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Of the many luxuries with which Paris is blessed, space isn't one of them. And this is especially true of Parisian restaurants, many of which struggle to find suitable kitchen space let alone dining rooms that can accommodate a crowd. But on the west side of town, with an unrivaled view of beacon Eiffel, a commodious dining room is a precious and accessible new commodity. That and new Americana cooking. At FR/AME, whose name is a nod to both France and America, the focus is on flavors and recipes inspired by California with a local twist. Part of that French flair involves locally sourced and seasonal produce (some of which are grown on-site in the building's rooftop garden) and a robust wine program helmed by Olivier Poussier, one of the world's most revered sommelier. Presiding over the kitchen is American chef American Wigger who perfected the principles of Franco-Californian cuisine while working under the tutelage of French chef Pascal Olhats in Newport Beach. From fish tacos and gruyère burgers to modern coq au vin and fresh garden salads, chef Wigger places a premium on technique and ingredients all while catering to French tastes (which, in some cases, translates to dialing down the spice). And in the process, does an excellent job of transporting the diner west, palm trees and all.
While cocktails have become a fixture of Parisian nightlife in recent years, it's beer that's quickly becoming the drink of choice among locals. The craft beer movement has been slow to sprout but is finally gaining ground thanks to local producers like Demory and Gallia. Beer hounds should get a taste at Demory's new bar in the 1st arrondissement and at La Fine Mousse, a well-stocked local favorite in the 11th arrondissement with a selection of over 150 beers, both French and foreign.
With the precipitous rise of gourmet street food and market-fresh neo-bistrots, it's not surprising that Boris Leclercq's eponymous steak joint 'Chez Boris' opened near the Champs-Elysées last year with little fanfare. The conceit of this steakhouse, however, deserves attention particularly for its unique, revivalist approach to steak-frites dining. Boris and his wife Leticia raise grass-fed Aubrac cows on their own farm in the Hérault region, follow a 21-day maturation process in a cold chamber within their own cutting plant (where they employ 2 dedicated butchers), and serve both traditionally superior cuts (filet, sirloin, etc.) and those most often neglected or typically reserved for tartares or hamburgers (flank or spider), accentuating their flavor as a result of their maturation technique and grilling process. What's more, they won't begin preparing cuts from another cow until those from the previous one have been entirely used and served. Each steak is served with a simple green salad and crispy fries cooked in beef fat, not in oil. This 'home made' from farm to plate approach is, effectively, all in an effort to control the provenance of the meat they serve and ensure quality at all times - crucial as the horse-meat controversy and trend in French restaurants toward using industrial ingredients had the public hyper-aware and concerned about what they're consuming. Delicious and sustainable - more than enough reason to book lunch or dinner at Chez Boris.
The specialty coffee scene was slow to sprout in Paris but thanks to a brigade of entrepreneurial career baristas, the march toward change in consumption and taste is putting the city on the global bean map. At the vanguard of the movement are David Flynn and Thomas Lehoux, both veritable stars in the milieu. David, formerly of Télescope, and Thomas, currently the co-owner of the Canal St. Martin coffee shop Ten Belles, pooled their talents and brought in Anselme Blayney, owner of Le Bal café, to open a roaster in the 19th arrondissement. In a quick few months, the trio's top-brass beans are popping up all over town in shops like Fondation and Holybelly. The space is reserved for roasting during the week but opens for public cuppings on Saturdays from 11:30am-6:30pm - a prime opportunity to chat with and learn from the city's best.
Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel may have founded L'Atelier Cologne in New York, where the duo met, but their successful fragrance company is 100% French. Their mutual passion for eau de cologne translates beautifully into a sweet edit of floral and fruity fragrances. Snatch a bottle of their bestseller, L'Orange Sanguine, in one of two Paris locations.
Some travelers require lavish, luxe lodging while others would rather invest their budget in unforgettable dining experiences. The Mandarin Oriental caters to both, particularly since launching their brunch offering in October. Brunch as a concept has undergone countless interpretations in Paris, some more worthy of your time than others, but few transform the meal into a near gastronomic experience. With iconic chef Thierry Marx at the helm of the Camélia kitchen, MO's brunch levitates above the masses, featuring a fixed price menu (88€) that includes a robust buffet of cured meats, cheeses, salads, sushi and a variety of breakfast pastries, a hot drink, a main dish (which rotate each Sunday and adapt to the seasons) and one of Pierre Mathieu's deftly crafted sweets from the hotel's cake shop. The meal is a fantastic option both for deep-pocketed travelers and those looking to treat themselves to a gastronomic experience outside the confines of an evening meal. Reservations recommended Photo credit: Mathilde de l’Ecotais
EuropaCorp's first multiplex cinema, created by director Luc Besson, just opened its doors near the Charles de Gaulle airport in the Aeroville shopping center and makes an ideal hangout for an ultra-short layover. Besson enlisted the help of street-food pioneer Kristen Frederick (of Le Camion Qui Fume and Freddie's Deli) to concoct a more gourmet offering at the theater's concession stand to match the luxury-leaning moviegoing experience he envisioned (plush, selective seating, menus on iPad for seated service, etc.). Inspired by the popularity of cocktail bars, she opted for Le Popcorn Born which features a wide selection of savory and sweet gourmet popcorns using the highest-quality ingredients (truffle, parmesan, goat cheese, etc.). This is guaranteed to become a destination worth a special visit on its own. Until then, consider a night (or afternoon) at the movies during your next layover.
These days, it seems that every new opening is helmed by someone who has spent time working for the lodestars of the culinary scene: James Henry of Bones cut his teeth at Au Passage, Haan Palcu-Chang of Le Mary Celeste honed his skills at Michelin tables in Copenhagen and Katsuaki Okiyama of Abri gained traction at the illustrious tables of Robuchon, Taillevent and l’Agapé Bistrot. The same is true in the burgeoning world of wine bars, where all eyes are on Camille Fremont whose La Buvette has already won lavish praise and an award from Le Fooding. Like a cozy annexe to Camille's own home, the bar benefits from the inherent cool factor that a slightly out-there location in the 11th confers. Despite the compact space, it never seems to be much trouble to pack in throngs of wine fans and curious passersby. Guests must consume a little snack (or casse-croûte in local parlance) to be able to drink but your experience will be better for it. Put your trust in Camille for the wine - mostly natural and only from wine producers she personally appreciates - and choose any of the small plates on offer (aged Gouda, dry sausage from Aubrac, sardines, etc.), each stellar. Bottles are available for purchase.
Launched by a twenty-something business school grad and entrepreneur who was inspired by the flavor combinations available in America, Blend is unique on the undeniably oversaturated burger scene in Paris. Both locations, one in the 2nd behind rue Montorgueil and the other conveniently (or dangerously) located a few doors down from concept-store MERCI, are diminutive in stature, like the burgers - perfect for tamer appetites. The meat is sourced from esteemed Paris butcher Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec and blended with cheese and other ingredients prior to cooking, making modifications almost always impossible. Fortunately, they have two veggie options with equally veggie buns (spinach or tofu) for those aiming for ultra-lite. I also highly recommend the grilled chicken burger to switch things up. Keeping with the homemade ethos, the fries - regular or sweet potato- are hand cut and lightly salted; a necessary component to the meal. Not everyone sees the merits of a Blend burger but in my experience, these are the people who are expecting a greasy stomach bomb - in other words, an authentically American burger. These are decidedly tidier and more refined and absolutely worth a special visit.
Welcome to Finland! Well, sort of. L'Institut Finlandais, a non-profit organization situated in the heart of the Latin Quarter, gives pride of place to Finnish culture, savoir-faire, creative fiber, language and gastronomy in all its forms. With the recent opening of Instituutti, a boutique-cum-Nordic café, visitors are invited to immerse themselves a little deeper. The luminous, design-forward space was designed by Linda Bergroth, named the 2012 young designer of the year in Finland. Explore the boutique, enjoy a specialty coffee (Coutume) and stick around for one of their regularly rotating exhibits.
When barista Chris Nielson left his job at Ten Belles, the stalwart coffee shop just off the Canal St. Martin, it wasn't to return to his native Australia but to open his own coffee shop less than a mile away. To be more precise, his matchbook-size café is an espresso bar with only a few tables and chairs available inside (a handful of spots are available outside on a semi-heated terrace), all designed by his architect wife. The pared-back design keeps the focus on the coffee (sourced from local roastery Belleville) and, as one instantly remarks upon entering, the aerodynamic equipment. Chris is the first barista in Paris to work with designer Kees Van Der Westen's 'Spirit', a machine known as much for its performance as its ergonomic and decidedly striking design. A small selection of treats from Emperor Norton is on offer as well as artisanal lemonades and fresh juices. Yet another positive point of differentiation: Chris opens shop as of 8am, 7 days a week - a boon for early risers like myself.
For Michelin-starred chef Eric Frechon, opening a 110-seat restaurant in the heart of Paris's busiest train stations (Gare Saint Lazare) was effectively a way to reconnect with his democratic, Bistrot past. The Bristol Hotel chef and former Christian Constant disciple is an avowed proponent of no-fuss, simple food executed to perfection and jumped at the chance to dedicate a space to his special brand of cooking when he was approached by the SNCF transport company. With the bandages off on the train station after a multi-million euro refurbishment project, it was missing a dining space worthy of its new image - a veritable dining destination for transients and locals alike, open morning, noon and night. Frechon stepped in to offer a wildly accessible, haute casual menu of French comfort classics in a gorgeous, lofty space that is equal parts café/bar and swish restaurant. In addition to the full menu, expect daily specials, a robust wine selection and a standout dessert that will have you returning time and again: the Paris-Deauville, a sweet homage to Normandy, his birthplace, in the form of a caramelized, cold soufflé. The classic brasserie has experienced considerable decline in recent years but with Lazare, Frechon revives the iconic 'lieu de vie' with deft style.
Illuminating a formerly shoddy corner of Boulevard Magenta in the Barbès section of the 10th is Le Louxor, a neo-Egyptian-Art deco pre-war cinema (1921) that reopened earlier this year after a 25 million euro restoration project spearheaded by the city of Paris. After several incarnations, including as a nightclub, the emblematic venue shuttered in 1987 after years of gradual neglect and disrepair. Locals campaigned to restore the gilded masterpiece to its former glory both to boost a neighborhood long perceived as a stronghold for drugs, mischief and knock-offs and reproduce the cinema’s original mission: offer ‘accessible’ luxury in the form of entertainment. Most of the mosaics have been preserved and the original theater has been reproduced identically. A veritable architectural landmark, the Louxor is now classified a historic monument and features art house films. Le Louxor's greatest asset: the rooftop café and bar with an ideal view of Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, accessible to film ticket-holders.
According to legend, Bayonne was the launchpad for chocolate consumption in France. It arrived in Europe by way of Spain in the 16th century thanks to Hernán Cortés, a Spanish Explorer who brought cocoa beans from Mexico. Jewish artisans, who were skilled at making chocolate (among other things), were expelled from Spain and later Portugal during the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand and settled in Bayonne, where they continued to hone their craft. The chocolate was transformed into a rich, creamy liquid that would go onto become the drink of choice for royalty. Since 1854, the tradition at Cazenave has been the chocolat mousseux -a hot chocolate whipped by hand using cocoa beans roasted on-site. A hint of cinnamon spices up the drink while the rich, homemade whipped cream that it's served with makes it indulgent. Enjoy a cup in their salon de thé but don't leave without picking up several bars of colorfully wrapped chocolate to take home with you.
Before it was synonymous with cheesesteaks, Philadelphia was known as the greatest brewing city in America. Prohibition brought the demise of most of the city’s breweries but the beer scene has experienced a robust resurgence in recent years. Get a taste of Philly’s best brew at Nodding Head Brewery. Gastro-pub fare offered to complete the experience.
The Marqueyssac Gardens in the Périgord region of France are not only the most visited in the region but among the most reminiscent of a fairytale landscape. Perched on a hill overlooking the Dordogne valley, Julien de Cerval's topiary masterpiece from 1866 features some 150,000 boxwood trees pruned to resemble the rolling hills below, and 6 kilometers of shaded trails divided into 3 circuits, each leading visitors to a Belvedere lookout for an awe-inspiring view of the river 130 meters below. Not-to-be-missed: Thursday evenings at sunset when over a thousand candles are placed throughout the gardens for what can only be described as a magical experience.
Northern Liberties, technically part of Old City, has been the neighborhood of interest for Philadelphia locals. Once a post-industrial wasteland, the district has undergone substantial transformation in the last decade, thanks in large part to Philadelphia's leading real estate developer, Bart Blatstein who took over the old Schmidt's Brewery (8.5 acres) a few years ago and turned it into a massive piazza (now called the Piazza at Schmidt's). The neighborhood has since become an enclave for everyone from young creatives to young parents with a penchant for things like community gardens (of which there are many in Philly) as well as a hub for nightlife.
Owned by Julien Cohen, son of Marie-France Cohen, founder of iconic upscale shops Bonpoint, Merci and Bonton, Pizza Chic oozes cool minimalism: large accordion windows that give the impression of a terrace in the warmer months, black and white tiled floors, polished silverware, dangling bulbs, tall water glasses, tin ceiling tiles along the bar and an open kitchen with a view of the wood-burning oven. It's a little bit New York-hipster-meets-Parisian bobo without the pomp and circumstance. Not to mention the Italian servers who take your order with zeal and a wide smile. As the name indicates, the menu is dominated by pizzas ranging from the classic (margherita or vegetarian) to the more original (artichoke, parmesan and arugula), with gargantuan desserts you'll want to save room for. Finish off the meal with a strong, Italian coffee and pocket the praline chocolate for later - you'll be glad to have a remnant of the experience before you can return again.
If the coffee scene in Paris is as robust as it is today it's in large part thanks to the talents and commitment of Thomas Lehoux, one of the city's star Baristas and co-owner of Ten Belles just off the Canal St. Martin. He collaborated with English gals Anna Trattles and Alice Quillet from Le Bal Café to open this intimate espresso bar in the fall of 2012 and the success was immediate: Lehoux and his team turn out some of the finest, if time consuming, drip coffees in the city while Trattles & Quillet serve up a small but careful edit of comforting lunchtime food, from soups to a couple of sandwiches and salads which rotate daily. The desserts are largely Anglo - scones, peanut-butter brownies, cookies and raspberry crumb bars - and go down beautifully with a host of coffee drinks, now made from Belleville, a local roastery that Lehoux co-founded this summer*. Go for breakfast, lunch or for an afternoon coffee and expect a crowd - escape to the mezzanine for extra seats and a view of the bar from above. But if the weather permits, grab one of their stools and take your coffee outside or snag a spot along the Canal and make it an al fresco coffee break. *Belleville roastery: closed to the public during the week during torrefaction; open the weekends as a coffee shop (as of mid-November).
Named after a Montreal subway station, the new men's boutique BEAUBIEN is situated in an emerging section of the Haut-Marais (or ''NoMa'' in local parlance)- the rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth has been an extension of the garment district (the ''Sentier'') dedicated to menswear for many years – the area's golden age dates to the 80s-90s, when people from all over the world came to source the latest trends. Many of the Sentier's wholesalers are leaving and being supplanted by a cool mix of art galleries, restaurants and independent boutiques. In other words, excellent timing for a male-focused shop. The boutique features a careful edit of casual menswear by up-and-coming designers from the U.S, Denmark and Japan - an easy-to-wear selection unlike any other in Paris. This style is also reflected squarely in the shop's name: in French, ''beau'' meaning ''beautiful'' and ''bien'' meaning ''good'', the name carries a naive simplicity, referring to the idea of just sourcing, selecting and selling high quality products – Parisian retail at its best.
Situated far afield in a residential enclave of the 15th arrondissement, this intimate boutique hotel might just be the boost the neighborhood needed. The design was the vision of Vincent Bastie, the resident expert in concept hotels in Paris (he's behind the Seven hotel among others) and inspired largely by mythic (and biblical) ideas of paradise - botanical wallpaper, rattan furnishings and mini terraces brimming with flowers. Each of the 40 rooms sport a different nature-focused theme and support the hotel's image as an urban hamlet - certainly worth the left bank zip code.
From New York to Tokyo, the world’s food scene is heavily informed by outside influences. In Paris, this translations to cuisine isn’t narrowly French but rather brimming with ethnic flavors. That includes the unequivocally popular and omnipresent tastes from Italy, though they tend to vary drastically in price and quality. When I learned about Come A Casa (literally, like at home), which is located just off of the Place Léon Blum near Voltaire in the 11th, I knew I needed to see whether it ranks among the city's few worthy Italian joints. This 15-cover jewel box of a restaurant fits the bill perfectly. The menu is compact, dominated largely by fresh antipasti and a lasagna and pasta dish that changes daily. The wines are Italian and should absolutely be paired with the meal. But what’s on the plate is only part of the charm of this Tuscan trattoria. Owner Flavia Federici is not only credited with turning out flavorful dishes capable of transporting each diner straight to Tuscany but as the mastermind behind the standout design. Trained as an architect, Flavia left no detail unconsidered when laying out the small space. The elevated, open kitchen lords over the tiny dining room, appointed with vintage furnishings (including school desks), serving dishes and shelving to house wine, pasta, sauces and other goods that guests can purchase to take home. Come A Casa is warm, welcoming and guaranteed to delight. Just don’t forget to order the stracciatella.
After closing its doors for two years, the 250-year-old D'Angleterre hotel reopened in the spring of 2013, unveiling the first phase of a massive makeover. Every inch of the landmark hotel was in some way touched by the redesign, from the famed Marchal restaurant to its iconic façade. Each detail was considered to elevate the d’Angleterre back to its former status as Scandinavia's most exclusive hotel. The updated hotel features Space Nordic spa (the indoor pool and hammam open in December 2013), Denmark's first champagne bar, the Balthazar, and a revived experience in the Marchal restaurant, now helmed by Michelin-starred former chef-to-the-Queen Ronny Emborg. While the design touches are decidedly Danish, the hotel's grand Franco-Danish history is still very much present. Click through their website to read more of the backstory!
In France, champagne isn't just for special occasions, it's an everyday luxury. At least that's what you'll learn after a sampling of some 130 vintages at Dilettantes, a wine shop/bar specialized in bubbly. The tastings are hosted by one of 25 winemakers and take place in a gorgeous, 17th century vaulted cellar. For a more in-depth course on pairing champagne at different moments of the meal, Dilettantes also offers a private oenology workshop (minimum 8 people) that will leave you well-versed in taste.
Expect creative riffs on the classic pintxo at this ultra-modern spot. Everything from the colors to the flavor combinations are unique and draw in crowds from the street. Not everyone is a fan of their style, including the old guard who remain staunchly faithful to tradition, but we had a fantastic selection of small plates. Don't miss: La Hoguera de Bacalao, a charcoal smoked cod served on individual grills. You're meant to finish cooking the cod using wooden tweezers, place it atop the herb-cream chip on the side, and down it with one bite. Then, you wash it down with a lettuce chaser served in a test tube. Delicious!
Paris may have a bevy of exquisite views and hot cocktail and wine bars but the pickings are limited when it comes to finding a place to enjoy both from up high. One of the city's few rooftop bars, Le Perchoir opened this summer (the evening of Fête de la Musique, precisely) on the 7th floor of an unmarked building in the 11th arrondissement below Belleville. Co-owner Adrien Boissaye previously worked on the ground floor of the building and quickly realized the untapped potential of its roof when he first climbed to the top for a cigarette break. He partnered with two friends and embarked on an ambitious project, one that required over a year of work to properly refurbish the 4,000ft2 space. Simultaneously, they began work on the 40-seat restaurant situated on the floor below. Time well spent, judging by their short-order success. Since their quiet launch, they've received more reservations for the restaurant than they can accommodate and a seemingly endless stream of bar-goers angling for the killer view of Sacré Coeur (visible the moment you step out of the elevator), affordable wine, cocktails and small plates and a laid-back beachy decor that whiffs of insouciant summer holidays - may they continue forever. The rooftop bar opens at 4pm on weekdays, 12pm on weekends and can fit 110 people. Once they've hit capacity, expect to wait in a long line in front of the main entrance to get in. Coming later this fall: fireplaces and heartier snacking options.
The bean movement in Paris has largely been driven by male baristas - homegrown and foreign- but at Tuck Shop, a matchbox-size sandwich and coffee shop a stone's throw from the Canal Saint Martin, three Australian women are working to shift the axis. Go for the superior coffee selection, toasties and salads (all vegetarian). It fills up fast but you can request your coffee and snack to-go.
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