Haute and Cozy
The global food- casualization movement has turned up here as bistronomique (a combination of bistro and economique, bien sûr). Some are run by Michelin-star-wearers; others are simply cheap(ish), friendly, and give the chefs a chance to play with comfort food. Here’s the current crop.
Formerly known as Lucas-Carton, this Star Trek–meets–Maxim’s bistro near the Madeleine has a “democratic” menu that’s about 120 euro per person; not cheap, but a good deal for this level of food. If you’re lucky, chef Alain Senderens will still be serving the mini-pumpkin with vegetables (33-1-42-65-22-90).
Les Fables de la Fontaine
The latest by Christian Constant, whose starred Violon d’Ingres is just down the street. There’s no set menu; the fare changes according to the day’s catch; one recent crowd pleaser was wild sea bass with herb ravioli and Parmesan emulsion (33-1-44-18-37-55).
Modernized and copious servings of regulation bistro fare like palleron de boeuf (slow-cooked beef in red wine) are on the 28.50 euro prix fixe menu in this Quartier Latin spot (33-1-43-25-20-79).
Le Comptoir du Relais Saint-Germain
Yves Camdeborde started the bistronomique trend fifteen years ago; now he’s serving an exceptional 40 euro prix fixe five-course dinner in a fifteen-table restaurant near Odéon. If you can’t get in for dinner, go for lunch—just show up by 12:15, and try the charcuterie (33-1-43-29-12-05).
L’Ecaille de la Fontaine
Some think this tiny 2nd arrondissement spot, headed by chef Laurent Audiot, has the best fruits de mer in town. Like La Fontaine Gaillon across the street, it is owned by Gérard Depardieu. Bypass the 8 euro, four-scallop entrée and get an oyster platter instead (33-1-47-42-02-99).
An Alain Ducasse prix fixe lunch for 38 euros. Enough said. Order the cassoulet, a holdover from the bistro’s original menu (33-1-42-72-25-76).
How to Drink Absinthe
At La Perle (33-1-42-72-69-93), the bartenders add absinthe into the Fée Verte cocktail, then set it afire to blend the flavors (and heighten the drama). You can buy spiritueux à base de plantes d’absinthe in liquor stores here, but it’s classified as contraband in the U.S. (somewhere between controlled substances and lying about how much shopping you did). If you decide to sample absinthe on your own, here’s the preferred method. But don’t get too attached, unless you want to spend your vacation feeling like you’ve been dragged down a cobblestone street.
1. Put a shot glass of absinthe into a tall, narrow glass; dip a sugar cube into the liquor and rest it on a slotted absinthe spoon over the glass. Set it on fire.
2. Douse the flaming sugar with water, so that the sugar dissolves and falls through the slotted spoon into the glass.
Stir the now-cloudy green mixture with
the slotted spoon; drink while still slightly warm
to disguise the cough-syrup
The Pastry Invader
Paris had never seen an Eton mess (a creamy meringue and red fruit pastry) until Rose Carrarini and her husband, Jean-Charles, opened a bakery behind an unremarkable façade on the rue des Martyrs. And why would an English bake shop stand a chance in a city that’s wall-to-wall patisseries? Rose does have a very chic following, it’s true—Carrarini is the sister-in-law of Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo, so she’s got an in with the local style elite. But the four-year-old shop wouldn’t be supplying goods to places like Colette, or drawing in celebrity clientele (Isabelle Adjani’s been spotted) if the scones, cupcakes, and pies weren’t irresistibly toothsome. Carrarini’s even got butter-philic Parisians converted to her vegan organic chocolate cakes. -T.I.
Gourmet tapas and the city’s best paella have given chef Alberto Herraiz huge buzz at Fogón St. Julien (33-1-43-54-31-33) on the left bank. The real lure at Black Calvados in the 8th arrondissement is the pretty, fashiony crowd (33-1-47-20-77-77). Trema is a Scandinavian épicerie and restaurant near the happening quai de Valmy in the 10th (33-1-42-49-27-67). Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s move to Le Chateaubriand in the 11th should be interesting for the beloved bistro’s menu (33-1-43-57-45-95). And until June 26, peripatetic New York chef Angelo Sosa is moonlighting at Spoon in the 8th. Be sure to try the gingerbreaded rack of lamb (33-1-40- 76-34-44).
Next: A Walking Tour of Disneyland Paris' Postmodern Architecture