Cute, a bit clumsy, but worth it
Posted on 07 / 29 / 2014
Don't just show up here and hope that this restaurant is open. Since it is owner-operated, the opening hours are less than convenient for tourists, but reasonable (they open at exactly 12:00 and not a minute earlier), check the internet before going to this place, which is essentially located around the corner from the Bastille..
The owner is a charming older gentleman who pretty much expects his customers to put on their thinking caps and to find their way around the place. The place is a mixture of self-service and waiter-oriented service. What does that mean? Well, in France, you generally are seated restaurants, but at "Grand Appétit" you sit yourself. You go to the counter to order your food. The staff serves your food at your table. You have to pick up your own silverware, napkin and tea towards the center of the restaurant.
Novelty: All main courses are served on paper plates that are disposed of at the end of the meal (I don't get that, but that's what they do). Soups and drinks are served on reusable kitchenware. Go figure.
The food was good; not great, but good. They pretty much serve original creations that have a Euro-Japanese bend to them. They taste good, albeit the restaurant tends to be a bit stingy on the sauces. I tried the soup (carrot-vegetable) and was impressed. The main course (called the "big platter" = grande assiette) had 7 different things to try, most of which were raw plant things like shredded carrots. It also included a battered, deep-fried sushi-like creation. Interesting.
There is one great thing in the restaurant that I've previously only seen in the backwaters of India: they have a sink, soap and towels in the restaurant, so that the patrons can wash their hands before eating. That is a really nice touch, especially if you have arrived having touched things in the nasty, dirty, yucky Métro..
Would I go back to this restaurant again? Definitely. For those reading this review who don't speak French: The owner of the place speaks English fluently and is happy to do so.
Why do I give the food a "good, but not great" grade? To be honest, I'm thrilled that there is one more vegan institution in Paris. The French are slow adopters, when it comes to challenging century-old culinary traditions. So, I want to be gentle, fair and helpful to this restaurant. If veganism were "normal" in French society, I would be much harsher (a bit bland, and too gently spiced). There is room for improvement.
Totally vegan, Sink available for hand-washing in room, Convenient
Paper plates, semi-service, Strange opening hours, Credit card payment process clumsy