There are scores of romantic restaurants in Paris. Caught in the gaze of your lover, the actual food might not be your number one priority, however, there are many other things to consider before making your reservation. Since I couldn’t pack all the best romantic restaurants into one post, I thought it would make more sense to do a few thematic posts instead. This first one is dedicated to the best places where you share food, after all, this is what couples should do best, right?
Sharing food can be extremely fun; perfect for the new getting-to-know-you early dates, or for established couples it can add some surprise to your gazillionth date together. Here are some ideas for Paris, but the types of venues could easily be applied to almost any town.
Oysters. Apparent their aphrodisiac properties have been scientifically proven, a fact I enticingly read about in this Telegraph article. A case of modern science proving something Casanova, the greatest lover, had “discovered” centuries before. The article quotes the technique of this great ladies’ man: “I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.” Oh la la! Succulent!
Care to give this a try in Paris? Oysters are practically a Parisian institution, you can hardly miss the seafood bar at most of the classic bistros, some of the best can be sampled at the Welper (4 Place de Clichy 75018) with its bustling atmosphere, Le Bofinger (5-7 Rue de la Bastille 75004) with it’s gorgeous Belle Epoque decor or the Coupole (102 Bd du Montparnasse 75014) to travel back in time to 1920s bohemian Paris. Or for trendy tête-à-tête, see the next suggestion…
Le Mary Celeste (1 Rue Commines 75003): The third venture of the founders of Candelaria, here you will find a hip ambience and some of the strangest oysters in town… served with Brooklyn beer (pourqoui pas?). A savorous and sensual discovery, who knows what the different aphrodisiac effects these exotic oysters might have?
One of the best foods to share in Paris is a mixed plate of cheese and/or charcuterie. Whether called a planche or assiette, what they contain could shed insightful light onto your companion. Does he dive directly into the saucisson? Will she attempt th
Le Garde Robe (41 Rue de l’Arbre Sec 75001): a real bar à vin is the best place to enjoy good quality wine and cheese, there are many around the city, but this is one I’d like to take a date to. Discover usual wine appelations and often quirky cheeses, Spanish hams and other original nibbles. Plus it’s centrally located, a nice place to start off your evening.e mystery, gooey cheese? Who will dare to gobble up the last piece? A lot of dating dynamics at play… and perhaps at stake!
We can’t talk about cheese dishes to share without mentioning fondue… certainly a amusing place for an early date, a good character judging activity… how gentlemanly is he with the baton? Will the other laugh if some cheese dips onto your shirt or instead help wipe it off? Avoid the touristy joints in the Latin Quarter and head to:
Chalet Savoyard (58 rue de Charonne 75011): The outside of this restaurant might not be as appealing as its fondues, but the interior decor is much more suitable for a “date.” With 14 different fondues, the sharing will begin with the decision over which one to select, do you have a keeper if your date’s first choice is the one with champagne?
Tapas… à Paris?
Tapas were practically designed to be shared and make for an interesting first date taste-personality test. Is she a jamon or champiñón coquettas type of gal? Is he a carnivore going straight for the meatballs or an does his adventurous spirit lead him to the squid?
Tapas Nocturnes (98 Rue des Martyrs 75018): For a more traditional tapas experience try this predominant Catalan influenced taperia, you’ll find the usual suspects such as patatas bravas and serrano ham but also regional dishes including cod croquettes or escalivada (smoked grilled vegetables). The Pica-Pica menu grants you the choice of 6 tapas or for un grand-faim opt for copious spread of the decouvert à deux.
Dans les Landes (119 bis rue Monge 75005): Tapas à la fancaise do exist, well, at least at this creative Southwest restaurant. The region of Les Landes being located just north of the gastro-dreamland of the Spanish Basque country, it’s not surprising to find such tapas as tortilla with truffle cream, foie gras falafel or a salade landaise transformed into a spring roll. Check out this article by Paris gastronomic pro Alexander Lobrano for a full account of the culinary adventure that awaits you there.
A Quick but Cool Bite?
Meeting your new flame for a rapid déjeuner? Want to suss out an online dating candidate in a less committal fashion? Who would have guessed that a sandwich might be your best option. Well, not just any sandwich, but if you follow food or Paris newsy blogs you may have noticed the trend of gastronomique sandwiches (see this Hip Paris blog), notably at lunchtime at Frenchie or Verjus, but the other day I was at the next place and the first thing I thought was… these would be perfect to share:
Freddie’s Deli (22 rue Crespin du Gast 75011): The driving force behind Le Camion Qui Fume food truck, Kristin Frederick, is parking herself with this excellent deli. If you’re looking for a light bite or are on a budget you can easily share these American deli-style sandwiches which are cut in two. Or better yet, get two different ones and share a half of each. Oh, and throw in an order of those to-die-for mashed potatoes (will it be one or two forks for those? Another date test!).
Exotiques Saveurs Despite the large number of French bistros in the city, you can still find a good selection of international cuisine–why not change things up from the steak frites? Pick up your pita or injera and dig in!
Chez Marianne (corner of rue des Rosiers and rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais 75004): A wonderful and economical mediterranean Jewish restaurant in the heart of the Marais, I’ve been fond of this eatery since moving to Paris. For a date, I would recommend the main room in winter or the back terrace in summer. Ordering the shared sampling plate will once again put your date’s palate to the test, and you can have some fun fighting over the last of the falafel ball or piece of feta.
Godjo (8 Rue de l’École Polytechnique 75005): There’s nothing like having to use your fingers to lose all eating etiquette inhibitions (and possibly others?) with your date. Okay, okay, you don’t exactly eat with your fingers at this well-established Ethiopian restaurant, injera flatbread helps you scoop up the tasty local specialties found in their Ye Feseg or vegetarian Ye Tsom assortiment dishes, best shared à deux. If you’re looking to spice up your night, request for the épicé option and you will be off to to a hot start… and who knows what the rest of the night will have in store…?!