My Parisian Restaurant Map

Monday, November 26, 2012

Au RDV des Camionneurs

Every once in a while, my teaching day job finally pays off.

For example, the day that I learned that my new student was Chef Patrice Hardy, owner and chef of both La Truffe Noire in Neuilly and Au Rendez-vous des Camionneurs on Ile de la Cite, was a particularly delightful one.

Little did he know that when he extended me the probably now routine invitation to come to one of his restaurants one day and give him a call beforehand that I would actually be taking him up on his offer much sooner rather than later. (I had of course kept my restaraunt reviewer extraordinaire secret identity, well...secret).

So off we went to the beautiful Ile de la Cite, a scenic yet not necessarily 'happening' place to put Hardy's fledgling bistro experiment that was to follow the already well established Truffe Noire.

The bistro itself is nestled at the edge of the Parisian island, tucked away in a forgotten street corner...

...and the decor is cozy-chic. I don't know if that even exists, but if it does, I'm certain it's a Parisian who invented it.

 The menu itself is rather interesting. I had heard that it boasts some rather plentiful piggy platters, but I was surprised to discover that my favorite dish on the menu was a seared tuna steak with 'asian spices'. I'll admit it's not the most obvious choice on the menu of a French bistro, which is why I myself didn't order it, however I was by far the most jealous to have not done so once I got a bite of it from one of my co-conspirators.

Equally surprising was the croque monsieur with haddock, goats cheese and and smoked herring eggs.

 On to the main dishes, I thought it a great twist to have a risotto with sot l'y laisse (remember my post on that a few years back?). Then there was the absolutely stunning blanquette de joue de veau which is apparently the same recipe as at the Truffe Noire and honestly, by far the creamiest, tastiest, tenderest one that I've ever eaten. And I've eaten a lot of them, trust me.

My main dish was by far the most beautifully presented, yet somehow the most dissapointing. Don't get me wrong, it was a delicious compilation of scallops on a bed of leeks, presented in the actual shell that was shut by a roll of pastry dough to create a sort of sea food vacuum pack effect. The scallops were cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, but it lacked seasoning, which couldn't even be corrected by the very light curry sauce served with it.

The chocolate tartlet for dessert was like a chocolate moelleux, but with a flaky homemade pie crust. The pistachio creme was good, but not as earth shattering as the tartlet.

The best part of this bistro is that for the digestif, they just put the entire bottle of calvados on your table and let you serve yourself. I'm not sure if that was because I was getting special treatment (which I doubt) or because they really are passionate about making people's bellies feel happy.

As for the cost, we went all out, ordering 3 courses à la carte, plus loads of scrumptious Bourgorgne wine (very reasonably priced), plus digestifs, so it was pretty pricey- around 70 euros per person. But if you are a little less gluttonous than me, you can have the 36 euro menu for 3 courses.

Au RDV des Camionneurs
72 Quai des Orfevres, 75001
Tél : 01 43 29 78 81

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Le Chardenoux

I recently went for a languid Sunday lunch to Chardenoux, Cyril Lignac's bistro in the 11th arrondisement.

If you didn't know any better, you would mistake it for one of the usual Parisian corner bistros, which is the image that it is desperately trying to convey. One look at the menu though and the prices will quickly tip you off to it's more privileged status.

Now I do not own a TV so I do not watch French cooking programs, which means that I don't bear the same hatred for Lignac as most Parisians seem to. I guess this made me slightly more objective when I was stuffing delicious morsels of plume Iberique in my mouth.

Firstly, the bistro itself is beautiful. Its art deco interior, golden mouldings and painted ceilings are somewhat reminiscent of Le Train Bleu, and has the capacity to transport the diners back to the 1920's. The food is scrumptious: typical bistro fare like cote de boeuf or ris de veau figure on the menu, but their preparation and presentation is far beyond what you expect to get at any local resto. The dishes are creative twists on the usual classics, and a quick glance into the kitchen revealed a staggering array of copper pots and pans, which is always a good sign in my book. Even the service is delightful. The wine list is long, but definitely not the most impressive part of the experience. Better to stick with one of the cheaper bottles (starting at around 28 euros), than splurge on one of the more expensive yet not necessarily better vintages.

All in all, Chardenoux was a lovely surprise. A family bistro (notably full of old people, also always a good sign) preparing the classics while taking them to a completely new level of refinement, the decor is beautiful but the prices are on the high side if you order a la carte. I would definitely recommend going for lunch during the week where they have a good prix fixe menu for around 30 euros for 3 courses. And do be sure to reserve well ahead.

Le Chardenoux
1 Rue Jules Valles, 75011 Paris
Metro: Faidherbe-Chaligny (line 8)
01 43 71 49 52

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Parisian Restaurant Map

You'll notice a new feature that I've added to the top of the page: my Parisian restaurant map.

The little pinpoints are restaurants that I love or am hoping to go to very soon. This way, the next time you're looking for a restaurant in Paris, you can search for one based on where you are or where you're going to be.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pret a manger

This post is going to make all you Anglophiles very very happy. The famous self service restaurant chain Pret a Manger (and no, despite its name it's not secretly French), has opened it's doors in the shopping mall Les Quatres Temps in La Defense.

Occasionally I happen to work in La Defense during the week, so I know all about the challenges of the lunch rush in this particularly populated bubble of skyscrapers.

And Pret a Manger is filling a wide whole in the lunch market- cheap, healthy, freshly produced soups and sandwiches that really manage to shake up the classic Parisian jambon beurre lunch staple. And they even introduce the completely western fascination with calorie counting! All the products have the number of calories clearly labelled, something that I'm sure will make very many wispy size zero Parisiennes very very happy.

They just opened another branch in the new mall So Ouest in Levallois, and have 2 more openings scheduled in the 8th and 13th arrondissements.

So if you only have 30 min for lunch, love fancy wraps like chicken tzatziki and are an obsessive calorie counter, you should definitely check it out.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tous au Restaurant

When people say "Paris is the restaurant capital of the world" I feel like they're in that cheesy scene in the Titanic where Leonardo di Caprio yells "I'm the king of the world!". But sometimes, I do have to agree.

In this case, it's National Restaurant Week, or "Tous au Restaurant", that makes me do so.

From the 17th to the 23rd of September, a huge majority of Parisian restaurants offer special menus to intice the public to eat out more and to discover their local bistros. Which is great and all, but the real point of this week is to try to snag a reservation at one of the 'Grandes Tables,' like Guy Savoy, Alain Dutournier, Thierry Marx, Joel Robouchon and Yannick Aleno. These classic Michelin-starred establishments open their doors to us mere mortals, offering special menus that make their luxury food more accesible to the public. Naturally they can't let just anyone in, so the starting price for a 3-course meal at lunch starts at 58 Euros, going up to 300 Euros, for our deal old friend Mr. Savoy.

And of course, as in typical Parisian fashion, you have to wake up before even the sparrows have farted on the 17th and keep your mouse hovering over the restaurant that you want to reserve, because the moment they 'open' the reservation system, those 'tables d'exception' are snapped up faster than a free seat in the metro during rush hour.

But if you're like me and just itching to eat at one of these Meccas, then you might want to save up for the year, that is.

Tous au Restaurant - National Restaurant week
17th-23rd of September

The Corsica Edition: U Papacionu

If you happen to be spending your vacation in Corsica, you will be met with various diverging opinions regarding the local food. And once you set foot in Ajaccio, you might have a tendancy to side with the nay-sayers as the onslaught of carbon-copy cafes all serving crepes, paninis, pizza and ice cream hits you. But rest assured, if you only dig a little deeper you will find yourself satiated to the point of actual physical discomfort, that oh-so-familiar pain of your stomach muscles over stretching in order to accomodate the sheer quantity of deliciousness that you have dumped into it.

I will admit however, that my first discovery I owe entirely to a simple, stupid Google search for "best pizza in Ajaccio." But for once it seems all my fellow holidaymakers were talking about one place, and one place only: U Papacionu. 

Now I have been to Italy many, many, many times, and in Italy I have eaten many, many, many pizzas. All different sorts of cheezy, gooey, meaty, potatoe-y, vegetable-y goodness, topped with thick parmesan flakes that look like flower petals, or creamy burrata and mozarella di buffala that oozes like thick liquid cream when you dip your fork into it....So trust me when I say that outside of Italy, the only place that has an equally mind-blowing, stomach-clenching, mouth-watering, physically addictive effect is U Papacionu. 

The first night we went, I decided to go for the special, fancy arugula, buratta, parma ham pizza. And it was good, very, very good. But I kept seeing these giant half pizzas, so big that half of it was hanging over the lip of the plate, getting devoured next to me...and you know me, I cant help staring at what other people are eating. So despite the deliciousness of my own refined pizza, as well as the sheer volcano explosion of the calzone my husband was trying to tame, I had not really managed to get my fix. 

So the next day, back we went, and I chose the simplest pizza on the menu, the one that I assumed to be what everyone had been ordering the night before: a pizza margarita, or simply, a plain, cheese pizza.

And I kid you not when I say that this nonchalant, innocent looking yet giant slice of heaven was literally the best pizza I have ever had.

So if you're in Ajaccio and fed up of all those multipurpose tourist trap 'restaurants', and are craving a real pizza, go to U Papacionu. You might even see a real life Corsican mobster there, like we did, sitting with his back to the wall and his bodyguard next to him, at an 8-top table with only 3 people at it in the middle of the extremely busy dinner service...Oh and do reserve in advance, because you won't be the only one with a pizza craving and a google search to have had this idea. 

U Papacionu
16 rue St Charles20000 Ajaccio, CorseFrance

+33 (0) 495 212 786

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Beef Club

I have died and gone to meat heaven.

The Beef Club, the restaurant where Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec sells his famous 5 week matured English beef, is the only place to go if you’re a meat-phile.

Every time I go to a truly delicious restaurant I always have the same problem: a loss of words. Which is, admittedly, a little problematic for a food writer. But this time I was lucky, because I did manage to find one word and repeat it throughout the whole dinner. “Wow.” “WOW”. “WoW”. “Woooooooow.”

I skipped appetizers and went straight for a steak, specifically the spyder steak. Normally this cut of meat is full of sinews and nerves and all those little stringy bits that you have to chew particularly enthusiastically before you can swallow. But the waiter explained that here they remove everything, leaving the steak particularly tender and buttery, seeing as it’s a cut that is conveniently located close to the bone. Needless to say, it was perfectly cooked (and highly recommended to be eaten rare, as per the chefs request) and was the first time that I was able to close my eyes and savor how delicious meat can be when it’s prepared properly. The entrecote was also delicious, a divine eating experience for my dining partner.



The wine that we had with it was an excellent Beaujolais, which says less about my amazing food/wine pairing talents, and more about the fact that it was one of the cheapest bottles available (at the, ahem, modest price of 44 euros)

The prices remain relatively high, which is completely understandable given the quality of the beef. It was around 25 euros for my spyder steak, and about 35 for the entrecote. The steaks come with a large choice of side dishes, including my personal favorites of duck fat French fries, and 3 cheese gratinée mac and cheese. The 10 euro profiterole is the house specialty for dessert, and not only is one big enough for two, but funnily enough it looks surprisingly like a hamburger.


And here’s a little challenge for you: go inside the restaurant and find the magic door that leads to the hidden bar downstairs. It’s called The Ballroom and is run by the same guys who do the Experimental Cocktail Bar.

The Beef Club
58 rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, 75001
09 52 52 89 34


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chipotle has landed

I told you Mexican food was all the rage in Paris!

Today Chipotle, the American tex-mex fast food chain, opened its doors to the Parisian public on the boulevard Montmartre.

I got there at about 7.30 pm and the place was packed, mostly with Americans and tourists. All my American friends on facebook were posting excitedly about the new arrival.

Although the food has the potential to make it very very popular, the location (between a McDonald's and a Starbucks) means that it's more likely to drift into the fast food realm than the "hey have you heard of that amazing place with the name I can't pronounce?" category.

Speaking of the name, the French are having serious difficulties with it. Chipotle used this to their advantage,  very cleverly adapting their slogan to "comment prononcez-vous Chipotle?" or " How do you pronounce Chipotle".

But at 9 euros a pop (with an extra 1.50 for guacamole, geez!), they might have a hard time competing with the cheaper McDo next door.

Oh oops, I forgot to take a picture of my burrito, because it was smelling so good I just couldnt stand to wait any longer before eating it. (The fact that I managed to write this whole post without even taking one bite shows remarkable self control on my part) I had the Barbacoa spicy pulled beef, with bacony beans, red salsa, green salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. And they have margaritas, which is an easy win over the 1664 beer that you can get with your Big Mac meal.

20 Boulevard Montmartre, 9th arrondisement
Metro: Richelieu Drouot
Open from 11am-10pm

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blend Burger

Clearly, burgers are all the rage in Paris now.

Which I find to very contradictory to Parisian cuisine as a whole, since Parisians seem to hate Americans, but have no qualms with devouring their standard food fare on a regular basis.

A couple of months ago, I got word of the supposedly 'best burger in Paris' (as they all seem to claim), to be found at Blend in Le Sentier.

It was that typical situation of a very hyped up burger that unfortunately, did not deliver compared to such sky high expectations.

But yes, the burgers are good. Very good. Just not 'the best'. (Don't you find that anytime people tell you 'its the best' you secretly hope for it to be crap just so you can prove them wrong?)

The buns are freshly baked. The prices are reasonable. The beers are local. The sweet potato fries come wrapped in a little cone of wax paper, and even the cheese on the cheeseburger is a secret combination of yellow and white cheddar brought in from England, according to the waiter. Though I couldn't help overhear one Parisienne sitting next to me complaining about the cheese on the cheeseburger being too cheesy. She clearly had no idea what to expect of cheddar cheese, being more accustomed to the processed orange cheese that comes in an individual plastic wrapper. The burger is not too big, not too little, but perfect for a gal like me who needs to feel stuffed and happy without feeling like someone is going to have to roll me home.

And then there's the meat. The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender and buttery, perfectly cooked, and apparently sourced from Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, the same butcher as the Beef Club, Paris's uber exclusive and off the radar temple to all things beefy (Which will also happen to be the subject of my next post, so stay tuned).

Even though you might have to wait half in hour in the rain just to get in to this tiny broom closet of a restaurant, all the staff are clearly very proud of what they do, and very happy to be doing it. A tip of the hat to the workers at Blend, who managed to elevate the cookie-cutter bistro burger to whole other level.

So all in all, not the best burger in Paris, but still an excellent specimen of creative simplicity, and a great reminder of the never ending paradox that is Parisian food culture. 

Blend Hamburger Gourmet
44 rue d'Argout
75002 Paris

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Ok fine! I'll do it! I'll jump on the bandwagon and write about Candelaria.

I first went to this taco joint last year, having read a review of it by David Leibovitz. Imagining that it must be insanely popular, I waited for 4 pm on Sunday to attempt getting a table for 2 for lunch. Turns out, not a problem. Although they only have a few seats at the bar and one table, we somehow managed to find a spot, drink cold Mexican beers and devour delicious, fresh, home made soft tacos.

While happily munching away at the bar, I had noticed some people coming into the resto, walking through a door in the back and disappearing. And its only when those Mexican beers made nature call that I discovered where those people were going.

Hidden away behind this tiny taco joint is a beautiful cocktail bar. One minute you're eating Mexican street food in a minuscule diner style taqueria, the next, you're in a hidden bar that is not only beautifully decorated but also serves the most amazing and most original cocktails. And I go to Le China regularly so I know what I'm talking about.

My favorite cocktail was with chili pepper infused tequila, cucumbers, coriander and other strange yummy things floating aroung. This week, seeing as it was an early lunch, I had their version of a Bloody Mary, which included a scoop of avocado and a handful of coriander in the shaker, along with home-made chipotle pepper infused tomato juice. Heaven (and a full meal) in a tall glass.

Note: The picture is blurry because the drink is strong, as it should be.

But go there anytime past 7pm and you're going to wait half an hour to get a drink and you will find yourself squashed to the wall by too-cool bobo hipsters and Greek/American tourists. Its a strange mix.

52 rue Saintonge, 3rd arrondisement
Tacos: between 3-3.50E per taco
Cocktails: 10-12 euros. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Empanadas & Helados

So we all know Candelaria. 

The ultra hip taco slash hidden cocktail bar in the 11th arrondisement. The kind of place that serves delicious Mexican street food and has only one table because, frankly, they're just that cool. 'The harder it is to get the food, the more you want it' seems to be the motto of the latest up and coming Parisian food joints. 

So it's only natural that we all battle our way through the crowds and wait in the cold rain on the street for a scrumptious yet slightly overpriced taco. 

But waiting on the sidewalk has its advantages, and sometimes if you follow the mouth watering smells coming from around the corner, you might find something delicious.

As the name says, this place serves empanadas and ice-cream. And while I didn't try the ice-cream, the empanadas were definitely worth a tip of the hat. 

But even more noteworthy is the entree, a compilation of raw, marinated Argentinian meat, topped with tiny morsels of red onion, celery, avocado and fresh coriander. At the staggering price of 9 euros for 5 minuscule slices, you would be surprised how quickly you forget how much you're paying once you pop one of these little heavenly slivers into your mouth. 

The empanadas were really good too, although I don't think they merit the price tag of 4 euros per piece. Try the meat one and cheese and onion one. 

Fun fact: These guys have decided to get with the program and follow what everyone seems to be doing at the moment in Paris : food trucks. They have the first Argentinian food truck, El Carrito, that serves up street food throughout the cobblestoned roads of Paris. 

Classico Argentino- Empanadas & Helados
217, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75011M°: Faidherbe-Chaligny
Tél. 01 56 06 95 14

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Le Mal Barre

The search for the perfect Parisian burger has been long, and it has been hard. I've followed food guides, friends' advice, recent trends, facebook tips, and sometimes just simply my nose. I've had to sacrifice many things to find it; just this week I was forced to eat four cheeseburgers, hoping that one of them would be 'the one'.

So I was quite surprised to find it while searching for a good spot to have a long, languid Sunday lunch.

Le Mal Barre, which is actually advertised as 'Blini's Bar', serves only two things: burgers and dessert. Dessert is either cupcakes or cheesecake, and that's it.

Apart from the fact that it took ridiculously, severely long for our food to come, the burgers were heaven. Ranging from the classic double steak, to the 'chick mex' chicken and guacamole burger, to a Japanese style teriyake and shitake burger, and even a Southwestern one with magret de canard and cantal cheese. Simple, not too big, well seasoned, interesting combinations, and a nice personal spin off on ketchup are all very very good reasons to go here. And the mere 10 euro price tag is another one.

Considering they just opened 3 days ago, I would recommend going only if you have a lot of time to spare. But its worth the wait.

Le Mal Barre
47 Rue Lucien Sampaix
75010 Paris