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Restaurants and eateries to put on your radar!
The 6th arrondissement can be a problem for an impromptu dinner if you don’t have a reservation, which happened to us. Dinner at La Palette isn’t a fancy affair, nor is it a traditional dinner, with entrées and main courses. And reservations aren’t required — or taken. There are always a lot of people there drinking on the terrace, a friendly mix of locals and out-of-towners. However, the atmosphere remains stubbornly Parisian, even in a neighborhood where more English is often heard than French.
The evening menu is more for grazing, for lack of a better word, with small plates meant to share. We stopped in for a charcuterie plate, gravlax, a salad of crisp sucrine, and glasses of red wine after an event in the area, ordering what you see above. What you don’t see is the Croque Monsieur, which is cut into bites (for the apéro crowd), which the neighboring table had ordered and I was coveting a bite but was too timid to ask. Next time, I’ll order one for us. [La Palette website and Instagram.]
I met Carlos Moreno during the Covid lockdown. When I saw someone in Paris was delivering taco kits, how could I refuse? I’m happy to say that Carlos now owns his own place, Comer x parís.méxico. I stopped in for lunch and tried a few things, which were all terrific, but the beef barbacoa was truly outstanding.
I also loved the Yucatán-style chicken (above) on a fresh corn tortilla with cabbage, salsa, and crispy pickles. Taco kits are available for take-out and deliveries on Thursdays, and Carlos is doing occasional pop-up dinners in the evenings. [Comer/Paris.Mexico website and Instagram.]
La Tête Dans les Olives
I was running low on Sicilian capers, so I biked over to this tiny, and very charming, little shop that sells specialty items from Sicily, including fresh citrus, anchovies, Italian cheeses, capers, and most notably, olive oil. When I arrived, the owner was offering tastes to some people who’d stopped by to pick up a few items too, and I ended up tasting six different olive oils, which were all wonderful. (One reason not to be in a hurry in Paris!) Note: You’re welcome to bring your own containers and bottles.
And when I say “little,” the shop holds perhaps five people. And while I’ve not done it, you can privatize a Table Unique for a 2 1/2 hour tasting for up to six people, so it should be people who you are really close to. (It’s €222 for 1-6 people.)
Note that they have two shops, and I went to the one at 2 rue Sainte-Marthe. The current shop hours are Tuesday-Friday, 1-7 pm; Saturday 10-7 pm.
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The beef in France can be rather tough. (Even Anthony Bourdain noted that, hence the newfound popularity of Black Angus beef.) So when I heard an Argentinean brother and sister team were opening up a restaurant not far from where we live, which featured steaks, we stopped into Blanca for dinner.
Mushroom croquetas were crisp and delicious, sitting on little pads of black garlic mayo. The mini Lamb tacos as an appetizer with pico de gallo and chipotle mayo were also terrific. The Black Angus beef we had with seaweed chimichurri was tender and cooked perfectly, but like the fate (and state) of many frites in France, the ones we had could have used another few minutes in the fryer. (Our friends went and had the other beef on the menu, which they said wasn’t as tender as ours.) To finish the meal, we had a very good déclinasion of dulce de leche desserts. [Blanca website and Instagram page.]
I had a rare morning free and was biking up to Comer for lunch, after getting a winter bonnet (cap) at GoSport, since it’s been quite cold here and I wanted one that would fit under my bike helmet. After two staff members insisted they didn’t carry them, I found a stack of them in the running department. Pleased with myself, and my warm head, I found myself passing Mamiche bakery, which had a line outside. I skipped the popular babka and went for the bread, picking up a loaf of grainy pain de mie, which was outstanding, and another called XL grains (above, left).
And btw: They posted a Crème brûlée beignet…
…as well as some Boston Cream beignets. And I want both. The sandwiches are a lot more creative than the single slice of ham or cheese ones at the corner bakeries. Hence, I’ve got plenty of reasons to go back. [Mamiche website and Instagram.]
Meeting a French friend who lives in New York for lunch, I managed to get a reservation at Vantre, which has been on my radar for quite some time. There’s very limited information on their website, with no online reservations or menus to look at. But if you go for lunch, they have a pre-fixe lunch for €26, entrée, plat, and dessert, which is an amazing deal considering most of the main courses cost more than that.
I had a lovely salad of radicchio, beets, and burrata with herb oil, and for my main went with the grilled quail (above) with chickpeas, mint, and kumquats.
Desserts were especially a standout, and I don’t say that lightly. We asked for the Pudding à la vanilla without the tonka bean dusted over the top (I dislike the flavor of them), and the Panna Cotta made with raw milk, kiwis, and herb granita. Both were le top du top.
Veganism has become a “thing” in Paris, although I still get requests from people worrying about where to eat as vegetarians when they come to Paris. Ditto with people who are gluten-free.
(Spoiler: Times are a-changin’, and there are now lots of vegetarian and several vegan places and options, as well as gluten-free ones. If you’re either, many restaurants can make accommodations for you, but please let them know when you reserve.)
I was heading to the theater with my friend Heather, who leans vegan, and she suggested we stop in Les Tontons for dinner before the show. The place is small and arriving before I did, she got the last two seats. I ordered the Smashburger (above) and an order of panisses, chickpea “fries,” which I was excited about when I saw them on the menu, but the server told me — malheureusement — that they were out of them. So we went with regular French fries because the ones on the nearby tables looked good, which they were.
Pressed for time, we waited nearly 50 minutes for our vegan burgers. (A problem facing many small places in Paris; they’re trying to fulfill delivery orders while serving customers in their restaurants.) But I had to say, they were really good. You may not be coming to Paris for a vegan burger (even though burgers have now become thoroughly French — there’s even a “World Cup” for burgers in France, and of course, a French one took the top prize for “Best Burger in the World” last month.), but it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in town, vegan or not. [Les Tontons Facebook page.]
Middle Eastern food hasn’t been as well-represented in Paris as other cuisines have, and the city is catching up. (There are a lot of food stands and neighborhood restaurants, but few are featuring the fresh, lively foods as places like Ottolenghi, Kismet, Honey & Co, Sofra, Zahav, and Shukette are.) Even though a few places have been opening in Paris that hope to follow in their footsteps, none have wowed me as much as Kubri. Cheffe/owner Rita Higgins is doing an amazing job using the freshest of ingredients to produce stellar Lebanese cuisine. The food is meant to be shared, and I absolutely loved the Labneh starter with broccolini, olives, and radishes scooped up with flatbread with a few friends last week, on a day that just happened to be Valentine’s Day.
The KFC (Kubri fried chicken) with toum (which isn’t necessarily the most romantic thing to eat — or the thing to eat if you’re expecting a little romance later — but all bets are off for me when it comes to this powerful Lebanese garlic paste), along with coriander salsa, chili crunch, and peanuts, which was so good, we all agreed that we could have ordered another portion, even though the portion was quite generous. Fassoliya was long-simmered beef cheeks (similar to brisket) flamed with cinnamon and delightfully crunchy giant beans. And the lamb tartar with bulgur, shallot cream, and homemade flatbread was a hit with us as well. The wine list features vins from Lebanon, and the well-made cocktails are infused with Lebanese flavors, such as herbaceous za’atar. The place is small so reservations are essential. (Kubri website.)
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