The section of the 10th arrondissement around the romantic Canal Saint Martin is coming on strong as one of the city’s next great food neighborhoods. One good reason is Philou, the cozy new bistrot of restaurateur Philippe Damas, who formerly ran Le Square Trousseau. Dinner with a friend there one recent wintry night started with an excellent scallop-and-oyster tartare and a standout dish of winter vegetables—salsify, daikon, parsnips, potatoes and snow peas—sautéed in salt butter with sea snails and a light herb pesto. Main courses were first-rate, too: fresh cod with Le Puy lentils, chopped carrots, celery and lardons, and wild duck with an inventive garnish of honey-braised eggplant. The desserts fell short—my caramelized banana millefeuille with coconut ice cream was clunky. But with reasonable prices, a good wine list and friendly service, this is a place I’ll return to again soon.
12 ave Richerand, 10th, 01.42.38.00.13. Fixed-price menus: lunch €15, €25; dinner €25, €30
Across town in the 15th arrondissement, which has become a breeding ground for newly launched bistrots with talented young chefs, my new favorite is Le Cassenoix, a charming old atelier fitted out with wooden tables and chairs and decorated with flea-market finds. Chef Pierre-Olivier Lenormand’s great-value menu changes regularly, but starters might include such dishes as marinated salmon prepared gravlax-style with a salad of shaved fennel bulb and herbs. Among recent main courses were an excellent pot au feu of beef cheeks and winter vegetables, and yellow pollack on a bed of sauteed pleurotte mushrooms. Home-style desserts are on the order of floating island and tiramisu, and the wine list offers some great buys.
56 rue de la Fédération, 15th,01.45.66.09.01. Fixed-price menu €32
Prices are per person without wine
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of France Today
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