dish with pomegranates & fennel flowers

Paris food & wine: south 11th – Séptime

On the rue de Charonne, in the backstreets of Paris’ 11th district, just north of the Gare de Lyon, is a cluster of four extraordinary places to eat and drink: Séptime, Clamato, Tapisserie and Séptime La Cave.

All four places are owned and run by Betrand Grébaut and Théo Pourriat, The duo sparked a revolution in the Paris restaurant scene when the opened Séptime in 2011, fusing emotion with simplicity and opening in the gritty, eastern part of Paris.

Séptime has one Michelin star; Clamato is the more casual seafood neighbour, with space at the bar for if you’re eating solo; across the road is Tapissierie for some of the best pastries and coffee in Paris; and around the corner is Séptime La Cave for natural wine, cheese and charcuterie.

Tapisserie in the 11th arrondissement

Cake at Tapisserie

With room only for a couple of stools by the door, Tapisserie may be tiny, but the cakes pack a taste bomb punch and the music elevates the spirits. It’s about seasonal ingredients (thyme & verbena in November), inventive combinations (espelette pepper & orange), and only a sprinkle of sugar. Most people do takeaways. The coffee is also good… from L’Arbre du Café (see my post on Silicon Sentier in the 2nd arrondissement).

A second Tapisserie has since opened in the more chichi 5th arrondissement, near the Tour Eiffel, where there’s plenty of space to sit. They also do savoury takeaways – quiches and sandwiches, for example – perfect for eating on the Eurostar back to London.

Breakfast at Tapisserie: my first experience was a Mezcal baba with espelette pepper & orange and a Pear tartelette with light thyme & verbena cream. When I returned in November 2022 it was the above. The pastry was sublime.

Clamato for seafood & joy

If you can’t get a seat at Séptime, you can always wash up at its more relaxed neighbour, Clamato, a seafood restaurant open every day and almost all day.

It’s a must-have address in a city where so often things are closed at weekends or on holidays. Hence why I ate there twice in November 2019 when I was grappling with how to eat and work the not-so-social hours at the Paris Photo art fair.

Dishes that I ordered included: Mesclun, pear, haddock & hazelnuts; Strips of yellow plaice from Noirmoutier with pomegranate & fennel (main image); Squid from Oléron with pepper & pickled grapes; and Roast ceps with fig-leaf sabayon. For the wines, I went for a white Burgundy by Julien Guillot and Le Blanc de la Fosse Vineuse by Thierry Hesnault.

Dish of food, Clamato, Paris
Squid from Oléron with Pepper & Pickled Grapes
Table by window, Clamato, Paris
The back of Clamato looks over a rustic courtyard garden

In the family – Le Servan in 2019

At the time of my visit to Paris in November 2019, a trend had taken hold in New York of ordering a few dishes in one restaurant and then moving on to the next to order a few more. So, with this in mind, during one of my visits to Clamato, I ordered two dishes there and then moved on to Le Servan – run by Bertrand’s wife Tatiana – to follow on with another two.

Le Servan is a 15-minute walk north from rue de Charonne, up the back streets and towards the northern end of Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s a place for more hearty courses and more pepper and spice. Like at Clamato, I sat at the bar. Everyone from the neighbourhood seemed to be there.

I started with Mussels with pepper & Thai basil, and then moved on to Artichoke with Tandoori cream (see image below). Once I had peeled off and eaten the artichoke leaves, the heart was taken away to be re-served with red pepper and chives.

Artichoke, Le Servan, Paris
Artichoke with Tandoori Cream
Arthichoke heart, Le Servan, Paris
The artichoke heart re-served with pepper and chives
Flowers, Le Servan, Paris
Wild on flowers

After Le Servan, I walked to Bastille, stopping off to buy granola and bread at Ten Belles Bread, which supplies many a top restaurant in the neighbourhood.

I also could not help but marvel at the industrial architecture of the 11th arrondissement – once full of small factories, and now home to some of the city’s finest eating places.

Boutet facade, Paris
The Maison Boutet in the 11th arrondissement once imported exotic wood. Then it made chocolate. Now it is a five-star hotel.

For next time: the final venue in the Séptime stable is D’Une Ile, a 17th century stone guesthouse set in eight hectares of field and forest in the Perche natural park, two hours west of Paris.

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