Hungry for Paris

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

“A wonderful guide to eating in Paris”—Alice Waters

"Not since Patricia Wells’s classic Food Lover’s Guide to Paris has a
guidebook given readers such a mouthwatering tour of the City of Lights."
--Publisher's Weekly

One of my very favorite books is Alexander Lobrano's Hungry for Paris. We've been lucky enough to host an author interview and book review here on our site.  I have been constantly going to his website, though, for more of Hungry for Paris. In his Diner's Journal, Alec shares MORE of his excellent restaurant reviews, complete with meal descriptions that have you seriously planning a trip to Paris. Alec's writing style is so conversational that you feel like you're THERE with him, just chatting, and eating some pretty fantastic meals along the way.


Hungry for Paris


Here are a few of my recent favorites:



Frenchie: A Terrific Modern Bistro

Though the name, Frenchie, is cloying without being cute and also perpetuates some much loved but completely daft idea the French have that English speakers refer to them as Frenchies, this vest-pocket bistro in the Sentier, or old Paris garment district, is a delightful spot with really excellent food. Gregory Marchand, the Nantes born chef-owner, works in a tiny kitchen in the back of a exposed stone and red-brick dining room that could easily be found in Nolita (NYC) or Shoreditch (London), and the vibe is similarly Anglo-American, which makes sense, because Greg mostly recently did a stint at Danny Meyer's sublime Gramercy Tavern and worked at Jamie Oliver's 15 before that.

The short market menu offers two starters, two mains, a cheese plate and two desserts, and it changes often, which is a good thing, since this place has already acquired a dedicated crowd of young regulars. Waiting for Nadine to arrive, I drank a glass of very good Bossard Muscadet and studied the wine list, which is impressive, including Pic Saint Loup de Mas Foulaquier, a lovely Spanish Rueda, several outstanding cotes du Rhone.

Though the smoked trout with green, purple and wild asparagus sounded good, it was a cool, wet May night, so we both began with an excellent cream of celery soup that was laddled over croutons, a slice of foie gras and a coddled egg to create comfort food at its very best. Next, some of the best brandade de morue (flaked salt cod with potatoes and garlic), I've ever had. Marchard's version was wonderfully creamy, and came with vivid swirls of red pepper puree and parsley jus, both of which flattered the cod. The other main course was a paleron de boeuf, or braised beef, with carrots, and it looked quite tasty on our neighbor's table, too.

I ordered the cheese plate--a nice chevre and a slice of Tomme with a small salad and a dab of honey, to finish off our Rueda, one of my favorite everyday white wines, and Nadine succumbed to the chocolate tart, which was also excellent and came with raspberry puree.

Because the atmosphere's so cosy and the food's so good, Frenchie is exactly the type of happy, homey restaurant you'd love to claim as your neighborhood hang-out. It also offers an interesting snap shot of Paris dining in 2009 because it's main references are two countries that were once derided for their mediocre, even ghastly food--the United States and the United Kingdom--but which have now developed distinctive cuisine du marche styles of their own.



Brilliant Italian and a Good Buy: Caffe dei Cioppi et Le Petit Benoit

Despairing of ever finding really good Italian food, this tiny little restaurant in a passage off the busy rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine hit me like a thunderbolt. The Caffe dei Cioppi is a tiny space with maybe five table, plus two seats at the counter that allow you to watch the chef at work. In its layout, its sort of like an American diner, but amber lighting gives the space a cosy feel compared to the fluorescent common to that Yankee genre. We went as five and after sharing an excellent bottle of white Sardinian Vermentino as an aperitif, we got busy with the short and very gently priced menu. Everything appealed, though I loved the idea of a frittata (Italian omelette) seasoned with fresh mint and peas, I can never resist freshly made mozzarella, which here came with an almost invisible drizzle of sublime Sardinian olive oil and perfect grilled vegetables--aubergine, baby onions, zucchini and a sun-dried tomato. A superb plate of food, and the only one of us who didn't have the mozarella crowed over his plate of freshly sliced Italian prosciutto and salami. Next, I chose thepolpette (flattened meat balls) with over roasted potatoes seasoned with rosemary and sea salt. Made with bread soaked in milk, grated Parmesan and onion, they were still soft inside, which set up a wonderful contrast with the crunchy potatoes. All of the other dishes I tasted--homemade ravioli filled with ricotta, linguine with a sauce of sea bass and tomatoes, and penne in broccoli sauce, were superb, too. Though desserts are never the high point of an Italian meal, the melted chocolate cake and apple tart here were terrific. My only regret as we went off into the night after a truly fine feed was that this place isn't in my neighborhood. If it was, I would very happily eat there once a day.

"Alec, it couldn't possibly be any good. It's just down the street from the Cafe de Flore in heart of tourist Paris," said my friend from London when we arrived at Le Petit Saint Benoit. She and her husband were in town doing a story for an Australian magazine and had asked me to chose a inexpensive restaurant within walking distance of their hotel. Also a place where they serve on an outdoor terrace if possible, since Pete would walk a mile for a Camel.





Hungry for Paris also has what is one of the most important things for us foodies online - a readers forum to share and discuss dining topics. Recent topics include Fois Gras, Sunday Lunch in Paris, a recommendation for Blois area, dining in Nice, and more. There seems to be an active and generous community of foodies there.



What else can you find on this extraordinary site? Articles by Alec for Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and France Magazine. Links to great food sites. A magnificent photo gallery of Parisian restaurants and food, by the great photographer Bob Peterson



What others are saying about Hungry for Paris:



"Every time I go to Paris I call Alec and ask him where to eat. Nobody else has such an intimate knowledge of what is going on in the Paris food world right this minute, and there is nobody I trust more to tell me all the latest news. Happily, Alec has written it all down in this wonderful book and now I can stop bothering him." –Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief, GOURMET Magazine



"Hungry for Paris is a brilliant book with an almost fatal flaw: the writing is so enchanting you may never leave home to go to any of Alec’s favorite places. Few people know, love and appreciate Paris restaurants the way Alec does; no one writes about them better or with more charm." --Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking From My Home to Yours



“I dearly hope Monsieur Lobrano has an unlisted phone number, for his book will make readers more than merely hungry for the culinary riches of his adopted city; it will make them ravenous for a dining companion with his particular warmth, wry charm, and refreshingly pure joie de vivre. Lobrano is a sly raconteur, a respectful critic, and the very best kind of insider--one who genuinely longs to share all his best discoveries.”
–Julia Glass, author of The Whole World Over and Three Junes



And I so very much agree - Hungry for Paris is a food-lover's manual to finding extraordinary meals in Paris.  Add to the mix this wonderful website, and Hungry for Paris is a complete culinary adventure, one that entices you to explore Paris with Alec, mingle with other Parisian foodies, and share in a like-minded community that Alec has drawn together. What a gift!



For more information, to learn more, and participate in the readers forum, please see:



And want to see more of Alec? He's a judge on Iron Chef - Check out Symon vs. Kaysen.


Comments (1)

Leave a comment