"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Le Grand Bain -- Restaurant Review

14 Rue Dénoyez, 75020 Paris
Metro: 2 (Belleville)
For reservations and operating schedule, check their website

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

3 - Stars....................................................€........................................................ 5 (bomb) - Bell
       (4-Stars for FOOD subtract 2-stars for atmosphere and add 1 star for service) 

NOTE: I struggled with the overall review of this restaurant because I truly loved the food. So, I will rate the food and atmosphere separately, and you can judge for yourself.

Our close friends invited us to dinner to the Belleville area of Paris. Belleville is the unofficial third Chinatown of Paris and is also where the young congregate because rents are cheap. It's also where many artists live because again rents are very inexpensive. It's a gritty, graffiti laden, vibrant area of Paris.

With that said, the minute I walked in it was buzzing with activity. In fact, so buzzing I couldn't hear a word anyone said. It's a small tight restaurants but they do have a bar counter you could sit at. I sat along the walk through, so I was none to happy because I kept getting bumped into. Not a good start.

This restaurant is really for about sharing, ala "tapas style".  Unfortunately, they didn't have any paper menus. They had a large menu as you see in this photo where we had to go stand next to it to see it. They did have a smaller board, but it appeared that it was being shared and it was nowhere to be found. But I will say it was a very exciting menu, very innovative.


1.  Gougères. There are usually two types of gougères, stuffed or a sort of bready type. This was the latter and it was moist with bacon and bacon fat. So, as its description, the pork flavor came out. The group loved it.

2.  Peas. The peas were a nice refreshing addition. Whole peas cooked perfectly atop pureed peas. It was flavored with roasted dill and had a few fava beans as well. Also a good dish.

3. Baby Shrimps. I loved this dish, little baby shrimps deep fried with a good helping of salt. You eat the whole shrimp, head and all. A simple dish, but delish.

4. Ris de veau (sweetbreads). This dish was delicious. Quite tender and succulent. What made this dish interesting is the sauce of pureed anchovies emulsified with an oil. Then to add sourness it was sprinkled with capers and topped with some dressed arugula.

5. Seiche (cuttlefish). The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly, and was served with just the yoke of and egg and what I believe to be pork fiber. Reason why I say I believe, I just bought a bunch when I was Taiwan a few weeks ago and it has the exact same flavor profile. It was a good interesting dish with a lot of different flavors and textures.

6. Asparagus.  The asparagus was perfectly cooked. It sat atop a cream cheesy sort of puree with large sliced raw mushrooms. I thought this was a good dish. But I don't think I've ever had sliced raw mushrooms in a warm dish like this, usually they're a little pan fried or grilled. None-the-less a good dish.

7. Panna cotta. Now this was an interesting dessert. One complaint about the dish, it tasted very glutinous. I think the chef could've cut back a little on the thickening agent. It was accompanied with rehydrated prunes in a liquor, and covered with crumbled cooked crackling of meringue.

8. Chocolate with strawberries. I'm not a fan of milk chocolate, so right away I didn't think it was that great. But our friends loved it. It was a tart with milk chocolate, strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

NOTE: I was getting so annoyed with the noise I totally forgot to take photos of the wine. Plus I ordered their house white.  Jack had perused the wine list and didn't see anything that caught his eye. The waiter asked what we would like and made a good suggestion.  When he brought the wine Jack tasted it and said it would be fine in about 10 minutes, so the waiter decided to pour the wine into a decanter and swished it for us.  That has never happened to us before (outside of Michelin starred places) and it worked like a charm.


This is a young happening place. We were the oldest ones there. It was so loud, I truly could not wait to get out of there, because it was actually painful. They serve til quite late and they do turn tables. People came in after 10 pm for dinner and it was still quite lively. The one annoying thing I found was that the walkway from one end to the kitchen to where I was sitting made it impossible for people not to bang against me. So, if you go, sit along the wall, or be ready for "bumper car" action.

Now onto the food. I thought the food was excellent. Very inventive and creative menu. And, the execution was spot on. As for the service, despite the hecticness, the servers were able to manage, which is a feat in themselves. So, chapeau to them.

Will I go back. NO. As you know I'm big about "dining should be about the whole experience." Food was excellent, but the atmosphere is not for me. I had a headache when I got home.

There was 4 of us. We had 8 shareable dishes, 2 bottles of wine, 1 glass of wine for 146.50€ or 36.61€ per person. VERY REASONABLE.

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