22 Jun REVIEW: KOFF Delicatessen (Paris)
If you’ve been to Paris I’m sure you’re aware of a few things: the Metro is incredibly efficient; the queues for the Louvre are ridiculous; Musée d’Orsay is much more interesting anyway; the Sacré Coeur steps should not be attempted in 29 degree heat; it doesn’t get much better than Prosecco on the lawn before the Eiffel Tower….
And every bistro in town has the exact same menu!
Chicken Leg and chips, Croque Madame, Confit Duck, Salmon, Steak, Cheeseburger. Even the charcuterie boards have identical components laid out in identical ways wherever you go, from the addictive, Shippams-esque pates to the hole-addled bread slices.
It’s as if there might be a Neo-classicist factory somewhere, adorned in bas-reliefs and balustrades and churning out meal after meal on a conveyor belt and deliveroo-ing them to each and every bistro in France’s fair capital, with the only respite coming from a bank-bursting visit to one of the finer dining establishments on offer.
But if you’re worried about a weekend in Paris turning into Groundhog Meal ™ take heart, dear reader, for there are a few forward-thinking restaurateurs out that way doing some wonderfully different things, not least of which is Koff, based a couple of tiers down from Sacré Coeur in the Abbesses district and focussing on well-made burgers and bagels to offer a modern urban alternative to the Parisian masses.
We spotted Koff as we made our sweaty descent from the Sacré Coeur steps and down the winding closes in search of the nearest Metro station and, as an aside, the Abbesses area is well worth a look for any Pirgin (Paris + virgin =). Pockmarked with the usual array of familiar bistro fayre, there are several little gems hiding amongst the repetition (Roberta Restaurant, a few doors down, looks a treat; local ice cream chain, Amorino, must be visited for the Lime and Basil flavour alone; and La Villa des Abbesses is a good example of a bistro trying to go a step above), but I digress. This is about Koff.
After a couple of uninspiring days dining at samey samey bistros, we opted to return to Abbesses and Koff for a spot of lunch. The place seems to have taken inspiration from the growing trend of funky burger bars popping up all over the UK, reflected in the neon signs and pop culture imagery plastered all over the inside walls and blaring an eclectic mix of funky tunes, but also taking advantage of their own location and café culture by spreading seating to the sunshine-soaked street outside.
The missus chose the Chicken Quesadilla (€8,00), doused in cheddar fondue and accompanied by guac and sour cream, the waiter was also happy to add some heat in the form of tabasco sauce at her bequest. I opted for the Blue Burger (€17,00), a medium-rare beef steak patty topped with Bleu d’Auvergne, confit onions and house sauce and served with skin-on fries and salad.
Man, it was a long time coming! Not to say the rest of our meals in Paris were rubbish, but by comparison this was streets ahead. Well-seasoned, melt-in-the-mouth beef, cooked to a standard the Scots are no longer legally allowed to, but it was the blue cheese and house sauce that really made this monster tick and the missus agreed as she quickly mopped up any dribbles that landed on my plate.
All in all it was a quick pit-stop before we headed off to catch our plane home, but one that we would definitely make again and perhaps stay a little longer. The menu boasts an interesting mix of dishes, from Welsh Rarebit to Caesar Salad, so there’s something on there for everyone and makes Koff a welcome reprieve from the standard bistro grub.