Vivant

43 Rue des Petites Écuries, 75010 Paris

I spent two consecutive nights at Vivant. The first, awkward—with no reservation, we sat outside at a high top to have a snack and spend three jetlagged hours eating small plates and drinking natural wines. We secured a "reservation" at the bar (there's pretty much only a bar) the next day at 5:30 (in Paris, the "come in before dinner starts" reservation).

At the time, Vivant barely had a kitchen: a hotplate behind the bar was the main heat source as far as I could tell. Chef Pierre Touitou cooked up small plates with all kinds of flavour profiles. He tested a "lettuce dish", reduced lettuce in butter. It wasn't the best, but he asked for the input, and we mutually decided it tasted like over steamed Chinese vegetables.

But enough storytelling. The place, like so many I love in Paris, is small and magical. Pierre is swashbuckling and charming, and his staff is kind but firm. You'll spend more than you expected, but the prices are reasonable, and the wine pairings are great. They are renovating, so who knows what you'll find when you visit, but if it has the same spirit and warmth, this is a must visit.

St. John Bread and Wine

Del Cielo