Q: What are the hottest tables in town now?
Before a recent trip to France, I checked in with Alexandre Cammas, the mind behind LeFooding.com, the country’s cheeky yet reliable online restaurant guide. He told me that if I wanted to go to the latest place for gourmands, I had to dine at Frenchie (dinner, $45; 5 Rue du Nil; 33-1/40-39-96-19), a small, homey establishment in the Second Arrondissement. Chef-owner Gregory Marchand trained at New York’s Gramercy Tavern and with Jamie Oliver in London, and he makes one of the best chocolate tarts I’ve ever tasted, as well as my number one gazpacho to date. Monsieur Fooding also sent me to Yam’Tcha (dinner, $60; 4 Rue Sauval; 33-1/40-26-08-07). Chef Adeline Grattard worked with French masters like Pascal Barbot of L’Astrance and clocked many hours cooking in Hong Kong; here, she and her husband, Chi Wah Chan (a steeping pro), pair tea with Franco-Chinese dishes.
Cammas insisted I try Caffé dei Cioppi (dinner, $45; 159 Rue du Faubourg St.-Antoine; 33-1/43-46-10-14), a charming, minuscule trattoria where the carbonara is addictive and the fresh mozzarella is surrounded by in-season produce like cherry tomatoes and paper-thin slices of grilled eggplant. (It’s open only for dinner, Wednesday through Friday.) Another one to watch is Nomiya (dinner, $110; 13 Av. du Président Wilson; reservations via art-home-electrolux.com), a pop-up restaurant that opened this summer in a dining room atop the Palais de Tokyo (see “Paris: The New Nomiya Restaurant”).
And this just in: In October autodidact Claude Colliot (dinner, $75; 40 Rue des Blancs-Manteaux), one of my heroes and a favorite among culinary insiders (including actress Marion Cotillard), christens his second establishment, this one in the Marais. Meanwhile, all of Paris waits for Yves Camdeborde (aka Papa Gastro-bistro) to launch L’Avant Comptoir (3 Carrefour de l’Odéon; 33-1/44-27-07-97), a crêperie by day and a cocktail and hors d’ouevres bar at night, which he will open next door to his seminal restaurant Le Comptoir. The other eagerly anticipated arrival is the new outpost from Daniel Rose, the renegade American chef who took Paris by storm three years ago with his tiny restaurant Spring (dinner, $65; 6 Rue Bailleul; 33-1/45-96-05-72). In January Spring version 2.0 should open its doors; the 22 seats in its upstairs dining room will be as hard to score as ever, but the wine bar downstairs will serve food to an additional 16 people.
Q: After a few days of French food, I get a bit tired of it. Any recommendations for places that serve other types of cuisine?
I love Sale e Pepe (dinner, $40; 30 Rue Ramey; 33-1/46-06-08-01), a cramped Montmartre joint with some of the best pizza anywhere. Owner Samuele Micalizzi walks around the communal tables, spooning out whatever’s in his saucepan. For falafel I go to L’As du Fallafel (lunch, $7; 34 Rue des Rosiers; 33-1/48-87-63-60) and order the Special Sandwich, topped with hummus, red cabbage slaw, salty cucumbers, harissa, fried eggplant, and a creamy tahini-style sauce. And for Moroccan, Au P’tit Cahoua (dinner $40; 24 Rue des Taillandiers; 33-1/47-00-20-42) is a well-kept secret—not much to look at, but when the perfect mechoui (slow-roasted lamb) arrives at the table, decor doesn’t matter. A high-end “ethnic” bakery, La Bague de Kenza (106 Rue St.-Maur; 33-1/43-14-93-15) is the place to go when bringing dessert to a dinner party; the Algerian purveyor sells North African confections dripping with pistachios, almonds, and sesame seeds.
Q: Which Paris patisseries have the best baked goods?
David Lebovitz, a former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, helped me out on this one. He’s an expat expert on dessert, a leader of culinary tours around Paris, and the author of the recent book The Sweet Life in Paris.
His favorite French pastry is the gâteau opéra, a delicate cake perfected at Dalloyau (101 Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré; 33-1/42-99-90-00). “It has the ideal balance of coffee, cake, and dark chocolate,” Lebovitz says. His top croissant, meanwhile, is found at Au Levain du Marais (28 Bd. Beaumarchais; 33-1/48-05-17-14), where, he says, “they put enough salt in the batter.” I also love the elephant ear–shaped palmier there, but Lebovitz prefers the ones at Moisan (7 Rue Bourdaloue; 33-1/48-74-04-55). “You have to get the very darkly caramelized ones,” he advises. He’s over the global macaron craze (“They should stay in France”) but still loves the native version and holds the Ladurée (75 Av. des Champs-Elysées; 33-1/40-75-08-75) original in high regard. And when it comes to éclairs, he opts for Jacques Genin’s (133 Rue de Turenne; 33-1/45-77-29-01) cocoa-flavored rendition. Tarte Tatin requires a visit to Berthillon (31 Rue St.-Louis en L’Ile; 33-1/43-54-31-61), where the city’s most famous ice cream is also made.
As for remembrances of things Proustian, Lebovitz goes to Blé Sucré (7 Rue Antoine Vollon; 33-1/43-40-77-73), where Fabrice Le Bourdat bakes the only madeleines he deems worth eating (other than the ones Lebovitz bakes himself, that is)—never too dry or sweet, and iced with a subtle lemon glaze. Finally there’s Eric Kayser (16 Rue des Petits Carreaux; 33-1/42-33-76-48) for financiers, those spongy tea cakes made with almond flour.
Since this is France, you’ll also want to find the ultimate pain (as in bread). It just so happens that each year an award is given to the city’s most outstanding “traditional” baguette (it has to meet strict length and weight requirements). To sample the recipient of this year’s Grand Prix de la Baguette, head to Le Grenier de Félix (64 Av. Félix Faure; 33-1/45-54-57-48) and try baker Franck Tombarel’s winning entry.