French restaurants have always been de rigueur in London, but this gastronomic relationship has never really been reciprocated on the other side of the channel. However the recent openings of a few great British cafes in Paris have confirmed a new culinary trend: English food is now all the rage in the City of Light.
It all started with Rose Bakery -- the bastion of the UK cafe scene in
Paris -- which kicked off the trend for casual, homely fare with a British
accent back in 2002, when their first branch opened in the south Pigalle area (46 rue des Martyrs, 9e, 01-42-82-12-80). Using organic and locally sourced ingredients
wherever possible, the menu features innovative salads, seasonal tarts, cheese
scones and even boiled eggs with marmite soldiers. The cafe was such a success
that a Marais outpost opened in 2008 (30 Rue
Debelleyme, 3e, 01-49-96-54-01) - and somewhat ironically, there is now
even a branch in London.
Le Bal Cafe (6 Impasse de la Défense, 18e,
01-44-70-75-51) is a recently opened English eatery attached to the
cultural centre Le Bal. With two ex-Rose Bakery chefs in the kitchen,
it's no wonder that top-notch traditional British fare is the order of the day
here. The casual
setting on a quiet mews attracts the weekend crowds for its traditional British
lunch classics, including kippers on
lunch and kedgeree. It’s also a great place for tea and scones --
or Stilton and sherry -- after a wander around the latest exhibition at Le Bal.
Marcel (1 Villa Léandre, 18e, 01-46-06-04-04) is one the latest Anglophile additions to the capital,
offering simple British-inspired fare and selling a selection of imported
goodies such as Marmite and golden syrup. The small and sleek corner space gets
packed out quickly at weekends, drawing in locals with classics such as fish
and chips or a full English breakfast.
Although they might attract the odd homesick expat hankering after some Marmite
on toast, these English cafes in Paris are primarily filled with a cosmopolitan
crowd and are embraced by locals to the point where it’s hard to get a table at
the weekend. What’s more, the food is so good that tourists - even those on a
weekend break from London - should put them on their list of places to visit while
Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes unlockparis.blogspot.com.