Ebisu: No Ordinary Fish Shop


If being close to the source of the food you are serving is a promise of quality, then what better place to have a sushi bar than in a fish shop itself? This is exactly what fishmonger Patrick Fernandez has done with his poissonnerie (fish shop) and adjoining atelier du degustation, Ebisu. This is no ordinary fish shop, since Fernandez has been trained in the 350 year old Japanese art of ikejime, a tradition of ‘harvesting’ or killing fish in the most humane way possible that not only improves the texture and flavor of the fish but also means the fish can last longer (up to 15 days for raw consumption), age better and develop an umami flavor.

Fernandez, discovered ikejime in 2015 and since has become part of a small revolution to bring the technique to France, a movement started by Japanese keiseki master Toro Okuda who opened his own restaurant Okuda in the 8th back in 2011, and who taught Fernandez all he knows. Fernandez and his wife, Thy, opened Ebisu in April of 2018, the first poissonnerie to offer ikejime in the capital.

The technique consists of 4 swiftly executed movements that paralyze the fish and allow the blood to drain out, which reduces the flow of cortisol and lactic acid into the fish’s flesh (caused by the stress of harvesting) that can negatively affect its flavor. Not all the fish sold or prepared at Ebisu are killed using this method, however those that are not come directly from small day boats in Brittany, that assure a high-quality catch.

Fernandez makes almost weekly trips to Brittany (depending on the availability of that week’s live fish catch) to fill his tanks with fish caught in the bay of Quiberon, to bring back to his shop for sale. The price is of course higher for live fish chosen from the tank and killed using the ikejime method but the freshness and quality is incomparable. Numerous Michelin-starred chefs in Paris agree, who source their fish for their restaurants from Fernandez, including Yannick Alleno and sushi master Yasunari Okazaki from L’Abysse (notably the best sushi I have eaten outside of Japan), Takuya Watanabe from Jin, and of course Master Okuda.

The menu in the atelier de degustation is simple and firmly fish focused, offering just a handful of entrees, such as a seaweed salad with tender squid and creamy mussels, tossed in a rice vinegar vinaigrette, or a plate of briny Brittany oysters. To follow, choose from an assortment of sushi, maki, sashimi, a generous combination of the three in the Assiette Ebisu, or a chirashi bowl (a bed of sushi rice generously topped with an assortment of sliced sashimi). The 25€ menu for a starter,  main course and dessert is exceptionally good value, although we were less enchanted by the quality of the dessert on the day we dined. 

If you are a lover of fresh flavorful raw fish and sushi, here is an address that you won’t want to miss.

EBISU | 30-34 Rue du Chemin Vert | Paris 11 | Tel: +33 9 50 76 38 66 | Métro: Richard Lenoir or Chemin Vert | Restaurant open Wednesday & Thursday 11.30am-3pm & 5-8pm, Friday & Saturday 11.30am-3pm & 5-9pm. Closed Sunday, Monday & Tuesday. Fish shop open Wednesday – Saturday 9am-1.30pm & 4-7.30pm. Closed Sunday, Monday & Tuesday | Lunch: fixed 3-course lunch menu 25€ | 3-course lunch menu 25€, Lunch and dinner 17-55€ à la carte. Reservations recommended (online possible via The Fork) | Atmosphere casual.

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Seafood Perfection at La Cagouille

La Cagouille scallops.JPG

As a fish and shellfish lover, few things make me happier than a meal than includes a platter of briny, chilled oysters, perfectly seared sweet scallops, paired with a stony white Sancerre wine. Well, that’s what makes me happy at La Cagouille, a longtime favorite fish restaurant in the 14th. In many ways, this casual, unpretentious spot is one of a kind. Ever since Gérard Allemandou opened his first La Cagouille on rue Daguerrre in the early 1980s, the place has been a starring example of freshness and quality in its products.

On my last visit, I devoured the rarely seen miniature oysters, boudeuses, so called since they boud, or pout, because they can’t seem to grow any bigger. To my palate, they are the perfect little oyster, a tiny mouthful of pleasure. Alongside a thickly buttered slice of bread from baker Dominique Saibron, I’m in heaven.

It was Gérard Allemandou himself who taught me how to cook scallops and his words were “Cook scallops like meat, sear them well!” And that’s just the way they arrive at the table here, burnished brown on the outside, sweet, almost sugary on the inside. A touch of butter sauce and a shower of parsley is all they need to reach perfection. The accompanying, mile-high potato gratin – paper-thin slices of potato oozing with butter – could stand in as dessert. Irresistible.

To my left and to my right diners were feasting on the restaurant’s famous couteaux, or razor clams drowning in lemon butter, as well as La Cagouille’s moules brûles doigts, mussels so called because you almost burn your fingers eating them out of hand, off of a giant platter.

The tiny seared céteaux, or whole baby sole, are a lot of work to eat – separating out all those bones – but patience pays off in their clean, ocean-fresh flavor. I was less enthralled by the monkfish cheeks, which I found to be bland and uninspiring.

With the meal, enjoy a few sips of Henri Bourgeois’s 2017 La Vigne Blanche, a wine made from his younger vines in Sancerre. The soil there is limestone-rich, and the wine’s citrusy edge makes it a perfect match for La Cagouille’s special fare.

Allemandou’s partner, the outgoing André Robert directs the dining room and personifies the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere. A diner could hardly ask for more, with La Cagouille open every day of the year, a generous three-course meal for 39€, and a large terrace for dining in warm weather.

LA CAGOUILLE | 10 place Constantin Brancusi | Paris 14 | +33 1 01 43 22 09 01 | Métro: Gaîté | Open daily | la-cagouille@wanadoo.f | 29 and 35€ menus at lunch and dinner, 38 to 112€ à la carte | Reservations recommended | Atmosphere casual.

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Ducasse Sur Seine: Make this your next meal in Paris

  Lieu jaune  (pollack), shellfish sauce and  cocos de Paimpol  white beans

Lieu jaune (pollack), shellfish sauce and cocos de Paimpol white beans

Imagine two solid hours slowly cruising the Seine on a comfortable, understated boat, all the while dining on fine seasonal fare. While I expected the ride to be spectacular, I wasn’t sure the food would provide a true gastronomic experience. I was wrong. Alain Ducasse is right. As are chef Francis Fauvel (direct from another Ducasse establishment, Le Meurice d’Alain Ducasse) and the outgoing, efficient, director Jean-Jacques Michel, direct from the now-closed Eiffel Tower restaurant, Le Jules Verne.

The 100€ lunch menu – three starters, three mains, three desserts – is an abbreviated version of the more extensive dinner menu. When asked, Monsieur Michel advises lunch, where you can fully appreciate the exquisite beauty of Paris. The electric-powered boat – which glides smoothly and seamlessly along the Seine, starting at Port Debilly just below the steps at the Pont d’Iena – cruises past the best of Paris, from the Musée d’Orsay to Notre Dame, the Louvre to Hotel de Ville. On a blue-skied day we sipped Marc Colin’s outstanding Burgundy, a perfectly balanced, finely acidic Saint-Aubin as we watched runners, bikers, and picnickers along the quais, all the while admiring the beauty of the many bridges that sheltered us along the way.

A starter of a royale de champignons de Paris was outstanding. This classic, almost gelatinous amuse bouche had the intensity of a forest of mushrooms and the heavenly texture only an angel could create. The colorful butternut squash velouté won us over with its creamy, rich texture, augmented by the crunch of autumnal chestnuts. 

Ducasse Sur Seine Pumpkin Soup.JPG

The lieu jaune or pollock– a fish I usually find a bit underwhelming – was smooth and almost sweet, made ever more endearing by a brightly flavored shellfish sauce, and the tiniest of seasonal white beans, the famed cocos de Paimpol from Brittany.

I loved the idea of the guinea hen and foie gras terrine but found it a bit underseasoned, and not as forward-flavored as some of the other dishes. The same went for the dorade (sea bream) gravlax with beets, which was much too acidic for my palette.

Vegetable lovers will adore the soothing bowl of autumnal root vegetables, while meat eaters will enjoy the veal, simply seared, served with the cooking juices and a compliment of potatoes and spinach.

An éclair-sized chocolate dessert filled with crispy praline made me smile, and the caramelized apple paired with tonka beans and vanilla offered a soothing ending to the meal.

The restaurant seats about 100 diners, while above deck there is a small dining room that can be privatized for about 15 guests.

DUCASSE SUR SEINE | Port Debilly (enter at the right bank steps from the Pont d’Iena, across from the Eiffel Tower)) | Paris 16 | Tel: +33 1 58 00 22 08 | Métro: Trocadéro | Open daily | Modern French / vegetarian Friendly | contact@ducasse-seine.com | Lunch menu: 100€; Dinner: 100-500€ | Reservations: Essential | Smart Casual (no t-shirts or shorts)

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L'Abysse: The best sushi I have eaten outside of Japan

  Chirashi  of sushi rice, tuna, mussels and omelet

Chirashi of sushi rice, tuna, mussels and omelet

I could easily lunch or dine every week at L’Abysse, the open and welcoming new Japanese restaurant run by Michelin three-star chef Yannick Alléno and Japanese sushi master Yasunari Okazaki, on the ground floor of the Pavilion Ledoyen in the 8th.

Over the years I have had the good fortune to eat several times at Jiro, the legendary Tokyo sushi restaurant by sushi master Jiro Ono. But since it’s almost impossible to get a table there now, I can save the airfare and take the 83 bus to sample Okazaki’s sublime, succinct, memorable fare that is the most brilliant and satisfying sushi I have ever eaten outside of Japan.

The open, white and red dining room, decorated by Alléno’s wife, Laurence Bonnel, is as soothing and pristine as the fare. With just 12 seats at the sushi bar and a fine collection of tables at window level, each diner is assured a quiet, relaxing moment. The wall sculpture of thousands of criss-crossed wooden chopsticks is worth a small detour on its own.

Chef Okazaki and kitchen partner Taïchi Megurikami make an exemplary pair behind the gorgeous blond olive ashwood counter. In fact, one could spend the entire meal just staring in amazement at the chefs’ expertise, rolling those balls of rice for impeccable nigari sushi (choose from 15 selections, according to availability, from blue lobster to red tuna, langoustine to monkfish liver), slicing glistening filets of tuna, arranging giant mussels along a platter to be added to their outstanding chirashi, a sort of deconstructed sushi rice bowl. Generally this is not one of my favorite Japanese specialties, often more rice than anything else, but here a bowl of exquisite sushi rice is topped with a colorful tapestry of tuna, cubes of Japanese omelet, and mussels. The seasoning for every bite here is impeccable, well thought-out, and a dream come true on the palate. Once diners have consumed the “topping” a delicate bowl of hot shellfish broth is poured over the rice, an elegant touch. Like a growing number of restaurants and fish shops today, L’Abysse also offers ike-jime fish, killed using the ancient Japanese method of a needle to the brain, making for a product that remains fresh longer, is more flavorful and colorful.

But there is much more than sushi and chirashi at L’Abysse. Alléno and Okazaki have collaborated to create a series of beautiful and full-flavored dishes, from a soothingly gelatinous preparation of corn and bright, vinegared beets; a duck foie gras confit paired with kombu seaweed and smoked eel; and white cabbage with nori and mussels in a warm broth. 

If you are a sake lover, you could almost study here for a PhD in that ultimately varied fermented rice drink. We sampled three totally different sakes at one meal, each one more amazing than the other, perfectly paired to the course at hand. Try the Bunraku Kimoto from Maison Kitanishi; the Kimon Nishiki from Maison Senjo; and the Ibiwite Nama, from Maison Sugihara.

Service is impeccable with the outgoing and friendly direction of Adrien Legourriec. I am not a fan of most Japanese desserts, and the Chaource ice cream (prepared with the excellent cow’s milk cheese from the Champagne region) was one that just left me rather cold – too salty and not what my palate wanted after an otherwise perfect meal. The chocolate tart with yuzu ice cream, however, did make me sit up and take notice.

L’ABYSSE AU PAVILLON LEDOYEN | Carré des Champs-Elysées | 8 Avenue Dutuit | Paris 8 | +33 1 53 05 10 00 | Métro: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau or Concorde | Open Monday to Friday | labysse@ledoyen.com | lunch and dinner menus at 98, 170, 280€ | Reservations essential.

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Double Dragon: modern, inventive pan asian cuisine

  Barbequed corn with beurre piment

Barbequed corn with beurre piment

Tatiana and Katia Levha, owners of the much-loved Le Servan bistrot, are at it again with their new pan-Asian restaurant Double Dragon. This second venture, with its domino-tiled bar, tropical themed staff uniforms, kitsch formica tables, and a Fresh Prince of Bel Air sound track, is a fun departure from their more classic first restaurant. And if this all didn’t give it away, the restaurant’s eponymous nod to the classic arcade game Double Dragon, is a sure confirmation that these two ambitious women were indeed children of the 90s.

There is very little kitsch or nostalgia in their modern and inventive menu however (perhaps except for the fried crispy chicken with tamarind sauce), which takes inspiration from a range of Asian culinary traditions, some infused with a French twist – like the deep fried tofu stuffed with comté cheese and XO sauce (a spicy shrimp-based sauce from Hong Kong) or the Tom Yam soup with foie gras. Other offerings include small sharing plates like refreshing pickled lemongrass-infused cucumbers, and a satisfying (but small) bowl of pork and crab dumplings in a spicy bouillon (the menu indicates spice levels with a chili symbol, presumably to benefit a French audience who generally have a low tolerance for spicy food. Our broth, although flavorful, had just a mild hint of chili). The cold rice noodle salad with prawns, a zesty fish sauce and lemon dressing and peanut garnish, was refreshing but expensive for what it was. A favorite was the barbequed corn lathered in a thick coat of of beurre piment (chili butter, again not so spicy!) and crushed peanuts (extra napkins recommended!).

  Yam Woon Sen cold noodle prawn salad

Yam Woon Sen cold noodle prawn salad

We loved everything we tried here, but were left wondering whether they could be more bold with some of their flavorings: the comté in the stuffed tofu was just a little too timid to be a revelation (if anything it just made me nostalgic for Adeline’s Grattard’s blue cheese and cherry stuffed bao at Yam’tcha), the corn lacked the deep smoky notes you might expect from grilled vegetables, and the eggplant, that although sautéed to a buttery softness, did not deliver the promised hit of green pepper.

The service is helpful and friendly and fluently bilingual it seems. They don’t take reservations and tables fill up quickly for both lunch and dinner service, so be early or late if you want to grab a table or avoid long queues. Most dishes are best shared, so plan to go in a group of 4 or more if you can. The staff recommends 2 to 3 dishes per person.

Double Dragon | 52 Rue Saint-Maur | Paris 11 | +33 1 71 32 41 95 | Métro: Rue Saint-Maur or Saint-Ambroise | Open Wednesday dinner to Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtime | Reservations: Not taken

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Girafe: Brasserie with a View

Girafe view.jpg

When is the last time you felt you could just reach out and touch the Eiffel Tower? You can certainly try as you dine on the terrace of Girafe, the ultra-trendy, modern-day brasserie outside the 1937 Art Deco Palais de Chaillot/Cité de l’Architecture on the Place du Trocadéro in the 16th.  

It would be impossible not to be in awe of the view: At one point feeling as though you could stretch out your arms and touch the Parisian monument, at another that you might just be looking at a cardboard backdrop of the tower in Las Vegas. In fact, the entire experience is impressive, with its 80-seat warm and cozy, carved wood and mirrored interior, and a stunning display of the days fish and shellfish offerings at the entry. The all-white terrace itself – seating 200 diners – is chic, elegant, understated. Service can be a bit slow, but always amiable. The young, beautifully outfitted staff only adding to this lovely Parisian experience.   

 And the food? So far, so good. I savored the impeccable, modest-sized, ultra-fresh fines de claire oysters from the Charente Maritime. The rarely seen true supions – the most tender of baby squid, arrived bathed in a Technicolor red sauce that included chorizo, a confit of red peppers and a touch of Espelette pepper. But the best dish to date is their starter of ravioles de langoustines (my favorite seafood, by far), with its soft, welcoming pasta floating in a full-flavored mushroom and green curry sauce. I could eat that once a week! The main course dish of steamed langoustines with ginger and lemongrass, was still convincing despite being served with an overly abundant quantity of sauce.

  ravioles de langoustines in a  mushroom and green curry sauce

ravioles de langoustines in a mushroom and green curry sauce

Diners next to us ordered a sole meunière, which looked delicious, and is on my “to try” list for the next visit. And I must say that the slim, golden frites were delicious: crispy, and you could really taste that fresh potato flavor.

Samplings from their cru (raw) menu were underwhelming: the yellowtail swimming in way too much sesame oil and the tuna with jalapenos and yuzu was as bland as could be.

 Desserts can be delicious. I would be proud to make their ultra-tender pavlova, topped with cream and an abundance of varied red berries, and the chocolate tart was fine, though but I would have preferred that it had been made with a bitter dark chocolate. The towering vanilla millefeuille was a luxurious delight. Some desserts are prettier than they taste: a perfectly gorgeous fig tart was simply bland, and the “unstructured” lemon tart was photogenic but forgettable.   

The wine list suggests something for everyone. Though their offerings by the glass leave something to be desired: Both the Chablis Domaine d’Elise and Sancerre Tournebridge Domaine V Gaudry were tasteless. By the bottle, I loved, as always, the Sancerre blanc from Domaine Vacheron.

Girafe | Palais de Chaillot, 1 Place du Trocadéro | Paris 16 | Tel: +33 1 40 62 70 61 | Métro: Trocadéro | Open Daily noon – 11pm | Starters, around 23€, raw dishes, 18 to 31€, main dishes about 50€, salads 20€, at lunch and dinner.

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Announcing At Home With Patricia Wells Cooking Class Dates for 2020

Today I am excited to announce the dates for the 2020 season of At Home With Patricia Wells cooking classes.

  Please note that all 2019 dates are full. Be quick as classes fill up fast – we already have many places booked and two classes full as a result of our early bird announcements via our newsletter!    Sign up here    for future class announcements.

Please note that all 2019 dates are full. Be quick as classes fill up fast – we already have many places booked and two classes full as a result of our early bird announcements via our newsletter! Sign up here for future class announcements.

The 2020 class program remains the same as in previous years:


January 20 to 24, 2020
February 3 to 7, 2020

In 2020 we are offering two Monday-to-Friday truffle cooking classes devoted to discovering the wonders of the fresh black truffle – the rarest and most exotic ingredient in French cuisine. The session includes an authentic truffle hunt, hands-on cooking classes with black truffles at every meal and in almost every dish, and an extraordinary selection of rare, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. 

The class is limited to eight students. The fee for each student is $6,000. We can accommodate two companions (a spouse, a significant other, a friend, or a relative who is traveling with the student), who are invited to attend the Wednesday program: the truffle hunt and the restaurant lunch (see schedule below), and the Friday lunch. This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $500. 


MONDAY (evening)
Welcome truffle dinner – Patricia cooks for you!

A visit to the famed Vaison-la-Romaine market followed by a hands-on cooking class and truffle lunch
We’ll make a wonderful truffle dinner and then enjoy it together.

An authentic truffle hunt with Christian Allègre and his dramatic Laborador, Chou-Chou, followed by lunch at a regional restaurant where the chef is famous for his truffle dishes and his extraordinary cellar of Rhône Valley wines. 

A visit to the truffle supplier to the stars, a wine tasting and another unforgettable restaurant lunch (lots of truffles, of course!)

New-season olive oil tasting, final hands-on cooking class and farewell lunch. 


April 6 to 10, 2020
April 20 to 24, 2020
May 4 to 8, 2020

In April and May we hold three 5-day Cooking in Paris classes in our Rue du Bac cooking atelier. Each week includes hands-on cooking classes and, on warm days, lunch on our garden terrace plus an olive oil tasting, a bakery visit, a private wine tasting, a market tour and lunch at a Michelin three-star restaurant.

The class is limited to eight students. The fee for each student is $6,000. We can accommodate two companions (a spouse, a significant other, a friend, or a relative who is traveling with the student), who are invited to attend the Wednesday market tour followed by the Michelin three-star lunch (see schedule below). This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $500.


Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch!

More hands-on cooking, followed by lunch!

A guided tour of the famed Avenue President Wilson outdoor market, followed by a sumptuous lunch at a Michelin three-star restaurant.

A visit to the extraordinary and historic Poilâne bakery and its ancient wood-fired oven; an extensive tasting with wine expert Juan Sanchez of La Dernière Goutte wine shop; followed by lunch in our garden (weather permitting!)

A tasting of olive oils from around the world, followed by hands-on cooking class and farewell lunch. 


June 7 to 12, 2020
June 21 to 26, 2020
September 6 to 11, 2020
September 20 to 25, 2020

Our ever-popular Sunday-to-Friday Cooking in Provence classes at our farmhouse in Vaison-la-Romaine involve plenty of hands-on, seasonal cooking, sourcing the best produce France has to offer from local markets and our own organic vegetable garden. Classes are augmented with a market visit, oil and wine tastings, and a restaurant meal featuring the very best of the local cuisine and talent. 

The class is limited to eight students. The fee for each is $6,000. We can accommodate two companions (a spouse, a significant other, a friend, or a relative who is traveling with the student), who are invited to attend the Sunday dinner at Chanteduc, Wednesday wine tasting and restaurant lunch, and the Friday lunch. This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $750.


SUNDAY (evening)
Welcome dinner – Patricia cooks for you! 

Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch!

Tour of Vaison-la-Romaine’s famous weekly market, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch

A private tasting of a selection of Rhône Valley wines followed by lunch at the best restaurant in the area 

We cook together and enjoy our efforts

An olive oil tasting, followed by hands-on cooking class and farewell lunch  

In addition to the classes listed above, we offer the possibility of a private class in Provence for eight persons and two companions, following the format of our regular classes.  The organizer will receive a 50 percent reduction in the class fee ($6,000) and in turn assure that all places are filled and that fees are paid on time. If the organizer is not able to fill the class within four months of the start of the class, we may open the class to the public. (And there would be no discounted fees.) Class timings can be flexible within my schedule. 

For scheduled classes, Sign up here to secure a place in your class of choice. Note that classes do fill up fast and places are booked on a first-come, first-served basis.

Now that we have wrapped up the cooking class season for this year, I am back in Paris to immerse myself in the local food scene once again and I am looking forward to updating The Food Lover's Guide to Paris app for the fall and winter. Check the blogFacebookInstagram and the app itself for updates. 

Exquisite Sourdough at Ten Belles Bread

Ten Belles Bread.JPG

Owners Alice Quillet (French/British), Anna Trattles (British) and Anselme Blayney (Irish/French) who helped launch the craft coffee movement in Paris at Le Bal café, and went on to open Ten Belles Café on the canal Saint Martin, are now deep into their third successful venture, the mastery of sourdough at Ten Belles Bread.  Those that know me well will be familiar with my 40-year long love affair with sourdough, and I was profoundly impressed with Ten Belles exquisite loaves with their deep flavorful crust and soft, acidic crumb. Alice is the brains behind the development of the Ten Belles Sourdough loaf, now so popular that no less that 45 Parisian restaurants order it daily, including Michelin-starred Septime and David Toutain. A self-taught baker, Alice was relentless in her pursuit of mastering the art of sourdough before opening Ten Belles Bread, including undertaking internships at Tartine bakery in San Francisco and Mirabelle in Copenhagen. 

You’ll not likely stumble across their location, tucked away in a quiet pocket of the 11th between Bastille and Voltaire, but it is worth seeking out just for the bread alone (which, if stored correctly will keep for at least a week) and is only a short walk from the Bastille open-air market (on Thursdays and Sundays). You can witness the bread production from the street, through the large glass windows that give onto the kitchen. Inside, the unusually vast space includes a bread and pastry counter, a separate coffee bar, indoor seating and a rare treasure in Paris, a large courtyard terrace, that you’ll often find filled with young Parisian’s meeting for coffee and having business meetings. Both British and French-style pastries are also served, such as scones, brownies, financiers and fruit tarts, as well as anglo-influenced bunch and lunch menus. The coffee is excellent, unsurprisingly, as Anselme is also the cofounder of Belleville Brûlerie coffee roasters. We have not yet sampled their brunch and lunch offerings, but given their record for quality in all their past offerings, I am willing to bet that Ten Belles Bread is also a great casual lunch destination. We’ll be back for sure and will update this review with our findings. In the meantime, if you’re a bread lover, make sure Ten Belles Bread is on your list.

TEN BELLES BREAD   |   17/19 bis rue Bréguet   |   Paris 11   |   Tel: +33 1 42 40 90 78   |   Métro: Bréguet-Sabin, Richard Lenoir or Voltaire   |   Open daily, Monday-Friday 8.30am–7pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-5.30pm.

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Robert: Modern French Fare with a Twist

Vegetable salad Robert.jpg

The greatest compliment a diner can offer to a chef and a restaurant is to walk out the door after a satisfying, creative meal, dreaming of the day that you’ll walk back in. I felt that way after lunch at Robert – opened by Chef Peter Orr and partners Loïc Martin & Edouard Bergeon from the restaurant Martin in February, 2018 – a truly welcoming modern bistro in a gentrified neighborhood in Paris’s 11th arrondissement.

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With a well-priced 21€ lunch menu (à la carte will cost double that, upwards of 50€) Robert is the perfect spot for a generous lunch with options that most diners will applaud. The simple yet creative menu emphasizes the chef’s commitment to impeccable ingredients, including vegetables that are delivered twice-weekly from the owners own vegetable garden in the Loire. On my visit, first-course menu choices included a bowl of steamed mussels wisely garnished with ginger and cilantro; a pork terrine with a parsley salad sprinkled with pickled onions; and that ever-popular salad of tomatoes, basil and burrata. On that same menu, main-course options included tagliatelle showered with nduja (a spicy Italian pork salami), zucchini, and basil; and a perfectly seared filet of dorade (porgy) posed on a bed of full-flavored potatoes, grilled fennel, and salicorne, or sea beans – everything I could have asked for in a satisfying summer lunch: light protein, flavorful potatoes so good you almost wanted to ask for a second serving, and that crunchy, bright green, saline salicorne, an ingredient I have worked with but never mastered its place in a dish. Now I have it!

My à la carte choice of a festive lobster salad teamed up with heirloom tomatoes (a tad mushy but pretty to look at), a stand-out lobster mayonnaise, and a shower of cilantro was truly satisfying but at 17€ seemed less of a bargain when I realized I could have ordered the 21€ menu, with three equally good courses. The vegetable salad starter was a vibrant lineup of seasonal vegetables: braised sweet carrots, yellow zucchini, crunchy raw peas and toasted sunflower seeds, tossed with fresh garden greens, cleverly brought together by a smoked egg yolk and a salty punch of grated ricotta salata. The à la carte main course – line-caught merlu (hake) was excellent, paired with that incredible Sardinian toasted pasta, fregola, a few tasty palourdes (clams), and nicely seasoned date-sized tomatoes, then topped with crunchy cooked onion slices – was excellent, and I plan to copy the restaurant’s combination. 

Of the two desserts I sampled, only one was spirited. The boule of pistachio ice cream topping a golden, crunchy pistachio sablé cookie and surrounded by brilliant red, full-season cherries was everything a summer dessert should be: fresh, light, beautiful, flavorful. And the contrasting crunchy, bright green pistachios were amazing, thank you! The day’s special dessert, a mix of wild berries paired with a a rather bland and warm fromage blanc, was forgettable.

The smiling, calm, outgoing Australian chef Peter Orr brings a unique cooking background to the modern French food he serves at Robert (named after his father, perhaps his first customer who he recalls making scrambled eggs for at aged 4). Before a stint at Au Passage in Paris, Orr spent 11 years in Michelin-starred restaurants in London including Italian restaurant Locanda Locatelli and the now-closed but much celebrated Thai restaurant Nahm. This impressive pedigree shows through most in his attention to detail, quality of ingredients and a palette that brings a new twist to modern French food, bringing a little sweetness to savory dishes and salt to desserts. Absolutely every ingredient – save for some less than inspiring tomatoes – was top rate. It is rare, even in the best of kitchens, to be aware of that and I applaud it. And who could not love the crunchy, fragrant – shall we say perfect – sourdough bread from the expert bakers at 10 Belles Bread?

There are many other things to love about Robert – the giant, stainless Rolls-Royce stove that dominates the open kitchen; the lovely, soothing pottery; a super-cheery, smiling and diligent staff; and the gentle, easy-on-the eye décor with bare wooden tables, simple lighting, and large sliding windows that open onto the street in good weather. I am already planning my next meal back there.

ROBERT   |   Modern bistro / Modern French   |   32 rue de la Fontaine au Roi   |   Paris 11   |   +33 1 43 57 20 29   |   Métro: Goncourt   |   Open lunch Tuesday to Friday, and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Saturday lunch, Sunday and Monday.   |   21€ (3 course) and 50€ (5 course) lunch menus, 50€ dinner menu, à la carte €50-60   |   Reservations suggested.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Etude: A well deserved star

 Salsify, clementine and black garlic

Salsify, clementine and black garlic

As I left the restaurant Etude after a colorful, well-paced, multi-course meal, my mouth felt very happy. And so did I – satisfied, enlightened, and eager to return. What more can a diner ask for? Japanese chef Keisuke Yamagishi,  who has a clear style all of his own, stood monk-like and focused as he assembled and seasoned his creations at the edge of the dining room. Yamagishi aptly named the restaurant after Chopin’s Etudes piano studies, and through his dishes he exudes the same passion and technique-centered concentration as the composer who inspired it. 

To a welcoming starter of carrots perfectly cooked into a brilliant orange puree, he added a subtle crunch of cubed kiwi, and a delicate spoonful of almond froth. To follow, golden salsify was dramatically paired with bright clementine and black garlic.  In a warm, rich square of brioche peanuts took the place of butter, and olive oil emulsified with cardamom became a spreadable delicacy. A dish of mushrooms and caramelized sweet potato gnocchi, with a creamy turnip sauce was a revelation. The wild nest of black kale, Brussel sprout leaves and braised endives with a leek sauce was surprisingly satisfying dish despite the absence of protein or grains.


Slow-cooked baby Kintoa pork from the Basque region arrived as bright pink, moist, and tender as any meat I have ever tasted. The dessert, an elegant construction of Madagascan dark chocolate, pistachio and tonka left me jealous that I had not created the beauty myself.


Quietly, Yamagishi has been exercising his craft since 2013 in this small, impeccable, pale wood and beige dining room, with its crisp, super-starched white linens and collection of carefully selected pottery and china. The chef trained in the kitchens of many of Paris’s modern favorites – Aida, L’Agapé (with Bertrand Grebaut, now Septime) and Abri – and received his first Michelin star in the 2018 guide.

Yamagishi certainly embraces today’s modern palate, offering two 5-course no-choice lunch menus: 'Symphony', an entirely vegan menu and his 'Ballades' omnivore menu. The Symphony menu is also offered in the evenings alongside an 8-course ‘Nocturne’ omnivore tasting menu. Ingredients are meticulously sourced, including unusual Japanese vegetable varieties grown in France by Japanese farmers.

His personal passion for Burgundy wines are reflected in his extensive and admirable wine list. 

Etude   |   Modern French / Vegan Friendly   |   14 rue du Bouquet de Longchamp   |   Paris 16   |   Tel: +33 1 45 05 11 41   |   Métro: Boissière or Iéna   |   Open lunch and dinner Tuesday – Friday, dinner only Saturday. Closed Saturday lunch, all day Sunday and Monda   |   45€ 5-course lunch menu (vegan + omnivore), 60€ 5-course vegan evening menu, 80€ evening tasting menu   |   Reservations essential   | Atmosphere smart–casual.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Printemps du Goût: A Love Song to French Food

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It’s a sign of the times that the elegant Printemps Haussmann department store should dedicate its top two floors of real estate – with its magnificent view overlooking the rooftops of Paris to the Eiffel Tower and the Opéra de Paris – to its newly opened grocery store. This is no ordinary supermarket however. The store only stocks products made in France (selected through a process of blind taste-testing), where small artisan producers are represented alongside established well-known ambassadors of French cuisine. 

You’ll find everything from olive oils and vinegars, spices and condiments, to exquisite blocks of honeycomb and a vast selection of mini honey ‘pockets’ from Honly, who describe their flavor notes with as much attention as a wine merchant describes their wines. You can pick up coffee beans roasted right here in Paris from boutique roasters Lomi and Belleville Brûlerie, for jam lovers don’t miss the selection from Chambre aux Confitures (a favorite). The selection of Chapon chocolates is worth it just for the packaging, but I personally have a particular weakness for Henri Le Roux chocolates, also found in the confectionary section.

Upstairs are the fresh produce counters, with big-hitting names like baker Gontran Cherrier (make sure you try his red-miso and rye bread – a deeply satisfying loaf, or one of his croissants – one of the flakiest in Paris), Chef and restaurant owner Akrame Benallal with a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, Laurent Dubois for cheese and Michel Michalak with his picture-perfect pastries.

It’s expensive, as top quality usually demands, and curated as you might expect from a department store, but whether you are filling up a picnic basket, buying foodie gifts to take home, or just wanting to take a deep dive into French gastronomy, this is a one-stop shop where it’s hard to go wrong.

PRINTEMPS DU GOÛT    |   Floors 7 and 8 of the Printemps Haussmann department store   |   64 Boulevard Haussmann   |   Paris 9   |   Tel: +33 1 42 82 75 00   |   Métro: Havre-Caumartin   |   Open daily. Monday – Saturday 9.35am–8pm (Thursday until 8.45pm), Sunday 11am-7pm.

Best of 2017

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In the month of January I like to reflect on the places I have been and the chefs and meals that have touched me over the last 12 months. It's a fun exercise, to remind me of all the talent and bounty I have had the good fortune to experience over the past year. And looking down the list, I see my choices reflect some broad trends in food that are in full swing in both Paris and internationally, notably a conscious return to simplicity, a faithfulness to a concept of terroir and a primary emphasis on sourcing ingredients, and an unrelenting interest in natural and biodynamic wines. 

So this is my list of top picks of 2017 – not restaurants that necessarily opened in 2017 but ones in which I enjoyed exceptional meals, where I felt the true character of the chef was really evident in every meal. (In no particular order....)

Sauvage (Paris 6) – an unassuming wine bar whose creative chef has a fundamental instinct for balance and acidity. I was charmed by every dish that I ordered, and amazed about the quality of dishes given the minuscule size of the kitchen.

60 rue du Cherche-Midi |   Paris 7 |   Tel: +33 6 88 88 48 23 |   Métro: Sèvres-Babylone, Rennes or Vaneau

Yoshinori (Paris 6) – A Japanese chef working with impeccable ingredients, and simple yet creative ideas in every dish. 

18 rue Grégoire de Tours   |   Paris 6   |   +33 09 84 19 76 05   |   Métro: Odéon and Mabillon

Passerini (Paris 12) – For modern Italian fare in an elegant surrounding, you can't do better than Passerini. This is truly satisfying cucina povera in the hands of a master.

65 rue Traversière   |   Paris 12   |   +33 1 43 42 27 56   |   Métro: Ledru Rollin

Kitchen Ter(re) - my love for the talents of Chef William Ledueil is no secret, and his third restaurant in the capital is further proof that this man is exceptional. 

25 Boulevard Saint Germain   |   Paris 5   |   +33 1 42 39 47 48   |   Métro: Maubert-Mutualité

Yam’tcha – Adeline Grattard continues to wow her faithful followers with elegant French cuisine, injected with some Asian-influenced creativity. 

121 rue Saint Honoré   |   Paris 1   |   Tel: +33 1 40 26 08 07   |   Métro: Louvre-Rivoli

Quinsou – Understated, elegant cuisine from Chef Antonin Bonnet who really knows his produce. His food is earthy, and the ingredients are sourced with care, a favorite find of 2017. 

 22 rue de l’Abbé Grégoire   |   Paris 6   |   +33 1 42 22 66 09   |   Métro: Rennes ou Saint-Placide

Saturne – I had not managed to return to Saturne for many years after initially reviewing them in their early days. But my first visit back there in 2017 led to a flurry of subsequent bookings, I couldn't get enough of Sven Chartier's vibrant, original fare that left me inspired after every meal.

17 rue Notre-Dame des Victoires   |   Paris 2   |   Tel: +33 1 42 60 31 90   |   Métro: Bourse

Fulgurances – Two of last year's resident chefs at this novel restaurant that lends its kitchen to upcoming talent, were highlights of my culinary year: Céline Pham and Sebastian Myers. I look forward to tracking their next moves and to see what new talent Fulgurances has to share with us in 2018.

10 rue Alexandre Dumas   |   Paris 11   |   Tel: +33 1 43 48 14 59   |   Métro: Rue des Boulets

Table d'Aki – A firm favorite and one that I have come to rely on for exceptional ingredients and precise cooking techniques every time. Chef Akihiro Horikoshi never disappoints. 

49 rue Vaneau   |   Paris 7   |   Tel: +33 1 45 44 43 48   |   Métro: Vaneau or Saint-François-Xavier

For the full reviews on each of these restaurants, and for more Paris recommendations, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris iPhone App. 

Blueberry Maki Bar: Wacky, Delicious Sushi Rolls

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When I’m in the mood for a wacky, but delicious Japanese feast, I head over to the Blueberry Maki Bar, a bright and playful restaurant in the heart of Saint-Germain. Festooned with colorful lanterns and boosted by a lively, fun-loving staff (except when making reservations!) everything here has the sound of good times, including the amusing titles of each dish. Maki – or sushi rolls – are the signature here, and each order includes a lineup of four to six, giant rounds of sushi. A favorite is the Shiso Bomb, with salmon, avocado and yellow radish, all wrapped in leaves of shiso, the bright, pungent herb often called Japanese basil. Or try the Bonsai, a tray of vegetarian maki that includes marinated cucumber, avocado, sucrine lettuce, carrots, baby spinach, chives, and shiso.  Flavors here are forward and fresh, and the menu notes that all fish here are wild, not farm-raised. There is a pleasing wine list that includes a bright-flavored Alsatian Reisling that pairs well with Japanese fare, an offering from Domaine Léon Boesch. And for red wine lovers, there’s the 100% Gamay Domaine Sérol, Côte Roannaise. Reservations here are essential, though the telephone is not always answered, and staff can be rather rude as lines form outside the door when the restaurant opens. 

BLUEBERRY MAKI BAR   |   Japanese   |  6 rue du Sabot   |   Paris 6   |   Tel: +33 1 42 22 21 56   |   Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Près, Mabillon, or Saint-Sulpice   |   Open Tuesday – Saturday   | 24€ lunch menu, 15-45€ à la carte   |   Reservations essential.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Breizh Café Odéon: Satisfying Buckwheat Galettes

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Following the gigantic success of its Marais location, Breizh Café has opened a second Parisian crêperie across the Seine in the bustling Odéon quartier. This charmingly decorated spot – all pale wood and warming exposed stone walls with a wraparound outdoor terrace on the place – still offers some of the best-tasting buckwheat, or sarrasin galettes around. The thin, deep brown, crisp-edged treats could almost stand on their own, they are so densely-flavored, almost meaty, with a rich built-in wholesome goodness.

In fact, this is almost the case with their Breizh Crousillant, pita-like wedges baked to a delicate crispness, and served with varied accompaniments. We chose a delightfully flavorful tarama, a dish whose presentation and preparation lend an international aura, taking it out of its native Brittany.

But as much as I love the place and could easily lunch there once a week – the menu is overly extensive and ultimately too varied – leaving one with the impression that they are just trying too hard. Their maki-inspired rolls are not that attractive and are awkward to eat, whether filled with onion confit and sausage, or Comté cheese and Andouille.

My advice is to stick to the simple options. I adored their classic galette filled with high-quality smoked salmon and soft goat’s milk cheese, topped with a refreshing, light salad. But the hefty price tag of 18.50€ was over the top for such a simple offering. The 19.80€ plate of langoustines seared in Bordier seaweed butter was appealing, but I would have preferred larger, meatier versions of my favorite seafood.

While I am happy to have a second incarnation of one of my favorite crêperies right here in my neighborhood, it’s clear that here you are paying for the location as much as you are for the quality ingredients. Service is slow and distracted, so be forewarned. The place is always full, make sure to reserve in advance. 

BREIZH CAFÉ ODEON   |  Cafés and Casual Bites – Crêperie   |   1 rue de l’Odeon   |   Paris 6   |   +33 10 42 49 34 73   |   Métro: Odéon   |   Open daily, 11:30 am to 11 pm   |   Sweet and savory crêpes and galettes from 4.50-22.90€   |   Reservations: essential.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Yoshinori: fantastic fare in the 6th

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The next time I complain about a kitchen that’s too small, I will think of Yoshinori Morie. If I could turn out a fraction of the fantastic fare he manages from his postage stamp work space, I would applaud myself.

The Japanese chef’s Left Bank restaurant, Yoshinori, has been open since last October, and the 30-seat establishment on two levels already has a steady following. With its simple but elegant pale wood décor, delicate linen blinds, and painted white colombage, it’s simply a warming, welcoming, intimate spot.

With just two chefs in the kitchen and a staff of one in the dining room, Yoshinori works at a smooth and steady pace. The French fare is seasonal, varied, and well-sourced, with oysters from Utah Beach, milk-fed veal from the Corrèze, skate wing from Brittany, pork and lamb from la ferme de Clavisy in Burgundy, and cheese from Laurent Dubois.

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The plump Normandy oysters arrive bathed in a brilliant green sauce of sautéed leeks and juniper berry oil, showered with watercress. I fell instantly in love with his Ailes de Raie de Bretagne, meaty strips of moist skate wing served on a soothing bed of cabbage and Brussels sprouts, tossed in a buttery sherry vinegar sauce and topped with an avalanche of green herbs. The brilliant pink baby pork ribs—côte de cochon de la ferme de Clavisy – were paired with a mix of winter vegetables and a salty touch of Kalamata olives. And the bread, from baker Thierry Delabre, is worth a detour on its own, served with squares of sweet seaweed butter.

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But the real star of the show is the gorgeous, golden Passion Fruit Bavarois, set in a colorful mango sauce, flanked by squares of brilliant pink grapefruit jelly. It was a perfect wintry close – fruity, and easy on the palate – and I am inspired to recreate a version of this as a signature seasonal dessert.

The wine list presents some fine offerings, including selections from Michele Aubrey Laurent at Domaine Gramenon in the southern Rhône, Fanny Sabre in Burgundy, and Domaine Didier Dagueneau in the Loire Valley.

The well-priced 45€ lunch – first-course, main course, and dessert – is a must!

YOSHINORI   |  Modern French   |   18 rue Grégoire de Tours   |   Paris 6   |   +33 09 84 19 76 05   |   Métro: Odéon and Mabillon   |   Open Monday dinner, Tuesday to Friday lunch and dinner, and Saturday dinner. Closed Monday lunch, Saturday lunch and all day Sunday   |   35€ & 45€ lunch menus, 70€ dinner menu,  95€ dégustation menu at lunch and dinner   |   Reservations essential.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Saturne: Leading the Pack

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Thankfully, a number of Parisian chefs are going through an extremely creative, thoroughly down-to earth period, and Sven Chartier at Saturne is leading the pack. My last several meals there have been truly inspiring, it’s clear that he’s having a great time in the kitchen, turning out fare that excites him and nourishes us.

Whether at lunch or dinner, the spacious, wood and glass-roofed dining room is warming, offset by stunning white pendant lamps and a welcoming glassed-in wall of ready-to drink bottles of wine and spirits.

To say that his bite-sized appetizer brioches are feather-light is an understatement.  They’re airy and not overly butter-rich, served with a pungent, creamy dipping sauce made with aged Comté cheese. It’s that kind of originality and quality that makes Chartier so endearing.

His vibrant bouquet vivant de Bretagne – tiny, red, full-flavored shrimp that arrive at the market still squiggling and alive – are all crunch and pleasure, showered with bright green powdered dried seaweed, understated yet brilliant.

The menu features some of the best that France has to offer: Oysters from Utah Beach are anointed with a surprising sauce of pomegranate juice and raspberries; a Brittany-fresh scallop carpaccio is topped with a lively green watercress sauce and pungent nasturtium leaves; smoked pigeon is paired with a big slice of cabbage that is almost, but not quite burnt, an effect that gives the vegetable a smoky touch of its own. But the star of my last meal there was his generous portion of alabaster barbue – or brill – one of the best versions of that Breton fish I have ever tasted. This turbot-like flat fish was cooked to a tender perfection, with flavors brilliantly offset by faintly sweet, braised Conference pears, teamed up with briny sea urchin, ham from the Bigorre in France’s southwest, and all tied together in a buttery sauce of sweet vin jaune from the Jura.

I can also credit Saturne with my latest white wine discovery: a fabulous Chardonnay from the Doubs, that far eastern French department in the region now known as Bourgone-Franche-Comté. The wine, a vins de pays de Franche-Comté from Domaine Viticole du Moutherot near Besançon, is a revelation: golden, mineral-rich, unique with its intense yet pleasing notes of white flowers and varied citrus.

As you dine, surely don’t forget to admire and devour the outstanding pain des amis bread, a rich, thick-crusted loaf with a bright and nutty flavor from baker Christophe Vasseur’s Du Pain et Des Idées


SATURNE   |   Modern French   |    17 rue Notre-Dame des Victoires   |   Paris 2   |   Tel: +33 1 42 60 31 90   |   Métro: Bourse   |   Open Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday, Sunday, lunchtimes on public holidays and 22 December 2017 – 9 January 2018   |   45€ weekday lunch menu, 85€ carte blanche menu (150€ with wine pairing) at lunch and dinner.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!


Passerini: Superb Cucina Povera

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I admit that it has taken me a while to come around to the talents of Chef Giovanni Passerini, but a recent meal at his namesake restaurant Passerini has me a bonafide convert.

The native Roman opened his first restaurant Rino back in 2010 after passing through the kitchens of Alain Passard (Arpege), Peter Nilsson (La Gazzetta) and Iñaki Aizpatarte (Le Chateaubriand). To an adoring Parisian crowd he was able to showcase his own modern style of cucina povera, but for me, in those early days, something didn’t click and my initial experience of Passerini’s vision left me uninspired. In 2014 he sold Rino, to go on to open a new restaurant and adjacent pasta shop (Passerini Pastificio) two years later in 2016 with his partner Justine. The new space, much bigger and brighter than the shoebox Rino, embraces a more sophisticated sense of modern Italian conviviality, offering shared dishes as well as an à la carte menu.

The memory of a recent lunch there lingered in my mind for days afterwards, his dishes a beautiful mixture of hearty servings, delicate flavors, crunch, acid and, above all, that promised sense of conviviality that is at the heart of any good Italian meal. The Panais-Pané proved much more interesting on the plate than on the menu and we delighted in the small nuggets of creamy parsnip deep-fried in bread crumbs and served with a spicy mayonnaise, sautéed Roman chicory, and united with a small dab of gel de citron (almost like a lemon purée). The black radish with oyster sauce, smoked sardines, sorrel and endive was refreshing and harmonious, and a very original take on a light, modern appetizer.


His pasta is the best example of modern cucina povera that I can think off, with all the hallmarks of comforting rustic Italian cooking, elevated to the extraordinary with thoughtful garnishes and exquisite quality produce. The ravioli, made next door in the pastificio, were filled with a dreamy concoction of potimarron (a dense, full-flavored squash), citrusy notes of orange and an earthy hit of tonka bean. The tonnarelli, a robust dried pasta of square spaghetti strands, was tossed in a hearty lamb ragout, with strips of fresh mint and a generous showering of grated fior sardo, a hard sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia.

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My heart sang when the waiter brought the dessert of the last-of season fresh figs, teamed up with crunchy, caramelized pecans and a ginger and milk sorbet, the perfect end to a faultless meal.

Doggy bags were requested due to the large portion sizes of the pasta, so go hungry. But make sure you go, as this is surely the best Italian meal you will find in Paris.

PASSERINI   |   Italian   |   65 rue Traversière   |   Paris 12   |   +33 1 43 42 27 56   |   Métro: Ledru Rollin   |   Open Tuesday–Saturday dinner. Closed Sunday, Monday & Tuesday lunch   |   restaurant@passerini.paris   |   24-48€ weekday menus (2-4 courses), 40-65€ à la carte at dinner   |   Reservations essential.

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Sauvage: An Unexpected Delight

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Unexpected. This is the word that springs to mind when I think of the small unassuming restaurant-cum-wine bar that has shot to the top of my list of favorite neighborhood dining spots in recent months. Unexpected because of its unlikely location, its curious chef and the spectacular dishes that defy the impossibly small kitchen hidden at the back of the simple yet welcoming dining room. Such a restaurant might be more at home in the 9th or 10th arrondissements of Paris, yet has found itself nestled among the upmarket fashion boutiques and classic bistros of the well-heeled Sevres-Babylone neighborhood – luckily for me just steps from my 7th arrondissement apartment.

Like many of the most interesting new wave of chefs in Paris, chef Sebastien Leroy does not have classic French culinary training. He spent his early career as a graphic designer and then as a set designer in films, before turning his long time passion for food into a fulltime occupation. However, his earthy roots as the son of farmers goes a long way in explaining his deep affinity for all things seasonal and wild. True to the restaurant’s name (meaning wild), Leroy’s personal cooking style is punctuated with fresh herbs and edible flowers, sourced carefully from the likes of herbalist and professional forager Stéphane Meyer (also known as the Druid of Paris!).

 My first meal there made quite an impression – an entrée of raw mackerel, green asparagus, toasted buckwheat and white nasturtium flowers was united by a vinegar dressing whose acidity was perfectly balanced. And herein lies what I love most about Leroy’s food, his understanding of acidity and how to make it bring a dish harmoniously together.

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This perfect introduction was followed by a slow cooked pork dish served with a bright refreshing salad of raw thinly sliced cauliflower, radish, coriander, mint and punctuated with a vibrant miso dressing, a dish I immediately wanted to figure out how to recreate.

 Most dishes seem to follow this formula, meat or fish, simply prepared and accompanied by one or two star vegetables, a scattering of fresh herbs, leaves and/or flowers, and a sauce with near perfect acidity every time to bring the dish coherently together – a rather ingenious blueprint that enables this humble wine bar with big ambitions to produce such sophisticated dishes from a kitchen barely big enough to fit the chef himself.

Two thirds of the wall space is dedicated to natural, organic and biodynamic wines from small, lesser known producers. The right balance of acidity, for Leroy, is just as important in the wines he sources as it is in each dish that he constructs. Since his early days of solo operation, Leroy now works with a front of house who can knowledgeably talk you through the extensive wine selection and will happily make food pairing recommendations.

The 15 seater dining room and the small sidewalk terrace fills up quickly, and although you may get lucky with a walk-in, it’s best to reserve ahead to guarantee a table.

Sauvage   |   Wine bar / Modern French   |   60 rue du Cherche-Midi |   Paris 7 |   Tel: +33 6 88 88 48 23 |   Métro: Sèvres-Babylone, Rennes or Vaneau |   Open Monday through Saturday

For more Paris restaurant reviews, get The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 5th edition, or download the app!

Kitchen Ter(re): Three times a charm

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If I had to assign a middle name to chef William Ledeuil, it would be “Inventive.” Few Parisian chefs working today can claim his depth and breadth of creativity, not to mention originality. With his unique passion for all things Asian – be they ingredients, cooking techniques such as steaming or his major respect for dense, full-flavored bouillons – he has set himself apart from those who seem to do no more than follow a trend.

The new Kitchen Ter(re), his third Left Bank restaurant, follows on the success of Ze Kitchen Galerie and Ze Kitchen Galerie Bis. Ter(re) continues his Asian flavor preoccupation– from green curries and coriander, to citron caviar, ginger and varied seaweed – but now artisanal pastas have been added to Ledeuil’s list of preferred specialty ingredients. After discovering a range of rare pastas made from ancient, stone-ground grains by miller and baker Roland Feuillas in France’s southwest, Ledeuil figured out a way to weave them into his already international approach.

Kitchen Ter(re) is not a pasta restaurant, nor an Asian restaurant but another convincing William Ledeuil endeavor. The restaurant is casual, with a brief menu that may include just four starters, four or five main pasta courses, and a trio of desserts. Go as a group of four and you can pretty much sample every delicious, inventive bite on the menu.

As an eternal lover of raw, marinated fish, I jumped on the marinated white fish – dorade – a burst of springtime flavor on a grey Paris day, colorful pinks and a sprinkling of green herbs, the explosive crunch of the little grains of citron caviar, punctuated by a welcome hit of fresh ginger.

Ledeuil moves more towards an Asian approach with his Thai beef bouillon, a dense, full-flavored broth teamed up with cubes of foie gras, quince, mushrooms, and of course sprigs of coriander. The pastas here – all tiny dense shapes – are first quickly blanched, cooled, then cooked off not in water but in various bouillons, giving each pasta a unique depth of flavor

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I would not have thought I’d fall in love with a chocolate dessert that includes the powerful soybean paste, miso, but in Ledeuil’s hands and with the addition of coffee, the dessert achieved a dense, fully chocolate flavor. Try, too, the honey ice cream paired with squash, passion fruit, and coconut.

There’s a lovely Burgundy Aligoté wine of the list: The grape’s depth and personality make it a fine match of Ledeuil’s full-flavored fare.

KITCHEN TER(RE)   |   Modern French / Modern International   |   25 Boulevard Saint Germain   |   Paris 5   |   +33 1 42 39 47 48   |   Métro: Maubert-Mutualité   |   Open Tuesday–Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday   |   |26 and 30€ (2–3 course) lunch menus, à la carte 45€ at dinner   |   Reservations recommended.

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