Elsa and Ryo spent 4 and a half days in Paris and had many food adventures. This one is focused on a Basque place we found.
Ryo was researching for places that offer brunch in Paris and discovered that brunch buffets were a thing. Curious as to what exactly this entails, Elsa and Ryo chose a place to visit locally after a very sunny walk on the Coulée verte René-Dumont (Promenade plantée), an elevated green walkway on an old railway line. I highly recommend the walkway as a brilliant place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris!
Elsa: There were plenty of people eating outside Le Petit Baïona, but we were escorted to a table inside, possibly because the waitress thought we wanted to sit inside or because there was no space outside. The waitress explained she didn’t know English, so I was semi-excited at having our first potentially authentic Parisian eating experience. The interior was an odd assortment of wooden furniture combined with hanging dried chillies and football shirts framed and put on the ceiling. It was cosy with a hint of oddness.
Ryo: Since we went there at odd hours (2pm?) for brunch, I guess it was more afternoon tea (minus the tea) than the brunch but there were still plenty of people at the restaurant – which I think is a good sign! The interior looked Spanish in a way with Jamon hams and dried chillies hanging on the ceiling but then this is a Basque place so I guess there is a bit of overlap. Oh, about the waitress – she doesn’t speak English but the service isn’t rushed so you can comfortably communicate with a bit of elementary French and some body language. There is definitely a relaxed feel about the place, possibly because it is situated well outside the central Paris (slightly residential part of the 11th district).
Main brunches were ordered (Classic Brunch: €19.50, Basque Brunch:€24.50, both come with a glass of orange juice), but whilst we waited we helped ourselves to the buffet. We also ordered a bottle of rosé.
Elsa: There was a nice mixture of hot and cold savoury foods including mini pizzas, quiches, chicken skewers and wraps. They were all quite good, but the mini pizzas and quiches were especially nice. I felt these were better than the standard buffet food I’d get at a buffet place in Manchester.
Ryo: We didn’t take a photo, but the buffet was in the corner of the restaurant looking somewhat like corporate finger food for a meeting with a tray of quiches, sandwich rolls and mini pizzas. However, the mini pizzas and quiches were amazing! They were very creamy and cheesy in a good gooey way. The mini pizzas were especially good. They had almost non-existent dough underneath so you could enjoy the toppings without feeling stuffed.
Elsa: There was also a good mixture of salad, mozzarella and plum tomato skewers, greek salad, avocado salad and not shown here, the potato salad. Now despite being Irish, I have never really liked cold potatoes, which is why I didn’t grab it in this photo. Ryo later grabbed this and OMG, it was amazing! I regret not getting it earlier, I’m so sorry, Potato…
Ryo: Okay, I am very tempted to make some Irish cold potato jokes (not that I know any, but I’m sure Google will tell me some) but I’ll stop. So returning to the salad, veggie section – nothing complicated or fancy in here, just good and fresh salad that go quite well with the rest of the food from the buffet.
Elsa: I grabbed a few pieces of crepe because we were on our 2nd last day and by this point have still not tried French crepe. I spooned some chestnut paste on to the plate to complement the crepes and then proceeded to add french toast and a cheesecake. I grabbed some of the mousses but disappointingly it turned out that the two yellow ones were both mango, just inverted fillings. These were all quite nice, but particularly the chestnut paste. It was sweet without being too sweet and had all the gorgeous flavours of a chestnut.
Ryo: I would have loved to have some light fruit salad but most desserts on the dessert section were on a slightly stodgy side (french toasts, crepes, scones and cheesecake – we didn’t choose, but I remember there were some chocolate cakes?) or rich (various mousses). Individually though, they were all very nice. French toast had a very nice eggy texture and the cheesecake had ginger biscuit base which made it less boring. The mango mousse was very light and fruity but the chocolate mousse was… just chocolate mousse. I have to say by this time I was so full (and drunk), so I only have a hazy memory….
Dish 1 – Classic Brunch
Elsa: I ordered the classic brunch and was not disappointed. The plate composed of a chicken drumstick, roasted potatoes, leaf salad, coleslaw, cold meats and scrambled egg in the middle. The scrambled egg was particularly creamy and a delight to eat. I was also very impressed with the potatoes as they were very nicely flavoured and not dry. The combination gives a good balance of yin and yang, something that Ryo and I have discussed in depth in the past. The idea is that basically the foods have a neutral balance so if something was stodgy, you’d eat something fresh with it to balance things.
Ryo: I think I tasted a bit of everything from Elsa’s plate but I have to say, I don’t remember much but looking at the plate – yes! The plate does demonstrate yin and yang well! Oh I must point out, the basque brunch slightly more expensive and comes with a dessert plate but the classic brunch doesn’t. You still have access to the dessert section in the buffet though.
Dish 2 – Basque Brunch
Elsa: The Basque brunch was very nice as well. The eggs and cold meats were the same as the classic, but the meatballs were a nice warm addition, along with tomato saffron rice in the tin.
Ryo: This plate definitely had the Basque flair and I was very happy to sample some of their specialities. The meatballs and tomato saffron rice had a chilli, spicy kick – something you don’t find that easily from other regions in France. But my favourites was cheese, especially the slice of brebis cheese. I have a soft spot for any brebis products from the Basque region (especially the yoghurt from “le Petit Basque”) and that cheese had this amazing nutty flavour and creamy texture. I bought a pack of brebis cheese from a supermarket and yes, that was enough to make me want to explore the French Basque region more.
Elsa: The Basque brunch also came with a dessert – a slice of Gâteau Basque (or sometimes called Basque tart in English) with cherry sauce. Cherry is one of my favourite dessert fruits so I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Ryo: I love Gâteau Basque. It’s not the lightest tart in the world – in fact, the almonds paste and egg yokes make it quite heavy and rich. But the sharp cherry sauce nicely balances the richness of the tart so it doesn’t feel as heavy as it could be. The one I had before had cherries inside the tart, but I actually preferred having it separately – as I can have all items individually and together.
Elsa: This was a really nice place to go to and I wouldn’t mind coming back here given the good food and good service. I would, however, be very keen to try out a different brunch buffet place if I do come back to Paris as I do like my food adventures!
Ryo: The French man (aka le husband/the menu translator) is very keen to try this place as well, so I am definitely visiting this place again when I come to Paris next time.
- Address: 90 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France
- Website: http://www.petit-baiona.fr/