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