I have a lot of friends who are vegetarians, vegans even, as a food lover I do appreciate the ethical reasons why they choose this, but it does make eating out in Paris with them somewhat problematic.
But Le Potager du Marais seems to have solved this much needed hole in my mental lists of “places to take visiting friends”.
It is cosy and small, and within walking distance of central Paris's top tourist draws. So as it is almost always packed, make sure to book or prepare to be told to come back in an hour. The menu is not that extensive but ranges far enough to cover the needs of vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diets, as well as offering some dishes that taste suspiciously similar to their traditional French (and meat based!) predecessors.
We sampled the seaweed tartare and baked potato for starters. The seaweed tartare was a salad of seaweed with a citrus dressing, delicious and fresh but a bit heavy on the citrus which made it a bit hard to finish.
The baked potato starter was much more exciting than it sounds, served with beautiful edible flowers, a swish or puree pumpkin, a topping of olive tapenade and a handful of crushed peanuts thrown on. It was a pretty and unusual take on the baked potato, not an approach I had encountered before but one I will absorb for my own personal repertoire, but as with the seaweed tartare, there was just too much of it for a starter portion size.
For my main I chose the seitan boubignon (modelled on the beef dish!) and my friend chose the quinoa burger, less traditionally French but still sounding good. The boubignon was fantastic, it was packed full of herb and red wine flavours and tasted just as any boubignon should, and in fact it barely tasted any different to the well established beef version to me.
Obviously the texture of the seitan differs to beef, but it was a pleasant surprise and I ate it all as happily as any other boubignon I have had. Truly wonderful (and perhaps a good dish for those who fear they may miss the presence of meat on their plate). The quinoa burger was pretty good too, my (vegan) friend loved it, but I have to say I preferred my meal!
For dessert we shared a crème brûlée and chocolate mousse. I was greatly intrigued by what a vegan crème brûlée might be like, and I had somewhat mixed feelings. It had a strong taste of ginger, and if you put out of your head any previous encounters with crème brûlée, then it was maybe ok, if you like ginger. It simply was not as decadent and thick as I am used to it being. So I was not 100% convinced though and my dinner date enjoyed it much more than I did.
The chocolate mousse however was much better, it was made from dark chocolate and I honestly could not tell that it was dairy free. I ate the lion share of this one and let her contend with the brûlée.
Price wise, with starters from €8 to €16, and main courses from €16 to €20, expect to spend around €40 to €50 per head.
The bottom line is it’s the perfect place to take the vegan or veggie in your life, especially to sample some French food as they undoubtedly suffer with the token ratatouille available on most menus, or if you simply want to try out something new.
Address: 24 Rue Rambuteau, 75003 Paris Metro: M11, Rambateau Website: www.lepotagerdumarais.fr/ (“en construction”)
Phone:01 57 40 98 57 Hours: Open Wednesday to Sunday, 12:00 to 15:00 and 19:00 to 22:30