I wrote about the delicious gluten free food available in Paris exactly a year ago (!), but having spent a couple of weekends in the city recently I realised that quite a bit has changed so I decided it was high time for a follow up post.
Sidenote: Please excuse the variable photo quality. These photos were taken over the course of two weekends, during one of which the catastrophic terror attacks took place across the city. Whilst I felt perfectly safe myself, my mind was definitely elsewhere and I was also wary of whipping out my camera and looking like a merry tourist amidst so much grief.
On that note, I really hope this comes across in the spirit to which it is intended – a celebration of the great things of the city, and not a totally oblivious first-world ramble about cake.
So…. about that cake.
Gâté is new on the scene and there was hardly anything on the internet about it back in November, although this seems to be improving lately. It’s an entirely gluten free restaurant set up by a very lovely man who is your host and waiter for the duration of your stay. He’s so proud of his restaurant and it really does show. There’s a fairly small selection of dishes for lunches (see menu at the bottom of this post), however they’re all extremely tempting.
I had the potato, chorizo, smoked mozzarella and shallot salad and it was absolutely delicious. Is it weird to comment on how much I liked the cutlery here? As well as the entire interior decor, which was beautifully done.
S had the mushroom and bacon quiche which I pinched some of (such a novelty) which was equally as tasty.
They also have a selection of cakes which, whilst not as extensive as Helmut Newcake, is equally as attractive.
I had a Madame which was good and chocolatey, but the pastry didn’t quite match up to Helmut Newcake’s. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.
S had a lime creation that had a sparkly meringue! How pretty is that cake? I mean, it tasted good too but really. That’s cake art right there.
It’s gone straight to the top of my recommendations list; the salad was so good, the host so friendly, and the price was very reasonable as well. Seating is limited but it wasn’t overly busy when we were there – still, I’d advise booking ahead where possible as people will be catching on to this gem.
Opening times: Currently Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 19:30 (lunch/cake only)
This is more of a bakery slash restaurant, with a massive array of breads and cakes in a counter which you queue up behind and order from. There was quite a big queue when we visited, which we weren’t expecting at all but gave us plenty of time to examine the contents of the counter as we filed past.
There is seating indoors (minimal) and outdoors (too cold in November) so we had our sandwiches to go. There was so much choice we were a bit baffled by it, but our sandwiches were brilliant. I’d absolutely go back here, but I’d pick a quieter time so I could take my time over my choices.
Opening times: Currently Tuesday to Sunday
I’d say Biosphère Café leans more towards a restaurant than a cafe, although they’re only open for dinner on a Saturday night. That’s when we went, and found a reasonable amount of seating with an extensive menu (see end of post) – they even have it translated into a few different languages. I had a pizza and it was good; it had an interesting fluffy base which wasn’t exactly traditional, but I’m not a pizza snob so I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mostly because it had plenty of cheese. I love cheese. S had salmon pasta which was nicely done, and a good generous helping too.
We both had a crepe for pudding which was delicious.Their pastries looked a bit sad, but it was the end of the day. I would heartily recommend visiting Biosphère Café, mostly due to their decent menu, friendly service and sufficient seating.
And the crepes. The crepes were fantastic.
Opening times: Currently Monday to Friday 12:00 – 18:00 (lunch only), Saturday 12:00 – 22:00 (lunch and dinner) and Sunday 11:30 – 15:00 (brunch). You will need to book ahead.
So I screeched into here about 5 minutes before closing time, and all the poor lady had left to serve me was one cookie and half a loaf of bread. So figuring beggars can’t be choosers, I took it, and it was very tasty.There are a few tables which you can sit at, but it’s small and it was quite crowded when I visited so you may be lucky to get a table. This is mostly a sandwiches and cake type of place but I’d like to go back when it’s actually open to sample some of their other offerings.
Opening times: Currently Tuesday to Friday 08:00 – 18:00, Saturday and Sunday 12:00 – 18:00 (brunch)
Since my last visit, their main shop on Rue Bichat has closed which I personally find a great shame, even though it was in a slightly interesting area. I am just so grateful that they moved shortly before the terrorist shootings happened right next door.
Anyway, Helmut are now set up in a new shop over near Madeleine. Here are my thoughts about it *ramble alert*:
> It’s in a much more pleasant location
> The range of pastries has stayed the same
> They still have a small range of savoury food available; the options were a quiche or a risotto to take away both days I was there (if not sold out)
> It’s much, much smaller. In fact, there are only three bar-stool type seats inside: one table of two, one table of one. It’s a tight squeeze so not a relaxing dining experience
> They no longer serve hot meals
> I don’t think they have a kitchen on the premises – I may be wrong on this, but I think the food is made elsewhere and stored in fridges in the shop. That’s fine, but I think freshness may affect the quality of the cakes slightly; I noticed that my éclair was fantastic when I ate it shortly after opening time on a Friday, but I bought another éclair on a Saturday in which the crème pâtissière had gone a strange texture – almost grainy. I think this might be due to it not ageing well from the previous day’s batch.
Ultimately, I still wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Helmut Newcake to all gluten free people. I have just adjusted my expectations to match the new setting; that’s fine. They still make the best gluten free cakes I’ve ever eaten.Top tip: don’t go on a Saturday if you can avoid it, as I think the pastries are fresher on weekdays
Opening times: Currently Monday to Saturday 11:30 – 19:00
Even more highly recommend than last time. The staff are so super friendly; I dined here alone twice (such a sad bag) and with S once and the staff remembered me and my poor attempts at French which was nice.
They will do your food to take away for you if you can’t finish, and there is a bar type setup which you can sit at downstairs that’s actually really nice for the lone diner. You can watch the chefs work, engage in conversation if you want/can speak good enough French, and there is still enough space so you don’t feel cramped and can get out your dining-alone-book in comfort. Do pay this restaurant a visit if you can – the arcade it’s located in is worth a visit alone.
Opening times: Currently Monday to Friday 12:00 – 14:30 (lunch), Tuesday to Friday 19:30 – 22:00 (dinner),Saturday and Sunday 11:00 – 15:00 (brunch).
There were a few places I didn’t get to try, and seeing as I’m now apparently doing an annual update to these posts, it looks like I’ll be back before too long. These are the places that are top of my hit-list for next time:
Agapae ¦¦ This is an entirely gluten free restaurant, but I’m not even sure they’re still open. Their website is up but Tripadvisor sends alarm bells ringing…
My Free Kitchen ¦¦ Serving lunch and dinner as well as pudding, their food looks tasty and it’s all lactose free as well
Bears and Raccoons ¦¦ It looks like they mostly do sandwiches, but this looks like it could be a great place to grab lunch on the go
Top Tip: check opening hours before you pitch up somewhere. I’ve listed them below each entry but they do change, so always check ahead and always book if you can (apart from Helmut – good luck booking one of their teensy tables…)Have you been on a gluten free food tour of Paris? Where do you recommend I add to my list?
(click to enlarge)