November 11, 2003
2005 Update: Unfortunately, R'Aliment is now closed -- my friends and I mourn the loss. You can still however go to the sister restaurant Biotifull Place, on the 1st floor of the Printemps de la Beauté department store, at 66 Bd Haussman in the 9th.
R'Aliment is a small modern restaurant in the 3rd arrondissement, that I would label "cantine bio" : "cantine" is French for a school or office cafeteria, and is sometimes used to mean a restaurant that has a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, and where you could see yourself having lunch or dinner everyday. And "bio" is short for "biologique", and means "organic" in French. In the words of the owner - my translation - it serves a "healthy and balanced cuisine, flavorful and colorful, prepared with seasonal organic products, domestic or exotic". Promising, no?
The restaurant was created by Philippe di Méo, a talented designer who has a design agency just around the corner, and wanted a place where he could have lunch! He took care of the restaurant's beautiful interior design, he selects the new dishes, and elaborates new themes for the menu cards every few months.
Their menu is very simple : you get a choice of two or three starters, two or three main courses and three desserts, different every day. They issue the weekly lunch and dinner menu on Mondays, and you can sign up to receive it by email. I did - obviously - and every week I get the pleasure of discovering what new dishes they have come up with, salivate, and try to figure out on which occasion I can pay them a visit, since I don't really live or work in that area.
I've been there twice so far - once for lunch and once for dinner - and loved every minute of it : the decor, the atmosphere and most of all, the food. The last time was on Friday night, when I met Marie-Laure and Laurence for dinner. It's not very crowded in the evenings as it's more of a lunch place, but there were enough other diners that it didn't feel weird, and it was nice not to feel rushed.
We weren't feeling particularly ravenous, so we ordered main courses only. As we very often do with my friends and family, Marie-Laure and I split our dishes. We call this "faire moit-moit" (pronounced mwat-mwat) : "moit-moit" is short for "moitié-moitié", which means "half-half". The magic words are "on fait moit-moit?". The other party will either accept or decline, depending on her/his mood, and a negotiation will then ensue on which set of items to order and share.
We picked the Gâteau de légumes aux graines de courge, crudités du jour [Vegetable cake with squash seeds, crudités of the day] and the Wok de mérou au paprika, oignons, poivrons et orge perlé [Wok-seared grouper with paprika, onions, peppers and pearl barley]. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, bursting with flavor, and particularly satisfying. We accompanied this with organic white wine, and poppyseed or sesame bread made by the organic boulanger Moisan...
And now all I can think about is : when do I go back?
57 rue Charlot
01 48 04 88 28
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Twelve Hours in Paris
Twelve Hours in Paris