High 5: Paris restaurants
La Pointe du Grouin
Thierry Breton’s wonderfully cheap and cheerful wine bar, conveniently located close to the Gare du Nord, is sandwiched between Breton’s other eateries, Chez Michel and Chez Casimir. With plenty of rustic charm, it’s full of hearty regional fare – think large crates of oysters and buckets of fresh snails – and wine is served by the magnum so, needless to say, I was pretty content.
A curious twist is that this little bistro actually has its own currency, Grouins, with its own currency machine set up by the bar. We changed our money and pulled up stools, somehow managing to decipher the complicated-looking menu (with the help of Google translate) and went up to order ourselves a decent selection.
Insider tip: Don’t be afraid to order a lot – it’s fairly low-cost, and we ended up having to go back and forth to the counter to order more food.
8 Rue de Belzunce, 75010 Paris
Adjacent to the Cirque d’Hiver is the Clown Bar, a small bistro full of charm, with its lively interior, intimate atmosphere and delicious small plate menu. The décor features hand-painted tiles of acrobatic clowns, a colourful glass ceiling and chains of circus lights. Now headed by Japanese chef Sota Atsumi, the food is just as playful and interesting as the interior design. We ordered breaded, fried bulot snails with spicy lemon aioli (my first-ever taste of snails!), radicchio with sea urchin and shavings of parmesan, and fresh scallops with endive.
Insider tip: The restaurant mainly serves ‘natural’ wines (those with no added sulphur), which will not be to everyone’s liking, so I’d advise trying a glass first before purchasing the whole bottle.
114 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
Having a good first impression of a restaurant is often key, whether it’s a cool exterior, unique décor, some quirky features or just friendly staff – these are often the things that encourage me to pull up a seat. And Bones ticked all the right boxes. On arrival at Aussie chef James Henry’s new little bistro, we immediately enjoyed a warm welcome from two effortlessly-cool members of staff, despite the restaurant being packed out. The hip and stylish interior had a Scandi-chic feel, with rough-hewn stone walls, exposed brick, metal beams and concrete floors. It was clear from the outset that this was a trendy place to be (and be seen).
Settling on stools at the bar, we opted for two Martinis and perused the tasting menu. We ordered a selection of small plates to start including Poisson cru et oseille, Terrine maison and Lapin en brioche, followed by Magret de canard and Ris de veau, ending with Glace du lait du chévre et amandes de prunes, citron Meyer et Café.
Insider tip: Sitting up at the bar for dinner and watching the restaurant at work and the barmen whisking up various cocktails was great fun. If it’s available, I would definitely recommend it.
43 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 75011 Paris
This lovely little restaurant is stylish and slick with a long counter for quick bites, as well as a few small tables dotted around. The flexible menu allows guests to mix and match and the service is speedy (but not hurried), thus not encroaching on valuable sight-seeing time.
The food was probably the best I experienced during my weekend in Paris, with langoustine ravioli and the Vraie salade César Ritz (unlike any Chicken Caesar salad that I’ve ever tried). It was the perfect light lunch before a lovely walk along the river towards the Eiffel Tower.
Insider tip: For lunch, opt to sit at the counter if possible for a swift and seamless service.
135, rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris
We stumbled on this restaurant when the heavens opened as we were debating whether to go up the Arc de Triomphe. Located a couple of hundred metres down one of the roads leading away from the Triomphe, we ran inside hoping for a quick drink until the rain subsided. However, having seen the menu, we decided a ‘little’ snack wouldn’t hurt.
Presented with large plates of delicious meats and a selection of cheeses – complete with homemade chutney, crunchy bread and fruit, and coupled with glasses of wine recommended by the waiter – we were in our foodie element. And the prices were pretty reasonable, too – we had somehow found a restaurant that seemed to be off the main tourist trail but still has a lovely view of the Triomphe.
Insider tip: Miss the busy key lunch times and instead visit late afternoon.
1 Rue d’Armaillé, 75017 Paris
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