In Paris, a place for coffee, cocktails and small plates
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NEW YORK, March 18 — In Paris, premium coffee, craft cocktails and Mediterranean small plates would have been an incongruous combination not that long ago. But Bonhomie, the first dining venture from the group behind the Parisian cocktail bars Little Red Door and Lulu White, brings those elements together harmoniously.
The restaurant may sit in a hip section of the 10th Arrondissement, but nothing about the space smacks of the typically unpolished Right Bank style. The décor employs an earthy colour palette and sizable dining room, including a row of seats at the kitchen’s marble countertop, which put diners in eyeshot of Nicolau Pla Gomez, the Catalan chef (and an alumnus of the beloved restaurant Frenchie), and his team.
When they opened Bonhomie in November, owners Timothée Prangé and Dotan Shalev imagined it as a hybrid space where guests come anytime from 8:30am to 2am and experience food and drink menus built around the pillars of the Mediterranean diet — small portions, sharing and simple, spirited cooking — in an inviting setting.
“People think Mediterranean food is hummus and tabbouleh and Greek salads,” Prangé said. “We took a range of Mediterranean influences and show how diverse they can be.”
The concept comes at a time when small-plates menus are proliferating at Paris restaurants but remain focused on French, produce-driven cooking, and foreign cuisines tend to exist in isolation.
“I’m half Moroccan; my wife is Lebanese,” he said. “This cooking is a big part of our lives.”
The night of my visit, the menu journeyed from Naples to Tétouan, in Morocco, and Tel Aviv. We started with the Panarima, a sumac-infused cocktail, and the house craft beer before ordering one of every dish on the menu. The roasted cauliflower spiced with Kashmiri masala and charred kale was perfectly crisp and paired beautifully with borek stuffed with Kombi cheese and pumpkin.
Tender, slow-cooked lamb was served with chickpeas and preserved lemon and nicely offset the briny octopus salad, earning “best-ever” praise from my companions. If only the pumpkin crème caramel, which the server herself billed as divisive, due to its fleshy texture, could have ended the meal on as high a note. — The New York Times
Bonhomie, 22, rue d’Enghien; 33-9-83-88-82-51; bonhomie.paris. Average meal for two, without drinks or tip, is about €80 (US$85, RM382).