With fantasy and decadence brimming across each arrondissement, Paris is home to culinary experiences that are alone enough to plan a holiday for. Chef Alex Sanchez, who recently visited the city of haute couture and haute cuisine, shares his recommendations of dishes and their corresponding restaurants to try for a true Parisienne immersion.
Chef Alex Sanchez is the culinary extraordinaire who has been making ripples in India’s foodscape for over a decade now. Having trained in Michelin-star restaurants around the world, Alex now runs South Mumbai’s go-to hotspot for American-Italian cravings- Americano.
From restaurants of the moment to fromageries that serve the most delectable selection of cheeses- eat your way through Paris with recommendations from Chef Alex Sanchez.
Baba au Rhum - Café Lignac
Cyril Lignac has reached near mythical status with his legion of followers and an empire of gastronomical outposts. Whether you’re eating his textbook perfect kouign-amanns and baguettes or one of his intricate signature pastries (the Equinoxe is not to be missed), it doesn’t take long to see why he draws such huge crowds. At his small café in the 7th, he is serving the city’s best Baba au Rhum. The baba is available for takeaway at all of his pâtisseries across town, but here in the 7th, they pile the whipped cream as high as the Eiffel Tower.
Rice Pudding - L’Ami Jean
Pull up a seat (if you’re lucky enough to score one), close your eyes, and point to anything on the menu. Whatever you choose, chances are you will be eating some of the best food in Paris. Chef Stéphane Jégo makes his presence known on the plate and in the tightly packed dining room where his cooking can be witnessed (and heard no doubt) from the open kitchen. Chef Sanchez ate some of the most delicious mackerel with asparagus during his last visit, but Jégo food is so seasonal that you probably won’t see that when you eat there. What you will see, and what you must not miss under any circumstances, is the ethereal riz au lait (rice pudding). You’ll be stuffed to the gills by the time dessert comes around, but that won’t (and shouldn’t) stop you from eating every drop of one of the most memorable desserts on the planet.
Oysters - Sur Mer
To say Chef Olive Davoux is passionate about seafood would be an unfortunate miscalculation--she is an extremist. Her daily changing menu highlights the most pristine, sustainably sourced seafood in Paris. “The oysters she served me were no less than the best I’ve ever eaten, and I recommend ordering them only because I am confident, they will be on the menu when you dine at Sur Mer. But, don’t stop there. Order one (or two) of everything and know that you are in good hands.” Her stylish and confident cooking brings out the best in each ingredient, but she also knows how to use restraint when the product is perfect enough in its natural and raw form.
Black Mullet Ceviche & Maple Syrup Tart - Clamato
The casual sibling to Septime, one of Paris’s most renowned dining rooms, Clamato serves creative share plates inspired by the sea. The menu changes as frequently as the tides, but there are some dishes which stick around long enough to become favourites. Take for instance their black mullet ceviche with chipotle, a dish that Chef Sanchez has fallen in love with on many occasions. Then there is the maple syrup tart. Topped with a generous spoonful of lusciously soft whipped cream, this is a dessert so simple and so perfect you wish it never ended.
Cheeseburger - Dumbo
There are a lot of burgers out there, but none are as fine-tuned as Dumbo’s. The smashburgers that they have become famous for are absolutely pitch-perfect. From the juicy-crispy beef patty that seems to defy the laws of physics to the perfect cheese-to-meat ratio, this may actually be Chef Alex’s favourite burger ever. Do yourself a favour and eat the burger as soon as it is prepared to experience the perfectly toasted bun and to fully appreciate the contrast of textures that have been so beautifully orchestrated.
House-Made Sausage - Robert
To Alex, Robert exemplifies all of the things that make Paris one of the most exciting food cities in the world. Chef Daniel Morgan’s vegetable-focused cooking is inventive, exciting, and fearless. During Alex’s last visit, they served a single nightly prix fixe menu with two options: a delicious house-made sausage and a meat course (the main course is otherwise vegetarian or vegetable-based). He ordered both. As of May 17th, they are returning to an a la carte format. The one thing that will no doubt remain constant is the superior quality of the food and the expert service team (you will need them on your side if you have any hope of navigating the extensive list of natural wines).
Fondue - Pain Vin Fromage
Fondue. What more need we say?
Step 1) Prepare a bubbling cauldron of delicious cheesy goodness.
Step 2) Select your accoutrement (bread, vegetables, meats).
Step 3) Bathe accoutrements in hot cheese and devour without hesitation.
Note- There is a lot of cheese in Paris, and it’s hard to go wrong, truth be told. But if you are looking for the Mount Olympus of cheese experiences, look no further.
Xiao Long Bao - Gros Bao
“My love affair with xiao long bao (soup dumplings) goes back to the famous dim sum houses of San Francisco where I first learned to carefully coax out the ripping hot soup before biting into the center of the dumpling- lest I be blistered from tongue to palate”. Since then, Chef Alex has traveled the world seeking out the makers of the soupiest soup dumplings. Nothing is more disappointing than discovering that the meaty broth leaked out during cooking, or worse, that there was never enough to begin with. “My first bite at Gros Bao was nothing short of an epiphany. My eyes became wide, and a smile washed over my face: never, before or after, had I eaten a xiao long bao with so much delicious soup inside.”