Pasdeloup

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

It wasn’t until recently that I became very in awe of bartenders. I used to just go in and order a beer when I was younger, not really aware that these people are the pastry chefs of the beverage world. Now that I’m older, and wiser, I realize what a specialized skill these bartenders possess. I’ve become a little obsessed watching a good bartender work while perched at the bar facing them, checking out the deft, swift, sure movements of their hands as they measure, mix, shake, and strain.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

I’d met Amanda Boucher at a mescal tasting in Paris, and at the time, she was the head bartender/manager at Candelaria. Watching her work, I could see her sure hands work their magic, hovering over a cocktail pitcher or glass, inventing some libation that was the result of her thinking swiftly, sizing up what a customer was interested in – like a good bartender should do – and mixing up the right proportions in a glass before handing it over. The final result being the perfect balance of all the ingredients added to the drink, so one isn’t stronger than the other, but they all come together in the glass and are just right.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

Amanda is now the head of Pasdeloup and will soon be the owner. Cocktail bars have blossomed in Paris over the last several years and it’s become a great city for cocktails. Amanda moved to Paris nine years ago to study art history. A few years into her studies, she walked into the Experimental Cocktail Club and fell in love with the craft. She told me she had spent her entire adult life in Paris, and spent the last five years of it learning to bartend, behind the bar.

Pas de Loup bar in ParisWhen I asked her how she learned so quickly, she replied, “I worked in some very, very busy bars.” (Oh, to be 29 again…) Sure enough, Amanda’s swift hands and movements are a pleasure to watch and she’s one of those bartenders that I would completely trust with my drink order, letting her fix whatever she’d like.

I’d gone with my friend Jennifer a few weeks ago and had a superb cocktail made with scotch that was tourbé, a word I had never heard and I thought was somehow “spun” (because a tourbillon is a vortex.) But found out it meant “peaty.” (So now you can use that French word in your next conversation and wow your amis, or closest French bartender.)

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

When I went back a few weeks later, Amanda had changed the cocktail menu, and gave me a taste of something she had been working on: A homemade brown butter syrup. One tiny sip of this syrupy elixir had me smacking my lips, savoring the gentle maple-like flavor, which she plans to use in her Old Fashioned cocktails.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

In spite of my love of butter, Amanda and I agreed that we both tend to prefer non-sweet cocktails. Although she uses them in some drinks, said she’s not a huge fan of bitters because she feels that they can easily overwhelm a drink. Instead, she uses syrups and sharp/bitter liqueurs like Cynar, Chartreuse and absinthe, to add nuances. The Bloody Celerí, shown below, was a good example. It’s a riff on the Bloody Mary, but without a drop of tomato juice.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

The spicy beverage is made with celery leaves, aquavit, juniper, and served in a glass is dusted with dehydrated tomato. I loved it, although the menu warns to the more intrepid that it’s épicé & iodé – spicy, with iodine notes.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

Another fun riff she does is a PB&J Sour. Of course, peanut butter & jelly is a uniquely American duo (and Europeans don’t usually share our love of peanut butter), but with Monkey Shoulder scotch infused with peanut oil (housemade), a gelée de raisin maison (homemade muscat grape jelly), lemon, and a touch of salt, I found this curious drink a delicious accompaniment to the popcorn made with another French term I learned – levure maltée, or nutritional yeast, a flavor from my past, but still tastes good and paired well with the touch of sesame oil and togorashi (hot Japanese pepper) added to the maïs soufflé.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

The popcorn was from the menu a picorer, things to pick – or snack – on. They came out of the kitchen presided over by the talented Lina Caschetto. Lina worked in some intense French kitchens before taking over at Pasdeloup, and I felt bad the first time I went because my friend and I, who’d gone there for cocktails the first time, left in search of something more substantial than bar snacks for dinner.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

We had split a lovely plate of chicken liver mousse-topped crackers with Reine Claude plum jelly and pickled plums, but this time, I took a closer look at the menu and saw full-on plates of food on offer. And from the looks of the beautiful dishes coming out of the kitchen, I decided to stay and eat.

Although it’d be easy to think of this as “bar food,” I found it substantial enough to make a full meal out of, especially a good idea if you’ve had a few cocktails. (And if you aren’t a cocktail person, there is a nice, well-edited, and reasonable, selection of wines by the glass, and a few beers to boot.)

I took my cocktail to the kitchen counter and chatted with Lina, as she let me taste a beef tartare (€12) with Roquefort cream, shallots, pickled raisins and crisp, cloud ear mushrooms. It was excellent, served in a well-chilled bowl, although my photos in the dim bar light didn’t really do it justice. But wow, was that good.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

Unusual for a bar (or a restaurant) in Paris, another dish featured a copious amount of fresh vegetables: Salade de brocolis – Broccoli salad with big florets of lightly blanched broccoli paired with soft-cooked eggs, anchovies, trout eggs, and garlic. It was terrific but was a bit hard to eat gracefully, so my suggestion is that they slice the broccoli first…or you can just have an extra cocktail and don’t worry about how you look trying to eat it : )

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

The best thing, though, was the most surprising. A plate of cauliflower pierogis came out looking relatively unassuming. But after my first bite, I stopped mid-fork: They had exactly the flavor that I remember from going to the Ukranian places in New York when I was younger, where fried dumplings were served with sour cream and beets, often to the after-hours crowd. Filled with cauliflower, cheddar, scallions, and topped with mascarpone with dried, shaved purple cauliflower, they were truly outstanding. That, and a couple of cocktails, is my idea of a perfect meal.

Pas de Loup bar in Paris

Most of the cocktails are €12 and currently the menu plates range between €7 and €13 (popcorn is €3), which to me, is a bargain for such well-made food and drinks. Tasting plates of cheese and charcuterie are available as well. Although Pasdeoup has only been open for a year, it had clearly hit its stride.

While it doesn’t resemble a traditional eating establishment, it’s a timely hybrid between a bar and a restaurant, offering the best of both. For those who want good cocktails and something to eat, but not necessarily a full-on meal, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better address in Paris.

Pasdeloup
108, rue Amelot (11th)
Tél: 09 54 74 16 36
Métro: Filles du Calvaire

[UPDATE: Amanda Boucher and Lina Caschetto are no longer at Pasdeloup.)

Hours: The bar is open Tuesday through Sunday, 6pm to 2am. The kitchen serves Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday, from 7pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday, until 11:30pm. Reservations accepted. Closed on Monday.


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25 comments

  • Claire
    November 4, 2015 3:44pm

    The cauliflower pierogis look so good! Everything looks good. And nothing is better than a bar with a really good bartender who can mix up the classics and also something new to suit your fancy. I have to ask, what is that drink in the first picture? It looks divine!

    Thanks
    Claire

    • November 4, 2015 4:01pm
      David Lebovitz

      One of the challenges when writing about places is trying to talk, take pictures, eat…and drink (!) at the same time : ) I can’t recall what that one was for sure. It may have been the Dutch Courage, with genever, sherry, star anise syrup, lemon and fresh cilantro. But the cocktails change often and I’ll ask Amanda and update if I find out otherwise.

  • November 4, 2015 3:57pm

    I will have experience Amanda’s creations and infusions when I’m in France next. Like all folks who stand out from the crowd, they tend to have a passion that is so contagious that even I want to be a bartender now :)

    • November 4, 2015 4:18pm

      Nii, Yes! Passion is the secret ingredient! When you experience someone with a passion about what they do or make or just are, it is impossible – at least for me – to not be drawn in.

  • November 4, 2015 4:15pm

    This is a beautiful profile article, I loved reading this!

  • November 4, 2015 4:38pm

    Spot on Liz! Even Albert Einstein once played down his own talents when he said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curios”

  • November 4, 2015 6:26pm

    Now that you’ve described bartenders as the pastry chefs of the drink world I can’t see them as anything else. It’s so true- it’s a position that relies on meticulous technique coupled with trusting your gut. Those cocktails and snacks look fantastic- I might steal the popcorn idea for my own.

  • Haggie
    November 4, 2015 8:41pm

    This article and photos made me want to go straight to the airport and get on the next flight to Paris.

  • Shirley in SF
    November 4, 2015 9:28pm

    Love the stemware. Wish I knew where to get it? hint hint… thank you for all the wonderful information about Paris David

    • November 4, 2015 9:35pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know where they get their glassware but a lot of places in Paris get their glasses from the place I got my favorite cocktail glasses, mentioned in this post. Give them a try perhaps?

      • Shirley in SF
        November 4, 2015 9:42pm

        thank you David. I remember this post..am addicted to glassware

  • November 5, 2015 2:54am

    I can’t mix a drink to save my life, so when someone can come up with a concoction on the fly I’m always incredibly impressed.
    From your description of Pas de Loup it reminds me of The Alembic in S.F., I’m sure you’ve been!
    I’ve always wanted to try the Experimental Cocktail Club, perhaps a bit too hip for my 40 year old ass.

    • tunie
      November 6, 2015 2:38am

      Fer God’s sake, *represent*, woman! ; )
      Forty is hardly too old in an urban setting. Or anywhere. Spiff up and go play!

  • Debbie
    November 5, 2015 10:42am

    Do you think they will share the recipe for the pierogis WITH the dried beetroot method too????? Maybe an upcoming guest post??? hint hint

  • November 5, 2015 1:48pm

    It’s kind of surprising to learn that cocktail bars are becoming popular in Paris, the world capital of wine. Very exciting, though! This place is going on my list of places to visit next time I’m over there. That celery cocktail sounds fantastic.

  • Elise
    November 5, 2015 2:43pm

    Hi David, Here in Quebec we call nutritional yeast “de la levure nutritive.” I don’t know whether it’s different in France, but I suspect that what is on the popcorn in your photo is actually brewer’s yeast, which is a brownish powder, whereas nutritional yeast, which is also delicious on popcorn, is a bright yellow and more flaky. Thanks for your blog — I have recommended to many of my friends!

  • November 5, 2015 5:32pm
    David Lebovitz

    Alexandra: Wine consumption has decreased in France over the last few years, although it’s said to be back on the upswing. (And I’m doing my part!) Part of it, according to many in the wine industry, is that you can’t show people enjoying wine in wine advertising in France.

    If you walk by a café in many parts of Paris, or a bar in the evening, beer seems to be the drink of choice. Many are drinking it from huge glasses – some so big they are called in slang piscines (swimming pools), which I’m never sure how someone can drink a full one of…!

    Elise: Thanks. Perhaps it’s a difference between the countries. They say Levure maltée on the Pas de Loup menu, but maybe they goofed, although I would imagine the name is on the package when they buy it. All I know is that I forgot how good it is : )

    Amanda: I’m a bit older than you and feel a-ok going into cocktail bars in Paris. We have more experience!

  • june2
    November 6, 2015 2:41am

    The food really does sound amazingly good – such creativity! And I’ve got to say, I love to see woman doing brilliant work in the gastro pub scene in Paris (if that’s what it’s called)!

  • November 6, 2015 8:52pm

    This place looks like my idea of heaven!!

  • Sally
    November 7, 2015 1:21am

    Hi David, We enjoyed your visit with Phil on I’ll have what Phil’s having.

    It was a good segment.

    Thank you for all the delicious reading.
    Sally

  • November 7, 2015 2:22am

    I just came here to get your homemade tonic water recipe, but this post really got me sidetracked. Bloody celeri. That is the cocktail of my dreams.

  • Gail
    November 8, 2015 10:15am

    Pas de Loup was amazing last night! Several of the dishes were variations, like the pierogis had a different filling, but the combinations and presentation had us in awe! Met Amanda and Lina, who were sweet and so talented, we expressed our sincere appreciation of their skills.

    The staff was very appreciative of your write-up of Pas de Loup, and we said we’d let you know, David.

  • Janet
    November 8, 2015 5:56pm

    Nice to see you and your kitchen in the November 3rd My Space piece in the New York Times!

  • Sarahb1313
    November 8, 2015 10:55pm

    Those pierogies sound devine. Recipe?? :-)))

    Are you referring to the now gone Café Kiev on 2nd ave? Yum. Blintzes.

  • November 9, 2015 1:50pm
    David Lebovitz

    Gail: Happy that you liked. They’re both very talented and the staff does a great job. I think it’s a really nice place for a drink, cocktail, glass of wine, and something good to eat that’s not a full meal, but still well-made and fresh.

    Sarah: Yes, it was Kiev. I loved that place.

    Janet: Glad that you liked the New York Times article. It was fun doing it with them.

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