W Paris Opera Hotel
4, rue Meyerbeer, in the 9th Arrondissement.
01 77 48 94 94.
The newest spot in town, the W Hotel, brought the crème de la crème of all my favorite regions of the world together under one roof at the new Restaurant Arola
, named after the Catalan chef-owner, Sergi Arola. This Paris restaurant
fuses a chic New York ambience with Catalan tapas and platillos while adding a touch of Parisian flair to the cuisine.
A lovely server greeted us with a home-style version of pan con tomate
, or tostada. This was a do-it-yourself version of the dish—we rubbed the lightly toasted bread with fresh tomatoes and a fresh clove of garlic and then topped it off with olive oil and coarse sea salt. Don’t order this if you are on a date or a business lunch or dinner, but my friend and I certainly had a special moment of feeling at home.
Pan con tomate.
We were also treated to olive-infused home-style breadsticks and a special dipping sauce. But my favorite of the complimentary hors d’oeuvres was the amuse-bouche, whose fresh herbs created an explosion inside my mouth that led me to experience taste buds I never knew I had.
For a mere 8 euros, the eggplant tapas sent me down memory lane, to my mother’s and grandmother’s roasted eggplant. I could taste the fire in the flame-charred eggplant, which was infused with a balsamic reduction and topped off with Spanish olives and roasted pine nuts.
Las Bravas de Arola.
We also loved the elegantly decorated Las Bravas de Arola, a delicious concoction of deep-fried potatoes made with spicy tomato sauce. These were a more chic version of the authentic patatas bravas
, with a sophisticated, orderly display and a spicy aioli designed perfectly to top off the rounded potato. The Sancerre that accompanied our dinner smelled and tasted divine of floral bouquets.
The cèpes confit carpaccio was arranged like a flower in pine nut vinaigrette, topped off with fresh pasta and slivers of Iberian ham. But the dish that blew me away was the crema Catalana, a blissful caramelized dessert made with eggs and cinnamon. The ingredients were a mélange of what tasted like a cookie concoction: liquefied meringue topped off with mandarin sorbet and infused with citrus flavors.
If you’re a foodie who treasures authenticity, you may not be completely satisfied with the cuisine (and vegetarians may not have a variety of plates to choose from). Arola has altered the essence of true Catalan gastronomy and transformed it to appeal to a Parisian or even international palate. But I would definitely like to go back and try all the Iberian meat and seafood dishes.
In a nutshell:
Arola offers good food in a trendy atmosphere. Have cocktails in the lounge downstairs, where you’ll find a deejay spinning good vibes from all around the globe.
Dinner with wine is around 50–60 euros per person.
If you like the sound of Restaurant Arola
but want your Iberian ham in a wine bar setting, try L’Avant Comptoir. Read the review.
9, carrefour de l’Odéon, in the 6th.
No reservations. Open daily.
: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable Paris trips