It may be a cool spring in Paris, but the bistro scene is hot as ever. These five newcomers, each with its own distinct ambiance and character, have generated enough buzz to earn them pride of place on the Paris gourmet radar.
La Régalade Conservatoire
The latest in chef Bruno Doucet's Régalade triumvirate, this elegant new bistro in the chic Hôtel de Nell incorporates all the flourishes we've come to expect (house-made terrine, the best bread in town) with plenty of great new attractions, like a sleek marble-topped bar for drinks and an intimate contemporary setting. The food is pure Doucet—masterfully prepared modern takes on the classics, like foie gras with geléed leeks and succulent beef-done-two-ways in a velvety red wine reduction. Leave some space for a towering Grand Marnier soufflé or Régalade's signature rice pudding, a Paris legend.
The nondescript exterior and airy no-frills décor of Roseval belie a cuisine so refreshingly original that within months of opening it had already marked itself as one of the city's best new bistros, despite its chic-but-out-of-the-way location. Veterans of some of Paris's top eateries (Chateaubriand, Rino), chefs Michael Greenwold and Simone Tondo mix a gorgeous presentation with inspired pairings in dishes like duck-and-egg raviolis with pickled girolle mushrooms or slow-cooked pork belly with a Muscat emulsion and jumbo shrimp. The wine list is an aficionado's dream with plenty of well-priced natural wines. With only 20 seats, wise gourmands reserve well in advance.
Tucked away on a tiny Les Halles street not far from the Centres Pompidou, Pirouette is a sleek, modern newcomer that has garnered rave reviews. Chef Tommy Gousset, who cut his teeth at such eminences as Taillevent, the Meurice, and NYC's Daniel, serves superb contemporary bistro cuisine with an emphasis on presentation and clever pairings: shredded duck with orange-marinated turnips; roasted coquilles Saint-Jacques with chestnut gnocchi, and truly dazzling desserts. The warm, blonde-wood interior includes a cozy mezzanine away from the buzz of the happy crowd. The 16€ lunch menu and a warm, attentive staff are just icing on the cake.
Paris gave a hearty welcome to this Montmartre newcomer, younger sister of Jeanne A, a miniscule bistro-épicerie-wine bar so good it became a go-to place for every meal of the day. With hanging charcuterie and a well-stocked deli case, Jeanne B resembles its older sibling, but here you'll find more tables and a light-filled dining room that hints at its carnivorous leanings—a deer head and woodsy décor. There's plenty to savor: artisanal cheese or charcuterie plates for a light lunch or more copious dishes, like tender duck and foie gras en croute or the famous rotisserie chicken and potatoes Dauphinois. With good-value fixed-price menus and opening hours all day every day, what's not to love?
Le Mary Celeste
Paris's best-kept secret for about two weeks, Le Mary Celeste is the rollicking new restaurant from the trio behind the taqueria-cum-cocktail lounge Candelaria and the Pigalle watering hole Glass. It first drew in the Marais crowds with half-price oysters at happy hour, impossible-to-find artisanal beers on tap, and some truly sublime cocktails. Top all this off with an excellent Asian-inflected tapas menu (after 7 pm) and an über-chic address and you've got one very popular venue. My advice: go early (it opens for happy hour at 5 pm), feast on wild oysters, and just watch the hipsters roll in.
Photo Credits: La RÃ©galade Conservatoire: Didier Boy de la Tour/designhotels.com; Roseval: Courtesy of Roseval; Pirouette: food box; Jeanne B: Courtesy of Jeanne B; Le Mary Celeste: Courtesy of Le Mary Celeste