21.1.16

A WEEKEND IN PARIS

Nothing cures the January blues like a long weekend in Paris with a girlfriend, eating all the food and drinking all the drinks. So knowing we'd be feeling that post new year slump, Lucy and I booked the Eurostar and a beautiful Airbnb studio in Le Marais so we could get away last weekend. We started our weekend on Friday afternoon with a review I was doing of Roux at the Landau at The Langham Hotel (blog post on that to follow) then headed to Kings Cross where we caught a bit of Lumiere London and had a glass of bubbles at new D&D venue German Gymnasium, before jumping on the train to Paris.



I won't talk you through each hour of our weekend but wanted to tell you about the extra special places we found for food and drinks. Starting with cocktails, of which there are zero photos (darkness & alcohol = camera left at home!)....

Our favourite spot of the weekend, where we spent most of Friday and some of Saturday night was Andy Wahloo, a small-ish but very cool cocktail bar owned by the group who own Momo and Sketch in London, where the barmen wear chef's jackets and the DJ spins tunes til 2am each night. The staff there were wonderful and looked after us like old friends while we sampled many a Tommy's Margarita (Tequila Colle 23 Bianco, agave syrup and lemon juice over lots of ice). There were some incredible concoctions leaving that bar, and despite not having them on the menu, they even whipped up a couple of espresso martinis for us when we needed a bit of a caffeine boost on Saturday night.


Other bars that we visited included L'Entrée des Artistes, which is open later on Friday and Saturdays and is in what was described as the Bermuda Triangle of bars and clubs, so a good place to head to as part of bar crawl. They played great music and it was absolutely buzzing when we went. On Saturday night we did our own little bar crawl after dinner, starting at Candelaria which had been recommended by everyone we spoke to. A small cocktail bar tucked away behind a taco joint, this one was clearly on the Lonely Planet guide as there was a real mix of foreigners and French in there. We had an excellent cocktail - Into the Sun (cachaca, mescal, homemade coconut syrup and verbena) made by a lady whose cocktail skills were absolutely mesmerising. But it was busy, and not quite our vibe so we moved on to Favela Chic - the complete opposite - a huge restaurant/bar/club where drinks are cheap(ish), music is very loud and the crowd is mostly not French. It's lots of fun, especially if you head there a little later when they ditch all the tables and chairs and you can dance the night away. But we were pining for Andy Wahloo so headed back there before finally ending up in the most amazing club I've seen in Paris, which sadly is a private members club so not that easy to get in to, but if you know anyone who is a member of Le Silencio (designed by film maker David Lynch it oozes glamour and art), then make sure you go!

It wasn't all drinking and dancing though - we had some wonderful food over the weekend too - much needed to fuel the drinking and dancing!

 

For Saturday lunch I'd done extensive research. I wanted to find somewhere with top class food, that wasn't too glitzy but would still be a real treat. And I found the perfect place - Amarante. An almost bare room, with little tables topped with beautiful napkins, packed with French couples and families tucking in to what looked like maybe not the most exciting food in the world. But the minute we tasted it we knew we'd hit gold. We shared starters of snails bathed in garlic and parsley with a peppery side salad and little golden croutons, and the smoothest foie gras pate I've tried. Both were spot on and so classically French, we were very pleased we were eating there.

 

For mains Lucy had the fillet of sole, with chickpea chips - an absolute revelation and something I'm going to try my best to recreate. The fish was spot on, and those chips were deep fried little strings of heaven. 


On our wonderful waiter, Mouloud's, recommendation I went for the pork chop with celeriac puree. In fact, he'd actually recommended the sweetbread dish, but I was feeling a little fragile from Friday night so declined. And am so glad I did. The pork chop was without a doubt the best I've ever had - cooked pink with a hard char on the outside, I couldn't get enough. And so perfect with the not-very-smooth-but-didn't-need-to-be celeriac puree. Expertly seasoned, I would almost go back to Paris for this dish alone, and will definitely be back at Amarante next time I'm there.


With dishes priced at 10 euros for starters and around 25 euros for mains, with that quality of cooking, Amarante is a must-go. As the food had been so phenomenal we decided to share a pudding - the lemon crème brulee. It was the deepest of caramel colours and just divine. So, so lemony, but held back on the absolute mouth watering citrusy-ness by the sweet caramel cream. I couldn't have eaten a whole one, but I didn't need to.

 

Amarante, for me, is the perfect restaurant. Small, focused, with three superstar, knowledgable and friendly staff, and full of locals. Please, do check it out if you're going to Paris - and make sure you book as it was heaving!

On Saturday night we headed north, to a recommendation called Le Verre Vole. It's a tiny restaurant in a wine shop and serves interesting starters, and less interesting looking mains. We decided to share four starters and they were hit and miss. The mackerel with tiger's milk didn't seem to have any tiger's milk, was bland and I'm not sure about dairy and raw fish together as that white swipe is crème fraiche....

 
It wasn't all bad though and the squid with piquillo ketchup was delicious, as was the wine we drank (can't remember what it was but if you go they'll recommend something from their extensive collection to match your food).

 
The clams also went down well - huge, juicy mollusks with parsley, shallots and white wine - delicious but not very filling! The last dish we'd ordered ran out at some point between us ordering it and the other three dishes coming, so we chose red mullet with tapenade which I hated, but Lucy quite enjoyed. That's the thing about food - one of you can adore something the other hates!

 
Realising on Sunday that we hadn't eaten cheese, steak tartare or French onion soup we went in search of the former and found a huge, bustling food market not far from where we were staying. It's open Thursdays and Sundays and worth checking out if you're there on those days. Full info here.

In the evening we found our steak tartare and onion soup at an old favourite Café Hugo on Place des Vosges, which I've reviewed before. It's a classic French bistro with heated tables on the pavement looking over the beautiful square. I really like it there and always make an effort to eat at least one meal there whenever I'm in Paris - last time I had beautiful soft eggs with leeks and vinaigrette for a late brunch before exploring the city.


Slightly hungover, extremely full and very happy, we headed back to London/work/life/reality at the crack of dawn on Monday. Paris is always a good idea!!
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12 comments

  1. You clever things, I wish I'd thought to book myself a nice January slump trip! Very good thinking! I want to drink all the Tommy's margaritas in Paris too! Those chickpea fries sound great, I imagine they're quite like the Sicilian panelle, if you've ever tried those? If not, I reckon they might be a good starting point for a recipe :) xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Travel, Food, Italy

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    1. It's got to be done!! Thanks for the info re the Sicilian panelle - haven't tried them but will look into it.

      Rosie xx

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  2. I'll have to save this post for next time I go! We had a lovely time in Paris too :)

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    1. Was thinking of you while we were there! Glad you had a nice time.

      Rosie xx

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  3. Man, I want to go back so badly! xx

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  4. This sounds like the perfect weekend getaway! Absolutely love Paris and Amarante is now firmly on my list! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

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    1. Reckon you'd adore Amarante Andrea. Put it on that list :)

      Rosie xx

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  5. Amarante sounds fantastic - good value AND excellent French cooking, such a win! One to bookmark for the next time I'm in Paris :) And agreed, sometimes you just need a weekend away with a best friend! xx

    Tamsin / A Certain Adventure

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    1. Amarante was incredible - can't stop thinking about the food we ate there!

      Rosie xx

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  6. We're headed to Paris in June but I'm already very excited! Noting down Amarante for sure, that foie... yummo! Also if you think the airbnb you stayed in is worth recommending I'd love to check it out!

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    1. You HAVE to go to Amarante! SO good :) Here's my Airbnb wishlist https://www.airbnb.co.uk/wishlists/56155047

      Rosie xx

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