Where to Nosh on Small Plates with Big Flavor in Paris
Triple-digit temperatures have been a consistent theme in Paris this summer. For appetites flattened by the spiking mercury, take advantage of the seemingly endless supply of small plates restaurants popping up around town. Here, some of our favorites.
Craft cocktails were the first draw at this cheerful spot just off the gorgeous Avenue Trudaine, in the 9th arrondissement. (And with choices like the Espadin Old Fashioned, with pineapple-infused mescal, coriander syrup, bitters and absinthe, and the Summer Cup, with vodka, lemon juice, crème de pêche and champagne, why wouldn’t they be?) But a whole, delicious dinner can also be cobbled together here, with servings of warm endive salad, house-made ricotta ravioli with chard and Alsatian bacon, or gravlax with beets and horseradish cream.
James Henry has disappointed fans of creative, flavorful cooking by recently announcing the closure, on August 7, of his upscale bistro just off the Place Voltaire—so make another visit while it lasts. While we love the grown-up tasting menu in back, the front bar is even better, with impeccable kegs of Craig Allan craft beers, house-made charcuterie, and shareable dishes like smoked eel with grilled green asparagus, or cockles with potatoes and chorizo. Be relieved that Henry’s brilliant brown bread and fermented butter (and perhaps the grilled duck hearts, too) will live on in his next, yet-to-be-announced restaurant. We’ll know more in a few months.
When it opened in 2009, I put off visiting this standing-room-only French tapas bar just off the Place de l’Odéon for a couple months, as I hate crowds and like to sit down. The minute I actually entered the place, I started wolfing down tiny portions of seared tuna and house-made ketchup, itsy bitsy bowls full of pesto-spiked baby pasta poetically called “bird’s tongue,” a waffle with artichoke cream and country ham, and a roundup of the best charcuterie (mostly Basque) that France has to offer, and declared it my home-away-from-home. It’s open from noon to midnight, seven days a week. There are usually about ten all-natural reds and whites by the glass at any one time. The mood is so raucous you can’t help but overindulge just a bit, especially with serve-yourself Poujaran bread and Bordier butter on all the counters. Give yourself an hour at this place and you will make friends, no matter what (3 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006, no phone, no website).
Au Passage, the wine bar on a side street in the 11th, gave James Henry his start. It also spawned this friendly, lovely hangout on a shady stretch of the Boulevard du Temple, where abbreviated portions of marinated beets, carrot salads, line-caught grilled fish, asparagus with caper-rich salsa verde and egg, and whatever else tickles the chef’s fancy, come with a large selection of by-the-glass natural wines. (During the day, a regular three-course lunch is served, as at Au Passage.) Quality is high and prices are gentle.
Verjus Bar à Vins
This little vaulted space (pictured) underneath Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian’s upscale Palais Royal restaurant has been sating fried chicken-deprived Americans (and French people who didn’t know what they were missing) since it opened in 2011. Shredded cabbage salad with a snap of jalapeño, seasonal vegetables, and chili-spiked French fries deliver big flavor in small packages.