From your Parisian

Sharing my newest discoveries as I float through the streets of Paris. Restaurants, bars, events, all reviewed for you with love, from your Parisian.


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Fast Food, Fast Review: Bob’s Bake Shop

I had the immense pleasure of taking a day off work last Tuesday, which gave me the chance to wander around Paris on a weekday and check out a place I have wanted to try for a while now: Bob’s Bake Shop!

bobs bake shop_paris_lunch

This American eatery is located in the new, eco-friendly Halle Pajol (which totally deserves  its own blog post…I will eventually get around to it), giving it a very unique and natural feel. It has a definite North American diner look and the staff speak English and are all casually dressed in loose sweatshirts and beanies, reminding me of coffee shop staff in Vancouver or Seattle.

bobs bake shop_paris_coffee

As soon as I walked inside, the smell of freshly ground coffee (from La Brûlerie de Belleville) drifted into my nostrils while my eyes were drawn to the glass display cases full of good old-fashioned pies, cheesecakes and brownies. I was hungry and craving a bagel so I looked up at the wide choice of homemade bagels and the list of possible ingredients to fill them with.

bobs bake shop_paris_pies and cakes

bobs bake shop_paris_sandwich menu

I was tempted by the Kalamata olive, feta, and grilled vegetable filling (7 Euros), because feta is the best thing ever!!!, but instead chose a classic smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel (8 Euros) from the list of delicious lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarian choices. I equally asked for a fresh mint infused lemonade (3,50 Euros) and a matcha and chocolate chunk cookie (2 Euros) from the pile that were strategically placed on a plate along the counter by the till (it is not possible to resist taking one). Then I sat down by the window at a little table whose color matched my mint lemonade and waited for my bagel to be brought over.

bobs bake shop_paris_interior

From my cozy corner I looked around as soft folk/pop songs like Angus and Julia Stone “Big Jet Plane” played over the noises of milk frothing and ceramic cups clinking from behind the counter. They have an impressive list of other lunch choices available such as salads, soups, tartines, fresh fruit juices and even chia pudding! I glanced outside at the rain and imagined how nice it will be in summer to come here and eat in the sun on one of their large wooden picnic tables. My random musings were interrupted by the arrival of my sesame seed bagel. I took a bite and Wow! It was seriously delicious and filled with a generous amount of cream cheese, smoked salmon, sliced tomatoes and pickled red onions. I hadn’t had a bagel sandwich like this in a long time and tried to eat it as elegantly as possible, but I ended up with cream cheese all over my cheeks and fingers (hopefully no one was watching me eat, as I’m sure it must have looked like something similar to the porridge scene in Beauty and the Beast)!

bobs bake shop_paris_bagel

After sipping some refreshing lemonade I moved on to the green colored cookie and was very surprised by how light and crumbly it was, with large chunks of chocolate throughout and a mild taste of matcha. I was pretty full at this point but considered ordering a slice of pecan pie (4 Euros) before leaving. I hesitated for a moment and finally decided I would save that delight for next time…because I’ll definitely be coming back!

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With a great selection of high quality North American baked goods, I definitely recommend Bob’s Bake Shop. It is bound to please health freaks, or people like me who once in a while feel bad about all of the baguette and fromage they constantly eat and want something a little more wholesome/less fattening! So make your way up to Marx Dormoy métro station in the 18th arrondissement and check out this bake shop as well as Halle Pajol, which has really rejuvenated this often overlooked neighborhood. I think I will be dropping by fairly often for my bagel fix from now on!

bobs bake shop_paris_exterior2

Restaurant Details:

12 esplanade Nathalie Sarraute, 75018 Paris

+33 (0)9 84 46 25 26

http://www.bobsjuicebar.com/bake-shop.html

My Rating:

5 irresistible cookies out of 5!

FYI: For info on Marc Grossman’s two other health food establishments in Paris, Bob’s Juice Bar or Bob’s Kitchen, please see: http://www.bobsjuicebar.com

 

 


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Fast Food, Fast Review: Persillé

As the French are real carnivores, there is no shortage of butcher shops in Paris, but up until now I have never come across one that also doubles as a casual dining/fast food joint! That is exactly what the two young men behind Persillé – Maison de Viande (translation: House of Meat) decided to do, and they do it well. I passed by this place a week ago on my way to the MK2 Bibliothèque movie theatre with my bf (where I go fairly often and am always saddened by the lack of places to eat nearby) and was immediately intrigued by their innovative concept.

persillé_paris_exterior

At first glance it looks like a bright and modern butcher shop, with two large, well-stocked refrigerators (filled with various types of meat and poultry), but once you see the wooden tables and the menu posted on the wall behind the white tiled counter, you realize that there is more to this place than meets the eye. You are, of course, more than welcome to buy a piece of Charolais beef or some pork from Auvergne to take home and prepare as you like, but at Persillé there is also the option of having that same meat prepared for you with care by their chef, and served with a choice of sauces and sides. We decided to try one of their burgers, made from their freshly ground beef and cooked in their kitchen. We sat down at one of the tables by the window with a line full of cured sausages hanging above us.

persillé_paris_interior

persillé_paris_menu_carte

The burgers came served on cute little metal trays with a generous pile of soft fries and their homemade (and totally delicious) tomato mayo spiced sauce. I chose the Persillé burger: a thick and tasty medium rare burger in a lightly toasted bun with a creamy parsley sauce, a slice of Emmental cheese and some salad greens. Super yum! My bf had the butcher burger with smoked pork belly, aged cheddar, lettuce, and a tomato and onion sauce. I managed to try one bite before he devoured it, and found it just as good as mine! The burger, fries and a drink specials range from 14-15 Euros each…not bad! They even have bottles (or glasses) of wine, which we ordered and enjoyed with a chocolate mousse (they have a selection of dreamy desserts for 2.70-3.50 Euros each).

persillé_paris_persillé burger

persillé_paris_butcher burger

persillé_paris_dessert

I took a quick tour of the place before leaving, past a deer head mounted on the wall and down the stairs, to find an additional seating area as well as the kitchen, concealed behind plastic strip curtains (the kind you would find when entering a walk-in freezer). For those of you more interested in their product for sale, they have a great selection of pâtés, sausages, salami, and hams, as well as cuts of chicken, lamb, pork and beef. For me though, it’s all about their burgers!

persillé_paris_meats

So if you’re in the area and need to grab something quick to eat that doesn’t feel like fast food, then I would definitely recommend Persillé: a butcher shop unlike the rest! The guys are friendly and their burgers are pretty satisfying.

Oh! And in case you’re wondering what movie I saw, it was Foxcatcher, which I recommend by the way! Steve Carrell was completely transformed in his role as the creepy John du Pont and all three main actors gave really powerful performances! Check it out!

Restaurant Details:

66 Rue du Chevaleret, 75013 Paris

+33 (0)1 45 82 98 96

http://www.persille.fr/

 My Rating:

4 tasty terrines out of 5


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Restaurant Review: BALLS

This hip restaurant has only been open for a little over a year but it sure has made a name for itself in Paris…and that name is BALLS!  As the name states, it specializes in various types of meatballs (obviously that’s what first came to my mind… ;)) and it is very popular with the trendy Parisian crowd!

balls_paris_meatballs and sides

The restaurant itself is very pleasant with light wood tables (adorned with freshly cut white roses) and otherwise minimal decor, giving it a very natural and fresh feel.

balls_paris_tables

balls_paris_interior

The idea is simple: choose your balls (5 per dish), that come with either a herb and yogurt or tomato sauce (for 10 Euros), and add one of their side dishes (6 Euros) to accompany them. I sat down with my friend K on a Tuesday night and after a few minutes of giggling at the cocktails (9, 50 Euros), named white balls, black balls and Rosemary’s balls (ummm??), we carefully studied the food menu. One of the friendly owners, Jérémie, informed us that they were out of lamb balls and I was a little disappointed, as in my mind I had already chosen them. Luckily I found a suitable alternative in the pork, ricotta and spinach balls with their yogurt sauce and a side of creamy chard risotto. K took the beef, parsley and onion balls with tomato sauce and a lentil salad.

balls_paris_beef balls

balls_paris_lentil salad

I LOVED the pork balls, which were extra moist and flavorful, and found the beef balls to be very good as well. I won’t describe them in any more detail; otherwise this will sound like a reading from the infamous SNL comedy sketch “Schweddy Balls”!  The risotto was delicious and the lentil salad had a great mix of textures with the lentils, feta, grilled zucchinis, pomegranate seeds and walnuts combining harmoniously. A glass of wine (5 Euros) and a beer (6,50 Euros) completed the meal nicely. Just so you know, there are also some veggie balls made from chickpeas and eggplant on the menu for those of you who don’t eat meat!

balls_paris_pork balls

balls_paris_menu

I especially enjoyed the music selection, a mix of chill hip-hop and electro pop. I sat there licking the last bit of yogurt sauce off of my fork while Gorillaz – Meloncholy Hill played cheerfully in the background. Even though we were pretty full, we decided to share a dessert: poached pears with almond cream and sprinkled with something that looked and tasted like crushed spéculoos cookies (5 Euros). It was light and refreshing and was savored to the song Disclosure – You & Me.

balls_paris_dessert

At one moment a girl arrived at the table next to us that was occupied by two British guys and one of them blurted out “you’ve arrived just in time, our balls are on the table!” Clearly, I am not the only one who finds the name of this place super amusing! You should know that writing this review without including constant dirty jokes was kind of a challenge for me…but I think I controlled myself pretty well.

balls_paris_menus

All jokes aside, the food here is really good and definitely lives up to the hype. You can equally come here for lunch where a portion of balls, a side dish and a soft drink is just 13, 50 Euros, and they even do take-out! So come on down to Rue Saint-Maur and give their balls a try!

balls_paris_exterior

 

Details:

47 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris

+33 (0)9 51 38 74 89

http://www.ballsrestaurant.com

My Rating:

5 juicy balls out of 5!


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Restaurant Review: Le Bistro des Halles

Happy New Year Everyone! Yes it’s a little late, but with all that’s been going on in Paris I haven’t had a night to really sit down and write until now. As is common in winter, it has been cold and rainy here, and when it’s like this I crave comfort foods and homemade bistro cooking! So, for my first post of 2015 here is a review of Le Bistro des Halles, a very authentic French bistro located between Les Halles and Rue de Rivoli where you will find carefully chosen wines, amazing meat and cheese plates and ridiculously good meals!

bistro des halles_paris_périgourdine salad

When my boyfriend worked in this area of town he would talk about this place all the time, telling me how great their sandwiches were. They were basic, filled with various meats, but they were so tasty that all of the locals came here for lunch. He equally raved about a dinner he had here one time. So when C, my awesome ex-coworker, said he was coming to town to have dinner with equally awesome V and myself I thought it was the perfect occasion to give it a try!

bistro des halles_paris_bar

Before I go on, I should fill you in on some basic info about this place. This is an “old-school” French bistro. If you walk in on a weeknight and will probably see a bunch of working class guys (that look like they come here often and are the farthest thing from trendy) milling around the bar and chatting with the staff. The décor is very modest with checkered table cloths, dried flowers and bunches of garlic hanging about as well as chalkboards displaying the menu on the wall. Our waiter was a no-nonsense French guy who takes wine very seriously (quelle surprise!). When C asked for a coke, he shot him a look of disapproval (that reminded me of the time I asked for ketchup with my croque-monsieur in another traditional Parisian bistro and I thought the waiter was literally going to spit on me in disgust)! We all spoke French so I am not sure if the waiters speak English here (I didn’t hear any English around me) or if they would want to make much of an effort with non-French speakers. But I might be mistaken, please give it a try and let me know. Anyways! If I haven’t scared you off already, I will get to the good part. The food!

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bistro des halles_paris_menu_carte

Apparently the lady in the kitchen is called Isabel and she sure knows what she’s doing! C and I both ordered the confit de canard (or confit duck; 17 euros). You should know that I am a huge fan of this dish, and when I see it on a menu I always have the strongest urge to order it! I have had some really good and some really average/disappointing duck over the past 4 years in Paris, and I have to say that this is one of the best I have ever had! The skin was crispy (as it should be) and the meat was soft, tender and oh so juicy! It came balanced on top of a generous pile of sautéed (I’m guessing in duck fat and garlic) potatoes and pleurotes (oyster mushrooms) and sprinkled with chives. Together with a glass of red wine (I chose the “wine of the day” which was Corbières Abbaye de Fontfroide; 4.40 Euros), my tummy was beyond happy! C also ordered a glass of wine with his meal, redeeming himself in the eyes of our waiter.

bistro des halles_paris_confit de canard

V ordered a salad named “La Périgourdine” (15 Euros), which from the name you have no idea what it is, but it was definitely not a “diet” salad (none of their salads are), and consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, fresh green beans drizzled in a vinaigrette and topped with smoked magret duck, walnuts and, oh yeah, a nice thick slice of their homemade foie gras! During dinner, V wanted to order another glass of wine before having finished her current glass and the waiter calmly said that he was surveying the room and would come by when he saw that her glass was empty (umm…okay). We found this strange at first but he did keep to his word, after only the briefest delay.

bistro des halles_paris_creme brulée

bistro des halles_paris_fromage blanc

We were pretty full by this time but when the waiter asked us if we wanted a dessert, we found it too hard to say no. V and I shared the perfect crème brulée (6 Euros) and C had a fromage blanc topped with honey and hazelnuts (also 6 Euros). Simple but totally satisfying…just like our entire experience at Le Bistro des Halles that evening. Check it out if you’re in the area and want to eat some good quality food in a laid-back, no-fuss environment. Just take my advice and do not ask for ketchup!

 

Details:

15 Rue des Halles, 75001 Paris

+33 (0)1 42 36 91 69

My Rating:

4 serious French waiters out of 5!


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Paris Restaurant Review: Bistro Poulbot

Usually when I go out for dinner with my boyfriend I tend to choose the place, as I always have a long list of “must check out” places that I’m eager to try. This time, as it was a special occasion, I decided to let him take a shot at choosing a restaurant and when he suggested Bistro Poulbot I was relatively happy to give it a go. This cute little bistro is located in the quiet street of Rue Lamarck, only a short walk from Sacré-Coeur, making it the perfect place to enjoy a meal away from the craziness (and the many tourist traps with overpriced and dismal food) you find around Place du Tertre.

bistro poulbot_paris_sign

bistro poulbot_paris_exterior

I have to admit that this place can easily be overlooked with its simple red awning but as we crossed the street its glowing interior, complete with sparkling Christmas lights, really invited us in. Once inside we were greeted by a very friendly server who showed us to our cozy table for two by the window. The décor inside was that of a traditional French bistro with wooden chairs/tables and leather bench seating, chalkboard menus hanging on the walls and photos of chickens and other vintage prints scattered about.

bistro poulbot_paris_interior

bistro poulbot_paris_bar

The huge chalkboard menu was brought over to us and I immediately noticed some “interesting” items on the menu, and when I say “interesting” I mean things that I would not really choose to eat. I’ve never been a huge meat eater so eating veal tongue and veal brain with potatoes has never really appealed to me. I will give them a try if offered from someone else’s plate (I’ll try almost anything once) but I will never choose any sort of offal dish by choice. Luckily, I still had many other options, so everyone should be able to find something they like…well apart from vegetarians. The chef, Lorenzo Torrini, manages to expertly blend traditional and rural French cuisine with his own unique touches and at 35 euros for a 3 course meal (entrée, plat et dessert), you really can’t complain!

bistro poulbot_paris_menu_carte

I chose the courgettes en carpacccio as an entrée while he went for the duck foie gras, we both chose the bavette “tagliata” as our main course, and for dessert he chose the profiteroles and I the apple crumble… to begin with…then at the last minute I switched my order to the pain perdu (the waiter was super sweet and told me I had the right to change my mind…thank you). Our bottle of wine arrived with a cute little basket of in-shell peanuts. We were both hungry and demolished them immediately! By this time we had properly defrosted and were nice and warm in our little corner.

bistro poulbot_paris_wine

The first dish arrived as an attractive display of thinly sliced zucchini, folded and arranged like the big bows you find on top of presents, then drizzled in lemon vinaigrette and topped with crispy parmesan flakes and pine nuts. It was light, fresh and very tasty. Of course my boyfriend enjoyed his foie gras (he always does!) and I stole some of the spinach leaves from his plate that were tossed in a light but flavorful dressing.

bistro poulbot_paris_courgette carpacio

bistro poulbot_paris_foie gras

Next came the “tagliata” steak, covered in a yummy Bearnaise herb sauce (that had what I thought tasted like a hint of anise), cut into thick slices and cooked to perfection. It was accompanied by a small, but decent quantity of mashed potatoes. I was completely satisfied and although the quantity was not enormous my guy seemed to find it an ideally sized portion as well.

bistro poulbot_paris_steak

The best, however, was yet to come! I am not even going to talk about the profiteroles because for once I didn’t insist on trying his dessert as I was too incredibly blown away by my pain perdu (or French toast) topped with strawberries, bits of meringue and whipped cream. I don’t think I’ve ever found French toast to be so good! It was light and slightly crisp on the outside while bursting with buttery and sugary goodness in every bite! The strawberries and meringue pieces were classic yet genius additions and, once again, the portion was perfect. Not too much (to give you a sugar overdose) and not too little (to leave you feeling unfulfilled).

bistro poulbot_paris_pain perdu

In conclusion: with winter officially here and the holiday season upon us I can’t think of a better place to recommend for anyone wanting to find a little shelter from the cold while enjoying some good quality bistro cooking. Also, note to self: I’m not the only one who can  pick a good restaurant!

And with that now said, I am going to finish wrapping my Christmas presents. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and all the best for 2015: I’ve got so many great places to tell you about this coming year, I can’t wait! 🙂

Details:
39 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris
+33 (0)1 46 06 86 00
http://www.bistropoulbot.fr/

My Rating:

5 plates of pain perdu out of 5


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Paris Restaurant Review: Luz Verde

Luz Verde has only been open for about a month but this place has already got quite a following and is the talk of the town amongst the trendy Parisian crowd…so obviously I had to check it out! As these places get packed around 8pm I called up a friend and suggested we meet after work at 7:30pm, to be sure to get a seat. As expected, the place was fairly empty and we managed to pick a spot next to the window, decorated with Mexican skulls and some peppers and avocados from the kitchen.

luz verde_window_paris

luz verde_exterior window

My first impression was very positive: the stone walls blended well with the wooden tables and the long bar, lit with hanging lights that were sheltered with basket-like shades. It was dimly lit inside, but warm at the same time. I also noted that they were playing Raphael Saadiq’s “The way I see it” album, which made me instantly appreciate the place even more (it’s a great CD, FYI). We took a look at the drink menu and saw a list of various French wines and beers (5-6 Euros). I asked the friendly guy at the bar if they had other drinks available (because I had heard they have cocktails), and he informed me that on Saturday they have guest barmen come in and prepare various cocktails but in the week they only offer a frozen margarita (10 Euros). Wanting to do the whole Mexican thing, we chose the margarita, which was fine but came out of a slushy machine and was nothing special, if I’m being completely honest.

luz verde_bar_paris

luz verde_menu_carte

On to the menu: we decided to share 4 dishes between us (as we are both on a budget), thinking it would be enough and forgetting that in these hip places the portions are always itty bitty! We ordered quesadillas, filled with refried beans and cheese (and that I could have eaten in one bite; 5 Euros for 2), chicken tacos (2 corn flour tortillas filled with spicy chicken, red peppers, corn and onions; 6 Euros),  vegetarian tacos (which were super original, with shredded carrot and cabbage in lime juice and topped with ricotta cheese and peanuts; 5 euros) and finally the ceviche (11 Euros), presented as a colorful and artistic display of thickly sliced bonito fish (a mackerel-like fish apparently, I had to Google it!) with radish, grapefruit, cucumber balls, pomegranate seeds and shredded beetroot. Super delicious!!!! We suddenly wished that we didn’t have to share, but I guess it made us savor each bite even more!

luz verde_chicken_tacos

 

luz verde_vegetarian_tacos

My friend saved the day by noticing a small brown sack on the table that was hidden from my view and that was full of bread. We hungrily ate each slice, wiping up the last bit of vinaigrette from the ceviche and wishing that some sort of fairy grub-mother could come in, wave her magic wand and make more of their tasty dishes appear on our plates. Long story short, we were left wanting more.

luz verde_ceviche

By this time the place was packed with well-dressed people (and others curiously peering in from the outside) and we had managed to rake up a bill of 47 Euros. So we paid the waiter, who happened to be the Australian cousin of one of the owners and was super nice, and left the buzzing restaurant to step outside into the cold Parisian streets.

luz_verde_interior

What I learned was this: if I come here again, which I’d like to (as I would love to try all of their dishes), I would not get the margarita, and instead go for a glass of wine and another order of tacos…maybe the lamb or pork ones…*drools*! I noticed they had a 1.3 kg prime rib on the menu, to share, with potatoes and salad, so I’m sure that this dish would be good too. I’ll know for next time! Overall I enjoyed my evening at Luz Verde and think it’s a great place to meet up with friends for relaxed drinks and some light eats.

Restaurant Details:

24 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris (yes, it’s right next to Buvette!)

+33 (0)1 74 64 29 04

https://www.facebook.com/luzverdeparis

My Rating:

4 tiny but delicious tacos out of 5!


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Paris Events: COMMON concert at the Bataclan

Last Sunday night (November 16th, 2014) I was lucky enough to go to the Bataclan in Paris to see Common perform while on the European leg of his Nobody’s Smiling Tour. Now this is a big deal for me as I am a super hip-hop fan and Common (from Chicago) is one of my all-time faves!  Quick backstory:  he was scheduled to play in Paris back in March 2011. I had my ticket and was super psyched to go see him. Then, either a day or so before the concert date, there was a fire at the Elysée Montmartre, the beautiful concert hall in the 18th arrondissement, and it was cancelled! I was crushed and have been patiently awaiting his return ever since! You now have an idea of the level of anticipation we’re talking about!

Got my ticket, ready to go!

Got my ticket, ready to go!

 So unfortunately I haven’t met many fans of rap, hip-hop and RnB in Paris (and the few I have, like myself, don’t have too much spare cash) so I went on my own. First time going to a concert solo, but nothing should stop you from doing something you love, right? Got to the Bataclan and saw a huge line-up outside…great…they weren’t letting people inside yet. So I got in line and waited patiently in the rain. Chatted with two ladies visiting from California who happened to see he was playing tonight and decided to get tickets. The 45 minute wait went by quickly and once inside I immediately made my way towards the stage.

Dj FAB warm up!

Dj FAB warm up!

The crowd is ready!

The crowd is ready!

What’s nice about the Bataclan (apart from its original architecture dating back to 1865) is that there is a balcony for those spectators who want to sit but the rest is general admission and whoever wants to get close to the stage just has to get there first. I made it as far as three people from me and the stage. Three people blocking me from touching him…but I was CLOSE! Dj FAB warmed up the crowd with some old-school hits and then the lights dimmed and slowly the music of Forever begins started playing. The first Dj appeared (Dj Dummy, super talented!) then the keyboardist, another Dj, the backup singer (who FYI, I didn’t catch her name but she had a beautiful voice)…and finally Common, dressed in a green and blue printed black hoody and black jeans. As he appeared onstage the entire room exploded with applause and screams!

Common-bataclan-paris_3

Common-bataclan-paris-1

The entire two hours (well almost) that followed were beyond awesome! He sang a few songs off of his new album but the rest were his classics like Testify, The Light (loooove that song), Go and I used to love H.E.R. His energy was endless as he ran back and forth, jumped around and high-fived the people in the front row. He jumped off stage and into the crowd during the song Blak Majik (I was too far to the left to touch him) causing everyone to go wild.

In the crowd, but out of reach!

In the crowd, but out of reach!

The highlight for me was definitely when he sang my favorite love song of all time Come close. He actually chose a girl from the crowd to come onstage and then proceeded to serenade her. The girls glued to the stage in front of me were clawing their eyes out with jealousy as he slow danced with this lucky chick (after having her wipe the sweat from his face with a towel). I think every female (and, hey maybe even some males) in the room would have liked to have been her…including myself. I am a total groupie after all! I sang each lyric of the song with him, which was the hugest thrill. “Its just a fly love song“…oh yes it is. My night was officially made, and after a few more great songs like Love of my life as well as a freestyle rap, he thanked the crowd and left the stage!

Luckiest girl of the night

Luckiest girl of the night

Common-bataclan-paris-6

But we wanted more!!!! After a few minutes of screaming and stomping from the crowd the gang came back and he sang a very emotional song (from his new album) called Rewind that. The second verse talks about his friendship with J Dilla (the amazing hip-hop producer who passed away in 2006 from lupus) and he tells the story of how they met and worked together and how he watched his friend getting sicker and wished he had won a Grammy award (which he soooo deserved by the way) before passing away. The whole song will really connect with anyone who has lost someone they care about or that wishes they could, for some reason or another, go back in time. It was very moving and I got a little teary-eyed. That’s the beauty of Common’s songs. They often tell a story and they touch your soul.

Common-bataclan-paris_7

After that he ended the night on a high note with the song Celebrate, an upbeat song about living in the moment with your friends and celebrating life’s accomplishments. The crowd was all smiles and sang and danced together as one. He mentioned that it was his Mom’s Birthday, so we felt extra special being able to celebrate with him. Overall it was an amazing concert (I only wished it had lasted longer…oh and that I could have gone on stage and danced with him!haha) and I truly hope it won’t be too long before he is back in town!

P.S. For those of you who don’t know him (*gasp*) here is a link to my favorite song, Come close.

And for more info on the Bataclan theatre as well as its upcoming events: http://www.bataclan.fr/events.php


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Fast Food, Fast Review: The Grilled Cheese Factory

With the discovery of The Grilled Cheese Factory near Place de la Bastille, I now have the answer to the question:  where do I find a grilled cheese sandwich in Paris? Opened only this year, I decided to try it out one Sunday afternoon.

exterior-grilled-cheese-factory-paris

Upon entering the rather small establishment, one of the friendly young men asked me if I was familiar with the concept (umm…of course!) of this sandwich, which he then went on to describe as the American equivalent of the croque-monsieur. While I find the two extremely different, I went along with his comparison and he continued to tell me how he, along with two other friends, decided to create this eatery after encountering this sandwich just about everywhere during their travels in America. With the huge amount of hamburger, hot-dog and American-style diners popping up all over Paris and becoming super popular, someone was bound to eventually introduce the grilled cheese sandwich to Parisians. I have to say that these guys have done their research, as aside from the food, the interior also has a distinct laid-back American deli feel to it with white brick walls, industrial lamps and bar stool seating all along the counters.

interior-grilled-cheese-factory-paris                                                                           stools-grilled-cheese-factory-paris

First thing you should know is that these sandwiches are not the basic kind you used to get as a kid (or definitely not what I remember), with a Kraft single melted between two pieces of white bread. Here the “Authentic” grilled cheese sandwich comes with 2 cheeses: Mozzarella and Cheddar (for 7 Euros)! Then there are the many variations including, “Chicken” with 2 cheeses, slices of roast chicken, honey mustard sauce and balsamic vinegar (12 Euros), “Mac and Cheese”  with, yes, macaroni and cheese along with 2 cheeses and caramelized onions (10 Euros), and “Veggie” with mozzarella, peppers, tomato confit, and pesto (10 Euros), all of them completed with two thick slices of white or whole wheat bread and accompanied by their home made sweet tomato sauce. My favorite, and as usual the most expensive (sigh), was the “Pastrami”, with 3 cheeses, pastrami, pickles, and honey mustard sauce (13 Euros). While it was expensive, it was incredibly satisfying (oh the cheesy goodness!!!!) as my first meal of the day after an evening of heavy drinking the night before. These sandwiches are heavy, so don’t go here if you’re looking for a light snack! To complete their menu they also have soups (like good old tomato), salads, drinks and desserts.

pastrami-grilled-cheese-sandwich                                                                          chicken-grilled-cheese-sandwich

Obviously, for a grilled cheese sandwich, I found them to be very overpriced, but in Paris this is quite normal when it comes to trendy American-style food restaurants. I won’t be coming here often, but if you have a desperate craving for a grilled cheese sandwich while in Paris it’s comforting to know where to find one. Until then, I’ll stick to my croque-madame…as let’s face it: everything is better with a fried egg on top!

 

Restaurant Details:

9 Rue Jacques Coeur, 75004, Paris

+33 1 77 10 67 83

http://www.thegrilledcheesefactory.fr/

 My Rating:

3 thick slices of cheese out of 5


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Paris Restaurant Review: Buvette Gastrothèque Paris

I know! I haven’t written at all this month, not a great way to start out a new blog! In my defense however, my apartment was broken into (and yes, they took my only item of any monetary value: my computer) and then my sister came to Paris for a visit so I was literally unable to write a new blog post until now. Anyways, after that semi apologetic introduction here’s a little review about one of the places I took my sister to while she was here: Buvette Gastrothèque Paris, one of my current fave restaurants in the city of light.

La Buvette, still in the afternoon, before the dinner crowds arrive.

La Buvette, still in the afternoon, before the dinner crowds arrive.

I usually go here in the evening when there is ALWAYS a line-up to get in and you have to wait for an hour or so to be seated, but as I had taken the week off work we decided to drop by for lunch at around 1 pm. It was a beautifully hot September day and I automatically asked the server if it was possible to eat outside. There were two little metal stools outside so we grabbed those, as well as a small wooden table, and the waiter balanced our water carafe on an empty silver ashtray stand, happy to help us out. Feeling very comfortable, surrounded by baskets of lemons and oranges, we began to look at the menu while enjoying the afternoon sun on our faces.

Space for a table for two

Space for a table for two

 

Interior of Buvette Gastrothèque Paris

Interior of Buvette Gastrothèque Paris

I should mention quickly that Buvette Gastrothèque Paris is owned by Jody Williams, an American who first opened Buvette Gastrothèque in New York and then decided to do the same thing in Paris. So if you can’t make it to Paris but are closer to New York, then you should check it out, apparently the dishes are similar to the ones in Paris. Her venture worked out as she now has fashionable Parisians lining up every night to try some of her mouth watering dishes, sip on one of her creative (but pricey) cocktails, or pick a bottle of wine from the extensive wine list.

Lunch menu

Lunch menu

Back to lunch! So, we each ordered a slightly sparkling lemonade and chose three dishes to share: white asparagus with homemade aioli and an egg mimosa-like mixture (7 Euros), black olive tapenade and a generous helping of ratatouille piled onto chunks of bread (5 Euros), and thinly sliced roast lamb mixed with white beans, a tasty vinaigrette and garnished with several Kalamata olives (10 euros). Everything arrived on a large silver tray and was a feast for the eyes. A light but delicious lunch! I should mention that the dinner menu is larger than the lunch menu and I have previously tried such wonders as the mini hachis parmentier and a grated carrot, cilantro and pistachio salad mixed with a light vinaigrette. Obviously you’ll probably want to order more than we did, but remember that here they favor quality over quantity! All the dishes I have tried are bursting with flavor in every bite. As we weren’t completely full, we ordered a tarte tatin (7 Euros), the caramelized apple upside down tart that was displayed on the long marble counter inside. The apples had that lovely rich caramel taste which was nicely toned down with a scoop of sour cream. Another great culinary experience at Buvette!

Lemonade and lemons!

Lemonade and lemons!

Our delicious and light lunch

Our delicious and light lunch

Dreamy tarte tatin

Dreamy tarte tatin

Afterwards, we wandered through the trendy SoPi (South of Pigalle) neighborhood, and thought how nice it would be if we could do this more often. I’ll have to patiently await my sister’s next visit but luckily I can find this amazing food whenever I want, as Buvette Gastrothèque is open 7 days a week from 8:30 am until midnight!

Restaurant Details:

28 rue Henri Monnier, 75009, Paris, France

+331 44 63 41 71

http://www.paris.ilovebuvette.com

My Rating:

5 little plates of deliciousness out of 5!


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Paris Restaurant Review : La Balançoire

You’re in Montmartre and looking for a place to eat. If you haven’t done your homework before heading out, it is easy to sit yourself in one of the many busy restaurants along the main streets around Abbesses métro station which, I’m going to be honest, can be pretty disappointing. So to inaugurate my blog (*giggles of excitement*), my first post will be a review of La balançoire:  a great option if you’re looking for a restaurant in the 18th arrondissement (my favorite area of Paris FYI) where the food is freshly made and tasty, the service is super friendly and the atmosphere is cozy and playful.

exterior-balancoire-restaurant-paris

I had passed by this place on numerous occasions and finally got to check it out with my boyfriend on a Saturday night. Luckily I had made a reservation as, apart from our table for two, the place was otherwise packed. We sat down and immediately I saw it: a wooden swing attached from the ceiling with two long ropes! I mean I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less from a place called “the swing” (English translation of La balançoire), but I was still surprised. The immature part of me wanted to go over there and try it out, but I decided, or rather forced myself, to resist (although I am totally going to come back with friends next time and reserve that table)!

interior-balancoire-restaurant-paris

The smiling waiter arrived with the menu written on a big chalkboard and proceeded to explain, in detail, the 6 or 7 entrées and main courses offered. I definitely appreciated this and my usual questions (i.e. what does it come with? what exactly is in the sauce? etc.) were answered. I ordered the house cheeseburger (16 Euros) and added bacon (because if adding bacon is an option, I add it…obviously!) and my boyfriend chose the beef tartare (18 Euros). We then played with the forks and spoons that were floating above our napkins, thanks to a hidden magnet in the table, and admired the charming décor around us that included jars of French candies, cookbooks, rows of wine corks, and vintage telephones.

                                                                 floating cutlery-balancoire

Our dishes arrived along with a nice bottle of Bordeaux (24 Euros, but if you’re on a budget you can also just get a glass for under 5 Euros). My burger came served in an English muffin style bun (which I found original) with tomato, lettuce, a slice of cheese and two strips of crispy bacon, along with a side of super yummy fries and some mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette. I tried a taste of the beef tartare, presented nicely with an egg yolk on top, even though I have been scared to try this dish in the past (I’m a little paranoid when it comes to food poisoning)! It was clearly a finely chopped steak rather than the mince beef tartare I usually see, and the taste of Dijon mustard and capers mixed in that little bite I tried was divine. We still had some wine left, so we shared a mousse au chocolat (8 Euros) which was creamy and light and garnished with a few red currants.

burger-balancoire-restaurant-paris

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                                                                    chocolate-mousse-balancoire

When we finally asked for the bill, surprise, surprise: it arrived with a jar full of candies!!! And not just any candies, fraises Tagada (which, in case you don’t know, are those yummy little pink strawberry flavored and sugar coated marshmellowy treats)! We were too excited and started grabbing them by the handful. We paused at one moment wondering if perhaps we were in fact stuffing our faces with decorative candies that had been sitting in a jar for years, but we were reassured (yes…we asked) that they are in fact for us to enjoy and that they refilled the jars regularly. Awesome!!! I need to mention again, for those of you who don’t believe that polite Parisian waiters exist, that the two male servers were beyond friendly, laughed at our lame jokes (without even a hint of an eye roll) and told us that the owners have now opened a second restaurant, not too far away, called La boite aux lettres (which I will be sure to check out soon).

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La balançoire is equally open for lunch, featuring a starter+main course or main course+dessert special for 15 Euros or the 3 courses for 18 Euros. With its constantly changing menu made up of carefully prepared French dishes, I will definitely be back.

 

Restaurant details:

La Balançoire

6, rue Aristide Bruant, 75018 Paris, France

+33 1 42 23 70 83

http://www.restaurantlabalancoire.fr/

My Rating: 5 strawberry marshmallows out of 5!