You love cheese; you are travelling to Paris, where should you go for a cheese dinner?
Paris is full of great cheese stores, food markets, gourmet stores, and farmer’s markets. However, it is not always convenient to buy large pieces of cheese in those places and find a place to eat them outdoors, especially if you are staying in a hotel and you don’t want to have a picnic on your bed.
The only option until now was to choose a typical bistro that had a cheese program. Still, even in the most recognized restaurants, cheese is an after thought and while the selections are normally decent, for those of us with a larger cheese appetite there was no real option. In recent months, this lack of cheese-centered places has been filled. Two new places have opened and they promise to stay for a long time.
The first place is L’affineur’ Affiné. It opened in early 2013 in the ninth arrondisement. This place is a cheese store in the front with a couple of tables at the back. The couple who runs this place is young, fun, and very knowledgeable. Matthieu is in charge of the cheese counter with a solid selection of French cheeses and some other European classics. Morgane is in charge of the kitchen, which serve simple French dishes featuring cheese and cheese free options. They have a daily special for dinner that it is prepared in-house (no frozen food here). The wine selection rotates, with very reasonable prices for bottles. Morgane and Matthieu are both fluent in English, Spanish, and French, they are serious, and their knowledge is obvious when explaining their cheeses, dishes, and wine.
L’affineur’ Affiné serves cheese boards with 3, 6 and 12 options, paired with jams and served with bread. The store opens everyday from 10:30AM to 8:30PM, and it is closed on Tuesdays. On Sunday, they open for a brunch with American dishes. Reservations are encouraged, but most weekdays it is possible to get a table before the dinner rush. L’affineur’ Affiné is located at 51 rue Notre Dame de Lorette, a couple of blocks from the Pigalle (lines 2 and 12) and Saint-Georges (line 12) subway stops. Their website has the most up to date info on opening hours and an online form to make reservations: http://www.laffineuraffine.fr
The second new comer is La vache dans les vignes. This store/bar opened in late 2013, in the very trendy eleven arrondisement. Located at 46 Quai de Jemmapes, it is a short walk from République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11) and Goncourt (line 11) subway stations. During spring and summer make sure to walk next to the canal and check out the farmer’s market every Friday morning. Two friends run this establishment with a focus on quality and simplicity. Marwen is in charge of an expertly sourced cheese counter, while Sélim has curated an impressive wine selection. The store functions as a cheese store during lunch, and it has a long communal table that becomes alive for dinner with young Parisians ordering cheese boards and wines by the glass. The boards are simple, serving only cheese and baguettes.
Marwen was trained as a cheese maker and then worked for four years in an affinage center in the city. He has combined that knowledge and is dedicated to finding unique producers and sourcing directly from the farms and some of the best affineurs. His selection is still growing, so make sure to ask for the new arrivals. The magic of this place is the great pairing recommendations. Marwen and Sélim are also fluent in English and French, and are happy to chat about their very interesting life journeys.
Another option in the city is the very cute upstairs cheese bar at Madame Hisada store in the first arrondisement* located at 47 rue de Richelieu, Pyramides subway stop (lines 7 and 14). This remains one of the most interesting cheese bars in the city and has been in operation for a long time. The store downstairs is like a small piece of Tokio, and they vacuum pack cheese for travel.
For more info and tips, you can contact me at @CarlosYescas on twitter or on FB.com/yescas