Paris might be the gastronomic capital of the world, but, until recently, it was extremely rare to spot even one vegetarian option on menus filled with steak frites, confit de canard and foie gras. As a staunch vegetarian since before arriving in France more than a decade ago, one of my worst dining nightmares was having to pick out a restaurant to go on a date or out with a client where we’d both have an enjoyable meal (steamed vegetables get old really fast). I’d spend hours scouring menus online or carefully noting bonnes adresses in my head for future reference. Paris is becoming greener, however, it still has progress to make. So in the meantime, here is a new series of veggie friendly restaurants, this first post with great casual venues with French or contemporary fare.
A vegetarian himself, Thibault strives to use a maximum of both French and organic ingredients. Not surprisingly, he has an exquisite cheese selection, provided by the fromagerie, in addition to the freshest egg omelettes, creative salads, a vegetarian assiette du jour and several meat dishes served with luscious seasonal legumes. Everything goes down well with his hand-picked wine list comprised of independent producers. Thibault’s friendly smile and welcome are the cherry on the cheesecake; he’s already creating a community of regulars among the left bank gallerists.
La Buvette Gastrothèque
There was a lot of hype and some controversy when American chef Jody Williams opened her Parisian branch of La Buvette Gastrothèque in 2013. A Parisian-inspired New York cafe opening in… Paris? Oui, it works and very well. La Buvette was an earlier member of the hipsterization of the South Pigalle area. Buvette, from boire, a French nickname for a place to get a drink, is exactly what this is, well, in addition to a tasty bite to eat.
The low lighting, small marble tables make for a romantic setting, the front corner of the bar is the perfect place to perch, possibly for a first date… will the glass of natural wine lead to ordering a couple small plates? Then maybe more? There are always several vegetarian items from ratatouille and chevre tartines to roasted beetroot with crème fraiche and sharing is oh so sexy. Read more on La Buvette in this detailed and interesting article by David Lebovitz. A note of caution, they don’t take reservations, so come early.
I recently stumbled upon this new restaurant quite by accident looking for a casual, not too pricey option for dinner in my neighborhood. It was the several veggie options on the menu that initially wooed me, then I delved a little deeper to find the intriguing story behind the restaurant (and its charming restaurateurs).With a few years of hospitality studies and experience in the restaurant business under their belts, twins Benjamin and Michaël made their childhood dream come true with their own cozy and youthful restaurant, 1ndix: one-ten for their date of birth October 1st.
Their seasonally changing menu has a number of vegetarian options such as quinoa with crunchy vegetables, grilled vegetables with burrata, creative salads and creamy roasted camembert. Your paleo friends can indulge on the likes of crunchy chicken with sweet and sour sauce or salmon confit drizzled in a citrusy oil. The contemporary and fun decor makes for a good start to a night out in the hip SoPi area.
Not merely a brasserie, the Barbès is world unto its own. As it should be. Imagine having the liberty to virtually build a restaurant from scratch within the city limits of Paris. That’s what Jean Vedreine and Pierre Moussié, les hommes behind the hip bars Chez Jeanette, Le Mansart, and Sans-Soucis, were able to do by acquiring the former site of the burnt down discount shop Vano. Two years of renovations converted the once dodgy corner into an empire of new wave Parisian cool.
Over four floors, there are several atmospheres from the ground floor verdant café, the first floor restaurant and “interior-exterior” terrace, the dance bar and finally the rooftop terrace. When I first had a chance to have a lunch date at the Barbès, I was impressed to find a weekly vegetarian special on the menu, however, opted for a spectacular salad of mache, cheese stuffed peppers, caper berries, olives and cream, there are also copious sandwiches on the lunch menu, including one veggie option. It’s best to reserve so you don’t have to wait. Come for lunch for a business or first/second date or for dinner if you might want to carry on your date late. If you haven’t been yet, this post by Rooksana Hossenally for HiP Paris provides a good background and overview.