Restaurant Abri

Behind a simple blue door underneath a coffee cup sign by the Gare de l’Est, Japanese Chef Katsuaki Okiyama (Robuchon, Taillevent and l’Agapé) is a master of technique, executing stunning tasting plates with precision at his popular Abri, where regulars love the gourmet sandwich days as much as lunch & dinner.

It has been just over a year since they opened for business – and the place is still as hot as ever.

I made my first reservation back then and invited several chefs, restaurant owners and even my lawyer to join me. Who knew that they’d fall so hard for the place, that these guys have eaten here at least once a week since (on one occasion twice in one day)?

With food this beautiful, delicious & affordable – we wonder just how they do it since the 4-course lunch/6-course dinner is only 22€/38,50€. During lunch recently, we made a list of other restaurants that could benefit from this successful model & who don’t see enough of our business because they seem too expensive for what they serve in comparison.

The assumption in small plate restaurants with Japanese chefs is that you will leave hungry – but at Abri – I’m often sharing the last few bites of my entrees with my table mates because I can’t finish them.

The fantastic menus are presented on a clipboard, and after you choose a fish or meat, the other courses that follow are left up to the chef and his team such as: Delicate shredded crab with yuzu & honey, crispy-skinned lieu jaune fish in coconut lemon-beurre blanc emulsion, seared scallops & girolle-artichoke cream and cochon du lait cooked and served in its own juice accompanied by black trompette mushrooms and crunchy red cabbage.

Savory desserts such as fig crepes with salted butter caramel, chocolate and green tea tart and apple clafoutis with pistachio ice cream are all wonderful, but if the millefeuille of Royal Gala apple tart is available, it is a “must” order. The razor thin pastry dough layered with apple slices are so sheer you could read the newspaper through them.

Some of the natural wine standouts are the Cremant du Jura, 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin and 2010 Pommard Premier Cru.

And the sandwich? Oh, that, sandwich!

Served only on Mondays and Saturdays (available for take away too) it is stacked high with crunchy cooked white cabbage, tangy homemade mayo, fluffy vegetable omelette, course grain Dijon mustard, thin breaded pork cutlet, sweet & sour pork sauce and Mimolette cheese on toast, and dessert and beverage for 13€.

Honestly, there isn’t a thing I would change about the place except that it is too far from my neighborhood to get to join the guys each week… and that it is too narrow for a family-sized table for all of us.

If you love getting a great value, exploring a part of Paris you wouldn’t normally get to and beautifully cooked & presented food – you will love Abri as much as we do.

The “Katsandwich” is 13€ with either a glass of wine, organic juice or tea – and it is even available for take-away. The 4-course tasting lunch is 12:30 – 2pm is a choice of two entrees, plat of fish or meat & dessert for 22€, and the six course tasting dinner is 7:30-10:00 for 3 entrees with fish & meat plus dessert for 38,50€.