The Passage des Panoramas, a covered arcade that opened in 1799 in the heart of Paris, was fashionable for a generation, then became the locale of stationers, printers and stamp merchants. Recently, these businesses have given way to the Passage’s new incarnation as a great place to head for a meal; among the many excellent tables here are Racines, Noglu (a gluten-free restaurant), Caffè Stern, Passage 53, Gyoza Bar and Canard & Champagne.
The newest addition to this appetising little lane is Astair, a dapper brasserie that’s run by the same team of talented young restaurateurs who created Canard & Champagne: Jean Valfort, Charles Drouhaut and Jean-François Monfort.
“Younger Parisians have fallen in love with the brasserie idiom, or restaurants that are fast, glamorous, and relaxed, but they want to eat differently,” says Jean Valfort, explaining why they hired chef Gilles Goujon, who has three Michelin stars at L’Auberge du Vieux Puits in Fontjoncouse in the Languedoc, to design their menu. This means a choice between classic French starters like escargots, oysters, foie gras or frog legs, or inventive dishes by Goujon like squid’s ink linguine with cuttlefish ragout, or a coddled egg with wild mushrooms.
Mains offer a similar choice between tradition – a côte de boeuf for two, grilled sole, or calf’s liver deglazed with vinegar – and Goujon’s creations, including cod with tchoutchouka seasoned with pickled lemons and Moroccan spices, or roast quail with figs and grapes. The two standout desserts are the tarte Tatin and the baba au rhum. Note that the menu changes regularly, and book in advance, since this place is very popular.
Astair, 19 Passage des Panoramas, Paris 2nd. Tel.+33 (0)9 81 29 50 95. Lunch menus €15, €20, €25; average à la carte €50. www.astair.paris
From France Today magazine