Coretta, a new bistro that's worth the detour

Coretta clementine dessert
Coretta clementine dessert


Coretta, the three-week old modern bistro that’s a collaboration of three favorite Parisian restaurateurs, is a win! Chef Jean-François Pataleon of L'Affable in the 7th, and Beatriz Gonzalez and her husband, Matthieu Marcant, of Neva Cuisine in the 8th , have teamed up to create a super contemporary, approachable, just-good-food bistro that’s totally right for the times. The airy, two-story, expertly designed restaurant on the Rue Cardinet in the 17th overlooks the recently created Martin Luther King Park, and is aptly named after King’s wife, Coretta. I love the wood and marble design, the simplicity, the modern menu with food that’s just familiar enough and surprising enough to make us all happy. Do try the anguille fumé or smoked eel, teamed up with thin slices of raw veal, and a satisfying, creamy horseradish bouillon.  Silken mackerel is paired with miso, apples and ginger in a light, refreshing first course. I admired the elegant, aesthetic presentation of the lightly salted cod (cooked to perfection, breaking into giant alabaster flakes) flanked by a kaleidoscope of lightly pickled vegetables: turnips, beets, and radishes. The ris de veau --- veal sweetbreads – is already a bistro favorite here, served with panais (parsnips) cooked three ways: chips, mashed, braised. It was lunchtime, and I was not really in the mood for dessert , but soon I was glad that I changed my mind. Here, a simplified version of Beatriz’s chocolate sphere from Neva Cuisine is turned into a single chocolate disc, perched on a spicy pineapple concoction, melting into a puddle as warm chocolate sauce is poured over all. The prettiest dish of the day (photo) was the clementine sorbet joined by slices of fresh clementine, bites of crispy meringue, and a lemony yuzu (a pungent Japanese citrus), mascarpone-like cream. A few sips of Yves Cuilleron’s well-priced (7€ a glass) pure Roussanne vin de France rounded out the meal with perfection. Baker Jean-Luc Poujauran’s crusty bread is served from a warming wooden box, accompanied by a fat pat of soft butter. Downstairs , there’s a brief but appealing tapas menu.

151 bis, rue Cardinet, Paris 17. Tel: +33 1 42 26 55 55. Métro Brochant. 24€ lunch menu, 33€ and 39€ evening menus, à la carte 45 to 70€. Open Monday- Saturday. Closed  Saturday lunch and all day Sunday.

Atao and Galette Café: Good small bites

Atao Langoustines, Turnips, Mint, Basil 10 11 12

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.

Galette Cafe 10 12 12

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€.