“Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness” – Auguste Escoffier
France is world famous for its culinary expertise. Julia Child is not exaggerating when she says that in France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport. It really is! Paris, especially, is a gastronomic heaven. The best bread, meat dishes, seafood specialities, patisserie of all kinds can be sampled here at any budget. Sometimes I wonder how French women can remain so skinny when surrounded by all these amazing food! Every time I come here, I gain so much weight because I just want to eat everything, especially the pastries. It is not really necessary to go to fine dining restaurants in Paris, because traditional home cooked style restaurants are just as amazing here, if not more! After several years of trying out all kinds of restaurants and food markets in Paris, here are my top 10 recommendations:
· By far my most favourite restaurant in Paris for proper home-cooked style French cuisine with a modern twist. Everything about this place screams cute, cosy and lots of fun… From the quaint exterior shop front that looks like a modest French cottage in the middle of a modern part of city – the restaurant being located in Les Invalides area, 7th Arrondissement – to the friendly attentive staff, to the most wholesome modern French cuisine created by chef Stephane Jego, a man who is truly passionate about his craft, Chez L’Ami Jean is perfect for a hearty dinner for those looking for authentic unpretentious dining experience.
The first time I came here, I tried their tasting menu because everything in the a la carte section sounded so amazing that I just could not decide on just one. The tasting menu is highly recommended because it is only 42 euros for 6 courses, and you will get to try all of their signature dishes such as Soupe Maman, grilled octopus with braised vegetables, braised rabbit, braised veal, and last but not least, their signature rice pudding with caramelised mixed nuts. Make sure that you leave room for this rice pudding because it comes in a huge portion, and extremely moreish. I actually could not finish the pudding in the end because I was too full by the time I got to the last course, but really wished I could!
Since then, I always come here to eat at least once every time I am in Paris because of its delicious food and great value for money, but if you plan to have dinner there on a Saturday or Friday, please make sure you book at least 2 months in advance otherwise there is no hope of getting a table.
Chez L’Ami Jean can be found at 27 Rue Malar, 75007, Paris. Telephone: +33 1 47 05 86 89
· Another hidden gem for 5 star quality French cuisine at a very affordable price. Le Comptoir De Relais, or Le Comptoir for short, is a little art deco dining room runs by Chef Yves Camdeborde next to a beautiful 17th century boutique hotel called Le Relais Saint-Germain. There is nothing on the menu here that I do not like yet…
Everything is so good, you can literally pick any dishes that you want and will never be disappointed. So what’s the catch? Well, I would say that this is the best place for lunch because the five-course prix fixe dinner serves on weekday evenings always require booking 6 months in advance. This restaurant is also tiny, so the best way to get a table for lunch here is to arrive at least 15 minutes before noon to queue. Yup, one has to queue even for a weekday lunch here, but I promise you that it is worth it!
Le Comptoir De Relais can be found at 5 Carrefour de l’Odeon, 75006, Paris. Telephone : +33 1 44 27 07 97
3. Le Souffle
· Although La Cigale Recamier is supposed to be the best soufflé restaurant in Paris, I actually prefer going to Le Souffle for these. The main reason being the central location of Le Souffle – which is close to Jardin De Tuillerie and is just 5 minutes’ walk from Place Vendome and Rue Saint Honore – it is much more convenient to come here to satisfy my soufflé cravings than going all the way to Saint Germain area. In terms of quality, the soufflé at La Cigale Recamier is slightly better, but not by much, so if you do not want to go all the way to Saint Germain, or is spending the day sightseeing or shopping in 1st and 8th Arrondissement, Le Souffle is a great place to stop by for lunch because they offer fantastic arrays of set lunch menus and tasting menus to try out both savoury and sweet souffles.
One of my favourites are the red berries soufflé for dessert because of its pretty pink colour and the taste is fruity but not too sweet. As for its savoury counterpart, tries Roquefort cheese and caramelised pear soufflé. Apart from their souffles, their French Onion Soup and traditional cuisines such as Beef Bourgignon and Coq Au Vin are amazing too. This is definitely a place to stop by for all things traditional French while you are shopping around Rue Saint Honore and Place Vendome.
Le Souffle can be found at 36 Rue De Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 42 60 27 19
· The best caviar in the world in my humble opinion, and what a beautiful setting the restaurant is too… a true Parisienne Savoir Vivre… Caviar Kaspia is the only restaurant on this list that comes with a high price tag, but one has not really dined in Paris, unless one has dined at Caviar Kaspia. It is as famous for its exclusive celebrities and elite clientele, as for its house specialties – King Crab Salad, Smoked Salmon with fresh Blinis, and last but not least, Jacket Potatoes with Caviar topping. This particular dish is especially moreish, heart-warming in winter, and offers quite surprising combination of flavours and textures, given its simple nature. I love it so much that I have even tried to recreate this at home using their caviar (available to buy in their shop on the ground floor) and their recipe available on the restaurant website, which turns out pretty good I have to say.
Apart from the amazing food, the interior design of the restaurant is also something rather special, with its old world elegance and several original relish from the old Russian empire. Sitting in Caviar Kaspia is like being time travelled into one of Leo Tolstoy’s novels.
Caviar Kaspia can be found at 17 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 42 65 33 32
5. Breizh Café
· Parisienne’s favourite place for Galette Bretonne – savoury buckwheat crepes filled with high quality organic ingredients – has the longest queues even on a Sunday late afternoon. An average waiting time for a table here is approximately 1 hour, but it is worth the wait. Breizh Café is situated in Le Marais quarter which is one of the trendiest part of town, and it opens until very late at night, so it is perfect for late night snack. My favourite savoury galette is the Cancalaise which made of potatoes, snoked herring from Brittany and herring roe, which is their regional specialty. For sweet crepes, try the salted butter caramel crepe with a hint of ginger and yuzu… and don’t forget to order a cup of their artisanal ciders to sip throughout the meal. All this for less than 20 euros, make Breizh Café a true affordable luxury.
Breizh Café can be found at 109 Rue Vielle Du Temple, 75003 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 42 72 13 77
6. Kong Paris
· A hip and fun place with the best panoramic rooftop view in Paris is definitely at Kong Paris. The interiors is designed by Philippe Starck, hence the playful minimalist nature. Kong is located on the top two floors of LVMH building overlooking Notre Dame and Ile De La Cite. This is where the finale episode of Sex and the City was filmed (when Carrie Bradshaw had the awkward meeting with her artist boyfriend’s ex-wife), and definitely the place to be seen, especially at night.
My favourite dish here though, is definitely the Black Truffle Udon. Yup.. it’s basically Japanese Udon noodle soup with lots and lots of paper thin black truffle slices on top… I just love simple luxury, when it comes to food…
Kong Paris can be found at 1 Rue Du Pont Neuf, 75001 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 40 39 09 00
· L’éclair De Genie is one of those patisseries that really does live up to its name: the ‘genius éclair’… and thank God they do not have a shop in London because otherwise I will gain so much weight that no amount of exercise will be enough to get rid of all those creams and choux pastry that go into my stomach! Every time I am in Paris, I allow myself a maximum of 1 éclair de Genie per day. My favourite being the salted caramel éclair, and passion fruit with strawberry ones. However, their seasonable flavours are also very tempting and always as pretty as a piece of art – Christmas eclairs with hazelnut and chocolate cream being my other favourite. It is very difficult to make decisions when one is in this shop… even harder to stop eating since these gem coloured eclairs are so moreish. There are 3 shops in Paris now, with its original being the one in Le Marais area.
L’éclair de Genie (the original) can be found at 14 Rue Pavee, 75004 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 42 77 85 11
· Sadaharu Aoki is one of the biggest names in the French patisserie world and the only Japanese chef to enjoy such status, his specialities being the ability to infuse Japanese influences and ingredients into French-style pastries with astonishing finesse and aesthetical elegance.
Whether it be his boxes of colourful chocolate ganache, matcha and cherry loaf cakes (my favourite) or any of his desserts such as yuzu bomb or bamboo millefeuille, his creations are works of art by their own right. they taste even better than their appearance though, and tend to have very light texture and not overly sweet, which are definitely my preference… Again, lucky that I have to fly to Paris or Tokyo to eat these otherwise, I do not know what will happen to me if he opens a shop in London!
Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki can be found at 35 Rue De Vaugirard, 75006 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 45 44 48 90
9. Sunday Food Market at Montmartre
· If you short on time or under a budget, Sunday Morning Food Market at Montmartre is definitely the best place to sample freshest, most authentic Fresh cuisines from all over the country… including organic wines, champagnes from their vineyards too. For between 5-8 euros per dish, you can take your picks from escargots freshly baked for you while you wait, oysters, freshly cooked beef bourguignon, coq au vin, nougats, cheese fondue, raclettes etc. All with a fantastic panoramic view of Paris from the top of the mountain. Montmartre is also my favourite district in Paris, which I will definitely tell you more about it in my next post.
To get to this fantastic food market, head to Montmartre via Abbesses Metro station then either take the Funiculaire from Gare Basse up to the top of the hill, or enjoy a scenic walk to the market yourself.
10. Le Coq Rico
· Roast chickens and all things chickens only are served at Le Coq Rico, an elegant little brasserie in Montmartre area. Well, they are famous for the aromatic, juicy and very tender roast chickens with crispy skin, which definitely live up to its reputation. Their egg dishes are also highly sought after. The restaurant is always fully booked, even on weekdays lunch, so best to reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment.
Le Coq Rico by Antoine Westermann can be found at 98 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris. Telephone: +33 1 42 59 82 89
I hope you enjoy my list of best places to eat in Paris. I deliberately omit places that are just famous to be seen such as Hotel Coste Bar etc. because I want to concentrate on places with genuine good food and nice atmosphere, rather than just hyped up expensive places for crowd watching but mediocre food. Anyway, let me know what you think of the restaurants in the list next time you go to Paris. I would be interested to hear your feedback…
Photographer: May Naruemannalinee