PARIS, France – Eating in Paris is not an easy task. There are hundreds of wonderful establishments scattered around the city. Certain neighborhoods have it better than others do. There are clichés and tourist traps everywhere. And then, there are young chefs working their tails off to offer inventive food at a fair price. I think Le Timbre should be put on top of the list of best places to eat in Paris.
In this series of articles, Cédric Lizotte visits some of the best restaurants in Europe. From France to Switzerland via the Czech Republic, here are the best places to sample the delights of some of the best chefs on the planet. Follow it with the hashtag #CedricInEurope.
The question of where to eat in Paris might lead to certain common answers. Some of the most sought-after restaurants in Paris—by tourists that is—namely the ultra-classic Rotonde, the archetypal Relais de l’Entrecôte, the characteristic Dôme and the textbook Coupole, are all in the same neighborhood: Montparnasse. However, astute diners might find that these places are overpriced and overrated.
Instead, head to Le Timbre, a tiny restaurant held by chef Charles Danet and front-of-the-house Agnès Peyre. There, you’ll find an almost-fixed menu of great, modern, carefully plated, delicious dishes. Chef Danet prepares everything himself.
Yep! I’m quoting myself! Cheap, right? It’s from this overview article I wrote on behalf of Air Transat.
I’m reproducing these words on here simply because I want to point out that the best places to eat in Paris necessitate a certain amount of research. It’s clearly not akin to finding a needle in a hay stack (because that’s a stupid saying anyway, just set the haystack on fire and you’ll find your needle). No, it’s more like getting ready for a job interview: if you only cover the basics, you’re doing it wrong.
There are more than 1400 restaurants included in the Michelin guide for Paris only. It’s a good starting point, but it’s not good enough.
What you need, is good friends who are locals… or The Fine Dining Blog.
Best Places To Eat In Paris – Le Timbre: The Restaurant
At Le Timbre, you’ll find two people, and two people only: chef Charles Danet, and front-of-the-house Agnès Peyre, and they’re co-owners and do everything themselves.
The name means “the stamp”, as in postage stamp, and it’s for good reason: it’s absolutely tiny, cramped; leaving your table to head to the bathroom is just as complicated as doing so on an airplane; Ms. Peyre looks like a ballet dancer swooshing between the tables. The décor is all woods, and blackboards, and old tiles, and old-fashioned metal chairs.
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The most impressive thing about this tiny restaurant is the fact that chef Danet is by himself to tend the two services of 20 seats. Just like at le Cézanne in Munich, all the food is prepared ahead of time and assembled at the last second. Isn’t sous-vide cooking wonderful?
And the food itself is methodical and delicious. This includes a green apple, avocado and raw bonito first course: acidic, sweet, fatty, light-tasting. And a very nice leg of lamb with potato purée and a few vegetables.
But the dish that made my heart sing was the the ris d’agneau, lamb sweetbreads, with a tasty parmesan espuma on top. The sweetbreads were crisp on the outside, supercreamy on the inside, and the slight iodine taste of the offal was playing against the wine, a Coteaux du Giennois, Champ Gibault, 2014, by Florian Roblin.
Of course, the desserts were on the simpler side, with the one-man-band and all. I had the luxury to taste two of them, but what wowed me the most, was the choice of dessert wine by Ms. Peyre: Domaine Elodie Balme, Rasteau, vin doux naturel. It’s woody, sweet, and the aftertaste is very chalky, which doesn’t make much sense considering the syrupy texture of the wine. Ah, the French terroir and all of its surprises!
One last note: if you can’t get in le Timbre – it wouldn’t be surprising since they only have 20 seats and they’re usually reserved well in advance – try Wajda, which is a block away. It’s great too!
3 Rue Sainte-Beuve, 75006 Paris, France