Each time a friend visits me in Paris, it makes me feel a little less far from home. Stopping back on the way home from their vacation in Italy, my best friend Alissar (who I’ve known for a whopping 21 years at this point) and my friend Kyle (whom I’ve also known for over ten years), spend two nights and a day in Paris with me to say hello. I think their business in Italy was somewhere along the lines of trading state secrets or some sort of large-scale criminal operation, and I suppose that they got engaged while over there just to distract us all from the real purpose of their trip:
Just kidding, they’ve been together for ten years and it’s the first of my close friends to be married and I can’t wait to celebrate with them. They’re the best! Mostly because they are always down to eat as much food as possible. Which brings me to the real purpose of this post:
Frenchie Wine Bar
Chef Gregory Marchand is at the forefront of the Paris food scene. He seriously shook things up five years prior with the opening of Frenchie, the 20-seat restaurant just across the street. While food in Paris is incredible, it’s also quite predictable. Nary the case at any of the three Frenchie-brand establishments, all placed right next to each other on the tiniest side street in the second arrondissement of Paris, Rue du Nil. This review is for the wine bar. The third outpost is Frenchie To Go.
Frenchie Wine Bar doesn’t take reservations, which means it fills up fast. I recommend to get there before it opens at 7pm, there will usually be a few people waiting already. It’s good to go early because you can sit and take your time for a few hours. Ambiance is glorious, especially in the summer when it’s all opened up. If you’re lucky, you’ll be seated at the table where you can see into the kitchen. Industrial and rustic, Frenchie Wine Bar would not be out of place in Brooklyn or the likes. The music doesn’t help the case; old school hip-hop is an expected listen while dining.
Wine is by the glass and bottle, and while a bit more expensive than your normal Parisian dig, there are delectable options for around 27-35 euros that hold up nicely to the richness and high caliber of the food. After toasting a bottle of champagne to the soon-to-be husband and wife, we opened a rioja that was so lush and full of flavor, but not before returning a previous bottle to a quite rude and snippity sommelier who was insisting that the horrible stench and aftertaste in our wine was “typical Cabernet.” He was quite insistent that we don’t return the wine but the four of us know bad wine when we taste it and luckily I have no problem being as forward as I need to be.
Aside from that small hiccup, we couldn’t have loved our entire meal more. The menu changes frequently, which I love for two reasons: the first is that I can come back each and every time for a new experience, and the second is that a changing menu is the mark of true ability in the kitchen. Not that there was any doubt about the abilities in this kitchen to begin with.
The menu holds all the things you want to see, but in the most unexpected and colorful ways. Favorites included royale de foie gras, mixed into a cream and served with apricots and almonds, white tuna tataki bursting with flavor and accompanied by cherries and tomatoes, so simple and fresh. I’m always in the mood for a burrata, and the squid ink tagliatelle with chorizo and octopus must be tried. Best of all, in my opinion, was the pig’s head, slightly smoky and gamey and mysterious but so soft and rich in flavor. It was covered in and balanced by a frothy sauce, and then speckled with crunchy bits of toasted buckwheat.
Side note: I’d like to see the buckwheat used in a dessert, I think that has major potential.
All in all, excellent service in French and English (menus as well), impeccable food, and a hip and casual ambiance makes Frenchie Wine Bar a must-try for locals and visitors alike. After all was said and done; champagne, red wine, 8 plates and a dessert was 49 euros each. This is the best meal I’ve had after one year in Paris. Afterwards we headed down with another champagne to sit along the Seine and take in the sights: It was a perfect way to show friends just one day in Paris.
Where: Rue du Nil, Paris 2. Metro 3, Sentier. Open daily at 7pm. | How Much: Figure 35-50 euros per person, including an abundance of food and drinks.