À L’Épi d’Or, Enoteca, Le Victor Hugo, Le Relais du Parc: Restaurants in Paris

À L’Épi d’Or, Enoteca, Le Victor Hugo, Le Relais du Parc: Restaurants in Paris
“God made only water – man made wine.” –Victor Hugo Le Victor Hugo A renaissance beautifully orchestrated by Nicolas Richard, of Group Richard, on Place Victor Hugo. Le VH first saw the light of day in the 19th century, named in homage to the author, poet, novelist, who breathed his last in 1885 at 124, Avenue Victor Hugo. Le Victor Hugo’s always buzzing; it’s the place to meet, on the hub of one of the most prestigious Paris avenues. Black, brass, velvet and burgundy, the decor’s by Richard Lafond (Bonaparte, La Belle Helene, Monsieur Moulinot, Café Beaugrenelle etc.) On the walls, Victor Hugo watches the proceedings with interest. Starters are excellent: Œuf Mayo (€5), leeks vinaigrette (€6), pumpkin soup (€10),  Mackerel in white wine, façon Victor Hugo (€10), herring fillets with potatoes (€14), Tuna tartare (€19). All your faves! For your main dish, try Olivier Brosset’s peasant sausage and lentilles (€16), black truffle omelette (€30), organic vegetable casserole (€22), braised rib of beef and carrots (€25). There are also generous salads for the ladies who lunch (from €11-36). The weekday menu Semainier costs €22. (Friday – Fish & Chips, Saturday- Pot au Feu and Sunday’s tradi roast chicken “en famille,” says Nicolas. Add excellent cheeses, bread from Bechu (118 avenue VH, 16th) and house made desserts like lemon meringue pie (€12) or Victor Hugo’s intense Toblerone chocolate mousse (€10). Children’s menu – chicken croquettes with chips or croque-monsieur, with soft drink and ice cream costs €15. On the wine card, glasses start from €5. The “Tom Cruise” mixologists create mean cocktails and mocktails (for breakfast, as well, about €9). And, if you finish with coffee, opt for “Richard”, a delicious nectar with slightly burnt notes. Just like Nicolas R! 4 place Victor Hugo, 16th Metro: Victor Hugo Tel: +33 (0)1 45 00 87 55 Open 7/7 Valet parking/Terrace Enoteca – Mama Mia it’s good! According to Wikipedia: “Enoteca is a special type of local or regional wine shop that originated in Italy.” This iconic 90s Paris “Enoteca” is now revised and corrected, without spoiling the soul of a very special lower Marais address, by Alexandre Chapon (Vins des Pyrénées, Pamela Popo and Chez Julien). On two levels, Italian wines showcase the bright main dining room and bar while upstairs resembles the Godfather’s private library: mysterious, dark, sexy. From the tiny kitchen, Lombardy-born chef Emanuele Tamussi sends out food to match the 400 wine references. “We spend a lot of time tasting”, admit Chapon & Tamussi. Recently the starters featured warm octopus salad, fennel, celery and hazelnuts, drizzled with olive oil. Vitello tonnato (veal, tuna sauce). Italian charcuterie. Mains included a steaming tangle of tagliatelle, gambas and bisque maison; potato gnocchi with mussels; linguine aux carpet-shell clams; Ravioli, cream of parmesan and pesto; Sea Bass partnered classic sauce vierge and crunchy vegetables; Rack of Lamb lovingly enveloped in a mustard and parmesan crust. Then Italian cheese and/or “Corleone” (homage to…) a very mysterious, complicated and delicious, sugary, slow-cooked, Aubergine confit, cut with ricotta gelato: warm praline chocolate cake: Coffee and Marsala Tiramisu, fig pannacotta or, a ray of sunshine, with Tartelette Sicilienne. The service is upbeat, professional, friendly, with a special shout out to somm Margarita Sala (ex-Savoy, London) and her fine wine recommendations such as Brunello di Montalcino 2012 from Tuscany (€13 glass), and excellent white Gavi “Villavecchia” 2017 (€6 glass). 25 rue Charles V, 4th Metro: Pont Marie, Lunch Formula €18 – A La Carte from €32-€60 Tel: +33 (0)1 42 78 91 44 Open 7/7 À L’Épi d’Or Culinary power couple Jean-François and Elodie Piège (Le Grand Restaurant, Clover Grill, Poule au Pot etc.) recently acquired this historic 1930s address on the edge of Les Halles. Version 2020 leaves everything as before, ceramic floors, splendid wood bar, banquettes, copper railings, polished wooden tables – even the original engraved glass panel announcing “Les Toilettes.” Delicious brasserie dishes feature in the weekday menu (formulas €27 and €36) which vary according to the season/ market. It’s all cooked fresh daily in the tiny open kitchen by JFP and his enthusiastic brigade of chefs. Pâté en croûte, home pickled cornichons, mousse de foie; salade de pois chiches; golden croque-madame; steak tartare/frits; slow roasted lamb; tarragon roast chicken; bread by Lalos & JFP; Nougat glacé etc. And young Antoine Piège highly recommends le poisson pané. A Portuguese touch, in reference to Elodie’s origins, is the exquisite hand painted tableware. At L’Epi d’Or, natural wines (listed and poured by Kevin and the Pièges) and craft beers showcase the flavors of superb traditional bistro cuisine. “Le Tout Paris gathers here – it’s the fine art of making simple and good food,” says FigaroScope. 25, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1st Metro: Les Halles/ Exit 7/Louvre-Rivoli Tel: +33 (0)1 42 36 38 12 Closed Saturday & Sunday Le Relais du Parc To showcase the flourishing, Philippe Niez-designed magnolia tree gardens (listed “Espace Vert Intérieur Protegé), Le Relais du Parc invite you to lunch or dinner under their ephemeral urban conservatory. “My signature menu reflects all that is sustainable and green and will be served until the end of April, when guests can sit in the garden under parasols”, smiles chef Xavier Pistol who began his culinary career, in Caribbean sunshine, on the island of Guadeloupe. “It’s an ode to…

Lead photo credit : Le Victor Hugo

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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 It.com, 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 !