tapas. This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
Christian Constant has found the perfect recipe for pleasing Parisians at his new bistro: a flexible menu of salads, soups, verrines (light dishes served in jars) and cocottes (served in cast-iron pots), all at bargain prices - for this neighbourhood. Service is swift and the food satisfying, though the vraie salade César Ritz, which contains hard-boiled egg, shouldn't be confused with US-style Caesar salad. Soups such as an iced pea velouté are spot-on, and cocottes range from sea bream with ratatouille to potatoes stuffed with pig's trotter.
Set amid chichi clothing boutiques and expensively curated concept stores, Fish's mosaic frontage and well-worn wooden fittings match the area's expensively understated charm – but without the price tag. The tiny venue is run by expatriate New Zealander Drew Harré and his Cuban business partner Juan Sanchez (they also have Semilla across the road), with Englishman Ollie Clarke in the kitchen. The cosmopolitan set-up makes the restaurant particularly popular with English speakers (front of house tend to be ex-pats, too) – but plenty of locals also come for the menu of fresh ingredients and confident flavours. And all visitors must be charmed by the attention to detail, from thoughtful presentation on the plate to the tiny silver sea urchins that stud the narrow wooden stairs to the bathrooms. The vibe is relaxed and friendly, especially at the bar – a perfect place for solo diners.The three-course set lunch menu is an absolute steal at €28.50 per person (with a €4 supplement for some dishes), and is perfectly pitched for each season. We visited on a spring afternoon with rain drizzling down the windows, the ideal setting for dishes laced with roasted onions, wild garlic, white asparagus and fat fresh peas. A warming bowl of brilliant orange fish soup with crunchy, oily croutons was a warming treat, all rich, complex fishy flavours and a welcome sprig of dill. Our other starter of barbecued mackerel with capers, grapes, quenelles of tomato confit and white asparagus was a sprit
With its tiny, jolly, shabby ground floor dining room and basement full of cushioned lounge seats and low tables, Ethiopian restaurant Godjo has the air of a well-kept secret – although the secret has been out for some time, and there are queues down the street on weekend evenings. People flock here to squeeze in elbow-to-elbow with their neighbours and devour the huge platters of spongy injera flatbread with spicy meat and vegetables with their hands, washed down with cheap quaffable wine and followed by huge bowls of fresh fruit for around €20 a head or less. The staff are smiley and endlessly patient despite the crowds, and the food is wonderful. We chose the Ye Feseg, a selection of four meat and vegetable dishes piled onto one huge injera: things like Key Wot (spicy chicken), Te Beg Tebs (lamb with onions) and juicy, fragrant lentils. This is comfort food par excellence, without being stodgy – rather, it's warming, spicy and full of diverse flavours and seasonings. Come early (or very late – they stay open until 2), come on a rainy Tuesday, or be prepared to wait outside even if you have a reservation. But definitely come – you'll be heartened, cheered and extremely well fed.
best bars in Paris" width="" height="" border="" />This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list. Le Bistrot du Vin qui Danse! is a friendly wine bar where the jolly atmosphere attracts fans of good wine and good cheer. Take a seat in the little bar with its bare stone walls decorated with pretty murals of coloured frescoes, though mind the loud music and people shouting to be heard. There’s a great range of organic wines, many available by the glass, and an inventive menu of apéritifs and cocktails.The tables tend to be under assault at dinnertime, so you’re advised to reserve if you want to eat. The chef has put together a menu that changes with the seasons, with tapas from €5 and various tastebud-tingling dishes: rounds of grilled Argentine beef, fillet of pork confit with sweet garlic, scallops skewered with pork belly, tiramisu with cinnamon biscuit. During the happy hour, every day from 6pm to 8.30pm, a glass of wine with a tapas is €6, a good opportunity to discover new vintages.
The prospect of a chef’s umpteenth restaurant opening can make one feel weary – even coming from a great chef like Yannick Alléno, with three Michelin stars for his work at Le Meurice, here claiming to cook food from the ‘local’ Parisian terroir. But in this case, such weariness would be unjustified.Instead, in this modern bistro designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, you’ll find one of the best ideas in Paris’s recent restaurant history. Simply, it offers historic Parisian recipes, cooked using products from small regional producers – sweet peppers with vinaigrette, Crécy vegetable soup, croque-monsieur, eggs with tripe, gratinée des Halles, whiting from Bercy. It’s a simple idea, but one requiring an enormous labour of sourcing and selection, even rehabilitation of near-forgotten culinary heritage. So the menu, written on immense boards set on the walls, reads like a list of ingredients from one of Jacques Dutronc’s fantasy kitchen gardens: Argenteuil asaparagus, Milly-la-Forêt peppermint, Montreuil peaches, Arpajon green beans.All this find its way into solidly-built dishes, where the rough and ready of the suburbs rubs up against the chic of the beaux quartiers; where Gilles Veront brawn meets a Gatinais carrot fondant with saffron. And don’t miss the crowning glory – not exactly Parisian, but wildly successful – a cone of shoestring chips, crispy and soft and devilishly good (€4).A tip: if you go alone or as a couple, reserve one of the 14 seats at the bar. The views out of t
Julien Duboué, the young chef at Afaria, has transformed the peaceful neighbourhood café Dans les Landes into a noisy and welcoming tapas bar. It’s hugely disorganised – you’ll be lucky if reserving ahead guarantess you a table on arrival – but patience will be rewarded as soon as the food starts to arrive (you just have to hope it hasn’t been mixed up with your neighbour’s).The confusion is perhaps understandable given the number of dishes listed on the slate menu, mostly inspired by Basque cooking, but with various Asian touches (foie gras maki or prawns in a creamy Thai sauce). Some dishes will come to you on wooden boards, others on slates or even in a (clean, hopefully) wooden clog; this is a place for sharing, not selfish appetites. Among the best things that we tried were slices of pork with barbecue sauce, fried squid with sweet peppers, a pot of boudin (blood sausage) with apples, sucrines (tiny mouthfuls of salad), stuffed peppers, and prawns with grapefruit. Only the flash-fried ‘butcher’s surprise’ disappointed.Despite its service problems, it’s easy to understand why this venue is so overrun, especially in this area, which lacks a good range of restaurants.
Punters will be forgiven for taking this diner's name with a pinch of salt. After all, the Saint-Germain restaurant scene is better known for its noxious cuisine, obnoxious touts and astronomical prices than for its 'friendliness'. But all doubts can be dispelled chez Loulou', which serves up fine burgers, bagels, salads and club sandwiches (all €15–€18) of all varieties. The service is indeed highly congenial, and the décor is a fun hybrid of Parisian brasserie and ’50s Americana. If you're in the area and after a quick bite, you could do a lot worse.
This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list. A café and art space in Ménilmontant, Lou Pascalou has been also been enthusiastically appropriated as a neighbourhood canteen thanks to its endlessly inventive nature. There’s nothing trendy here, but rather a sweetly boho chic hangout and its youthful local clientele. The drinks are at rock bottom prices (€2.50), as is the food (shepherd’s pie from €6.50) and there’s an enormously varied range of entertainment. On the first Wednesday of the month you’ll find screenings of short films, on the third a theatrical improv competition organised by the Parisian League of Improvisation, and every Sunday there are gypsy jazz concerts, Brazilian music, French singers, flamenco, rock, brass bands and more. You can always look forward to a celebratory atmosphere in this charming bar, which also hosts temporary exhibitions every month, invites you to participate in citizen’s debates, and places board games at your disposal. On weekends the bar is rammed, so don’t arrive too late if you want to be able to find a seat.
This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list. One evening on the terrace of this bar and you too will be singing ‘Ô Paris, c'est beau Paris!’. Formerly La Mer à Boire, its view takes in the whole city. In one glance you can drink it all in, from the Eiffel Tower to far beyond. High above the whirlpool of humanity below, the terrace of Ô Paris nestles on a little square of land, paved and planted with trees, where you can enjoy some sunshine and calm away from the hum of the city. Largely populated by senior citizens leafing through the papers and local kids running around between the tables, this is a homey and welcoming spot. On cold days or rainy afternoons, the big warm interior is a welcome refuge, complete with books, comics and coffee (€2) served with traditional cassonade brown sugar and macadamia nut syrup. Those in the know come here to eat simply and well: hot sandwiches, cheese or charcuterie boards and delicious classic French dishes (salmon tartare, duck breast). It’s a shame that the prices have gone up under the new management, but the food is good enough to make the hike worthwhile.
As you come out of Menilmontant metro, you feel overwhelmed by the cars and the proliferation of fast food chains; but don’t despair, two minutes away there’s a charming pedestrianised square planted with trees, which hosts several good bars and restaurants. One of these, La Pétanque, has a sunny spot and a bunch of tables at the foot of the grand staircase leading up to the Church of Notre-Dame de la Croix – you almost feel like you’re in a village in the south of France. The old couple who own La Pétanque are delightful, offering lots of draught beer at low prices, and do everything to accommodate as many groups as possible as they fill up the chairs.
A run-down, rustic aesthetic rules in this canal-side café-bar. Simple wooden tables sit alongside dilapidated sofas, on which a cool crowd sit tapping away on their MacBooks in the day and sipping cocktails in the evening. The relaxed vibe, carried by smooth jazz on the stereo – and sometimes live jazz in the evenings – all stays on the right side of insufferably hipster, preserving much of the character of a charming old watering hole. Note: it can get a bit rammed during the 6-8pm happy hour, when the local restaurant-going clientele stop by for a quick aperitif. At €3 for a pint of Amstel or €4 for a mojito, you can see why.
Fashionable Paris has swooned for burger vans, hot dogs and tacos, but perhaps the best of the street food was always here; in a Kurdish sandwich shop.Hidden away in the heart of Strasbourg Saint-Denis, Urfa Dürüm is a tiny wood-panelled venue where you are greeted at the entrance by the owner, flour and rolling pin in hand, busily preparing the flatbread dough. Further inside, meat grills in the stone oven. On the chalkboard menu, there are two choices of house speciality: Lahmacun or Dürüm.Lahmacun is a small wrap prepared like a pizza with minced meat, tomatoes and onions, and rolled up with salad, red onions and a squeeze of lemon. Crunchy and delicious, it’s hard to beat at just €2. You can have the famous Kurdish sandwich Dürüm with steak, chicken, lamb’s liver (€6) or straight up lamb (€7.50). Just a few minutes’ wait and it arrives perfectly cooked, wrapped in its flatbread, piping hot and accompanied by tomatoes, red onions, rocket, parsley and lettuce. No chips, mayo or harissa – this is to be eaten as it is. Since it’s all superb, there’s no need of any further extras. This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
Don't be put off by the newspapers in the window – this unassuming restaurant-cum-newagent, in the middle of the hip rue Faubourg Saint-Denis, has a class all of its own. The Middle Eastern menu is cooked by Ahmad, who grew up in Nawa in southern Syria and emigrated to Stockholm before coming to Paris with the idea of sharing the cooking of his homeland: hummus, salad, pickles, kibbeh ras (ground beef with pine nuts), falafel, labneh (strained yoghurt) with olive oil, mtabbal (aubergine dip), tabbouleh and more. A falafel sandwich ‘extra’ is put together as you watch: €5 for falafel, hummus, grilled aubergine, cauliflower and chips, or a vegetarian platter (€11), with vine leaves, mtabbal and great tabbouleh. For meat-eaters, shawarma: marinated beef or chicken with garlic and lemon for €5. The Daily Syrien: cheap, choice and very cheerful.
The secret’s been out about Le Rouleau de Printemps for some time, but it never disappoints, with its reliable quality and disarming simplicity. You can’t reserve a place in one of the two postcard-sized rooms, so arrive early to get a space on the shared tables. A coriander-scented bo bun, some plump crunchy egg rolls, a vegetarian spring roll and some steamed prawn ravioli washed down with jasmine tea or Tsingtao beer won’t cost you much more than €20, so go easy on the sometimes chaotic service. The staff are always charming but the dishes arrive haphazardly, sometimes poorly presented, as and when they’re finished by the matron in the kitchen – but at these prices it would hardly do to complain.
For first timers, Le Verre Volé seems like a basic wine store with a few rickety tables, but reserve a spot one night and you’ll understand why NY Times food writer Alec Lobrano calls his favourite wine bar in the city. Located in the ever-trendy Canal-St-Martin district, the tiny bistro has become a neighbourhood staple over the past few years, which means reservations are strongly suggested for lunch or dinner, with two services in the evening. Two other Parisian locations, as well as a recently-opened Tokyo outpost, sell wine and sandwiches, but only the Canal address is fit for proper dining with reliable dishes in an unpretentious atmosphere despite the neighbourhood’s bobo tendencies.Locals will come for a bottle of the natural or unfiltered wines hand-selected from producers across France, a far cry from most wine caves. The knowledgeable staff will help you pick out something in your price range, be it for a posh dinner party or just to share along the adjacent canal with some bread and cheese. Fruity reds? Full-bodied vintages? Chilled whites for a summer’s eve? The Verre Volé has it all. With less expensive bottles hovering around €10, it’s not the type of shop to break your budget, though you certainly could.While the wine is the centrepiece, the dining is anything but below par. Rich boudin noir with buttery homemade mashed potatoes or small charcuterie plates are always on the menu. The perpetually changing daily dishes, however, are where it’s all happening, at
This is one of Time Out's 100 best bars in Paris. Click here to see the full list. Has Paris woken up to the temptations of the taco? Apparently so, thanks to this taqueria, with its almost totally expat clientele (English and American rather than Mexican). The tiny white room with its open kitchen, a few stools and communal tables doesn’t give a hint of the hip bar behind, where the neighbourhood’s youth come to sip margaritas or the house specials, like the guêpe verte [green wasp] (tequila, lime, pepper, cucumber, spices and agave syrup).On the food front, you have the choice between tacos and tostadas at very reasonable prices (€3 for one, €5.50 for two), full of ground meat or Mexican cheese and vegetables. The tortillas are home made, and the spicy sauce packs quite a punch – it’s almost like being in California. Since they’re open non-stop (including Sundays), try and avoid the busiest hours. This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
Walk down rue des Rosiers any day of the week, and you will easily spot L’As du Fallafel thanks to the long queue in front of its green facade, with staff running up and down scribbling orders for the take-away window. 'Often imitated, never equalled' is the slogan here, and few who have tried other falafel joints along this street would dare to argue.Eating in the dining room is only a marginally less casual experience than munching this messy sandwich on the street, but it’s worth paying a little extra for the plastic plate and unique atmosphere. One one side, cooks work at lightning speed, dipping the chick pea balls in the fryer and filling pita breads to bursting. On the other, diners of all nationalities carry on animated conversations while juggling their sandwiches, creating a vibe more reminiscent of New York than Paris. Though shawarma is also available, nearly everyone orders the falafel special (€5.50 to take away, €7.50 in the dining room), piled high with crunchy cabbage, roasted aubergine, tahini and hot sauces. Most importantly, the falafel themselves are light, crisp and green with fresh herbs. Only the lemonade seems to have gone down in quality over the years; it might be worth trying an Israeli beer or wine instead.
It would be easy to walk straight past the latest venture from the team behind Candelaria and Le Glass – with its nondescript front door and simple neon sign, the Mary Céleste oyster bar looks more like a neighbourhood pizzeria than the newest, hippest destination in the Marais. But we like this lack of pretension, and the big bay windows that will remain steamed up throughout winter promise great things for pavement apéros in summer. Around a bustling central bar are ranged a few stools, tables and chairs occupied by the inevitable well-dressed clientele, drawn by the hype and by the oysters that are the hook du jour – oyster happy hour runs from 5pm-7pm with Marennes-Oléron, Bouzigue and Belon varieties at €1 a throw (usually €1.50) washed down with one of the white wines from the great list at €5 a glass. If you want to check it out but aren’t in the market for shellfish, the cocktails, beers and wine lists are intelligent if not cheap, and there are some interesting snacks and sharing plates. DJs spin in one corner and the atmosphere is genial even during peak times: all in all, a lively but relaxed venue serving excellent drinks, oysters and more.
At vegetarian canteen Bob's Kitchen, everything is organic, healthy and beautiful. This small cafe-restaurant offers salads, soups, bagels and futomakis as well as a trademark "veggie stew" – a big bowl of vitamins which combines a cunning mix of vegetables, seeds, rice and guacamole. The smoothies, made from veggie milks, are also delicious. The menu changes regularly according to the best ingredients available at the market, the decor is welcoming and the prices are pleasingly low. A winner.
Likely unknown to anyone not living near the Porte de Clignancourt, La Renaissance is a delightful Belle Epoque bistro well worth a detour. Featured in films ‘Le Mouton Enragé’ and Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’, the 1930s décor has been miraculously conserved. A copper bar makes a lovely curve in the right hand corner, there are period neon lights in the windows, screens between the tables, a mosaic floor, pretty wooden panelling and huge mirrors spotted with age. In the main room, there are worn banquettes and wooden tables, and a menu of high quality, affordable classic dishes (tartare, salads, lamb) served in enormous portions. Throw in a terrace, house cocktails and friendly staff, and you’ve got a real winner.
Perched high atop the Montmartre butte, Le Coq Rico welcomes its breathless customers with all the warmth and snugness of a mountain chalet. If the wood-pannelled walls, plush seats and a pervasive scent of roasting chicken don't put you in the mood, nothing will – for chicken is the order of the day here, served nice and crispy with a homely assortment of amuse-bouches.Our meal begins with an egg, boiled to perfection and accompanied by crunchy soldiers spread with truffle butter. Lest we start worrying that the kitchen's confused breakfast with dinner, a selection of appetisers soon follows; we're treated to the constituent parts of a bird, including slow-cooked gizzards, fried wings and spiced hearts. It's a tantalising preview of the main course, which doesn't disappoint: two succulent roast chickens, which do full justice to the restaurant's name (which translates as 'the fine rooster', and doubles up as a pun on the French for 'cock-a-doodle-doo'). We're soon stuffed, but by a failure of willpower we opt to finish proceedings with a chocolate mille-feuille, a helping of Grand Marnier ice cream and an orange salad. Having secured his reputation with Drouant and Mon Vieil Ami, star chef Antoine Westermann can now count a third string to his bow. Food aside, he also plays the transparency card to perfection, adorning the menu with detailed notes on the provenance of his ingredients – an ethical framework for his exquisite cuisine, all of which fully justifies the hefty pr
Pass under the elaborate carnivalesque décor that adorns the entrance, and muscle your way through the mass of tightly packed diners to a spare table – from here on, providing you surrender all claims to personal space, you’re set for a highly original dining experience. Things are kept simple and unpretentious: in place of a menu you’re given a binary choice between red or white wine, and cheese or meat fondue (the latter consisting of chunks of raw meat dipped in a boiling broth). Count €21/person for the food, including complimentary antipasti. To circumvent that great outrage to French drinking culture – the tax on wine glasses – all vino is served in baby bottles (€4, with the first drink free), which makes for the strange spectacle of groups of tipsy revellers fervently sucking on plastic teats like the day they were born. It’s all done in a spirit of kitschy fun, and at reasonable prices to boot. Cash only.
Since setting up shop along the Nathalie Sarraute esplanade (just opposite the Halle Pajol), Les Petites Gouttes has made quite a stir in its corner of the 18th. An area that has long suffered a somewhat dodgy rep is now drawing in the punters with its range of snazzy nightlife options, of which this bar-cum-restaurant is the latest arrival. It offers a sophisticated take on culinary favourites, a smattering of outdoor seats and even a year-wide programme of musical events. The restaurant's menu is decidedly eclectic, with a street food feel. You can choose between hamburgers (€14–€15), fajitas with marinated and grilled beef, Tahitian-style sea bream tartare or the chef's pâté platter (€14). At the top of the list is the Chô dish of the day (€12 at lunchtime, €14 for dinner), a huge plate of – in our case – kofta, two different tapenades and raw courgette served with a white, sweet sauce, which we washed down with a beer custom-brewed by the brasserie Orgemont and apparently chosen 'with care' by the café, despite our being unable to find out even the slightest detail about the brewer. This was one of only two sour points about the venue, the other being the long waiting time. Minor hitches for a spot that we warmly recommend.
Butte-aux-Cailles and Chinatown
This Basque canteen is renowned for cheap nosh, large portions and tables so tightly packed that befriending your neighbour (or at least his elbows) becomes part of the experience. The gargantuan bowls of salads are the stars, all served with lashes of fried potatoes, cheese, eggs and meat (usually ham or lardons), and Basque specialities like “poulet basquaise” (chicken in a spicy tomato sauce). Dishes rarely cost more than €10–€12. Even the wine is cheap with the most expensive bottle hovering around €16. Needless to say Chez Gladines is a popular spot so get there early or be prepared to queue up in the street.
The area of Butte-aux-Cailles is becoming steadily more gentrified, but Des Crêpes et des Cailles (a caille is a quail) is holding steady, one of the last outposts of tradition in the neighbourhood. The tiny crêperie only seats 18, and looks like the boat cabin of an old Breton fisherman. You can’t reserve, but the friendly staff make up for any wait. There’s a choice of more or less classic galettes (savoury buckwheat crêpes) at €7, the most original of which is definitely the ‘Boudeuse’, served with boudin noir (blood sausage), curry and mustard, a nice change from the usual ‘Complète’ with ham, egg and cheese. The quality of the galettes can be a little uneven, but the sweet menu makes up for it. Overall, good prices, a warm welcome and a great cider menu add up to a venue that all Parisian crêperies should aspire to imitate.
Don’t let the valet service out front or the lounge-like atmosphere of Lao Lane Xang 2 fool you: although slightly more expensive than its shabbier parent restaurant opposite, the South East Asian cooking here is still deliciously affordable. For the best experience, reserve a table upstairs with its fountains, plants and statues. Prompt service brings things like dried beef and papaya salad, caramelised pork and beef curry with coconut milk (€8-€8.40), done with a beautifully light touch, while the whole fried mackerel with Laotian herbs (€14.80) is a standout dish. For a light dessert, try the roast pineapple in coconut milk.Lunchtime set menus at €10.80 include a starter, salad, main, rice and a glass of wine – a real bargain.
Look beyond the cheap furniture and the waiters’ grumpy faces: Vietnamese canteen Pho 14 is the place to come for delicious Pho soups, filled with noodles, meat-balls, beef, or chicken, all served with fresh mint and basil. Other specialties worth testing are the crispy pork spring rolls (nems) and squidgy ravioli vapeur (steamed dumplings). There’s take-out too, if you don’t want to wait for a table (there are usually queues). This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
Akrame has been one of the hottest Paris addresses since it opened its doors in early 2011, and talented young chef Akrame Benallal confirmed his potential when the Michelin Guide took the unusual step of awarding the restaurant a star in its first year. So expectations are high. Benallal worked with both Ferran Adrià and Pierre Gagnaire, and the buzz only increases when you discover how difficult it is to get a reservation, followed by a reminder call from the maitre d’ on your mobile at 9.30 the morning of the booking to reconfirm. Just a couple of minutes from the Arc de Triomphe, Akrame certainly looks the part, a small but stylish dining room seating around 20 people, with modern designer furniture and muted black décor that contrasts with a striking series of large colour photographs of tattooed women. But Akrame is full of surprises, far from the typical Parisian Michelin-starred dining experience of stuffy waiters and diners talking in hushed voices. At one end is an open kitchen where the chef works away animatedly with several assistants, while the friendly young staff immediately put diners at ease, and remain attentive rather than intrusive throughout the meal. Don’t come expecting a typical menu with dozens of different dishes, as Benallal has opted for the flavour-of-the-day concept of no-choice tasting menus – though the waiter checks first if you have allergies or dislikes, and the chef can then prepare alternatives. There is an excellent value €35 three cour
Named for a wild and rocky northern coast in Brittany, the new wine bar and restaurant from Thierry Breton is squeezed in between his two other hideaways on the Rue Belzunce, Chez Michel and Chez Casimir.The pretty, lively bar welcomes bohemian high jinks (there’s a grand piano ready and waiting under the glass roof) as well as more classy meals (on the big communal tables covered in red and white tablecloths). The result: the perfect place for a pint and an excellent galette saucisse, with classic mustard and salted butter, which only serves to whet the appetite for the daily hors d'oeuvres (around €6 each, ordered at the bar): pressed duck, goose barnacles, plates of charcuterie with terrine, black pudding and Andouille de Guémené smoked sausage, flanked by still-warm home-baked bread. The staff are cheerful and welcoming despite the crowds – we’ll be back for drinks from the superb wine list, or at lunch to try out the €4 sandwiches, superb value for cooking of this quality.
Young chef Benoît Gauthier trained with Christian Etchebest at the nearby Le Troquet, and he's come up with a clever formula that surfs the current Paris preference for great produce simply cooked. At dinner, a complimentary starter of soup is served - maybe courgette or white bean - and then you choose from the selection of grilled meats and lobster, many of which are designed for two people. Everything comes with a delicious mountain of homemade chips and green salad. Desserts run to homely choices like strawberry crumble or rice pudding with caramel sauce.
The décor here is very bland, with its basic panelling, harsh lighting, old curtains and a Breton flag hung on one wall. The only charm of the place itself is its position in the small square in front of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, a rare haven of tranquillity near the bustling Gare du Nord. The service can be rather blunt, but is nonetheless convivial at heart. This restaurant is not big on flourishes, but it knows how to feed the famished. All efforts have been concentrated on the quality of the produce and the confidence of the menu, which lists the origins of the produce and has added the occasional twist, like a small sharing plate of winkles with a house mayonnaise to go with the menu. Then choose from thigns like venison steak served with its foie gras, scallops, pork with lentils or venison steak on a bed of mushrooms.Supplements of €5, €8 or even €10 are quickly added to the €34 fixed menu of main course and dessert, so the bill can seem unreasonable. Fortunately, dessert comes to the rescue. The Paris-Brest by Chez Michel, sprinkled with caramelized walnuts, is a king of desserts. This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
Looking for somewhere to eat on a Sunday?
How to avoid ending up stranded and hungry on a Sunday evening Opéra and Les Halles A Noste Why open one restaurant when you can squeeze three into a single venue? Julien Duboué, erstwhile chef at Afaria, doesn't do things by halves: his new venture is essentially three eateries in one, each serving a different variety of Basque cuisine in a different setting. In the bustling downstairs room, diners sit around high communal tables and tuck into platters of succulent tapas. On the ground level, those in a hurry grab takeaway taloa (corn pancakes) from a pop-up stall. Things get serious upstairs, where the more genteel clientele relish the various courses of the €38 set menu (€60 at dinnertime). We sampled the latter option, and can happily report that it's worth every centime – the meat is divine, and the products are all sourced from south-west France (including some veg from Duboué's father's garden). It bodes well for the other two floors. Liza Liza Soughayar's restaurant showcases the style and superb food of contemporary Beirut. Lentil, fried onion and orange salad is delicious, as are the kebbe (minced seasoned raw lamb) and grilled halloumi cheese with home-made apricot preserve. Main courses such as minced lamb with coriander-spiced spinach and rice are light, flavoursome and well presented. Try one of the excellent Lebanese wines to accompany your meal, and finish with the halva ice-cream with carob molasses.For brunch, coffees, teas and fruit juices are served with d