There are lots of places to eat in SoPi (South Pigalle neighborhood of Paris), but not all of them have the charm that you will find at Puce – Bar à Grignoter. The word puce is often used as a pet name in French, which roughly translates as “sweetheart” or “honey” in English. It’s therefore a fairly appropriate name for this restaurant, which I can best describe as cute and classy. The benches are covered in pastel colored cushions with striped, floral and polka dot motifs, the food is served on vintage porcelain plates and the sleek bar is adorned with a mix of enchanting lampshades hanging from above.I went here with my friend K on a week night as we were looking for a place where we could get a drink and some share plates…neither of us was very hungry (I had eaten a huge chicken kebab for lunch)! We sat down in the cozy room, were greeted by the friendly owner and took a look at the menu. Drinks include a good variety of wines as well as non-alcoholic beverages and a random Japanese beer. As for the food, everything on the menu is incredibly tempting and prices range from 5.50-12 Euros. They are small portions, but they are meant to share, so depending on your appetite (and budget) you can choose as many or as few as you like to go along with a glass of wine, such as a Chardonnay « Patchwork » 2013, Tissot (my choice at 6,5 Euros). We settled on the chips and guacamole (served in a traditional molcajete), a cheese plate (that I admit was a little small), a lentil and feta salad and a creamy 4 cheese macaroni! The guacamole was amazing and full of fresh cilantro, just how I like it, and the macaroni was oozing with cheese and topped with a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs! While we only had 4 dishes between us, we ended up feeling full, as what we ate was rich and satisfying. At the table next to us I saw a plate of grilled pork ribs go by and later a slice of raspberry cheesecake, so I am convinced that everything they serve here must be really good!Now that I have praised the food, I will mention a few drawbacks. Firstly, they played constant instrumental jazz music…which is not at all something I enjoy, but luckily it was only in the bathroom where I really heard it loudly. I guess it did go with the overall upscale feel of the place and there are many people that actually like this type of music…so I won’t judge. Close by, there was a table of bourgeois women enjoying their evening of discussing their partners and their new handbags, which got me thinking that Puce is mainly a really great place for a girl’s night out. Or a date night. I mean the decor is girly and the portions are small so it should appeal to people wanting to chat and drink while snacking on a light meal. I don’t, however, see a group of hungry guys (or hungry girls) ever choosing this restaurant…unless they’re loaded, in which case I’d be tempted to order the entire menu! Those slight criticisms aside, I have to admit that Puce is delightful, chic and a good choice for those of you who prefer quality over quantity.
1 Rue Chaptal
3.5 pretty, floral plates out of 5
I’m a big fan of fusion cooking, if it’s done right, so when I heard about Ouh là là-Cantine St. Martin and their French style tacos I was immediately intrigued. I mean I love tacos and I love French food…and I love saying Ouh là là, so it was really a no brainer for me! Located near Strasbourg Saint-Denis métro station in a quiet pedestrian street, this eatery is easy to spot thanks to its bright blue awning and cheery yellow chairs that really add some warmth to an otherwise cold autumn day.Inside, the welcome was equally sunny with one of the owners quickly finding us a seat and telling us our dining options with a smile. The decor is simple with a stone wall facing a geometric printed wall behind the food counter. It is completed by wooden tables and modern light fixtures that dangle playfully at different lengths around the room. The tacos served here are not at all Mexican, instead the flour tortillas are filled with a choice of homemade cold or hot concoctions, using quality ingredients, that change every week. Their special of 3 tacos for 10 Euros is great for a light dinner, or you have the option of adding a fourth taco for 2,50 Euros. They also offer a side of salad or roasted potatoes (2,50 Euros), if you’re really hungry.We took a while to decide because to be honest, all of the options sounded delicious. We watched as the other owner sliced a large Aveyron (a region in France) sausage from behind the counter and plunged her spoon into a pot of creamy polenta while preparing the tacos with care. I could tell that she took pride in the food she served.After a long debate, the 3 tacos I opted for were: 1) pastrami, arugula, pickles and honey mustard sauce; 2) fresh goat cheese marinated in thyme and lemon with some mixed greens; and 3) Aveyron sausage with caramelized shallots. All of them were super tasty and very unique with their flavor combinations. I also had a side of roasted potatoes, seasoned with rosemary, which were really good too. They equally had a nice selection of French wines and other interesting drinks, which is always a good thing. I’ve taken a look at their Facebook page, where they post their weekly menu, and I am pretty impressed with what they have come up with to put in their tacos so far; with some eclectic examples including steak tartare, smoked duck breast with Fourme d’Ambert cheese and seabream ceviche. Oh! And did I mention that they have dessert tacos filled with such yumminess as banana and Nutella? While the restaurant is pretty and stylish, I found the chairs to be a little uncomfortable and I think that next time I would go for a take-out. The seating area is rather small and fills up quickly. You can also order some of their tacos through deliveroo.fr, if you’re not in the mood to go get them yourself (while we were eating, two delivery guys dropped by and picked up orders from the counter). So, what I learned that night was that you can really put anything in a tortilla, because why not! I think I am even going to be inspired to make some of my own at home…maybe with some Canadian ingredients! Of course I am a huge fan of authentic Mexican cooking, but these multicultural creations at Ouh là là-Cantine St. Martin are a great example of what good can come from thinking outside of the box and blending various cuisines from around the world. Restaurant Details:
94 Rue René Boulanger
+33 (0)1 42 38 27 42
4 uniquely filled tortillas out of 5