We, as Parisians, love spending time in the cafés. Whether to meet some friends, to read, to type on our keyboards, or simply to stalk the passersby – yes we do that. A freshly pressed juice during warm days or a hot chocolate when it’s colder, “un café, s’il vous plaît !” classic. So French. Goodbye terraces, let’s welcome the new versions of coffee shops! Disruptive and hybrid, they give a fresh breath to the city of light! What are we looking for at first? Good products, nice deco, tasty food? Ok that’s instagrammable, go!
American born Jeff Hargrove opened his coffee shop, which is quite different from the others… He chose the name of Fringe to express a specific point: its location that is at the crossroad of several streets, in the middle of the haut-Marais. Although the concept is trendy, he would say not completely, as the will of a durable side translates this interesting contrast. Locals as well as tourists have started to enjoy this new baby since this summer.
Minimalism and the use of wood are translated into this Danish and Japanese inspired design. But how about the cuisine? Classic with a twist! The vision of Jeff really stroke me because it is so close to mine that I really enjoyed listening to what he had to tell! He serves slow food, which means using good products from local producers. Be also aware that everything is made on site, so give them some time to prepare your food! You can find, inter alia, open tartines or also called ‘Smørrebrød’ that are very common in Denmark. Nothing is left behind, even the mineral water is banned because of ecologic matters, but don’t worry, you can still drink water there! The alternative is a filtered, still or sparkling water directly from the tap, well done huh?! While listening to Jeff, he was making his everyday bread in front of me. He is inspired by his mother who used wholegrain flour – which seems unbelievable in France – nothing is impossible. To be even more unique, Jeff prepares his own almond milk when time allows it. Furthermore his home country inspires novelties. Indeed, there is a drink called Dirty Chai in the US which is made of Chai tea and coffee. He then, created a new version of it without tea but with milk he adds at the end of the process so it gets easier for lactose intolerant people to choose between almond, soya or rice milk. I actually tasted the Chai chocolate, something that I’ve never seen before either, and let me tell you that I could literally go there several times a week just to have it! This is for sure the drink of this winter! He let me smell his preparation of Chai and the spices are very well balanced with the black tea. I am not even surprised that he does such an amazing work. As a perfectionist, everything is tasted before being served to make sure that nothing is wrong. The anecdote behind it comes from that moment when he was once at The Broken Arm and he saw the barista throwing away the coffee after tasting it and then, making it again. Quality is guaranteed of course.
I haven’t mentioned it yet but photographies and cameras are all over the room. Although he wants to avoid a gallery space, the idea is, let’s say, pretty genius. I love photography myself so obviously if our interests converge, then I can only approve! He also partnered with Anna Brones on a book called Paris Coffee Revolution that retraces the story of coffee. One of the things to remember is the parallel between photographers and baristas that Jeff considers as craftsmen and this is a really interesting point of view indeed, because they both work with their hands! He also told me about Hippolyte from l’Arbre à Café who said that tea has a vertical dimension when coffee has a horizontal one. This leads to a lot of questioning. I’ll let you meditate on it.
Eventually, I ended up asking him his favorite quote from the book and what luxury means to him. He affirms that luxury is to love what we do and to make a living out of it.
“I think the French need to be French about coffee. We need to complain about the coffee.” – Antoine Nétien
106 rue de Turenne
The next focus goes on Peonies, such a cute name isn’t it? It’s been a month and a half that this green spot joined us. Amateur of coffee and healthy food, Clémentine Levy grew up in the countryside where her passion for flowers has started to grow at first. To pursue this interest, she decided to learn more by Catherine Muller’s side, ex artistic director of L’Ecole des Fleurs at l’Hôtel du Crillon.
How lovely is it to enjoy a moment in a green setting like this surrounded by original and fresh bouquets? The smell of coffee and wildflowers are mixed together in an emerald green and pink deco, not really common. The food is homemade, from granola to veggie rolls through cakes and pastries. It has become my spot for one of the best banana bread I’ve ever had! The texture is consistent with a strong taste of the fruit itself, accompanied of a salted butter caramel coulis, oh yum, simply delicious. Next time, I’ll try the dried flowers shortbread that are catching my eyes for a while on Instagram. Healthy VS Dirty, if you want to cheat once, a grilled cheese sandwich with baby spinach can also be served, you gourmet, I see you!
The Peonies experience follows you further with homemade jams made by Clémentine herself with flowers and organic fruits, as a self pleasure or a lovely present!
“To me luxury is time but if I had to choose, I’d rather stay in a luxury spa-hotel lost in a forest or spend a night in an eighteen century castel rather than buying beautiful pieces of garment.”
81, rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
Knock knock knock! Mokonuts there. Who is it? Moko Hirayama is a Japanese pastry chef. Her partner in crime and husband Omar Koreitem is behind the stove to prepare the lunch. Together they created this 20 meter-square coffee shop slash bakery slash canteen.
- 9am for breakfast? Start your day with an original selection of tea or a cup of coffee accompanied with homemade granolas or some pastries.
- 1pm for lunch? Come early or make a reservation otherwise you won’t necessarily be able to eat there. With a changing menu, it is the perfect occasion to enjoy Omar’s cuisine and to learn the existence of new ingredients! Freshly sourced from local producers of course.
- 5pm for tea time? From cakes to pies through the essential must-eat cookies that are driving me nuts, your stomach got to be ready facing these monsters!
Above are pictured the first courses of that day: the cauliflower soup and bottarga (fish roe) is very delicate when the roasted kabocha, tahini and bergamot was very well balanced but probably a tiny bit overcooked. The Mediterranean process even touches the homemade bread made of organic wholemeal looking like small round pitas. Right out of the oven, so good. When it comes to the labneh which is basically Greek yogurt, delicacy is found again in this starter paired with roasted beetroot and zaatar (herbs from Middle East). Then below, Omar was preparing the main courses: grilled squids with parsnip and salad and a pollack based meal. Wait a minute, it is not done. Desserts were on my mind from the beginning, you too? Alright, the halva cake with pecan nuts and muscovado (unrefined brown sugar) was very tasty, not sweet which I really appreciate with a soft texture. Last but not least, the famous cookies! I was positively surprised when she announced the different flavours, unexpected. From top to bottom, we have this coconut and black pepper, then chocolate and peanut butter, and finally a multigrain chocolate. Honestly, the best cookies I’ve ever had, with the perfect texture, not too soft nor too dry. To drink, we took example of people sitting next to us drinking some sort of juice. It was in fact a lemonade with orange blossom, such an amazing combination!
With all this being said, you won’t resist to this pressure cooker created by the couple, about to release several savors kissing each other. French chef Michalak recommended it but let’s keep it as secret as possible because the number of seats is limited and we obviously would like to be privileged haha. The word of mouth did really good, it remains one of the best communication tools, keep up the great job! While making sure this article is ready, I was randomly watching some Instastories and found out about Delirio, a coffee shop and wine bar. Never ending adventures! See more on @lefoodism!
5, rue Saint-Bernard