Exciting and affordable –that’s the new generation of restaurants in Paris.
When Mireille Guiliano’s best-selling book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, came out, it ushered in a renewed era of fascination with the French culinary lifestyle; a lifestyle epitomized by enjoying the best that life has to offer, with fresh ingredients, simple yet bold flavors and a perfect balance of moderation and decadence. As someone who has recently travelled to “La Ville Lumière“(the City of Light), I can attest that the stereotypes are absolutely true: the cuisine in Paris is better than ever! Here are some taste sensations I recently had the pleasure to experience.
Haute Cuisine to “Bistronomy”
Regardless of your travel budget, Paris can offer the world on a plate. Although my wife and I were travelling modestly, we wanted to experience the ‘next-generation’ taste of Paris, so we enjoyed a special night at Bones, one of the most celebrated new restaurants in the city. While Paris is known for its haute cuisine, in recent years, there has been an explosion of high-quality restaurants offering fantastic food at reasonable prices. The chefs behind this movement are coming to Paris from all over the world, drawn by reasonable start-up costs and an enthusiastic clientele eager to break away from the culinary establishment of previous decades.
Bones is at the forefront of this trend, with bold young Australian chef James Henry leading the way. Located in the hip 11th arrondissement (district), Bones is a stripped-down space where they make their own bread, churn their own butter, and cure the meat all on the premises.
A four-course prix-fixe menu is the way to go at Bones. The menu is constantly changing and, on any given night, you might find silky smooth scallops and cuttlefish sharing a plate with fresh-from-the-farm beets and horseradish; Pollock and parsley root with fermented cabbage; lamb, kale and goats-beard, a plant of the daisy family that has slender grass-like leave and yellow flowers. It’s all followed by a desserts like coffee mousse, amoretti biscuit, almond sorbet and fresh lemon. Everything is in-season and sourced from the best local providers. We walked away from the rock-music laced venue with full-stomachs and smiling faces. Bones – 43 rue Godefroy Cavaignac
Vivant is another one of the exciting restaurants led by a new-wave of young chefs pushing the boundaries of French cuisine. It has been garnering rave reviews for the past couple of years and we decided we had to find out what separated it from the other flavors-of-the-month.
The real story at Vivant are the wines. The selection is unapologetically ‘organic and biodynamic.’ If you come here with a wine-lover, don’t be surprised if they come away in love or enraged – that’s how divisive it can be. The only reservation I had was that the wines were, at times, a little bit too brash.
The food here is market fresh and dictated by the seasons. I suggest leaving yourself in the capable hands of host / owner Pierre Jancou and 27-year-old Chef Sota. You’ll have a dining experience to remember. They know the provenance of every ingredient on the menu, and the hand-picked produce shines off the plate. Whether you opt for succulent suckling pig with perfect mashed potatoes, tasty sheets of exquisite Parma ham, or immaculate Dupérier foie gras, every element strives to enhance the next. Vivant Table – 43 Rue des Petites Écuries
Low Key ≠Low Quality
While it’s easy to find restaurants that have the city buzzing, finding fantastic street food along the boulevards of Paris is where your adventures can be hit and miss. Given the huge number of tourists that pour into the city every day, many street-side food vendors opt for the lowest common denominator. And if you choose the wrong stall or hole-in-a-wall restaurant, you’ll end up with a chewy crepe or stale sandwich. However, there are more than a few gems on offer, including L’As du Fallafel and Le Comptoir.
The crowds of people milling about outside this low-key falafel sand are the first clue about the delicious Middle-Eastern comfort food that awaits at L’As du Fallafel . They’ve been wowing the Parisian crowds for a decade now, with the namesake dish filled with spiced falafel, tangy humus, pickled cabbage, radish, cucumbers, soft creamy eggplant and topped with harissa that has enough bite to say good morning without bringing a tear to your eye.
After reading about L’As du Fallafel in every Paris travel guide known to man, we knew we’d have to visit the neighborhood of Marais, and we weren’t disappointed! L’As du Fallafel also offers shwarma (shaved meat on a spit) and French fries, but for the authentic experience go for the falafel and enjoy some of the best street food Paris has to offer. L’As du Fallafel – 34 rue des Rosiers
While not as informal as L’As du Fallafel, Le Comptoiris a bistro that will ignite your taste buds without lighting your wallet on fire. Known to fill up hours in advance, it’s best to plan ahead in order to secure a space. Reservations are needed if you plan to show up for dinner, but even if you’re planning an impromptu lunch it’s guaranteed that you’ll be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.
The food makes all the fuss worth it. The charcuterie is world-renowned and a platter of meats will knock your socks off. The blood sausage, pate, and salami are served with piquant pickles and perfect French bread. There is also a wide selection of organic wines to wash it all down. Le Comptoir– 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon
That’s just a sample of what Paris has to offer and we’ve barely touched the surface! The best thing about this city is that tradition and revolution often clash heads, with the resulting furor creating a blend of flavors not found anywhere else in the world! After tasting some of the best food in Paris I’m still not quite sure why French women don’t get fat.–by Jacob E. Dawson, RFT Contributor