Adrian Moore (on the right)
Paris is, as everyone knows, probably the most famous restaurant city in the world, a veritable pilgrimage for foodies and culinary hedonists from around the world. As well as dozens and dozens of Michelin-starred establishments, from old-school bistros and big-name-chef flagships, there is also a rising underground of young chefs from both France and elsewhere, who are reviving and rejuvenating the restaurant scene here.
Indeed, these smaller and more modest upstarts are even eclipsing their flashier and pricier culinary counterparts, and it is often harder to book tables because of their size, locale and international popularity, and pure bang for the buck. It is worth remembering that many of these restaurants are able to function and stay in business because they work with a more restricted and often no-choice menu, which allows them to cut down on the cost of very expensive produce. And they are often in out-of-the-way neighbourhoods, such as the 9th, 10th or 11th arrondissements, because of lower rents.
One might call the new wave of restaurants ‘tables d’auteur’, as they are as different from one another as possible, while sharing the same guiding principles: pared down, with simple creative cooking and rigorously seasonal food. And, although many of the chefs have learned their tricks of the trade in the fine-dining establishments they often eschew, others are almost completely self-taught.
Here, Adrian Moore picks his favourite tables d'auteur in Paris (just book early and be prepared to travel):
Septime Located in the 11th, this recent recipient of a Michelin star has no tablecloths, a fixed menu, all-natural wine and delicious cooking from an Arpège-trained chef, Bertrand Grébaut.
Frenchie One of the tiniest and hardest to book tables in town, this miniscule gourmet restaurant got the ball rolling with easy gastronomy from one of Paris’ best young chefs, Grégory Marchand.
Le Chateaubriand This 100-year-old bistro run by one of France’s most iconoclastic chefs, Inaki Aizpitarte, is not always consistent but forever surprising, challenging and delicious.
Bones Located in a former pub, this bare-bones bistro has fabulous cooking from Australian chef James Henry and a buzzing bar offering small dishes. Everything that can be homemade is, from butter and bread to charcuterie, and the ambiance is very rock, with the requisite loud music, and bearded and tattooed waiting staff.
Le Servan Located in the buzzy Charonne neighbourhood, this exciting bistro has fusion-y cooking from Tatiana Levha, a half-Filipino, half-French chef who lived variously in Hong Kong, Thailand and France and who trained at the three-star Astrance.
Dishes at Le Servan
Heimat Just opened in an arts centre next to the Palais-Royal, this cavernous new restaurant from natural wine promoter and restaurateur Pierre Jancou has a funky insider vibe and great transalpine cooking.
Clover Doubly Michelin-starred chef Jean-François Piège recently opened this charming bistro in the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighbourhood, offering a creative and personal take on French cooking and delightful service from his charming wife, Elodie.
Gare au Gorille The former second-in-command of Septime’s kitchens recently opened this creative bistro in the far-flung residential 17th district. The food, served in meant-to-be-shared portions, is rigorously seasonal and prepared with a deft hand, and is one of the best values in town.
Adrian Moore has written an insider’s chef book for a major publisher, in stores now.