Eating in Paris: Yannick Alléno's Terroir Parisien

Yannick Alléno's new bistrot Terroir Parisien is pretty cutting-edge for the Paris scene. Its menu is solely sourced from the Ile-de-France region and its prices (contrary to Alléno's other address, Hotel Meurice) remain reasonable- despite the fact that diners could likely be cajoled into paying higher prices for Alléno's reputation and ingredients. When I went to lunch at Terroir Parisien on a recent Wednesday afternoon, I expected the restaurant's vibe and décor to match the exceptional aims and exuberant reviews surrounding this new addition to Paris' dining scene. I figured the revolutionary (to Paris) mission of locavore cuisine would be accompanied by an equally radical interior design.

Happily, the bistrot's style is about as unembellished as a dining establishment could be. Function and utility are key to the backdrop of Terroir Parisien, which provides a stage for the real stars: fresh and seasonal ingredients raised in the Ile-de-France.

The walls are adorned with chalkboards and shelves, the chalkboards announce where each ingredient comes from and the shelves stock examples of the locally grown vegetables. Large windows allow for ample light- a scarce commodity in this dreary Paris Springtime- to enter into the dining space and further illuminate the natural beauty of the whole foods.

A reassuring mix of classical and modern- this restaurant is comfortable in its location cuddling up to the historic Maison de la Mutualité and would be equally at ease nesstled somewhere along the Northern California coastline.

My second worry about dining chez Alléno was that, as a vegetarien, I would be sipping on soupe à l'oignon for lunch, while lamenting an otherwise meat-based menu.

Once again I was happily surprised when I saw that the menu not only offered veggie options, but is also organised so that you can go wild with side dishes and "plats de résistance" à la carte to get your veggie fix and pair these sides with a large selection of main dishes.

I imagine that the selection for vegetarians will only get better- and more varied- as the Summer approaches and we see tomatoes and eggplant arriving on our plates.

The locavore movement is safe in Alléno's hands and Terroir Parisien is the proof. The chef adheres to the Ile-de-France rule (the wine being the only exception) with laudable dedication all while making eating local fun. Really fun.

As someone who scours markets for locally-grown produce and cherishes every treasure that I find along the hunt, it was a thrill to have the opportunity to order local gems- champignons de Paris, asperge d'Argenteuil,  épinards Montfermeil- all off of one menu.

For lunch, I settled on the champignons de Paris stuffed with escargot, accompanied by a side of spinach that was grown a mere 17 km South of Paris.

Everything was delicious- but that was no surprise. I'm a convert to the locavore lifestyle and I think that anyone who has a meal at Terroir Parisien will quickly convert, as well.

One more piece of advice- stay for dessert! My lunch date ordered the house specialty "Niflette Feuilleté" and it was to die for. Served with an artilery of cutlery, the pastry bursted with across-the-board flavors from sweet to citrus- a pleasure to tackle at the end of a thouroughly enjoyable meal. (Thanks Christy for taking a picture of the desert- and for sharing both with me!)

Terroir Parisien  20 rue Saint Victor, 75005 m° Maubert-Mutualité (line 10) Open everyday 12h-15h & 19h-23h