Restaurants

Paris and Olive

Paris Guide

[Photography by Myles New]

Just a heads-up for those of you who are in the UK: the March issue of Olive magazine has just come out, and it includes a feature I wrote on Paris dining.

If you don’t have access to British mags where you live (in Paris, you can buy Olive for 6.90€ at WH Smith, 248 rue de Rivoli in the 1st), here is the list of restaurants, stores and hotels mentioned in the article.

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Dry-Cured Duck Sausage

Saucisson de Canard

[Dry-Cured Duck Sausage]

We had long wanted to try Le Petit Canard, a small restaurant tucked away in a side street of the 9th arrondissement, just a few blocks from us. I had often walked past it on my way up and down the hill, and it looked cosy and warm, with just a handful of candle-lit tables. As the name implies, the menu focuses on all things duck, and I have a weakness for monomaniac restaurants.

We finally made it there last week with our neighbors and my two oldest girlfriends. For starters, we decided to share a selection of duck charcuterie: smoked magret, duck rillettes (a pâté of shredded meat), two kinds of duck terrines (one with port and green peppercorns, one with chesnuts), and slices of duck saucisson, a dry-cured sausage that’s classically made with just pork meat.

All the products served at this restaurant come from a small farm in Haute-Savoie, a region in the French Alps. This came as something of a quirky suprise, because Haute-Savoie isn’t typically renowned for its duck breeding — the bulk of French duck products comes from the South-West. The owner confirmed that this farm, operated by his brother-in-law in a village called Balaison, is the only such farm in the area, but that the ducks fare very well in the cool mountain air. They enjoy the ski slopes, too.

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Christmas in Paris: Food

Holiday Food

No one needs to be reminded that food is an essential part of the holiday celebrations, and for this second part of our tri-city series, let me recommend a few places to eat some of the delicacies that epitomize Christmas in Paris.

[New York Food] [London Food]

Oysters!

A traditional treat to open a holiday feast is the platter of oysters, freshly delivered from the ocean and freshly opened by whoever is brave enough to risk slashing his left palm open. Oysters are most often served in the shell on a bed of crushed ice — although some purists argue that this dulls their flavor — with thin slices of rye bread, salted butter, and lemon juice. Besides the many classic Parisian brasseries which proudly display their selection on sidewalk stands, a good place to eat oysters is L’Ecaille de la Fontaine in the 2nd. It is owned by the über-famous actor Depardieu, who also operates La Fontaine Gaillon, just a few steps away. L’Ecaille is the marine annex to this pricier venue, and offers a daily selection of ultrafresh shellfish and related dishes. Their oysters can be tasted in the 19€ formula (9 oysters, a dessert and a glass of wine) or in the larger variety platter (62€ for 2). The restaurant is closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, but they will be open for New Year’s Eve with an 80€ menu (make your reservation asap).

L’Ecaille de la Fontaine
15 rue Gaillon, 75002 Paris
01 47 42 02 99
Closed on Sat-Sun.

Game!

The hunting season officially opens in early September and closes in late February. Regardless of how you feel about hunting — a higly controversial topic, I know — the discerning palate will appreciate the unique flavors that game provides, whether it’s deer (daim or biche), boar (sanglier or marcassin), wild ducks (col-vert or sauvageon) or other birds (palombes or cailles). Two excellent restaurants feature those animals prominently on their seasonal menus: Chez Michel in the 10th, which mainly focuses on Brittany-inspired cuisine, and L’Ami Jean in the 7th, a South-West gastro-bistro.

Chez Michel
10 rue de Belzunce, 75010 Paris
01 44 53 06 20
Closed on Sat-Sun and Mon. for lunch.
L’Ami Jean
27 rue Malar, 75007 Paris
01 47 05 86 89
Closed between Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.

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Soul Food in Paris: Chez Haynes

Chez Haynes

This post is in honor and memory of the victims of Katrina. Please donate what you can to the Red Cross or the charity of your choice. Thank you.

In 1949, Louisiana-born Leroy Haynes opened the very first American restaurant in Paris. He was a cook, an actor, a wrestler and a sociologist, he had many friends from both sides of the Atlantic, and his restaurant quickly became a favorite hangout for the local African American community and visiting celebrities. Jazz musicians, singers and dancers, Hollywood actors, all of them smiling and beautiful on the black and white pictures hanging from the walls, with little notes to Leroy scribbled in the corners. When Leroy died some fifteen years ago, his wife took on the operations and made sure Haynes’ spirit and food lived on.

In its present location since the mid-sixties, the restaurant‘s facade looks unprepossessing to say the least, with the kind of secretive look that makes you wonder if it’s actually open, if you’re welcome to step in or if maybe it’s a private club. This undoubtedly explains why, although Haynes is but a few blocks from our place, we had never dined there.

But considering the current catastrophic events, what better time than the present to go and eat a little soul food? So off we went a few days ago, our neighbor-friends in tow. The restaurant was very quiet that night, with just a few other tables, which allowed us to chat for a while with Haynes’ widow Maria, and Cesar, the Brazilian waiter who also organizes wildly popular live samba nights on Sundays.

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La Végétable d’Alain Passard

Végétable

Le Printemps (literally “the spring”) is one of the four Parisian department stores, located in the ninth arrondissement on boulevard Haussmann. In addition to the twice-yearly sales and the promotion weeks, they occasionally organize themed events in their stores, setting up temporary stands and attractions, and showing artists’ work.

One such event was Les Invasions Gourmandes in November of last year, during which I hosted a Bar à Veloutés. For the two weeks of the event, they had set up a restaurant éphémère (a temporary restaurant) called Restaurant Elémentaire, with a menu by Pierre Gagnaire and a décor designed by Christian Ghion.

They are just now hosting a similar event called Parenthèse Végétale (vegetal parenthesis) until June 4, and the ephemeral restaurant this time is designed by the über-famous (and medievally coiffed) Matali Crasset and serving food by no other than, drumroll please, Alain Passard of L’Arpège fame.

The restaurant is called Végétable, which sounds more of a pun in French (as the contraction of végétal and table) than in English, but in both cases, it is a good illustration of Passard’s deep love for veggies. The dishes served here are taken straight from the Arpège menu, the vegetables come from Passard’s private garden, and the cooking as well as the service are handled by his usual staff (which wasn’t the case with Gagnaire’s temporary restaurant). This is a unique chance to taste Passard’s cuisine for a fraction of the regular price*.

I went there for lunch on Friday with my friend Alisa, and here is what we sampled, switching half-way through so we could taste everything. (And I apologize for the quality of the pictures which don’t really do the dishes justice, I only had my phone with me.)

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