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So my neighborhood is an absolute jewel for hip delicious new restaurants and bars, which continue to pop up in the area like mushrooms! Bragging about the amazingness of the 11th arrondissement is brazen of me, I know, given the classic wonders of Paris located in more prim and proper arrondissements… but I just can’t help myself.

Recently I taste tested one such place called Bodega Bay on rue Amelot, a hop away from the Cirque d’Hiver. I had passed by it several times, and there was always heathly Bobo crowd out front smoking and sipping drinks, but it didn’t strike me as a place that was a good eat. That all changed when m boyrfriend and I had our tastebuds so tantalized by the mere tapas that we forgot to order a main dish! Our tapas consisted of a large plate of real nachos (with real cheese, not that liquid goo a.k.a. ‘Velveeta’), fried jalapenos stuffed with cheese, a goatcheese quesadilla, and the crowning glory, large gambas with a divine “churro” sauce as we called it. The churro sauce was amazing! With its cinammon yet sweet and salty touch, it just about had us fighting over the number of gambas each of us could have to dip into it.

On the drinks side, my boyfriend went for a classic Margarita, and was a bit disappointed with the almost straight-up Tequila preparation. It was clearly lacking the true Mexican touch, but in France, well, one has to admit that is hard to find! Our suggestion would be to steer more towards the Chilean, Argentinian, and Californian wine than to hit up the cocktails, as we were pleasantly surprised by an affordable Chilean red.

For the main dishes, while we didn’t get around to ordering them, they did look delicious from a distance. Bodega Bay offers three kinds of fajitas – chicken, steak, and shrimp, all on the sizzling metal platter, which is a good sign. I’ll definitely be back to try them, and their Sopapilla dessert! To be continued…

Bodega Bay

116 rue Amelot

75011, Paris

01 43 55 83 77

http://www.bodega-bay.fr/

Metro: Filles du Calvaire, line 8 

A couple weekends ago, my friend Maggie and I road tested a rockin’ brunch place in the 7th arrondissement called Coutume. We couldn’t have been more pleased! Surprised by their reasonable prices (considering the area), the great food, and almost scientific coffee, the whole brunch experience ended up lasting a good three hours!

Coutume’s specialty is by far their coffee. Roasting the beans themselves, they have a large selection of pain-stakingly chosen coffee beans that once roasted, are used to produce their coffee beverages which are prepared in four different ways: expresso machine, siphon (very strong), conical drip, and the very rare cold drip apparatus. For coffee conoisseurs, there isn’t anything else like this in Paris, so a definite must!

However after a coffee or two, if you have the tendacy to get the jitters like Maggie and I, you might want to sit down and enjoy the 3 course 20 euro brunch. A to die for home-made muesli with apple compote and fromage blanc starts it off in addition to freezed squeezed orange or grapefruit juice. The next course can be a standard eggs and bacon with potatoes, or variations with salmon, or a breakfast burrito. Everything was just delicious and the service was unprententious and helpful, always a plus!

The ambiance, with its beaker water carafes and clipboard menus, was halfway between laboratory and trendy resto. With plants creatively growing out of sinks, bags of green coffee beans lining the back, unfinished paint on the walls, and a large roaster, one gets the taste of the craft and science involved in making good coffee while enjoying a warm luminous yet slightly industrial atmosphere.

Coutume welcomes the coffee drinker with his or her newspaper (or should we say iPad these days?), so don’t feel obligated to brunch if you just want to hang out at the coffee bar or study. We saw several people in there who were simply enjoying a great coffee while websurfing or reading! So give it a try, experiments in this “lab” are always a success!

Coutume

47 rue de Babylone

75007, Paris

http://www.coutumecafe.com/ (site in progress)

So while most tourist guides will try to convince you that Ladurée macaroons are Paris’s signature dessert, that is only because they have yet to discover the magic of the French “choux” made fresh every day in the Marais by the patisserie Popelini.

Popelini  has perfected the difficult dough and unctuous cream that make the most melt in your mouth cream puffs. Specialized in the fabrication of this pastry alone, Popelini creates cream puffs of all flavors such as pistachio, coffee, hazelnut, violet, rose, and bourbon vanilla.

It all got started when owner Lauren Koumetz decided to branch out and expand upon the classic vanilla cream puff. Mastering the complicated recipe was a task in itself, but Popelini’s pastry chef Alice Barday managed to do so and went beyond by creating exquisite cream flavors and icing.

Packaged in cute colorful boxes, Popelini’s cream puffs are truly delectable and well, très chou!

Popelini

29, rue Debelleyme,

75003, Paris

Tel: 01 44 61 31 44

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 7:30pm

So it wouldn’t be fair to do a posting on Merci, without doing a posting on Grazie. As you might have guessed by the name, the two are indeed related, with the later being a pizzeria opened by Marie France Cohen’s* son, Julien. Located just two blocks down from Merci, I went there last weekend at the suggestion of a friend.

Grazie most definitely has a New York feel. Minimalist in its décor, Julien decided to let the old crusty character of the building speak for itself. Industrial metal beams break up the space giving intimacy to the small tables interspersed in between them while the yellowed molding on the ceiling takes you back to New York diners in the 70s. While the crowd is as bobo as you can get and trying way too hard, at least the place isn’t.

I started the evening with a delicious basil honey grapefruit cocktail that I loved, but I wasn’t so hot about the 12 euro price tag. Dinner on the other hand was much more reasonable, and truly delicious. My vegetarian pizza had a perfect crust (not too thin,
not too thick) and tasty grilled vegetables with flavorful mozzarella. Definitely a winner.  Dessert was likewise very good, however again, 10 euros for two scoops of gelati is a bit excessive.

Overall, it is definitely worth trying, and if you do, I would suggest making a reservation in advance because the place was full on a Wednesday night! Keep you posted if they come out with a Thank You anytime soon! 😉

Grazie
91 boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003, Paris  
Open everyday for lunch and dinner
 01 42 78 11 96

*Marie-France Cohen is the owner of Merci, discussed in my previous post.

So you have probably heard of a salon de thé, but what about a salon de café? While coffee in your regular Parisian bistro is usually rather good (in comparison to American coffee which the French have tastefully labeled jus de chaussette, or sock juice) there is a place in Paris that is specialized in the art of coffee. It’s called La Caféothèque, or also known as Soluna Café.

I went awhile ago with my friend Tenke (who is a coffee freak), and who before arriving in Paris from Geneva, had researched the best places to get an expresso. Never without her coffee high, we began a coffee crawl that led us to La Caféothèque where we decided to promptly end the crawl and indulge in the myriad of choices there.

Located on along the Seine, it can be easy to miss, as there isn’t a big sign and no tables outside. Once you step inside though, you know you have arrived as the smell of coffee greets the nostrils. Coffee is everywhere in every sense. Grinding coffee can be heard, roasting coffee can be seen etc.. With the occasional live music and a small library, La Caféothèque is a relaxing place to enjoy great coffee from the four corners of the earth.

We ended up buying a bag of coffee, a very special kind for the coffee connoisseurs, called Jacu bird coffee. The owner, a fascinating elderly man that was full of stories, let us have a free cup before purchasing it, which obvious sealed the deal. Jacu bird coffee needs some convincing… considering that the beans were predigested by the Jacu Bird before being pooped out and then picked up or “harvested” to make our coffee….

Again, a must for coffee aficionados!!

La Caféothèque

52, rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville
75004  Paris

Okay okay, so yes I am aware that McDonald’s owns Chipotle, I am aware that the blogosphere is a great community that has recently informed me that McDonald’s does NOT own Chipotle! So no damper on my excitement regarding the opening of the first Chipotle in Paris, I am ready to enjoy its deliciousness in all its glory.

As soon as it opens, I will let you know if the burritos are just as enormous and the choices of fillings are the same. Located quite close to my work, I can foresee myself frequenting Chipotle more than I’d like to…

As for the date of the grand opening, I am not sure, but it will be located on 20 Boulevard Montmartre in the ninth arrondissement, right next to a McDonald’s. Coincidence?

Outside of the Taqueria Candeleria

Longing for the taste of some creamy refried beans? Crunchy tortilla chips and guacamole? Tostadas, tacos , maybe a cold Modelo or Corona? Well, thanks to Guiri’s research and “dégustations,” you won’t have to travel all the way to Mexico (or the US) to get your share of delicious Mexican food!!

Recently, I devoured some savory Mexican at a brand new joint called Candeleria. Tucked away on a side street in the haute Marais, Candeleria has been open for about a month, and is packed every evening without fail!

Delicious imported salsa

Started by a group of friends with Mexican and American origins, it offers homemade and genuinely authentic Mexican cuisine which is prepared right in front of you (tortillas included). The menu changes daily, but the standard fare is tostadas, tacos, chips and salsa, and small salads. The salsa is spicy but addictive and so are the Modelo Negos!

Candeleria, like most places in the Marais, is on the small side. The taqueria can fit about 20 maximum, and the bar area about 25-30. In the evenings, be prepared to wait a bit, and the stand, as the table area is very limited. Despite its drawbacks, the food is truly worth, so definitely do check it out!!

Tortilla making at Candeleria



Candeleria

52 rue Saintonge

75003, Paris

http://www.candelariaparis.com/




The other place I also sampled about a week ago is place called Cactus in the 9th arrondissement. Catering mostly to the lunch crowd, it resembles a Chipotle (if you are from the States, you know what I am talking about). Cactus has a bit of a fast-food feel , with the trays etc, but the food is fresh and quite tasty. Burritos are the main thing to get there, and you are able to customize your burrito by choosing from a selection of different kinds of beans, veggies, rice, and meats. The burritos are on the larger side, so if your eyes are bigger than your stomach (like mine) you might not need to get the whole menu deal!

Cactus also has a coupon card, so if you are in the area and can get over there enough, you can get a free taco after scarfing down ten of them!

Cactus

48 rue Laffitte

75009, Paris

http://www.cactus-restaurant.fr/

Sésame, 51, quai de Valmy, 75010, Paris

So as I mentioned in my last post, a lazy Sunday isn’t complete without a deliciously late brunch. A brunch where I can sit outside (preferably on a sunny “terrasse”) and watch life go by as I sip a café crème. The Canal St.Martin is perfect for this preferred activity of mine, and since I have become rather routine about it, I have sampled a great number of restaurants along the canal that are MUST TRYS if you haven’t done so already…

Sésame – A very cute but small restaurant that serves a proper brunch with all the bells and whistles. Eggs, toast with different kinds of spreading options like jams, honey, and nutella, salads, smoothies, great coffee all for the great price of about 20 euros.  The hippie-like ambiance comes with the meal. Bonus: All fresh produce is organic!!

51, quai de Valmy, 75010, Paris

http://www.au-sesame.com/

Canal St. Martin

Chez Prune – Grunge-like atmosphere à la Brooklyn before it got all hipster. Lots of tables outside for people watching, and the food is solid French brunch fare. Stops serving at 2pm so make sure to go before the kitchen closes.

36, rue Beaurepaire, 7501,0 Paris

La Marine – They have a killer goat cheese salad, but they are also know for their fish and seafood, hence their name “La Marine.” Their spacious interior is nice as it makes it easier to get a table on weekends when it is the most busy. It has the old French bistro thing going on, but for the prices (which are reasonably) you get a great meal overlooking the canal.

55, bis quai de Valmy, 75010, Paris

L’Atmosphère – Small bistro with outside tables that are splashed with sunlight and the glimmering reflections off the canal’s murky waters. Right next to the charming Antoine and Lili shops, it serves some delicious French dishes, but doesn’t necessarily have that traditional brunch of eggs, bacon and potatoes etc.

49, rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010, Paris

And last but not least….

Les Enfants Perdus,

Les Enfants Perdus – I HEART this place. Both a bar and a restaurant, they have a sweet courtyard in the back that is great for an afternoon beer or enjoying a late brunch. The place is a bit hidden, so when you go in, you really feel like you’ve discovered a kind of secret garden (with alcohol and food!). They are happy to let you linger over a Mariage Frères tea, and they have an selection of magazines and books you can browse through.

Food, well I will have to let the menu speak for itself. Click here to review it. It is hands down delicious! A wee bit pricey, but worth it. Whether it is a filet de Bar with provencal butter and fresh veggies, or braised lamb with honey and cumin and a broccoli gratin with almonds, everything is done just right and with a unique twist you won’t soon forget! My official Grisette rating is three Yums up!!

9, rue des Récollets, 75010, Paris

http://les-enfants-perdus.com/

Calling all Parisiennes!!! Charming yet choosy as you are, there is now a dainty delicious lunch/bakery/épicerie bound to suit all your fancies!

Located on rue Saint-Honoré

Located on the ever so trendy rue Saint-Honoré, in the 1st arrondissement, “Oh mon Cake!” is a tinier and cosier version of Dean and Deluca, where everything is “fait maison et avec amour” (homemade and made with love).

Portion sizes are petite, like you prefer to kept your dress size, yet packed with flavor for both the sweet and salty Parisienne. For lunch, try one of their original salty “cakes” or tartes, which often consists of yummy combos such as goat cheese and leeks. In addition to a cake/tarte, their lunch menu also includes a soup of the day, most of which are veggie soups often seasoned with unique spices such as vanilla.

Everything in “Oh mon Cake!” is made fresh using in season produce with no preservatives, so even the pickest Parisienne can’t complain!

The salty treats

For the sweet-toothed Parisienne, (note: when in “Oh mon Cake!”, you are immediately converted to one) there is a divine RED VELVET cake, as well as a variety of  home-baked cookies, tartes, and well, more cakes! I have never seen red velvet with frosting anywhere else in this city, so if you are a fan, this is the place to get it.

Last but not least, if you are looking to provide sweet fresh-baked goodies for an event (b-day, office send off etc) “Oh mon Cake!” takes large orders for all their baked goods.

The sweet treats

Whether you are looking for a healthy lunch on the go, or just a cozy nook to read the paper or browse the net (free wifi), “Oh mon Cake!” will not disappoint. So indeed, let them eat cake! (Parisienne princesses and peasants alike!)

 

Oh mon Cake

154, rue Saint-Honoré

Paris 75001

Open everyday from:

11h30 to  20h30

Tel: 01 42 60 31 84

Website: http://www.ohmoncake.fr or you can find them on Facebook!

You’ll almost never catch me in the kitchen on a Friday night. Dinner out on Friday has become a small ritual for me…it’s the carrot dangling at the end of a long stick that is my busy work week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, in fact, what I like best is simply hitting up my neighborhood eats, Nambodai being the usual suspect.

This little retro Thai gem has a delicious menu and a terribly trendy ambiance. Their young hip servers present you with a menu full of different types of curry, bobuns, spring rolls, and noodles dishes.  All their meat dishes can be substituted with tofu, so those of you looking for a perfect first date restaurant, Nambodai’s the place as they got you covered in the event that your date is unexpectedly vegetarian.

Mojitos are a must, along with an exotic dessert. If you like bananas, I suggest the banana-nutella nem – the equivalent of a spring roll but sweet and stuffed with nutella and banana chunks along with some crème anglaise. Or try the banana tapioca dessert served with warm sweetened coconut milk drizzled on top. yummmmy.

The candle lit tables, artsy deco, and good taste in music just lend the place a very comtemporary cool feel. It’s a place that you end up lingering in long after you’ve devoured your meal, and finished what you thought was your last drink. 😉  No wonder it is open until 2am.

PS: Nambodai has free wifi, so it is also great for studying, or if you simply want to get out of the house and browse the internet while enjoying a fresh fruit smoothie!!

Nambodai

28 Boulevard Voltaire

75011, Paris

Phone: 01 48 06 69 97

Metro: Oberkampf, Filles du Calvaire

Open Monday-Friday 8:30am to 2am

Saturday 9am to 2am

Sunday 6pm to 2am

http://www.nambodai.com/

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