Le Grand Bain
When people ask me about restaurant recommendations and my favorite restaurants, Le Grand Bain has been one of the top 3 for the entire year. Most visitors won’t find it in a guide book, and I think it still classifies as a somewhat hidden gem.
The chef, Edward Delling-Williams, used to be the head chef at Au Passage (another favorite), so it’s not all that surprising that it would become a new favorite, considering the cooking style. Belleville is a bit of a trek for most visitors, but it definitely classifies as off the beaten path, non-touristy, and worth the hike. It’s a perfect example of the kind of restaurant that makes eating in Paris fun and exciting – really good seasonal cooking, a menu that’s always evolving and changing, and a laid-back atmosphere, run by people who are passionate about what they do.
I love the atmosphere, whether it’s in the middle of winter with everyone inside ordering warm plates and wine to stave off the cold, or in the summer, when the facade of the restaurant opens completely to the street and you can sit at tables outside. The bar is a great place for solo diners as well.
The wine list is filled with interesting natural wines, they make their own bread, and the menu is full of surprises each time, according to what’s in season, so just go for what looks good to you.
Here are the kind of dishes you can expect to find.
When summer swings around, you’ll find light & bright dishes that are flavorful and fresh.
Peaches, roasted red peppers, and creme fraiche
Yellowtail tartare with fennel, crispy pork skin, and fresh herbs
Juicy, buttery, herby Razor clams in broth (to be soaked up by the house-made delicious crusty bread)
Pillowy pan-seared gnocchi and escargots, which should live permanently on the menu.
A fresh salad of melon, cucumber, greens, and black sesame. Perfect on a hot day.
Fall-apart tender braised rabbit leg
I wish I could say that I had a photo of dessert, but I ate it too quickly. Live in the moment, amIright?
The outdoor seating fills up during summer evenings, so reserve ahead if you want a coveted outdoor table.
In the winter, when it starts getting dark at 4:30pm, you’ll find some warm comfort foods on the menu.
Like these ridiculously delicious and golden deep fried rectangles of mashed chick peas. It was like giant steak fry cubes but better. Not to be ignored is its neighbor, scallop crudo. Fresh, light, sweet, and a perfect balance to the heavier fries.
Or this lovely lamb consomé with tender pieces of lamb and spinach farfalle.
Fresh brussels with ricotta, hazelnuts, and herbs
Rabbit à la moutarde (that’s a mustard sauce, for the non Frenchies)
Or even shnitzle – a deep fried pork cutlet with a light and herby potato salad – channeling German comfort food.
If I wasn’t fully tuned into Brillat Savarin before, I certainly am now. This is the butter of cheese. It is glorious. I will not share it with anyone.
And then the desserts. Because I fully believe that there is always room for dessert. A decadent chocolate tart with cold iced milk granita shavings, poached pear crumble, and a classic Ile Flottant (lightly toasted soft meringue floating in creme anglaise).
The food is lovely, and like many restaurants, the ambiance counts big time. Le Grand Bain is perfect for dinner with friends, sharing bottles and plates, and keeping an eye on what’s happening in that semi-open kitchen. It’s an absolutely reliable go-to where you know you’ll have great food and a fun evening while out in Paris.
Not only does it have a neighborhood feel (read: non-touristy), it’s open every night. So on Sundays and Mondays when everything else is closed, this should be your go-to. Reserve early though, because it fills up.