Welcome to the second installment of Parisian Eats: Everything I Ate in Paris. If you missed part one you can find it here. If you’re not sure you care enough to read it, I’ll catch you up: I went to Paris; I ate too much; I took copious notes – and that’s about the size of it. Part two is more of the same, consider yourself warned. So buckle up and have snacks at the ready because, like the opening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, things about to get enviably delicious. Okay! Let’s do this!
Santa Carne – 24 Rue des Tournelles
This Argentian steakhouse was an easy five-minute walk from where we were staying in Paris. Generally, Sunny and I don’t go in for steakhouses, because we usually find the steak disappointing. But every piece of meat we had had in Paris up to this point was astonishingly perfect. When you asked for rare in Paris it’s on the verge of blue, which, at least for this part-time vampire, is the way it should be. So, unsurprisingly, we found ourselves sitting in Santa Carne one evening.
I went with the strip loin steak while Sunny went with the ribeye. We both requested rare and were given exactly that. The steaks were buttery, juicy and amply seasoned with what I would guess was Maldon sea salt. The sides were roasted potatoes and a simple green salad embellished with pomegranate arils. But the sauces that accompanied our meals were the real stars of the show. The chimichurri was some of the best I’ve ever had and I had to keep Sunny from practically shooting the red sauce (my French is so horrible I couldn’t understand the answer when I asked them what it was). We finished with a dulce de leche flan and a sundae with both vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream swimming in a shot of Laphroaig. I don’t think I need to tell you how we felt about that.
We finished with a dulce de leche flan and a sundae with both vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream swimming in a shot of Laphroaig. I don’t think I need to tell you how we felt about that.
A. Noste – 6bis Rue du 4 Septembre
A.Noste was the most adventurous restaurant we visited in Paris and we have very fond memories of the meal we had there. We had also just spent 4+ hours in the Louvre and were running on fumes when we found a table here, so that might have impacted our judgment a little. A.Noste offers a tapas style dining experience featuring Basque cuisine. I call them “adventurous” because it had some of the wildest plating choices we saw in Paris.
We were feeling a little punch-drunk after navigating the Louvre on nothing but a long forgotten tartine, so I feel like we could’ve ordered a little more strategically than we did. There was a ton of items on the menu that I wish I could go back for, but c’est la vie. We opted for polenta croquettes with smoked duck breast and a truffle risotto and both were exceptional. The polenta croquettes arrived looking a lot like mozzarella sticks but tasting like anything but. The croquettes crisp exterior gave way to a creamy flavorful polenta center interrupted with toothsome nuggets of perfectly smoked duck breast. The risotto came to us served in hollowed out bones (no doubt reused from the bone marrow dish that was also on the menu) and was one of the best risottos I’ve ever had. Truffles are flavor powerhouses, the umami and heavy floral notes they impart on everything completely explains the reverence they inspire.
Ave Maria – 1 Rue Jacquard
Ave Maria is just plain fun. I mean it! We had so much fun here. It is true that it had a great deal to do with the company (our Paris-dwelling friend Amanda joined us), but Ave Maria has this wonderful laid back vibe that is somewhat hard to come by in Paris. The décor is super quirky and not in a forced way. Think pin-up girls, ironic prayer candles, images of the Virgin Mary rocking out on a guitar and violently turquoise walls. The tables are communal and the staff is super chill and many of them speak English – they even offer English menus.
Ave Maria is a fusion restaurant in the truest sense. It has elements of Mexican food, West African food, Thai food… I could honestly keep going. Also, if you happen to be gluten-free Ave Maria is an excellent option. Our friend Amanda is allergic to gluten and she loves this place because it’s one of the few places in Paris where she has options. She also told us they change their menu frequently, so she never gets bored eating here.
We started our evening with a pitcher of margaritas, which were a little unremarkable. The food was the true star of the show. I had a curry that was a riff on a West African peanut soup, Sunny had Thai-inspired fried chicken and Amanda went for a lentil curry with a Morrocan-vibe. Everything was fresh, flavourful and soul-restoring. It tasted like homemade comfort food. And because of the coziness of the food and the warmth of the staff, Ave Maria felt like an instant haunt, a place I could see myself coming back to over and over again, which is saying something in a restaurant-saturated city like Paris.
Breizh Café – 109 Rue Vieille du Temple
Breizh Café was another place that had a lot to live up to. Numerous articles advised that it was THE place to get a crepe in Le Marais. So I did as I was told and took my first opportunity to pay the café a visit. We were practically laughed out the door when we showed up sans reservation. Our second (scheduled) visit to Breizh Café was much more successful and resulted in me eating the crispest, laciest crepe I ever did see. I am by no means a crepe expert, but I feel fairly confident that if I consumed a superior crepe my brain would probably explode.
Sunny and I both opted for one of the specials. I went with the Galette Campagnarde: a buckwheat crepe brimming with smoked duck breast, sautéed spinach, crème fraîche, and a sunny-side-up egg. Sunny, the andouille sausage fiend that he is, went with the Galette Peysanne: a crepe filled with a heady mixture of gruyere, onion confit, a sunny side up egg, and – the object of his affection – andouille sausage.
My only regret is we didn’t order cider. The sparkling cider at this place is apparently a very big deal, and we missed out because at this point in the trip our wine consumption was catching up with us. We should have fought through our discomfort and sprung for the cider – stupid, really.
Le Repaire de Cartouche – 8 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire
Le Repaire de Cartouche is in the hopping 11th Arrondissement. The word is this is where convention-defying chefs are crafting the future of French cuisine. I had noted way too many options in this neighborhood, so I left it to Sunny to narrow things down. He chose Le Repaire de Cartouche because it focuses on wines from the Côtes du Rhône region (his favorite) and game meat.
We started things off with a phenomenal grouse terrine and a basket of mind-blowing sourdough bread. Sunny opted for the thickest cut of steak I’ve ever seen. The meat was cooked to the perfect level of rare, but the most remarkable thing about his dish was the bed of garlic-riddled sautéed spinach it was served on. I know it’s a strange thing to say, but this spinach was downright sexual. I went with the scallops from Normandie, which were as perfect as you would expect. But, like Sunny’s dish, mine was elevated by the truly outstanding veg that accompanied my main. My scallops were paired with a pumpkin puree that just defied logic. I couldn’t get enough and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how they made pumpkin so goddamn delicious.
We finished the meal off with a vanilla pot de crème paired with madeleines and a selection of cheeses. Word to the wise, when you order a selection of cheeses at Le Repaire de Cartouche, they bring you entire wheels. Take what you have room for and don’t feel inclined to finish them unless you have a stomach pump handy.
Boulangeries and Patisseries and Fromageries! Oh My!
As hard as it may be to believe, this is not a full list of all the Parisian Eats we indulged in. We frequented a number of boulangeries, patisseries, and fromageries as well. In fact, our Christmas dinner featured a trove of delicious gems we picked up from the shops in Le Marais.
I can’t recall the names of every place we visited but I would like to give a shout out to Tout Autor du Pain (134 Rue de Turenne) for the unforgettable caramel éclair and Boulangerie Au Pain Saint Gilles (1 bis Rue Saint-Gilles) for turning a ham sandwich into a religious experience. Honestly, if you’re low on cash, you could survive in Paris on the sandwiches alone. You can find perfect sandwiches in almost every boulangerie. And if you really don’t have any money, pick up a brick of butter and an arm-load of baguettes, and you’re in for something real good and real cheap.
I hope you enjoyed this epic journey into my questionable eating habits while in Paris. There’s is a lot more I could say about the Parisian Eats I encountered, but although it doesn’t look it, I have a deep respect for brevity. All I can say in closing is there is a very nice pedestrian-only running path along the Seine. It’s very pretty and it should alleviate some of your butter-related guilt. That being said, I think I hear a salad calling my name.