Paris is the place for high quality produce, authentic bistros, fine dining and patisserie.
(c) Le Figaro
Chef Yves Candeborde owns 3 great French cuisine bistros and comptoirs next to each other in St Germain/Odeon.
Le Comptoir du Relais is brilliant as it manages to serve the best traditional French dishes revisited with a contemporary twist, in a traditional bistro decor (mosaic floors, wooden chairs, zinc counter). The problem is that it has become too famous and is now packed with tourists and only serves tasting menus for dinner.
Next door are his other, more fun and funky concepts: l'Avant Comptoir and l'Avant Comptoir de la Mer. Both are literally corridors where you can only stand up (no tables, no waiters) where you order food and wines to the staff behind the counter. A multitude of 'gourmand' and creative small plates based on traditional dishes is on offer. Most of all delicious! One venue serves more meaty dishes and the other more seafood based dishes. The maitre D' is super friendly and knowledgeable. The complimentary bread and butter are devine. Lobster and sweet corn soup; Seared salmon; Black pudding are amongst the best dishes.
> latest update : following the success of the comptoirs, a new L'Avant Comptoir has just opened in Paris in a much bigger space, in the newly refurbished Marche Saint Germain.
Au Bon Saint Pourcain is another lovely bistro in one of the cutest streets in St Germain. Mosaic floors, red sofas, vintage Danish chairs all in a small space. The meat and fish are cooked in front of you in a tiny kitchen corner where the Japanese chef operates. Expect refined simple cuisine. Don't miss the creme brulee for dessert.
Paris is home to some fabulous 3 Michelin star restaurants. My latest experiences are Astrance by chef Pascal Barbot and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee by executive chef Romain Maeder.
Alain Ducasse's revamped version - since 2014 (to which I humbly contributed ) of his famous Michelin star restaurant within the Plaza Athenee hotel is the most impressive culinary experience I have ever had, along with Faviken in Sweden (see my post).
The creativity of the dishes, combination of the produce used (mainly vegetarian), the tableware, the scenarisation / sequencing is to me the most advanced and virtuoso in the world. Amongst the highlights of my dinner were: Seabass, fennel, onion confit; Lentils, caviar, creme fraiche and buckwheat pancakes; Seasbass tartare, chickpea, sesame; Mulet ravioli.
Astrance is a more discreet venue where contemporary fine dining is taken seriously.
I love Japanese cuisine and Paris certainly presents some very interesting concepts.
For fine dining in a stunning old bistro decor, go to Kunitoraya rue Villedo. It is only open for dinner and only offers a tasting menu. It is all delicious and the staff is lovely but expect high prices. You can reach 100€ per person easily. Grilled langoustines; Steamed crab legs; Toro tartare with caviar are some of the typical dishes.
A cheaper option is the quite and simple restaurant Isse workshop just a few doors away. It has character still with wall panels made of collages of old Japanese film posters. The A la carte menu offers variety and quality.
Contemporary style creperies are flourishing in Paris at the moment. Bretons in the 11th arrondissement is a lovely mouse hole and makes the best lightly crispy and thin buckwheat galettes. Sweet crepes are also very good.
I have a sweet tooth and love to try all the new patisseries, chocolate workshops and boulangeries. Amongst my latests find is Bontemps in the trendy Marais. It is one of this 'mono produce' shops and offers a collection of homemade mouthwatering shortbreads with fillings such as gianduja, passion fruit, vanilla and many more. Various sizes are available.