Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Le Camion Qui Fume - smoking burgers

The most recent focal point of the French's burger obsession (yes, they're on pretty much every menu in town, and for the most part badly executed) , is this little food truck, Le Camion Qui Fume. Helmed by Ferrandi cooking school trained California transplant Kristin Frederick, the unassuming vehicle traipses across town, from the place de la Madeleine to the hinterlands of the Porte Maillot, and to the Canal Saint Martin (Point Ephemere). There are five different burgers on offer (see menu below) with sides of homemade string fries, onion rings or coleslaw, of which I tried a scrumptious "classic": buttered and grill toasted baker buns, handmade patties (a mix of base cote, bavette and plat de cote de boeuf with about 20 percent of fat) , tangy cheddar and a nice crunchy salad with pickles.  Judging by the local business suit clad bobos and expats hanging around outside in the freezing cold at one of two tiny tables, the blogger buzz is already rolling just days after opening. No doubt this is the first of many food trucks and yet another shakeup of Paris by one of those crazy foreigners ;)

Good luck to Kristin and her team!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Doing Diana

Thanks to my friend Monica, I discovered the gastro of the Hotel Fouquet's Barriere yesterday at their restaurant Le Diane. No surprises in the menu, just really delicious and slightly inventive dishes: arborio risotto with large chunks of artichokes and shaved white Alba truffles, spider crab with carpaccio of scallops and melon, a perfectly subtle, sweet and savory dish that kept me wanting more. The daily special was lievre a la royal with Alsatian pasta on the side and a gibier sauce, and dessert was an excellent chocolate/ginger  soufflé with a ginger ice cream to knock your socks off. The circular dining room was interesting, giving all diners a view of the action, and rumor has it Michelin has been checking the place out a bit more frequently than usual. Well worth checking out if you have money in your pocket and you're around the Champs.

Le Diane 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Another "Why do I do this to myself" moment.

 In lieu of a review of the neo-bobo-Canalside-Indian, here are a few of my iPhone notes taken down during last night's dinner:

Lukewarm naan
Dishes come too quickly, definitely reheated.
More APC per square inch than an architect's office
Sneaking suspicion the basmati rice was that Uncle Ben's stuff you find on Monoprix shelves
Amy Winehouse on loop
Tired bobos with funky beards and vintage glasses desperately looking for the exotic
People tripping over the carpet every four seconds
Annoying and pervasive loud crowd murmur

I wanted to like it as it's in my hood, has a cozy deco and seems to be busy every night. But, as soon as I took in the ambiance and food I knew it was all going south...

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Paris is such a pleasant place to eat recently, and it seems every week some hot new table is opening, in a cool gentrifying neighborhood, with a world faring chef doing inexpensive and exciting food. (Le Galopin, Au Passage are two perfect examples) This is certainly the case with L'Office, in a part of the 9th , a sort of multicultural no mans land between the Gare du Nord train station and Galeries Lafayette, in a quarter that counts a diverse local population (African hairdressers and traditional Jewish commerce galore)  chain noodle restaurants, various bars and brasseries that merit being closed long ago, and L'Office, a non descript storefront offering top notch cooking. The owner, Charles Compagnon, who funnily enough I knew when he was running the very convenient Bar George V, teamed up with Del Posto-trained American chef Kevin O'Donnell and the result is the kind of bistro you wish was just downstairs.

On the 24€ three course menu was a tender piece of falling apart pork belly with a tomato paste and fried egg. C. had a velouté of coco beans topped with a piece of toast on which were placed thinly sliced pieces of lardo di colonnata , followed by sous vide cooked chicken with girolles mushrooms and an airy, foamy celery root purée. The pot au pen was full of delectable veal replacing the beef, with crunchy celery. Dessert was ok cheese and a decent, dense chocolate cake with banana ice cream. Bread was a little regrettable, but I think they ran out of the good stuff we had at the beginning of the meal.

Wines were predictably, natural and organic from a pretty well chosen list, with glasses of Jacky Blot et co. at around 6€.

This place is a real culinary snapshot of what's going on in Paris at the moment. Love it.

3 rue Richer, 75009 Paris
+33 1 47 70 67 31 

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've been waiting to try this new table in a barren part of the 16th for quite some time now. What French gastro-critics might term an OVNI (UFO, i.e., strange, iconoclastic) this grey, contemporary and very 80's looking restaurant has young French/Algerian chef Akrame Benallal at its helm. Akrame has finally opened his own table after having worked at a Michelin starred establishment in Tours (and earning an "upcoming young talent" moniker) a stint at the terribly named Hotel Konfidential, and training in the kitchens of both Ferran Adria at El Bulli and with Pierre Gagnaire. The restaurant, perched in a forgotten backstreet somewhere between a Thai massage parlor and various so-to-be-out-of-business shops, offers up some of the most interesting cooking in the city. The menu, decided entirely on what the market offers up is highly personal, inventive, simple (looking?) and delicious. For lunch, there is the choice of of a two or three dish menu for 25€ or 35€ (best lunch deal in town), and for lunch or dinner a four or six dish menu (from 50€-110€ depending on wine choices). My lunch partner and I groaned when hearing the first dish was a "deconstructed taco", but were delightfully surprised by the cubed chicken with avocado purée, coriander foam and corn "dust". Other dishes of Parisian mushrooms (micro planed to look like shaved white truffle) with slow poached free range egg, and Iberico bacon bits, was a memorable dish as was the very simple shaved Granny apple on a bed of gorgonzola cheese. If anyone really cared, Michelin's been murmuring about this one, and Akrame's enthusiasm, imagination and sense of generosity can only lead him to great success. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Kunitoraya 2

In the heart of Paris' Japanese ghetto in what was once the tried and true trad bistro Chez Pauline, this spiffy little New York-y style nippon was just what the doctor ordered for a rainy autumn lunch. Not to be confused with their first establishment, chaotic noodle bar Kunitoraya, this canteen is a bit more refined, drawing a fashionable crowd for chic onigiri,bentos and donburi (rice topped with fish or meat sauce).  The 47 Euro bento lunch includes a selection of "tapas" (tofu topped with truffles, strips of tasty duck, steam cooked sushi), as well a little tempura and bowl of steaming shrimp udon. Perfect washed down with chilled Yebisu or something from their comprehensive wine list (7-13€ a glass).

Kunitoraya 2
5 rue Villedo, 75002

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rech Ducassification - Je vous offre un ver?

I debated with myself on whether to write up my recent lunch at the 1925 fish and seafood bistro, Rech. Normally I wouldn't be caught dead in this gastronomic dead zone (with the exception of maybe Gourmet des Ternes or Fréderic Simonin, both addresses I shunned for no good reason, other than that I'd never been to Rech). I was thinking of winter, seafood, chilled white, I was hungry, and stuck in the hinterland that surrounds the place des Ternes. Rech it was.

My lunch partner's starter of mussel and saffron soup was decent enough, but my bland autumn vegetable "cook pot" came with a side order of worm. Yes, you heard me right. The attitude of the staff was very "har har har, more protein for you". Nice. It happens I know.

When I the sommelier asked what I'd like to drink and I replied "I trust you", his reply (with no humor intended, I'm sure) was: "Tant pis pour vous". I believed him when a little later he knocked my 17€ glass of Condrieu across the table, smashing the glass in two, whisking away the pieces (sans apology). He replaced the glass and we continued on with a tasty baby squid tagliatelli with fresh cepes and parmesan, and a regrettable (especially at 38€) lobster macaroni which was overpowered by something or other I ceased to care about.

Their "famous" camembert was fine. The 40 minute wait for the bill afterwards, however, was not, as apparently the entire staff of the restaurant, except the manager had vacated the premises and forgotten us upstairs.

Note to self: file somewhere between "very disappointed" and "never again". Especially, especially at 100€ a head.

 Mussel and saffron soup
 Baby squid "tagliatelli" with cepes
Lobster macaroni

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good vibes at Le Galopin

I did something last week at Le Galopin that I almost never, ever do. I ate there for both lunch and dinner. Firstly for lunch because the place intrigued me and I was at a loose end and needed to escape the pressures of my daily life and just..drunch. A Fooding review tipped me off (noone else outside of a couple Foodreporter types have latched onto this address yet, although rest assured they'll be in this weeks F-scope, followed by a parade of other blaggers and food journos..) and I thought, why not. This twenty-seater in a charming square (except for the dealers smoking hash and lurking outside eating sandwiches grec) is owned by none other than Romain Tischenko, former ZKG alumni and winner of the 2010 French Top Chef award and his (cloned?) brother. The 100,000 € competition cheque didn't cover a whole lot, so they did the deco themselves with the help of their dad, and the result is a friendly little place with a bar counter where neighbors stop by for a drink, and an open kitchen where Romain does his stuff. At lunch is a 19-24€ market inspired menu and in the evening time , 42€ for a no choice , seven dish chef's menu. While there was nothing mind-blowing on the plate (loved the brandade de morue "poppers" with yuzu) , I like this place. There's a positive vibe, good intentions and products, fair prices and I'm interested to see where Romain goes with it. Stay tuned.


Above dishes are: grilled eel with pleurottes mushrooms, roast free range chicken with beetroot and fennel

                                                And a really tasty fig sablé with cream

Le Galopin
place Sainte-Marthe
+33 1 42 06 05 03

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Passage 53 - the rumor mill turns and turns...

It's all rumors peoples. Talk. Nothing official or signed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Au Passage

Best little place I've eaten in a while but haven't had the chance to blog about! Au Passage is a tiny table located on a forgotten side street in the 11th more popular with century old silversmiths than anything else. The place has a rickety, funky feel to it with uneven wooden floors, old leather couches and a restrictive, but excellent 16,50€ lunch menu and evening time tapas with brand name charcuterie, natural wines, burrata and the like. If they were in my 'hood, I'd eat here every day. Thanks to ex-Springers Audrey and James Henry the Australian-chef-who-was-temporary-but-decided-to-stay, this place offers quality above the norm, a great deal, and nice friendly vibe.

Au Passage 
1, bis passage Saint Sébastien 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A au Kei - Bangin' with flavor !

I've been intrigued by this new table for quite some time: a Japanese former Alain Ducasse second at the Plaza with seven years under his hat, the former Gerard Besson space, now a minimalist zone serving studious, classic and good looking French gourmet cuisine.

All well and good. I'm not sure I can be totally impartial to my excellent experience here, as this drunch (c) was enlightened by the presence of a Maltese/Australian foodie who made me lose my concentration and normal common sense. I remember wine, laughter, humorous blunders and tomfoolery, and an interminable afternoon happily shared with a likeminded friend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Le Dauphin

A lot of ink has been spilled on Le Dauphin, so I’ll keep it brief. It’s one of the funnest tables in town. The tapas-y style menu lets you eat as much as you want. The arty farty crowd is perfect to make fun of while swilling decent natural wines and cracking jokes at their expense. The interminable line forming in front of the next door Chateaubriand is also quite amusing. Standout dishes were a delicious wagyu with onions, their usual amazing burrata and roast potatoes on the side as well as the ribaut ice cream. Tandoori octopus needed more spice and the mixed mushroom and ricotta dish lacked zing. But we really didn’t care.

Mixed mushroom and ricotta dish

Tandoori octopus

Melt in the mouth wagyu

Creamy buratta 

Lait Ribot ice cream

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Agapé Substance

This “gourmet counter” opened a few weeks back by Laurent Lapaire (former Arpege alumni and creator of the one star Agapé) and David Toutain (the brilliant chef at the helm) is the new insider darling of the Paris blogosphere and one of the best tables I’ve done for a looooong time, IMHO, the numero uno taste sensation of the moment. 

After raves of “genius” from the establishment food press , I was understandably cautious, and luckily no critics or undercover blaggers were to be found (although François Simon did pass by the night before) basking in the mirrored neon glare of the communal dining room. Toutain, who did time at L’Arpege, Veyrat, Mugaritz and NYC’s Corton, looks, at the tender age of 30,  to be one of the most exciting (and modest) of chefs in Paris. A little birdy told me that Alain Passard once termed him his spiritual heir and that he thought his talent even rivaled that of Astrance’s Pascal Barbot. Indeed, he should have been the chef at the original Agapé, but shit happened. 
The menu is composed of a list of ingredients, from which the diner chooses either three (39€) or four (51€) dishes or the carte blanche (65€)  surprise tasting menu. We went for the latter. Each and every dish was a subtly kiss ass culinary karate chop to the taste buds with each dish eclipsing the one before. The amuse bouche of berce (a plant coming from the Jura mountains) with a yuzu jelly and crispy rice wafer set the tone for an onslaught of unique and pristine ingredients. Other dishes included fresh hen’s egg with verbana and garlic cream, crab with pink grapefruit and grey shrimp consommé, carrots from Annie Bertin with galanga, zucchini with baby squid, monkfish with tonka bean cream and a fab nutty crumble and red forrest fruits with pistachio sponge cake and avocado ice cream. The wine (nature heavy bottles presented in iPad form) was a delish 2009 Domaine de Montrieux. I won’t go much further (the table has been covered better than moi by others) , but I do encourage to reserve now before it’s too late.
Oops, it already is.

Agapé Substance
66 rue Mazarine, 6th
+33 1 43 29 33 83