For those of us who don’t eat meat, or for those of us who just need a break from all the steak hâché and duck we have been eating in Paris, Le Potager du Marais, literally the Kitchen Garden of the Marais, offers organic vegetarian plates in the middle of a city whose café staples consist of steak tartar and foie gras.
With a small but inviting interior, you’ll feel cozy once you’ve settled in at your table squeezed right in between the French couple and the Japanese girls. Service is friendly but a bit bumpy due to the place’s popularity. Offering vegan as well as vegetarian options, one can choose rice, quinoa or potatoes to accompany most of the plates on the menu.
I went for the gratinée de legumes, which looked like lasagna, except that the layers were made of vegetables instead of pasta and meat. My husband tried a creamy mushroom and walnut compote served with stewed vegetables, which was more delicious than my choice. Both dishes were flavorful, and it felt good to eat vegetables instead of the usual meat and potatoes served in a Parisian bistro.
If you’re still feeling a tad hungry, or just need to satisfy your sweet tooth, cross the street and get in line with the sugar-crazed fans at Berko, an American-style cupcakes and cheesecake bakery.
In the case to the right, you will see the cupcakes. By American standards, these are mini cupcakes, all the better for sampling. With flavors like salted caramel butter, key lime, raspberry cream cheese, Nutella, litchi, lemon meringue, violet and even Smurf candy (schtroumpf Bonbon), you can literally taste the rainbow.
The artificial colors made the cupcakes look more like toys than food to me, so I chose my treat from the case on the left, cheesecake. Pecan, Mars bar, Oreo and Peanut Butter Swirl. Pumpkin, Tiramisu, Coconut Dulce de Leche. What to choose? I finally settled on the plain old cheesecake topped with red berries: strawberries, raspberries and tart little gooseberries. My husband knew just what he wanted: pecan cheesecake.
While I stood in line, he fought the crowd and found us a table outside so we could sit and enjoy our desserts. It truly tasted like Philadelphia cheesecake, as the brand claims. The tart berries perfectly balanced the creamy cake. I looked up to ask my husband how he liked his slice, but it had already disappeared.
For this vitamin-rich meal followed by a heavenly dessert, head to rue Rambuteau:
Le Potager du Marais
Vegetarian and Vegan cuisine
22 Rue Rambuteau
Original Homemade Pastries
23 Rue Rambuteau
Metro for both: Rambuteau, near the Centre Georges Pompidou
© 2012 Pasa’s Paris