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Kirk's Traveling Kitchen News and Blog


Putting a Little Chez Panisse Back in Paris

I have been guilty for years of badmouthing restaurant food in France, specifically Paris. Not the cuisine, but the restaurants. I've always said that if you wanted to spend several hundred dollars per person, then yes, you could have a great food experience. That the so called "temples of gastronomy" (Guy Savoy, Alain Chapel, Alain Ducasse, etc.) were still knocking it out of the proverbial culinary park. But if you were looking for simply a really good restaurant serving solid, original food in a stylish environment- good luck! The types of local, independent restaurants we cherish, yet to a certain extent take for granted, in cities all over this country seem to be a rare commodity in France. Maybe it's the French labor laws or business culture that make it very hard for small, independent restaurants. Perhaps it comes from cooking a cuisine that is so revered that there aren't many young chefs willing to experiment or take chances. Who knows, so just when I was about to give up on eating out casually in Paris, I recently came across a gem on the left bank, adjacent to the Hotel Saint-Germain: Le Comptoir. Chef Yves Camdeborde clearly isn't one of those chefs afraid to take some liberties with his native cuisine. His locally sourced food prepared in a simply yet original fashion has taken Paris by storm. He is credited with reinvigorating the local food movement in restaurants throughout Paris. (I sampled the outstanding Brandade de Morue, Veal Breast with Baby Artichokes, French Green Lentil Soup with Foie Gras Butter). Dinner reservations for the incredibly reasonable, set prix fixe dinner are among the hardest to get in the city, so go for an early or late lunch. Here are the specifics for the next time you're in Paris:

Le Comptoir
Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain
9, carrefour de l’Odéon
Paris 75006
phone: +33 (0)1 44 22 07 97
fax: +33 (0)1 46 33 45 30