Congress delegates won’t have to go far to enjoy a fine evening meal
A restaurant tip I picked up in a casual conversation turned out to be a surprising find. It’s a modern, bright restaurant with a modern, bright menu and a strange name: 750g La Table. It developed from a website of wine and food pairings created by Jean-Baptiste Duquesne (the ‘750g’ refers to the weight of the contents of a bottle of wine). Two years later his brother Damien, a chef, joined him to present recipes. Considering the immense popularity of the website (www.750g.com), establishing a restaurant was the logical next step.
La Table is a relaxed place with a welcoming staff. You feel as comfortable simply ordering a platter of cheese and a glass of wine, which will come with a basket of homemade bread, as you do treating yourself to a substantial meal. There are interesting vegetarian dishes on the menu, too.
Finish up with ‘cafe gourmand’, a sampling of homemade desserts served with your after-dinner coffee. 750g La Table is at 397, rue de Vaugirard and is open every day of the week.
Once upon a time there were plenty of Parisian restaurants where you’d expect to find a casual atmosphere, minimal decor and the owner in the kitchen turning out simple food, served in generous portions. A warm welcome was standard, too, and a kiss on each cheek for the regulars. Time’s moved on, and finding a restaurant like that with plain brown tables and chairs squeezed into a room ornamented with rugby paraphernalia seems like a time warp. La Petite Auberge, at 13 rue Hameau in the 15th arrondissement, is that restaurant.
I chose a timeless bistro favourite, steak and its companion, crispy hand-cut deep-fried potatoes. Following that, a slice of homemade fruit tart and coffee. The bill, including a glass of wine and service, came to €22. No wonder the restaurant fills up early. Booking advised, Open noon to 14.00 and 19.00 to 22.00. Closed Sunday.
Le Grand Pan, an unassuming-looking bistro at 20 rue Rosenwald, is not only recommended by the Lonely Planet guide book but has been unequivocally praised by the New York Times food critic. It’s near Parc Brassens, and George Brassens is said to have eaten here often. Hearty portions of beef, pork or veal accompanied by homemade French fries are a mainstay of the menu. There’s a five-course tasting menu too and a tempting variety of other dishes listed on the blackboard. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Those with smaller appetites might try Le Petit Pan just across the street. It serves a simple bistro lunch or, in the evening, French-style tapas. Open noon to 14.30 and from 19.30 to 22.30. Closed Sunday and Monday.
3 to taste
Family feud leads to a new twist on a Parisian staple
For eight decades the word ‘Poilâne’ has meant ‘bread’ to French connoisseurs; they are referring to a two-kilo ‘miche’, a rustic sourdough bread first produced by Pierre Poilâne in 1932. There’s a Poilâne at 49 boulevard de Grenelle (closed Monday). Or discover the lesser-known miche sold by Max Poilâne. A feud between Pierre Poilâne’s two sons, Lionel and Max, following the death of the founder, resulted in Max setting out on his own to produce a miche with a slightly different taste and texture. The shop he established in 1976 is open daily at 87 rue Brancion near Parc Brassens. Closes 20.00.
Enjoy a Legendary chocolat chaud that truly sets the standard
One of the pleasures of visiting Paris is having the opportunity to visit the legendary Angelina’s on rue Rivoli. Angelina’s version of hot chocolate sets the standard against which all others are measured. Look for le chocolat chaud à l’ancienne l’Africain. You’ll get a pitcher of hot, creamy chocolate so thick it barely pours. To this you add spoonfuls of the whipped cream served alongside. There are six branches across the city, and the adjacent gourmet shop at the Palais des Congrès branch is good for souvenirs. See here for addresses and opening hours.
700 hives kept by urban beekeepers make the purest honey in France
If I had been asked to guess where one could find the purest honey in France, I would have said the hills outside Nice. I would have been wrong. It seems the answer is Paris, which is virtually pesticide free, while pesticides were only banned a year ago in rural parts of the country. And not only is Parisian honey purer, but it is said to taste better too, thanks to the diversity of plants in the city. To keep up with demand, urban beekeepers have been as busy as, well, bees – with 700 hives on the tops of the city’s buildings. Visit La Grande Épicerie 38 rue de Sèvres (in the Bon Marché department store) for a fine selection of the resultant Parisian honeys. Open daily until 21.00, Sunday until 20.00.