Au Passage quickly rose to the top as one of my favorite restaurants in 2014 and has remained a steady contender ever since. Of course, I may never be able to remove cult favorite Chez l’Ami Jean from its post as my all time favorite restaurant, but I’ve definitely eaten at Au Passage more than any other restaurant in Paris.
And that’s saying a lot. KnowwhatI’msayin?
I eat a lot. That’s what I’m saying.
Au Passage gets the highest marks for all the things I cherish in a good restaurant experience. I’m not talking about a blowout special romantic Michelin-starred evening, but the place that you want to become your regular place.
Why I Keep Returning to Au Passage
1. High quality products
From meat to eggs to produce, it’s always fresh. I mean look at that table just loaded up with produce from the market.
2. A Frequently Changing Menu
One time I ate there for lunch and dinner on the same day, and when I told them I was coming back for dinner, they started remaking the menu for the night. Twice in one day, I would say, is pretty frequent. And impressive.
3. A Fun, Bustling Atmosphere
If you go on a Monday night, you’ll likely see many of Paris’ best chefs & sommeliers (the natural wine lovers in particular) on their night off. That’s a trade secret for chef lovers. There is something just casual and friendly and filled with anticipation here. It’s laid back but buzzing with energy, filled to the brim every night with clinking and laughter and conversation.
4. An Interesting Wine List
Mostly natural wine here, which is what all the cool kids are drinking these days. It’s a great list, with a number of very affordable options. Start with a bottle of pet nat, which always feel celebratory and festive, before moving onto a crisp mineral white, a fun interesting red, and then perhaps another red, because cheese.
5. Kitchen Aesthetics
Hey, it’s not a Michelin guide, it’s a list of things I like in restaurant. It just makes for the ultimate dining experience when the kitchen displays a certain aesthetic quality. Double points awarded to Au Passage for having more than one attractive chef, and an added bonus that a man bun was once involved. Those were the glory days.
When they redesigned the restaurant last winter, they created a barrier which prevents you from admiring within, probably because of creepers like me.
And the man bun, because I know you’re wondering, has long since been removed. A few years ago when I began frequenting Au Passage, I referred to then head-chef Edward as “Pirate Chef”, as seemed fitting. When I walked in one night to see the man bun removed, I exclaimed, “New haircut!”, and he replied, “I feel as though I’ve lost my super powers.” You have, Edward. You have.
He’s married now, with child, so just back off, ladies. That ship has sailed.
The pirate chef has sailed away from Au Passage as well, and opened his own restaurant, Le Grand Bain, in Belleville. You should probably reserve for 9 nights in a row as soon as you have the chance. That’s what I usually do.
I’m sorry, but doesn’t this lamb just take your breath away? I am breathless looking at this lamb. Out of breath. Heart struck. Cupid and me and this lamb.
Au Passage consistently delivers awesomeness, and consistency is important. You want to know you’ll get a good meal, especially if you have limited time in Paris.
You’ll find fresh, seasonal, small plates for the table to share, perfectly seasoned and always changing. You can come to Au Passage over and over, try loads of different things, and always get something new. That’s what makes dining at this restaurant a new and exciting experience every time, like going to a new restaurant but having a guarantee that you’ll like it.
I’m happy to report that even with Edward gone, Au Passage has maintained its integrity as a fantastic restaurant, just as it did when it transitioned from having James Henry (ex-Bones) as its head chef. The same manager that oversees this and its sister restaurant, Martin Boire et Manger, will keep things in tip top shape, as well as the team in the kitchen.
Bonus: Lots of restaurants produce great food, but Au Passage delivers great food and atmosphere for an incredible price value. Since it’s small plates to share from the big chalkboard, you can walk out paying 35-40€ per person with wine if you come with 4-6 people and share. Though when you do it right, ordering mostly everything, including doubles of your favorites and a few bottles, and of course ordering all the desserts, then sure, it can be a bit more. It’s up to you. Still, food this good food at that price is relatively impossible to find in Paris.
Ultra bonuses: You can reserve online, you can walk up late night to snag a table, and it’s open on Monday.
This is one of those places you always hope to stumble upon in Paris, the place where locals and foodies go. Anticipation builds as you walk down the narrow passageway, the glow of the restaurant illuminating the street, and you know you’re about to get lost in that fun hours-long dining experience of laughing with friends, trying new wines, and getting to share unique and well-prepared food.
The menu is written in French, but if you keep an open mind, you could point to just about anything up there and wind up happy as can be.