Review: Gentle Gourmet Cafe — Paris, France

Did I say I was going to get better about my posting frequency? Because, clearly, that was a lie. A busy few work weeks coupled with an equally busy social calendar has resulted in some serious blogging deficencies. And it’s particularly tragic because I have a slough of recipe ideas running through my head burning my brains with the desire to send me to the kitchen, but no time to dive into food experiments. Such an unfortunate conflict that perhaps others can identify with? So, for now, I will leave you with this review of a gourmet vegan restaurant we dined at in Paris a few weeks back.

It’s called Gentle Gourmet Cafe and it’s entirely vegan. Yes, in the land of butter and cream it’s actually possible to find a restaurant that serves neither of those. As the name suggests, it’s a gourmet restaurant serving exemplary food creations. Every dish we tried was stellar and my only regret is that we weren’t able to go there multiple times to try more of their creative, fresh, and incredibly tasty food.

As an appetizer, I started with this lovely cold cucumber avocado soup. It was light and refreshing just like cucumber avocado soup should be. To be honest, though, you’d have to be a pretty terrible cook to mess up this dish as I’ve made my own version of it at home and as long as you know how to plug in your blender you can pretty much nail it. However, I give them major presentation points as the sliced radishes, edible flower, and chili flakes were a beautiful visual touch and my tastebuds were not disappointed.

For my entree, I had a raw lasagne. I ordered it on the waitress’s suggestion, but I was hesitant because my past raw “noodle” experiences have been a major letdown. But not this dish! I LOVED this dish. I loved it so much I would strip my clothes and swim in a huge vat of it with my mouth wide open so that I could consume it in quantities in far excess of this dainty serving. What I most loved about it was the “ricotta” filling that tasted so strikingly similar to actual ricotta, yet the cashew base left me feeling so light in the tummy. The zuchini and tomato layers were also amazing along with the well-dressed greens on top. An all-around fantastic dish!

Every table had these pretty flowers that matched the rest of the restaurant’s decor. Actually, that’s another notable part of this restaurant. The ambiance and decor are beautiful and have an upscale vibe so if you’re looking for a “nice” dinner in Paris this is where to go.

French Fries Gentle Gourmet Cafe

All lightness that I felt in my belly was gone after these fries were served. You may be surprised to learn that I actually love fries. I really do! With one exception. They have to be the thick, hearty steak fries version to win my affection. We decided to order them because they’re French, right? And we’re in France so they should be good. And, yep, no complaints from me on these tasty little deep-fried potato batons. My mouth saw nearly all of the fries on this plate, but don’t worry, I did manage to save a couple for Alex.

After the cooks got word from our waitress that Alex had a nut allergy they went above and beyond to make sure that he was served a dish that not only had zero nuts in it, but also had no chance of any cross-contamination. We tried reassuring them that his allergy was not that severe and they shouldn’t worry about such insignificant quantities, but they couldn’t shake themselves of past anaphylactic shock experiences and were insistent on creating an off-the-menu salad for him. And this is what they came up with—the veggies on the bottom were briefly blanched and then bathed in an olive oil-based marinade. The mixed greens had a tasty dressing and the avocado with marinated cherry tomatoes were all a lovely combination. Overall, it was a very well-prepared salad.

Gentle Gourmet Cafe Paris France

Here is Gentle Gourmet Cafe from the curb. We sat near the windows, but the seating actually goes quite deep into the building. I love the very Parisian black/grey, pink and white color scheme.

As a side note, after lunch we spent hours crawling the city trying to find vegan croissants only to find that the one place noted online was closed that day! However, after doing a bit more research, it appears that Gentle Gourmet Cafe actually serves amazing vegan croissants. UGH! I can only imagine how perfect their croissants would be considering how fantastic the rest of their food was. Such a missed opportunity.

Overall we had an amazing dining experience here and I really wish that we could have sampled more items from their menu. So, please, everyone who visits Paris go there and order everything on the menu so that this restaurant can survive and I can go there the next time I’m in Paris!!

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Weekend Trip to LA and My First Bar Mitzvah

I feel so terrible for neglecting this blog over the past couple weeks, but it’s been impossible to post since Alex and I have been off on an epic Shanghaied adventure on the other side of the world! We’ve been having an amazing time and I have a lot to talk about regarding all of the tasty vegan food we’ve had here when I get back. But for now, I wanted to post about our trip to LA that happened right before we left the country. I had written this the day before we left, but just realized that I had forgotten to post it. Ugh!! So here it goes…

Alex and Luis Veggie Grill

This past weekend we took a little road trip to SoCal to attend a Bar Mitzvah. This also happens to have been my first Bar Mitzvah ceremony so I was curious to see what it all entailed.

We started the drive Thursday after work, stayed the night in San Luis Obispo, and then continued on Friday morning to meet our friends, Luis and Anna, for lunch in Irvine.

Alex met Luis years ago at the Game Developers Conference where they discovered that they had not just video games in common, but also veganism, anarchism, punk rock, and comics. At the time, Luis was living in Boston, but soon after got a great gig working at Blizzard on World of Warcraft in Irvine and has been living there ever since, which has been super convenient for weekend visits with him and his family 🙂

Anna and Lucia Veggie Grill Irving

Anna and Luis have two girls, Lydia, who was at school and Lucia, the adorableness you see pictured here. We ate at Veggie Grill, which is an awesome vegan fast food restaurant chain in SoCal. Boo on me for not taking any photos of our delicious food, but at least I didn’t forget to take some of our friends.

Aaron Toast

After lunch we drove to LA, checked into a hotel, and headed to Ruth and Aaron’s house for a shabbat dinner in celebration of their son Isaac’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah. It also happened to be Isaac’s grandfather’s 80th birthday so there was much toasting to his major life milestone as well.

Birthday Toast

A shaker was passed around the room giving everyone an opportunity to say something about the birthday boy.

And then there was much singing, which was very lovely considering the room was full of talented voices, such as the lady below who happens to be the adult singing voice for Nala in the Lion King.

Isaac's Shabbat Dinner

The next morning we got ready and headed to the Bar Mitzvah that began at 10am. As I mentioned before, this was my first Mitzvah (Bar or Bat) and I’m pretty sure everyone who participated set a really high bar for any future Bar Mitzvah’s I attend. Isaac gave a very thoughtful, funny, and wise-beyond-a-13-year-old speech which made sense when it was time for his parents to speak because they both gave very beautiful, eloquent, and humorous speeches about her outstanding son. Aaron is a comedic writer and his words provide the world with many weekly laughs on the television show, The Office, so I suppose I should have expected he’d provided us all with some good laughs.

Mary Pat and Christina Bar Mitzvah

After the ceremony Ruth and Aaron hosted a reception with lots of great vegetarian food since Isaac himself has been vegetarian of his own volition since the age of six. See what I’m talking about? This kid is wise!

Christina and Ruth Bar Mitzvah

They had a klezmer band play through the entire lunch, which was so much fun and impossible not to dance to.

Aaron and Sylvie Dancing

The last dance of the afternoon was saved for Aaron and his daughter, Sylvie.

Aaron and Sylvie Dancing

After saying our goodbye’s we drove to the Century City mall in Westwood as I needed to stop by an Aveda store to stock up while my birthday discount was still active. I had to photograph the parking garage as I’d never seen this before and perhaps it only needs to exist in the land of cars that is LA. The screen told you how many open spaces were available in each direction and above each parking spot was a light indicating whether it was taken or available so that you could quickly glance down the entire lane and know whether it was worth your time to drive down it or not. In theory this is a great idea, however, I didn’t find a single stall marked green where it was actually free—a few bum sensors or a broken system? I didn’t spend enough time investigating to figure it out.

Century City Parking Garage

Then it was on to visit my eccentric aunt Edith who lives near the UCLA campus in Westwood. Every time we’ve gone to visit her “for dinner” she stashes $50 in our pockets, send us off to eat dinner without her, and then meets back up after we’ve eaten. So Alex and I enjoyed a delicious meal together sans Edith at Native Foods.

I had the Moroccan Bowl and added some red beans on top. It was made with quinoa instead of the usual couscous, sauteed veggies, slivered almonds, currants, and a very flavorful sauce topped with tofu skewers. Soooo good!

Moroccan Bowl Native Foods

Alex had the Oklahoma Burger which had sliced “chicken”, tempeh bacon and cheese topped with deep fried pickles and sweet potato fries on the side. This was also phenomenal!

Native Foods LA Oklahoma Burger

I wish I had taken more pictures of the inside because the restaurant had such a nice feel to it. The hanging lights give you somewhat of an idea as the overall modern, yet rustic decor.

Lights at Native Foods

After satiating ourselves we met back up with Edith and took a walk around Westwood. I wanted to mark the occasion with some photos and at first she resisted taking any because she’s a “71-year-old hag” (her words, not mine) and was wearing an unflattering sweatshirt (again, her words, not mine.)

Christina and Edith Westwood

Eventually she warmed up to the idea and even gave us a wide open smile.

Christina and Edith Westwood

Despite being such a short trip, it was action-packed and heaps of fun!