I was invited to a dinner in Paris earlier this year by a travel writer friend of mine, Marcia DeSanctis, who lived in the Menilmontant district with her husband and daughter for many years before returning to the US. We ate at their former neighbor’s house, an amazing architectural space built entirely with recuperated and reclaimed building materials. What was once a parking garage was now a warm and inviting space of age-worn wood, marble, slate, and glass. I envied the working fireplace in the open kitchen. “You have to go to their daughter’s restaurant near here, it’s called Yard.”
I had heard good things about Jane Drotter’s East Parisian restaurant Yard, but knowing it was built by the same family (in a former construction yard), I finally made a reservation to check it out last week. I went with another friend who told me the chef Nye Smith was famous for his offal at St John’s in London, so I wasn’t surprised to see game and fish on the menu (pigeon, deer heart salad, rabbit, and whole dorade cooked in salt). The gnocchi starter in a doe ragout was so good I considered ordering it again as a main dish. The large scoop of pure chocolate ganache for dessert was the perfect ending. For a former industrial space near Père Lachaise, it’s surprisingly small, seating maybe 20-25 people max, and with an open kitchen it quickly gets very noisy. I look forward to trying out the Back Yard (tapas and wine bar next door) when the weather improves and I can sit on the terrace. If you go, be sure to reserve in advance. Yard : 6 rue de Mont-Louis, 11th, M° Philippe Auguste, tel 01 40 09 70 30. More reviews on The Paris Kitchen, Le Fooding, and in French from Gilles Pudlowski
Freddy’s in St-Germain-des-Prés is a great little wine bar across from Fish La Boissonerie and next to Semilla, all owned by the same owners. Freddy’s is different in that you can’t reserve, so you just show up and find a free barstool. They don’t serve full meals but tapas-style dishes, oysters in season (currently a “low tide” special 3-6pm, late of oysters and glass of wine for €10.50), and even though Le Fooding is right about there being no coffee, there is indeed dessert. I think the best spot (ie least cramped) is right by the front door at the bar, so you can people-watch in the bar and out on the street at the same time. Freddy’s, 54 rue de Seine, 6th, M° Mabillon. Open daily noon until midnight. A great review of the dishes from Patricia Wells.
I went to Krügen Crêperie (58 rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, 11th, M° Goncourt) last month for an event hosted by Insidr (smartphone rental and Paris guide, who incidentally just announced a sweepstakes today to win a free week in a luxury apartment in Paris). It’s on an East Parisian street which ten years ago was pretty seedy but now is full of cool little shops and cafés (including the Steel bike shop and café, and L’Epicerie Végétale). Krügen is a contemporary crêperies and epicerie selling gourmet products sourced direct from Brittany. There’s a strong surf theme because the owners are also big surfers on the “South Bzh Coast” (BZH is short for Breizh, or Brittany). Hearty crepes, sausages, potatoes…this is not your typical crepe stand (which is good if you’re sick of the Jambon-Fromage/Banane-Nutella routine). Here’s a review by Baci di Dama Gluten Free Living and nice photos from LuckyMiam. I’m guessing reservations aren’t a must, but if you’re crossing town and have more than two people it’s always a good idea. Tel 09 52 29 78 79. Note that the Rue Roi-au-Fontaine will be completely “végétalisée” (greened) this weekend as part of the 48 Heures de l’Agriculture Urbaine, perhaps a great time to check it out!