La Buvette, opened in 2013, is perhaps the most stylish and intimate wine bar of its generation in Paris. Its Lilliputian confines are the size of the average e-cigarette shop, and yet manage to contain four small tables, a thin zinc bar, a prep kitchen, and in the rear, an authoritative-looking wine fridge. Scrawled on a wall-mounted mirror is the menu: a rotating array of highbrow nibbles, ranging from orange-zested white broad beans in olive oil to thick-cut nubs of andouille au lard, or intestine sausage laced with lardo.
A key charm of the Marché des Enfants Rouges has long been the discrepancy between the surrounding Marais’ chic tourism and the humid food-hall atmosphere of the market itself. Les Enfants du Marché – a frankly luxuriant, avant-garde dining counter tucked in the rear right of the market – is arguably the first establishment to bridge these two cultures.
For the wine-indifferent, Café de la Nouvelle Mairie is merely a timeless, picturesque terraced café on a shady lane beside the Panthéon. Wines are inexpensive and available by the carafe, like in the old days. The café’s simply-executed bistrot cuisine is well-sourced and agreeable: oeufs mayonnaise, chicken liver terrines studded with grapes, and hearty Angus steaks for pressure-free meals on long summer evenings.
But for alert wine geeks, Café de la Nouvelle Mairie might as well be the Panthéon itself, as pertains to natural wine.
Le 6 Paul Bert had a brief closure followed by several different chefs and menu makeovers. We’re not sure what’s going on over there right now, but will update this description after another visit. Here’s what we wrote about the first incarnation:
Breizh Café is by far our favorite crêperie in Paris Traditionalists like me, who always order a complète (ham, cheese, egg), appreciate the higher quality organic ingredients and the crispy lacy edges of their buckwheat galettes. More adventurous hunters can look to the daily and seasonal specials to top their galettes with upgrades like sea scallops and smoked duck breast. Dessert crêpes offer a few Japanese touches like ginger and yuzu alongside classic constructions with apples and ice cream. You can begin with ultra-fresh oysters or langoustines, sip artisanal ciders throughout the meal, and still escape for less than 20€ per person. There are now three locations in Paris, which takes some heat off the original Marais location, but you should still book in advance. They’ve added online reservations to make that easy, and are now open every day at each location.
There’s a boisterous, fun vibe at this Oberkampf dive, where you’ll find a compelling selection of natural wine, outstanding charcuterie, and a short list of small plates that varies in quality depending on who’ve they’ve got working in the kitchen (it changes a lot). Expect loud music and great people watching. Don’t expect to snag a table. A great place to begin or end an evening, belly pressed against the bar, sharing snacks and bottles. Note: they used to do a great lunch service, but as of August 2018 they’re only open at night, serving cold tapas from 4:30pm until the kitchen opens from 7:30-11pm.
We haven’t yet reviewed this restaurant, but you can scroll down to find the practical information and to read what others are saying about Eels.
What people are saying
La Bourse et la Vie is one of our favorite Classic Bistros in Paris. It’s a place where you come to celebrate, to bring a date, and to devour one of the best steak-frites in Paris.
This dining room near the Bourse (the former stock exchange) is compact and cozy, complete with all the markers of a comforting old bistro. It’s largely filled with Americans, especially now that chef Daniel Rose has become the toast of Manhattan with his French restaurant Le Coucou. The latter is delicious but difficult to book and easily five times the price of La Bourse et la Vie. Rose’s primary restaurant in Paris (now that Spring has closed) feels like a steal if your reference point is French food in New York.
Three cheers to L’Entente founder Oliver Woodhead for having arrived at such an apt name for his curiously dainty, all-day- service “British brasserie” near Opéra. An entente is a diplomatic understanding between nations; any understanding, of course, is what British and French cultures have notably failed to acquire of one another over the last thousand years.
We’ve visited and will be adding our review soon. In the meantime, you can scroll to see our photos and what others have said about Dessance.
Address: 74 rue des Archives, 75003
Nearest transport: Filles du Calvaire (8), Rambuteau (11)
Hours: Closed Monday & Tuesday; Open Wednesday-Sunday continuously for lunch & dinner
Telephone: +33 1 42 77 23 62
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Dessance in pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Paris by Mouth
What people are saying about Dessance
David Lebovitz (2015) “Like most experimental food, not everything is a hit. A starter of mustard leaf sorbet that was paired with mirabelle plums and smoked cheese (shown up above) tasted – well…like a frozen puree of mustard leaves. But a grated carrot sorbet with pea puree and pea shoots was excellent. And I loved the ripe strawberries with parsley ice cream and fruit leather that led the way to the final course.”
Le Rigmarole opened in October 2017 and has delighted me more than any other restaurant this year. The menu is an improbable collection of dishes inspired by French-American chef Robert Compagnon’s clear obsession with Japan and his skill with yakitori, but in addition to skewers you’ll also find meatballs with paratha flatbread (9€), handmade pastas (9€), and charred vegetable sides (6€). When Compagnon asked us to name our least favorite dish, it was a struggle to find much to criticize among the fifteen dishes we had devoured. The chargrilled chicken hearts were profoundly delicious. The fanciulle pasta with pigeon and liver ragout was funky and fantastic. Tempura fried butternut squash was so delicate it seemed to dissolve before I could swallow. And an off-menu order of grilled chicken neck made us blush with gratitude for all the work that went into retrieving (and not wasting) the edible meat. Adventurous eaters who are willing to try anything might be presented with a grilled aorta, but less daring diners will also find plenty to enjoy here. Co-owner Jessica Yang, a Taiwanese-American pastry chef who was previously at Rebelle and Per Se (NYC) and Guy Savoy (Paris), delivers a stunning finish with desserts like chocolate fondant with praline and buckwheat ice cream. On top of everything else, the warm welcome and well-appointed wine list provided by Crislaine Medina are setting this place apart from the sometimes surly competition. Le Rigmarole is honest, inexpensive and delicious. It’s casual and a bit chaotic, and it’s very soon going to be packed.
At the impossibly young age of 24, Arnaud Nicolas achieved one of the highest honors in gastronomy – the title Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) – for his talent in charcuterie. Fourteen years later, he opened an ambitious shop and restaurant near the Eiffel Tower with the explicit goal of returning charcuterie to a place of honor on the French table. In the same way that prize-winning artisans have reshaped traditional baguette-making and pâtisserie, Nicolas wants to reintroduce charcuterie to palates that have become used to mediocre industrialized examples. So is it really that different? Yes. It’s like tasting chocolate from Patrick Roger when you’ve only ever known Hershey’s, or switching from Kraft singles to raw milk cheese sold by Laurent Dubois.
Septime currently holds the #1 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. First, the bad news: you’re probably not going to get into Septime. Not unless you’re willing to call exactly three weeks before your desired reservation, and probably not even then. I hesitated in keeping Septime at #1 because of this difficulty, and also because my visits in 2015-2016 were fine but not great. However, a return visit in 2017 has left no doubt in my mind that Septime is still the best contemporary tasting menu in Paris. In particular, a dish of lobster with earthy boudin noir and tart wild strawberries provided a mind-bending and delicious jolt to every diner at our table. Beverage pairings are consistently brilliant, leaning heavily toward natural wines but without the ill-chosen funk we often encounter elsewhere. If you can’t get in, don’t despair – any of these other favorite tasting menus will treat you right. You can also visit Septime’s sister restaurant Clamato next door.
Le Villaret is one of our favorite Classic Bistros in Paris. Sometimes in life we chase after the ones who play hard-to-get and we ignore the nice, stable options who just want to treat us right. Le Villaret is the homely neighborhood bistro that I never appreciated until I stopped looking for love at Le Baratin and Le Repaire de Cartouche. Le Villaret boasts a wine list every bit as interesting, especially if you’re looking for a balanced mix of natural and conventional wines, and bottles are served without the side dish or distain that you’re likely to receive from those popular boys. Wine is definitely the attraction here, so decide first what you want to drink and then find something on the lengthy food menu to pair with your choice. On a recent visit, I pounced on a 2011 Chablis 1er Cru from Raveneau (80€) and enjoyed some lovely if not life-changing monkfish medallions in lobster sauce (30€). There’s also a three-course menu for only 35€, and plenty of moderately priced wines. For people who love wine and want to enjoy a special bottle (or four) and some classic bistro food, Le Villaret is currently one of most reliable options in town.
Le Grand Bain currently holds the #2 spot in our list of favorite restaurants for small sharable plates.
I became a fan of chef Edward Delling-Williams when he was cooking at Au Passage, and so I was thrilled when he opened Le Grand Bain on one of the grungiest / coolest streets in Paris. Like at Au Passage, there’s an ever-changing chalkboard menu of small plates, many of them vegetable driven (if not always vegetarian). You’ll also find massive hunks of protein to share. On a recent night, my friend and I competed for the last bite of a beautiful (entire) sole for only 30€, while vowing to return for the whole lamb shoulder that had us drooling on the neighboring table. This delicious drama played out while sitting outside on a street that’s a destination for graffiti tourists. Le Grand Bain is a great place to eat well and to drink natural wine while surrounded by the joyful cacophony of Belleville.
Food and wine pilgrims, particularly those who read the New York Times or watch Anthony Bourdain, are willing to climb the hill for this Belleville institution. Raquel Carena tends the fire, offering her own personal brand of bistro cooking – sometimes delicate, sometimes hearty, always heartfelt. In stark contrast to the loving kitchen, the dining room is cold as ice, thanks to the joyless leadership of Carena’s husband Philippe. After more than a decade of hopeful visits, I haven’t yet received a smile or any helpful wine guidance from the patron. His cellar is reputed to be one of the best in the city, with an emphasis on independent producers and natural wines. However, he is an unwilling ambassador for these wines and a significant drag on the overall experience. I love Carena’s cooking, but I won’t hurry back because I fear that, once again, I’ll be treated with glaring disinterest by Philippe and the dining room staff who mirror his attitude. For those who really want to try their luck, go at lunch. The dining room, which is harshly over-lit at night, reveals itself beautifully in the sunlight, and the lunch menu for 19 euros remains an incredible deal.
Tomy & Co. currently holds the #1 ranking in our list of favorite Modern & Creative Restaurants in Paris. I loved chef Tomy Gousset’s cooking when he was at Pirouette, but this signature restaurant has just blown me away. The room is comfortable and a little plain, which is to say it fits nicely in the 7th arrondissement, but Gousset’s cuisine is thrillingly modern. He is a master of using herbs, acidity and texture to elevate sometimes humble ingredients like beef tongue or tête de veau. His compositions are intricate and colorful, making them a dream for Instagrammers, but flavor and balance are not sacrificed to beauty. Those who like to try different wines will love their list with a rotating cast of 20 selections by the glass. Service is on point and supports, rather than detracts from the brilliance of the kitchen. The menu changes regularly enough to warrant repeat visits, and I for one can’t wait to go back.
Chef Philippe Damas is showcasing the season's best ingredients (porcinis, partridges) at this this bistro near the Canal Saint-Martin.
Le Chateaubriand currently holds the #4 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. You can only reserve for the first seating at Le Chateaubriand. After that, you’ll have to wait in line from 9pm for a stab at Iñaki Aizpitarte’s no-choice tasting menu, a parade of provocative flavor pairings that has landed the restaurant on San Pellegrino’s 50 Best list for several years running. Whether you love or hate this restaurant may depend on your affinity for natural wine and improvisational cooking. We have had brilliant meals here, where every delicious dish taught us something new. We have been outraged, and we have been indifferent. You never quite know what to expect here, and that’s part of the fun. Just be sure to go with omnivorous friends who share that outlook.
We have not yet visited Le Bel Ordinaire, which combines an épicerie (grocery and wine shop) with a wine bar and cave à manger. Scroll down to read some of the early reviews.
What people are saying
With its worn wooden tables, intricately painted ceilings, and charcuterie slicer propped on the marble counter, L’Assiette has the precise look of a dream Paris bistro. It also serves many of the classic dishes, like escargots and cassoulet, which have mostly disappeared from the city’s restaurants. The far-flung location in the 14th arrondissement, near the catacombs but far from the center, has probably helped L’Assiette to stay off the tourist radar. Chef David Rathgeber and his team are friendly with visitors but don’t cater to them. The customers who come to indulge in this hearty fare are mostly local, which makes this a great option for tourists looking to avoid their own countrymen.
The many fans of Café Oberkampf will rejoice at the opening of a sister restaurant with longer hours and online reservations. With its light and airy interior, friendly staff, and an addictive breakfast roll, Café Méricourt is currently our #1 favorite place for breakfast or brunch in Paris.
Chez la Vieille is a fun place to drink but a confusing place to eat.
Address: 31 rue Lepic, 75018
Nearest transport: Abbesses (12), Blanche (2)
Hours: Open every day from 8:30am
Reservations: Reservations not accepted
Telephone: 01 84 79 23 40
Average price for lunch: Less than 10€
Style of cuisine: Baked goods, soups/salads/sandwiches
Photo via L’Éclair de Génie Café’s Facebook
Address: 60 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006
Nearest transport: Rennes (12), Vaneau (10)
Hours: Closed Sunday & Monday; Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch & dinner
Reservations: Walk-ins Welcome
Telephone: 06 88 88 48 23
Average price for lunch: 20-39€
Average price for dinner: 20-39€
Style of cuisine: Small plates, modern French
Reviews of interest
Time Out (2016) “As soon as you enter this well-presented cave-cum-restaurant on the Rue du Cherche-Midi, you get an inkling you’re going to eat well. There’s something about all those interesting wine bottles stacked on the walls, the friendly intimacy of the main room (just 15 tables) and the small kitchen nestled at the back that immediately gives a good, homey impression.”
Astrance is included among our favorite Tasting Menus over 100€.
Address: 4 rue Beethoven, 75016
Nearest transport: Passy (6)
Hours: Closed Saturday, Sunday & Monday; Open Tuesday-Friday.
Reservations: Book many weeks in advance
Telephone: 01 40 50 84 40
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Astrance in photos
What people are saying
Have you been? Leave your own opinion about Astrance in the comments!
Condé Nast Traveler (2015) “It’s a sanctuary where you can revel in the pleasures of such dishes as spinach with spicy piquillo peppers, chili pepper sorbet, and baby ravioli stuffed with a tangy bite of citron.”
Juveniles currently holds the #2 ranking in our list of favorite Classic Bistros in Paris.
What used to be a friendly wine bar run by the inimitable Tim Johnston is now a friendly wine bistro run by Tim’s daughter Margaux and her boyfriend Romain. The fresh market cooking from Romain (formerly at Le Comptoir and La Régalade Saint-Honore) goes well beyond the satisfying sausage & mash of the old carte and Margaux’s service and wine selections make this the sort of place where you’ll want to become a regular. Desserts are delicious, but their selection of British cheeses with recommended wine pairings is my favorite way to finish. On your way out, buy a bottle from the shelves to bring home.
Clown Bar currently holds the #5 spot in our list of favorite restaurants for small sharable plates. The team from Saturne has taken over the historic bar near Cirque d’Hiver. The beautiful Belle Epoque space remains (tastefully) decorated with clowns, but the menu has been seriously revived by Sota Atsumi’s intriguing small plates. Wines are heavily natural, with good options by the glass as well as the bottle. Don’t expect to get a table without calling a couple of weeks in advance.