Wed 26 Sep 2012
15, rue Desnouettes, in the 15th Arrondissement.
01 48 42 95 90. Lunch and dinner Tues–Sat.
I love tapas. I don’t know if that means I’m a bit fickle, since I’d rather eat a little bit of everything than one of the same thing in any restaurant in Paris—or in or out of Spain, for that matter. I prefer to think it means I love food so much that I want to sample as many different things as I can. Whether you’re fickle or not, Afaria offers a perfect dining experience with a Basque-inspired tapas menu.
Afaria arrived in Paris long before the popular tapas restaurant Dans Les Landes was even a thought. In fact, Julien Duboué is the man behind both restaurants, but it all began with Afaria in 2007.
We were a group of 10 and thus able to reserve the high-top table that takes over most of the front room near the bar. Tables dot the sidewalk outside on a nice day, and a full restaurant sits in back, where you can order from a bistro menu. But the 10 of us were in for the 38-euro tapas menu, which includes a choice of mains and desserts.
Chipirones (baby squid).
The tapas came out at a good pace with nice presentation. There was soft, thinly sliced ham peeking out of a wooden shoe. Next came crispy fried-fish croquettes, which were salty and crunchy and a nice companion to our white sangria. A second wooden shoe brought more fried fun with chipirones, or baby squid, lightly battered and fully delicious. A fluffy Spanish omelet was delivered with a fresh drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of green onions on top. The delicately cooked duck hearts (passed up by a few people too nervous to try) were tender and served in a garlicky persillade that had me fighting for bread to dip in the luscious sauce.
The main most people went for was the magret de canard, which is presented as a large rack in a long wooden serving plate, smoke still wafting. I’ve had this duck at Dans Les Landes and it’s well worth it, but the Thai shrimp salad was the other choice and a new addition I was keen on trying. The salad included well-dressed greens, carrots and grilled shrimp in a tangy sauce that left me content while my comrades tore at the duck on the table.
My dessert of rice pudding was a sort of do-it-yourself setup, with small saucepans of rather liquidy pudding served alongside miniature pitchers of supersweet caramel sauce. It was all a bit too much for me. The cheesecake turned out to be the winning dessert. It came in a mason jar with a crumbly crust bottom, nearly airless cheesecake in the middle and a fresh peach layer on top.
My fickle self will always be happy eating in a place like this.
In a nutshell: Come to Afaria with a group ready to sample and share a variety of unique and flavorful Basque-inspired tapas.
Price check: Lunch and dinner menus up to 38 euros each; individual small plates, 7–22 euros.
If you like the sound of Afaria but want your tapas in the 5th, try Julien Duboué’s other tapas spot, Dans Les Landes. Read the review.
Dans Les Landes
119 bis, rue Monge, in the 5th.
01 45 87 06 00. Tues–Sat, noon–11 p.m.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable Paris trips.