It was one of those dark, dreary, damp Paris days when not even the sturdiest umbrella could keep you dry. So what a delight to walk into the pristine blue and white restaurant Atao near the Batignolles covered market in the 17th arrondissement. Dining in the small, 28-seat restaurant is almost as good as a trip to the Brittany seashore (without an umbrella!) with an original selection of shellfish, including a must-have serving of plump langoustines wrapped in a "leaf" of tender blanched turnips, showered with the bright, welcoming flavors of mint, basil, and chives and brushed with a touch of top-rate olive oil (photo). This is a dish I will surely copy at home: quick, easy, healthy, delicious. A beautiful serving of daurade (sea bream) carpaccio was executed with elegance and flair, though even this citrus-loving gal found the seasoning a bit on the tart side. The palourdes au saké were correct but no more than than, and the generous serving of lieu jaune (a version of cod) flavored with a coating of the zest of the brightly flavored Japanese citrus, yuzu, was a great idea, but the fish was a tad overcooked. Despite a few hiccups here, I'll be back, hopefully on a sunny day to enjoy Aota's oysters and savor once again the incomparable mixed herb and green salad from Annie Bertin, vegetable grower to the stars.
Atao, 86 rue Lemercier, Paris 17. Tel: +33 1 46 27 81 12. Métro: Brochant. Closed Monday. About 35 euros per person.
Bretons seems to be storming Paris these days, and that's a good thing. The newest member of the Breton family is the Galette Café, a small, bright, casual creperie on rue de l'Université in the 7th arrondissment. The organic buckwheat galettes are downright delicious, almost cracking on the edges, infused with butter that all but seeps from the pores of these lacy treats. Always the traditionalist here, I loved their classic galette complete, an almost crunchy perfectly cooked buckwheat galette filled with cheese, ham, and egg, a perfect small bite lunch. I was not as convinced about the daily special with an added touch of tomato sauce (photo), an ingredient that somehow seems at odds with traditional Breton fare. Briny oysters from Brittany are another specialty here, and arrive with a warm rolled galette and plenty of butter to go with it. Students from the various universities in the neighborhood have already turned it into a hangout, making the cafe a lively, fun spot. Service could not be friendlier or more sincere. I think I'll become a regular here.
Galette Café, 2 rue de l'Université, Paris 7. Tel: + 33 1 42 60 22 04. Métro: Saint-Germain des Prés. Open Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday. Galettes from 7.50€, 6 oysters for 12.80€.