Pink Flamingo – Pizza with a funky twist

How can you go wrong with a pizza joint that proudly boasts its connection to John Water’s movie Pink Flamingos? Pink Flamingo pizza boxes Not to mention the old school punk music, ala Ramones, on the speakers. Did I mention the VW bus parked on the street as an alternate dining table? Oh, and they have some great, inventive vegetarian pizzas.

Pink Flamingo is all that and more.
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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.
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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La Bélière combines Jazz and Good Food in Paris

I’ve written about my favorite chef in Paris, Jacques BROSSE, before. He’s prone to moving around, which means I’ve been able to enjoy his cooking in a variety of restaurants. His latest restaurant is La Bélière Welcome, a hopping joint with a long history of its own.
Jazz dinner in Paris
La Bélière sits on rue Daguerre in the Montparnasse area. It’s a comfortable restaurant with a steady diet of Jazz and friendly service. Unlike many restaurants that mix music with food, La Bélière truly delivers on the cuisine. Visitors for many years have noted the quality food and Jacques’ entrance makes this a certainty.

Jazz Music

This are two face to La Bélière. The first is for dinner, where food takes the attention and music provides the backdrop. However, the focus shifts in the late hours as the kitchen shuts down and it becomes a vibrant Jazz bar. The owner’s been known to keep the place open and hopping until the sun rises. So plan on taking your time and possibly staying much later than you expected.

The Menu

Unfortunately there are not a lot of options on the menu for vegetarians. However, don’t let that stop you. Ask for the plate des legumes. This is a selection of vegetables being served with the various dinner plates. Jacques is a master at blending traditional French cuisine with Asian and Mediterranean dishes. You’ll be surprised by the variety. This is usually a good option for vegans as well.

There’s also a tomato/mozzarella mille-feuille salad that is amazing. It comes with ham but simply ask for it “sans jambon”. This is a full meal in itself.

The menu at this restaurant hasn’t changed much over the years; so keep an eye out for the daily specials. This is where Jacques has more room to stretch his culinary muscles. You may also want to make reservations several days in advance and ask for vegetarian options. Jacques speaks English fluently, so you can say hello while you are dining. Actually, everyone that works there seems to speak excellent English.

Dinner should cost between 15-30 euros, depending on your desire for dessert and/or drinks. The meals are large so plan on sharing an appetizer and watch out for the mother of all profiteroles for dessert. She’s a whopper!

La Beliere
74 rue Daguerre (14°)
Metro: Denfert Rochereau
01 40 47 52 66
Wheelchair Friendly: seating and entrance is easy. Bathrooms are in the basement.
  • Overall: 4/5
  • Value: 4/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • 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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