Girafe: Brasserie with a View

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

Robert: Modern French Fare with a Twist

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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 Wednesday to Saturday from noon-2pm & 7-10:30pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday   |   21€ (3 course) & 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.

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   |   |   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.

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

2019 Class dates announced

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With pleasure and anticipation I announce our cooking class dates for 2019. The season will begin in January at our home in Provence with our spectacular Black Truffle Extravaganza, which includes a special truffle hunt, hands-on cooking classes with fresh black truffles at every meal, paired with an extraordinary selection of rare, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. In April, our popular five-day Cooking in Paris class will include plenty of seasonal full-participation cooking in our new Left Bank garden atelier, a market visit, cheese, wine, and oil tastings, as well as an extraordinary Michelin three-star meal. In June and September, we continue our week-long, hands-on classes of Cooking in Provence at our home, Chanteduc, gathering herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the garden, sipping wine from the vineyard, cooking with honey from our hives, visiting the renowned weekly market in Vaison-la-Romaine, meeting with sommeliers and cheese merchants, and enjoying the local cuisine. 


 January  21 to 25, 2019

MONDAY EVENING: Welcome truffle dinner – Patricia cooks for you!
TUESDAY MORNING:  A Vaison-la-Romaine market visit, followed by hands-on cooking class and truffle lunch
TUESDAY EVENING: Hands-on cooking class followed by truffle dinner
WEDNESDAY MORNING: An authentic truffle hunt with dogs, followed by a sumptuous lunch in a regional restaurant famous both for its truffle dishes and its extraordinary cellar of Rhône Valley wines
THURSDAY MORNING: A visit to the truffle supplier to the stars, a wine tasting, and another unforgettable restaurant lunch, truffles of course
FRIDAY MORNING: New-season olive oil tasting; the final cooking class, and our farewell truffle lunch
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 above.)  This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $500.


April 1 to 5,  2019
April 15 to 19, 2019
April 29 to May 3, 2019

As well as the hands-on cooking classes and lunch, students participate in an olive oil tasting, a bakery visit, a private wine tasting, a market tour, and a Michelin three-star lunch.The sessions include:

MONDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
TUESDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Tour of the famed President Wilson market, followed by a sumptuous lunch at a Michelin three-star restaurant
THURSDAY MORNING: Visit to the extraordinary 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!)
FRIDAY MORNING: An olive oil tasting, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch

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 a Michelin three-star lunch. This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $500.


June 9 to 14, 2019
June 23 to 28,  2019
Sept 8 to 13, 2019
Sept 22 to 27, 2019

Sessions begin with Sunday dinner and end after lunch on Friday. The sessions include:

SUNDAY EVENING:  Welcome dinner – Patricia cooks for you!
MONDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
TUESDAY MORNING:  Tour of Vaison’s famous weekly market, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch WEDNESDAY MORNING: A private tasting of a selection of Rhône Valley wines followed by lunch at the best restaurant in the neighborhood
THURSDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
FRIDAY MORNING: An olive oil tasting, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch

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 Sunday dinner at Chanteduc, Wednesday wine tasting and restaurant lunch, and the Friday lunch at Chanteduc. This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $750.

Sign up here to secure a place in your class of choice. . Please note that classes fill up fast and places are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Food Lover's Guide to Paris 2.0 - Just Released!

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Great news for any of you Food Lovers traveling, already in, or dreaming of Paris – we have just released a stunning new version of the Food Lover's Guide to Paris for iOS 11. After several months of hard work and creative design, the ultra-talented team at Cactuslab has put together several new features and a beautiful redesign to make finding the best places to eat and dine in Paris even easier.

New features include:

~ a fantastic new function to refine your search with multiple filters such as cuisine type, neighborhood, details such as Michelin stars or gluten-free, atmosphere, price, and culinary specialties. Want to search for classic and modern bistros on the left bank that are open on a Monday night or a restaurant with a well-priced lunch menu and a sidewalk terrace to watch the world go by? We got you. 

~ A redesigned map section that displays multiple listings in any one area. You can use the filter function here too, to limit the addresses to the categories you are interested in. And just like the old version, the offline geolocator means you can use the map even when you are no longer connected to the internet, so you can find the best bites nearest to you at any given time.

~ A search function in the A-Z glossary so no more endless scrolling!

~ A beautiful slick new design with a new photo format to really showcase the food photos and whet your appetite.

For those of you who already have the app, simply update your existing app free of charge via the App Store app, to get the latest version. If you don't have the app, you can download it from iTunes or directly on your device via the App Store app for just $4.99.

As the French say, bon app!



Noglu: Fresh and Vibrant Gluten-free Fare

NoGlu appeared on the Paris food scene back in 2012, when restaurants and bakeries catering to those on a gluten-free diet were hard to come by. Since opening their first restaurant in the 2nd arrondissement, the brand has proliferated rapidly to include locations in the 3rd and 7th, as well as an outpost in New York. My local Noglu in the 7th arrondissement is a light and airy café offering a fresh, varied menu with an emphasis on healthy café food. Everything, of course is gluten free, and many dishes also offer vegan substitutes for dairy products.

The Avocado Toast with Gomasio arrived exactly as described, a generous slice of toasted chickpea and rice flour bread (Noglu’s standard loaf), topped with slices of perfectly ripe avocado, and showered in microgreens and Gomasio, a Japanese toasted sesame seed seasoning. The pastry crust of the quiche was very convincing, crisp, flavorful and well cooked, with a filling of sweet potato and feta.

Desserts were a little disappointing. The lemon tart was ‘correct’ as the French like to say, meaning “as it should be” but far from outstanding, let down by a slightly undercooked crust. The vegan raspberry layer cake was sadly inedible, with a very dry crumb and a vegan cream that, although made in house, tasted like an industrial cream from a can.

The madeleines, however, are a convincing gluten free version of this classic shell-shaped tea cake.

For the gluten-free home chef, the Noglu team has put out a cookbook that includes a very good gluten free flour mix, as well as recipes for madeleines, chouquettes (a childhood afternoon treat made from choux pastry and topped with pearl sugar) and their satisfying savory chickpea loaf.

NOGLU : 69 rue de Grenelle   |   Paris 7   |   +33 1 58 90 18 12   |   Métro: Rue du Bac   |   Open daily, Monday–Saturday 8.30am–7pm, Sunday brunch 10am–4pm   |   Reservations: not necessary

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

Fairweather dining at Divellec

 Poached oysters in watercress sauce and caviar

Poached oysters in watercress sauce and caviar

There are friends we love despite their faults, so we stick by them anyway. The 7th arrondissement fish restaurant, Divellec, is a bit like that for me. The brasserie-sized restaurant, overlooking Les Invalides, was recently re-incarnated from the 1980s Le Divellec, a rather haughty but quality businessman’s lunch place.

Today, chef Mathieu Pacaud – son of Bernard Pacaud of L’Ambroisie and owner of Hexagone – is in charge, and though the restaurant only opened in December of 2016, it has surprisingly received a Michelin stars right out of the starting gate.

Let me start with what I love about Divellec: With each visit I am charmed by the makeover of the décor with its ocean-like shades of blue, comfy wicker arm chairs, the mix and match of selected pottery, and ultra-slim stems of the wine glasses – all of which have the right touch of class and elegance. The staff, too, is spruced up, smiling, sometimes a bit distant and corporate perhaps, but they make you feel taken care of.

Some of the food can be spectacular as well as beautiful, like the gently poached oysters bathed in a brilliant green watercress sauce and topped with a spoonful of caviar. It’s full-flavored and satisfying, set in a white porcelain, shell-shaped bowl. Technicolor food at its best.

Their sole paired with fresh, seasonal morel mushrooms is a delight, the fish plump and flavorful, perfectly moist, with a touch of sweet vin jaune from the Jura in the sauce.

Sommelier Claude Esambert – an upright Frenchman back from a decades-long stint in California – is outgoing and knowledgeable, giving us the details of one of my favorite white wines, the Burgundian Saint-Aubin from Hubert Lamy.

The kitchen clearly understands deep-frying, and their current appetizer – which arrives almost the moment you sit down – is a dream: ultra-crispy, tiny, deep-fried eperlans (smelt or whitebait), the ideal starter to pair with a glass of Champagne rosé, such as the popular Billecart Salmon.

On this particular visit, everything from the simple raw ecrevisse (crayfish) topped with a colorful vegetable mix, fresh herbs, and bathed in a bright vinaigrette; to the moist, perfectly cooked sea bass paired with pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and herbs, made for a truly pleasant, lunchtime meal.

There is great attention to detail with top suppliers here: chocolates from Jacques Genin, cheese from Marie Quatrehomme, breads from Fréderic Lalo of Le Quartier du Pain, and olive oil from the famed cooperative in Mausanne-les-Alpilles in Provence.

But there are problems with Divellec, ones that I am surprised got past the Michelin inspectors. Fish is very hard to get right, and Divellec fails more often than it should, with dishes that are underseasoned or not totally thought out.

At times the kitchen favors presentation over flavor. On my first visit, I ordered their langoustines wrapped in pastry and deep fried. But sadly these lovely crustaceans were smothered in a white napkin, and covered by an ostentatious glass cloche, which turned what should have been crispy gastronomic treasures into a soggy, sad mess.

One order our ormeaux (abalone) was so tough it was inedible, and I did what I rarely do, returned the dish. In its place arrived a perfect platter of well-seasoned bar (sea bass) ceviche, but one doesn’t expect to send anything back to the kitchen in a 2-starred restaurant.

I have been to Divellec several times since it opened yet strangely I have never, ever, seen a chef in the dining room. What the restaurant lacks is someone in charge, someone who personifies the place and rules with a sense of style and perfection.

But the worst sin of all came on our last visit when the host of our party of eight decided he wanted a glass of red wine. We requested the wine list but the sommelier simply went ahead and poured an unordered glass of red. When I asked my friend how the wine was, his response was an unenthusiastic “okay.” I sniffed it, and could tell instantly it was seriously corked, with a strong scent of spoilage. The wine was quickly replaced, with an apology for the flaw, but the damage was done. This just should not happen in place of this caliber.

Prices here can be overwhelming, especially if you order their turbot, whole sea bass, lobster or whole sole, priced by the gram.

Despite all of this I will surely go back, for the creative fish combinations and presentations, great ideas for what I might recreate at home, as well as the magical chocolate soufflé made with Jacques Genin’s grand cru chocolate. But I do hope that someone takes charge of Divellec. The restaurant has been mostly deserted on my visits, and just does not have the sort of joie de vivre a restaurant like this should exhibit. Someone there needs to wake up!

DIVELLEC   |   18 rue Fabert   |   Paris 7   |   Tel: +33 1 45 51 91 96   |   Métro: Invalides   |   Open daily   |  Lunch: 49€, 90€, 210€ weekday menu; 49€ weekend brunch menu, Dinner: 210€ 8-course menu. Lunch and Dinner à la carte, 130€.  |   Reservations: suggested   |   |


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Big Love for Gluten Free Pizza

 Mammargherita Pizza: San Marzano tomatoes,  fior di latte  mozzarella, basil

Mammargherita Pizza: San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, basil

It seems that the Big Mamma Group is, once again, onto a winning formula with their pizza, pasta, brunch restaurant Biglove Caffé, in the upper Marais. The Group has given the former Rose Bakery space a magnificent makeover, transforming it into a charming Neopolitan style bar/café. The glass-plated entrance way is adorned with hanging cured meats, and the marble bar and the imposing Italian Belle Epoque style copper coffee machine set the scene for an authentic Neopolitan experience. 

The menu offers a handful of fresh pasta dishes (including a gluten-free vegetable lasagne which sadly should be avoided at all costs) as well as a few appealing salad options, and an international-style brunch menu. But the pizza is why you should go to Biglove, and those who follow a gluten-free diet can rejoice, as all the pizzas here are completely gluten free. Paris is home to some very respectable pizzaiole (pizza chefs) but few who specialize in the unique style of Neopolitan pizza, that boasts a slightly thicker crust, and is more lightly baked than the well-done thin crusted versions from other parts of Italy. The result is a sort of pillowy experience, where the elements of the pizza seamlessly blend into one. The dough here is made from a mixture of buckwheat, corn and rice flours and fermented for at least 36-hours before cooking to give it a good rise and a faint acidity to the crust. For those not interested in a gluten-free diet, do not be put off for these bases are a cunning likeness to the wheat flour version and perhaps only in the thick outer crust can you tell that it’s made from alternative flours. As a point of pride for the Mamma restaurants, ingredients are of an exceptionally high standard – mostly sourced directly from favored artisanal producers in Italy – including the essential San Marzano tomatoes grown at the foot of Mt Vesuvius. The pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired brick Acunta oven, hand-made in Naples, that can get to temperatures so high a pizza can be cooked in 60 seconds (just shy of 930°F/500°C). The resulting Mammargherita pizza – for me the simple concoction of tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella and fresh basil is the best litmus test for pizza – was remarkably close to a true Napolitano pizza, that is to say, very, very good.

The desserts were disappointing – the unnecessarily large portion of lemon meringue pie was cloyingly sweet and lacked any balance of acidity from the lemon cream that you might expect. The chocolate cake was devoid of any personality. Best to stick to an after-meal coffee, roasted dark and moody, true to Neopolitan style – of course.

Big Love doesn't take reservations and the lunch service fills up fast, so go early or be prepared to queue.

BIGLOVE CAFFÉ   |   30 rue Debelleyme   |   Paris 3   |   Métro: Filles de Calvaire   |   Open daily 8am-11pm   |   Pizza and main dishes €12-18   |   Reservations not taken.

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Yam'Tcha: Precision, Elegance and Creativity

 Langoustine, onions, pomegranate, goji berry and tarragon

Langoustine, onions, pomegranate, goji berry and tarragon

There is plenty to love about Adeline Grattard’s Yam‘Tcha. Her French-Asian themed food is unique, well-thought-out, beautiful, and welcomingly assertive. The restaurant, relocated from rue Sauval in mid 2015, draws you in immediately with the appealing cooking aromas that waft from the semi-open kitchen, the coziness of the well-crafted wooden birch tables and elegant yet comfortable arm chairs, the frivolity of the tiny garden brightened by a white stone floor, the openness of the well-lit, well-stocked wine cellar.

Grattard’s pedigree includes time spent with three-Michelin star chefs Yannick Alléno (Pavillon Ledoyen) and Pascal Barbot (Astrance), and their influence on her food is evident: precision, elegance and a confidence to be creatively adventurous. She makes a rare team with her Chinese tea-sommelier husband, Chi Wah Chan, offering a careful selection of refined, soothing teas to accompany Grattard’s carefully constructed dishes (Yam’tcha, afterall, is the Mandarin word for ‘drink tea’.) Wine pairings are also available.

She employs and embraces a multitude of seasonal ingredients, and as you sample her fare, you feel as though everything from that vibrant red pomegranate seed to the brilliant green wild garlic emulsion are there for a reason and not simply as window dressing.

Any chef can win me over in a millisecond when they offer some of my truly favorite ingredients: asparagus, langoustines, and a shower of fresh black truffles. And she did. Her love for citrus as well as sweet and sour combinations come through loud and clear, as in her duo of white and green asparagus dressed with a frothy sauce of mandarin orange tinged with touches of kumquat, a dish with a lovely citrus bounce.

I am not sure where she secured the gigantic, soothingly rich langoustines, but they were cooked to a delicate perfection, paired with a bright sweet and sour sauce laced with crunchy pomegranate seeds and tangy goji berries. Each dish is complex without being overbearing, and by the end of the meal we were satisfied but not digestively assaulted, a rare feat after a seven course meal.

As a collector of modern as well as antique china and pottery, I wanted to walk away with a few of her colorful dinner plates, some from popular French designer Sarah Lavoine. Each is thoughtfully paired with a specific dish, from the golden ocher plates for the asparagus to the bright red pottery for the slow-cooked and tender Iberian pork that was showered with slices of exquisite fresh black truffles.

To add additional excellence to a wonderful dining experience, sommelière Marine Delaporte offers a brilliant and well-considered glass of wine with each course, accompanied by thoughtful and enthusiastic commentary with each pour. Of the six selections sampled, I truly loved the 2015 Riesling Cuvée Albert from Albert Mann, a distinctive Alsatian white that is well-balanced, ripe, juicy, and aromatic. Equally satisfying was the Loire Valley white Jasnières Rosiers 2015 Eric Nicolas, dry with the tiniest touch of sweetness.  The choice of mostly white wines with the meal was refreshing.

I was less enthused about the understated first course of rice-based congee with cubes of foie gras and the equally disappointing soup laced with scallops and mushrooms which lacked the personality and forward flavors of her other dishes.

 But at the end, Grattard totally surprised me with a dessert that included a bright green sorrel soup with a bitter almond (orgeat) sorbet, paired with a well-constructed mini-tart of a single prune wrapped in a coat of lemon jelly, topped with a Champagne granité.

Although I am generally not a fan of set menus where the diner has no choices, and each dish is a complete surprise, it works here, since the chef has so many layers and volumes, it is a treat to experience it all. And the wine and tea pairings only help amplify the experience.

Reserving at Yam’tcha can be tricky and staff don’t always answer the phone. Persistence is the key. By phone you’ll most likely be successful on a Tuesday when the restaurant is closed but staff are there. Otherwise I recommend stopping in at the restaurant to make a reservation in person, if time permits.

YAM ‘TCHA   |   121 rue Saint Honoré   |   Paris 1   |   Tel: +33 1 40 26 08 07   |   Métro: Louvre-Rivoli   |   Open Wednesday – Saturday. Closed Sunday & Monday   | Lunch and dinner: 60€ and 135€ menus, with options for 40€ tea tasting and 70€ wine tasting   |   Reservations essential.

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Do et Riz: The Holy Grail of Vietnamese Spring Rolls

If you are on a quest to find the crunchiest, freshest Vietnamese fried spring rolls in Paris, you can end your search at the doors of Do et Riz. Make a reservation, or be prepared to queue out into the street, as you will not be the only one clammering for a table or a stool at this charming canteen in the 12th arrondissement, run and owned by Vietnamese chef Do Thi Thanh Huyen. (The word Do, dually meaning ‘bean’ in Vietnamese and the chef’s maiden name, and riz meaning rice in French, are both ingredients important to Vietnamese cooking.)

Having been anointed with the passion for cuisine while helping run her grandmother’s road-side restaurant in Hai Phong in northern Vietnam as a child, chef Do now finds herself the third generation in a line of female chefs. After a brief flirtation with French cooking at Alain Ducasse’s Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower and Restaurant Beauvilliers in the 18th, Do has returned to her native cuisine, with her husband at her side in the kitchen. The small eatery makes clever use of the space, reminiscent of an outdoor street market in Vietnam: The steamy, fragrant, open kitchen bustles with activity, and shelves are stacked with beautiful Vietnamese-sourced ceramics and bunches of fresh mint and coriander. The countertop bar in the restaurant’s window overlooking the kitchen is particularly appealing for dining solo or as a couple, beneath the light of the suspended sea urchin lampshades.

Do et Riz offers a roster of Vietnamese classics on the small but ultra-fresh menu (ingredients are sourced daily from the nearby marché d’Aligre), including the aforementioned golden crunchy chicken and prawn spring rolls (nems); Bahn Cuon steamed rice crepe rolls filled with chicken and mushrooms: fresh spring rolls with duck breast and green papaya:, and there’s always some version of a green papaya or lotus salad, refreshing and pleasingly spicy. The Pho soup and Bo Bun noodle salad are a staple of the menu (an explosion in the popularity of the Bo Bun in Paris in the last five or so years means that it’s almost impossible to find a Vietnamese restaurant that doesn’t serve it), but the main course menu changes more frequently. On our last visit we sampled chicken meatballs perfumed with kaffir lime, and served with a spicy tamarind sauce; and a prawn coconut and noodle salad, fresh and invigorating, filled with Asian greens, mange-tout green beans, carefully butterflied tender pink prawns, all showered generously with fresh coriander.


Their seductive version of a classic tapioca coconut pudding is alone worth returning for: creamy, not too sweet, and punctuated with the refreshing tang of perfectly ripe mango.

And now here’s another reason to return to sample Do and her husband’s cooking, with the announcement of plans to soon open a second restaurant across the street. It will be named Em (meaning younger sibling in Vietnamese), focusing on grilled dishes.

Do et Riz   |  31 rue de Cotte   |   Paris 12   |   +33 1 43 45 57 13   |   Métro: Ledru-Rollin   |   Open Monday dinner – Sunday lunch. Closed Sunday dinner and Monday lunch   |   Lunch and dinner 30-35€ (for 3 course)   | Rservations essential.

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