Inexpensive, vest-pocket restaurants keep turning up in the most amazing places in Paris, and that’s great for all budget-conscious diners. Worth the detour is Katsuaki Okiyama’s latest venture, a tiny, “hole in the wall” steps from the Poissonière Metro in the 10th arrondissement . Carefully decorated on a budget – simple but pleasant hanging lamps, exposed stone walls, an efficient open kitchen – Abri indeed shelters us from some of the expensive, mundane fare one might find elsewhere. The Japanese chef, trained with Robuchon and at Taillevent and Agapé Substance – offers simple, carefully prepared food, no surprises but no real disappointments either. Fresh, seasonal fare prepared right in front of you. What more could one ask? The 22-euro lunch menu offers a daily choice of either fish or poultry/meat as the main course, with a no-choice starter, soup, and dessert. A first-course carpaccio of daurade (sea bream)(photo) was a feathery light, protein-rich starter, showered with paper thin slices of fennel and radish, alas a bit too salty for even my salt-loving palate. Next, an alabaster soup arrived, almost like an angel, a delicate parsnip soup with a heavenly jasmine mousse, almost more of a dessert, but instantly appealing. Main courses might include carefully seared and roasted duck breast, meaty and full-flavored, adorned by a light port reduction, garnished with ratte potatoes; or delicate lieu jaune (pollack, in the cod family) in a yellow tomato sauce. The sure star of the meal was the chocolate tart, a delicate layer of pastry topped with a thick and soothing ganache, paired with a light chocolate sorbet. When a simple café or wine-bar meal can easily cost way more than 22 euros, Abri is definitely worth the Métro ride, unless you live in the 9th or 10th, then walk!
ABRI, 92 rue du Faubourg-Poissonière, Paris 10. Tel: +33 1 83 97 00 00. Metro: Poissonnière, Cadet, or Gare du Nord. Closed Sunday. 22-euro four- course lunch menu. 38.50 euro six-course dinner menu.