In the first of my Vegetarian friendly Paris restaurants posts I listed five of my favourite casual Parisian restaurants that cater to both herbivores and carnivores. This post takes us to places to impress either your palate or your date … or both. Some put veggies on honor, others may use them merely as carrots to tempt the fashionable diet-conscious clients, regardless hopefully they will fit the bill, which will be a moderately high one.
Hands down my top veggie-friendly choice, it’s usually first on my lips when a slightly fancy meal is called for (sadly not often enough!). The bright dining room, marble tabletops and old-school wooden bar give it the allure of a classic bistro; the open kitchen and innovative menu clearly illustrate their contemporary flare. The daily changing market-based menu, founded on the freshest ingredients and sourcing the best producers could include the likes of potato, endive salad with pear chutney, cauliflower purée with romanesco broccoli and pomegranate or risotto of asparagus from the town of Apilles in Provence. The lunch menu, comprised of a trio of vegetarian starters and a choice of one of three main course, is a steal for +/-25 euros. For dinner you’re likely to drop at least 50-70 each if you want wine and two courses, however, you and your hypothetically meat-loving diner companion will both be completely content, allowing you can spend more time gazing into each other eyes than you would elsewhere, grumbling to yourself that you had to eat yet another plate of limp steamed vegetables.
Mon Vieil Ami
As promised by its slogan, “the garden patch bistrot,” Mon Vieil Ami indeed puts vegetables on the centre stage. While it’s not a vegetarian restaurant, and most of their dishes do have fish or meat, award-winning chef Antoine Westermann’s menu goes much beyond the usually frites and haricot verts sides on offer at most classic Parisian bistrots. On their menu reflecting the seasons there will always be minimum one vegetarian starter and main such as carrot, date and raisin salad drizzled in spice-infused vinaigrette or wild mushroom fricassee, plus the staff is very amiable about making any adjustments to dishes, all too rare in Parisian restaurants. Refined yet not stuffy, the classy dining room provides a good setting for a “lets see how this goes” first date, business lunch or aunt and uncle treating you to dinner evening which, for two courses and wine, will set you back 40-60 euros per person.
A table in the large, airy and elegant dining room of Maceo is the ideal setting for a posh date without breaking the bank. They always have at least one if not two vegetarian options which you can have as part of their very reasonable menu (lunch 27.50 euros for entrée+plat ou plat+dessert). The impeccable waiters may come bearing beautifully presented dishes of fresh pea mousse with coriander on a bed of spring greens or marinated tofu & shiitaké mushrooms with sesame, served with bulgur and kale. The dishes mightn’t be as palate passionate as Semilla, but they are creative, seasonal and more than satisfy the purpose of a sophisticated veggie-friendly date.
The new look of the former legendary Parisian cabaret L’Alcazar has not gone unnoticed, with reason. Stuck in the 1990s the vast bar and restaurant underwent three months of renovations at the end of 2015, reopening its doors in December 2015 to unveil its stylish 21st century look.The ambience starts upstairs in the Le Balcon bar with a cocktail concocted of some magic elixir or craft spirits, shaken by the (sexy) hands of the young, tatooed barmen. Here you can look over the vast dining room made cozy by vintage style lamps weaved into a jungle of greenery. Settling down for dinner at your intimate booths or discrete tables with low lighting will surely put you in the mood for romance. The menu changes seasonally and includes a few vegetarian starters and one main, I recently enjoyed their beetroot, agrume salad and beneath all the foam in the photo above were quite tasty butternut squash ravioli. Was it worth the 80 euro per person price tag (for the cocktail, three courses and wine)? Possibly not, but the atmosphere is seductively glamorous; you come here to see and be seen, the food is more of an accessory.
I hemmed and hawed over whether to include this modern incarnation of Indian food or not in this specific list as I may do a separate “ethnic food” round up, however, in all honesty I’ve been dying to go on a date to this suave bistrot, so it would be a shame to not include it, amongst these other posh options. Inspired by the bistrots populaires of bygone Belle Epoque Bombay, the luminous, crisp feel is much like Semilla, there may be more similarities in the look and the selection of small-batch wines and micro-brewery beers, but that’s where the similarities end. I can easily say that this is the best Indian food I’ve had in Paris, or possibly anywhere since unfortunately I’ve yet to visit the country. That said, it’s a world apart from the crowded aromatic canteens around La Chapelle serving up thalis on tin trays, here you’ve got the discerning chef Manoj Sharma creating elaborate white sweet potatoes marinated in spices and glazed in tamarind and peanuts or paneer with barberry and apricots with a saffron masala sauce, these go fabulously well with their seasonally inspired naans. The reasonable lunch menu goes for around 20 euros per person for two courses, dinner à la carte will set you back +/- 35-55 euros per person for a full meal depending on beverages. If you don’t fall in love with your date… at least you’ll have one love of the evening: the chef.
Bonus: Budget Busting Bites