After what felt like months at the silent study corner in my university library, I have finally re-gained some freedom after my first set of exams this year. Celebrating this feat, along with my friend Fabia’s anniversaire, a trip to Paris was booked.
After a few mishaps getting there (waking up late and taking the wrong train), Paris welcomed us in its dreary, wet and cold state. Now, this may have been an unfortunate set of circumstances for some, but Fabia and I embraced the cold air and explored Paris on our feet, with our adventurous stomachs in tow.
Being a major foodie city, it is no surprise that most corners in the French capital will contain some hidden gems, either a traditional bistro, an épicerie or an artisan boulangerie. As we were not first-timers at the capital, it was a unanimous decision to stick to the less touristy places in the city in order to find some great feasts. Though it was mid-winter, walking around the city was not bitter and miserable; we had our espresso breaks quite often, and it proved to be the mode of transportation that brought us to some great dining experiences during our three-day stay.
For something healthy: Nanashi
This French-Japanese restaurant specialises in ‘bento’ boxes. Their 16 euro bento du jour deal is worth the dollar: meat, fish or vegetable-based dishes on a bed of wholesome grains, served with a leafy green salad and two of their salads of the day. If you’re looking for a healthy, clean-eating place then Nanashi is your best bud! The array of desserts on offer is impressive and look out for some mouthwatering Japanese seafood dishes on the menu. My full review can be found here.
57 Rue Charlot or 31 Rue de Paradis
For something quick: L’As du Fallafel
Walking past this infamous falafel place, tourists and locals alike overcrowd by the front door, either waiting for their take-away wraps or queuing for a highly-coveted table in this Middle-Eastern eating establishment. In the cobbled streets near Hôtel de Ville, the colourful exterior of L’As du Fallafel attracts many visitors a day, even some famous faces, due to the humble dining experience everyone has been commending.
Visiting after the midday rush, we managed to avoid the typical queues during a weekday lunch hour, and were quickly directed to a corner table; a TV screen hung behind us, showcasing the processes behind making their wraps, as well as many newspaper and magazine cut-outs to show the numerous recognition they have received for having the ‘best falafels in Paris.’
Disposable plates and cutlery were placed in front of us, as well as two sauces for the falafel wraps: a green salsa and a chili sauce. The eatery charged 8 euros for a falafel wrap, with all the trimmings, which was handed to our person straight from the kitchen; there was no waiting around for the rest of my party as I tucked into an overflowing pitta bread. Attracting many visitors due to its award-winning falafel and shawarma wraps, as well as an authentic and casual dining experience, L’As du Fallafel is arguably a fast-food place you will not want to miss.
34, rue des Rosiers, 75004; Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville
For a no-fuss, no-nonsense French fare: Astier
Longing for some authentic, traditional French cuisine before boarding the Eurostar, several reviews on Astier convinced us to try this bistro. With red and white chequered napkins adorning each place setting and a packed dining area, a classic French fare was to be expected, with no beef bourgignon or canard a l’orange in sight.
Their 15 euro lunchtime menu boasted sweetbreads and kidneys, whilst their seasonal choices included an array of stewed and roasted meats, such as lamb, beef, veal and rabbit leg for 20-27 euro a dish. Though I expected a fine-dining experience, large portions were given, as well as plentiful of sides and fresh bread for scooping up the rich sauces that accompany each dish.
Sitting next to two Parisian men, we quickly found out that Astier was renowned for their cheese platter. Due to time constraints, we were unable to try this, but for 16 euros, our neighbours had about two dozen types of cheese, laid out on a large cheeseboard, covered with the red and white chequered napkins bearing the Astier logo.
Loved by locals and recommended by many Parisian food bloggers, the classic French bistro experience brought to diners by Astier, and its staff, have proved that modern dining in the capital need not to be full of complex culinary terms or an eight-course meal.
44,rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011; Metro: République
So… let’s book another trip to Paris?