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.
Hidden behind an unmarked wooden door near Odéon, Castor Club is easy to miss even for local Parisians. But the discretion is part of the appeal. An anonymous façade leads you into an intimate cocktail bar enveloped in deep green velvet and flatteringly low lighting, with wooden stools only enough to sit handful of guests. Behind the bar, Thomas Codsi, shares inventive yet subtle concoctions with fresh seasonal ingredients. Don’t hesitate to go for signature cocktails like Chirac 95, a twist on a whiskey sour with calvados (along with génépi, spiced apple shrub, egg white, and lemon), or for Turkish Delight (pisco, gum arabic, chartreuse, pistachio cream, lemon and nut meg), and for those less adventurous, a perfectly executed classic Manhattan.
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.
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.
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.
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.