A bare bones room lined with shelves of natural wines, a tiny kitchen turning out simple and dishes; this doesn’t immediately feel like the kind of place a person would cross town for. And yet many do. Booking is imperative.
While a chorus of Bonsoir, bienvenue! still sounds the moment you walk through the door at Vivant 2, these days, it’s underscored by a bop-filled soundtrack and service with a smile that make a seat at the open kitchen’s wrap-around bar feel more inviting than austere. Chef Rob Mendoza is a champion of delicate, plant-focused fare, his luscious, creative moles drape anything and everything from broccoli to Bresse hen. Elsewhere, he effortlessly blends international ingredients with French terroir: House-made potato flatbread is spread thickly with tahini and blanketed with swiss chard; tuna is served with a Korean gochujang-spiked tomato broth. This restaurant is a great option for vegetarians and is open on Monday nights. A curated list of natural and sustainable wines seals the deal.
Pancakes, poached eggs and hearty seasonal fare served alongside excellent coffee sourced from Belleville Brulerie in a sunny space along the Canal St. Martin. An international array of coffee preparations (flat whites, espressos, long blacks, cappuccinos, and very good “real deal” filtered coffee) are accompanied by hot chocolate made from homemade chocolate syrup and a selection of teas from Le Parti du Thé.
We have never been disappointed by the excellent modern bistronomy at Abri, but the only way that we have been able to go in the last year has been when someone else had a reservation they couldn’t use. No, they will not answer their phone. No, there is no secret strategy. Even if you go in person and ask for a reservation, any reservation, at lunch or dinner for any number of people at any time in the future, the answer will be no. So take it off your list, it’s not a functional restaurant if you can’t ever go.