It’s nearly inconceivable to talk about the Paris dining scene without mentioning Gregory Marchand and his ascent to stardom on the rue du Nil in the 2nd arrondissement. That and the herculean effort required to score a reservation at Frenchie, Marchand’s contemporary bistro and claim to fame. Fortunately, his two other outposts provide a taste of his talent and ingenuity without the attendant stress of having to book: Frenchie wine bar and Frenchie-To-Go, his latest venture.
I’ve been reluctant to join on the Frenchie bandwagon for several reasons but mostly because of the outsize hype and the arcane booking system – there is by no means a dearth of supremely good restaurants in this city so why jump through hoops for this one in particular? I was also turned off by this sort of groupie-fanaticism around the chef himself. But when I learned that his coffee shop-cum-deli counter (Frenchie-To-Go) would offer Ruebens, lobster rolls, fish n’ chips (with line-caught merlu from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, my favorite fishing town in Basque country) and a bevy of breakfast options served all day, my tune started to change. It didn’t hurt that Marchand’s upmarket diner had secured the imprimatur of some of the food writers I respect most.
So earlier in the summer, I took his pastrami sandwich for a test run during a lazy lunch with my friend Stephanie who was, like me, equal parts skeptical and intrigued. House-cured slices of pastrami were piled high and wedged between slices of toasted rye bread. The golden, perfectly-crisped fries were worth the extra cost and great for sharing. And to wash it all down, the place has nearly 10 different types of artisanal beers, homemade lemonade and ginger beer and wines by the glass. Properly and joyfully stuffed, I knew I’d be back for one of the donuts and cinnamon rolls that glistened at the counter, taunting us as we muscled our way through the crowd to leave.
Lunch is a madhouse, brimming with both locals on their noon break and out-of-towners eager to get their hands on Marchand’s goods (the food, the food!). But after my late-morning snack and coffee with Trish Deseine last week, I’m convinced that this place is liable to become my breakfast, rather than lunch, canteen. The team roasts Has Bean coffee (from the UK) and were trained by the Ten Belles crew so you can be sure your morning brew or latte will be precise. To go with my noisette, I opted for a hulking bowl of fromage blanc covered in homemade granola and topped with plump berries. Trish ordered a celestially silky hot chocolate, served in a giant mug, that made Angelina’s hot chocolate seem like low-grade sludge. We split an absolutely sinful beignet which oozed passionfruit cream from the first bite and tried out their peanut-butter sablé before we agreed we had to stop there.
It should be said that all of this upscale comfort food doesn’t come cheap but I’m starting to see why Marchand’s eateries levitate above the masses and have earned him a rarefied following. He knows how to work with produce and hires the right people to bring his vision to life. So if you’re like me and can’t commit to a table eons in advance but are curious about why the magazines and food elite have been bandying about Marchand for so long, head to his wine bar or this fantastic to-go joint.
Other articles about Frenchie-To-Go and Frenchie Wine Bar:
High-End Takeout, Haven in Paris
Frenchie-To-Go, Diane Abroad
Frenchie Wine Bar, David Lebovitz
A Superb Annex to One of Paris’s Hottest Bistros, Alec Lobrano
Frenchie Bar à Vins, Ann Mah