A friend once told me there are Right Bank people and Left Bank people. I'm an incontrovertible Left Bank person. Very little could convince me to cross the Seine or even leave the single-digit arrondissements, for that matter (I'm the type of person that stays in bed all night, thirsty, because I don't want to go get a glass of water, or risk having to get up again to use the bathroom afterward). My Free Kitchen changed that. Paris' first gluten-free, lactose-free, organic restaurant and coffee shop is the swift kick I needed to get me out of the 7ème and into a wonderland of healthy, celiac-friendly foods.
Monday through Friday, Carole and Philippe Kanaan serve up breakfast, lunch, and delicious pastries with corresponding Brazilian, Ethiopian, and Indian coffees. "Coffee is like wine," explains Philippe, who recommends chocolate-tinged Brazilian coffee in the mornings, and an Indian infusion with green apple notes on rainy afternoons. My Free Kitchen's Saturday brunch is already making waves- gluten-and-dairy intolerant friends rave about their cheesecake and bruschetta.
Everything is prepared fresh each day, from creme de lait à la fleur d'oranger to savory cakes and lasagnas, with ingredients sourced from organic providers. My Free Kitchen carries a unique selection of gluten-and-lactose free products, like Altiplano and Mongozo beers, three-ingredient tomato and spinach pasta imported from a small Italian producer, cereals, and- my favorite- baobab juice. Carole, whose CV includes Ralph Lauren and Christie's, among others, was diagnosed gluten intolerant two and a half years ago and wanted to create a restaurant that made people with restricted diets feel normal, not hopeless or deprived. "The idea is to eat gluten-or-lactose-free without knowing it," she says. A profusion of Lebanese spices, orange blossom, almonds and pistachios ensure foodies can't taste the difference.
The Kanaans tweaked favorite recipes to provide "Healthy food for gourmands," a tagline perhaps best exemplified by My Free Kitchen's pretty pastries. Get this: their logo (a clog on a green background) is a play on the French word sabo, which stands for seigle, avoine, blé, and orge (rye, oat, wheat, and barley). Mind blown! The brother and sister team of Philippe and Carole are so heartwarming that I called my own brother yesterday- which I never do, because we both hate talking on the phone- and told him he had to spend his spring break here in Paris, expressly so we can brunch at My Free Kitchen. He sent my call to voicemail, though.
Anyway, the other night I had dinner here with the ladies from Bon et Sans Gluten, Gluten Free In Paris, Food & Dolce Vita, and Frichty, plus some of the owners' very nice friends (and a cute French bulldog named Gisele). How zero-waste is this table setting? The delicious gluten-free, dairy-free menu included eggplant quiche, quinoa salad with avocado and mango, chocolate and orange-almond tartes, muffins, and savory cakes on glass, porcelain, and wood serving dishes. We ate with real silverware, wine glasses, and pretty plates and les vraies Parisiennes gave me restaurant recommendations and tips, like where to get the freshest burrata (Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, on Thursdays). Click here for the Gluten Free Métro Map of Paris.
My Free Kitchen1 bis rue Bleue
Metro: Poissonnière or Bonne Nouvelle