Monday, 13 June 2022

A few great places to eat and drink in Paris, 2022

J’adore Paris.

From strolling along the city’s leafy green boulevards and the banks of the beautiful Seine to gawping at the street art and the magnificent architecture, I never tire of visiting the City of Lights. 

And the food and drink is rather bloody lush too.

Over the course of four and half days (only three of which were planned, thanks Easyjet), here’s where we ate and drank.

Bistro Paul Bert

18 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris

Sure, we were surrounded by other tourists but there's still something pretty iconic about this classic bistro which was a favourite haunt of Anthony Bourdain. The menu makes no concessions with dishes including andouillette and whole bunches of veal kidneys.

To start, eggs were adorned with silky mayonnaise with a good punch of mustard and served with a perfectly dressed salad. A light vol au vente was filled with buttery sweetbreads and mushrooms, both of which would have benefited from a little more caramelisation.

An archetypal steak au poivre saw a nicely crusted rare piece of meat bathed in a thick cream sauce with a good whallop of peppercorn and the warmth of brandy. It was accompanied by textbook crisp frîtes, which must have been fried in some form of animal fat.

Desserts were the highlight of the meal - île flottante combined a slab of ethereally light meringue jewelled with crisp almonds and praline, bobbing in a silky vanilla-fragranced custard. Apple tart, made with the finest of crisp pastry bases, was topped with soft sweet apples and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Cave Paul Bert

16 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris

Located next door to Bistro Paul Bar, this wine bar has a focus on the natural. Mrs G particularly enjoyed an Aux Amis de Ma Soeur white wine with an unusual smokiness whilst I particularly enjoyed a plate of saucisson sec accompanied by cornichons with an excellent anise twang.

Ten Belles

17-19 Rue Breguet, 75011 Paris

This hip sourdough bakery and coffee roastery is the kind of gaff I associate more with London rather than Paris. With three branches across the city, it’s an absolute corker of a place and was our breakfast destination of choice three days on the bounce.

Excellent flat whites and filter coffee were joined by uber-crisp seeded buns stuffed with thickly slathered butter, quality ham and perky mustard-flecked pickles. A beautifully laminated pain Suisse was stuffed with oodles of rich chocolate paste.

Liquiderie Bar

Rue de la Présentation, 75011 Paris

This super hip yet friendly bar has a great selection of craft beers and natural wines by the glass. They also have a stonking cellar of lambic beer, with names such as Cantillon, Antidoot, Bofkont and 3Fonteinen all appearing. A bottle of Cantillon Muscat Petit Grains had a lovely pithy citrus thing going on.

If you’re looking for more good beers then La Fine Mousse and La Ruée vers l'Orge are also both well worth checking out.

Cafe de Mars

11 Rue Augereau, 75007 Paris

Tucked away on a side street just a few blocks away from the horribly busy Eiffel Tower, the corner Cafe de Mars is an oasis of tranquility. Their cooking is understated yet packed with flavour.

Char-licked bruschetta were topped with top-drawer tinned tuna, soft artichoke hearts and capers coated in a green herb mayonnaise.

Stupidly tender baby back ribs were accompanied by a crisp and perky slaw whilst an onglette steak with a light chew and big flavour was dressed with an umami-packed Drunken Dragon sauce, buttery potato puree and shiitake mushrooms with a note of balancing acidity.

Le Collier de la Reine

57 Rue Charlot, 75003 Paris

There's a big vibe at Le Collier de la reine, a seafood bar and restaurant that’s one of the hottest new openings in Paris. I'm not sure if we quite had the look as we were put in a back room alongside the other tourists and restless toddlers.

A portion of eggs Moscovite was worth the visit alone. Hyper crisp potato rosti was topped with perfectly poached eggs and a buttery sauce flecked with pearls of salty caviar.

However, gorgeously sweet lightly cooked langoustines served with a cleverly nutty ajo blanco mayonnaise, hadn't been de-veined. It left us with a lot of extra work to do and a lot of unappetising mess.


20 Rue Saint-Martin, 75004 Paris

Alain Ducasse's bistro is a slice of class, including its pretty floral crockery and dining room which doesn't look like it's changed in a hundred. And their three course set lunch menu for €42 is cracking value for a Michelin-starred restaurant.

After a plate of warm cheese gougeres and crusty bread with thickly slathered butter we enjoyed herby pate ên croute, made with Madagascan prawns and Bresse chicken, and a precisely dressed green salad topped with nutty pears and a delicately funky slice of goats cheese.

Duck parmentier, made with slow-cooked bits of bird and cheese-crusted mash, was the luxest version of a Shepherds pie I’ve ever encountered.

Desserts were the star of the show. Dinky custard filled profiteroles were served with a bitterly rich hot chocolate sauce and a scoop of first rate vanilla ice cream. And a custard cream stuffed millefeuille lived up to its thousand layer billing.

Ma Cave Fleury

177 Rue Saint-Denis, 75002 Paris

This wine bar is the Paris outpost of Champagne Fleury, the world’s first producer of biodynamic champagne, which they started making back in 1989.

All of the natural wines they serve by the glass were lush, including their champagne, and they were lovely washed down with a cheese and meat platter.

Bouillon Republique

39 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 Paris

This cavernous 500 cover restaurant makes for a great fun and great value night out. Whilst hoards of people queue up outside for a table it’s handy to know that you can also reserve online.

With dishes on offer including steak au poivre (€11.80), choucroute garnie (€9.40), and cream buns (€2.90), there are some bargains to be had if you choose wisely. The booze prices are also rock bottom too, with a jeroboam (3 litres) of wine costing a mere €43.20.

Half cut, I chose rather poorly. A bowl of chicken bouillon (€2.80) tasted like an intense oxo cube with a few noodles thrown in for good measure whilst delicious smooth mash and gravy was let down by a rather dry and wrinkly sausage (€9.40).

There was more success with excellent mustard-twanged egg mayo (€2.20!!!) and a rich and creamy butternut squash and blue cheese gratin (€8.50).

A pretty good crisp-crusted tarte au citron (€3.80) was also a lot better than a rather soggy rum baba (€4.50) which tasted of caramel without even the merest whiff of booze.

Still, with its brilliant ambience and a meal for two with wine costing us 36 euros, it made for a great fun night out.

Brasserie Dubillot

222 Rue Saint-Denis, 75002 Paris

A traditional brasserie meets hip nightspot, we were very impressed by Brasserie Dubillot’s classical cooking. It's a lovely spot to sit on the street and watch the world go by.

Country pork terrine was packed with coarse meat and a good oink of pig whilst a creamy celeriac remoulade made with dainty batons of the root vegetable was flecked with nuggets of morteau sausage.

For mains, a crisp-skinned fillet of cod was bathed in a creamy bisque with a big hit of earthy brown crab. A well-flavoured and tender skirt steak was accompanied by mound of crisp frîtes and a thick bearnaise which reminded me of McDonald's secret sauce thanks to the addition of finely diced onion and gherkin.

A textbook Paris-Brest saw a wheel of golden choux filled with light and nutty whipped hazelnut cream, toasted hazelnuts and a toasty salted caramel sauce.

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Rasa, London, vegetarian Indian restaurant review

Ren and Stimpy
Paul and Barry Chuckle
Cheese and pickle
Bill and Ted

Sure, they're all iconic, but none of these duos rank alongside the legendary pairing of a curry and a few beers.

Having had a few birthday drinks at Mother Kelly's in Stoke Newington, a curry was always on the cards.

However, as one of my good mates is a vegetarian, we decided to give Rasa a go. This south Indian vegetarian restaurant, with a history dating back to the mid nineties, has twice won the title of Time Out’s best vegetarian restaurant in London.

With its shocking pink exterior it’s pretty hard to miss and on a Saturday night the warren-like dining room was absolutely buzzing.

At £20 a head for Rasa's vegetarian feast, you get a lot of different curries for your buck. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about choosing what to eat.

A mix of snacks saw poppadoms, uber-crisp spiced pappadavadai (rice flour-battered poppadoms), crunchy twizzly murukku and banana chips served with an array of chutneys including a potent yet harshness-free garlic number and a vibrant lemon variety.

Hackney Brewing provided the beers and we were all impressed by their pale ale and lager.

Starters were a trio of deep fried things. The star was Mysore bonda, crisp balls of spice-laced mashed potato served with a creamy coconut chutney.

Also really impressive were kathrikka, slices of coriander and chilli-battered aubergine with a vibrant fresh tomato chutney.

Enjoyably unusual plantain fritters were served with a peanut and ginger dip. Overall the dish strayed a little bit too far into dessert territory for my liking.

Mains were the archetypal ”spread”, with the whole table covered with bowls of curry, rice and bread.

Highlights included paneer cheera with crisp golden pieces of cheese, soft spinach and a comforting creamy sauce.

A gigantic masala dosa covered the width of the table. Paper thin and crisp and stuffed with spiced mashed potato, it was accompanied by a coconut chutney and deep spiced lentil stew.

Light and fresh stir-fried cabbage thoran was flecked with coconut and warming mustard seeds whilst a black-eyed bean thoran was also pleasingly hearty.

A mixed vegetable rasa kayi, with tender carrots, beans, potatoes and cauliflower, had a lovely warming spiced creamy sauce.

Bagar baingan, the star of two aubergine curries, saw long-cooked pieces of the vegetable bathed in a tangy yoghurt and cashew nut sauce. Another, Rasa vangi, had an onion-packed sauce that would have benefited from additional caramelisation.

Crisp and flaky parathas were a lovely mop for all the sauces whilst coconut rice was impeccably fragrant and fluffy.

It's fair to say we were all absolutely stuffed so a dinky dessert of pal payasam was just the right amount. The decadently thick and creamy rice pudding was studded with sultanas and nuts.

We had a delicious dinner at Rasa and at £20 a head for a huge feast it’s a bit of a bargain too.

As far as vegetarian food goes, I reckon that Indian cuisine reigns supreme. With its cornucopia of curries and abundance of deep-fried snacks, there's just so many different things to enjoy.

The Details:

Address - 55 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0AR
Telephone - 020 7249 0344