Paris Restaurants: Soul Kitchen
33, rue Lamarck, in the 18th Arrondissement. 01 71 37 99 95.
Open Tues–Fri, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat–Sun, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
When it comes to Paris restaurants, if you’re vegetarian, or simply prefer eating a plant-based diet, sometimes it feels like the options are hard to come by. At best, you can hope for a meatless chèvre chaud at a brasserie, or maybe a spinach quiche if you’re really lucky. Soul Kitchen, however, is a vegetarian eater’s dream come true. The cozy space on the backside of Montmartre has made a name for itself not only in terms of vegetarian fare, but for a cuisine that’s fresh, with the emphasis on homemade, organic and local. Open at 8:30 in the morning on weekdays, it’s one of the few places you can go to for an early yet solid breakfast and strong coffee. It’s as good to come to for a homemade, organic meal as it is for cozying up with a cup of tea and a book.
Soul Kitchen is run by sisters, and the focus is on fresh food. The lunch menu changes daily but always offers a couple of options, and there is always a vegetarian as well as a gluten-free one. On a recent visit for lunch, there was a tarte de meaux, made with roasted butternut, brie de meaux and even a moutarde de meaux. I opted for that day’s bol de sunshine, a hearty dish of grilled polenta covered in a ratatouille and topped with goat cheese and an egg, perfect for a winter’s day. The lunch menu dishes are served with a fresh salad, and it’s the right amount of food to fill you up, without leaving you stuffed as a classic French lunch can often do.
The feel at Soul Kitchen is casual yet lively. We arrived and found a table without a problem at 12:30 p.m., but by 1 p.m. the place was packed, and people were even coming in to pick up orders to go. If anyone ever tells you that the French can’t get excited about simple vegetarian fare, just bring him or her here. As it was January, there was also a “reanimator” on the menu, a mug of warm apple and ginger juice, which would have hit the spot if I had come in for a later afternoon pick-me-up. After a big lunch, however, I could only top it off with an espresso, served in Soul Kitchen’s delightful and colorful ceramic ware that fits perfectly with the scene.
Soul Kitchen is also a good option if you’re in the mood for a relaxed breakfast. The menu includes a fresh squeezed juice, coffee or tea, and then your choice of bread and confiture, a scone or muffin, or granola with fromage blanc, which comes served in a glass jar. Committed to creating a warm and cozy atmosphere, even the granola is homemade, and there is always a variety of choices. Every time I have been here, I have chosen a different granola and have never been disappointed.
The restaurant also gets points for serving locally roasted coffee from Coutume. And yes, you can have a latte made with soy milk if you want it, another thing that’s hard to come by in the French capital. The hot chocolate is fait maison as well, and sometimes it will come with a twist, such as the addition of different flavors like raspberry. Drop in for breakfast, lunch or just a relaxing afternoon work session with your computer; Soul Kitchen is a welcoming space where the food is as comforting as the atmosphere.
In a nutshell: Fresh, local vegetarian fare in a cozy setting. On the back steps of Montmartre, it’s a quiet escape from the normally tourist-trampled area.
Price check: Breakfast 4.50–10 euros; lunch, 13.50–15.50 euros.
If Soul Kitchen sounds good, you might also like Frenchie to Go on the rue du Nil, which also has a casual feel, and where breakfast happens to be served all day. Read the review.
Frenchie to Go
9, rue du Nil, in the 2nd Arrondissement.
Open Tues–Sat, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
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