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Le Servan opens & everyone talks about the chef’s boyfriend

Aaron Ayscough clocks the first review of the long-awaited Le Servan from sister duo Tatiana (formerly Arpège & Astrance) and Katia Levha. He’s impressed:  “Almost every component of my meal at Le Servan was sterling, a tour de force of talent and good taste.”

John Talbott calls chef Levha the “very attractive Filipino… consort of Bertrand Grebaut (of Septime),” which hurts us inside. Apparently he likes this, naming Le Servan “the best prix-qualité ratio of the year 2014.” Talbott isn’t alone in tittering about Levha’s love life: the number of writers who have managed to review this restaurant without mentioning the chef’s boyfriend can be counted on three fingers.

What we want when we say the ‘B’ word

 So picture this: you’re walking down the street in Paris on a cold night, and you’re hungry. All of a sudden something smells so damned good, so rich winey earthy and rutting, that you absolutely have to hunt it down. You work out that this irresistible olfactory lure is emanating from a ramshackle looking little place on the corner. You step inside, and one of the most power sentimental semaphores ever created—the red-and-white checked table cloth, tells you that yes, you’re in the right place, this is a real Paris bistro.

Favorite New Restaurants of 2013

Among the hundreds of debuts in 2013, we added more than 50 new openings to our guide to Paris restaurants. But what did we really love? To narrow it down, we asked our contributing editors – a diverse group of Paris-based food and wine writers – to nominate their favorite new openings of 2013. Among their top picks, a few trends are clear: half are helmed by young foreigners (Canadian, Australian, Japanese, Italian), more than half include a bar for drinks and nibbles, and most are second or third offerings from an already-popular restaurant group. 

Angry Farmers Blockade Paris Today

Allons à Paris! Photo by The Next Web via Flickr

Tired of getting taxed till the cows come home, belligerent farmers are protesting with a plan to blockade major routes in and out of the city this Thursday. Those venturing beyond the peripherique (shudder) will want to plan ahead and leave extra time to avoid cows, tractors, trucks and angry men with pitchforks.

Costco is Coming to France

The American behemoth Costco announced that it will be setting up its shop in the Parisian suburbs in spring 2015. This will be the first of 25 shops they hope to open over the next two decades.

We don’t expect this to make much of an impact on the lives of Parisians, who generally don’t drive and lack the space to store more than six rolls of toilet paper at once. But the suburbs and the countryside? They’re going to love it.

(via Grub Street, Le Figaro)

Review: Lazare

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.

Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau In Paris 2013

Wednesday November 20, 2013 (night before)

La Robe et le Palais (13 Rue des Lavandières Sainte-Opportune, 75001) Owner Olivier Schvirtz and sommelier Loic Mougene throw what is possibly Paris’ last remaining quality-conscious midnight-release party for Beaujolais Nouveau on Wednesday the 20th November. The multi-faceted event will run as follows:

  • 16h-19h : Book signing by wine writer Michel Tolmer.
  • 19h-22h : Normal restaurant service.
  • 22h-00h : Special Beaujolais dinner, with a fixed menu of regional dishes. Beaujolais Nouveau wines saved from previous years will be served to accompany the dinner.
  • 00h-2h : Party, in the probable attendance of many Beaujolais winemakers. Beaujolais Nouveau from Karim Vionnet, Jean-Claude Lapalu, France Gonzalvez, Xavier Benier. Music: Possibly.

Thursday November 21, 2013

Café de la Nouvelle Mairie (19 Rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, 75005) Benjamin Courty and Corentin Cucillat are the latest owners of this historic natural wine bar in the 5ème, which has changed hands over the course of its 20 years in business, but has always remained a destination for magnificent wine and simple bistrot cuisine. A daube de boeuf will accompany the gypsy jazz and sought-after primeurs. Beaujo Nouveau by Guy Breton & Jean-Claude Lapalu plus vin primeur by Jean-François Nicq.

A French Food Writer Goes Flexitarian

Many of our readers would struggle to name an iconic French dish that isn’t based on (or mightily improved by) something that came from an animal. But according to our Contributing Editor Clotilde Dusoulier, who just released a new cookbook celebrating the bounty of our local markets, an important shift is taking place in France. 

The 2011 Bûches de Noël

Ho ho ho! We hope that you've enjoyed counting down the days before Christmas with a new Bûche de Noël every morning. Our final cake, boasting edible fungus and a silver saw, comes from Pierre Hermé. Happy holidays, everyone!

Paris Food & Wine Events February 3-10

Wine Tastings

  • February 3 (Thursday) at Spring Boutique: free tasting of charcuterie made from a chevreuil (deer) that was nabbed by their friend, accompanied by €5 glasses of Cornas. From 6-8pm at 52 rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001.
  • February 4 (Friday) at La Dernière Goutte: a free “2 1/2 Happy Hours” wine tasting with nibbles from 5-7:30pm at 6 rue de Bourbon le Château, 75006.
  • February 5 (Saturday) at Les Caves Taillevent: a free wine tasting from 10am-5pm at 199 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008.
  • February 5 (Saturday) at La Dernière Goutte: a free wine tasting from 11am-7pm at 6 rue de Bourbon le Château, 75006.

Wine Tasting Classes

  • Feburary 4 & 5 (Thursday & Friday) at Spring Restaurant: The “Grand Afternoon Tasting” is a 1.5 hour class in English and will “go over the basics of how to taste wine, introduce you to six different wines from our favorite artisanal producers, and discuss wine and food pairing. Cost: 60€ per person. Classes in the 16th-century cave beneath the restaurant at 6 rue Bailleul (1st) begin at 4pm. More information here.
  • Every Day (but Sunday) at Ô Chateau: wine tasting classes in English ranging from French Wine Introductory (30€) to the Grand Crus Tasting (80€). Classes (except the Champagne river cruise) take place at 52 rue de l’Arbre Sec in the 1st.