Bontemps, 75003

There is a traditional French expression which says that “a good friend is one who brings food.”

Photo credit: Bontemps
Photo credit: Bontemps

Well, I’m not sure if that expression actually exists but, if it doesn’t, there ought to be something like it.

It was my birthday this past weekend and one of my oldest friends in Paris was so kind to bring me a box of treats from the Bontemps Pâtisserie.

Bontemps is a pâtisserie shop in the Marais – on Rue de Bretagne to be precise (full details below) – run by two sisters, which opened at the start of 2015. It is specialised in sablés – “sandy” biscuits made with tons of butter, salt and top-quality flour.

At Bontemps, these treats come in three formats: miniatures (as pictured above), a heart shape (which they recommend for two people) and a flower with five petals (= five servings.)

Photo credit: Bontemps
Photo credit: Bontemps

The biscuit is so light and delicate that it is the perfect vehicule to carry the cream filling. The fillings vary through the year but even if raspberries and passion fruit are out of season, you should be able to find flavours such as chocolate tonka bean and zesty lemon curd.

The décor of the shop – with its beautiful but quaint window design and its very girly interior – rather reminds me of a dolls’ house… but who cares? It’s the goods that count and these are exceptionally good. Get yourselves there ASAP!


Essential Information

Address: 57 rue de Bretagne, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 74 10 68
Website: Facebook
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 12 noon – 8pm. Saturday: 10am – 19h30. Sunday: 10am-2pm. Closed Monday & Tuesday. 


Pozzetto, 75004

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On the rue du Roi de Sicile in the lower part of the Marais, not a million miles away from Hotel de Ville, is an address that ought to be in your little black book.

Pozzetto are masters of artisanal Italian gelato. Unlike competitors Berthillon and Amorino, they only have a small menu of just twelve flavours to choose from. This is because they make their ice creams fresh and on a very small-batch basis.

I personnally find their sorbets rather sweet – and I know I’m not the only person in this boat – but their ice creams are fantastic. (Better than Berthillon, maybe! Yep, I went and said it!) My personal favourites are the fior di latte and the chocolate Gianduja flavours.

They also sell great coffee (Italian, obviously!) and a selection of gastronomic delicacies from the other side of the Alps.

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Essential Information

Address: 39 rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004
AND 16 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 77 08 64
Website: Pozzetto, Facebook
Opening Hours: from midday to midnight (but check on their Facebook page because they do change often) every day
Reservations: not taken.

Le Café des Musées, 75003

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So many people ask me where you can find steak-frites in Paris. Or where are the best escargots in the city?

For longer than I would care to admit, these questions had me scratching my head…. I have lived here for so long that I’m no longer craving these classic dishes. The restaurants where I tend to go are the more modern, trendy ones which change their menu every couple of weeks (if not more often than that even!) As a result, I can’t rely on them having a steady supply of foie gras, steak tartare and magret de canard (duck breast) to feed my out-of-town guests.

All is not lost. The Café des Musées on rue de Turenne is now my trump card!

Open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, and sporting a great classic French menu of all of the above, it’s now the first address to come rolling off my tongue.

(N.B. There’s also normally at least one vegetarian main course on the menu too.)

A main course will set you back about 20 euros, and once you’ve added on a starter and a healthy pichet of wine, you’re looking at about 35 euros per person. That’s a pretty reasonable price, especially given the quality of the food and far better here than at the surrounding tourist traps.

Service is brisk yet friendly. You’ll be elbow-to-elbow with your neighbour at the adjacent table…. but then that’s what you wanted, didn’t you? The true Parisian experience!

 


Essential Information

Address: 49 rue de Turenne, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 72 96 17
WebsiteCafé des MusésGoogle+
Opening Hours: Open lunch and dinner Monday – Sunday. Yes, really!
Reservations: Recommended – call a day in advance to be sure of getting a table.

MG Road, 75003

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Trying to find a half-decent restaurant anywhere near one of the main tourist sites in Paris is a challenge worthy of a sleuth. At the foot of the Pompidou Centre, you find a labyrinth of small street with cheap crepe stands, English-speaking bars and nondescript café-brasseries. You may well also have exhausted your patience for the snooty service at Georges – the top-floor restaurant in the iconic art gallery.

Fortunately, MG Road is right on hand for exactly these moments. It’s a contemporary Indian restaurant which appeals to both Marais hipsters and food lovers equally.

With its sleek white interior and contrasting dark chairs, it almost looks too trendy to be any good… but fortunately my fears were proved to be ill-founded.
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The food is fresh, well executed, delicately spiced and therefore delicious. Worth mentionning that the 20€ two-course menu at lunch time is very good value.

Similar problem in the Saint Germain area? Head to sister-restaurant Desi Road, on rue Dauphine, where the emphasis is on thalis, generous platters of tasty food to be shared. Perfect for friends and romancing.

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Essential Information

Address: 205 rue Saint Martin, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 76 04 32
Website: MG RoadFacebook
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: lunch from 12.15 until 14h. Open all through the afternoon for tea. Dinner either at 19h30 or 21h15. Brunch on Sunday from 11h30-16h. Closed Monday.
Reservations: Highly advisable… and you can even reserve online through their website!

Candelaria, 75003

Blink and you miss it. A couple of neon lights and a wooden table in the window are the only exterior signs that suggest that this is one of the most highly talked-about drinking spots in Europe.

Smile sweetly at the guy on the door, nudge past the guests sitting at the counter (and scoffing their faces with tacos) and push open the secret door at the back.

Mind your step! You’ve just entered what is considered one of the world’s best cocktail bars and Carina, the leading lady, one of the best international bartenders. (Just ask anyone who was at Tales of the Cocktail this year.)

Inside, you’ll find a very tequila and mezcal heavy cocktail list, all carefully crafted to the most miniscule detail. One sip and you realise why this bar is so highly acclaimed. One drink and you find yourself making plans to go back the next day with a group of friends. I warn you now, you’ll be hooked.

The only reason why I don’t go there more often… the bar is a victim of its own success. After 9pm it can get hot and very busy and becomes nigh on impossible to find a place to sit down. Call me an old fogey, but when a cocktail is setting me back 12€ a punt, I don’t like being faced with the decision between knocking it back in one go or have someone else knock it over for me. That being said, a visit to the Candelaria should be on everyone’s Paris bucket list.

You come with your best girlfriends for the craft cocktails and the tacos and feel slightly smug for being “in the know.”


Essential Information

Address: 52 rue Saintonge, 75003
Telephone: 01 42 74 41 28
WebsiteCandelaria, Facebook
Opening Hours: Bar – 6pm-2am every day. (N.B. the Taqueria is open for lunch too.)
Reservations: if you want to be sure of a spot, best to call the day before.  
Suggested footwear: think Kate Middleton’s LK Bennett wedges.

 

Where To Find Oysters in Paris

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This blog post comes to you today from the corner of my bed. I’ve just spent a very uncomfortable night curled up on precisely one sixth of the normally available bed space.

Three rooms of Burnt Cream HQ are being repainted this weekend, which means that everything has had to find a new home. I was sharing my bed with the coats from the hallway, cushions from the sofa and a couple of picture frames that were sticking into my lower back. I had naively thought that the other adjoining rooms would avoid the fate of suffocation by paint dust because the decorator would just close the door…. but it turns out that said door met its match because it is currently sitting in the naughty corner of the other room, wondering where its hinges went.

All this is making me work on a new dimension of French lexicon. The most useful word has been the verb écailler, which I knew before in the context of “écailler le poisson” (“to scale the fish”) but it loosely means to take off and can be applied to all manner of things. In particular, this past weekend I’ve found myself having to say “l’humidité écaillait la peinture” (“the damp was causing the paintwork to come off”) quite a lot. In its reflexive form s’écailler it means to flake or peel off. I’ve heard it being used to refer to chapped lips or dry skin, which is also pretty useful to know around this time of year…

The main reason, however, why you should know this verb is because it also means to shuck an oyster – écailler une huitre. And an écailleur is therefore somebody who opens the oysters. Yes, the French even have a word for that.

Here are my top five recommendations for eating oysters in Paris this season:

Huiterie Regis

3 rue Montfaucon, 75006

Sleek and chic, by the Saint Germain market. Only 14 covers, no reservations. Prices start around 18 euros for a dozen but can go to 60 euros for a dozen Belons. Very nice wines. Menu limited almost entirely to bivalves. Also do take away.

Le Mary Celeste

1 rue Commines, 75003

Oysters are not just for the rich and snooty, the Mary Celeste attracts a young (and largely English speaking) clientele. Perch at the bar, sup a cocktail or some Brooklyn beer and knock back the oysters. Varied menu of small dishes. Cocktails, wine and craft beer. Very on-trend right now. (Psst! Try Clamato too.)

L’Écume Saint Honore

6 rue du Marche Saint Honore, 75001

A fishmonger-come-restaurant. A little kitsch but you’ll have a memorable experience. Well positionned between the Louvre, Vendome and the chichi shopping streets. Can quickly do some damage to the wallet.

Le Baron Rouge

1 rue Theophile Roussel, 75012

Rather chaotic and crazy, but at the Baron Rouge, the wine just keeps flowing. Convivial atmosphere. Reasonably priced oysters to be eaten on the hoof. Le Baron Rouge is the most talked-about, but you’ll probably find a similar kind of wine bar with a pop-up oyster seller in most arrondissements at this time of the year. A very good neighbourhood option.

L’Ecailler du Bistrot

22 rue Paul Bert, 75011

Traditional French seafood restaurant. Old school, but in the positive sense. Great natural wine list. Treat yourself to a slap-up meal. Reserve a couple of days before to be sure of getting a table.

Alternatively, you’ll see loads of sellers popping up on the pavements of Paris during the winter months. It will typically set you back between 10 and 15 euros for a dozen so it’s a more affordable option than going to any of the above or getting a seafood platter in a traditional turn-of-the-century brasserie (such as those around Montparnasse, for example.) Pop a bottle of bone dry Sancerre or more rounded Muscadet-Sevre-et-Maine (the traditional accompaniment) in the fridge but you can also try with Champagne or any other kind of dry bubbles. I had a really good Vouvray Brut NM from the Domaine Champalou yesterday at La Derniere Goutte which would be perfect.

Oh, and don’t forget, you should also try to écailler those oysters yourself!

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…?