Archive for the '11th Arrindissement' Category

Chez Paul: Vintage Parisian Cafe near Bastille

You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time when stepping into Chez Paul. This popular restaurant near the Bastille is filled with vintage elements that deliver a homey, comfortable atmosphere. The food is also elegant, comfortable cuisine.

Delicious French Cuisine

Chez Paul serves solid, traditional French cuisine. As such, you’ll find many more meat options than vegetarian. There’s not much on the menu for the vegans. It’s a shame, as the food is really amazing.
Cream of asparagus soup at Chez Paul
I visited Chez Paul on a Friday night. A reservation is highly recommended, as this is a popular restaurant in a popular dining area. I started with the cream of asparagus soup, which was amazing. It was silky and very satisfying. Frankly, I could have stopped at just the soup and died a happy man. Chez Paul features a special vegetable soup every night, so hopefully you’ll be arrive on asparagus night.
Veggie lasagna at Chez Paul in Paris
Following the soup, my friend Bob and I had the vegetable lasagna and salad. The lasagna was good and cheesy, but didn’t match the asparagus soups flavor quality. Finishing the night, I had the house specialty dessert: pears poached in a spiced wine with ice cream. This was also an amazing dish.

To summarize: Chez Paul is a fantastic, vintage restaurant in a hip section of Paris. The food is amazing, but the vegetarian selections are limited. The vegan options are even fewer. It’s a fabulous place to visit with friends.

Address and Ratings

Chez Paul
13, Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris (11°)
08 99 23 09 70
Metro: Ledru-Rollin
French Restaurant
Accessibility: Only a portion of the restaurant is wheelchair accessible. Restrooms are not accessible.
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Location: 5/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 3/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 1/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 5/5

Hidden Delights of Le Pure Café

My friends in Paris think I’m a bit crazy. You see, I’m not only a vegetarian. I’m also a tea-totaller. So what could be more crazy than living in Paris and not drinking wine?

So I finally decided to see what the fuss was all about. Jean-Pierre promised a magical experience when drinking wine with cheese. My time in Paris was rapidly coming to an end and I needed a touch of magic.

So we planned on visiting the original wine bar, not just in Paris but around the world. It’s a small restaurant in the 11th arrondissement that introduced the concept of expertly chosen wines that are available by the glass and paired with the best foods and cheeses.

Unfortunately, it was August and we met outside a closed restaurant. However, all was not lost. Jean-Pierre had lived nearby a decade earlier and knew a special little restaurant. We crossed our fingers that it was still around and not on the standard August Vacation.

Le Pure Café

Le Pure Cafe at night
Jean-Pierre lived in an apartment that looked down on this odd corner lot restaurant. He knew it a couple decades ago when the area was buzzing with good ol’ communist and worker activism. This restaurant/bar was a meeting place for the Parisian Proletariat.

It’s now more bobo than prolo. The new owners have expanded the space and size of the bar. There’s still a small tribute to its red history, but the conversations are now about food, family, and work instead of revolution.

The interior is decidedly “shabby chic”. It’s the antithesis of Bofinger or the new restaurants that are meticulously designed. Le Pure Café seems to have grown organically and still exhibits some growing pains. For instance, the circuit breakers were tripped about every twenty minutes while we were there. The raucous din of conversations would abruptly stop as the lights went out and the waiter would lean over a dining table to flip the switch back on.

The food

Le Pure Café has a few vegetarian options on its menu. I chose a baked cheese ravioli dish in a cream sauce. It was very rich, cheesy, and satisfying. However, I was fascinated by my friend Philippe’s dish. He had Burrata. Keep an eye out for this cheese, I think it is going to be the new hotness.

Burrata – Buffalo Mozzarella’s Creamy Sister

Burrata is like buffalo mozzarella with a cream center. He was served a large ball of cheese with a drizzling of pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. He also had a small green salad and some thinly sliced country ham. Obviously you could get it without the ham.

Burrata is very soft and tastes extremely fresh. It gives a new and decadent spin to the standard caprese salad. I would highly recommend this dish for your visit to Le Pure Café.

I’ve been looking for the cheese in California and have only found it in one Bay Area store. The fromager at Oakville Grocery, in Napa Valley, said the shelf life is very short; so most stores will be reluctant to stock it.

The Dessert

One cannot possibly live on pasta alone. No, one needs a balanced diet. In my case, the diet is balanced by a healthy serving of something chocolate. Le Pure Café certainly didn’t leave us unbalanced.
photo.jpg
Jean-Pierre had a fabu tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. Philippe had the carpaccio of pineapple (I prefer the version at La Bélière), and I had the mother of all tiramisu platters. I ordered the Declinaison Chocolats, or a quartet of marscapone delights. I was presented with four variations on the tiramisu concept. There was the standard espresso/chocolate variety, but I also got Pistache, Caramel, and Fruit Rouge. I truly couldn’t choose a favorite, they were all magnificent.

The Wine

Jean-Pierre and Philippe chose a good, but simple wine for me to try. Keep in mind, I’m over 40 years old and have not drank alcohol. So I was experiencing wine and alcohol at the same time… I have to say, it was horrible!

I’m sure the wine was good. I’m sure it would have been magical with cheese. I’m probably going to burn in some alternative wine-hell for dissing vin rouge. But I shuddered and went into body writhing convulsions every time I swallowed the wine. I think Jean-Pierre thought I was being possessed by some kind of voodoo.

I now can live the rest of my life knowing that I really didn’t miss anything in France by choosing Perrier over wine at the dinner table. I still enjoy cooking with booze, but I can cancel any future wine trains through the Napa Valley.

Le Pure Café Summary

Le Pure Café is a hidden restaurant in the 11th. It sits in the split of two side streets that are accessed via a side street. So you’ll need to have your map with you. However, it is certainly worth the trip.

The service was friendly, although a bit slow. The food was wonderful and the wine didn’t kill me. The highlights were certainly the cheese based dishes. I didn’t see much for vegans, but lacto-ovo vegetarians should love it. The restaurant is triangular with large doors on two sides. This makes it fairly wheelchair accessible.

Dinner for the three of us, including dessert and wine was 96 euros.

Update: Watch closely and you’ll find Le Pure Cafe as the backdrop for a recent Windows 7 commercial on television.

Le Pure Café
14 rue Jean Macé (11°)
Metro: Charonne, Voltaire, Faidherbe Chaligny
01 43 71 47 22
Wheelchair Friendly: Easy access via several doors to the seating as well as ample outdoor eating. I don’t know about the restroom.
  • Overall: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5
  • Location: 3/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Ambiance: 5/5
  • Vegetarian Options: 2.5/5
  • Vegan Options: 2/5

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Le Bistro du Peintre in Paris

Eggplant lasagna at le Bistro du PeintreBehind the Bastille is an area that is a little rough around the edges. It’s filled with restaurants, bars, and late-night activity. Le Bistro du Peintre sits on the edge of this section.

I stopped here during a chilly, rainy summer evening. The outdoor seating has a nice heater and lighting for a comfortable place to enjoy a meal and a book. Luckily they also had a couple vegetarian options.

While I was in the mood for a salad, their eggplant lasagna sounded like a better choice. The lasagna comes in a small terrine with layers of eggplant and sauce. It’s not your traditional lasagna with gobs of sauce and cheese. This is a lighter version with a slightly spicy sauce.

This also came with a mozzarella and tomato salad and rustic bread. The salad was nice, but had some crunchy bits that made me wonder if the lettuce was washed completely. It had a healthy portion of fresh mozzarella and a sampling of tapenade for flavor.

Comfort + Food

le Bistro du Peintre in ParisAs I mentioned earlier, their outdoor seating area was quite comfortable. I pulled out my French history book and enjoyed reading for over an hour while watching the rain come down in heavy sheets. Evenings are special in Paris during the summer. A hearty meal, a good book, and a comfortable chair are what Paris memories are made of.

Your Meat Eating Friends will be Happy

Le Bistro du Peintre also has a good reputation for the standard meat-based bistro dishes, such as tartar, duck confit, and marrow bones. So this is also a good choice if you are dining with a bunch of meat eating friends.

Le Bistro du Peintre
16, av Ledru-Rollin (11°)
Metro: Ledru-Rollin, Bastille
01 47 00 34 39
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Taste: 4/5
  • Vegetarian Options: 3/5
  • Vegan Options: 1/5
  • Meat Eating Friends: 5/5
  • Value: 4/5
  • Location: 3.5/5

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Pain, Vin, Fromage – a Wine and Cheese Bar

Vin fromage charcuterie in ParisParis is filled with niche restaurants, cafes, and bars. You can find cafes that serve massages with lunch (No Stress Cafe), cafes centered around philosophy, technology (La Cantine), there was even a restaurant whose dining room was in complete darkness. Pain, Vin, Fromage is a new niche restaurant worth checking out for lacto vegetarians.

Pain, Vin, Fromage features 50 artisinal cheeses and 40 wines available by the glass or bottle. They also serve charcuterie (sausages, salamis, and other meat products). They are a new restaurant in the Marais/Republique neighborhood. It may take a little bit of searching but looks like a nice place for those that enjoy cheese and wine.

I didn’t have time to eat here the night I discovered it. However, the menu and restaurant looked interesting and unique. The prices were reasonable, the clients were happy, and the location is great. They also offer catering and group parties.

Pain, Vin, Fromage
9 rue Crussol (11°)
Metro: Oberkampf, Filles du Calvaire
06 15 33 58 46
Restaurant

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La Reine de Saba – Ethiopian restaurant in Paris

La Reine de SabaIt’s hard to get people to join me for an evening of Ethiopian food. The food can most easily be described as mushy vegetables on a spongie crepe that you eat by hand. There’s typically an assortment of lintels, spinach, and other veggies. And to top it off, there’s sometimes a surprise dish that looks harmless but packs a powerful punch. What’s not to love about it?

I came across La Reine de Saba while dining at Tien Hiang, the popular vegetarian Chinese restaurant across the street. Luckily, my friend Will was visiting Paris and I talked him into joining me for an Ethiopian meal.

La Reine de Saba is only open at night and it’s a popular place after 9. If you are looking for a late night meal, call ahead for a reservation. You shouldn’t need one before 9.

The restaurant has the typical Ethiopian decor, it is clean, friendly, and they speak English. The majority of the menu is filled with goat, chicken, and fish. However, they do have some vegetarian options. Your best choice is the vegetarian plate. It includes salad, spinach, lentils, and another veggie dish. There will be ample crepes to eat with and no forks or knives.

The food was good. I would have preferred a bit more variety in the vegetable plate. I’ve been to several Ethiopian restaurants and usually get more than 4-5 variations. It’s also not spicy, which is a welcome relief the next day. If you know what I mean.

There is a special menu for groups of people. This group menu features lots of meat, but they should be able to do something for a group of veggies.

Ethiopian restaurants are more than a place to eat. There’s a convivial atmosphere and food is celebrated. La Reine de Saba extends this with live music on special nights. I think I’d go across the street to Tien Hiang if I were by myself, but La Reine de Saba is better for a group of friends who want to enjoy a festive night of mushy vegetables and spongie bread. There’s a lot to love about it.

La Reine de Saba
91, rue du Chemin Vert (11°)
01 49 29 99 68
Metro: St. Maur, Voltaire, Pére la Chaise
Ethiopian restaurant
  • Overall: 4/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • Taste: 4/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 4/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 4/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 4/5

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