Who would have thought that Sven Chartier, the hottest chef in Paris at the moment, was a Scrabble geek? That the 24 year old Arpege and Racines trained chef came up with the name SATURNE (God of Wine, and anagram of NATURES) during a heated session of the board game, or at least he confessed to me yesterday with a twinkle in his eye. Almost the same childish look that he gets when he talks about his philosophy of cooking:no additives, no preservatives, no sauces, no spices, nothing out of season or imported. Simple, natural. Period. Although the foodie blogosphere's bandwagon- jumping made him the flavour of the month, and filled his tables for the last three months, Sven hasn't had the time to refine his philosophy or put it into action, and his kitchen team isn't nearly ready. He is very excited about becoming fully self sufficient and is putting the touches on his very own garden(s) and within a few months should be coming up with some very interesting things. Sven also seems to be very interested in others aligned with the same philosophy, especially Magnus Ek, and spoke of a recent meal at Rene Redzepi's Noma, which he enjoyed. For someone who hasn't hit 25 yet, this chef has got me more excited than pretty much anyone lately. And when he takes that pilgrimmage to his Grandfather's homeland to explore his culinary roots, gets the experience he's looking for and has a team working in perfect harmony, he's going to kick some gastronomic ass and probably usher in an important new trend.
PS The natural wines impressed us less, and Ewen, Sven's partner in crime seemed a bit more reserved and less voluble than the chef..
Paris' perfect brunch spot? For those with their heads in the sand, the opening of the new Le Bal photographic arts centre has had all the hipsters and bloggers with their panties in a bunch when it opened up a few months back. Located in a tiny, pleasant passageway with a garden view and run by two great girls: Alice Quillet (former ? journalist and chef) and Anna Trattles (Saint John Bread and Wine, Rose Bakery) this modern little table serves up what they call Modern British cuisine.
Yesterday, brunch hunters coming after 12 faced a 30 minute wait, so packed was the dining room with funky lunetted hipsters scoffing down eggs and bacon and pancakes.
High points were (Paris' only?) kedgeree, a dish created by Scottish soldiers stationed in India in Victorian times and composed of basmati rice, smoked haddock, curry and eggs, and, obviously, "Rachel's cheesecake" (there, I said it..).
Ultimate winter comfort food at Frenchie : speck salad with clementines, mint and parmesan, smoked sardines with brussel sprout leaves and a squash purée, gnocchi and beef ragout with radish and horseradish, followed by rapid degustation of a 1907 artisinal absinthe (brought by my friend Peter) . No pictures, too busy enjoying myself. Go soon: in 2011, lunch will no longer be served..
...doesn't look like it's ready for opening anytime soon, and despite having won the Le Fooding prize for "Best Decor", everything I saw looked either unfinished or covered up in plastic. Very much a work-in-progress that seemed to be composed of a lot of mirrored surfaces and marble.
That being said, the fact that people were actually working on a Saturday probably means that they hope to welcome diners soon.
For those of you not in the know, this is a rare restaurant designed by superstarchitect Rem Koolhaas (and his collaborator, Clement Blanchet) and will be a much more flexible , tapas style eatery serving lunch and dinner and drinks ,right next to Inaki's other no choice, market menu restaurant, Le Chateaubriand.
131 avenue Parmentier , 75011 Paris
+33 1 55 28 78 88
I normally avoid Oberkampf like the plague (horrible themed bars, invested by bobo wannabees, ie people who get out of bed without combing their hair thinking it's cool) but, having been to the Le Fooding party la veille, I was looking for somewhere to lunch with my friend 'Tof that was simple and good and not too far from my shack. Aux Deux Amis (which was packed with hipster foodies- couldn't tell whether this was from Le Fooding's giving them the "best little luxury" prize, or if the restaurant was just plain popular) , really hit the spot. Old 50's-70's style café décor, great products, simply cooked and at 19.50€ for three courses, pretty hard to beat. For starters, I took a not very adventurous but very good lentil velouté while 'Tof tried the anchovies with ricotta cheese (excellent accords), we both had the onglet de boeuf (hangar steak) which was absolutely superb quality, accompanied by a decent risotto and Thiebault Jerusalem artichokes, and a dessert was a few slices of Manchego for moi and a fromage blanc for 'Tof, for which they served him ricotta (again!) by accident (it was good the first time, but not that good!). These boys apparently worked at Inaki's Chateaubriand for a few years, and teamed up with Mama (she never cracked a smile, even once..). Beware: slow and choppy service, and definitely book ahead of time. Apologies for the terrible quality iPhotos..
Ricotta and anchovies
Velouté de lentilles
Superb onglet de boeuf
Manchego Spanish cheese
Aux Deux Amis
45 rue Oberkampf, 75011
+33 1 58 30 38 13
I love Le Fooding, their "tribu", their events, their ideas, so, needless to say that when I received an invite from my friend Alex, their self-styled "red chief" , I was understandably excited for their combination 10th anniversary/guide launch party in my favourite park in Paris, Les Buttes Chaumont. It might possibly have been (with the exception of a famous designer's birthday party along the Canal Saint Martin some years back in a collosal loft packed with powder-nosed models) , the best party ever. So many things happened, so much was going on that I won't try to report here, that I'll give you the basics. As usual, there were lots of well known chefs doing dishes for the masses in small portions, a crowd spattered with former Fooding people, food fans, industry folk, hangers on, TV people, drunks, bobos, former wife-beating French rap stars, all consuming as much Veuve, wine, Ricard cocktails from the Experimental people, Yvon Madec oysters, and Nespresso coffee as they possibly could. Highlights included seeing all my Fooding friends, hanging with Breizh Café's Jean-Luc Corbel and Bertrand Larcher , winner of the Fooding Prix d'Honneur (and whose trophy enabled us to get many drinks without waiting in line too long ;) ). Memorable were: all the pretty girls, making fun of the Minister of Culture and Ariel Dombasle, the improv dancefloor with tunes mixed by the Baron's DJ, the Sardegna a Tavola's horse carpaccio, Fabrizio from the Caffè dei Cioppi's lemon and sage risotto with meatballs, and stumbling from one place to the other in drunken mirth.
Kaori Endo, Parisian transplanted journalist, cookbook writer, food consultant and former chef at Rose Bakery just opened a funky little eatery on the rue des Paradis under the patronage of Lionel Bensemoun (who was running around looking worried) of Le Baron fame. The deco is mismatched, arty , concrete, open kitchen with lots of Japanese staff and an affable English bartender/barrista from Rose Bakery. Ideally located in the rapidly gentrifying dixieme, the 10€ bentos (takeaway, with marinated beef, fat Japanese rice and a salad with broccoli, rocket, daikon…) are a great deal and sure to do as well with the unadventurous office lunch population as with the bobos du coin. Also excellent banana bread, fondant au chocolat with yuzu and a daily changing pastry menu
I just keep coming back to this place, and would even trek across town for their well turned out cooking. Yesterday's lunch confirmed once again my opinion that Philippe Damas' Philou is one of Paris' most perfect little bistros. Forest mushroom "clafoutis" with gizzards, tasty entrecote and roasted potatoes, turbot with a panoply of mushrooms, and just two snafus: the incredibly long service towards the end of the meal (granted, they were full and it was a new waitress, but she did spend 30 minutes cleaning glasses...) and the Montblanc , certainly not up to the level of the other dishes..but hard to complain when three courses comes to 25€...
In no particular order, a few film impressions of the newly (yesterday) opened Raffles Royal Monceau. I was ready to hate yet another Philippe Starck makeover, but they really created an interesting space here. It looks like Starck really wanted to challenge people's idea of what a hotel can be, and things like breaking down the traditional barman-behind-the-bar-in-front-of-client, and exploding the bar, making it very open, then adding a glowing slab of communal table in front of it, making people sit next to each other. The lighting still needs to be fixed and there was no music, but mucho potential. The Il Carpaccio restaurant, in all its seashell glory was impressive as was the private dining room. The private 100 seater cinema with gorgeous handmade leather seats and insane sound system, and the bathrooms, all rethought, with no sink, no mirrors, all these inside the actual bathroom stalls was quite trippy, as was the herd of deer in the next door room (galery?)
The bar is run by the inimitable Greg Hazac (formerly of the Hotel Costes, French Love and Le Secret) who did his great signature cocktails and we tried a few (remember apple, hibiscus, lemongrass, vodka, gin...18€/21€). Saying hi to Lenny was cool too. Once they get the lighting and music sorted this will be one of the places to hang for the golden set. More soon.
Granted, Le Rouleau de Printemps is cheap, and good value I guess for the price (even though the nems in my bobun were hard as a rock), but to be that closely packed in with preening Belleville hipsters all proud of themselves for having googled "cheap restaurant Paris" , and having to listen to their inane conversations (everyone truly is an "expert" in this place) , almost made me happy when the waiter eventually moved us out to accomodate the next customer.
This is hilarious (names withheld to protect the guilty):
The other night in an unnamed palace hotel, the tiny owner of a very popular Paris nightclub tried to get into a hotel bar. As the bar was closing and said person was drunk and belligerent, he was refused access. At which point he behaved like a little baby and started screaming about who he was- what he owned, who he knew , etc. Said hotel didn't really give a toss, because they are used to real stars, and real important people..
He still didn't get in and must've felt like those losers who can't get past the doorman in his own place.
So he did what any self-respecting little arty club owner would do when turned out like the trash.
Great winter comfort food at one of my locals, La Bulle, at the crossroads of the quickly bobo-izing Louis Blanc 'hood in the hinterlands somewhere between the Canal Saint Martin and the rue Cail Sri Lankan quarter. On the (great value15€, two dish lunch) menu: delicious tagliatelli loaded with mushrooms and pancetta, pailleron de boeuf with a delicious wine sauce and dorade cooked in olive oil with homemade purée. The new chef, formerly Flora Mikula's right hand man seems to be heating things up in this corner of the 10eme
I can't really get up the energy to review this place, hidden behind the Canal Saint Martin and the Hopital Saint Louis. Nice spot on a corner, full of local yipsters, hot Eurasians, etc, but I'll resume it all in a few tweets I did while eating:
"Chef drinking with (said) hot Eurasians and playing Facobook with his Mac, apparently showing off pix of his Laotian summer villa..."
"While Sri Lankan cooks "cook" without supervision (ie badly prepared food of questionable freshness).
"Nems are terrible, full of fish bones with sauce at the bottom"
"Chirashi au saumon a travesty, shameful to sell tiny portions, not really that fresh with badly cooked rice at 20€" (one of my locals, Kyccio, has an under 10€ MENU with better chirashi....."
"Bobo bo-bun b-b-b-b-boring".
"Dessert trainwreck: (browning) apples, caramel, and hard (ie fridge frozen) chocolate bar, that nearly bent my spoon". This was, by the way, a "specialty of the house".
Finally a real Mexican doing food in a little take away place just shy of the Canal Saint Martin. Two ex- Disney employees (Alejandro worked there because noone else would hire him as a non-French speaker), doing burritos, tacos (handmade dough rolled through a hand cranked machine), quesadillas and friendliness. Too bad the tortillas are ready made .. they refry their own beans and do everything made to order.
Strangely enough, these are the only two images I have of last night's YELP party organized by the amazing Zeva. I could have taken pictures of the Grolsch beer swilling and samosa munching bobos and arty hotties (ie Adrian fans) but was too entranced by the fun conversation with Omid, Rachel, Kim, Kate and various other unmentioned cool people. Good crowd, fun night and real live tattoo demonstrations in the heart of Montmartre.
Great evening organized by the casu collective with cocktails (Monkey Shoulder whiskey, absinthe),by the boys behind the Experimental, small dishes by Michelin starred chef Eric Guérin, ambient music, croquet, lots of pretty chicks and a nice little penthouse/VIP level in an abandoned industrial property somewhere in gentrifying Belleville.
In a tiny side street off of Barbès lies this new restaurant, a stranger in a land of Doner and cheap snakeries, offering a pleasantly comforting and fusion-y menu from Viveka Sandklef, formerly of the Indigo Square in Bagnolet. One of the few Swedish chefs in Paris, she and her partner Jean Michel have created a nice little niche (very faux-50's/60's Eames) and a menu that went something like this: amuse bouche of fish quenelle and moutarde a l'ancienne, rabbit "kebab" (tasty) with honey/spice yoghurt sauce and cucumber carpaccio, tataki of salmon in nori with daikon and wasabi , filet of white tuna cooked in a nut crout en sel with a Parmesan biscuit and a creamy dashi and lard sauce, and a creme of vanilla/brebis with spiced apples (really delish). Service was predictably slow (Viveka was by herself in the dining room), but always with a smile and there seemed to be a lot of locals and walk-ins (the Figaroscope's two stars didn't seem to be in effect..). Clients: an English Russian translator from next door, a gay couple with stripey shirts and pointy shoes, a horribly dress coordinated French couple who changed their dishes at each course, and a bobo family that had a bit of trouble keeping their child in check.
P.S. If anyone out there knows where to get some aquavit in central Paris, please let me know..