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13… A Baker’s Dozen

The trouble with Paris is there are way too many delicious spots for me to make the round. Each week I add yet another couple of places to try to my ever-growing list, so there’s never any moment where I thought “I have nowhere else new to check out anymore”. If anything, I wish I have a bigger eating out budget…

13 A Baker's Dozen

13 A Baker's Dozen

13 A Baker’s Dozen is a charming spot which has been hiding not-so-quietly in the Cour des Saints Pères. After being there with C recently, I can attest that while the high praises raised expectations, Laurel and her team surpassed them. Very easily at that too. A warm welcome greeted us to this packed dining room on a Saturday afternoon, and looking around, my stomach started to grumble and I couldn’t wait to dig into the “Fancy Brunch” I’ve been eyeing.

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Siseng

It appears I’ve been flitting in and out several “hip” eating places lately, and Siseng Asian Food Bar is one of them. Each time, I feel just as awkward as ever besides the stylish folks (although I do question the decision of a man stepping in with a bathrobe from a hotel as his coat – F was there too so he can attest to this!) until the food was set in front of me. Then, all else was forgotten and my taste-buds got to monopolise my thoughts.

Siseng

Siseng

After New York, London and Hong Kong, bao burger has landed in Paris, thanks to Siseng. White, pillowy steamed buns replace the traditional sesame burger buns, and two different versions are available: bao burger kaï – marinated chicken burger with coleslaw, red pepper confit and a sauce of basil and coconut milk, or bao burger 5 épices – 5 spiced-marinated beef steak with rocket, spinach, onion confit, onion rings and a sauce of caramelised tamarind. They were juicy and the Asian-fusion flavour combination hit the right spots for me personally. The mid-week lunch menu comes with a serving of sweet potato fries, which makes a nice change from the usual french fries, and housedrink of the day for €15.

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Ellsworth

It seems la rentrée is not the only time of the year when we ponder which among the many new restaurants to eat in; there has been a spate of openings of late and by the Palais Royal, Ellsworth popped up on the ground floor of a building that’s currently under works (I thought I’ve got the address wrong when I first noticed the scaffolds) just steps away from its sister restaurant, Verjus, and helmed by Hannah Kowalenko, formerly a sous-chef at the latter.

Ellsworth

It was A’s birthday and as a treat, together with a couple of friends, we headed over for a celebratory lunch. The menu was small (just what I like in places I eat) with three options per course, and priced at an affordable €18 for 2-course and €24 for 3-course meal. FYI, in the evening, Ellsworth transforms into a tapas place with small plates to share, and come Sunday, there’s even brunch to be had. Could this be some kind of square peg for the city?

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Gwon’s Dining

For anyone looking for a good and classy Korean restaurant in Paris, with a menu that has more than bibimbap or garlicky fried chicken – don’t get me wrong, those are good Korean staple dishes, but don’t you want to try something new? – search no more. You should book a table at Gwon’s. It’s perfect for a date night. ;)

Gwong's

Gwong's

Truth be told, we’d meant to eat here for a while now. Located mere minutes walk from home, there was no good excuse not to, especially since each time we peered through their windows, the place was busy and filled with Korean diners. However, its upmarket setting means it carries a price tag that says “for a splurge”, so we’ve been saving it for an occasion which finally arrived: the completion of the Paris Semi Marathon.

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Lunch at La Ciboulette

The rain just wouldn’t let up. We were supposed to roam the famous market that lined the streets of the old town and canals of Annecy, but we ended up staying in for a grasse mat’ and read in bed. Eventually, we had to brave the weather and headed out, since we had a lunch reservation at La Ciboulette. We took the long way round so we could at least catch a glimpse of the market.

La Ciboulette, Annecy

La Ciboulette, Annecy

Slightly drenched after our walk, we stepped into a visibly posh restaurant with opulent interior, charming paintings, antique decorative pieces, and actual silver salt-and-pepper shakers and butter dish awaited us at the table which we were assigned. The couple at our neighbouring table were clearly in celebratory mood: a bottle of champagne with two long-stem flutes had just been brought over by the sommelier.

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Hiking the Annecy-Sévrier way

Morning of Day 2 in Annecy, we woke up early to be greeted by grey sky and drizzles, but undeterred, we put on our walking gear and headed in the direction of Semnoz. Based on direction given to us by Marc, the Église de la Visitation was our key landmark, and continuing along the avenue de la Visitation, we came to the starting point of our intended hike.

Hiking Annecy-Sévrier

Hiking Annecy-Sévrier

Multiple options of varying distance were available and we opted for a 3.5 hours (blue) circuit, figuring that’d get us back in Annecy for a late lunch. If we’d wanted a route with higher elevation, the 2.5 hours (red) circuit would be ideal, but Marc warned us that with recent rainfall, it may be just a tad too slippery without hiking sticks to aid us.

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20/Vins: more like 12/20

A couple of days prior to our departure to Annecy, I was in a small panic. The couple of restaurants I’ve researched on and tried to reserve tables for were closed for the week when we would be in town, and compounded with the presence of the labour day bank holiday, I needed new alternatives quickly. I looked into Gault & Millau and was happy to find a highly recommended restaurant (5 toques!) in the historic centre with a clever name to boot.

Wine bar

Wine bar

20/Vins is a play on the perfect score of 20/20 within the French system and the word wine. It is primarily a wine bar, but hey, coupled with delicious food, we’ve got a winner on hand, no? I guess that would be too good to be true. Our Airbnb hosts had never heard of this place, and Marc has experience in the wine industry, even if his main business focus is on Sino-Franco business-relationship consultancy…

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A taste of Indonesia

Visiting friends always make the best excuse to eat in new restaurants (well, new to us anyway) and we took advantage of it recently to check out an Indonesian restaurant not far from our place. Restaurant Indonesia – I know, not the most imaginative of name but does the job perfectly – is just steps away from Luxembourg Garden, thus location-wise, it’s central and a walk in Luco after lunch would have been a good option. When it is not raining, that is.

The restaurant is long and narrow, and upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the sole server(!) waiting on all the tables in the dining room. On a Saturday afternoon in a restaurant full of diners, that was an impressive feat. She left us to peruse the menu at our leisure – a small basket of prawn crackers was also deposited in the centre of the table so we can snack in the mean time – and we decided to go for the rijstafel (i.e. rice table – a Dutch word in origin, bearing in mind Indonesia was formerly a Dutch colony) where we would have a selection of dishes to share between us instead of restricting ourselves to just a handful few main dishes.

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Day 188: Au Vieux Paris

I was crossing Île de la Cité to get to the Left Bank when this sight caught my attention. First of all, yes, it’s very picturesque. However, more strikingly, is that the terrace is empty. Empty! That’s unlike Paris that I’m seeing everywhere, where tourists and locals alike (ok, maybe less locals) jostle for a spot outside, all year round. And Île de la Cité is right smack in the centre of Paris! The signage indicates that this is not a mere café or restaurant, but also a guesthouse (auberge). In fact, it is auberge depuis 1594. Truly befitting the name “At Old Paris” then.

I can only postulate the reasons for it being this quiet: (1) it was closed (but a quick search online says it’s open daily), (2) it was a bit chilly (although not overly so to discourage outdoor coffee intake), (3) it was not yet opened for the evening (it was, afterall, not yet 7pm), (4) they don’t serve just coffee and snack (afterall, it is more of a restaurant), (5) questionable quality (but reviews online had plenty of positive things to say that I’m curious to try it out) and (6) it is not well-known (not everywhere is Le Precope or Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots).

Day 166: Go Brasilia!

The food challenge continues and this evening I even managed to round up a few partners-in-crime for a spot of Brazilian food in the northern neighbourhood of Notre Dame de Lorette. It was fun to have a girls’ night out like this, chit-chatting over dinner, and for some, a lot of giggling after the potent cocktails they served – you know who you are ;)

We were also mildly amused with the decor within. A whole lot of thongs hanging from the ceiling – not string underwear thongs but flip-flops thongs, painted murals, bedazzled figures, multi-coloured disco-lights in toilet, carneval footage on (silent) tv screen. And of course, a whole lot of photos of people we don’t know all over the walls. Un peu bordélique

Day 165: Cuba Compagnie

I don’t think I have mentioned in this blog yet, of my current culinary project: Resto A-Z. The concept is simple enough. Take an alphabet, pick a country’s name based on the alphabet, choose a restaurant that serves the relevant cuisine and eat out. It’s quite fun really, and a very good way to explore international dining experience within the city.

I started with A a few weeks back with an Afghani restaurant, then Ethiopian for E and I’ll be going to a Brazillian restaurant tomorrow in honour of B. Tonight though, it’s C for Cuba. I know, it’s not in alphabetical order, but say, imagine if you’re hankering for some Thai food – do you really want to wait all the way to T? No, right? Having said that, I’ve also done French, Indian (and Italian), Japanese, Lebanese, Moroccan, Thai and Vietnamese so F, I, J, L, M, T and V are off the list too. Pretty good going :D

Day 62: Moroccan night

There are two Moroccan restaurants in Dublin city centre – perhaps the whole of Dublin, or Ireland even? – and since we had a farewell party in mind, we went to Dada on South William St. I’ve been to El Bahia on Wicklow St once a few years back and it just wasn’t too spacious. Our group was initially meant for 12, then 14 plus a baby, add another, minus another (sort of). And the baby was a real angel all through the evening.

We started with a selection of appetisers to share, which included grilled merguez (I <3 merguez) among the 6-7 items on the plate. For my main, I chose the lamb tagine which was generous in portion and I couldn't quite finished. With a bit resting time, I was then ready again for dessert, when which we were served a selection of sweet pastries and ice cream, complemented with Moroccan mint tea. A big massive thank you to all my friends who made it out for the evening for my going-away do (and the lovely presents). It does make it so hard to imagine leaving them in mere few days from now.

Day 58: Lunch @ Roly’s

Roly’s is a place pretty close to my heart. Situated in Ballsbridge, it was here where many a celebration have take place, from first day of college to birthday parties to no-excuse-needed “just because” meals with family and friends. However, since the departure of the Chef Patron Colin O’Daly, I haven’t been to the restaurant. With my imminent leaving on the card, why not a going-away meal there?

I was mildly surprised at the changes the place have undergone. There’s now a more informal cafe on the ground floor, with table service as well takeaway option of ready-made meals. The space upstairs remains reserved for restaurant service, with menu that hasn’t changed too much over time. The prices also remained of good value.

The food portion at Roly’s has always been on the generous side – methinks this is one of the winning factors for many customers – but this visit, I found it simply too much for me and my dining companions. However, the tragedy, in our opinion, came in the form of desserts. If you know me, you know I love my sweet course. Does this make me hard to please? Maybe. This is what we found. The Pavlova pillow was saccharine beyond words, the Paris-Brest heavy, and the pear and almont tart barely got a couple of bites out before being abandoned. Ooops…

Day 12: Breakfast, not at Tiffany’s

The phone started buzzing early in the morning. It was my aunt, and the next I knew, I have an invitation to (free) breakfast. Yay! We went to Donnybrook Fair on Morehampton Road. The restaurant sits above the food grocer and deli of the same name, accessible via a spiralling staircase near the main entrance. I can’t think of a better start to the day with an order of Eggs Florentine and a glass of smoothie.

I admit it, I am a fan of Donnybrook Fair. They have delicious fresh ready-to-eat meals over at the deli, they stock a good range of organic produce and products, they sell goodies not found elsewhere in the city (Amedei chocolate immediately springs to mind) and they also run cooking and wine tasting classes. It’s an enviable playground for a foodie.

To top it all, the restaurant serves great seasonal food. Sure, buying at the grocer and/or deli comes with a price tag that may not suits all (look out for their frequent promotions to get better value of your Euros), but the menus of the restaurant are fairly priced for Dublin. I’d highly recommend it.


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