After spending a month in Paris, I obviously have a thing or two to say about French food. Since Paris more or less shuts down for the month of August, I wanted to post this when I knew the city would start to come back to life and the restaurants that I wanted to share re-opened their doors after a well-deserved holiday. So let's not mess around any further...I ate some damn good food while I was in Paris and I want to share some of my favorites in hopes that I can spread my epicurean knowledge of one of the greatest foodie cities in the world.
Anthony Bourdain is one of my food gods. His show 'No Reservations' (soon to be no more, sad face) is one of my favorite guilty pleasures and I figure if Anthony tells me to go eat something, I better do it. For years, I have watched his Paris episode on repeat, partially because he gets pretty messed up on Absinthe and it makes me laugh. But he also visits a no-frills steak restaurant called Robert et Louise in which there is a an open flame and grill which would be entirely illegal in the States due to fire and safety regulations and your made-to-order steaks are served on a wood block. When I realized on one of my first days that Robert et Louise was literally less than a block up the street on which I was living for the month, it was game on. Amazing steak, service that doesn't mess around and reasonable prices. I'd suggest making a reservation and seeing if you can get the seat in the window...that open flame makes for quite a heater...
Not your typical farmers market, Marches des Enfants Rouges is more focused on prepared foods and offers at least 8 places that act as mini-restaurants as opposed to a place to just pick up your groceries. There are stands for beautiful fruits and vegetables, flowers, cheese and charcuterie and a lovely fish monger so make sure that you check it all out. But if you want an amazing meal, head over to the Italian stand with a long bar at which you can sit and enjoy food that will be put together in front of your eyes. You can get a glass of wine if you fancy and have a short but exciting menu of freshly made delights. My mom and I split the salad plate which is a mix of 6 to 8 kinds of cold salads, from pasta to lentil and marinated tomatoes, as well as a plate of probably the most amazing mussels I have ever eaten. Their bruschetta (tomato and salmon varieties) both looked incredible and I bet they taste amazing.
For someone who was never a fan of falafel, this place converted me. And not just because it is Lenny Kravitz's favorite. Read more about it here.
This tiny restaurant is an institution for me. I have been going here since I was a teenager with my parents then with friends when we would visit the city on a break from London life and twice on this visit alone. Ownership has changed hands but it is still a fail-safe option for a lovely, friendly experience and a delicious set menu option. The food is about as hearty as the French are able to get. This is the home of the best meal I have ever had, as well. A warm goats cheese, endive and green apple salad followed by a perfect steak and creme brulée. It's a small place so I would say make a reservation if you can.
A newer addition to the Marais neighborhood, the decor and the food rival each other at this restaurant as to which is more beautiful. You have the option of sitting in a courtyard area that makes you feel a bit like you're sitting in a secret garden and the main room which is a more formal affair with dark velvet seats and home to the namesake of the restaurant, an illuminated dome which is an original feature to the historic building. If you ask the servers about the history of the building, they are happy to present you with original photographs of the room along with stories about its former lives. The food is beautiful and very high-end but not at all fussy. Known for their truffle pizza, I couldn't get over how amazing my ginger and tuna tartare was and it was hard to pass up a chocolate dessert mimicking the shape of the dome along with an absinthe reduction. Service will take its time so make sure you know you'll be making a night of this meal.
Macaroons are all the rage now and Laudrée is the original master. But if you want to shy away from being a tourist and hunting down that overpriced and now almost factory-like establishment, head over to Pain du Sucre to get your fix. It's quite a modern place which is reflected in the presentation of their desserts but oh my goodness, it's amazing. Dark chocolate, pistachio, mint and chocolate, rhubarb and orange flower, salted caramel, apricot and sesame, coconut and milk chocolate. Those are just a few of the flavors on offer and my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Not exclusive to Paris or even France, Amorino is still worth mentioning. It may have been a dangerous situation living directly above this gelato shop but it was totally worth it. This corner shop has an incredible product with flavors like mascarpone with carmelized fig (my fav), bourbon vanilla, pistachio, mango, coconut, salted caramel, amaretto, tiramisu and a special flavor every month. The staff is also incredibly friendly and talented. Yeah, talented. Order a cone at this place and you'll be presented with a gelato sculpture. You can choose as many flavors as you like and your server will create flower petals in whatever flavor(s) you like. It's almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
Oh. My. Goodness. Crepes. I had passed by this establishment a few times before trying to just walk in to have lunch which is when I quickly found out that a reservation wasn't encouraged but required. This place gets BUSY. So when I did finally wise up and made a reservation, things got REAL. My lunch crepe was alright. I didn't realize until it was too late that they had an English version of this painfully extensive menu but a buckwheat crepe with ham, cheese, artichokes and arugula got the job done. But wait, wait, wait. The dessert happened. DESSERT HAPPENED. A buckwheat crepe with candied ginger ice cream and caramel sauce. I just. I don't. Augh, I can't. I cannot explain to you how amazing this moment in time was for me. Potentially the best thing I had to eat during my stay in Paris. No messing around.
And now, the food highlight of the trip. My mom and I decided that we should treat ourselves to a really nice meal out at one of the places featured in the recent Paris edition of Bon Appetit. After painstakingly perusing all the restaurants that had been written up, looking at reviews online, considering menu options and so on, we decided Verjus would be the place for us...if we could get a last-minute reservation that is. And it was all meant to be, as it turns out. I was able to get the last available reservation on the final evening the restaurant was open before the August holidays! This place is a moderately expensive treat and be prepared to make a night of it; the only thing on offer is the 6-course tasting menu (though if you have any issues, they are more than happy to cater to you). Owned and run by an American couple, the husband is the head chef and makes sure to hand deliver at least one course to each of the tables in the restaurant during your meal. It was, by far, the best food I have ever tasted and it is obvious a lot of love goes into the entire operation. It isn't stuffy...no white tablecloths in sight, very professional but incredibly friendly staff, an obvious team effort. And it's small. Only about 12 tables in total, most of which only seat two. Reservations are necessary. Down the stairs and with its own entrance as well, if you're just popping in for a drink, the wife manages the wine bar. It's small and dark and the perfect place to begin and/or end your evening. Make sure to say hi to the couple's adorable Boston terrier who hangs out in the wine bar, welcoming guests.