The restaurant Grand Coeur has brought a long-awaited gown-up dining experience to Paris's Marais district.
It’s been about ten years since the Marais neighborhood in Paris first started going up-market. In the course of that decade, the number of places to buy directional jeans, or artfully distressed cashmere, has grown exponentially. But shoppers have had to wait until now to find somewhere decent to eat.
New restaurants started appearing in the district a few years ago, but they were almost all very casual: fantastic hamburgers at Blend, galettes and crêpes at Breizh Café, or deviled eggs and tacos at Le Mary Celeste.
But where was the tablecloth restaurant where you could eat a proper three-course meal while cooling down after all that shopping? Where to take your time picking out a really good wine from a long, well-balanced list? Where, in this supremely image-conscious neighborhood, could you bring someone you wanted to impress?
Just a few months ago the answer finally arrived, in the form of the Grand Coeur. Set in a lovely cobblestone courtyard off the Centre de Danse du Marais, the restaurant is sufficiently hidden to avoid the hordes. The interiors are a vision of neo-1970s design, with splashy black-and-white marble tables and the occasional shot of brass, to announce that this is a designated grown-up zone.
Mauro Colagreco, the fantastic Argentine chef at Mirazur in the Côte d’Azur, is spending two days a week here—at least until he gets into a rhythm with his staff and suppliers. For a chef known for fine dining, who trained with Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard and the late Bernard Loiseau, Colagreco’s menu is low key, but that doesn’t mean uninteresting or unsophisticated.
Alongside sardines à la plancha and house-made terrine, there is veal tongue salad and sherry vinegar-spiked crème fraîche. Rock fish soup, roasted blue lobster and truly lovely pasta (such as the papardelle with house-made ricotta, asparagus, peas and pine-nuts) are other highlights, as is the roster of traditional but impeccably executed desserts, like chocolate mousse or roasted pineapple with coconut cake.
In keeping with the grown-up theme, Colagreco’s menu can be paired with inordinately fancy wines by the glass, like Jean-Michel Gerin’s 2013 Condrieu Les Eguets or Clusel-Roche’s 2011 Côte Rôtie Classique. Better yet, for those who wish to linger, the place serves all day, from noon until 11 p.m., or 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Alexandra Marshall is a contributing editor and the Paris correspondent for Travel + Leisure. Food, design, architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means that, living in Paris, she is very busy. You can follow her on Twitter at @alexmabroad and on Instagram at @alexandra3465.