It’s a special occasion; a first date, a wedding anniversary, a birthday, that all-important business dinner and you need something just a little more fancy than your average corner brasserie. Choosing the perfect restaurant in this city is harder than you would think and after nearly three years in Paris, I’ve done my fair share of planning dinners for all sorts of occasions and preferences. So voilà, ten recommendations that will probably help you out in a last-minute pinch to find the perfect table in Paris…
Le Coq Rico: In case you were looking for it, the best poulet rôti in Paris is without a doubt, chez Le Coq Rico, a sleek Parisian eatery meets gourmet chicken barn in the picturesque setting of Montmartre, just behind the Sacre Coeur. The concept of dining all around chicken might sound too simplistic to be attractive, but you’ll be very pleasantly surprised given the variety of dish choices. Beautifully cooked, Mama’s roast suddenly turns into special occasion food and you’ll surprise even the most experienced of foodies. (I sent a family of chefs here and they loved it). Oh, and p.s. the desserts are also fantastic.
Le Coq Rico, 98 Rue Lepic 75018, 01 42 59 82 89
A Michelin-Star worthy Design Marvel tucked away on a Medieval Island
Le Sergent Recruteur: – Away from the predictable luxe restaurants of the Triangle d’Or, situated on the gorgeous Ile-Saint-Louis, a 17th century island on the Seine river, you’ll find talented chef, Antonin Bonnet at the helm of this should-be “Michelin 3-star” kitchen. At half the cost of any Michelin star meal you’ll find in Paris, every plate, much like the restaurant’s design,
looks like a work of art. It’s certainly not child-friendly food, but if you’re familiar with your gourmet cuisine, this 8 or 9 course journey will be difficult to class as anything but exquisite. The only problem is to find the right wine to match the range of tastes and textures. Luckily one of the most knowledgeable sommeliers in Paris will be on hand to help. Guaranteed to impress modern art and design enthusiasts.
Le Sergent Recruteur, 41, rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Isle 75004, +33 (1) 43 54 75 42,
Paris like it is in the Movies
Hotel du Nord: – It’s old grey facade with that iconic French lettering has not changed since it was immortalised in the 1938 film, Hotel du Nord. But there’s nothing old and grey about the trendy restaurant behind the walls of this Canal Saint Martin hotspot. Inside, you’ll find an eclectic brasserie with a striking monochrome chequered floor, cosy corners with old library books and vintage objects and perfect candle-lit mood lighting in the evenings.
Hotel du Nord situated on the best end of the Canal Saint Martin, a truly picturesque little corner of Paris for walking around after dinner; crossing bridges over the canal and browsing shop windows in the dark.
Here, nothing on the menu is too scary, which I personally like in a restaurant. You have a French take on international cuisine, from asian entrées to classic mains like confit de canard or even a cheeseburger (when is a cheeseburger ever not calling out your name?)
Hotel du Nord, 102 Quai de Jemmapes 75010, 01 40 40 78 78
Miss Kō : – As you should know by now, a Phillip Starck restaurant is not here to give you traditional, tame or anything
short of outrageous. And the busy, mind-boggling design of Miss Kō, Starck’s latest creation, certainly doesn’t disappoint. When you’re done ogling at the art installations hanging above your head and eyeing up the beautiful clientele, you can turn your attention to the food. Think Japanese classics such as spring rolls, dumplings and sushi rolls but stuffed with French ingredients like foie gras, boeuf bourgignon and tomato confit.
You can’t trust that the service will always be friendly here– but I’m sure the demanding jetset clientele would get on my nerves after a while too! If you’re looking to roll with the fashion-pack, eat well and try new flavours, put on your glad rags and head to Miss Kō. Not to mention the cocktail menu is pretty spectacular.
Vivant: – Perfect for a low-key first date to show you’re in the know with charming Paris spots and good food. Expect simple but delicious ingredients cooked to perfection, served up as a 55 euros three course ‘tasting menu’, paired with a wine personally recommended by the friendly waiter. The tiny spot in the 10th arrondissement is cozy, familiar and memorable. Decorated with beautiful art nouveau murals, you’ll feel like you’ve been a local since the Belle Epoque. Booking is recommended. Vivant Restaurant, 43 rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010 Paris, 01 42 46 43 55
Mini Palais: – The coup de coeur of the Mini Palais is the magnificent terrace, bathed in impressive red lighting in the
evening. It’s the kind of one-off dining location you would overlook a below average meal for– luckily, the food here is pretty good. I’m not talking spectacular flavours you’ve never experienced before, but the pretty food presentation will take up most of your attention anyway.
Despite being connected to the Grand Palais and several other big museums, most tourists have no idea this place exists behind the gigantic columns. The entrance is sort of tucked away at the side, so you’ll mostly be dining alongside in-the-know, high-powered Parisians. P.S. From around 4pm-6pm, the terrace is open for tea and cakes, a much-needed afternoon haven away from the Champs-Elysees. And on your way to the toilets, find the door with a little window where you can peak through to the dome of the Grand Palais.
Mini Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, 01 42 56 42 42
L’Affable: – A hidden neighbourhood favourite with the locals of the 7th arrondissement, this is everything you want a Parisian bistro to be– and it’s harder than you would think to find a good one in this city. The food is terrific, try the crab ravioli and the amazing scallops. Visitors/ ex-pats from England will be shocked at how perfect the Beef Wellington is here (probably the only place you’ll find it in Paris this good). L’Affable has a charming no-fuss ambience on a pretty back street near Rue du Bac– no tourists in sight. This would be a memorable place to take out your colleagues … (just please don’t tell too many people about it!)
L’Affable, 10 rue de saint simon, 75007 01 42 22 01 60
Hipsters do Haute Cuisine
Septime: At Septime, they’ve gone with the concept of a blind menu. You tell the waiters what you don’t like and let
them surprise you. The carte blanche menu includes two appetisers, two mains and two desserts all for the set price of 55 euros. You get that hipster vibe with the stark design, industrial lighting, cement floors, rough-hewn barn board tables, but rest assured, there’s nothing stereotypical about this food. And don’t just take my word for it, good luck trying to find a bad review on this place.
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole: – Wisteria vines out of a storybook intertwine up the wall of the Vieux Paris d’Arcole, framing the violet, red and yellow stained-glass windows. Flower pots filled with roses, azaleas and bellflowers sit outside this 16th century old mansion that was once part of the clergy houses surrounding the Notre Dame. Get the point? It’s romance gold, a wedding anniversary winner, especially if it’s summer and you can get a table outdoors. The chef has a fine selection of wines and a sophisticated menu from 39 euros per person includes rich specialties of the Aveyron region. Tip: the establishment also has some beautiful historic apartments to rent.
Au Vieux Paris, 24 Rue Chanoinesse, 75004, 01 40 51 78 52
Yoom: – Sometimes, you want to take somebody out to dinner, but you don’t want it to be a huge production or to break the bank. A big step-up from your average chinese local is Yoom, a modern “Hong Kong canteen” with excellent dim sum and quirky but elegant decor.
Tucked away on a quaint little street in St. Germain, perfect for an after dinner stroll, hand in hand, Yoom is a relaxed and friendly place you can trust to fill your tummy. The aim is to try as many different varieties of the delicious dim sum as you can, and the bi-lingual waitresses are always on hand to help you decide. Don’t expect to put down more than 32 euros per person including wine. You might be tempted as I was to take home one of their serving plates with Maoist vintage lithographs of stocky Asian maidens.
A perfect mid-week dinner out.
Yoom, 5 Rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006 Paris, 01 43 54 94 56