I’m on the road now (more on that soon) but here are a few stand-out meals I’ve had recently in Paris.
Dinner at Le Pantruche came in the nick of time. After a string of depressingly mediocre, overpriced meals in early January, I was ready to give up and stop eating out altogether. But this bistro, in a bare bones space near Pigalle, restored my faith a little. The young chef Franck Baranger’s food is generous and comforting, but clearly underlined by training and experience; it’s not surprising to learn that he worked for neo-bistro patriarch Christian Constant.
Raw oysters swam in a green puddle of lettuce purée, cool, bright, and briny. Celery root soup was refined but as soothing as you’d want it to be. A thick pork chop was rosy and juicy, surrounded by golden potatoes, a whole grain mustard pan sauce, and given a little freshness with a deep green and spindly salad. Braised lamb was seasoned with judicious amount of pimente d’Esplette and served with a disc of crisp golden polenta. Desserts were less satisfying: The chocolate mousse was broken and a bit grainy, and the Grand Marnier soufflé arrived looking splendid and perfect, but turned into a whole lot of nothing. I guess that’s what soufflés do. The three course menu is a gentle 32€.
3 rue Victor Massé, 75009 Paris, +33 (0)1 48 78 55 60, Lunch and dinner, Mon-Fri. Read more at Paris by Mouth
I’m still thinking about the chickpea salad I had here, studded with tiny cauliflower florets, enriched with creamy avocado, and tossed with a delicious coriander seed dressing. Is it strange for a salad to inspire culinary reverie? Maybe, but Kaori Endo’s gorgeous, fresh food will do that.
I loved the vegetarian bento box (there are also fish and chicken options), nutty rice topped with a thick piece of glazed grilled tofu on one side, that chickpea salad and a wedge of roast potimarron on the other. They serve wine here, but the fresh juices are an incentive to keep it clean. (Though the fashion types at the table next to mine who kept stepping out to smoke might not agree.)
Le Repaire de Cartouche
Yes, I’ve been here before. And yes, many people have had terrible service experiences at Le Repaire. But aside from the fact that it is extremely difficult to procure a carafe of water here, I haven’t really had any problems. And the food, as a visit early this year reaffirmed, is a fantastic, high-cholesterol French feast. House made terrines and pâtés, foie gras all over the place, pork in many forms, wild game in season: Prepare to be stuffed.
Oh, and consider taking home a box of chef Rudolph Paquin’s sablés, which contain more butter than I thought physically possible.
8 boulevard Filles de Calvaire, 75011 Paris, +33 (0)1 47 00 25 86 Lunch and dinner, Tues-Sat Read more at Paris by Mouth