Brunch is big. Brunch first began in England during the 19th Century, and it has now evolved to become the most important meal of the week to people living in most major cities around the world. Brunch is about going to a beautifully decorated cute/hipster/bobo endroit, waiting at least 45 minutes for a table, ordering the same food you could easily make at home for at least half the price, and while this may all seem to be frivolous and pretentious, no café will ever justify your decision to get a flat white like Holybelly.
I was first introduced to this little place dedicated solely to the art of brunch about a year and a half ago, and needless to say it’s become my favourite eatery in Paris. Holybelly is situated in the 10th arrondissement, just around the corner from République and Canal Saint Martin. It boasts not only the best coffee in town bought from the understated, ethical and legendary Brûlerie de Belleville which buys its beans from fair trade coffee farmers, but it also offers delicious, locally sourced ingredients served by the kindest staff who work together like a well-oiled machine. Superlatives can never be laid on too thickly when it comes to Holybelly.
On weekends, you can expect to wait for a table for around 45 minutes to an hour and a half, during weekdays (apart from Tuesdays and Wednesdays), around about twenty minutes. But don’t let that put you off, after a stroll around the Canal or some vintage shops, your table is ready and you can go ahead and a mug of their famous savoury pancakes.
The cuisine itself cannot necessarily be put into one category, which is most obvious when it comes to their monthly specials, just recently a friend ordered their special of corn bread with home-made baked beans, the next month it was baked camembert with walnuts and fresh greens, the next it was Chilaquiles. If you don’t feel like the special, there’s always eggs in any style you like (my go-to is always their effortlessly cooked poached eggs) with one of their famous sides, most recently I chose their rich baked beans with fresh hummus, which was refreshingly zesty and smooth. Their lunch menu, served from 12pm to 2:15pm on weekdays only, showcases chef Sarah Mouchot’s skills further by serving up caramelised cauliflower with beluga lentils, beetroot and their delicious hummus, haddock with a herb and citrus crumble, and homemade tortilla with trout and lemon and herb confit.
Holybelly’s dishes always give you a new twist of old time classics. Take pancakes for example, their ‘Sweet Stack’ pancakes are gloriously fluffy, and are served with fruits in season, crushed hazelnuts, the finest maple syrup and crème fouetée. Though, I would recommend sharing this rich dessert. Most recently we shared it between three of us, and our waiter gave us a knowing smile and said “Wise Choice.”
On an ecological note: I have yet to see a piece of single-use plastic on its premises. All napkins are fabric, I don’t think I’ve even ever seen a straw, the plants on the table are real (which, for some reason makes me irrationally happy). The kitchen is part of the ambience of Holybelly, it isn’t shut away but out there for all to see and marvel as the staff prepares, cooks, laughs and dashes about, there are even seats up on a counter facing it so you can get hypnotised by their seamless system.
Holybelly is by far and away the best brunch café in Paris, and guess what? Three years since opening its doors for the first time, a second Holybelly ( #HB2 ), is currently under construction, is getting ready to welcome old and new friends to its new, huge space which will be open seven days a week, and will able to seat 120 customers at one time. Get ready to say goodbye to waiting outside in winter weather! The plan is to open the sister establishment during the spring 2017. Watch this space, it’s only going to get better from here!
Feature image courtesy of: Holybelly