Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Vegetarian - friendly Paris restaurants, take 2

Since my January post listing restaurants in Paris that can accomodate vegetarians was quite popular, here are a few restaurants I've been to lately where I found good vegetarian choices:

Le Chalet d’Avron

108, Rue de Montreuil


Tel : 01 43 71 18 62

This Savoyard restaurant is perfect for catching the tail end of winter. You can easily forget that you didn’t ski in, sitting at the rustic wooden tables and gazing around at the walls which are decorated with what is either old mountaineering equipment or creative torture devices. How did people ever manage to ski on thick wooden skis with rusty metal bindings for more than 5 minutes without killing themselves, I wonder?

Each table comes equipped with a hot plate in the middle for your fondue or raclette to stay nice and bubbling warm. We chose the traditional fondue and it was delicious, with just the right amount of kirsch to give it a nice kick, and perfectly seasoned day-old bread to dip in it.

Apparently the tradition is that if you lose your bread in the fondue pot, you have to perform one dare of your dining partner’s choosing. Better order some wine too, for liquid courage.

Tart’ Arts

36, rue de Berri


01 42 25 02 76

After all that cheese, you’re going to need some health food, stat. Tart’ Arts is a lunch place with delicious salads – or “coupes de fraicheur”, as they call them. There’s the traditional goat cheese one, plus a dried fruits and nuts one, a blue cheese one – I’d say there are at least 5-6 veggie salads to choose from, and some of these are even vegan. There are also veggie tarts (see name of restaurant) but I haven’t made it past the salad section of the menu yet. That’s because they sprinkle something on some of the salads called “levure de bière” that I think may translate to English as “crack cocaine.”

Apart from the confusion caused by actually having a big choice of what to order (something I’ve lost the habit of since becoming a Paris veggie), the only problem with this place is that you have to either not mind cigarette smoke (choose the ground level), or not be claustrophobic (tell them you’re a non-smoker and you get thrown in the dungeon – the underground non-smoking cave where the noise and tight spaces are hard to handle).

Le Basilic

33 , Rue Lepic


Tel : 01 46 06 78 43

It took Irene, Culinary Mike and me a long time to work up the nerve to try this place – could somewhere this adorable in such a touristy neighbourhood actually be any good? There’s ivy growing all up the side of this medieval-looking auberge perched on a little hill on Montmartre’s rue Lepic. Why would they bother to actually cook well when they have ivy?

We finally tried it, and it was really very good. "Irene the brave," tired of our hesitation, had gone in earlier that day and talked with a woman who, with a menu in one arm and a baby in the other, explained clearly and patiently which dishes were suitable for vegetarians. There were many appetizers to choose from (the best was the pumpkin soup, hold the bacon), and for a main dish there was a delicious comté and tomato ravioli with pine nuts. Desserts were great too – if you eat chocolate mousse (and I admit I do, I can’t help myself, although it’s a bit flaky-vegetarian of me), you should definitely try theirs.


5, Place Victor Hugo


Tel : 01 44 17 91 92

Dining at the Convivium is kind of like being at the World Showcase part of Epcot center – it’s a bright and shiny, expensive and over-the-top Americanized vision of dining in Italy - which is a strange thing to come across in France. The food is good but full of fat, the portions are huge, and I’m not sure the staff at this restaurant actually speaks Italian, but they do know how to say “Buongiorno” and “Prego”, and they repeat these words ad nauseum.

Like at any Italian restaurant, there are tons of choices for vegetarians. The real gem here though is the dessert – and my nemesis - the strawberry tiramisu. It’s basically a giant plate of gloop with fresh strawberries on top. It’s very similar to a strawberry shortcake but with less cake and more cream. There’s no coffee in it, and it’s woefully delicious.

This is a favorite place for business lunches – it’s overpriced (around 25 euros a person for lunch not including wine) so if you’re going to go it’s best to let a multinational company pay for your meal there if one is willing to do so.


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