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

Chez Alexandre – French cuisine by my favorite chef

I still remember my first amazing meal in Paris. It was at a small restaurant in the Marais and I was with my friends Jim, Jean-Pierre, and Philippe. Jean-Pierre knew the chef, Jacques Brosse, and told us we were in for a treat.
I asked Jacques for a plate des legumes as a vegetarian dinner. I was given a wonderful plate of side dishes, but there was one item that I still taste when I close my eyes and remember. It was an extremely simple dish of the juiciest cherry tomatoes. I can’t tell you what Jacques did to them. I imagine he hollowed out the little guys, chopped up the tomato “meat”, mixed it with salt and herbs and filled them again. These tiny little treats absolutely blew my mind. I had no idea so much flavor could be packed into such a tiny bite.

After the main course, Jacques presented us with the molten lava cake that has become so common in expensive restaurants. This was about 14 years ago and I’d never heard of the dish. It came with a raspberry sauce and was literally to die for. We returned the next night for more of the cake.

Creative and fantastic vegetarian food

Over the years, I’ve followed Jacques as he moved from one restaurant to another. He’s made some of the best vegetarian food that I’ve ever eaten. One night, he served a special version of French Onion soup for me. It was made with red wine instead of beef stock. I still bug him for that again.
the dinner spread ala chez Jacques et Dean
He’s also created a wide assortment of mediteranean and French cuisine. The hits keep on coming.

I just remembered a medley of about 10 wild mushrooms, the best hummus, guacamole that was far better than anything I’ve had in California…and I grew up with Avocado trees every where you look.

Chez Alexandre

So now you know how much I admire Jacques’ skills as a chef. He has a new restaurant and I stopped by today to say hello. Chez Alexandre serves traditional French cuisine in a large space a block away from Galeries Lafayette.
Chez Alexandre
There is a twist, the restaurant’s main clientele are Chinese and Russian tour groups. They have a large dining room upstairs for these groups and individual diners enjoy the space downstairs.

I asked him today about the vegetarian choices at Chez Alexandre. Interestingly, a significant portion of their visitors are Buddhists, for which Jacques creates vegan dishes every night. Tonight he had reservations for 10 vegans amongst the various groups. Their main dish will be stuffed vegetables with vegan risotto and chopped vegetables.

Reservations are suggested if you’d like to try a vegan dinner. You can always request a plate des legumes and you won’t be disappointed.

While I’m one of Jacques’ loyal followers, I have not eaten at Chez Alexandre yet. I stopped by today while they were closed before dinner. I plan on returning very soon and will update this with a full review of the meal.

Menus are available in many languages. Jacques is fluent in English, French, and Chinese. If it’s slow, don’t be afraid to see if you can visit with him and say hello. Tell him Ted sent you.

Chez Alexandre
16, rue La Fayette (9°)
01 47 70 01 91
Metro: Chausee d’Antin La Fayette, Auber, Opera
French cuisine

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Pierre Hermé – Patisserie to the Stars

There’s nothing particularly vegetarian about this patisserie. In fact, the place is known for its bizarre macaroon combinations that have included foie gras as a filling. However, Pierre Hermé is an amazing place to indulge in, regardless of your vegetarian/vegan/macrobiotic/organic leanings.

Legend has it: Hermé worked for Gaston Lenôtre, the world famous pastry chef. They are known as the masters of macaroons and this historic patisserie has been serving the aristocracy for decades. However, Hermé felt the urge to move on and opened his first place just down the street on Rue Bonaparte.

Where Lenôtre is about classic French taste (etoile patterns, delicate macaroons, pastels…), Pierre Hermé is bold, experimental, funky, surprising, and above all delicious.

It’s enough to get the true French Queen, Catherine Deneuve, to wait in line for morning pastries. At least that is the story I’ve heard and desperately want to believe. I love the idea of standing in line for an almond croissant with such a legend, chatting about the latest macaroon, working with Luis Bunuel, and the muggy weather.

I was surprised by the reasonable prices. The almond croissant was the same price as the flat, spongy thing seen in more common patisseries around the city. The macaroons were beyond description. I tested the passion fruit and chocolate creation. I also bought his signature chocolate balls. Unfortunately, I didn’t eat them fast enough and they grew mold. That’s what you get when you expect your food to be filled with preservatives and someone hands you a touch of purity. Oh well, I’ll just have to make another trip.

There’s a bunch of photos on Flickr from people that enjoy the goodies at Pierre Herme. They’ll give you an idea of the passion these morsels create. If you are looking for a delicious dessert, a quick pick me up, or a great gift to bring back home: visit Pierre Hermé.

Pierre Hermé
72, rue Bonaparte (6°)
01 43 54 47 77
Metro: St-Germian de Prés
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Location: 5/5
  • Value: 4.5/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 4/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 3/5

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Chez Lili et Marcel – A great salad in Paris

Chez Lili et Marcel is the sister restaurant to Chez Prosper and Cafe Panis. Both are popular restaurants that serve classic French cuisine. The portions are large, the staff is friendly, and the value is great.

Chez Lili et Marcel is located next to Metro: Quai de la Gare, a stone’s throw to the Seine. It’s a very convenient location in the 13th arrindissemont. Unlike Chez Prosper, Lili et Marcel is quiet, comfortable, and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your meal.

Vegetarian options

To quote Henry Ford: you have a great choice of meals. There’s the salad Marceillaise and the salad Marceillaise. Yes, there’s really only one vegetarian dish and no vegan dishes. However, this salad is wonderful.

salad at Chez Lili et Marcel

It features a layer of greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. On top is a layer of sauteed potatoes and then a tartine with thinly sliced pears, honey, and cheese. It’s a hearty meal for about 12 euros.

I visit Lili et Marcel often. It’s a great place to meet friends when you actually want to hear each other. Parking is fairly easy to find at night. It’s great for your meat eating friends, but not so great for your vegan friends.

Update – May 2013

I recently visited Lili et Marcel with big hopes for my beloved salad. Alas, it was no longer on the menu. They had another vegetarian salad that included a vegetable soup. It was ok, but not inspiring as the salad that filled me on so many nights. I’m reducing the rating for now.

Chez Lili et Marcel
1, Quai d’Austerlitz (13°)
08 26 10 09 17
Metro: Quai de la Gare
French Restaurant
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • Taste: 4/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 2/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 1/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 5/5