The second part of our adventure to discover the new neo-bistros of Paris takes us to more restaurants who have adopted this new culinary craze that is taking the French capital by storm. The old favorite dining experience of the Parisian bistro has been turned on its head with these establishments turning out very different cuisine than the old typical bistro fayre. We continue our exploration of some of the best new neo-bistros that exist in Paris today with Le Cristal de Sel.
Le Cristal de Sel
Le Cristal de Sel has only been open for a year or so and ever since it has been talked about favorably in culinary circles. It is located far away from the tourist’s spots of Paris in an area that Parisians keep to themselves for serious dining, namely the bourgeois 15th arrondissement. The chef is Karl Lopez and is formerly of Le Bristol, and it has been his creative ideas of producing seasonal bistro type dishes but served in a five-star way that has put this establishment on the map. His produce is interesting, such as woodpigeon and langoustines, and the preparation and final dishes are first rate. Desserts are very much to be looked forward to, rice pudding and raspberry financier cake are just two.
Mon Vieil Ami
No matter what you think of the food, the décor of Mon Vieil Ami is very impressive, with the high ceilings and original 17th Century beams contrasting wildly with the modern black and white interior. As for the food, well that is a bit of a culinary adventure, as the chefs like to use forgotten vegetables, lentils, smoked eel and other rather rustic ingredients.
The L’Ourcine is all about the food, as the cooking and ingredients are superb; the décor is slightly Basque and there are interesting aperitifs and touches, such as handwritten menus. In charge of the kitchen is a young chef named Sylvain Daniere and he is cooking up a storm with his own bright and light style which is presented beautifully and is also highly sophisticated. The specials board, which is a typical bistro blackboard, regularly contains exciting choices, such as a stew made from beef cheeks, a dish of scallops with chicory, wild game and elegantly layered terrines composed of interesting seasonal produce.
Les Papilles is a small but highly interesting bistro that is also a wine shop and a deli. Dinner is a no-choice affair, with diners faced with a degustation menu which is highly popular among Paris gourmets. Main dishes are normally slowly braised or long-simmered stews and cassoulets, perhaps slowly cooked chicken and garlic, or a succulent juicy lamb shank, seasonal vegetables are served from a large cast-iron pot which you serve yourself from. One of the most endearing things at Les Papilles is the wine choice, as the bistro is also a wine store you can select a good bottle of Burgundy from those on the wall for sale and just pay a six Euro corkage charge on top of the shop price. This new range of neo-bistros are exciting the gastronomy parts of Paris which is famed for its culinary expertise. They are offering superb food together with an atmosphere that is typically bistro, so diners get the best of both worlds.