It’s nearly inconceivable to talk about the Paris dining scene without mentioning Gregory Marchand and his ascent to stardom on the rue du Nil in the 2nd arrondissement. That and the herculean effort required to score a reservation at Frenchie, Marchand’s contemporary bistro and claim to fame. Fortunately, his two other outposts provide a taste of his talent and ingenuity without the attendant stress of having to book: Frenchie wine bar and Frenchie To Go, his latest venture.
I’ve been reluctant to join on the Frenchie bandwagon for several reasons but mostly because of the outsize hype and the arcane booking system – there is by no means a dearth of supremely good restaurants in this city so why jump through hoops for this one in particular? I was also turned off by this sort of groupie-fanaticism around the chef himself. But when I learned that his coffee shop-cum-deli counter (Frenchie To Go) would offer Reubens, lobster rolls, fish n’ chips (with line-caught merlu from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, my favorite fishing town in Basque country) and a bevy of breakfast options served all day, my tune started to change.
So earlier in the summer, I took his pastrami sandwich for a test run during a lazy lunch with my friend Stephanie who was, like me, equal parts skeptical and intrigued. House-cured slices of pastrami were piled high and wedged between slices of toasted rye bread. The golden, perfectly-crisped fries were worth the extra cost and great for sharing. And to wash it all down, the place has nearly 10 different types of artisanal beers, homemade lemonade and ginger beer and wines by the glass. Properly and joyfully stuffed, I knew I’d be back for one of the donuts and cinnamon rolls that glistened at the counter, taunting us as we muscled our way through the crowd to leave.