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Where there’s always a buzz, LA in Paris; don’t forget chef Gilles Epié was at L’Orangerie where he cheffed for le tout Hollywood. If you have a bagnole the voiturier looks delighted to take it off your hands, Ferrari or Fiat.
Elizabeth Epié’s welcome is now legendary in the city that rarely smiles. You’re led to your favourite table and immediately offered a flute of something while Lizzie tells all about Gilles. his market finds that day, and his dishes created with Renald Epié. Hey, that’s a familiar face? It’s Pierre Meneau, popped by because: “I got Pierre Gagnaire’s fish by mistake and took it to him (along the road at 6 rue Balzac) must dash Dad’s waiting (Marc Meneau) to cook with me”.
Meanwhile, there’s a soothing velouté of haricot-coco, celeri & truffes, to sip while you mull over the menu. Gilles pops out, designer stubble, tats, All-For-Mankind jeans. “Look out for me at Roissy Airport in March”, he tips. “We’re opening Frenchy’s Bistro; it’s going to be cool, if you want steak and chips at 5 in the morning that’s where you’ll find it”.
We choose from the Album d’Hiver:
On a bed of warm celery root, Black Truffles, caramelised hazlenuts, parmesan sauce. Ashton goes for Blue Lobster with spinach & onions, coconut milk and sweet wasabi. My main is sea scallops à la plancha, baby leeks and more truffles. Ashton’s rack is very rare (lamb that is) layered with eggplant and tomaotes gratin, fragrant thyme lamb jus. We share Roquefort, walnut and apricot terrine, mesclun salad with home-baked bread. Then Gros Macaron, chocolate-pistachio-cherry and Roasted Mango, Sichuan pepper, lime & coconut ice cream. Châteaux de Pibarnon, Comte de Saint Victor Bandol is perfect, supple and sexy. Like Ashton!
6 rue Arsène Houssaye, 8th
M: Charles de Gaulle, Etoile
T: 01 42 89 15 51
Average Spend Lunch- 46€ Discovery Menu 69€ + wine
Album d’Hiver Average Spend 85€
Shut Saturday night Sunday
L’Agapé Substance was launched by Laurent Lapaire and Olivier Le Franc in 2011 in a long thin contemporary space on rue Mazarine, reservations were hard to get and the rue full of gastronauts asking “where is number 66?”, as, with its’ frosted glass windows and no-sign, it was easy to walk on by and end up, in despair, at L’Alcazar!
Once through the glass door, the long thin room revealed a long thin bar and high stools with open kitchen, VIP space overlooking the chefs station, heads down, creating a revolution with organic herbs, line-caught fish, fowl, beef and seafood. The menu is ingredient and market led based around 12 basic seasonal products: Autour de l’oeuf: Autour du boeuf: Autour de cerfeuil tubéreux: Autour de l’ormeau etc. and matched with organic wines from little producers.
Heading the team of Laurent Cherchi and Benjamin Gaugé is young talent Gaëtan Gentil, from Le Mans, his ascension to head-chef as fast as the cars that race round the 24-hour track. It takes in the Alps with Emmanuel Renaut to Villa Belrose, Saint-Tropez. The Crillon with his spiritual master Piège and his spiritual brother Denis Fétisson in Mougins. He’s also worked with Philippe Labbé, from whom he learned daring play with textures, flavours and to cook or to leave raw, the better to taste the essence of the products. “Respect the products” is Gentil’s watchword.
Five dishes, say, Foie gras, nougatine et jelée pomme coing or Langoustine & cauliflower, are presented on stark anthracite boards then Ravioli de Pecorino cheese with spinach is a prelude to the mains: Slow cooked egg, brioche, crème de conté cheese, smoked duck: baby duck with sweet potato and jus. The dishes keep coming, with warm breads by Eric Kayser, just along the road, and Monsieur Bordier’s beurre.
Do go, for the experience: this is like seeing the first of Picasso’s cubist paintings: reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: travelling at 200kph in a car at Le Mans:
What does Agapé Substance mean?
In his book, The Four Loves, CS Lewis used Agapé to describe what he believed was the highest level of love known to humanity—a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other.
66 rue Mazarine 6th
T: 01 43 29 33 83
Average spend from 65€-199€ with wine pairings
Watch for Agapé Wine-Bar opening opposite
A little bit of Italy in quartier Saint-Lazare. Where Romain, chef/owner explains his pizzas are inspired by those you eat in Rome. “The round ones are from Napoli”, he says. It’s a happy go lucky atmosphere, mouthwatering pizza squares displayed under glass and regulars snitch them from the counter, wander around discussing the latest news from home as they munch, sip a glass of Chianti Classico. Then, fresh soup of the day, could be courgette with a touch of curry. Burrata AOC, tomates cerises confites et balsamique: Salad of roquette, parmesan et tomates cerises:
Mains include, on a wooden board: Planche primavera : pizza au choix parmi les pizzas végétariennes (buffala, insalata, fenouil) Planche gourmande : pizzas végétariennes et bresaola, speck, mortadelle, ricotta or Planche gourmet : toutes les pizzas au choix and, in season, pizza à la truffe.
Romain’s desserts, worth the calories, include: Panacotta griotte et pistache: Baba limoncello: Tiramisu and mile-high Panettone aux Nutella. Yum !
Along the road, at 14 rue de la Rochefoucauld, don’t miss www.musee-moreau.fr The windows still open onto the garden that artist Gustave Moreau could see every day. Visit his house and studio, still kept as he left it when he died in 1898.
Gino & Rita
40 rue Saint-Georges, 9th
M: Saint George
T: 01 48 24 58 94
Average spend 3 courses 30€
+wine. Also to take away.
Free Wi-Fi Shut-Sat-Sun
Prefer New York? There’s a little bit of NYC in the heart of the Sentier with néo-brasserie Belmont, just launched by Alfred Bernadin, grandson of the founder of www.lecrazyhorseparis.com The industrial/“Chesterfield” style decor plays on geometry, blends round, square and oval shapes, beneath an Eiffel-style structure, with 6-metre high ceiling. Belmont stands out for its unique style, breaking codes, mixing vintage with contemporary.
The edgy space is on two floors with DJ Thursday and Sunday, always something buzzy, arty happening around the mix n’match menu of fish n’ chips, cheese or foie gras burgers/charcuteries Espagnoles Bellota/Bar Snacks/tapas froides and chaudes, created by chef Michel Cordeiro, with a world wine card and at least 40 cocktails, ready to be shaken or stirred.
Saturday and Sunday, Belmont’s American Brunch means fresh juices, a big basket of viennoiseries, jams and condiments on each table, eggs Benedict, Norwegian eggs, egg white and herb filled omelettes, Californian and César salads, burgers, etc. Desserts include “The NY Cheescake”, carrot cake, fresh fruit salad, macaron Tropézien, Café Gourmand. Read, funky and fun. If only they had a few rooms!
86 rue Réamur 2nd
T: 01 40 41 90 90
Open Mon-Sat – 0900-0200
Saturday & Sunday – Brunch 20€
Also Belmont to Go
Happy Hour 6-8pm