Paris Dining: Au Passage (video)

25 September 2015

It’s an exciting time to live in Paris. In fact, that’s been true for the last five years as I’ve watched sleepy neighborhoods and fringe enclaves come alive with interesting food concepts, niche boutiques and a creative energy I never thought I’d feel in the city. My own neighborhood, the 11th arrondissement, has seen perhaps the most dramatic changes and most of them have been in food and drink. There are a number of establishments that can be credited with inspiring food-conscious Parisians to leave their familiar quartiers and travel to the 11th to dine (some of which I will talk about in my book!) but Au Passage ranks high on the list of relaxed bistrots that have radically shaken up the Parisian dining experience, with an approach that feels at once completely French and yet completely novel.  Bon Appétit magazine just released a new video that takes you inside Au Passage and manages, in only a few minutes, to tap into what is so special about the place and what continues to draw in crowds. Watch below! (email readers, click over the blog to watch!) Ps. today kicks off the two-week photoshoot with Charissa Fay for my book! Things […]…

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The Bistro is Back: La Bourse et La Vie

15 September 2015

“Where can I eat traditional French food in Paris”? This is a question I have fielded frequently in recent weeks as a surge of travelers prepare their itineraries for an autumn getaway in Paris (my favorite time), but it is one that has become distinctly more challenging to answer. In fact, I can count on one hand the positive dining experiences I have had in the last year at establishments where more traditional dishes figure front and center on the menu. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, many traditional or “old school” brasseries and bistros have cut corners in recent years in order to ease the brunt of high social charges, labor costs and pricey commercial spaces. This means they’re excising homemade quality to rely on canned ingredients and frozen meals that simply need to be microwaved. As a visitor, especially one who may not have researched all of their meals in advance, it’s not always an easy task to discern whether the restaurant you’re considering will live up to the image of culinary excellence you have probably constructed in your mind. The bistro, known for classic dishes like steak-frites and pot au feu, among many others, has become […]…

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Restaurant Report: Rosemary

31 August 2015

The dining buzzword in Paris in recent years has unequivocally been neo-bistrot, which describes well-priced, market driven restaurants, but few food entrepreneurs have explored its (big) sister concept from across the channel: the gastro pub. The two are very similar, blending gastronomic quality ingredients and dishes with a more laid back atmosphere and kinder price points but some of the signature dishes may vary. At Rosemary, Paris’s first gastro-pub, both the interior and the menu lean English but doesn’t forget the French twist. Ambience: Casual. The front of the space is reserved for craft beer, wine and cocktail drinkers and bar goers, setting a more animated vibe, while the back dining room is intimate for concentrated conversation during lunch or dinner. The addition of vintage, floral wallpaper and small flowers centered on each table adds a feminine touch to the wood and brick space. In the kitchen: A Franco-English duo: Aurélien Sérugue and Joseph Rawlins, trained at Gordon Ramsay’s school and at Jadis, the 15th arrondissement restaurant. Fun fact: the very first Rosemary menu was tested in Josh Eggleton’s Michelin-starred country pub in Bristol, Pony & Trap. What to expect: Gastro-pub, English-inspired fare (beef wellington, beer braised lamb shanks, roasted quail or monkfish) […]…

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Restaurant Report: Ellsworth

26 May 2015

If anyone could get me to eat Brussels sprouts, I’m not surprised it’s Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins, the owners of Ellsworth, their new small-plate canteen located a block from their mega-successful wine bar and gastronomic tasting table Verjus. Since they opened in early March, I’ve gone for brunch and lunch four times, tasting different dishes with each visit and it has quickly climbed up the list of my favorite, reliably good restaurants. Here’s the rundown: Ambience: casual (read: yes, you can come straight from an afternoon of traversing the city by foot), unpretentious, lively in the evening when the place fills up with a more international crowd, quieter at lunch when it leans Parisian. In the kitchen: While Braden holds firmly to his position in the Verjus kitchen, Ellsworth brings on board his former second in command, Canadian chef Hannah Kowalenko who handles vegetables masterfully. She is also the brains behind the to-die-for apple beignets What to expect: Nouveau Americana fare and the same fine provenance one has come to expect and appreciate at Verjus. Beautiful produce, high quality fish and meats, homemade Sourdough bread, homemade butter, homemade ricotta, yogurt and sausage and an accommodating kitchen for shareable small plates. Coffee […]…

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A Better Brunch in Paris

16 February 2015

Of all the Food topics discussed at length in the last couple of years all over the world, brunch has perhaps been the most polarizing (a couple examples here and here). I’m all for it when the formula is respected – a sweet and savory offering that caters to a variety of tastes, good coffee, a fun atmosphere (since typically this meal is taking place before the start of a new week, a historically dismal day), and a fair price. As an early riser, I like that I can go for a late breakfast and continue my day while sleepyheads roll in after noon to while theirs away. When the craze infiltrated Paris, which I attribute in part to the influence of Sex and the City and a growing openness to Anglo traditions, it was at once parodied and emulated. No reason to reinvent the wheel, just pull the easiest and most cost effective elements from the borrowed concept, wrap it up in a fixed price package and tack on “Le Brunch” label and you’ve got yourself a trend. And it was initially amusing to see how ravenous Parisians were for the idea. Lines regularly snaked onto the sidewalk at Breakfast in America. […]…

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