Friday, December 28, 2012

Da Rosa, Paris

Post Barcelona tapas withdrawal can be a subtle, compelling and painfully motivating force. Complicated even more so if you live in the Sahara of good tapas joints that is the city of Paris. Luckily Da Rosa, everyone's favorite left bank epicerie cum tapas bar, has a new shop.

Tucked away in a corner of the sedate rue du Mont Thabor, Da Rosa is located in the former cutting edge fashion boutique Maria Luisa. The chic new Jacques Garcia designed space, all red velvet and exposed brick, has tables and a counter top serving the same top quality Spanish, Italian and Portuguese specialties that put them on the Parisian map (think Iberico ham and Italian and Spanish cheeses, Mediterran wines, reinvented clubs). As they're open from 11am-11pm, 7/7 non stop, this is good news for people who want a real option for quality eats in an area where apart from the traditional French opening hours of lunch and dinner, there is very little choice.

Da Rosa
7 rue Rouget de l'Isle (rue du Mont Thabor) , 75001 Paris

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

La Pascade

Of course everybody's writing about it, but I thought the new offering from two star Michelin chef Alexandre Bourdas deserved a mention. This woodsy little place, the subject of much foodie buzz and rumor in past months, has nothing to do with the cutting edge cuisine of Bourdas' Honfleur based Sa Qua Na or indeed to do with anything. The small, ruggedly modern dining room, replete with half open kitchen, communal table and funky utensil drawers, serves up pascades, something like a crepe with raised edges, made of freshly beaten eggs and flour, a dish from the Aveyron region not found much in Paris. The interesting thing here is that Bourdas not only resuscitates a little known regional dish, but also manages to use it as a vehicle for interesting recipes such as lamb ragout with pok choi,  fromage blanc and Vietnamese cardamom and monkfish with spinach, lime, coriander, loveage and coconut emulsion. Wines are a bit too pricey, although the wine brewed and drunk like a beer was refreshing enough to merit a second one. Last but certainly not least,  the most delightful and delicate dish, not on the menu Margaux Johnston.

La Pascade
14 rue Daunou, 75001 Paris

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hate blowing my own horn but...

This piece from matey Douglas Blyde warmed the cockles of my heart

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Everyone from humble blaggeurs to big boy critics seem to agree that this tiny table, just up from the Poissoniere metro stop and on the ever more foodie rue du Faubourg Poissoniere (Albion, L'Office, Big Fernand) is the next big thing. The Brooklyn-esque deco of the former "City Café" is all exposed brick and beaten metal kitchen space, where Japanese chef Katsuaki Okiyama and his staff toil away, wordlessly producing what is undoubtedly Paris' best value meal of the moment: 4 courses (no choice, 2 starters, one main and dessert) for 22€ at lunch and 38.50€ for dinner (six courses). Okiyama's skills, honed at culinary temples such as Taillevent and Rouchon, are evident, as is his selection of fabulous French produce. Our starter of crab ravioli (made with microplaned japanese radish) were followed by sweet potato and jasmine soup and stellar yellow pollack with chinese cabbage and cauliflower. Perfectly sized portions, cooked to a t, for the price of two Maxi Best Of's from the fast food down the road. Eurostar hoppers- book lunch now!

92 rue du Faubourg Poissoniere, 75010 Paris
+33 1 83 97 00 00
Open daily (except Sundays) for lunch and dinner, and on Mondays and Saturdays from 10-17h00, special sandwich menu

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ten Belles, perfect Canal coffeehouse

The Paris coffee trend (finally) is spreading like wildfire. The best of the bunch so far is this little place just off of the Canal Saint Martin's rotating bridge at 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, Ten Belles. A joint project with Thomas Lehoux (perhaps Paris' best barrista)  running the front of house and Alice and Anna, the brains and brawn behind neo-British bistro, Le Bal, this edgy, cozy spot offers up single original roasts and fresh baked organic goodies. Only opened last week, the mojo hotspot is already packed with local creatives, bartenders and coffee aficionados for the best cappuccino in town.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Acme, New Nordic, New York

Last month while on vacation/writing assignment for a great new Dutch magazine about which you will be hearing a lot soon, I had the opportunity to try out this iconoclastic new table from one of the dark horses of Nordic gastronomy, and co-founder, with Rene Redzepi of the universally famous Noma, Mads Refslund.

To cut to the chase, Mads and Rene met in cooking school, got the backing for their new idea Noma, and quietly went their ways after less than a year due to the fact that, funnily enough, they couldn't work together. Rene went on to much fame, and Mads created his own restaurant, gained a Michelin star, and lost everything when his billionaire financial backer went bust. Mads became a sort of poster child for the New Nordic cuisine, did lots of food shows and events, and spread his culinary gospel, hélas with no place to hang his own apron.

Cut to earlier on this year, and a freak series of events while Mads was vacationing in New York, led to him staying and heading up the kitchens of Acme, a former honky tonk cajun style place, and bringing his pared down locavore de luxe ideas to fruition.

Dishes such as the Hudson Valley foie gras, flash frozen and micro planed over langoustine with white walnuts and the sweet shrimp with bison , bitter lettuce and green almonds were standouts. Other dishes we sampled included the farmer's egg with cauliflower cream and parmesan, heirloom tomatoes with pickled watermelon and herbs, beetroot topped with cherries, and flavored with buttermilk and horseradish, fresh asparagus with hollandaise sauce, lemon juice and blacked pepper, pickled vegetable salad with anchovies, chicken with new potatoes and fried free range eggs, rib-eye steak with glazed carrots, and (deep breath) to top it all off, the best dessert I have ever had, a beer and bread porridge with salted butter caramel ice cream: crack and childhood food nostalgia memories all rolled into one.

I can't wait to see Mads evolve .... more soon

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Canal-side coffee on the up and up / Café Craft

Paris has always been a desert for true coffee lovers for a number of reasons, some historical, as they colonized the wrong side of Africa (the Italians got the right side), some just strange: the French have an innate love for regional, single origin products, a passion for the ritual of wine production and tasting, so why not for a product that has history, regional character and all the attributes that make it a delicious discovery. Why must coffee be relegated to a simple morning pick me up or afterthought digestive?

I documented this in January 2011 for Black Book and have waited patiently for smart openings since then. Slowly but surely they are coming.

One perfect example of the new wave of cool purist coffee cafés is the Café Craft, on a tiny side street off of the Canal Saint Martin in a slightly out of the way, below street level former print shop. The café, meant as a hybrid workspace/coffee shop (high speed wifi, worktables, lots of plugs..) was the first brick and mortar project from designers (yet to be named) who have, until now, been present in industrial design. The project, the brainchild of 5 java obsessed friends sprang mainly from the mind of one of them, patron/barista Augustin, who dreamt up the idea while crossing the United States on horseback (yes, 5000 miles).

The coffee is Lomi, with varieties from Nicaragua, Brazil and Ethiopia, and the growing organic snack menu comprised of light pastries, quiches and salads, munched on by what will surely be a growing large local public of funky creatives.

Café Craft
24 rue des Vinaigriers, 75010 Paris

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012


As much as I complain about other blogs and various publications jumping on this or that hot table bandwagon and slathering undying praise on each scruffy scalawag of a bobo chef that comes along, I'm a big part of the problem. I'm like more and more people nowadays, obsessed with the new, wanting to try something different in the Paris culinary scene. The buzz for Roseval started a few weeks ago by lesser minions blaguing rumors and snippets of info from their more well connected friends, but I could feel this place drawing me to it.

Roseval is located in the supposedly arty neighborhood of Menilmontant, not far from Belleville. Although I didn't see many artists, I did see a lot of beard stroking intellos, a surprising number of people sporting bongo drums, hot young Swedish nannies and grannies with ankle tats. The restaurant is located up the hill off of the rue Menilmontant and in a cute little square dotted with couscous houses and worn down brasseries, overlooked by a magnificent church. The dining room, preceded by an original zinc bar is all red exposed brick and beams, well sourced design lighting and wooden Scandi inspired tables and chairs. The crowd is predictably knowing and bohemian chic, with the accompanying buzz.

The menu, four dishes for a tab over 40€ is created by the chef duo of Michael Greenwold (who, by the way is American born and hasn't a drop of British blood in him- his family hails from Cincinatti, although he did grow up in Oxford) and Simone Tondo, his Italian sidekick. Michael spent his formative cooking years at pre-famous Chateaubriand, when they were still doing lunch and Simone at Rino and Caffe die Cioppi among other assorted places. Coupled with Columbian beauty Ericka (ex sommelier Le Chateaubriand) and Clément (Bistro Paul Bert and Gazzetta) , and you a recipe for the hottest table in town. The food is tonic and pretty, simple and complex from the starter of smoked burratta and smoked puréed eggplant with grilled onions, to the nearly perfect sushi quality bonita with blet and an amazing spider crab mayo to the strawberry "crumble" which was actually grated madeleines, accompanied by the laid ribaut ice cream. A tight little menu, funky well curated natural French and Italian wines, bread from Christophe Vasseur.. Run pretty little foodistas and bobos and soon, international gastro tourists, run to the best little new table in town.

Roseval, 1 rue d'Eupatoria, 75020, Paris
09 53 56 24 14
menus at 35€, or 42€ (with cheese), 60-67€ with wine

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Pinxo, Left Bank letdown

To review or not to review. A difficult choice sometimes. I enthusiastically, sometimes too much so,  cover lots of places I like, and often, when invited to check out a new place that is not up to snuff or an old favorite that has, for whatever reason, morphed into something less desirable, I'll leave it out. Then there are times when I feel that the dining crowd at large and my virtual audience need to be informed.

Last night (pre-Prescription Old Cuban) I happened into Alain Dutournier's new(ish) Left Bank Pinxo. This neighborhood, (although this has been changing recently) is pretty much bereft of good dining establishments late in the evening, so this seemed a perfect spot. For those of you who don't know, pinxo in South Western French dialect means to pinch and describes small dishes shared between friends and family, which is the concept.

The funny thing about this place is that I just can't put my finger on what's wrong. I could mention the decoration , or lack of. I like sleek modern spaces, but this place just had a vibe that said bad design (beware the toilet which has a hand dryer that goes off when you're having a pee and threatens to spray the wall next to you). Then there's the food, which was...fine. Warm oyster starters and royal crab roll (which, strangely enough resembled the Sushi Shop version at twice the price) followed by handcut, foie gras topped beef tartar, wine that was presented to the table as "Chablis". Period. Um, thanks for the info.

I really wanted to like this place. Dutournier is a really nice guy and great chef and his Carré des Feuillants is a wonderful table. But Pinxo seemed a bit of a culinary cock-tease and I got a case of the gastronomic blue balls. And there's one point I'm going to totally leave out, but then again, I guess every restaurant has its scurrying critters.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Chez Aline

Funnily enough, in a country where the jambon beure is a national symbol, decent sandwiches are few and far between in the City of Light. Until recently, when Mrs Inaki Aizpitarte, i.e. Delphine Zampetti took over a chevaline, or horse meat butcher (hence the tongue in chic , Chez Aline) , all yellow tiles and kitchy 70's deco in a more coming than up part of the eleventh. 

The tiny space is divided into the kitchen and four seater counter, where Ms. Zampetti works her magic, slicing up cold cuts, assembling sandwiches to an ever growing queue of local destination foodie hipsters coming for a delicious handful of pristine ingredients. 

The daily changing roster includes roast chicken or veal millanese wrapped in a crusty baguette, round sesame sandwiches filled with egg and fresh herbs, or cold offerings such as St. Jean de Luz tuna escabèche with caponata a Sicilian eggplant salad with capers and a sweet and sour sauce. It's great that Zampetti , who cut her teeth in such various establishments as Le 104 and Verre Volé puts her skills to something sorely needed in town, fresh, good and fast food.

Chez Aline
85 rue de la Roquette, 75011

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Champagne is always appropriate

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two neighborly new places in the 10th

There has been much talk of late of the hottest new tables in town, most particularly in the 9th, 10th and 11th arrondissements. Indeed, some of the best eating in town is to be had in places such as L'Office, Septime and the like. But in my hood, which borders in the uncool edges of the Canal Saint Martin, near Stalingrad, once populated by denizens of crime, hookers and crack dealers, is although slowly gentrifying, still a pretty terrible place for good cooking. The rue du Faubourg Saint Martin, although with  a few good butchers, cheese mongers, rotisseries and fish merchants  of quality and great little delis like Castro, is still dotted with terrible Chinese and fake Japanese restaurants, kebab houses with triple deckered grease delivery devices called the "Hummer" and even the first Subway on the block. I have despaired dear reader. Although crossing great distances to eat (I recently went to LA pretty much just to eat at Red Medicine, but I digress..) , I've been waiting for a simple good local place for yonks. That's why I've been so happy recently to try not one but two new places that deserve a little attention.

The first, located in a just gone bankrupt bio soup and salad place, is Kheak et Vero, which I discovered thanks to my friend Zeva's Yelping. The place is small, unassuming, inexpensive and serves good, homemade style Vietnamese and Thai food. The Cambodian owner is affable enough and his wife is the Vietnamese chef (there's a real Thai chef too!). So far I've only tried the green papaya salad (which at first wasn't spicy enough until I had them chop me up some chili peppers) , the (pretty much garden variety) nems but I keep coming back for the grilled chicken and lemongrass. All washed down with a nicely chilled Chang. They are easily the best Asian in the immediate area.

The second restaurant, for lunch today, was Louloucam , opened four months ago by Jean-Mathieu Frédéric, a young chef who did time at the Tour d'Argent and at Le Meurice. A few reviews slipped by in the Figaroscope, L'Express and Le Fooding, but even though I live close by, I never remarked it. Although the food isn't mind-blowing , the house smoked salmon (with regrettable bread), sea bass with excellent handmade linguine and caramelized banana were well worth the 20€ lunch ticket. And they'll probably shine just by the mere fact that the vast majority, no, make that all, of the restaurants in the area just plain suck.

Kheak et Vero, 1 rue Alexandre Parodi, +33 1 40 34 58 11

Louloucam, 264 rue du Faubourg Saint Martin, +33 1 40 34 76 87

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Beef Club, Paris

I'm always up for a bright new establishment from my friends, the boyz behind the Experimental Cocktail Club, but with openings in Paris, London and New York, I seem to be losing track of their frenzied activity. I was very excited to drop in to their new steakhouse, on a quiet side street near the old Les Halles marketplace last week, and, despite a few teething problems, had a great time.

The restaurant , housed in a former butcher shop, serves Yorkshire born and bred beef from Tim Wilson, the man behind one of London's best steakhouses, The Hawksmoor. The meat is sent from Britain, aged a minimum of five weeks at the Beef Club's in house aging room, then prepared by media hungry butcher Yves Marie Le Bourdonnec, before being served up in an exposed brick dining room with wonky furniture.  The fillet of rum steak with side of macaroni and three (English) cheese was tasty (though lacking salt) and perfectly cooked in their special broiler, however after a one hour wait! The same laboriously slow service continued throughout the meal for water, wine, coffee and bill, but luckily we weren't in a hurry, and the (harried) waiter was friendly enough.

The downstairs club, the Ballroom serves up eight different cocktails (from 12-14€) in a funky subterranean speakeasy with loud music, and enough comfortable chairs and couches laying about to let the cocktails comfortably sink in, tummy full of meat.

58 rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, 75001
+33 9 52 52 89 34

Friday, April 06, 2012

Les Jalles - Bistro Volnay's great new restaurant

The girls from the Bistro Volnay have been murmuring tasty tidbits about their new restaurant for months now, and finally the gorgeous new place, just steps away from the maison mere has opened its doors. Les Jalles, as it's called, is an elegant and beautifully designed room with vintage lights and furniture sourced from England, plenty of dark wood and ceramic and looks more like a gentleman's club than a dining establishment. In fact, it doesn't look much like anything else in town. Open from 7h30 am for breakfast (pastries, home made jams, etc), and for lunch and dinner, it also has a speakeasy type bar upstairs festooned with Tamara de Lempicka style paintings of flapper era girls and headed by "the most incredible barman" says Magali. Look for this to be the hottest and most talked about opening for coming months.

Moore soon...

Les Jalles
14 rue des Capucines, 75002
+33 1 42 61 66 71
Daily market menu 42 Euros
Breakfast 17 Euros

PS I was mind blowingly hung over during lunch, but from the little I tasted, the foie gras was silky smooth, toasted brioche bread light and crunchy, and the entrecôte steak (prepared in a special broiler) perfectly cooked and accompanied by textbook dauphin potatoes and the best gravy I've had in Paris

Friday, March 30, 2012

China Poblano, Las Vegas

On our balls out gastro trip, this Chinese/Mexican fusion spot was another highlight. Casual and inexpensive, this fun little place, remote controlled by José Andres and located in an over the top shopping mall in the bowels of the Cosmopolitan hotel, served up consistently interesting and unpretentious food (something lacking in a lot of the other restaurants we tried, yes, Animal and Son of a Gun, I'm talking about you!). Waitstaff was courteous, friendly and well trained, and seemed to know the menu inside and out. Dishes such as Chinese BBQ pork stuffed steamed buns and Sui Mai Beef (beef/lime/daikon/watermelon radish) shone while we cared a bit less for the Viva China (beef tenderloin/Kumamoto oyster, Sichuan pepper sauce) and Silencio tacos (duck tongue and lychee)- the textures just didn't do it for us. Stars for the superb guacamole and fresh, warm tortillas.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Red Medicine, West Coast Wow

Just got back from LA and Vegas on an eight day tasting and drinking tour where we hit pretty much every restaurant of note in the limited time we had. Spurred on and informed by insiders of the foodie echelon of the highest level, we left no stone unturned. Coming from the best restaurant city in the world, we obviously had our critical antennae out , especially where it came to big name French chefs implanted in Vegas offering watered down versions, for the most part, of cooking we could eat at home at half the price. That being said, there were revelations.

In my opinion, the only restaurant worth getting excited about in Los Angeles at the moment (I can already taste the blowback from that comment) is Red Medicine. This buzzy, industrial spot just on Wilshire is the brainchild of Jordan Kahn, who, started off at the tender age of 17 at the French Laundry, the youngest chef ever to work there, and made his way as a pastry chef through Per Se, Alinea and Noma. At Red Medecine he cooks up a "homage" to his love of Asian cuisine (especially Vietnamese), and although the plates sometimes groan under the weight of the herbs and flowers piled on, the cooking is fresh, bright and unusual.

Highlights included Santa Barbara spot prawns cooked over river stones with lemongrass, wild striped bass with charred mustard leaf, boiled peanuts, wild garlic and burnt onion syrup, and a mindblowingly subtle, silky, elegant  and delicious heirloom rice porridge with egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter and Santa Barbara uni.

This is truly a restaurant to be enthusiastic about, and I wouldn't hesitate to take that 12 hour flight for dinner here again.

"Snow" peas

Foie gras mousse, tete de cochon, beet, kohlrabi, chicory and croissant

Heirloom rice porridge and Santa Barbara uni 

Santa Barbara spot prawns cooked in lemongrass over hot river stones

Sunday, January 22, 2012

GYOZA BAR , first look

It's no secret that I'm a big fan and friend of Guillaume Guedj and Shinichi Sato's Passage 53, my favorite restaurant in the City of Light. So it was with obvious pleasure that his new project, which he's been raving to me about for months now, has finally seen the light of day.

GYOZA BAR, located at 56 passage des Panoramas, just three doors down from the two Michelin star mothership Passage 53, is about to open its doors.

I got a little taste tonight at their private, friends only party, and am happy to say it works: great concept, superb products, good value. Think: gyoza (filled with echine de porc, i.e. pork loin from Hugo Desnoyer , mixed with yuzu kosho ( a chilipepper/yuzu mix) , garlic, ginger, and cooked up in a ravioli shell made in their upstairs lab, steamed on one side, fried on the other) , washed down with chilled Yebisu. The deco is all anthracite grey Italian wall brick, gorgeous wooden floors, and a counter seating fifteen happy diners, not to forget the oh-so-fun Toto toilet.

The gyoza, priced at 6€ for eight pieces, 8€ for twelve pieces and 10€ for sixteen pieces is a bargain. Sides of ponzu laced rice at 2€ and marinated soy salad at 1.50€ are a steal, and beers are priced at 3€ and 4€ is just damn silly (with me in the room, anyway).

Not many know that Shin is a closet gyoza master, and often the cook at parties with friends (which was the original inspiration) so the project is a particular subject of pride for the shy, unassuming chef.

The front door message says it all: "Gyoza is a popular and emblematic Japanese dish. We wanted to honor it with our own special recipe made with the best products possible".

Look for one near you soon.

56, passage des Panoramas
+33 1 44 82 00 62
Open from 18h00-23h00 pm