While I love being back in Australia I do really miss being able to hop on a train and arrive in Paris a couple of hours later. MTV and I certainly made the most of being so close to France and made countless trips there during our time in London, including a month I spent studying French in Paris. It is safe to report that my French is still school girl level but my restaurant French is excellent. When I look at the long list of restaurants I have written about on here I can start to see why that might have happened.
|Perfection at Le Chateaubriand|
One of you lovely people asked for some Paris recommendations and I realised that although I have written about the best cheap eats in Paris, I have never written a list of my top ten Paris restaurants. I think I may have been putting it off because it is so hard to settle on just ten, but I have tried to be ruthless and whittle the list down to this, my recommendations for the top ten restaurants in Paris.
I am often overwhelmed with choices which is why I was always bound to love Le Chateaubriand in Paris. The restaurant is headed up by Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte and the menu is set with no choice or variation for the whole restaurant. Eat at Le Chateaubriand and you will be served whatever has inspired Aizpitarte that day. The menu constantly changes but on my visit I loved the ceviche and the deconstructed Eton mess for dessert.
Details: 129 Avenue Parmentier, Paris 11eme, 75011, France (Ph +33 1 43 57 4595) Metro: Goncourt
|Wine and charcuterie at L’Avant Comptoir|
Don’t expect a seat or even a table at L’Avant Comptoir. The tiny tapas bar from Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir du Relais fame has room for only 20 people. Of course you are not allowed to call the food tapas – it is “French hors d’oeuvres” according to Cambdeborde. If you can squeeze in and don’t mind standing you will be rewarded with fantastic boards of charcuterie (€10), tubs of salty cornichons, a serious wine list and more involved dishes such as the deep-fried pig’s-foot croquettes and chipolata confit in goose fat.
Details: L’Avant Comptoir, 9 carrefour de l’Odéon, 6th arrondissement, Paris, France. No reservations, open every day. Metro: Odéon.
It’s all about the meat at Bouchiere Rouliere with giant black and white photographs of cows lining the walls of this quaint little bistro in the St Germain area of Paris. The meat theme started with the complimentary slices of saucisson and radish which were brought out to start the meal, and continued with the perfectly constructed terrine of beef (€7.50) dripping with a glossy, dark sauce. Lamb chops (€21.50) were pink and tender. Not one for vegetarians.
Details: 24 Rue Canettes, 75006 Paris, France (Ph 01 43 26 25 70)
Au Gourmand offers classic fine dining complete with white linen tablecloths, amuse bouchés and presentation so perfect that you want to frame photographs of the food and place them on your bedside table. It’s traditional, old school French dining but the food is exquisite. I loved our amusé of smoked salmon served with a potato and leek purée spiked with musty truffles and hints of olive to add depth.
Details: Au Gourmand, 17 Rue Molière, 75001 Paris, France (Ph 01 42 96 22 19) Metro: Pyramides
Imagine a classic French bistro tucked away on a back street of the Marais and you have got Le Petit Marché. An ecelectic selection of portraits line the wood panelled walls while wooden tables sit cheek by jowl. The look is classic bistro but the food is actually quite modern as it offers French cuisine with an Asian influence. The best example, is the so-good-it-should-be-compulsory Chinoise salad (€9.50) an inspired mix of cabbage, shredded chicken and fried won ton wrappers drizzled with a sharp citrus dressing.
Details: Le Petit Marché, 9 Rue Bearn, Paris 75003, France.
|Le Dauphin’s take on a tomato salad|
6. Le Dauphin
I have made a unilateral decision that I am allowed two Inaki Aizpitarte restaurants in the one list. Salvation is at hand at Le Dauphin for those who wanted to sample Aizpitarte’s amazing cooking at Le Chateaubriand but shied away from the no choice menu or were daunted by the long wait for a table. Aizpitarte has now opened a small plates style restaurant a few doors down. It’s a buzzy, modern place with the room decked out from head to toe in white marble and dominated by a central bar which walk in diners can perch at to eat. Everything we tried was brilliant. Highlights included the sweet, sharp heritage tomato salad (€9), smoky slices of almost rare wagyu beef (€15), creamy squid ink risotto (€11) and piping hot matcha flavoured madeleines (€6).
Details: 31 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris (Ph 01 48 06 58 41) Métro: Goncourt.
This tiny little bistro (“the black sheep”) oozes charm alongside some clever cooking at bargain prices. A plate of creamy polenta (€8) topped with slivers of Parmesan was unadorned but astonishingly good. Easily the best polenta I have ever eaten in my life and I loved the simplicity of serving it as a complete dish by itself
Details: Le Mouton Noir, 65 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France (Ph 01 48 07 05 45). Open Mon-Sat. Metro: Charonne.
On the hunt for the perfect Parisian bistro my search took me to L’Entredgeu located in the outskirts of the 17th arrondissement. Tucked away in a back street behind the metro the area feels decidedly dodgy however L’Entredgeu itself could not appear more welcoming. Large glass windows face onto the street emblazoned with gold lettering and once inside the atmosphere is cozy. The food is classic bistro with Basque influences.
Details: 83 Rue Laugier, Paris, France (Ph 01 40 54 97 24) Metro: Porte de Champerret.
|Chateaubriand at Cafe Charlot|
9. Cafe Charlot
Seats line the pavement outside Cafe Charlot, all facing out to allow indulgence in the ultimate Parisian sport of people watching. Inside, Cafe Charlot has designer good looks with white tiled walls, salvaged fixtures and soft yellow lighting. There is a great brunch menu of juice, coffee or tea, fruit salad, scrambled eggs and salmon and brioche all for (€19) and Cafe Charlot’s signature burger (€15) but the highlight was the Chateaubriand (€29.50). Service can be poor.
Details: Cafe Charlot, 38 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris, France (Ph 01 44 54 03 03).
Jim Haynes is not strictly a restaurant and the food is not the best you will eat in Paris but it is certainly an experience. One of the original supper clubs, Jim has been serving dinner to up to sixty strangers every Sunday night at his atelier in Paris for the last 30 years. You need to ring in advance to book in and be prepared to make friends with strangers over cheap wine and food.
Details: 14eme, Paris, France (Ph + 33 1 43 27 17 67).
I’ve even made a handy map of Paris with my top ten restaurants marked on it:
View Gourmet Chick Paris in a larger map
The winners of the Gourmet Chick competition to win a copy of the Two Greedy Italians DVD are Josordoni, Poka and Kathleen Hooper. All winners have been contacted and a copy of the DVD should be winging its way to them shortly.