Passion Points: Food/Wine
For a classic capital, Paris is surprisingly trendy, especially when it comes to its culinary offerings. Sure, there are eternally popular standards, but newcomers keep raising the bar, and the best of the crop transform into mainstays.
Here are ten Indagare favorites that are sure to inspire you during your next trip to the City of Light.
With only twelve tables, this small restaurant has a mixed reputation: people either love it or hate it. Prices are outrageous, portions are huge, and the waiters are French (read rude). However, it delivers consistently with excellent food and a wine list that spoils diners. Expect such perfectly prepared French classics as duck confit, escargots and roast chicken. For those looking for an authentic—and unforgettable—Parisian culinary experience, dinner at L’Ami Louis is a must.
Although the atmosphere is a bit rough and tumble, brave it for the marvelous Southwestern French cooking of chef Stéphane Jego. Jego worked for ten years with Yves Camdeborde at La Régalade, and the master’s touch shows in dishes like baby scallops in their shells with tiny croutons and flat parsley, sautéed baby squid served with white beans from Tarbes, and axoa, a Basque veal stew. Ideal for a hearty casual supper.
The secret’s long out about this foodie favorite on a tiny back street in the 2nd Arrondissement, but the innovative, often-changing menu and ultracozy setting are worth the wait for the hard-to-come-by reservation. Frenchie’s Bar à Vins across the street is rumored to be expanding; online reservations can now be made a month in advance.
Chicago-born chef Daniel Rose’s restaurant is one of the toughest reservations to score. The ideal number of diners is about twenty-two, and there is only one service. The well-choreographed meals are unique, often brilliantly conceived, culinary explorations, and dishes changes daily, depending on what’s fresh and inspiring to the chef. Naturally, there’s no menu; as Daniel says, simply: “I make dinner.”
One of Paris’s current culinary power couples, Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins ran the city’s most-buzzed-about supper club, the Hidden Kitchen, before opening this lovely place. Tucked behind the Palais Royal, Verjus comprises a small wine bar on the ground floor (no reservations and a small-plate menu), a more formal restaurant upstairs and a great private dining room on the third floor. The restaurant is often mentioned alongside other the hot spots with American or American-trained chefs (Frenchie, Spring), but this place feels totally Parisian: small, intimate, congenial and with incredible food and wine pairings.
Set in the early 20th-century grandeur of the Petit Palais, MiniPalais offers a chic and contemporary dining alternative to the popular Parisian classics. This Right Bank hot spot seamlessly blends the traditional and contemporary. The space reads museum-meets-industrial-TriBeCa-warehouse; the large open-plan dining room has soaring twenty-foot ceilings supported by wrought iron beams and walls that feature ancient marble busts and original carvings in relief. The menu offers a modern twist on old-time bistro fare, with pops of Asian, Spanish and Italian influences. Window booths showcase views of the picturesque palm-tree-clad terrace, where alfresco dining is a “must” during the summer months.
Located above venerable brasserie Thoumieux, this Michelin-starred restaurant was designed by India Madhavi, who conceived the intimate space as a groovy living room, with sleek couches scattered with zebra-print pillows and contemporary light fixtures. Chef Piège, formerly of Le Crillon, has always been a culinary innovator. Food critic Alexander Lobrano sums it up best, calling him “one of the two or three wittiest chefs working in Paris right now.”
Neighborhood Favorite: Septime
A hands-down foodie temple, Septime is headed by chef Bertrand Grébaut, who changes the menu almost daily and is one of the darlings of the le fooding movement. Book well in advance to dine on innovative seasonal dishes in a chic but cozy dining room, with a fabulous list of organic wines. For less of a commitment, sample small plates and a glass of wine at the nearby Septime Cave (3 Rue Basfroi) across the way. 80 Rue de Charonne, 11th Arrondissement; (33 0 1) 43-67-38-29.
Chef Yves Camdeborde’s cozy, ten-table bistro in the center of St.-Germain is just about the toughest restaurant to score at dinner, so go for lunch, when it’s first come, first serve. The menu at this 1930s-vintage dining room is always changing but is always spot-on.
When you’ve gorged on too much cheese and baguettes, head to this beautiful fusion restaurant for a lighter meal. Opened in 2010, the restaurant is run by Japanese chef Hiroki Yoshitake, whose menu is all about flavor and composition. Indagare members who have dined here described the meal not as Japanese but rather as incredibly innovative French food with a Japanese twist. There are two prix fixe menus, and diners should request to be seated in the classic dining room upstairs (not the tatami-matted room downstairs).
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