A Tale of Two Restaurants
Post by Frank Cierpial
There exists a condition that I have read a lot of articles on, it is not a fatal condition, but it is fatal to one’s idealistic and unrealistic views about Paris. Most people, who come here, come here with a lot of preconceived notions about what they will find once they get to The City of Lights. As they walk through the cobblestone streets and glance at the beautiful roman architecture, they stumble upon a Starbucks with a line out the door. They don’t really think much about it and they move on, then they stumble upon the infamous McDonalds that sits in the Louvre that I have yet to see, and they start to feel the first impact of their crushed dreams. Then, they stumble upon American Restaurants with American people working there and that is it, Paris has gone from being the most beautiful city in the world to being the city lacking authentic charm.
The truth is that Paris is a big multicultural city with many people who live here and many different cultures and types of cuisine, and the truth also is that Paris is what you make of it. From the music to the art, cinema and fashion, to the way of living and the cuisine, Europeans and most of the world actually are fascinated with what the French do. So let’s explore this truth that Paris is a multi-cultural city in which you make it what you want.
I was lucky, the first time I came to Paris; I knew nothing about the city. All I knew was the Eiffel Tower, I knew nothing of what it was going to be like or what I was going to see. It turned out to be the best way to discover the city of light : as a clean slate. But most people including Parisians don’t view Paris through my unique lens. So, I would like you all to read this article with an open mind. In this world an open mind is the most important thing to have, but I do encourage first time visitors to go out and get a taste of the French cuisine.
Bontà – 10, rue de l’Isly – 75008 Paris – 01 42 93 50 19
This story begins near the Saint Lazare train station in the ninth. A new restaurant called Bonta was open and ready to cut you a fresh slice of Roman style Pizza. Of course, Prete-Moi Paris wanted to get a taste of it, so I went and I was very happy with what I got.
The place was very well decorated with a very modern feel. They have a variety of beverages from a variety of different kinds of beers, to wine, to a plain coke. The man who owns the restaurant is Franco-Italian, in my opinion a rare, but very wonderful breed of man and he knows both cultures very well, and is therefore able to make a perfect blend in a Pizza place in the ninth. Stay with me guys, we didn’t even get to the Pizza yet, now, I’m an Italian American. And although, there is definitely a part of me that identifies with the French people, there is a huge part of me that identifies with Italians. I spent an entire month in Florence last year, where I was taking a long awaited tour of the Pizza places there, so I am a reliable source. This is good Pizza! There is a long spectrum of tastes and flavors from sauce to cheese to ham to the crust. I strongly suggest that you give Bonta a shot when you’re in Paris, after you have tried the local French cuisine.
3 rue Sainte Marthe, 75010 Paris
Now, I generally do not try to choose favorites, but they just come to me, it’s not my fault! And, my favorites (like SLY bar) are usually chosen by the people who run them. The next place I have to tell you about is one of my Paris favorites. Without a doubt.
It sits on Rue Saint Marthe in the tenth (a second location), and is on a quaint little Parisian street. It is called Hutch Hotdogs. Hutch Hotdogs also has a modern feel, which we owe to its artist Gino Bud Hoiting. The walls of Hutch Hotdogs will make your eyes dance around the walls in complete harmony. It is almost like being in a fun art museum while eating hotdogs.
Now normally, I do not like hot dogs, I never did. Yes, I am a red blooded American Boy who does not like hot dogs everybody, voilà. But, to my complete shock, I loved this hotdog. It could probably eat one for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and maybe dessert. You get a variety of different toppings that make the taste of the hotdog better than any other I have ever had in the states (on the rare occasion I was forced to eat one).
The manager is the sweetest man you will ever want to meet and made a serious effort to talk to everybody at the opening. Normally at inaugurations like these the managers play a game of find-the-publication-that-gets-the-most-viewers and blow off blogs like us with two words or a smile, a nod and a “Bonjour”. But not this hot dog dude! I got an entire conversation out of this man and a picture.
I also met new friends Lucie and Arnaud who are two wonderful Journalists in Paris. We had an amazing time, sitting outside, talking, eating hot dogs, it was the best. It was so good that I stayed until the restaurant closed which means…
…I get to tell you about the dessert that I got! They have a variety of different American desserts like doughnuts, which can be a little hard to find in Paris, cookies, and ice cream with even more toppings.
It was a fantastic evening, filled with fun food, and awesome people, I cannot thank them enough for their contribution to Paris.
So, if you guys can’t tell there is a theme to this article. Paris is not perfect. Nothing is. She can only be what she is and nothing more. That means that you’re experience in Paris whether you’re studying abroad, or just coming to see the city is up to you and nobody else. Don’t be disappointed by American culture influencing her, try to look at it through her point of view, because it is not the same point of view as it is in America. Don’t let fantasy spoil your experience with Paris. That is not fair to you or to her. It’s true, 18th century France is long gone, but France is still great. There are new splendors to be discovered here and these are just a few. By coming here with preconceived notions and a closed mind, you are only destroying your own experience in Paris. Love her for who she is, not what you want her to be.