Sunday, April 06, 2014

Blue Valentine

The neighbourhood where I've lived for the past few years has gotten its fair share of press and has a plethora of restaurants to choose from, but these addresses are surprisingly bereft of interest (with a few and growing exceptions). Canal-side I find myself going back to tried and true favorites: Holybelly for great coffee and Frenchified Anglo breakfasty comfort foods, Philou, for quintessentially great and simple bistro food with eminently quaffable natural wines, The Cork and the Cavan for the occasional pint (they have the best Guinness in Paris, FYI) and selection of local characters at the bar, and now, Blue Valentine.

Blue Valentine is a quirky little place in a quiet street hidden behind the Canal quays with a chef (Terumitsu Saito) who trained at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris among other places, and his all-Nippon brigade turns out dishes that are like textbook studies in French classics, all rigorously seasonal, and although not surprisingly inventive, this table is a great addition to the new wave of tables from Japanese ex-palace/Michelin star establishment workers.

I had a crunchy asparagus dish wrapped in laser thin lardo followed by an astounding slow cooked lamb dish with white beans that staved off the chill in the air yet almost made me long for the winter again. Lunchtime menu is currently Paris' best value at under 20€. Make the trek.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Coretta, Paris

I'm often drawn to unlikely restaurants in out of the way areas, eclectic locations with chefs still trying to prove their mettle, in hastily decorated dining rooms, before the world gastro-press jumps in and with the press of the enter button, make it all but impossible to get it. I like these places pre-buzz. The exciting tables before the excitement.

Coretta is one of these interesting little places. Located on the edge of the trendy Batignolles quarter, overlooking the Martin Luther King parc that would have been the location of the last Olympics game if Paris hadn't failed on their bid, this shiny new duplex is one of the better places to have opened lately in this neck of the woods.

Coretta, named after King's wife, is the brainchild of Beatriz Gomez, who trained at the Michelin starred Grande Cascade before leaving and setting up shop in a forgotten corner of the 8th arrondissement at Neva, which quickly garnered a Michelin star for its delicate, original cooking.

The reasonably priced menu (24 € limited lunch menu or 33/39€ for two or three courses) offers dishes such as homemade foie gras with pommelos, brioche and demi sel codfish with pickled vegetables. Cooking is precise, products well sourced and the wine list predictably natural. Go on a Monday when Beatriz is freed from her duties at Neva and cooks here. And make sure you order the cinnamon bun dessert in advance (we didn't :(   ) , because it takes 45 minutes to cook. And go before the whole blogosphere and Condé Nasties blow it up.