As an international capital of gastronomy, Paris is renowned for the chefs that live and work in the city. Culinary greats such as Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon and Alain Passard have all brought critical acclaim to the Paris restaurant scene, but there has arguably been a lack of female chefs in the limelight – until now.
An increasing number of supremely talented female chefs are making their mark in the French capital, creating a buzz as they open exciting restaurants in some of the city’s most up-and-coming districts. They favour a simple, no-frills approach to décor in their restaurants, allowing for full concentration on flavourful food. The attitude is refreshingly pared-back; rather than using fancy techniques to impress, these chefs place the utmost importance on top-quality ingredients and imaginative combinations.
The atmosphere in their restaurants is informal and intimate, and the menus are likely to change on a frequent, if not daily, basis. The result is fantastic modern cooking, very often at more than reasonable prices, in unpretentious, highly enjoyable settings.
The Buvette wine bar and bistro seems quintessentially Parisian so it’s perhaps surprising to learn that it first launched in New York before opening a second branch in Paris’s Pigalle district. The intimate space combines the elegance of an old-world café with the informality of a neighbourhood hangout and the result is a place that’s wonderfully inviting at any time of the day, whether you’re in search of a great cup of coffee or a late-night drink. Chef Jody Williams describes Buvette as a ‘gastrothèque’ and small plates are the order of the day, all day. From hearty breakfasts of egg and bacon or French toast to more substantial mains like rabbit confit with cèpes or duck rillettes with a fruit confit, Buvette’s food is always excellent – as are the wine list and the classic cocktails.
Buvette, 28 rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris, +33 (0)1 4463 4171
Le Servan is a joint venture for sisters Tatiana and Katia Levha; Tatiana is in charge of the food while Katia runs the front of house. Tatiana Levha trained with Pascal Barbot of Astrance and Alain Passard of L’Arpège. Her approach at Le Servan is scaled back in comparison, but her talent certainly is not. For lunch, the restaurant offers a three-course set menu of starter, main course and dessert. The evening à la carte menu includes nibbles, starters, main courses and cheese or dessert. Both menus change daily, but previous hits include fried black pudding wontons with a sweet chilli sauce, raw mackerel with celery and rhubarb, veal tartare with smoked vinegar, and a seared guinea fowl stuffed with a magnificent ginger and cashew butter.
Le Servan, 32 rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris, +33 (0)1 5528 5182
Coretta is run by Mexican chef Beatriz Gonzalez, formerly of Neva Cuisine, and her husband Matthieu Marcant. The restaurant, part of a repurposed freight yard, is located in the up-and-coming Clichy-Batignolles neighbourhood and looks out over the pretty Martin Luther King park – the restaurant is named after his wife. Diners will find a sparse, chic interior that allows what’s on the plate to be the focus of attention. The food is innovative and delicious; dishes such as duck with aubergine three ways or an amuse-bouche of artichoke puree and crushed pistachios on flatbread are imaginative and flavourful. The decent selection of wines by the glass and offering of botanas (Spanish snacks) make Coretta a great place for an evening drink too.
Coretta, 151 bis Rue Cardinet, 75017 Paris, +33 (0)1 4226 5555
Chatomat in the Ménilmontant arrondissement was created by chef couple Alice Di Cagno and Victor Gaillard; Di Cagno is formerly of L’Arpège in Paris and Le Gavroche in London. Chatomat’s internationally influenced menu offers a choice of three options for starter, main and dessert. Plates like zucchini, pork belly and chard fricassée or poached cod, broccoli puree, polenta, sea aster and veal jus make it worth venturing slightly off the beaten track to visit this inspired bistro. Chatomat only seats 24, so book in advance.
Chatomat, 6 rue Victor Letalle, 75020 Paris, +33 (0)1 4797 2577
Hai Kai chef Amélie Darvas developed her culinary skill at Le Bristol, L’Ami Jean and The Broken Arm before settling at Hai Kai near the Canal Saint-Martin. Behind a gritty, graffiti-decorated exterior, the interior is bright and tastefully, minimally furnished. There’s a prix-fixe daily menu in addition to an à la carte offering and diners can enjoy plates that pack a flavourful punch, such as veal sweetbreads with cacao and tonka beans, orzo with clams and a grapefruit reduction, and a heady coconut-lime crème brûlée. Those with a smaller appetite will appreciate the snacks on offer, which include Puglian burrata, Italian charcuterie, sardines from Galicia and Ardèche saucisson, all of which keep hunger at bay in the tastiest way.
Hai Kai, 104 quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris,+33 (0)9 8199 9888