We’ve had a look at some unique restaurants in London the other week and we’re now turning our attention to Paris. Whether it’s for their age, decor or any other particularly offbeat reason, these restaurants have earned a spot on this list and present an experience well worth trying.
For those who like a heavy side helping of history with their main course. Established in 1686, La Procope is the oldest restaurant in Paris, a claim supported by the displayed hat of the young Napoleon Bonaparte, kept as collateral after the emperor in the making was unable to pay his dinner bill. The luminaries here actually predate Napoleon’s era and include the likes of Voltaire, Robespierre and even Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. You can definitely find fancier and tastier in the epicurean capital, but you will not find a table with more heritage than this one.
Alain Ducasse at l’Hôtel Plaza Athénée
Since its reopening last September, Alain Ducasse has revamped his menu into something that’ll probably have French cuisine purists scratching their heads but you ought to give it a try, not only because Ducasse could easily turn two leaves of lettuce and minced meat into a Michelin-starred dish, but also because of the philosophy surrounding the chef’s new restaurant.
Ducasse does away with the traditional meat-centric french fare and replaces it with a healthy dose of vegetables and sustainable fish. Sounds bland to you? well you’re completely wrong.
Ducasse’s concept is a return to the essence of French cuisine, an obsession with healthy and quality food made after a painstaking selection of the best ingredients from selected terroirs.
The dish before your eyes at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée is an embodiment of Alain Ducasse’s philosophy of “Naturalness” which sees the first ray of sunshine on a budding plant and the final creation as part of a whole. Credit and stardom, are not only given to the chef but also to the producer’s painstaking efforts to produce an organic and quality product.
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you to give it a try, the decor designed by Partrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku is about as jaw dropping as the menu.
Au Pied de Cochon
Where night birds with a penchant for heartwarming food can flock to in les Halles. Au Pied de Cochon has the particularity of being open 24/7 ever since 1947 and is showing absolutely no signs of stopping. Their breaded pigs trotters with fries are now iconic and the sea food fares quite well, but make no mistake, there are no Michelin-star or gourmet pretentions here, try it for its novelty factor or if you’re just after some plain old comforting French fare… at 4.00am…
Dans le Noir?
The only table in the world where you can have a true blind date. This concept restaurant is (as you may have guessed), bathed in abyss like darkness and though you come here to eat– or at least you try to– the experience supersedes whatever is in your plate, the contents of which you are left in the dark about until after your meal. The menu is presented upon entry and is simply coded into three colors: Red (for meat) Blue (for fish), Green (Vegetarian), White (Chef’s surprise) but once you’re in pitch black darkness it’s up to you to rely on your tastebuds and other senses to guess your dish. We aren’t necessarily recommending it for its fare, but for the unique, and at times oppresive experience that Dans le Noir? offers. After you leave here you will definitely have a story to tell, and possibly a dry cleaning bill to fork out.
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Paris’s ninth quarter, Pétrelle has been wowing the tastebuds of those in the know for over 18 years. A regular haunt of fashion designers and film stars, the restaurant’s decor is vibrant and a definite fly trap for the aforementioned types. But look past the sassy and the sexy and you will find a restaurant filled with substance and soul.
The smell of good cooking wafts from the open kitchen and patrons play around with Racalliou the cat or Fernando the dog who are otherwise, completely absorbed into each other and quite content to leave you alone unless you don’t want them to. Chandeliers hang from the ceilings, romantic and contemporary art adorns the walls, and there’s a host of decorative items that would not look out of place in a very very classy flea market. It all adds up to one beautifully designed and homely space. Cook Jean Luc André’s menu is at the mercy of the market and the seasons, an ever evolving handwritten selection that focuses on what’s fresh, what’s tasty and what’s healthy and you can be damned sure he pulls it off admirably.