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: Gustave

In my opinion, long weekends in Paris (when the weather is nice) are for being outside! If, however, you can’t find a coveted spot on one of the sunny terrasses, then getting some food to go and eating in one of the closest parks is always a great option, especially if you’re in a hurry! This long weekend I discovered Gustave, a trendy new sandwich joint in the always trendy South Pigalle (SoPi) neighborhood. Gustave serves up their own creation called “claps”, which are whole wheat flour tortillas (or thin pitas) stuffed full of a variety of yummy ingredients, folded up tightly into a square, and then grilled until toasty.

gustave_paris_exteriorThe little shop is located on rue Henry Monnier, a total foodie street, just across from Buvette Gastrothèque and Luz Verde. It is tiny inside, with a few chairs and small bar table along the window, and decorated with only a deer’s head and some tattoo art on the wall… for that hipster touch. The menus is simple: claps are 7,80 Euros, a claps and drink are 10 Euros, and a claps, drink and dessert are 12 Euros. They also have a selection of baguette-style sandwiches (4.50-6.50 Euros), for people who like to stick to something a little more traditional, as well as soups and salads. When I arrived with my friend M, there were already a couple sitting on the two-person bench outside and to their left we saw the chalk board menu with the list of fillings to choose from.
gustave_paris_menu_carteThere were so many choices (including a daily special), but after reading them all carefully and consulting with two guys who were self-proclaimed “regulars” we decided on 1) marinated chicken, bacon, cheddar, honeyed confit onions, apples, arugula and tomatoes and 2) pastrami, coleslaw, Emmental cheese, tomatoes, confit onions and lettuce. I have been back since (yes I know…twice in a space of 72 hours! But I was in the area!) and have also tried the one with chorizo, feta, grilled veggies (big chunks of eggplant, red peppers and potatoes), tomato, lettuce and confit onions.

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gustave_paris_pastrami claps

gustave_paris_chicken claps

gustave_paris_chorizo clapsWe took our carefully bundled sandwiches, walked up to Abbesses, and sat on a bench in a little park just behind the Métro with the “I love you” wall in front of us. We unwrapped them like presents and were instantly drooling over the colorful display in our hands. At this point I am going to have to say: Warning: They are VERY hard to eat without “food juices” from the dressing and marinades dripping all over you! So, if you are about to go to a job interview in your best suit and you need a quick lunch, I wouldn’t tempt fate with one of these. Similarly, if you’re not totally comfortable with the person you’re with, then choose something else. But, if you want something full of flavor and don’t give a s#*@ about how messy things might get, then you are sure to enjoy these sandwiches! My fave was the chicken and bacon (total perfection) followed by the chorizo (which was the messiest to eat, if you’re wondering, thanks to all the yummy veggies). The pastrami was also good, but I have to admit that I’m used to having some sauerkraut or pickles with the salty meat, and the coleslaw just didn’t cut it for me. All of them were really filling, and as crumbs and sauce dropped to the ground, the little birds of the park agreed with us that these sandwiches were the real deal!

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gustave_paris_birdsA great place for a low-carb lunch or dinner (as they are open until 10 pm), Gustave is definitely worth a try!

Restaurant Details:
21 rue Henri Monnier, 75009 Paris
+33 (0)1 48 78 96 52

My Rating :

3.5 tasty and low-carb sandwiches out of 5

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Restaurant Review: Siseng

Okay, so I am hella late on this one! Siseng has been the talk of Paris for a while now and although it was on my list to try, it wasn’t until my friend M told me she had been to the trendy Asian fusion food bar located on the Canal Saint-Martin (and gushed about how amazing it was!), that I decided I had to get over there ASAP! Luckily, it didn’t take much convincing to get her to come back with me last Wednesday night.

Siseng_Paris_beef bao burgerWe arrived at around 8 pm and there was already a line-up of people waiting outside. No surprise there, because like Hansel, this place is so hot right now (sorry…Zoolander reference)! Although I don’t usually like waiting (they don’t take reservations), it wasn’t too cold out and there was no way we were going to leave without trying one of their specialties: the Bao Burger (I will explain what this is in a second). One of the waiters came outside to check how many groups were to be seated and surprise, surprise, he turned out to be a friend of M’s from school. We asked him if we could order a drink to help us pass the time, and he promptly agreed and brought us the menu to look at.

Siseng_Paris_carteI was immediately impressed with their selection of exotic and creative cocktails. I chose a cocktail named after the restaurant (10 Euros), and M chose to skip the alcohol and ordered a Kaffir lime, ginger ale, and lemon leaf syrup flavored green tea (5 Euros). My Siseng cocktail was delicious and refreshing with a generous amount of halved kumquats and coriander leaves floating in a mix of gin, lemon, ginger ale and grapefruit juice.

Siseng_Paris_cocktailBefore we knew it (okay…it was about a 30 minute wait) we were shown to a seat at the long bar lining the wall. The décor was perfect in my eyes: unfinished wood panels and exposed bricks, a spiral staircase in the center of the room, a bar stocked with saké and other drinks, dangling light bulbs throughout, and the most gorgeous light fixture of what looked like entwined birch roots or branches. I also really liked the elaborate graphic art featured on their menus and on one of the walls, designed by Soba (Sophia Babari). The space has a very natural loft feel, and is filled with Parisian hipsters!

Siseng_Paris_interior

Siseng_Paris_decorThe wait outside had worked up our appetite so luckily the food arrived relatively quickly! We both ordered bao burgers (10 Euros) which feature a baozi (a white and fluffy steamed Chinese bun) as the bread. M ordered the Kai Bao Burger (a breaded chicken filet with a basil coconut milk sauce, red pepper confit, a light coleslaw and fresh basil) and I chose the 5 Spice Bao Burger (beef patty marinated with 5 spices, tamarind and caramel sauce, tempura onion rings, onion confit, and spinach and arugula leaves). We also ordered a side of sweet potato fries each (4 Euros), which were just the right thickness and were accompanied by their deliciously sweet caramel and tamarind sauce.

Siseng_Paris_chicken bao burgerThe burgers looked like little clouds floating on the Japanese ceramic plates and biting into them was heavenly! At first, the taste of my burger reminded me a little of the traditional cha siu baos, or BBQ pork buns (that I used to eat all the time back home in Vancouver), but due to the fusion with the other ingredients, they had an amazing and individual flavor. I tried some of M’s burger and it was equally good, but lighter and less sweet. I admit that I slightly preferred it to mine.

Siseng_Paris_beef burgerSurprisingly, I was actually very full after finishing, which often isn’t a usual occurrence at trendy eateries. The beef burger is definitely more filling than the chicken, probably due to the sweetness of the sauce. It wasn’t too long before we felt like we were being watched…and we were: there was still a steady line-up of sad people outside staring longingly into the window. So we promptly asked for the bill and left our seats. There was no need to prolong their suffering!

Siseng_Paris_exteriorIf you don’t mind a wait, then this place is definitely worth a try for a burger unlike any other in Paris. They equally have a range of other dishes, such as a bo bun or a bento, but right now it’s all about the bao burger! I’ll definitely be back this summer to enjoy a burger and a glass of their watermelon juice (or another of their yummy cocktails) along the Canal Saint-Martin! Yes, they do take-out! Can’t wait!

Restaurant Details:

82 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris

+33 (0)1 42 06 62 54

http://www.siseng.fr/

My Rating:

4 kumquats 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.

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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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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.

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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

 

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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!