Just east from the cobbled magnificence (and pant-soilingly-terrifying-to-navigate-on-a-bicycle) Place de la Bastille, down a side street off the Rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, sits La Gazzetta. It’s a bistro gone posh, the wood panelled walls reinterpreted by some French Farrow & Ball – all muted greens and low lighting. For a restaurant looking for that ‘special yet informal’ vibe it’s pretty much spot on. If that is indeed what it is aiming for, which I think it is.
We arrived at La Gazzetta at 10pm, wet after a miserable Velib ride, and tipsy after a couple of pressions in Chez Prune (fun bar up by the Canal St. Martin, well worth a visit). Having been ignored for long enough to be sub-par without being so long that it was downright rude, the three of us were tucked into a little table at the back, a hungry troika amidst swooning couples. On offer was a set menu, either 5 courses for 38 Euros or 7 for 50 Euros. The conservative option sidestepped lobster with boudin and the cheese course, so it seemed only right to fork out the extra pelf and regret it later (which, on the cheese front, we did).
The first course arrived without fanfare. This was a clean, elegant, and understated dish of cod and oyster with a cucumber salad and a cucumber and pistachio moussey thing. Garnished with pretty and punchy chive flowers it was a knockout on every level, and worked well with the Picpoul de Pinet if you’re into that sort of thing.
A stunning wee plate of spanking new potatoes and hot, crunchy radishes with a slick of nettle puree came next. There has, understandably, been a growing anti-smear campaign of late, as the skid’s ubiquity starts to irk diners. But in this context it was entirely appropriate, the food looking as much like a work of art as it did sustenance.
Also visually impressive and technically accomplished was cuttlefish with ink. If the cuttlefish was subtle and ever so slightly rubbery, the ink was intensely fishy and rich, offset beautifully by the citrus punch of grapefruit. And no, I couldn’t resist playing with the leftover ink (see above).
Lobster with boudin was less successful. The black-purple bruise of boudin puree was transcendental in its perfection but sadly bullied the lobster into submission, despite its being propped up by an umami-rich tinkle of fish stock.
Next up came two beautiful hunks of spring lamb, cooked to the medium blush that is ideal in lamb (any rarer and it’s too tough) and served with shards of asparagus. No bells and whistles, just good meat well cooked.
Cheese was the only real let down. St. Marcellin with slivers of carrot and what I can only describe as grape nuts…the cheese was too cold and any flavour it might have had was squashed by said nuts. Not good.
But redemption wasn’t far away – in not one but two puddings. A rhubarb tart with milk sorbet was stunning, but my attention was fully on the other pudd – the lightest of nigh-on raw meringues with even lighter sables and a still lighter mint emulsion, underscored by a strawberry quenelle. It was magnificent.
By this point it was 1am, and it was time to leave. The cougar to our left, her coquettish charade with the cheese plate having run out of steam, lunged at her goofy suitor, and we left the pashing pair, waddling into the night in search of a digestif. Or, come to think of it, to go straight home and collapse.
29 Rue de Cotte
75012 Paris, France
01 43 47 47 05
Other good eats in Paris:
Hotel du Nord
102 Quai de Jemmapes
75010 Paris, France
01 40 40 78 78
Very funky place full of young trendies. Mid-priced bistro food.
16 Rue Grégoire de Tours
75006 Paris, France
01 43 54 76 95
Not the best food you’ll find but super-cheap (12 Euros set menu) and far from bad (context context context).
Cafe de l’Industrie
16 Rue Saint-Sabin
75011 Paris, France
01 47 00 13 53
Love this place. Great buzz, fun area for going out and good cheap grub. Try the bavette.
3 Rue Sainte-Beuve
75006 Paris, France
01 45 49 10 40
Up there with the best meals I’ve had in Paris. And the chef is English. So there.
If you know of any other good eats in Paris that deserve adding to this list then drop me a line.