AU PASSAGE: “Very simple market-based food, again. The Australian chef, James Henry, used to work at Spring, which has turned out to be a real factory for [amazing] offshoot tables. It’s this cool little place that’s far from any metro, on a little road filled with nothing else but ironmongers and silversmiths. They have a three-course menu for 16.50 euros [or $21.50], which is unbeatable. I had arctic char, a fish that’s quite in vogue on menus in France at the moment, served raw, carpaccio style, with just some onions and very little spices. The main dish was also a fish dish, with leeks and onions — very simple but absolutely delicious. Even in top-level gastronomic restaurants you don’t often find fish of this quality. Lunch is a market-based menu, and in the evening they serve tapas.”
Au Passage: 1 bis Passage Saint Sébastien, 75011 Paris. Tel.: +33-1-43-55-07-52.
MERCE AND THE MUSE: “Merce is a New York film school graduate who opened a coffee shop because she couldn’t find a New York-style coffee shop anywhere in Paris. The guys behind The Prescription Cocktail Club [Romee de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon and Pierre-Charles Cros] financed her, put up some capital, and she found this funky little New York loft-style place in the upper Marais district, just off the Carreau du Temple. She imported coffee from The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, which is some of the best coffee in the world, and started doing organic salads, quiches, pastries and the coffee. And it’s been a huge success. That sort of started off the trend for artisanal coffee in Paris. Now you’ve got Coutume Café, for the best coffee, hands down, in Paris — sourced from fair-trade, single-origin beans, roasted on the premises and cupped by world-class baristas. Other great coffee joints include the Caféothèque de Paris, run by Gloria, a former Guatemalan ambassador to France; Le Bal Café in Clichy, doing head-to-tail modern British cooking, and fantastic coffee, as well, and Kooka Boora Café, doing great, expertly made coffee.”
Merce and the Muse: 1 bis Rue Dupuis, 75003 Paris. Tel.: +33-6-42-39-04-31.
Coutume Café: 7 Rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris. Tel.: +33-1-45-51-50-47.
Caféothèque de Paris: 52 Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris. Tel.: +33-1-53-01-83-84.
Le Bal Café: 6 Impasse de la Défense 75018 Paris. Tel.: +33-1-44-70-75-51.
Kooka Boora Café: 62 Rue des Martyrs and 53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris, France. Tel.: +33-1 56-92-12-41.