The Great Escape: Paris


The Great Escape: Paris


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Hélène Pietrini developed her career in Paris and London before entering the world of hospitality in roles at Relais & Châteaux and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The Paris native has since moved home and joined La Liste as Managing Director.

Hélène believes in gastronomy without borders, as well as constant reinvention within the global gastronomy sector. She is also committed to improving diversity and promoting parity and inclusivity across the culinary landscape. A deeply respected figure in the world of gastronomy, Hélène is known for her experience and appetite, travelling the world and restaurants as the #hungryblondie.

For diehard foodies eager to catch up on the latest happenings in Paris’ dining scene since the pandemic, what are the most exciting restaurants to check out now and why?

Substance by chef Matthias Marc
I called him my “canteen” because I live not far and can stop at the counter, but it is more difficult to find a seat since he was a top chef finalist. Typical new generation of French chefs who do not compromise on flavours and creativity but offer a casual bistro experience with great wine list. He often ends up DJing himself. He recently opened Liquide by Substance, a more casual place in Paris, same quality of food but with an open kitchen, cocktails, and dining room you can privatize with a DJ.

Table by Bruno Verjus
Atypical chef, two-Michelin star restaurant, east side close to bastille. Bruno has had plenty of lives before including gastronomy critic but ended up cooking the best French produce himself. He is super charismastic, and cooks on the counter to his neighbourhood clients but also international new fans. Hiss butter lobster and praline tart are my favorite.

Yam’tcha by Adeline Grattard
Female chef, ex-Atrance (Pascal Barbot) restaurant, traveled in Asia, married to Hong Kong tea sommelier Wah Chan, Yam’tcha is always fully booked. She creates a culinary experience that is sophisticated, exquisite, delicate. You can watch her from outside through the window. If you cannot find a place, her second restaurant is open all week: Lait’tcha has a great wonton menu.

Image credit: L’Arpège by Alain Passard

L’Arpège by Alain Passard
The god of vegetables is unique. Despite the price and location in posh ‘rive gauche’, he remains loyal to his restaurant. He is obsessed by his gardens which provide his famous vegetables, his parsnips carpaccio, veggie veloutés, beetroot tartare are timeless. You can now order his veggie boxes. He always meets every guest at the end of a meal.

The most wanted fine dining restaurant, Plenitude Cheval Blanc by Arnaud Donckele
Saint Tropez chef Arnaud Donckele got three stars in one year! A record for a restaurant which finally opened in the Cheval Blanc Paris hotel in the brand new Samaritaine department store just on the Seine river. If you cannot find a table, there are many other dining options, with stunning views like Le Tout Paris or just opened terrasse, Le Jardin.

Pouliche and Café de Luce
Female chef Amandine Chaignot came back from London and opened her own restaurant a few years ago in the center of Paris, sharing starters and sharing desserts. Seasonal produce, freshness and deliciousness, friendly front of house. Parisian positive spirit. She opened this year a new project at the bottom of Montmatre, Café de Luce, an authentic Parisian café, open from breakfast to dinner every day.

My favorite bakery by female pastry chefs Victoria Effantin and Cécile Khayat who used to work in marketing and dreamed of becoming bakers. I would drive a big detour to buy almost everything from croissants, cookies, brioche with orange blossom, and baguettes of course. Everything is homemade and baked on site.

Image credit: Hélène Pietrini with Marie Victorine Manoa

Aux Lyonnais by Marie Victorine Manoa
Her father is the chef of the most traditional “bouchon” restaurant in Lyon. She took over this Parisian Ducasse-owned restaurant, serving traditional Lyon specialties (frogs, bone marrow soup, baba dessert) with a very personal twist. The setting is so French and the front of house team is all-female.

Pastry boutiques are super fashionable in Paris. A fine dining sweet bite: Le Comptoir just outside The Ritz Paris by François Perret, the sweetest and innovative pastry chef, try his drinkable strawberry tart. Try Quentin Lechat’s new Afternoon tea at Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, a quintessence of French pastry, or stop at Cedric Grolet café on Avenue de l’Opéra for takeaway of brunch/lunch on the first floor. I would recommend staying at Le Burgundy Hotel, the rising pastry chef star is Pierre-Jean Quinonero and you can try his pastries either at tea time or at the fine dining restaurant of the hotel.

Septime remains the go-to creative and unparalleled Parisian bistro by Bertrand Grebaud and Théo Pourriat. I am always surprised by the combination of flavours, the freshness of the seasonal produce, the casual look of the dining room. If it is fully booked, just go to Clamato, their wine bar just next door, or Le Servan, Bertrand’s wife Tatiana Levha’s restaurant. They just opened Tapisserie, a pastry shop a few meters on the same street where they serve chous à la crème with specific times to buy them super fresh.

My favourite classics escaping the tourists close to Champs Elysées: 39V by Frederic Vardon is located on avenue Georges V but on the last floor of the building, just newly refurbished, terrasse, modern French cuisine, veggie and detox for lunch unless you are lucky to get the baba au rhum and La Scene by female chef Stéphanie Le Quellec who serves a bistro menu on the ground floor and her two-Michelin star tasting menu with open kitchen on the lower ground floor.

What are some quick getaways outside Paris for a long indulgent weekend?

Image credit: D’Une Ile

D’Une Ile
Bertrand Grebaud from Septime opened his maison d’hôte, an ideal refuge just before Covid in the area of Le Perche, a wildly bucolic countryside house with its yellow stones, charming bards, vintage decoration and of course super local daily menus from their own gardens.

Domaine de Primard
Romain Meder, colt of Alain Ducasse with whom he had won three stars at the Plaza Athénée in Paris, just took over the kitchens of the trendy boutique hotel, the former countryside house of Catherine Deneuve. Romain orchestrated Ducasse’s concept of “naturalness” and now offers a cuisine based on plants, in an eco-responsible approach, supported by the estate’s vegetable garden and local producers.

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