When it comes to restaurants, I'm not really that demanding. I want the basic ingredients to be seasonal and good. I want the cooking to show restraint: nothing puts me off more than an overly complicated plate. And I want the chef to have a heart that shines through in the food.
Sounds simple, right? Yet these three elements come together more rarely than you might think, even in Paris. That's why a recent meal at Pramil felt so refreshing.
I had walked past this bistro a few times on my way to my friend Paule's place in the fashionable northern Marais, and it seemed to have a nice buzz. I liked the understated elegance of the wood beams and white tablecloths, and the burly chef appeared to take his food seriously. The restaurant hadn't had a lot of press, but what I did find was positive. So I booked a table for a small group of friends, including Paule and Erica.
The short menu made an intriguing read with dishes like choux pastries filled with foie gras and cauliflower "cake" with pepper jelly. It's not easy to make cauliflower interesting and this dish succeeded with a texture that was somewhere between a cake and a terrine, and just the right dose of chili to lift the vegetable's bland sweetness. I could easily have polished off the two big slices if I hadn't been anticipating the main course.
Salmon rarely appears on my plate these days what with overfishing and other controversies, so when I do get a craving I don't fight it. Just as our waitress was beautiful without a trace of makeup, this dish made no apologies for its lack of frivolous garnish. A smear of tapenade, lightly crushed Pompadour potatoes topped with butter and parsley: this pale pink fish needed nothing more. (In case you're wondering about the word Pompadour, it's a waxy potato variety grown in Picardie which has a Label Rouge guranteeing its origin.)
I was too wrapped up in the conversation to pay much attention to other people's plates, but I did notice how Erica's slow-cooked lamb had collapsed into a delicious mass of shredded meat, its juices sopped up by a broccoli dariole (a kind of flan).
For dessert, chocolate and chili ice cream with passion fruit was no more and no less than what it claimed to be - not especially memorable, but a satisfying ending to a meal that tasted like very good home cooking and seemed reasonably priced at €30 for three courses. The burly chef did the rounds shaking hands, obviously proud to meet happy customers. Now, if only there were a restaurant like this in every French street.
Pramil, 9 rue du Vertbois, 3rd, 01 42 72 03 60.
9 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Sometimes the best things in life are the simpliest things in life. These dishes all look fabulous.
I'm also a Canadian from southern Ontario and my parents are from Italy. I'm married a German fellow and now we are living near Hamburg. My husband flies to Toulouse almost on a weekly basis for work and he says that's it's beautiful there. I hope to make my way to France one day, but I need to brush up I'm my French skills ... :-)
Take care, Rosa
Rosabela, you should accompany your husband sometime! Toulouse has an amazing market selling mostly meat and fish - such a contrast to Nice, where the focus is much more on vegetables.
Pramil is definitely a great find. For anyone who plans to eat there on a Friday or Saturday night, but sure to reserve because it's always full.
Booked to take 7 work colleagues here during a conference visit to Paris; looks great for me as a foodie but hoping won't be too 'novel' for me conservative English colleagues? What price is dinner menu?
Lyndsey, most of the dishes are actually quite straightforward, so I don't think it will be too novel for your colleagues! I can't remember the exact price of dinner but it was somewhere around 30 euros for three courses.
Hi, do you know if the restaurant has an email address or web page? I am from Costa Rica and we are planning a trip to Paris next december!
Hi Alberto, they don't have a website but you could call a few days before to reserve your table - I think it should not be a problem to do this in English. Have a great time!