9, rue du Colisée, in the 8th Arrondissement. 01 53 75 42 00.
Open Mon–Fri, lunch, noon–2:30 p.m., dinner, 8–11 p.m.; Sat, lunch.
Among Paris restaurants, Caffè Burlot is absolutely not what you’d expect to find just steps from the international chain stores, tacky tripist shops and swarm of humanity filling the Champs Elysées. But turning the corner onto rue du Colisée and stepping into the eclectically vintage, midcentury Milanese decor of Caffè Burlot, a woman instantly feels slimmer and chicer, and expects Don Draper to come rushing suavely up the stairs to join her, hat in hand, trench folded over his forearm.
The hipster cool means there is no denying the touch of co-owner Thierry Costes, who, with his brother, rules an empire of some of the trendiest addresses in the city. Lately he has been interested in opening not just cool places but real restaurants with an exciting chef creating the menu. Thierry Burlot, Costes’s most recent partner and the chef at Caffè Burlot, is from Brittany, and has left the kitchens of le Crillon and Zebra Square to share his passion for Italian cuisine. He runs an extraordinarily tidy kitchen that insists on serving the freshest ingredients possible.
How fresh? Guests are invited into the kitchen to see the langoustines alive in their tank just moments before being perfectly cooked and served at the table. Other appetizers included some really exciting sea scallops with lemongrass broth that was so delicious I wanted to dive in. The pizzetta with mushrooms and a buffalo mozzarella served with preserved sun-dried tomatoes was good, yet I couldn’t remember the flavors a week later.
This was a ladies-who-lunch afternoon, and one of the ladies had been to Caffè Burlot just a week earlier, when a friend visiting from London insisted they try this address because she’d read it was fantastic. Our lady insisted on the spaghetti with tomato sauce, claiming it was so tasty that she’d been craving it for days. She was right. It was zesty and riddled with garlic. You don’t often get flavorful sauce like this in Paris, and it is served directly from its copper pan, piping hot and generously portioned. I went for the sea bass, which was laced with a decadent share of truffles. The veal meatballs my neighbor ordered were so good that she insisted I try one. Unfortunately, the pesto was something of a disappointment.
My ladies who lunch are also ladies who dessert. Some had the café gourmand, with a mille-feuille, panna cotta, caramel tart and lots of other goodies that were all a delight, and much more than even I could eat. My neighbor had the deconstructed tiramisu, a sublime stack of cookies and cream, the sauce apart, creating a bit of drama and keeping the biscuits from going all soggy. The final dessert was a mille-feuille, made unique with an addition of chocolate sauce.
In a nutshell: Fairly traditional Italian cuisine with good, fresh ingredients, served in a very hipster decor for a chic crowd.
Price check: Lunch menu at 29 euros; dinner menu at 42 euros.
If you like Caffè Burlot, you’ll also enjoy Olio Pane Vino. Read the review.
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Olio Pane Vino
44, rue Coquillière, in the 1st Arrondissement.
01 42 85 27 33. Open Tues–Wed, noon–2 p.m.; Thurs–Sat, noon–2 p.m. and 8–11:30 p.m.