Opéra and Les Halles
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 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 dishes such as hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush or the arabieh salata – a salad of lettuce hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Or you could try foul, a stew of beans and chickpeas, manakish, mini pizzas, grilled chicken with basmati rice and traditional Lebanese mezze.
This high-end shrine to Italian cooking in the heart of Paris has a hushed atmosphere and serious overtones: Milanese chic (white tablecloths and comfortable leather armchairs and banquettes), touched with Venetian romanticism (Murano glass lamps, carnival masks and wooden fittings), all put together by Philippe Starck against a harmonious background of chestnut and cream. The menus on offer range from the full à la carte version to a series of lunchtime daily menus between €39 and €41. Either way, from the amuse-bouche to the petits fours, the service is attentive to the point of overdoing it. The main body of the cooking concentrates on traditional Venetian dishes, in a much more rustic vein than the surroundings. Tripe alla parmigiana, in a generous tomato sauce with creamy polenta, or cotechino, hot pigs' foot sausage, with candied fruit mostarda – this is homely cooking for feeding crowded tables. Starters are more subtle, though just as flavoursome – delicate tuna belly with crunchy fennel, or fine slices of dark ham with mascarpone. Desserts are a bit of a letdown, mostly standard ice cream flavours served from a cart, only saved by a generous topping of caramelised hazelnuts. In sum, stick to the specialities, and you’ll have a truly memorable meal.
When the USA's eminent Mexican fast food chain Chipotle opened a branch in Paris a couple of years ago, locals didn't take to it right away – after all, 'fast food' is a far more toxic term here than Stateside. But don't be put off: this neat little joint actually serves up a thoroughly decent meal. They may not be 'gastronomic' like the menu proclaims, but the sandwiches (€9) and various salads are a notch above what you get elsewhere in Paris (if not quite up to El Nopal's standards). Burritos are endlessly customisable – you pick and mix a wide variety of (mainly organic) ingredients – and wonderfully flavoursome. Fast food in name and speed of delivery only, Chipotle is a welcome addition to the capital's growing Mexican food scene.
The Left Bank
In a spruce little room with white tablecloths and hanging lamps, the 14-seat Régis oyster bar concentrates on one sole product: oysters from the Marennes-Oléron, a world-famous cultivation area. You can choose between top class strains, rare strains, farmed strains that are enriched for four months in lightly salinated beds, and the very popular Belon oysters (€59 a dozen, though prices start at €25 a dozen). There’s lots of fresh bread and butter, the wines are well-chosen, and there’s a cheese of the day and desserts for the hungry. Régis doesn’t take reservations, but if you leave your telephone number they’ll call you when there’s a free table. After this, you won’t feel the need to go to a real restaurant to get your saltwater kicks.
The rage for all things market-led and locally grown, and for new ways with underappreciated ingredients, has found brilliant expression in Semilla (Spanish for 'seed'). Run by an American and a New Zealander (Juan Sanchez and Drew Harré, who also have Fish, Cosi and wine shop La Dernière Goutte, all in Saint-Germain), and with an extremely distinguished chef in the kitchen (Eric Trochon, a 'Meilleur Ouvrier de France') this refreshingly distinctive bistro serves bright, bold dishes with complex but not confusing flavours. Many of the dishes on the daily-changing menu are available in 'entier' or 'demi', so you can snack or mix and match as you please, and vegetables are as important on the plate as the meat or fish.One of those funky modern spaces that works so well set against Paris's elegant grey-roofed architecture, Semilla has industrial exposed beams and vents above a two-level dining room with bare brick columns and white-painted walls sketched with drawings of vegetables. An open kitchen at the far end opposite the entrance bustles and steams discreetly.On a busy midweek night service was brisk if not noticeably warm, though the seats at the bar seemed to attract more chatter. Every dish heading for neighbouring tables made us crane our heads and go 'ooh' – we slightly regretted not splashing out on one of the big meat plates to share – rose pink lamb shoulder or sizzling Normandy beef – as they looked stunning. But we didn't do too badly, either – we loved a starter
Christian Constant knows about the quest for perfection, having chased after Michelin stars for most of his career before devoting himself to simpler cooking. Maybe that’s why this small two-level bistro, one of four restaurants he owns in the same street, gets all the ingredients right, from the vintage décor with a zinc bar in the front to the menu that often reads like grand-mère’s scribbled notebook.Arriving at 12.30pm on a Saturday during school holidays we found a table immediately; this is unusual here so it’s worth showing up early. Squeezed into the downstairs room, which feels brighter and airier than upstairs, we chose from the blackboard menu (starters €11, main courses €16 and desserts €7) and a list of daily specials propped up on the bar. French customers can’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia at the sight of dishes such as veal cordon bleu, but there are also some surprisingly sophisticated offerings.We selected one of these to share as a starter: puff pastry topped with baby spinach leaves, gambas (prawns) and a foamy lemongrass sauce. Far beyond what you might expect for the price, it was generous enough to satisfy us both, with a delicate balance of flavours and textures and very fresh ingredients. Roast chicken might sound ordinary until you taste the free-range patte bleue breed prepared here in the classic way with herb butter, bacon strips, pearl onions and mushrooms.Sticking to the comfort food theme, we also ordered the veal cordon bleu: so often pre
The instinct to feed at L'Assiette is an abundant and delectable one. So start small, with an oxtail terrine, tender and strongly-flavoured, or an outstanding tartare of firm blue prawns, mixed with olives and a few pine nuts, which goes perfectly with a glass of Petit Cablis. Then on to more serious things. For smaller appetites, perfectly cooked roasted maigre ('croaker', a sea bass-like white fish) with a saffron risotto, balanced and full of flavour, would be the perfect choice. Greedier types, head straight for the must-have dish at L’Assiette: the unmissable house cassoulet from chef David Rathgeber. Rathgeber, a former member of Alain Ducasse’s team and member, since 2010, of l’Académie Universelle du Cassoulet (yes, really), has created a mixture of duck confit, slices of pork, garlic sausage, lamb neck, thick sausage and Mogettes de Vendée white beans. This reinvention of a classic dish is a runaway success, and should satisfy any appetite.There are set menus at €23 (starter, main and dessert), opening up this top quality cooking to slenderer wallets. If you’re not on a budget, add in a supplementary dessert – the chef’s excellent floating island, or a melting chocolate fondant. This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
This hidden gem of a restaurant takes its name from the cinema opposite, and it’s where the film buffs descend after screenings to discuss whatever arthouse flick they’ve just seen. Their heated debates, mingled with the classic rock constantly playing on the stereo, evoke the charged student culture of the late sixties (though it may deter those looking for a quiet drink). Old-school Hollywood and Kurosawa film posters only add to the atmosphere. The food is cheap and the staff are cheerful – for €10, you’ll get a salad served with a smile. Croque monsieurs (€8) and steak (€12) are also on offer. Get a table by the window, and you may end up deep in conversation with a smoker or a cinemagoer outside.
An address which could only exist on the left bank, nestled into the busy streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés where 'chic' is a religion in itself. But this contemporary, polished pizzeria (wood panelling, suspended lighting, design tiles and seating) isn't the least bit ostentatious, with comfortably spaced tables, white tablecloths and silver cutlery, and the pizzas are amongst the best in Paris. Rare ingredients directly imported from Italy (special mozzarella – a mix of traditional and buffalo – lard from Colonnata, spicy Calabrian sausages, Taggiasca olives, anchovies from Salerno), perfectly thin and crunchy crusts and the generosity of the garnish, reminiscent of a Neopolitan family meal, makes them almost impossible to surpass. White (with no tomato base) or red, the pizzas are beautiful as well as delicious: take the luxurious spiciness of the 'carciofi' pizza (artichoke cream, raw artichokes, rocket, 24 month aged parmesan) or the beautiful simplicity of the 'aurora' (tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil). You'll leave deighted at having found a Parisian version of Italian chic for around €20 – an invigorating treat.
Even in Paris, the city of haute cuisine and knock-your-socks-off Brasserie fare, there comes a time when nothing but bacon, fried eggs, juicy burgers and fluffy pancakes drizzled in maple syrup will do. For those moments, Breakfast in America (known lovingly amongst regulars as B.I.A) offers bona fide American diner surroundings, all-day breakfasts and artery clogging delights like sticky pecan pie, washed down with bottomless mugs o’ Joe. Needless to say it’s a hit with the brunch crowd who come in droves so large they queue up outside, rain or shine. Fortunately turn over is quite fast, so you rarely have to wait more than half-an-hour. The €15.95 brunch menu gets you comfort staples like sausages and eggs (over-easy, sunny-side up or scrambled) with toast and fries or a generous Connecticut ham and cheese omelet and a squidgy chocolate muffin. B.I.A won’t take reservations, but there’s a second branch in the Marais, so if Latin Quarter students have hogged all the tables, you can try your luck on the Right Bank.
Like other Left Bank institutions (namely Les Deux Magots and Le Café de Flore) the Closerie des Lilas was where the intelligentsia hung out in the early 20th century: A bust-up between André Breton and Tristan Tzara marked the end of the Dada movement here in 1922; then the Surrealist crowd moved in, along with literary expats like Miller, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, who said that the Closerie was 'one of the best cafés in Paris'. A bronze plaque engraved with Hemingway’s name (in the piano bar) commemorates the author’s patronage. The literary flame is kept burning too, thanks to the Prix de la Closerie des Lilas – an award for 21st-century, French-language, female authors. If you're hungry, try the well-prepared fare like smoked haddock and spinach (€25), and rib-eye of steak (€30) – all served to well-heeled crowds throughout the day.
With its location in a former butcher's shop, its understated but chic concrete-and-downlights décor, its no reservations policy, hip good-looking staff and all-day menu, the third venue from Charles Compagnon (after Le Richer and L'Office) seems as much the result of a hospitality trends conference as the coup de coeur of a Parisian restaurateur. But none the worse for that, as long as you time it carefully. On a freezing Tuesday in January every table was taken by 8pm, but service is non-stop from 8am until midnight so you can avoid the peak times. We enjoyed the big, airy space and the concise menu (and far less concise wine list, with a very well-priced range), the relaxed but efficient service and the general youthful, fashionable buzz. There are lots of good things and plenty of imagination on the plate, though someone in the kitchen has got a bit too much of a thing for chopping everything up into cubes and arranging it in lines, a visual and culinary trick that became almost comical the third time round.Architectural presentation aside, we ate very well. A hefty scoop of tangy scallop, oyster and apple tartare came hidden inside a hollow crispbread, floating in a lagoon of warm creamed mushrooms. We've never seen a tartare like it, but had no complaints and licked the bowl clean. Another starter was made up of marinated swordfish with black olives, pears, radishes, almonds and a spicy crispbread – an ambitious collection of things that just about worked when all taken
Opened summer 2014 in the former canteen of the 19th century Cirque d'Hiver (still going strong a couple of doors down), Clown Bar's Belle Époque décor isn't as lavish as you might expect. The vibe is more clean and cool and hipster, like many other contemporary 'néobistrots', with extra clown around the edges. Service is speedy, smiley and bilingual; but the real 'oohs' and 'aahs' rising up from the audience are inspired by the dishes coming out of the kitchen. There's a prestige team behind the scenes – chef Atsumi Sota was formerly at Vivant, and owners Sven Chartier and Ewen Lemoigne have a bunch of other greats including Saturne – and it shows.The short, seasonal menu doesn't do descriptions, just lists ingredients in that contemporary style, so if you're unsure or queasy about some of the more adventurous parts of French cuisine, get the staff to help you out. Another thing to note before ordering is that the portions – including the opening 'snacks' – are extremely generous.Over an excellent bottle of white (the team also give serious wine cellar), we nibbled on finely sliced charcuterie Noire de Bigorre (a black pig from the Pyrenees) and a bowl of breaded, deep-friend whelks – an original idea that completely worked. Then the starters (yes, we're only at starters); a beautiful bowl of still-warm oysters and smoked eel with bright greens that tasted "like sea soup", and a fat scoop of creamy grated celeriac with a tower of clean white crab meat.Mains added welcome swe
One of the first outfits in Paris to sell pizza by weight, now a popular practice, Al Taglio is an understated canteen with chic overtones; big wooden high tables are scattered throughout the venue, lit by metallic lamps. Its popularity extends beyond the neighbourhood, so be prepared to queue, and enjoy the show while you do – the constant bustle and to-ing and fro-ing of hurried waiters delivering pizzas at lighting speed. When your turn comes to choose, it's a struggle to choose between things like pizza topped pancetta and Brebis cheese, or spicy salami and artichoke, or the delicious house speciality with truffle cream and potatoes. Once that’s done, you then choose the size of your portion (from €14.20 to €36.40 per kilo).And the pizzas really deliver: the light, crunchy dough strewn with fresh, flavourful produce. For the perfect accompanying tipple, choose a glass of Bardolino (€4.80), and if you have room, the Nutella-mascarpone pizza for dessert will ensure total satisfaction.
You just have to look at the regulars’ crimson faces to know you’re onto a good thing at Astier. Red-and-white chequered tablecloths and rustic wooden panelling make up the retro setting for chef Christophe Kestler vintage revivals like smoked herrings with warm potato salad, grilled Charolais beef in anchovy butter, and scrumptious vanilla cream (think crème brûlée without the brûlée). The excellent value prix-fixe menu includes an all-you-can-eat cheese course – some morsels of which are so ripe they plop onto your plate in a dollop of ‘fromagian’ glory. Wash it all down with a 2007 Côte de Py Morgon red wine and you’ll be rolling to bed.
Creamy risottos from Piémont, oils from Beaujolais, chocolates by Pierre Marcolini, olives from M. Casanova and charcuterie from Bobosse and Conquet: the window of Jeanne A is enough to make you drool. It's next to the restaurant Chez Astier and named for its former owner, but has slowly found its own independence since it opened in 2010. All their products are spanking fresh, from Mediterranean neighbourhoods in France, Spain and Italy. Exceptional high quality dishes (with prices to match) are are on the menu at the big communal tables (as well as wines by the magnum). And if you’re inspired to do your own cooking, they also sell professional kitchen gear.
Ideally situated on the Canal Saint-Martin, L’Epicerie Musicale is a delightful hybrid of café-bar-restaurant-delicatessen-music store. The retro furniture gives the interior all the charm of an old Sicilian café, offset by graffiti art on the walls, a deli section with fish, wine, oils, hams fresh cheeses and more imported from Italy, and a jazz, soul, funk, tropical and retro-latino soundtrack from hundreds of vinyl records. Highly recommended.
L'Homme Bleu's simple, welcoming ambiance is the perfect background for the restaurant's superior Maghreb cooking. Here, cooks busy themselves in the kitchen while the meat grills slowly on the fire and regulars jostle for space – it might not look like much from the outside, but the full tables tell you all you need to know.We ate a plate of couscous mined with grilled lamb brochettes and merguez sauasage (€18) and a chicken tagine (€15). To balance it all out, a dish of crisp vegetables and preserved lemon, all washed down with a couple of glasses of Boulaouane Moroccan wine. The grains are fine and light, the sauces scented and full of flavour, the meats are the real deal – and if you have room afterwards, you can snack on sweet pastries (€2.50 each) from the neighbouring bakery, La Bague de Kenza. Overall, a warming, authentic shot of Maghrebian warmth in Oberkampf.
A clean and simple modern restaurant with an open kitchen, Little Hanoï (or its big brother, Paris-Hanoï at 74 rue de Charonne) is a breath of fresh air. Delicately scented dishes arrive on your table still steaming, fresh out of the oven and free from MSG – huge salads, bo bun, pho, beef with onions and much more. There are some nice touches, like the mint leaves in the water carafe, and the excellent egg rolls and deep-fried prawns that can be ordered by the piece (€1 and €0.90), and dishes costs around €10, with rice and vegetables included.There is a price, however: patience. You can’t reserve, so you’ll have to queue (which goes easier with a Beerlao in hand). Use the time to admire the poise of the staff, who manage to maintain their good humour in the face of the hungry crowds.
This is the place to get fed and watered before heading to Nouveau Casino or to L’International for a gig, and to see the film crews gathered in the corner who have made this their official canteen. The food isn’t half bad either, the quality of the ingredients and cooking lifting the kitchen above the level of the bar’s neighbourhood dive feel. The décor and music are well-chosen, with a poster of Jacques Tati looking down on a grand piano and post-modern lighting making the slender bar shine. The cooking is traditional French with New York accents, like the legendary spaghetti with meatballs or the house burgers (with a different ‘special’ every day of the week), often influenced by the flavours of the Auvergne but also more refined dishes like starters of oysters or foie gras, or Rossini-style beef. The wine list speaks of a well-stocked cellar and the cocktails are accomplished. The Sunday brunch is also a must-do, highly recommended. Also keep an eye on the programming, as there are occasional quality gigs.
The queen of the city’s food trucks, Californian Kristin Frederick, has set up shop in Ménilmontant, and the sandwiches are every bit as appetising as the ones she serves from her van. The shop, all blue walls and red blinds, provides a suitably casual environment in which to chow down on one of Kristin’s inspired sarnies – try the Glénan (tuna, chipotle, garlic mayo and vegetables).Prices are reasonable – think €11-13 for a set menu including a side and a drink – but the service errs on the unreliable side, with sandwiches sometimes arriving late, cold or missing ingredients. Yet the whole is tasty enough that we’re willing to give the shop the benefit of the doubt, and come back once it’s settled in.
With its modern interior of pale wood and its choice of 15 artisanal ciders, this outpost of a restaurant in Cancale, Brittany, is a world away from the average crêperie. For the complete faux-seaside experience, you might start with a plate of creuse oysters from Cancale before indulging in an inventive buckwheat galette such as the Cancalaise, made with potato, smoked herring from Brittany and herring roe. The choice of fillings is fairly limited, but the ingredients are of high quality - including the use of Valrhona chocolate with 70% cocoa solids in the dessert crêpes. This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.
Just minutes away from the Rue des Rosiers and the every-popular As du Falafel, Miznon has wisely decided to stick to what it does best – pitta sandwiches – rather than try and compete with its chickpea-cooking neighbours. The original restaurant in Tel Aviv has been wining over customers for some time, and the Parisian branch follows the same formula – a charmingly basic décor featuring lots of boxes of fruit and vegetables, the same warm atmosphere, the same dishes cooked under the direction of head chef Eyal Shani.It’s a little more expensive than you might find elsewhere, but streets ahead in quality. The cooks, mostly Israeli natives, chop chicken and meat right in front of you at the sparkling clean counter. With a cup of free mint tea and some spicy sauces, you can get stuck into chicken pitta, lamb kebab and steak with things like grilled cauliflower or sweet potato, takeaway or eat in. If you are lucky enough to find a seat in the packed dining room, grab it quickly and enjoy the welcoming vibe.
The once-fashionable Omar doesn't take reservations, and the queue can stretch the length of the zinc bar and through the door. Everyone is waiting for the same thing: couscous. Prices range from €11 (vegetarian) to €24 (royale); there are no tagines or other traditional Maghreb mains, only a handful of French classics (duck, fish, steak). Overstretched waiters slip through the crowds with mounds of semolina, vats of vegetable-laden broth and steel platters heaving with meat, including the stellar merguez. Even on packed nights, there's an offer of seconds - gratis - to encourage you to stay a little while longer.
For a restaurant founded by a man the New York Times dubbed the ‘wizard of offal’, it’s initially disappointing that Glou keeps it’s tongue (and it’s heart, testicles and other offcuts) in cheek and off the menu. Instead this charming Marais bistro from ex food writer Julien Fouin – author of 'Beurk! C’est Bon' / 'Yuck! It’s Good' – plays things straight and pan-continental with Spanish meat boards, subtle pasta dishes and bold French desserts.Our experience was that of an upward curve. Things started with a solid if unextraordinary smoked duck stuffed with foie gras – aided by punchy grapefruit chutney, but hamstrung by curiously burnt toast – before stepping up with a seasonal cep ravioli, the woody fungus and delicate pasta combining to evoke warm autumnal memories. It was dessert that really dazzled though – a crispy chocolate and praliné tartlet with a glass of ‘Sugar Baby Love’, a sweet little wine that butted up exquisitely against the bitter chocolate. As good as the food is, this isn’t the kind place where people reverentially savour what is offered to them with quiet awe. It’s a ‘food with friends’ affair and with a distinguished wine list, openhearted staff and a communal table that reverberates with the laughter of Marais hipsters, Glou has a habit of creating evenings that stick in the memory banks.
Montmartre was once peppered with flour-grinding windmills, and this modern restaurant (named after the Moulin de la Galette cabaret of which it was once a part) is set inside one of only two remaining mills – the other being private property just a few doors down on rue Lepic. A more more idyllic setting you will not find, with a sweet little courtyard draped in ivy. The food is contemporary French cuisine, such as pan-fried foie gras with lemongrass and juniper berries, or cochon de lait (suckling pig) with creamy potato purée. The desserts, such as caramelised figs and chocolate fondant, are beautifully presented. If you’re on a budget, opt for the set menus, and choose your wine carefully.
It's a bit of a scramble around Montmartre's stairways to get to this little Venezuelan restaurant, but it more than rewards the effort when the sun streams in through the big window, and chairs covered in flowered fabric cluster around wooden tables. A little kitchen takes up the rear bar area, while above it hangs a big blackboard scribbled with the arepas menu – traditional Venezuelan cornflour flatbreads, here filled like sandwiches. The welcome is hugely warm, and staff enthusiastically explain the arepas concept and various fillings, putting you immediately at ease. Arepas are between €6 and €8 – stuffed with things like duck, mango, mint, red onion and Peruvian chili, or chicken and avocado, or black beans, beef and Venezuelan cheese. The dozen or so fillings are difficult to choose from, served in huge portions with chips (potato, sweet potato or plantain) and fresh guacamole. Wash it all down with some passion fruit juice and feel like you've just had a refreshing shot of Venezuelan sunshine.
Italian fever has seized the north side of Montmartre’s Butte: there’s Trattoria Pulcinella on rue Eugène Sue, La Pulcinella and Locanda Pulcinella pizzeria on rue Damrémont; and as if that weren’t enough, another Italian, L’Angelo, has recently opened too. That’s a lot of choice; but don’t be daunted. The locals have already discerned the best. They keep coming back to Trattoria Pulcinella – for its generous plates of antipasti (€15), fine-based pizzas laden with fresh toppings (€12-€16), hearty pasta dishes (€14) and seriously delicious tiramisu (€6). Reserve a table before 8pm, or order a glass of sparkling lambrusco to pass the time while you queue.
A little canteen snuggled up against the Montmartre steps, Soul Kitchen is a delightful café-restaurant overseen by three charming, inspired lady chefs – just the sort of place you’d want as your local. You’d come and drink a creamy coffee and read the news of a morning in the company of the local retirees, and come at midday to eat lunch in great company, choosing from excellent ever-changing menu of homemade recipes made with organic local produce. In the afternoon, you’d hang out with your laptop and a pastry, or just sip a good glass of red before heading on elsewhere. There’s a birdcage from which dozens of paper butterflies are escaping, an old typewriter, a big bay window, trays groaning with food, pretty coloured furniture and a huge chalkboard menu. When we visited at lunchtime, we started with a comforting winter squash soup full of happily wallowing croutons, scattered with fried onions and accompanied by a sandwich of potted goose. There was also a fabulous ‘Granny’s pichade’, a thick pissaladière French pizza with tomatoes and pesto. Then two bowls of a beautiful, colourful pasta salad, followed by tarte tatin and fromage blanc with plum jam. All in gorgeous surroundings for €11.50 – it would be tough not to fall in love with Soul Kitchen.
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.
Vietnamese joints are a dime a dozen in the 13th, but a good pho soup is a rare find indeed. Three cheers, then, for Indochine's recipe: devoid of the oiliness that so often mars the broth, the pho here is light and revitalising, the freshness of its herbs and soya beans beyond question. The same goes for the assortment of salads on offer, from the green papaya to the chicken and basilic or (for the adventurous) the raw beef. The banh cuon ravioli are suppler, less chewy, than what you'll generally get in these parts; and the banh xeo (fried prawn pancakes) strike just the right balance between crispy and tender. If everything at Indochine is a cut above the average (even the lovely terrace), the restaurant is also busier than most. Get there early.
If you’re lost and starving in Chinatown of a lunchtime, choosing from among the serried ranks of neon signs offering Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or all three at the same time can feel like a minefield. No longer – head to Li Ka Fo.A few ducks hang in the window to attract the hordes, and there’s a warm welcome when you go inside and find your way to a table between Chinese families eating their way through gargantuan plates of food. It’s all very reassuring. The menu, with its dozens of dishes, begins with the more leftfield chef’s specials: pork intestines sautéed with cabbage, duck’s tongues with ginger, stew of pig’s feet and scallops. We were less adventurous, starting with lovely steamed pork buns, then crunchy sautéed noodles with caramelised pork and a thick sauce spiked with garlic, and caramelised pork with sweet and sour sauce and simple white rice. Everything was delicious, full of flavour but not too greasy and served in huge portions (what you don’t finish you can get packaged up to take away).
A hip young crowd gathers in this rock-oriented bar, which doubles as a sports bar during important football and rugby fixtures, and trebles as an internet café at other times. Ever-changing art exhibitions add interest to the walls, and live music once a month draws an indie crowd. Fancy falling in love? Try the €8 love potion cocktail Philtre d'Amour, which is made from gin, Malibu, pineapple and strawberries.
Chez Prosper welcomes punters all day long with that simplest of gestures: a smile. Yes, even when squeezing past people queuing for a spot on the sun terrace, the waiters are positively beaming. The traditional dining/drinks area - tiled floor, large mirrors, wooden furniture - is run with military precision, and orders arrive promptly. The steak-frites and croques (served on Poîlane bread) are hearty, and the naughty Nutella tiramisu is worth crossing town for.
You have to have courage to take on an icon like the Eiffel Tower, but superchef and entrepreneur Alain Ducasse has done just that in taking over the Jules Verne, perched in its spectacular eyrie above the city. He has transformed the cuisine and brought in his favourite designer, Patrick Jouin. Meanwhile, Ducasse protégé Pascal Féraud updates French classics, combining all the grand ingredients you'd expect with light, modern textures and sauces. Try dishes like lamb with artichokes, turbot with champagne zabaglione, and a fabulous ruby grapefruit soufflé. Reserve well ahead, and come for lunch if you want to make the most of the views.
Atao looks like a dream of a fisherman’s cabin – marine blue on the outside, then wood, white and colourful touches of fresh flowers inside, with an old mariner’s portrait, an anchor and a black and white Gwenn ha Du flag from old Brittany. At night, soft candlelight enhances the atmosphere even further.This pretty place is owned by the daughter of an oyster farmer from Morbihan, who showers her guests with platters of fine oysters – flat native plates and huge Japanese creuses (alive and cooked). They're all certified Gravinis, the family locale, and cost between €15 and €30 a dozen. Given the pedigree, there’s no messing about with the selection of shellfish here – a generous plate of perfectly cooked whelks comes with excellent home made aioli.It’s the same story with the larger shellfish: fantastic langoustine, prawns and crabs. It’s a bit expensive, but that’s the price you pay for eating such high quality beasts in Paris. The main dishes – fish stew, dorado with basil, scallop carpaccio etc. – are also pricey (around €30) but of undeniable quality. Overall, this is the ideal place to find the best fare from the sea.
If vegetarian restaurants are on the rise in Paris, vegan can still be a challenge to track down. It’s a tough sell, especially in France: the savoir-faire and imagination required to produce good cooking without any animal products, including milk and eggs.This American enterprise does well. The sober black and white room, strung with origami shapes, happily looks more like a business lunch venue than a hippy hang-out. And on the menu, as well as the inevitable veggie burger, there are plenty of French-inspired dishes plus flavours from around the world, like Cajun tofu.We were intrigued by things like a soup with pumpkin, peppers and mushrooms, and a Moroccan salad with chickpeas, roasted carrots, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, which were both very well executed. In contrast, the tofu burger, with an over-smoked taste and slightly limp texture, was a bit of a let-down, as was the substitute cheese tart. Happily, a delicious bourginon stew with root vegetables saved the day. Portions are generous enough that you might not need dessert, though they offer vegan versions of all the classics – tarte tatin, crème brûlée, millefeuilles. Give the place time to even out the menu and push the kitchen a bit further, and it could be somewhere really good.
A hundred yards along the Seine, just up from the flame memorial that marks where Princess Diana died, is a rather sober building that houses the grandly-named Sergei Rachmaninoff Russian Conservatory of Paris. This august establishment opposite the Eiffel Tower was founded in 1923, and continues to train budding musicians in French and Russian. But when the school closes up for the day, a more intriguing locale, La Cantine Russe, opens up in the basement.Run by the ebullient showman George Kazarien – who acts as host, Master of Ceremonies and musician – the Cantine is a quite surreal venue for an evening's entertainment, transporting diners to a kitsch Moscow-on-the-Seine, with a non-stop cabaret of everything from traditional folk songs, operatic arias and swirling dancing accompanied by balalaikas to the latest Russian disco favourites later at night, when everyone ends up on the dancefloor. While long-legged blonde waitresses serve frozen vodka shots out of a long glass bottle replica of a Kalashnikov, you can choose from a long list of authentic Russian dishes on the menu: pirojkis stuffed with minced beef and vegetables, blinis and creamy aubergine, goloubtsy stuffed cabbage, grilled sea bream or pelmenis, traditional Russian dumplings in a consommé soup with sour cream.While the cabaret is free, the set menu is priced at €45, while a shot of Kalashnikov vodka will hit you for €9. In summer, the conservatory has a lovely terraced garden at the back, which the cantine ta
This former butcher's has lost none of its carnivorous appetite: since its conversion into a restaurant back in 2010, L'Alcôve has been serving a saliva-inducing range of Maghrebian grills to locals in the know. The venue itself, innocuously squeezed between a sushi place and a grocer's, is more kebab joint than restaurant proper; but one glance at the menu of tajines and grilled meat dishes will convince you to stay. The couscous is as fine as desert sand, the meats themselves as succulent as anything you'll get for this price (count around €13–€18 per main) – special mention goes to the exquisitely tender beef skewers and merguez sausages. The meal is rounded out by a salmagundi of salads, vegetables and condiments, and a very decent bottle of organic wine (€20). We'll be back.
With its Parisian bistro allure, this tiny Italian restaurant offering classic transalpine cuisine is nothing if not convivial. Sugared olives and charcuterie 'du pays' are served by Italian waiters who move the chalkboard from table to table across the tiled floors. The solid menu offers all you would expect: fish or pasta of the day with a choice of sauce, veal escalope, gorgonzola tagliatelle. We appreciated that the warm herb bread was served throughout the meal. The look and feel of this place, where the crammed together tables are conducive to meeting fellow diners, are exactly what one expects of a neighbourhood Italian. The only regret is that the menu is slightly predictable. But perhaps that is the price one pays at such a successful place which has for a very long time welcomed lovers of authentic Italian cuisine. To finish, a worthy tiramisu, coffee and a passable Orvietto by the half bottle, you come out having spent under €30 per person. It’s not a place worth shouting about, but it certainly does what it says on the tin.
Looking for somewhere to eat on a Monday?
Many of Paris's kitchens take a rest on Mondays. Read on for the best of those that don't Opéra and Les Halles Le Garde Robe 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. Pirouette 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 imme