Solo Dining @ Bob’s Kitchen, Paris

After being on the road, so to speak, for the past month on a constant conveyor belt of airplane and hotel meals I was in need to something healthy to kick start my solo dining in Paris.  I toyed with the idea of dusting down my juicer and then I thought better of it – the juicing part is fine it’s the washing up that makes me question why something so healthy generates so much mess.  After a bit of swiping on the Ipad I knew the hidden gem that had just what I was looking for Bob’s Kitchen, Paris.

Le Lieu / Location

Bob not only has the kitchen which I visited but also a juice bar in the 11th arrondissement and now a bake shop up in the 18th. Bob has his finger in many pies – ha ha! Anyway back to the Kitchen in the 3rd which is tucked down an unassuming street and if you didn’t know the number – it’s 74 – then you could easily walk past it. All it has is Kitchen written on the door, Bob it appears is discreet as well as being multi faceted. I am all for stripping things to the bare bones, keeping it clean and minimal but help a girl out here Bob and just put your name on the window or a chalkboard in the street. As it was I had to look at the menu – if you look closely at the picture below you’ll see a strip of paper stuck to the window. That’s how I knew I was in the right place!

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Ambiance/ Good Vibes

Bob’s Kitchen is small containing three long tables and it is all about communal eating, I guess in keeping with the ethos. I sound as if I am Bob bashing. I’m not and in actual fact in my early 20s I worked as a waitress at the original vegetarian restaurant Cranks in London famous for the carrot cake, homity pie etc. The only problem with Bob’s Kitchen is there is not a lot of room to manoeuvre as you walk in you literally trip up on the people seated at the tables, it’s hot and there is a long queue or at least that was the case yesterday when I got there at 14h30.  I felt as if I was in pre-perestroika Russia as I just stood behind the last person in the queue and hoped that at some point I would get served. Personally I was glad I decided to take away as I felt slightly closed in and it was hot – the ventilation is not great in there at all.

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Les Plats/ Food

I had come for a cold pressed green juice full of goodness including kale, spinach, shoots and powders I know not how to spell. I was expecting the juice to be made before my eyes but I was told there were bottles in the fridge and to take one of those. The bottles contained freshly pressed juice just not freshly pressed before my eyes. A small point, I know, but I was actually looking forward to watching them make the juice – that was after all the reason I left my bijou palais took two metro trains to come to Bob’s Kitchen! As I was standing in the queue, which was slow moving, I saw some of the dishes that other customers were eating and they did look delicious especially the veggie stew.

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Anyway this is definitely the place to come if you have vegetarian friends or are yourself vegetarian or like me just looked to replenish your levels of goodness!

Where? 74 Rue de Gravilliers, 75003 Paris

How? Line 11 (Arts & Metiers) and if like me you’re ‘GPS challenged‘ even with an iphone just take the exit marked Rue Beaubourg and it’s the 2nd street on the left.

Open when? Monday to Friday 8 – 15h and Saturday/Sunday 10h30 – 16h

Pricey? €7,50 for 500ml green juice and the dishes such as vegetarian curry are about the same (You can eat in or take away)

Website: http://www.bobsjuicebar.com/kitchen.html

Sweet Treat @ Helmut Newcake, Paris

As regular readers you’ll know by now that the weekend not only means long lie-ins and getting lost in the city but also my weekend sweet treat! One of my closest friends, actually someone who I consider to be my family, has been stating for the past 4 years that she is coming to Paris but one question that is at the forefront of our minds is how can she possible enjoy any of those luscious patisserie creations given that she is coeliac. That was an issue but then Helmut Newcake opened and it no longer is. This is a patisserie and brunch place that opened just behind Canal St Martin and is 100% gluten free and not only serves food but has recreated all those French patisserie standards: tarte au citron, religieuse, eclair etc!

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As you enter Helmut’s you are immediately greeted by the dazzling array of cakes on offer, being coeliac doesn’t mean a lack of choice or certainly not at Helmut’s. There are a few bars for solo dining and in the back a bright, airy conservatory with an abundance of natural light to sit and brunch with friends.

ImageOn the rare occasions when I eat with friends, they will tell you, I am indecisive and often suffer from order envy as I term it – where my friend orders the thing I was hesitating over and choose something else instead which I later regretted.  Here, I stood in front of all of these cakes and the indecision started to jig about in my mind. My favourite cake is lemon tart, actually anything with lemon in it is a perennial favourite, closely followed by tarte tatin that caramelized apple with soft pastry but then again the Paris Brest concoction of puff pastry filled with hazelnut whipped cream and topped off with toasted almonds is delicious.  If they did the mini cakes I may have chosen all three but they didn’t and I had to choose as I feel the body heat of the queue of people behind me.  I chose the salted caramel religieuse – so called – as it reputedly looks like a religious monk!

ImageAfter sitting down with a nice cup of tea on my sofa, I settled into the task of eating the salted caramel religieuse and what a religious affair it was the airy choux pastry, unctuous filling and sweet icing. Every mouthful was savoured and I certainly would never have guessed was gluten free. There was no odd after taste – this is the A-list of gluten free patisseries and it is right here in Paris! All that awaits is for my friend to fly on over to Paris for me to go back to Helmut’s although I may not be able to wait another 4 weeks let alone 4 years!

 

Where? 36 rue bichat 75010 Paris

How? Metro Republique (line 4)

Open when? 7 days a week: Monday to Saturday 12h – 19h30 and Sunday 10h – 18h

Pricey? Pretty standard costs of around €4 upwards for a cake

Website: http://www.helmutnewcake.com

Solo dining @ Gyoza Bar, Paris

Another Friday and another day of “working from home” which actually entailed going back to the Indonesian embassy to pick up my passport and business visa.  As I had just got back from Istanbul the day before my fridge was empty and there was no sense restocking it as I my next trip will see me out of the country for 3 weeks. I could wallow but I actually saw this as the perfect opportunity to have lunch out in Paris after all when opportunity knocks it is best to open the door! Given that today is a working day I needed to find somewhere that served food quickly but that was relatively healthy and hot. Despite the continued good weather, I was not in the mood for salad.  Japanese food I thought, always fast and relatively healthy if I stayed away from the soya sauce – tricky!

Le Lieu/Location

I had walked past the Gyoza bar or should I say the queue outside the Gyoza bar when I went to eat at Noglu.  I couldn’t really see much but the number of people waiting outside had peaked my curiosity and so I added this place to my list of places to try in 2014.

It is located in the covered arcade which is rammed full of restaurants lots of them tourist trap style places and then a few hidden gems this being one of them.  There is no outside seating and the entrance is discreet so if you are walking and talking just look for the number 56 or you will miss it! There is one other thing I should point out about the Gyoza bar – there is only one type of gyoza – Japanese fried parcel of delight – pork. If you don’t eat pork then stop reading and don’t bother hunting out this hidden gem – there is nothing for you here!

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Ambiance/ Good Vibes

A sleek bar awaits you as you enter this long galley like space and slate covered walls and transparent lampshades.  I didn’t have a booking and not sure this place takes bookings anyway, as it is not a space to sit and linger. Upstairs there are 12 places at the bar and then there is a downstairs room as well.

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Les Plats / The Food

This is the ideal location for a quick lunch, the menu has two choices and it is based solely on how hungry you are: 8 or 12 pieces of gyoza. That is it, quick and painless wasn’t it.  Oh well, there is the question of whether you want to fill it out a bit and add a little bowl of rice but that truly is it.

The pork that fills these Japanese parcels of joy is from none other than Monsieur Hugo Desnoyer – the rock star of Parisian butchers with his own cookbook, website and butcher’s shop not far from me in the 14th arrondissement. The name Desnoyer in the meat world well is a stamp of quality as is a dyson to the vaccum world. Monsieur Desnoyer’s meat isn’t just any old meat – even Alain Ducasse raves about him and he supplies meat to all the top restaurants of Paris. Therefore, Gyoza bar may be serving only one type of gyoza but with the best meat money can buy!

The gyoza’s were delicious – crunchy, with a slight chew and the pork lightly seasoned. I ordered a small bowl of rice and well I just couldn’t stay away from the soya sauce – oops.  There is no dessert or coffee, this is a proper Japanese gyoza bar where you eat and then, well, you run!

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As quick lunches go – this was great and it’s a great place to stop into for a solo lunch.  The take out menu is even better – gyoza, rice and a drink for €10 – bargain!

Where? 56 Passage des Panoramas 75002 Paris

How? Metro Grands Boulevards ( line 8 and 9)

Open when? Monday to Saturday 12h – 14h30 & 18h30 – 23h

Pricey? 8 pieces of gyoza for €7 or 12 pieces for €9 + rice for €3 which is pretty reasonable and drinks well soft drinks are €3

Website: http://www.gyozabar.com

Solo Dining @ L’Ilot Restaurant, Paris

I usually forget to take a lunch break when I am working from home so the thought of actually dining solo at an actual restaurant last Friday whilst working from home seemed positively decadent. As part of my current 9 to 5 job I sometimes travel to far flung parts of the world and that necessitates getting a visa. As I had to collect my passport from the Indonesian embassy around lunchtime I thought today I should treat myself to lunch in the Paris sunshine. I knew just the place I wanted to try.  A bijou fish restaurant in the 3rd arrondissement that I had stumbled across whilst trying to find le cafe des chats in the adjacent rue charlot. That’s the thing about Paris – it’s a hidden treasure trove of well treasures for this perennial lost girl with a gps! So I spotted, photographed and filed it as a place I wanted to come back and try: L’Ilot or The Island!

ImageLe Lieu/ Location

L’Ilot is located off the busy rue charlot in haut marais by a small square. It does feel a little like a tranquil island. The restaurant itself is tiny reminiscent of a small cabin on the beach, I hazard a guess at Brittany, with whitewashed floorboards, bar stools and four or five tables inside. The walls are covered in that glorious white Parisian metro tiling to add to the light airy feel of the place. The restaurant inside is a little L shape with a small serving hatch in the far wall with the kitchen hidden behind.  It almost feels as if L’Ilot was air lifted from the Brittany coast and plonked on the corner of the square in Paris. Given the glorious early Spring like weather Paris experienced on Friday four tables were set up outside.

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Ambiance / Good Vibes

I arrived at the perfect time for lunch 12.30pm and given an incredibly warm greeting when I said I was here to eat on my own. No problem the waitress said and offered me my pick of tables both inside and out. I opted for inside even though the first rays of early Spring sun felt like being gently caressed by a lover the wind did not.  I perched myself on a stool from where I could survey the rest of the restaurant and watch the comings and goings outside.  The stools are high and ordinarily I would have had reservations of sitting at a table on a stool but it felt perfectly in keeping with the surroundings and after the first 10 minutes I completely forgot that I was sitting on a stool rather than a chair and didn’t miss the chair back in the slightest.

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Les Plats/ The Dishes

The menu is a mixture of fish and shellfish dishes. Whilst the ceviche caught my eye, I decided to go for the set lunch menu of steamed cod in a tarragon sauce with freshly made carrot and potato puree and served with a glass of cold, crisp picpoul. The wine was served quickly with a complimentary carafe of water. As I waited for my lunch, I sat and watched as the tables both inside and out quickly filled up. This place gets busy very quickly.

When my dish came, it was sublime, the cod steamed to perfection and the puree: a happy balance of carrot and potato not completely smooth but with a few chunks of carrots left in. The fish was wonderfully fresh and if I had one observation to make the sauce was a little salty.  Having said that, I find that the French are a lover of salt even more so than the English so I would hate for that to put anyone off from coming here.  The dish was sublime and my taste buds are quite sensitive. In any event better for the food to be seasoned than be bland – quelle horreur! The fish here was fresh, flaky, soft and the portion generous – un vrai régal/ a real delight.

ImageI couldn’t manage dessert but I wasn’t ready to leave this bejeweled isle just yet so to extend the experience by ordering a coffee.  I certainly recommend L’Ilot serving the freshest fish I have tasted in Paris for a while. How do you tell a good fish restaurant – it’s closed on a Sunday and Monday as fisherman don’t fish on Sundays!

Where? 4 rue de la corderie, 75003 Paris

How? metro stop filles du calvaire (line 8)

Open when? Tuesday 19h to 23h30 (for dinner only), Wednesday to Saturday lunch  (12h to 14h30) + dinner  (19h to 23h30)

Pricey? Set lunch a very reasonable €12,50 for the dish of the day + a glass of wine plus I had a coffee at €2 otherwise à la carte

Website: https://fr-fr.facebook.com/lilot.paris

 

No Solo Dining @ Breizh Cafe, Paris

Pancake day 2014 in the City of Lights and it’s sort of the anniversary of this blog. My second solo outing was to la petite Josselin creperie last year. This year, I thought throw caution to the wind not go back, stay safe – no this is the year where I push forward and try something new and this is where I rant about hating hype! I decided to try Breizh cafe as all the established blogs and restaurant critics rave about this place being a fresh, new way to try the humble crepe combining Asian flavours with a Breton staple or something along those lines.  I’ve even read critics describing the chef as some sort of Picasso. Ok I want a bit of this I thought and what with it being Paris Fashion Week, I wanted to get with the fashionable crowd.

Now here is where I share a mini confession, I did check the opening hours of this Breizh cafe and it did say it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Really, but Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day is always on a TUESDAY it must make an exception, I don’t care how special this creperie is nobody would be shut on Shrove Tuesday even taking into account the French’s _____(fill in the blank!)

I duly schlepped across town to the fashionable Haut Marais where some of the up and coming fashion houses are located. I chased my tail for a while with the map app on my iPhone but finally I found the right street. The street was animated, I saw a crowd as I neared the number and passed the said crowd and was faced with this:

ImageObviously they make so much money the rest of the year and respect the fact that France is a secular country that they don’t do Pancake Day!

Where? 109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris

How?  Line 8, Filles du Calvaire + 5 min walk

Open when? Tuesday to Saturday (and definitely not Pancake Day!!)

Pricey? No idea

Website: http://www.breizhcafe.com/