Monday, June 27, 2011
When I travel I’m always hoping to find that little neighborhood restaurant that only locals know about. But the thing about that is that you have to know a local. And a local who likes to eat well. I often go to Chowhound for advice, but even then, the same places tend to get repeated over and over (and I should know, since I’m often the one giving advice on this forum in Rome).
Last week we got lucky. Our first night in Paris was planned by Steve, who lives most of the time in Paris, but for one week of every month is our neighbor in Rome. We stopped by his rooftop apartment near the Beaubourg for a drink first, which was treat enough. His place is fabulously full of vintage knick knacks, art deco furniture and rich bold colors. (Not surprisingly he also has a store that sells tchotchkes in Rome, Too Much).
After oh-so-french glasses of Pernod, we headed down to his neighborhood place: Le Hangar. Tucked into a dead end alley, next to a garden, just behind the otherwise busy Beaubourg neighborhood, the restaurant was more like a country inn than urban bistro. We were even able to sit outside, which made it all the more magical.
I followed Steve’s lead and ordered salmon tartare to start. Hand cut salmon, flecked with just a few scallions and lemon zest atop a bed of cucumbers. Cool, fresh and tangy. Domenico’s grilled sardines were simple and perfect, while Mathew’s Avocado Gazpacho was the only ‘nouvellish’ thing we ordered. It was cool and rich and reminded me a bit of the vichychoisse I used to love when I was little.
As my main course how could I not order foie gras? It was my first night in Paris and it seemed de rigueur, non? Fresh filets of foie gras atop a silky mound of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten. Every mouthful was a bit of French heaven. Domenico ordered the nightly special of kidneys, which were yummy too.
Loved the little plate of petits fours that arrived at the end of the meal. And loved even more the chocolate cake we all shared.
On the way to dinner from Steve’s we kept passing by people dressed head to toe in white, lugging picnic baskets and toting tables and chairs. Turned out they were on their way to the super secret Diner en Blanc that is held in a different location every year in Paris. They couldn’t/wouldn’t tell us where they were headed since the exact location hadn’t yet been revealed. On our way home from dinner we discovered them: 8000 white-clad guests arrayed in front of Notre Dame. Magnifique.
12 Impasse Berthaud
tel: +33 01 42 74 55 44