The best 102 Paris restaurants are reviewed in Hungry for Paris. Since the Paris restaurant scene changes constantly, I regularly post new restaurant reviews and information on the city’s best places to eat on this site. I also review selected books with various gastronomic themes and comment on favorite foods, recipes, cookware and appliances. In addition to the reviews and writings here, I'd also invite you to follow me on Twitter @ Aleclobrano. So come to my table hungry and often, and please share your own rants and raves in the Hungry for Paris readers forum.
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Entries in New restaurants in Paris (11)
LA REGALADE CONSERVATOIRE - Another Superb Performance from Chef Bruno Doucet, B+; L'AFFRIOLE - In Top Form After All of These Years, B
Ever since he took over the original La Régalade in the 14th arrondissement from founding chef Yves Camdeborde in 2004, Bruno Doucet has continued to delight bistro-loving Parisians with his shrewd and technically impeccable modern French bistro cooking. First he rebooted the menu at La Regalade, making it brighter and more modern than what Camdeborde had originally been doing, and then he opened a branch, La Régalade Saint-Honoré, in the 1st arrondissement.
For anyone who hated trekking to the outer reaches of the 14th arrondissement--and most people did, this second address was a real blessing, not only for its convenient location, but also because the contemporary bistro cooking served here is so outstanding. Now Doucet's launched a third address, La Régalade Conservatoire in the gorgeous new Hotel de Nell, which opened two weeks ago and has already become one of the hottest boutique hotels in Paris.
Arriving with Bruno, Tina and Francois on a wintry night, we had a drink in the bar with a glass room behind reception, and enjoyed the gorgeous hand-made oak furniture that is a major component of the interior design that brilliant designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte did for the hotel. Here, Wilmotte, black-and-white checkerboard floor, solid oak chairs, and tables with beige runners create an atmosphere that's profoundly Parisian, but modern by teasing the usual nostalgia this term so often implies when used in a decorative context with strong graphics and a rigorous Zen design aesthetic. This is the second restaurant I've recently dined in by Mr. Wilmotte--the last one was Yannick Alleno's Terroir Parisien, and I have to say that he's become one of the best restaurant designers working in Paris today.
Doucet's menu for this handsome dining room rolled out some terrific new dishes I'd never seen before, too. What I really wanted was the creamy cauliflower, Stilton and bacon soup that Tina had, but since I'm still flogging some of the caloric discipline I learned during a week of low-calorie thalassotherapy in Brittany, i went with the marinated scallops with Granny Smith apples and aged Comte in a fine cubed hash adding texture and a gently acidic bite to the creamy scallops under a thatch of frisee dressed in chive oil. I also loved the quiet daring of pairing cheese with scallops, since according to conventional Gallic kitchen wisdom the only dairy produce appropriate for this shellfish is cream. Instead, the comte deliciously enunciated the natural creaminess (sic) of the scallops.
After our main courses, a few sticking points registered. When the delightful hotel manager excused himself and went home, service fell off a cliff in the dining room, with the waiters clustering behind the bar like a bunch of crows and almost pointedly ignoring their customers, and this was after they'd failed to present the complimentary terrine that's one of the signatures of a La Regalade meal without being prompted. The bread was also dull, and lighting in this dining room needs to be tweaked, since the built-in ceiling spots cast small short hard beams of light instead of illuminating the room gently and thoroughly. And as good as the food is and as attractive as Wilmotte's dining room may be, this place has very little atmosphere. All of these flaws will doubtless be remedied as the restaurant settles in, however.
Our main courses were excellent. Francois tucked into a big juicy steak sliced and presented on a mound of stewed beef cheeks and carrots in a red-wine enriched jus; Bruno and loved our griddled half-salted cod with a pistachio crust on a bed of winter vgetables and shellfish (mussels and cockles) in a delicate shellfish bouillon, and Tina wolfed down a grilled breast of veal with winter vegetables.
Rice pudding with caramel sauce, a classic La Regalade dessert, and pomelo-and-pineapple fruit salad with excellent ginger sorbet concluded this very good meal, which had a particularly festive air for me and Bruno, since this new branch of La Regalade is a very easy walk from our front door.
The following night, after we'd both had non-stop days during which neither of us had time to shop, we decided to meet for dinner somewhere midway between Bruno's office and our apartment. I asked Bruno if he had any ideas. "That's your job," he said. Oh, okay. Well, I left it until the last minute, and then was trying to think of someplace relaxed, pleasant and reasonable on the Left Bank, no small order, when it occurred to me that it had been years since we'd been to L'Affriole, a long-running and very good bistro in the 7th run by chef Thierry Verola, who'd worked with Alain Senderens a longtime ago. So I booked us there, and our first surprise was that the warm honey-and-ochre vaguely provencale dining room of yore had vanished in favor of a good-looking and much hipper decor that referenced various Fifties French classics--the green chairs have the shape and design of those found in public parks like the Jardins du Luxembourg or French classrooms, and the tile walls and factory-style suspension lamps also had an appealing retro look.
The chalkboard menu offered all sorts of appealing choices that night, but both of us started off with the butternut veloute, which was rich and pleasantly garnished with Savoy cabbage, and then Bruno had sea bass with a red wine sauce and winter vegetables en cocotte, and I continued on my cod bender with a perfectly cooked filet in a creamy soubise sauce. Our desserts were excellent as well--ile flottante with creme anglaise for Bruno and apple-and-raisin compote for me. All told, with its warm friendly service and reasonably priced wines, L'Affriole is a very good neighborhood bistro that well deserves its swarming crowd of regulars.
L'Affriolé, 17 Rue Malar, 7th, Lte. 01-44-18-31-33. Metro: Pont de l'Alma Closed Sunday and Monday. Lunch prix-fixe two-courses 26 Euros, three-courses 30 Euros; Dinner prix-fixe 36 Euros.
La Régalade Conservatoire, Hôtel de Nell, 7-9 rue du Conservatoire, 9th, Tel. 01-44-83-83-60. Metro: Bonne Nouvelle. Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday. Prix-fixe 35 Euros.
Coming here with Bruno and our friends Laurent and Carole for a late and impromptu dinner the other night, all of us liked this place the moment we came through the door. Why? There was a nice friendly welcome from the proprietor, the room was well-lit and visually interesting, with an open kitchen that might have inspired Edward Hopper and an interesting wall installation of overlapping white rectangle, and the tables were correctly spaced.
Then the good-value chalkboard menu proposed a lot of dishes that were a perfect bull's eye in terms of the type of meal we were gunning for--exalted French comfort food. So three of us had the marinated salmon with an excellent remoulade sauce and a trio of freshly baked miniature rolls, and the third tucked into an excellent warm salad of deboned rabbit with rosemary on salad leaves. Though I had not gone to dinner with my professional food writer's cap on, I couldn't help but noticing that the food was really well sourced, and eventually asked one of the owners if he worked with Terroirs d'Avenir, the ur trendy and excellent super well-sourced provisioner to many of Paris's best young chefs.
Like the magician who's afraid that the audience might be on to how he pulled the rabbit out of his hat, he was initially startled by the question, but then answered with a nod and a grin while he scrutinized our table for a clue as to why we might know of this wonderful little company, a cook's secret. Our main courses, by chef William Ransonne, ex-Les Parisiennes, were very good, too.
Bruno and Laurent went wild--with partridge and wild dove respectively, for a reasonable supplement to the prix-fixe menu, Carole was happy with her maigre, and I scarfed down a juicy onglet (hanger steak) served with baby potatoes and a creamy sauce of mustard, cream and deglazed meat juices.
Desserts were excellent, too--petit pot de crème à la chicorée (chicory flavored custard) and ravioles aux coings sauvages (dessert ravioli stuffed with wild quince), and by the end of our meal, we were in really good spirits. "This was a really good meal," exulted Laurent, adding, "The food was great, but it's also really wonderful see the renewal of the neighborhood bistro by a new generation of talented chefs and restaurateurs."
It is indeed.
103 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, 10th, Tel. 01-42-46-32-49, Metro: Gare de l'Est, Poissonnière & Château d'Eau, www.bistro-urbain.fr Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, closed Sunday. Lunch menus 14.50-19 €, dinner menu 25-30 €.
"So sorry," said Laura, returning just seconds before we were served our main courses. Without noticing, I managed to construct an almost all-crustacean meal, since I had roasted lobster on freshly made squid's ink linguine with a delicious lemon foam. Here, too, I was impressed by the humbleness of Duka's technical skills--he's a remarkably good cook but he doesn't show off. Instead, he let's his produce star. Laura's scallops were superb, too--griddled to give them browned edges and topped with delicate hazelnut waters they were accompanied by a few fine pieces of jamon and a warm salad of Jerusalem artichokes in a hazelnut oil froth. She laughed out loud after she tasted them.
Though the ambient consumer culture in most Western countries presents aging as akin to a slowly developing case of the plague, I enjoy the annual privilege of notching another year on my belt. I'm much happier today than I was when I was twenty-one, and I've also lived long enough to see the outlines of an interesting and rewarding life emerging out of the ether of youth. In fact one of the more amusing things as time goes by is a deepening understanding that the to-twenty-something-year-old ears tiresome bromide that 'all experience is somehow useful' actually turns out to be true.
On those painfully always too early-to-work mornings, because they followed too-bibulous-and-too-late-to-bed evening after evening, when I was grinding cabbage after cabbage to make enough coleslaw to feed a hundred hotel guests at noon--one summer I worked as a salad chef in a hotel kitchen on Fire Island of all places, I never dreamt that this tedium would yield valuable experience. In the space of a few hours, I had to make grated-carrot-in-gelatin salad (the crowd at this hotel preferred orange or cherry Jello, just for the record), macaroni salad, tomato salad, tuna salad, rice salad, three-bean salad, and others, and I went through big institutional jar after jar of Sweet Life brand mayonnaise, bottles of lemon juice and frighteningly cheap olive oil, and, I'm afraid to admit, my hygiene as I hastily executed these chores was, well, let's say it was casual to put it politely. Fortunately, I never poisoned anyone to the best of my knowledge, and during other similar college summers, I also worked variously as a bus boy, a waiter, and a line cook, and I was just awful at all of these jobs. What these long ago activities left me with, however, was a real hands-on knowledge of how restaurant kitchens and dining rooms really work and a profound respect for all players in the restaurant business.
What brought all of this to mind the other night was when I showed up at L'Intention, a new bistro in the Marais that opened last July, and the very polite but slightly harried young man in the dining room sheepishly told me that he'd be doing everything himself that night, i.e. all of the cooking and also waiting table, because his waitress was out sick. I assured him that I was sure everything would be just fine, and my friend Greta and I would be understanding. Since there were only three tables of two in the dining room, I was pretty sure he'd be okay, too, but when Greta showed up, I told her we should order right away so that our orders could be staggered between those of the table that was already occupied when I arrived, and those who were seated a few minutes after she sat down.
The simple little dining room with exposed stone walls, modern art on the walls, modern lighting fixtures and dark wooden tables had the same winsomely sincere aura as the short menu did, too. The three starters--mache salad with hazelnuts and a beet-and-tarragon vinaigrette, parsnip soup garnished with boned confit de canard, and leeks with a poached organic egg, salad and a creamy mustard vinaigrette all appealed and were all offered in PT or GT--half or full portions, a nice touch, as was a risotto with pumpkin and Parmesan cream.
There were three main courses, too: poached roasted guinea hen with smoked bacon, creamed cabbage and chestnuts; daube de boeuf with baked polenta; and salmon slow cooked with winter fruits (quince, apples and pears) and vegetables (carrots, parsnips and turnips) in a casserole. Well, we both ended up ordering a half portion of the leeks and the daube de boeuf, because that's what we both wanted. To be honest, I tried to cajole Greta into the risotto and the salmon, but she wasn't budging.
The leeks were pleasant--neatly trimmed and tender and the accompanying egg perfectly poached. I'd have liked the vinaigrette to be more authoritative, though, and this dish very much needed more salt and pepper. The daube de boeuf was not quite what I was expecting either, since it came as a decidedly cartilagenous single slice of tender beef in a curiously sweet red wine sauce with nice little Nicois olives and a wedge of slightly dry oven-baked polenta. If it was a nicely made dish, the sauce lacked the ruddy depth of a really superb daube like the one chef Dominique Le Stanc serves at La Merenda in Nice, and I'd have preferred the polenta to be creamy and rich with Parmesan as opposed to solid.
I've thought a lot about these two dishes during the last twenty-four hours, since I make a sometimes agonizing effort to be fair to a chef as sincere and competent as Cédric Barbarat, who previously cooked at La Cour Jardin restaurant at the Hotel Plaza Athénée and most recently at Sofitel Pullman de Versailles. As I learned many years ago, working in a kitchen is seriously hard work, so working in a kitchen and simultaneously running a dining room is a real high-wire act. So under the circumstances, this was an agreable meal that was served with charm and generosity, but I'd like Barbarat to channel his lustier instincts in the kitchen, where I think he's currently too timid, and then this nice little bistro will likely see me again. Oh, and he should also take the cheeses he's planning to serve of any given service out of the fridge earlier, and refuse delivery of a cheese that was as many miles from being ripe as the camembert that was served with the Saint Maure and compte that comprised the cheese course we split as we finished up an excellent bottle of Le Petit Canon de Lariveau, a canon-fronsac by winemaker Nicolas Dabudyk that's a terrific food wine and a great buy at 22 Euros a bottle. Overall, though, Barbarat's intentions are good and mine are too.
L'Intention, 3, rue du Roi-Doré, 3rd, Tel. 01-42-74-31-22. Closed Saturday and Sunday. Average 40 Euros.