Five Go Mad

Friday 5 August 2011

FiveGoMad in Paris

We took an early Eurostar to Paris for a sneaky investigation into what's happening in the city of light. We were particularly interested in what's new on the concept store side and, because we're that way inclined, also the new cooking that's transforming the once moribund gastronomic experience in Paris. We wanted to feel inspired for our next pop up supper club in September.

On arrival we headed straight for our hotel, the Philippe Starck designed hotel, Mama Shelter. We liked it, we didn't think we'd be comfortable in a concrete room, yes, the walls and ceiling were polished concrete, but, with the other touches like the Batman mask light, it works. Definitely a place to consider for taking your kids as they have  a great pizza bar! Great shower too. We'd definitely go back. Fortunately for us the hotel is situated at the edge of what is fast becoming one of the more interesting parts of Paris, the area around rue de Charonne. So, as it was by now approaching lunchtime we decided to catch the 76 bus to rue Paul Bert to visit the eponymous Bistro Paul Bert. What a great start to our weekend. It's a fantastic example of something that's becoming increasingly difficult to find in Paris, a great value, privately owned bistro, serving excellent food. A three course lunch from the blackboard menu cost only €16.50. Bargain!
After a brief detour via the Isabel Marrant store we carried on into town to check out the concept store Merci. Very interesting, some lovely jewellery, and Clare fell in love with the muted tones of the linen bed linen, though not the prices. And you can buy a car with it's own boat too!
Dinner that night was at the restaurant of the moment Le Chateaubriand, this year voted best restaurant in the whole of France and 9th best in the world. Well, what can we say? It ain't! To us it was all experimentation and no refinement, sometimes giving the impression the ingredients were chosen at random and put together in the expectation that, hey, it might work! Unfortunately it never did. Bit too cool for school vibe too, which grated as the execution failed to live up to the overweening confidence. We kept thinking of Emperors and New Clothes. Clare did comment that all the staff were young, attractive with the east london bearded look! And after a few sparklies we stopped caring.
The next morning we trotted off to Rose's Bakery to see if it lived up to the hype. Well, where to begin? If Le Chateaubriand was overambitious Rose's was just shambolic. The interior looked decidedly tatty, there was a great big hole in the ceiling above our heads, the prices sky high, €14.50 for eggs Benedict!! They only cost £6.75 at the Wolseley! And €8.50 for a tiny portion of granola was rubbing fleur de sel into the wound! Most shockingly of all was the order of oeufs a la coque, that's soft boiled eggs in Blighty, which we had to send back twice, as they weren't cooked properly both times. They quite literally couldn't boil an egg! A disaster. The staff were rude and surly and after waiting 45 minutes to be served watery eggs we had to wait another 30 mins to pay our bill.
Oh well, at least the sun was shining. So we hot footed it over to Colette to stare slack jawed at the prices, before buying goodies for a picnic which we ate in the glorious sunshine in the Tuilerie Gardens.

Refreshed and relaxed we decided to undo all the good work by popping in to Angelina's, the ultra posh patisserie and cafe on Rue de Rivoli for one of their famous gloriously rich hot chocolates. Oh wow, sheer chocolate heaven, but boy don't you know you've indulged!
That evening neither of us were feeling particularly hungry and we were in two minds whether to go to the next restaurant we had on our list. After a brief discussion we decided that if we didn't do it now, when would we. So, for us it was back to the Louvre district to Spring, one of the most talked about restaurants of the 'Bistronomy' scene. The chef, Daniel Rose, is one of the pioneers of the concept of a fixed menu, offering seasonal food, or simply what is available in the markets that day. This wouldn't mean much if it wasn't for the confident, imaginative, and polished cooking. A real treat, and a bargain. So glad we went.
Sunday and more sun (getting hot in the city at 29º), so we decided to lounge around under that most Parisian of sites, the Eiffel Tower. As the day got hotter and hotter we definitely found ourselves slowing down. That evening, drained by the heat and the difficulty of getting anywhere on the metro (we had chosen the worst weekend for our visit, as all of Paris seemed to be on the move, trying to get away for the August holiday), we were again undecided about whether we had the energy to visit the last of the restaurants on our list. Deciding to make things easier for ourselves we cabbed it the embarrassingly short distance to Le Verre Volé. A gorgeous cosy unpretentious  tiny wine shop that serves food. The service was friendly and the food was reasonably priced and delicious. We even spotted one of the waiters from the Chateaubriand there!  Like Paul Bert, we chose our food from a blackboard menu. We loved this place and think it was our favourite of the whole weekend. And it was open on a Sunday when most restaurants close in Paris. A definite thumbs up!

Happy holidays

Clare and Simon

Previous Posts

  ©2010 Five Go Mad Ltd.