Three-martini lunches were never a thing in Paris, but long, wine-soaked ones were. While lots of Parisian office workers still have a hot midday meal in a café or restaurant, many now grab a sandwich or salad for lunch, more often than not from a local bakery, where the choices are often limited to such unexciting choices as ham, chicken or tuna with lettuce and tomato on a baguette. As burgers and other American foods gain in popularity, and entrepreneurs realize there is gold in quick lunches, however, more and more creative options are coming onto the market.
Last week, in part one of this article, I started with Frenchie to Go, the best of those I tested while researching this article. This week, I will start with the only less-than-satisfying experience I had.
The takeout lunch spot Grillé, owned by Frédéric Peneau, formerly of Chateaubriand, had been ballyhooed as a deluxe kebab restaurant, so one rainy day I asked a friend to meet me there. I was late, but he was still waiting in a long, slow-moving line when I joined him. The total wait time turned out to be 40 minutes – how’s that for “fast food”? I felt really sorry for the office workers in that business-y neighborhood who were wasting their whole lunch hour standing in line.
While waiting, we worried about where we would eat our sandwiches when we finally got them. It was pouring outside, so there was no question of standing on the street, and both
small tables for two were occupied. Luckily, one opened up just as we were ordering, and we were able to grab it.
The kebabs (€8.50) are certainly made with quality ingredients, including meat (veal, lamb or pork on alternating days) from star butcher Hugo Desnoyer and wraps made with organic flour and spelt. Lunchers have a choice of a white sauce of fromage blanc and horseradish or a green sauce of green tomatoes, green peppers and sweet Sicilian onions. Sounds good, but the resulting sandwich, while tasty, was undersized and did not seem worth all the fuss – and certainly not the long wait.
Grillé: 15 rue Saint-Augustin, 75002 Paris. Métro: Quatre-Septembre. Tel.: 01 42 96 10 64. Open for lunch Monday-Friday. Closed Friday-Saturday.
I had much better luck at Jules et Shim. It’s almost as tiny as Grillé, with colorful, attractive graphics and three tables (plus some outside in nice weather), but the service is friendlier and far more efficient, and the meal far more satisfying. This is probably Paris’s only Korean takeout, or “Korean picnic,” as it bills itself, located in the bobo-ized area near the Canal Saint Martin. On the day I was there, there was a choice of marinated beef, spicy pork, curried shrimp or vegetarian. I had the pork. The ingredients of the meal, called bibimbap, or “mixed rice,” are usually mixed together, but here they are attractively served separately in a wonderful paper dish that opens up like a
Photos: Michael Sommer
flower. A mound of good Korean rice topped with sesame seeds sits in the middle, surrounded by helpings of meat, carrots, zucchini, sprouts and spinach. This is a great way to have a quick hot meal that is fresh, healthy and tasty. Soup and side dishes of kimchi are also available. For dessert I had a delicious white-chocolate cake.
Jules et Shim: 22, rue des Vinaigriers, 75010 Paris. Métro: Jacques Bonsergent. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Delivery service.
Another good option in the same neighborhood is Holybelly, a bobo hangout with super-friendly, English-speaking staff and lots of seating at a large shared table, on a sofa or in a couple of nice designerly zigzag booths for two at the front. The service is speedy, the music
loud, the customers young and the conversation arty and often in English. They are big on breakfast here, with porridge (€8.50), pancakes and bacon (€13.00), eggs with choice of sides (€12.50) and more. The lunch menu changes daily. I had a filling warm salad of potatoes, chickpeas, chorizo, poached
egg and Cantal cheese. Not cheap at €14.50, however. Those looking for something more reasonable might want to check out Bob’s Juice Bar down the street, which was offering rice and beans for only €6 that day.
Some of the restaurants we have already covered in Paris Update would fit into the category of slow fast food, among them Al Taglio, Candelaria, El Guacamole, Clasico Argentino, Blend, Sunken Chip and Lobster Bar. Also, branches of small chains serving decent lunch food are dotted all over town, among them Ari’s for bagel sandwiches (it’s not New York, but they are not bad and are made on the spot with fresh ingredients by friendly stuff). In the chic business quarters you’ll find such quality lunch spots as Cojean and Lina’s.Favorite