The food scene in France is changing—rapidly.
The French are famous for their utter love of food, painstakingly perfect cooking, and even more painstaking wine pairings. And while Paris pretty much invented the restaurant as we know it now, Parisians aren’t exactly experimental when it comes to their beloved meals. That’s all changing, says Victoire Loup, media manager of Le Fooding, a French food movement and media company that has its finger on the pulse of the country’s changing cuisine. “Everyone thinks that the French set food trends, but now, the United States is transforming the way we eat in France,” she says.
Here are six ways the French are changing classic ways out dining out.
They’re ditching the wine pairing . . .
“The French are now pairing their dinner with something other than wine, which used to be unthinkable,” says Loup. “At Dersou, a French-Japanese restaurant in Paris, each plate has its own cocktail pairing. Amaury Guyot, a mixologist originally from the Experimental Cocktail Club team, creates drinks to serve alongside chef Taku Sekine’s playful dishes.” That’s not the only place that’s subbing wine for other hooch: Michelin-starred Yam’tcha has a tea-pairing program with its tasting menu, and Bloempot in Lille does a beer pairing with its Flemish-inspired tasting menus.
. . . And eating from even smaller plates.
It seems like the French are truly getting on board with the small plates thing. Loup says that restaurants like Au Passage have been doing tapas-style menus for a few years and notable chefs like Iñaki Aizpitarte and Bertrand Grébaut have opened second restaurants dedicated to this more communal style of dining, and the new(ish) trend isn’t ending any time soon. “A hotspot in Pigalle, L’entrée des Artistes, is a great place to drink cocktails, eat delicious small plates, and see Natalie Portman hanging out with Dakota Johnson.”
They’re branching out . . .
Yes, Korean food infiltrated the menus of hip restaurants around the U.S. a while ago, but it’s just starting to touch French dishes, says Loup. “We’d waited for the new Korean place, Hero, to open like kids waiting for Santa to arrive. They serve Korean Fried Chicken (their version of KFC, with gochujang sauce), with a #YOLO option: a whole fried chicken and a bottle of Champagne.” Before Hero opened, Parisians feasted on ex–Top Chef contestant Pierre Sang‘s 7€ bibimbap, with ingredients like jerusalem artichokes and scallops.
. . . And ordering in.
Ah, that good old-fashioned American dinner pastime: delivery. “The French never used to order in—except maybe a pizza from time to time,” Loup explains. “They would almost always either go to a restaurant, or cook dinner at home. But a couple of companies (the leaders being Take Eat Easy and Deliveroo) are taking Paris by storm, offering to deliver very trendy options, such as Gregory Marchand’s reuben sandwich from Frenchie To Go. And you don’t even have to stand in the the half-hour queue!”
They’re making Sunday the new Friday . . .
A few years ago, nothing was open for dinner on Sunday nights. Now, it’s much different. “Sunday is the new Friday! Septime la Cave (Bertrand Grébaut’s wine bar) just announced that they’ll open on Sundays, so Parisians are going to run over there to drink orange wine and nibble small plates of deliciousness.” Other restaurants are making Sundays a thing for religious reasons: “Sunday night at Miznon in Le Marais is the best night of the week: The restaurant is closed on Fridays and Saturdays for shabbat, so Sunday is a party night! People get pitas and their amazing roasted cauliflower.”
. . . And declaring the outskirts the new “in” spots.
Faubourgs means the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. Ring a bell? “Since 2000, the epicenter of Parisian gastronomy has completely shifted.” Just as Brooklyn, Oakland, and Cambridge have become the hip younger sisters of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston, Paris’s outer neighborhoods have blossomed with chefs who are changing the way Parisians eat. “Trendy restaurants used to cram into the west arrondissements, where the money is. Then, nobody would think that one day there would be a Michelin-starred restaurant on the rue de Charonne! Yet, today, all the coolest restaurants are in the 11ème arrondissement (like Le Chateaubriand and Septime), and all the young chefs are opening in far-flung neighborhoods like Belleville and Menilmontant. I’ve even heard people say Pantin is the new Williamsburg!”
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