Considering Rémy & I both had to go to Paris for immigration paperwork, we used it as an opportunity to check out the veggie scene in the City of Love. We were happily blown away, which unfortunately now means we have the urge to go to Paris all the time.
Upon arriving at the first glimmerings of dawn on a smoggy Thursday morning, we headed downtown to check out the original shop, Bob's Juice Bar. We got there just as it was opening at 7:30am and the place was deserted save for us. First impressions: Generally groovy. Simple. One main table à la Old Town Café in Bellingham, meaning there's a possibility for chatting it up with other customers. A cactus & a guitar in the window. Shelves of books in both English & French & some pretty damn good ones, too. And a shelf full of paper bags of fresh local produce, which as I understood it could be purchased weekly as an easy way to eat local & in season, like we can at our farmer's market back home.
The guy behind the counter, a fellow Anglophone, was nice but not super chatty. Normal as he was busy opening shop. We ordered two smoothies & lemon poppyseed muffins which came directly out of the oven, moist & warm & oozing with deliciousness. Granted it has been a few years since I've eaten a muffin of any kind, at least since I've been living in France, but those muffins were literally heaven in my mouth. If I could order delivery to Clermont, I would do it every morning.
In the early afternoon we headed to Kitchen, the newest addition to "Bob"'s veggie/Paris scene, which does more lunch food/mealy type stuff than Bob's, which seems to be more breakfast-oriented. (Of course I was at Bob's in the early morning & Kitchen afternoon, so maybe these assumptions are false, I don't know.) First impressions: Packed, which means the food must be fab. Bigger than Bob's, with two long family-style tables. An electric guitar & a piano which rocks. Three or four employees, the type of people who smile at you and you just want to KNOW them, you know? Interesting people, intriguing, and I could say the same about the customers, too. AND, the cherry on top, "BOB" himself (Marc Grossman) greets us! We walk in carrying a Nalgene & he asks us who makes them, etc., interested because their water bottles are known to not leach chemicals into whatever liquid they're holding. We chat about his bagel book, about the states, about food in general. The guy chats up a storm & in the best way. He seems genuinely interested in what you have to say & he just has a presence about him that makes you smile. Chatting with one of the staff members we mentioned that we had been to Juice Bar that morning & she left us this nugget of wisdom: "Yeah, both are awesome but they have totally different vibes. People generally tend to stick with one or the other." It seems totally true. Juice Bar seems much more mellow, Kitchen very chatty & upbeat.
We got there late afternoon, not too long before closing maybe around 14:15 or 14:30 so we weren't trying to be choosy and opted for the "whatever you have left" menu, which turned out to be veggie guac burgers served on a bed of spinach with potato salad & coleslaw on the side. De-lish. Unfortunately Rémy was still healing from his bout of strep throat last week & was not feeling too hot, meaning I lucked out & basically got to eat twice.
We ended up going back the next day for lunch to try out more. Rémy had a pesto veggie burger & I had the gaspacho soup with a raw salad. Smoothies both days, both different, both fabulous. Plus on day two we met an awesome vegan couple from Indiana grâce à la table commune and spent a good hour or two swapping stories & working on Rémy's English! Both days the staff were fabulous, the kind that makes you want to stick around after closing & see what their lives outside of work are like; both days the food rocked, the kind that makes you want to eat there for lunch every day of your life, granted you lived in Paris & make a good chunk of change.
All in all, Coutarel & Coutarel give both resto's two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Thanks Marc for starting something epic & the staff for being awesome & we hope to see you again soon!