Eating well in Paris isn’t hard to do, but there are many ways to do it. You could go big and do something fancy at Alain Ducasse or nosh your way through croissants, cheese and tasty snacks. This guide to Paris is for those who like something more casual, the people who are fans of going to a bar with some atmosphere that also happens to make very good food, where you don’t have to dress up, and you can be in and out in less than 2 hours. Paris has perfected this style of eating, and so, with one exception, here’s a list of some places that do this very well.
When in Paris, the last thing you want to do is eat in a restaurant full of Americans. But when you’re eating in a dining room as exquisitely beautiful and romantic as the one at Verjus, you’re more than willing to make the exception. Located in the backstreets of Palais Royal, Verjus is hidden from view and gated away in the back, like a secret passageway to another time. Sure, the conversations taking place are thoroughly modern, but use your imagination and replace that businessman from Chicago with a gentleman from the Island of La Grand Jatte.Read More
There are few restaurants that I would stay up so late for. A 9 pm seating is my limit, and after that, I’ll move on and revisit once the hype has died down. But like the desperate girl who can’t play it cool when she’s finally invited to a party, I caved to the pressure and made an exception for a 10:30 reservation at Le Coucou. There was a little thought behind this, though. First of all, Ruoxi’s birthday was at midnight, so we would need to do some sort of big, late night blowout celebration anyway. Also, my friend Eugenia from Hong Kong was in town, and she was already going to be jet lagged, so why not shake it off by staying up as late as possible? All good reasons for me to bite the bullet on a super late dinner reservation.Read More
Roseval is one of the new breed of restaurants in Paris that eschews the traditional for something different. Run by non-Parisiens in a small, cozy space located in the low-key and slightly out-of-the-way neighborhood of Belleville, it doesn’t fit the bill of a typical French restaurant, and it doesn’t really want to. In that way, it has a lot in common with the Brooklyn restaurant scene, where people with beards and man buns are free to make whatever food they want in whatever setting pleases them. Unfortunately, they’ve also adopted that similar indifferent hipster attitude. I always felt a bit of a tension between us and the server, who scoffed at our wine choices at times and was there just going through the motions.
The 5-course pre fixe menu of 55 euros is good value, and it sort of follows a New World theme that incorporates a lot of ingredients and inspirations from everywhere. The bonito fish, which is common in Japanese cuisine, made a surprise appearance here swimming into the waters of France, in the form of a smoky, fatty filet subdued by smoked ricotta and cherry. The scallop is a classic staple in many countries, but Roseval gives it a refresh with some tart pomegranate seeds for flavor. Duck is of course very French, but here it gets paired with a cured eggplant that gives it almost an ashy flavor, severing ties with its confit/l’orange past and forging a new identity. The best course was the langoustine, which arrived in an impeccable potato soup, creamy and classic in the best sort of way, while the weakest was the turbot, a poor man’s version of the farm-to-table fish creations that have been done much better elsewhere. Sometimes the experiments work, sometimes they don’t, but it’s clear that Roseval feels a sense of joy in being given the freedom to do what it wants. Now if they only brought that same sense of joy to their customer service…but some habits in a country die hard.
1 Rue d’Eupatoria, 75020 Paris, France
+33 9 53 56 24 14
My favorite restaurant in Paris is Le Timbre, a tiny neighborhood bistro in the 6th arrondissement. I love this place for its warm, comfortable atmosphere and the general lack of haughtiness or indifference displayed by the wonderful staff, which is hard to come by in Parisian restaurants. The food is comforting, delicious and unpretentious, as bistro food should be. You won’t necessarily find traditional dishes like steak frites or onion soup here, the emphasis is more on farm to table, seasonally driven ingredients, but the same feeling of feel-good satiation applies.
The 3-5 course pre fixe options are very reasonably priced (49 euros for the 5 course set), especially considering all the skill that goes into each bite. The flavor profile is rich but well rounded and never heavy handed. Brown butter may be an overwhelming ingredient, but when paired with the smoothness of a fresh avocado or with the spritzy accents of citrus fruits, it embraces everything in a warm, unifying halo rather than assertively dominating its place. Other restaurants would likely charge a premium for the ability to reinterpret and innovate, but at Timbre this high standard is simply the norm that should apply to every customer. This very democratic approach in which good food and service are accessible to everyone is what makes Timbre stand out from the highly acclaimed or the painfully trendy.
I specifically called out the customer service here because there were so many ways in which Timbre went over and beyond its call to duty in making the customer happy, and I feel strongly that this needs to be recognized. When we had a question about where to get a bottle of wine that we particularly enjoyed during our meal, our server Agnes went to the trouble of writing down the name and address of the wine retailer and its hours of operations. One of the members in our dining party wanted to order the off-the-menu dessert for vegans, and again, Agnes made this happen with a smile. We asked questions about how this sublime apricot dessert was prepared, and Chef Charles let us in on one of the secrets, the transformative powers of the tonka bean, which he grabbed off of the spice rack so that we could all take a look. I would love to be friends with Agnes and Charles and just eat at their restaurant every night. They take care of you, and that’s what a great restaurant is all about.
3 Rue Sainte-Beuve, 75006 Paris, France +33 1 45 49 October 40