Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by a world-class chef, celebrity, or local hero.
On our last installment of Eat This City, we headed to Portland, Oregon. We hung around the Rose City long enough to pick up our guide for this week, Chef Gregory Gourdet, and now it’s off to the City of Lights, as Eat This City goes international once again! Chef Gourdet is the Director of Culinary Operations at Departure Restaurant + Lounge — where he’s known for daring, modern Asian flavors and traditional techniques, inspired by Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean food cultures.
Last year, the 2015 Top Chef runner-up took a departure of his own. He jetted over to Paris, to host a pop-up dinner at Stella Studio. The three-night event kept him plenty busy, but it’s our good fortune that he still had time to explore the delights of Paris’s restaurants, food stalls, and patisseries.
Now let’s taste the fruits of that intrepid exploration! Here are Chef Gourdet’s fifteen ‘can’t miss’ food experiences in Paris!
Lovely crust and amazing vegetarian options. The chef here sources vegetables from the same local farmers as the fine dining restaurants in town.
Mexican food is very hard to come by in Paris. Luckily there’s Taqueria El Nopal. They do hand-made tortillas and have really tasty seasonal aqua frescas.
Some of the most authentic Chinese food outside of China you’ll ever eat. Step into this tiny restaurant, and you’ll forget you’re in Paris.
Nutella and Banana Crepes. Can’t go wrong with a freshly made, warm and gooey classic.
This award winning patisserie and chocolaterie has every delectable pastry, macaron, bar and confection you could ever crave. The innovative sweets by Chef Hugues Pouget have won many Best of Paris awards.
The tasting menu at this Michelin-starred modern European restaurant is a play on the senses. The chef produces beautiful plates full of technique and texture, featuring the highest quality produce and proteins of the current season.
The vibe is relaxed but the food is serious at this lively communal table eatery. European flavors dress up the local farm-driven produce and proteins served. Pickled fish with bright herbs and creamy mayonnaise to start. Vegetables in various preparations such as raw, roasted or juiced enrobe, savory meats as a main. The kitchen is deft at utilizing the whole vegetable as well as the whole animal.
The Israeli pita sandwich gets a vegetable focus with deep stuffings such as ratatouille, spiced chickpeas, and sides like signature whole roasted sweet potato and cauliflower.
Leave it to an expat American to make the best brunch in Paris. This is highlighted by the best fried chicken in town. Chef Braden Perkins turns out a stellar menu of brunch favorites with all the flavors and delicacies of the French pantry. Find freshly baked scones with maple and quince, and French toast and pancakes with garnishes such as brown butter, pears, and hazelnuts. And of course, perfect truffled eggs.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
Paris Brest. Choux pastry and praline cream. Butter! Technique! A Parisian classic!
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
This Japanese-French bakery makes a wide assortment of traditional and non-traditional pastries, breads and sandwiches that showcase both cultures in flavor and technique. For the true carb lover, I recommend the Yakisoba Sandwich with savory noodles in a soft baked bun.
Rotisserie Chicken. Love all the small butcher shops around Paris with a doorway flanked by rows of gently roasting rotisserie chickens, fat dripping onto a bed of potatoes below. The fun is sneaking nibbles at the tender, fall-off-the-bone meat streetside with just napkins and a smile.
Nurse yourself back from a late night of bubbles and burgundy with a big bowl of ramen and gyoza at Hakata Choten. This Japanese import does it right with big bowls of flavor packed, steaming hot ramen that come quickly served. The award-winning gyoza are plump with juicy pork and have crispy bottoms.
Dersou. Vegetable-heavy cultural mix of flavors and dishes from Japanese chef Taku Sekine. Dinner is a 5-course tasting menu only until late night; perfect for letting the chef drive the dining experience. The space design of distressed concrete meets soft wood offers a sleek, mildly rugged yet not overdone setting.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
Braden Perkins is a 10-year expat from both American coasts with two Parisian restaurants under his belt. Verjus, his flagship is part wine bar, and partly a farm-driven tasting menu experience. The menu changes daily to reflect what seasonal produce and proteins were picked that morning from the nearby markets and farms. His kitchen has also become a welcoming hub for non-French, often American, cooks to get a foot in and find a warm home in a Parisian kitchen.
Thank you, Chef Gourdet, for taking us on a culinary tour of Paris!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Portland, Tampa, Durham, Toronto, Baltimore, Monterey, Vail, Lexington, Bentonville, San Antonio, Warsaw, Kansas City, NYC, Washington DC, New Orleans, Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!