17 Nov Clamato: an unexpected journey in Paris
That time of year came round again: Paris Photo in November. My aim and my desire was to eat at Septime, No 15 in the ranking of the world’s top restaurants and tucked away in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, between Bastille and Père Lachaise. Like in life, I was a wave in an ocean, and that ocean washed me up not at Septime but next door, at Septime’s little sister restaurant, Clamato.
Don’t get me wrong. Eating at Clamato saved me a lot of money, the music flowed, and so did the food and wine, yet how I hankered after one of those two seats by the bar and in front of the window at Septime. That is now for my next visit to Paris.
Sometimes things in life don’t turn out as you want them to. Open yourself to the flow, and life can be just as enjoyable, if not more. My mind says ‘control’, ‘control’, ‘control’ – that is what I was taught – my heart says ‘let go’, ‘let go’, ‘let go’.
What I ate and drank at Clamato
Clamato is a seafood restaurant. It is open every day and almost all day – a must-have address in a city where so often things are closed because of weekends or holidays. Like Septime, it is about small producers, local and seasonal, with ingredients given a new twist by innovative chefs.
Across the road to Séptime Cave à Vins
Across the road is the Septime Cave à Vins. I wanted to buy a bottle of Le Blanc de la Fosse Vineuse by Thierry Hesnault, from the Loire, but the cave was closed on both Monday and Tuesday, the two days when I was in the area. Peeping through the window, the menu of cheeses and saucisson to accompany the wine looked good.
I heard about this trend in New York… a few dishes in one restaurant and then a few more in another. A practice that recalls going for tapas in Spain, with the difference being that in New York you sit down, while in Spain you stand up. With this in mind, on my second day in the 11th arrondissement, I had two dishes in Clamato and then moved on to Le Servan for another two.
Now, the chef at Septime is Bertrand Grébaut, a former graffiti artist who honed his culinary skills with Alain Passard at L’Arpège. Bertrand’s wife Tatiana and her sister, meanwhile, have opened Le Servan, a 15-minute walk up the back streets and towards the northern end of Père Lachaise, the famous Parisian cemetery.
At Le Servan, the style is totally different: a place with more hearty main courses, fewer oysters – Clamato, being a seafood restaurant, offers plenty of oysters – and much more peppery spice. Like at Clamato, I sat at the bar. A definite neighbourhood corner restaurant.
With a long evening of work ahead of me, two courses at Clamato and a glass of wine, and two starters and a coffee at Le Sevran worked perfectly. On my way to Bastille, I stopped off at Ten Belles Bread – the suppliers of bread to Septime and Clamato – to buy some morning granola and bread for my sandwiches.
I also could not help and marvel at some of the architecture in the 11th arrondissement.