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