It’s easy to throw around superlatives when talking about Paris’s cuisine scene, but I’ll just say it: I ate some of the best food, ever, in Paris this December. Perhaps because I knew the expiration date for my time in Paris had finally arrived, I rededicated myself to checking off restaurants from my “must try” list. The result was nothing short of foodie nirvana.
When you think France, you think wine. One thing you don’t think is cocktails, but Paris seems to be working to rectify that. Enter Dersou, which offers tasting menus paired with cocktails; diners can choose from either five courses and five cocktails or seven courses and seven cocktails. Each course was wonderful, food-wise (I particularly liked the lamb), but Dersou really shines when it comes to the cocktails. I don’t remember each one in detail, but there were tons of fun ingredients: hazelnut syrup, absinthe, nut syrup, Yuzu, Madeira, and almond syrup, to name just a few. What a fun meal!
Verjus always shows up on “best of” Paris lists, and this month I learned it’s certainly not without good reason: the food is fantastic. Standouts of our tasting menu included a yummy Utah Beach oyster, a sea scallop with fennel, apple, and dill, and duck confit with beer, caraway, and quince. I also loved the little extra touches: the house-made sourdough bread and salted butter to accompany our meal, and the melt-in-your-mouth homemade caramels that came with our bill. After effusively praising the caramels, our waitress even gave us a few extra to take home – score!
When I learned the owners of Verjus had another restaurant nearby (and by nearby, I mean literally down the street), I knew it was a must-visit, given how much I had enjoyed Verjus. Ellsworth is more casual than Verjus, but the food is still wonderful. I had the Brussels sprout salad to start (I seriously want that for lunch every day), the fried chicken sandwich for my main (indulgent but wonderful), and the malt ice cream with chocolate sorbet, espresso espuma, and milk crumbs for dessert (those crumbs add the perfect amount of crunch).
With all the great food I’ve eaten the last few months, it’s tough to pick my Paris favorite, but Sola’s French-Japanese fusion just might be it. The word here was “impeccable”: great service, perfect presentation, creative dishes, and damn good food. The fish courses were phenomenal: an amazing squid (that squid ink though!), a plate with scallop, turbot, escargot, and clam (my personal favorite), and codfish with lemon and ginger soup. All the other courses were standouts, too, though – I loved the foie gras biscuit we had to start, the pigeon entree, and the panna cotta with a delicate sugar shell for dessert.
The tasting menu at Semilla was also amazing – but as we ate there the day after Sola (I told you we went big in December!), it fell a bit flat in comparison. Still, there was lots to love here: a dorado ceviche with lemon, ginger, and grapefruit, a red mallet with Brussels sprouts, capers, and roasted potatoes, a radish carpaccio with coconut, and a passionfruit sorbet (to name just a few of the courses).
L’Ami Jean felt to me like a Parisian classic: not particularly trendy or innovative, but good, solid food. The atmosphere was fun – I could hear the cooks and waitstaff yelling back and forth at each other throughout my meal – and the food hearty and filling. My favorite part of the meal had to be the roasted chicken with foie gras and mashed potatoes – so flavorful and comforting.
Sometimes you need something other than French food – believe it or not – and Paris’s Ober Mamma hits the spot in that regard. Ober Mamma serves up high quality Italian products in a fun, energetic atmosphere. I had the mozzarella di bufala and San Daniele ham to start (both were delicious, particularly that mozzarella) and the pizza Margherita for my main. I only wish I had had room to try the tiramisu – but as I was too stuffed to eat about half of my pizza, that definitely wasn’t in the cards. I’m definitely going back next time I’m in Paris though.
I’ve visited Holybelly before; it’s one of my favorite breakfast spots in the city. I ordered the same thing this go round as last time: the pancake with fried eggs, crispy bacon, Bourbon butter, and maple syrup. The dish was as good as I remembered; it soooo hits the spot.
My last supper – actually, lunch – in Paris was at Tannat, and I picked a high note to end on. The lunch special here was a great deal – 15 euro for main and dessert – and I couldn’t pass it up, despite initially being leery of boudin blanc (white sausage). As it turned out, the sausage was great, and so was the dessert, a super refreshing but not overly sweet ice cream with oranges and crumble.
I’ve been super spoiled this fall in Paris (for proof, check out what I ate in September, October, and November). While I’m so sad to be leaving the city, eating all this good food has left me inspired to explore more of the restaurants that have long been on my “must try” list in New York. Bring it on, 2016, and bon appétit!