Thursday, September 12, 2013
The French brasserie comes back from the dead: LAZARE, Paris
The brasserie is part of the world culinary consciousness. Synonymous with the Parisian restaurant scene, French institution has for years now fallen upon hard times, the remaining brasseries reduced to tolerable tourist traps full of loud Americans, or become gobbled up by companies not that different from fast food chains, indeed much of the food is mass produced and reheated to order in the remaining of these culinary dinosaurs. The overwhelming trend of the past decade or so having been in the smaller bistros of the city of light (bistronomy, tables d'auteur, etc), I think that the next trend might well be macro instead of micro: large, bustling easy and accessible places, where one can come any time of the day and eat something fresh and tasty, and I believe that LAZARE in the first of what will perhaps be the next restaurant revolution.
Lazare, located in the Gare Saint Lazare train station (the transport hub for his native Normandy), was opened a few days ago by Eric Fréchon, a chef who made his way from a small bistro in the 90's in a far-flung neighborhood near the park Buttes Chaumont to being a three star Michelin chef at Le Bristol in the space of a decade. His other restaurant, Mini Palais, the pleasant enough eatery located in the Grand Palais monument, is a good staple, but Lazare looks set to break some ground. The lofty brasserie has an open kitchen, center zinc bar and over 100 seats, and is open from 7:30 am until 11pm 7 days a week. You can come for breakfast, a plate of charcuterie (truffled Mortadella) and a glass of wine, or a full blown lunch and dinner. There are generous daily specials priced at under 20€ and a well curated selection of French comfort food favourites of all sort, and , sacre bleu!, friendly, professional service (most of the staff came from the Meurice, Bristol and 110 Taillevent).
A former two Michelin starred chef I knew, sitting at the counter eating a ham and baguette sandwich with a glass of rouge told me, "This isn't just a restaurant, this isn't just something new in the food world, it's a cultural change". Lazare hit all the right notes, and I'm inclined to agree. "I just want to do simple and honest dishes", Fréchon told me during a brief chat, "create a place for everyone to eat something good".