THIS CAFÉ IS NOW CLOSED.
Brunch has never been my favorite meal in Paris. The French have a strange idea about what makes a good brunch: lots of different stuff, which might include an egg cooked one way or another, cold cuts, salad, salmon, meat, French toast or pancakes, muffins, orange juice, and coffee or tea.
My favorite brunch place for some time has been the Café Charlot, precisely because it offers an alternative to the hodgepodge brunch described above: eggs Benedict, proper brunch food.
Nevertheless, I decided to try the Sunday brunch at Café Pinson, an organic “vegan-friendly” vegetarian restaurant in the Marais, with a friend who was visiting from Northern California. And lo and behold, we found ourselves in a place that might have been transported from Berkeley, as she so astutely pointed out.
The brunch cost €25, the going rate, which I find a bit steep for what you get, although everything we had at Café Pinson was of the highest quality. We were immediately impressed by the butter flavored with almond and coconut oil, an unusual and extremely pleasing combination. Equally interesting
were the orange-kumquat jam and the homemade Nutella-like chocolate and hazelnut spread, served with a variety of good breads.
Next up was the “main course,” which consisted of an egg cooked at a low temperature – and a very fresh and flavorful egg it was indeed – with a distressingly large
quantity of roast potatoes and a salad of thinly sliced carrots, cabbage, cucumbers and radishes. I thought it was cheating a bit to fill us up on so many potatoes, but I have to admit that they were delicious, cooked to a tender turn in butter and paprika. The salad was healthy and very worthy. Accompanying them was another interesting invention: a savory madeleine made with smoked tofu. Very tasty.
Dessert consisted of soy yogurt with apple-pear compote and crunchy granola, plus two wonderful sweet madeleines, one made with
cinnamon (which I couldn’t really taste, but it was delicious anyway) and the other with hazelnuts.
Self-service drinks were coffee, tea and hot chocolate (the latter made with hazelnut milk; good but a little too watery to my taste).
The servers are young and friendly, and the setting is homey, fairly quiet and nicely decorated with tiled walls, sofas and little settees at some tables, Scandinavian chairs and a wooden counter that doubles as a display/storage case for dishes.
I enjoyed the fresh food with flashes of originality served at Café Pinson, but it hasn’t reconciled me to the Parisian-style brunch. I think I’ll stick to eggs Benedict.
Café Pinson: 6, rue du Forez, 75003 Paris. Métro: Filles du Calvaire. Tel.: 09 83 82 53 53. Open Monday-Friday, 9am-midnight; Saturday, 10am-midnight; Sunday (brunch only), noon-6pm. Second location: 58, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010 Paris. Métro: Poissonnière. Tel.: 01 45 23 59 42. Open Monday-Wednesday, 8:30am-7pm; Thursday-Saturday, 8:30am-midnight. Brunch: €25.
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