How to Live off of Wine in Paris
Here, we spotlight American expats around the globe and get their insider tips on the best places to eat and drink in their adopted cities.
The Expat: Joshua Adler, founder of Paris Wine Company, an exporter and online retail shop. The enduringly hot restaurant Spring might be synonymous with chef wunderkind Daniel Rose, but another American also dazzled Paris’s notoriously critical diners while working there: this former wine director. A Pennsylvania native, Adler came to Paris by way of San Francisco, where he bought wine for Bi-Rite Market; now he’s based in France.
What kind of wines do you specialize in?
I work with the best “new wave” of French producers. Think about young Godard, Truffaut and Malle in the 1960s—they shook up French cinema. There’s a similar thing happening with a certain type of young winemaker in France. Whether they’re taking over their family property or starting from scratch, the best of this generation is committed to certain ideals that make great wine: sustainable farming, reducing the use of chemicals and making balanced wines that go well with food. They’re basically returning to tradition but also embracing the advantages of modern technology.
Where do you live in Paris, and what do you love best about your neighborhood?
I live in the 11th arrondissement near a great little-known park called the Square Gardette. It seems like every few months a new great restaurant or wine bar opens right next door. Septime and Au Passage were already nearby when we moved to the neighborhood in 2011, and since then it’s been Bones, La Buvette, Square Gardette, Clamato, La Fine Mousse, and recently, Le Servan.
What are some of your favorite wine bars?
La Buvette, because Camille Fourmont, the owner, is really passionate about great food. She crosses the entire city every day on her scooter to get the right bread for the wine bar. And she knows how to be a great host. She gets to know everyone and makes them feel comfortable. Right away when La Buvette opened, the neighborhood became a better place. She changes the menu all the time, but one of my favorites is the artisanal saucisson served on a plate with salted butter, good bread and a glass of red wine from Mai and Kenji Hodgson in the Loire.
Verjus’s location is amazing. It’s just across from the Palais-Royal, plus you can drink Champagne from Rémi Leroy and they probably have the best bar food in Paris. You don’t think of Paris as a place to go for fried chicken, but after you taste Braden Perkins’s fried chicken, you’ll want to come back every time.
At Bones, you can have a full meal or just a snack at the bar. James Henry is great with fish, and there’s always a different delicious crudo plate. If you’re a big group, you can order a côte de boeuf that’s slow cooked for an hour and worth the wait.
What’s your go-to bistro, and what do you order?
Le Griffonnier. The steak au poivre is the best in the city, and if you go in December you can order a sandwich aux truffes as an appetizer (for 48€, ahem). Imagine a huge grilled cheese sandwich, about eight inches across, made with great country bread and lots of good butter. Now remove the cheese and substitute about a quarter pound of sliced fresh black truffles. That gives you the idea.
What one food or drink item would you miss the most if/when you leave Paris?
Good croissants available every day everywhere.
Ratha Tep is a former Food & Wine editor who lives in Zurich.