The Gourmet Buzz

The Gourmet Buzz

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I don’t know what you remember best about Brasserie Stella, that flat-iron type building on an angle of two savvy 16th arrondissement streets.  I remember the fattest phallic asparagus I’ve ever tasted, the long, thin room always packed with a chic clientele who pretended not to notice Belmondo, Mastroianni, Patrick Dupond and Catherine Deneuve sensuously sucking (the asparagus dear, don’t get me wrong). Lunchtimes it was so handy after shopping in the rue des Belles Feuilles (if you don’t know this street, check it out; you can buy everything from a pin to an organic elephant).

Anyway, to cut a long one short, over the years the asparagus went off, and so did Stella, who eventually closed her doors, and stood naked and crumbling–until last week, when they were turning posh punters away big time at the newly chromed doors, as only those uptight Maitre’d’s know how (I think it’s part of the Ecole Hotellerie training – Leçon 14 – “Ow to make ze customer feel rejected!”

So entrepreneur Rodolphe Biron liked the asparagus so much, he bought the place. He’s taken down the prissy nets, creating a great view out onto Avenue Victor Hugo/rue de la Pompe; you can watch the young startups double parking the Porches. So give it an A for atmosphere.  The décor’s the usual brasserie:  red leather, dark wood walls and tables, and they’ve added a grande salle on the first floor.  There’s now a wine list suggesting those bottles deemed appropriate for the dishes on the menu.  The kitchen’s now below stairs and is producing the usual cuisine familiale et bourgeoise. And the famous asparagus? No sign of them. The rest of the repas? Don’t ask. Not great, but the poulet fermier was a cute little chicken who only had to cross the road from the Bresse boucherie (Au Poulet de Bresse, 30 rue des Belles Feuilles T:01 47 27 45 52). Somehow I can’t wait to return; with all the fusion confusion taking over Paris, it’s good to know where I can get a straight plate of escargots, a slice of saucisson sec, a platter of sea-food, a full-fat oeuf mayo and a baba au rhum. Ah, nostalgia!

Le Stella

133 Avenue Victor Hugo, 16th
Métro: Victor Hugo
T: 01 56 90 56 00
Every day until 1:00 a.m. in the morning


Albert Corre is a lovely boy, lovely to look at, delightful to know and a dedicated and talented chef.  His Le Pergolèse restaurant has one Michelin star and a belle clientele du quartier: the Hermes Kelly bag ladies and the Hugo Boss’s. The head of Ferrari eats chez Albert so often there’s even a dessert Jean Todt.

Recently the perma-tanned Albert (think Jon Voight before he went off) opened a petit canteen next door, at what was formerly a miserable little restaurant called Le Petit Bedon. He ripped out all the rococo rubbish, put in some stunning artwork, “from my collection,”) added interesting tchohckes, like the bay window decorated with designer candles.   Chef Fred is ex-Taillevent; “he was the dish-washer, I rescued him”–that’s Albert having his little joke. The products are superb. On the blackboard there are 6 starters, which change daily, at around 8€. The millefeuille of crab with guacamole and the risotto of scamp are scrumptious. 7 mains include an elegant Canon d’Agneau at 17€. Drink a Franck Phélan St-Estephe at 40€ and don’t miss the Moelleux au chocolat dessert even if you are on a diet; I’ll eat yours. 10€. There’s cheese and, to finish, a Cohiba cigar from the glass-topped humidor. Fabrice, the kindly Maitre d’hotel, will light your fire.

40 rue Pergolèse, 16th.
Métro: Porte Maillot
T: 01 45 00 21 40
Lunch & Dinner

How are you on biscuits? Is it just the English who can’t leave home without a packet of Hobnobs in the glove box? Two years ago, Stuart Payne, an information technology consultant (read Geek) in Cambridge, UK, started – it’s become a cult site and biscuit lovers from all over the world, like Martin from Uruguay, send in reviews of their favourites and their secret dunking habits. The site features a “biscuit of the week,” a biscuit quiz and breaking news from the exciting world of biscuits!

Recently Mr & Mrs Payne were in France and very impressed with the chocolate Mikados and Galettes Breton biscuits. Payne still dreams of his childhood, when custard creams came in clear wrappers and it was easy to find McVitie’s Abbey Crunch biscuits.

The site was started as a bit of a joke – but isn’t that how all the best things begin?

Happy dunking – See you next week.

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !