Yard, 75011

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Photo credit: the team at Yard.

One of my best meals in recent months was had at this thimble-sized restaurant just a stepping stone away from the Pere Lachaise cemetary.

Jane Drotter presides over the 25-or-so covers on the floor, whilst chef Shaun Kelly (ex-St John, Saturne and Au Passage) has free rein in the kitchen. The result is a powerful combination.

Service is friendly and efficient. Jane, always smiling, has a wonderful manner with the clients. The restaurant Yard has technically been open since 2009, but it is only since summer 2014 that they have been open in the evenings as well. This change, along with the arrival of Shaun Kelly, was accompanied by a huge wave of buzz amongst the foodies and fellow restauranteurs in Paris.

Both lunch and dinner menus comprise a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts. Not exactly great if you’re a picky eater, but at least you’re sure that what they have is fresh, seasonal and, let me tell you, it is going to be good! The wine list is interesting and more extensive, with natural wines from France, Spain and Italy.

A special mention for the spectacularly decadent “Kate Mousse” which might just have gone down as my favourite pudding that I’ve eaten this summer.

In particular, the lunch menu at 18 euros for entrée + plat + dessert is an absolute steal. Highly recommended.

N.B. If this sounds like your sort of place, you’re sure to like Le Servan and Le 6 Paul Bert too.

 


Essential Information

Address: 6 rue de Mont Louis, 75011
Telephone: 01 40 09 70 30
WebsiteWebsiteFacebook
Opening Hours: Open Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner. Open Monday lunch also. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Reservations: advisable – best to call a week in advance. 
Suggested footwear: Black leather ankle boots with a slight heel. 

 

Le 6 Paul Bert, 75011

UPDATE (Feb 2015): I went back to Le 6 Paul Bert for dinner with some friends two days ago. In the evening, the restaurant offers a prix fixe menu at 44 euros, comprising four courses (starter-fish-meat-dessert.) I understand they’re undergoing some staff changes in the kitchen… and unfortunately, it showed.

There were three choices for each course and being a group of 6 people, we ordered a bit of everything. This decision proved to be fortuitous as some dishes that we received were really not very good. I’m talking bitter winter leaves that were overly salted — think crunching down on a mouthful of rock salt. Veal that was tough and stringy and really not pleasant to eat. A financier made with different cereal grains that was so flat that two of us didn’t even finish.

Still, service was very pleasant, as usual, and the wines were great. Special mention also to the Sicilian cannoli with a punchy lemon cream filling that was absolutely delicious.

I used to recommend this restaurant fervently but I think my ardour has been somewhat extinguished after this latest experience.

 


 

APRIL 2014: I have been a fervent supporter of the Vélib – the Paris bike-share programme. For just half the price of a monthly Navigo pass, I’m able to nip around this beautiful city first thing in the morning before it wakes up and late at night after the last métro (n.b. to avoid unwanted advances, much better for a girl to take a bike than attempting to walk home.) It’s also useful (and often faster) when you’re going to a part of the city which requires that you make two changes on the métro.

However, last Friday as I sat down at Le 6 Paul Bert to have lunch with an old university friend, I was shaking. You see, at the Faidherbe-Chaligny crossroads, just seconds earlier, I had been knocked off my Vélib by an oncoming motorcycle which was running a red light.

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It happened as I was waiting in stationary traffic to turn left at the pedestrian crossing. I saw the white motorbike coming – because, as you can see, it’s a fairly wide junction – but I still don’t know how it was able to get at an angle which would have clipped my back wheel and sent me flying. Incidentally, he didn’t stop after the accident.

With a bruised leg and grazed hand but fortunately nothing worse, I sat down at the table, so ready for the royal feast that I was about to be treated to.

Le 6 Paul Bert is owned by the same Bertrand Auboyneau who made his name at the Bistrot Paul Bert just a few doors down on the same street. Unlike the Bistrot’s classic but hearty cuisine, Le 6 serves up small, light dishes with inventive combinations.

It’s a narrow space; a traditional zinc-topped bar on one side and a line of lipstick-red tables on the other. At the end, you see the open kitchen where Louis-Philippe presides.

The 19 euros lunch menu (entrée+plat+dessert) is a steal. The options are fairly limited – just two options for each – but it’s so good, you don’t even need to choose.

A raw fish (one that I hadn’t heard of before) carpaccio, served with strawberries, basil, petit pois and asparagus. A skillful lesson in cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The main course of paleron de boeuf, carrots and garlic was suave as it was mouthwatering. Perfectly seasoned and really tasty. I could have had two. To finish, a white chocolate sponge with a milk sorbet and quenelles of white chocolate mousse. Heaven.

Antonin, our sommelier, had taken the time at the beginning of our meal to be sure that we were happy with our wine choice. The list is extensive and boasts a great choice of natural wine (what else!) from both France and abroad.

I run the risk of sounding like a grump but I will just add one last thing: don’t believe what some websites may say about this being a place “where the locals go.” It may have once been the case, but nowadays, the clientele is distinctly English-speaking.

You come because you want to discover some of the most exciting cooking that’s happening in Paris right now – and even better, you know it won’t break the bank.


Essential Information

Address: 6 rue Paul Bert, 75011
Telephone: 01 43 79 14 32
Website: Facebook
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday lunch and dinner, Tuesday dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday. 
Reservations: recommended – a couple of days in advance.  
Suggested footwear: tan-coloured ankle boots over your skinny jeans. 

 

Georges, 75004

The restaurant Georges, like the Café Marly by the Louvre, has recently come under fire for a policy of seating only the most beautiful by the window, meaning that the less-than-beautiful get a miserly seat at the back.

It may come as a surprise but I can actually understand the basis of this policy. It’s not quite the same thing, but in restaurants that I’ve worked in, we frequently had a policy of seating as many clients outside or at the very least by the window so that it would look busy to passers-by and thereby hopefully attract more clients.

Admittedly, in this case, it’s not quite the same. Stories of potential clients being turned away, because they were wearing overly-practical footwear, are plentiful. If you’re aware of the reputation that the Costes group (the owners of these two hotspots) you would not be too surprised. (Have you ever to the Hotel Costes?? I know grown men who have come away weeping for their mothers after just forty-five minutes at the bar.)

But anyway, my mum was in town for a few days last week. We decided to go and see the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Pompidou Centre… just like the other five thousand people and their dogs, I hear you sigh.

We hadn’t made plans for afterwards but as we take that escalator up the side of the building, getting higher and higher, there was only one option.

The view from the top of the Pompidou Centre is really quite breathtaking. “Shall we meet here for lunch afterwards?” she asked. The deal was done.

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Much could be said of the physical attractiveness of the fellow guests (but considering it was a Wednesday lunchtime, the bar was not too high) but what I will remember about this lunch was the sheer dappiness of our hostess. The phrase “to have more beauty than brains” has never really been so pertinent before. Fortunately, our waiter had just as many attractive genes as the hostess and yet a few more brain cells.

The lunch went smoothly. The restaurant is beautifully designed. Attentive service. Good food. Our wine glass was always topped up. Solid. A good experience that is worth doing once.

Two omelettes, a club sandwich, a bottle of Leflaive’s 2011 Chardonnay and a couple of coffees later, we ended up with a bill only fractionally short of a hundred shiny copper pieces… but when you’re in a restaurant like this, it’s not to count the pennies.


Essential Information

Address: 6th floor of the Pompidou Centre, 75004
Telephone: 01 44 78 47 99   
WebsiteGeorges, Facebook
Opening Hours: from midday til 2am, every day except Tuesday.
Reservations: not necessary for lunch, but advisable for the evening.
 

Aux Charpentiers, 75006

 

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“Food and love have two things in common….. they are both temporary but should bring pleasure” says Aux Charpentiers boss, Pierre Bardeche.

Aux Charpentiers is a traditional French bistro, where Pierre and his wife Colette Bardeche have ruled the roost since 1976.

In the heart of the historical St Germain quartier, this is a great address to have up your sleeve. Founded in 1856, stepping inside is also an exercise in stepping back in time. The decor has not changed much since those days… but that adds to the charm. Surprisingly large, I would reckon there are a total of 120 covers once we rack up the light and airy ground-floor space, the slightly dingier downstairs, the patio and the garden.

On the menu: traditional French cuisine, carefully prepared. Expect to see starters such as egg mayonaise, foie gras or an endive&roquefort salad and beef tartare, blanquette de veau or a saucisse de Toulouse as a main course. A plate of cheese to follow is, of course, de rigueur. Everything is prepared onsite from the freshest and most seasonal produce available.

I personally don’t find the wine list particularly exciting. It is rather too traditional for my very eclectic tastes but I hold my hands up and accept that’s entirely my fault.

Colette, who runs the front of house, is always smiley and welcoming but other times, service may be brisk. On one occasion, upon asking the waitress who the winemaker was (the wine list gives just the region and the vintage) to the horror of my dining partner, we received a stinging “bah, mais, j’sai’pas, it’s written on the bottle!”

Despite that, I keep coming back to this classic gem time after time… well, because it’s one of the very few restaurants of its kind that are left.


Essential Information

Address: 10 Rue Mabillon, 75006 
Telephone: 01 43 26 30 05
WebsiteAux Charpentiers
Opening Hours: 12noon-3pm and 7-11pm, seven days a week.
Reservations: recommended – a couple of days in advance.  
Suggested footwear: flats, nothing too fancy. 


Clamato, 75011

Open since November 2013, Clamato is the little brother to Septime, located right next door and by the one and only, Bertrand Grébaut. Specialising in seafood, oysters and natural wine, it attracts a hipster clientèle – beautiful women and sexy men sporting a few days of stubble.

Great with a group of four or five friends if you are able to bag yourselves a table or as a couple sitting at the bar. Service is friendly and informal. Order a whole lot of small plates – it’s not cheap, but it’s fresh, modern and very tasty. I particularly recommend the smoked eel burger, the artichaut and prawn dish and the deep-fried crab with the most addictive spicy mayonaise that I would happily eat off the spoon until falling blissfully into a food coma…


Essential Information

Address: 80 rue de Charonne, 75011
Telephone: 01 43 72 74 53
WebsiteFacebook
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Friday, from 7pm – midnight. Saturday and Sunday, from midday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. 
Reservations: recommended – a couple of days in advance.  
Suggested footwear: do you remember those pumps you wore to Bones?

 

CLOSED – Bones, 75011

UPDATE AUG 2015: Sadly Bones closed its doors last night.

Keep your eyes peeled to find out who takes this space.


 

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Combining minimalist food and décor with great drinks, Bones is on every Paris hipster’s radar. Young and beautiful anglophones flock to this bricks and mortar bar and restaurant in the 11th.

The charming James Henry (formerly of Au Passage) heads up the open kitchen. His philosophy of using every part of the animal, from nose to tail, is highly admirable. Press him further on how he uses other byproducts and you’ll be won over by the virtues of his whey granita. His six course tasting menu (for around the 50 euro price point, before wine) however, gets mixed feedback.

Pierre Derrien is on front of house and does a great job suggesting interesting wines to accompany your meal. The Charles Dufour Extra Brut Champagne that he picked out for our table last night was exceptional. The wine list is extensive – all natural, with non-French wines well-represented – but there seem to be a lot that they don’t have in stock. Beers and cocktail are also de rigueur.

The restaurant seats roughly thirty covers and has two services per evening. The bar – which does not accept reservations – offers a high-quality “small plates” menu.

You come to squat at the bar, sup on some great natural wine or beer and admire the best choice of the highly-sought-after Karuizawa whiskies I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. Its next-door neighbours, Clamato and Septime, attract a similar clientèle.


Essential Information

Address: 43 rue Godefroy Caviagnac, 75011
Telephone: 09 80 75 32 08
WebsiteBones, Facebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 7pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Reservations: definitely recommended – phone between 2-7pm a week ahead. 
Suggested footwear: cute little ballerina pumps.

 

Le Dépanneur, 75009

Shortly before August 2013, Pigalle’s well-known all-day-and-all-night joint, Le Dépanneur, re-opened under new management.

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Situated in trendy SoPi (South Pigalle for those of you not in the know) the restaurant is barely a hop, skip and jump away from the seedy attractations around the Moulin Rouge. However its unique exterieur, large windows reminiscent of either a school bus or an old greenhouse, and the fact that it’s right on an intersection, make this bar-restaurant stand out from its surroundings.

What will also catch your eye is the number of well-dressed bobos sitting outside, smoking, and nursing a tequila cocktail. Oh the idiosyncrasies of Paris life! As you make your way inside, you’ll surely notice the decor. Sleek, modern, with a little beach-house vibe going on. (For those who have an eagle-eye or a fondness for trivia, the same designer also did the Mary Celeste.) Washboard wood meets industrial chrome. This of course fits neatly with the theme of the restaurant – California in Paris. Tacos, tequila and burgers. 

We sit down to eat. I choose the CaliClassic burger. It’s good. The meat and the bun are perfect. I remember that it’s Jordan from the Cantine California food truck in the kitchen. I savour the second bite. Unfortunately, that’s where a little niggle crops up.

Did I really need guacamole and mayonnaise? Raw red onions as well as caramelised onions? Bacon, of course, is a staple in any good burger as far as I’m concerned and the Cheddar was exceptionnally tasty too (I’m always appreciative of good Cheddar)… but cheese and guacamole and mayonnaise and pickles and lettuce, tomatoes and… and… and… and… it all seemed a little too much.

Maybe this is an American thing that we Brits just don’t get. Maybe it boils down to personal taste – I know I can be a boring old stooge at times.

In short, I love the vibe, I love the tequila and I love the fact that there’s a vegetarian burger on the menu. (It’s not half bad either, I’m reliably informed.) I like the fact that you can get wine, cocktails and beer alongside burgers and tacos. What I didn’t like so much was the price. 17 euros for a burger seems rather on the hefty side to me, especially when you’ll be paying 12-13 euros for the cocktail. Here’s a suggestion: why not cut down on all those accoutrements and charge me a tenner? I tell you what – that would be such a great combination, you’d find me here every day!

(Price-wise you’re looking at: 4.5 euros for a Brooklyn Lager, 5-6 euros for a glass of wine, 10 euros for a starter, 17 for a burger and 8 euros for a dessert.)

You come because you’ve finally embraced your inner hipster and you’re trying to kid yourself that you’re actually in California… 😉

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Essential Information

Address: 27 rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009
Telephone: 01 48 74 48 74
WebsiteLe DepanneurFacebook
Opening Hours: every day from 10am til 2am. “Service continu.”
Reservations: not necessary.   
Suggested footwear: embrace your inner hipster

 

ADDENDUM: I went back today (Tuesday 15/04/14) and am actually very glad I did. You see, let me explain… I had tried to go to another restaurant in the area but was briskly told that last orders were at 14h. (It was 14h05.) Turned back out onto the street, having to quickly formulate a plan…. it was a beautiful spring day, the sun was hot and the Parisians were on their best behaviour…. Le Depanneur.

Maybe it was because it was a fairly quiet Tuesday afternoon – and did I mention that the sun was shining – but the service was really great. (And it’s not often I say that.)

I sat on the glorious terrasse. One Brooklyn Lager quickly became two Brooklyn Lagers. A burger arrived. Still up to its very high standards – and with less “stuff” it seemed too! The whole thing is still over-priced, but given the fact that I spent a very pleasurable hour or so in that spot in the sunshine, I’m more than happy to pay the 27 euros that my bill came to in the end.

La Cave 27, 75018

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Inattendu. Insolite. Izakaya.

The first two words would be how the French would describe this izakaya. Quirky and completely unexpected.

The Japanese word izakaya originally comes from i meaning ‘to stay’ and sakaya a ‘saké shop’ and therefore loosely, it means a saké shop where you can hang out. That’s a pretty accurate description for the Cave 27.

With a floor space of no more than 12m², it is smaller than your average Parisian studio. It certainly feels like one too. There is just one table in the middle of the room. Stools pop out from nowhere to accommodate diners. Stepping over the threshold is like stepping into someone’s living room.

The host in this ‘apartment’ is Takemoto, an eccentric long grey-haired, flamenco-lover, who can greet you in English, French, Spanish, Arabic or Japanese.

Accordingly, there is an eccentric and international selection of alcohols on offer: French and Spanish wine (for between 11 and 15€ a bottle) and a few beers, as well as plenty of saké, shochu and Japanese whisky (I think I spotted a Nikka Miyagikyo Non-Age behind the bar.)

You can either perch at the bar or find a spot around the table. I still dont know how we managed to fit 8 people in there on Monday night. It looks like there’s only space for three. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, there is live music. Only le bon Dieu knows how they all fit.

As for food, you choose between small ‘tapas’ dishes or in an enormous saucepan in the middle of the table. The 2 dishes of tapas and a half-pitcher of saké for 6€ is a steal. If you fancy something a little more substantial, it’ll set you back 8€ per person for the steaming bowl of broth. Even with several rounds of food and drinks, you’ll get change back from a twenty euro note.

It really is the one of the most astounding places I’ve come across in Paris. Once you’ve got over the initial discomfort of being in this tiny room, the lowered boundaries mean that you end up making conversation with the other diners (something that never normally happens in Paris.) Food is shared, bottles ordered for the table, and new friends are made.

 


Essential Information

Address: 27 rue Lamarck, 75018
Contact Details: Email takemotomotoichi at yahoo.fr  
Opening Hours: from 12 noon – 14.30 and from 17h until midnight. Even on Mondays.
Reservations: not necessary.
Suggested footwear: don’t quote me on this but you could practically come here in your slippers!


Beaucoup, 75003

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Contemporary. Crafted. Refreshing. A great addition to the Paris restaurant scene.

Kicking the evening off with a mezcalito, our tastebuds were blown away by the combination of smoke and spice and the strength of the cocktail. Not for the faint-hearted or the French, but delicious for me and my Mexican dining partner.

With bated breath, I waited for my crab ravioli starter to arrive. Beautiful presentation. Paired beautifully with my friend’s father’s Pernand Vergelesses.

I then chose the special of the day: magret de canard, potatoes and a truffle jus. At 22€, my purse would have felt less affronted had it also been served with a vegetable on the side, but in any case, the duck was delicious. The Mexican’s white tuna was cooked to perfection too.

Other main courses on offer include the Beaucoup Burger, which deserves just a passing mention because I’m bored of seeing burgers on restaurant menus. Although I welcome the overall trend with open arms and an greedy stomach, I don’t think they have a place in restaurants of this standing.

Anyway, next was the moelleux au chocolat, which caused a bit of controversy around the table. The true faithful maintain that with a good moelleux, it’s supposed to be gooey, with some melted-choco-butter that oozes out when you break into it. This one didn’t and therefore took my friend’s criticism of being over-cooked. For a chocolate lover such as myself, I fully accept that point of…. “sorry, what were you saying? I got distracted when someone put a chocolate pudding in front of me.” 😉

And do you know the other great thing about this place? It’s open 7 days a week, for lunch and dinner. And not only can you have wine or cocktails with your meal, there’s also a cool cocktail bar upstairs (Le Démon) for your before-or-after dinner drinks!

You come for the cocktails, the elegant food and the cheap wine… and you leave rather tipsy.

 


Essential Information

Address: 7 rue Froissart, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 77 38 47
Website:Beaucoup, Facebook, Le Démon
Opening Hours: lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Reservations: not essential.
Suggested footwear: do you have a nice pair of brogues…?

 

Cuistance, 75001

RESTAURANT NOW CLOSED!

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Cuistance is a new, contemporary restaurant in the 1st arrondissement, a refreshing chance, and somewhere that I reckon would be a great place to go on a date.

Head Chef Henri-Serge Manga has served his time in Michelin-starred restaurants (e.g. Heston Blumenthal’s 3* Fat Duck, in Bray, UK) and it shows. Beautiful dishes come out of that kitchen – dancing a fine line between Asian and European cuisine.

The lights are dim, the service is relaxed, the concept of sharing lots of little plates is great for breaking barriers / getting close / comfort zone.

There’s a beautiful juxtaposition between the old-fashioned Chesterfield, the white tiled walls of a diner and the French-bistro chairs.

The wine list is interesting and reasonably priced, but depending on how hungry you are and how carried away you get when ordering, the final bill might hurt your wallet a little… Count on between 10 and 15 euros for starter-sized dishes, of which you’ll probably need four or five for two people.


Essential Information

Address14 rue Sauval, 75001
Telephone: 01 40 41 08 08
Website: CuistanceFacebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday. Chauffeur service in the evenings.
Reservations: definitely recommended – several days in advance.  
Suggested footwear: go big or go home, with some statement heels. 

 
N.B. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I was invited to check out this restaurant.