Last night in Paris, a Frenchman opened an authentic BBQ joint. His name is Thomas Abramowicz and his restaurant The Beast is the culmination of a year spent training and tracking down everything he would need (meat, wood, Bourbon) to open the first authentic smokehouse in Paris.
This historic three-star restaurant is perched in a pavilion just off the Champs-Elysées and has been a dining destination since the French Revolution. Long-time chef Christian Le Squer handed the reigns to Yannick Alleno in July 2014, and Alleno has promised a renewed focus on what he considers to be the great strength of French cuisine – sauces. He is also, albeit more quietly than his rival Alain Ducasse, putting vegetables and peasant ingredients in the spotlight. Our meal featured the modest mackerel and butternut squash in starring roles, presented with both precision and imagination. A lunchtime tasting menu is priced at 128€ , and a ten course tasting menu at either lunch or dinner is 295€. The more I think about it, the more I want to return to see what happens next.
Many powerful names/brands have come together for this long-awaited opening inside the Passage des Panoramas. The Alajmo family (of the three-starred Le Calendre in Padua) have partnered with David Lanher (Racines, Vivant) to convert an engraving shop into an Italian restaurant. They had some help from designer Philippe Starck, but thankfully not too much. The historically protected space – a series of dimly glowing rooms that date back to the 16th century – is stunning.
Here’s a snapshot of we tasted on September 24. Price for two at lunch including wine, water and coffee: 93.75€
Here’s a snapshot of we tasted as part of our (lowest priced) lunch tasting menu. Total price for two at lunch including wine, water and coffee: 1084€
Push back beyond the crêpe window up front and and you’ll find a convivial and crowded counter packed with elbows, charcuterie boards, communal pickle jars, and wine glasses. It’s standing room only at Yves Camdeborde’s small plates wine bar, a hit since it opened in fall of 2009. Delicious and hearty bites like duck hearts, ham croquettes and boudin noir macarons are washed down with an impressive selection of wines sold by the bottle or the glass. The opening of seafood spinoff L’Avant Comptoir de la Mer next door and, more recently, L’Avant Comptoir de la Marché just a few blocks away has dispersed the devotees throughout the neighborhood. The original remains packed, however, so go during the off hours or be prepared to be get to know the person next to you very, very well.
Here’s a snapshot of we tasted as part of our (lowest price) lunch tasting menu soon after the arrival of Yannick Alleno. Total price for two at lunch including wine, water and coffee: 448€
The real specialty at this classic, luxe shop is Armagnac, with vintages dating back to 1868. Don't know the first thing about Armagnac? Just ask, and one of the friendly staff will pour you a taste. The back room houses an impressive collection of first growth Bordeaux (Margaux, Latour) and Chateau d'Yquem, and R-D bottles their own lines of port and Scotch, too.
Terroir-driven, estate-bottled, organic and biodynamic wines from small producers are the specialty at this beloved shop, run for almost 20 years by Juan Sanchez. Especially strong in their selection of growers’ Champagnes and bottles from the Rhone Valley. Stop by on Saturdays for their free tastings with winemakers from 11am-7:30pm. Check our calendar of Paris food & wine events to find out which winemakers they’ll be hosting this week.
Arrive early (doors open at 7pm) to avoid a wait at this casual, no-reservations bistro run by chef Christian Etchebest. The cooking is generous, there’s a good house red available by the liter for less that 20€, and the clients are almost entirely local.
Our recommendations for titles that you can cook from and book from this summer in France.
The most divisive of the three-star restaurants, Arpège is a place you’ll either love or hate. I’m in the former camp, through I acknowledge a worrying amount of repetition in Alain Passard’s tasting menu and the fact that his acolytes (David Toutain, Bertrand Grébaut) are working similar magic for a fraction of the price. Before booking Arpège, ask yourself this: are you more likely to focus on the amount of pleasure that Passard can tease from an onion, or on the stratospheric markup of that ingredient? If you answered the latter, better to seek out caviar somewhere else.
Semilla currently holds the #5 ranking in our list of favorite Modern & Creative Restaurants in Paris.
Semilla is a very useful restaurant: it’s open every day, and it’s large enough that you can usually book a table on the same day (walking in without a reservation is a riskier proposition). The menu is large enough to make most people happy, including vegetarians. The wine list, including a lengthy selection available by the glass, is well-priced and always full of wines I want to drink. The generous air-conditioning has saved more than one sweaty summer night. The staff, led by jovial owners Juan Sanchez and Drew Harré are kind and professional. However, to focus only on these practical matters is to ignore the delightful fact that food here is really, really good. One winter evening, I tasted four different dishes based on a biche (deer) brought in by hunters. Last week during the heat wave I swooned for bright green beans with nectarines, and many other dishes tailored made for summer ingredients and sweltering temperatures. Rarely does a restaurant respond so well to both the season and the needs of their customers. For that reason, I find coming back year after year.
For the second year in a row, the winner of the Best Baguette in Paris competition comes from the 14th arrondissement. Congratulations to Antonio Teixeira from the Délices du Palais for placing first in the annual Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris!
Well, not exactly… but the Michelin starred chef will moving in when the Molitor swimming pool reopens next Spring as a splashy (sorry) new hotel.
The Art Deco landmark near the Bois de Boulogne will be transformed into a hotel with all 124 rooms (hopefully not the size of changing cabins) overlooking the pool. There will be a restaurant – this is where Alleno comes in – and a rooftop bar overlooking the city.
It is unclear whether, as with all Paris pools, guests will be required to wear a swim cap and (for men) a Speedo.
The Latin Quarter gets a bad rap from those who only know the tourist-clogged rues de la Huchette or Pot de Fer. If you haven’t been back in a few years, you’ve missed the food and wine renaissance that’s taken place amid the Roman and Medieval monuments.
The Michelin Guide has just released its 2014 designations. Here’s a quick summary, for those who are still following the Red Guide, plus links to the reactions from local and foreign critics.
In case you missed his much-discussed lament in the New York Times, Thomas Chatterton Williams is upset that Hipsters Ruined Paris. More specifically, he’s annoyed by the proliferation of “burrata salad” at the expense of hostess bars in South Pigalle. He warns us against the anesthetizing effects of steel-cut oats and worries that there isn’t room for both kale and human trafficking in the neighborhood to which he moved two years ago. From Brooklyn, of course.
Lazare was the biggest opening of the rentrée 2013 – a splashy restaurant from a three-star chef inside the Gare Saint-Lazare. Eric Fréchon, who has been branching out from his home base of L’Epicure (formerly Le Bristol) ever since he opened Le Mini Palais in 2010, was purportedly serving Normandy-inflected comfort food to travelers en route to that region or arriving from the other side of Paris. Reviews had been ecstatic, praising the menu as “glorieusement française,” (Gaudry), noting the “friendly, professional service” (Moore) and celebrating the casual openness of the place (Rubin).
In nine years of dining in Paris and writing about its restaurants, this was the worst service I have ever experienced. It was shockingly, almost comically bad.
At the time, the American chef was unaware that a new restaurant had just opened in Paris bearing the improbable name of Danny Rose Bistrot Americain. Is it possible that the owners of this new place near the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont were unaware of another Daniel Rose in Paris, one who happened to be American and to have one of the most popular restaurants (and web searches) in town? After speaking on the phone with the owners of Danny Rose, the Spring chef Daniel Rose is persuaded that they just liked the Woody Allen film and were completely unaware of his existence. Still, lawyers are involved, since the original D-Rose spent thousands of euros to protect his name and doesn’t want it attached to a place that’s serving “American” specialties like gooseberry-slathered pork ribs.
How many baguettes does the jury of this venerable competition actually taste? And do they swallow?
Tarte citron? Paris-Brest? Éclair au chocolat? Gone, gone and gone.
Spring Boutique, the shop run by Daniel Rose and Spring Restaurant, has effectively closed.
Chef David Toutain, along with nearly the entire kitchen staff, have left Agapé Substance.
After being outed in nearly every French media outlet, Marie-Claire boss Jean-Paul Ludot is forced to apologize for his "clumsy" free meal request.
James Henry, the Australian chef who made a name for himself at Au Passage, will open Bones in early December.
Beginning this week, chefs from The Fat Radish on Manhattan's Lower East Side will be cooking a series of pop-up dinners for the Fashion Week crowd.
If Kristen Beddard has her way, kale will soon be widely available in Parisian markets and restaurants. The revolution starts this Thursday at Verjus.
The rumors are true: Eric Kayser has opened on the Upper East Side, serving seven days per week and until 11:00 at night. How very New York...