Located at the heart of the 10th arrondissement, Grand Café d’Athènes is a Parisian bistro of Mediterranean charm and Greek zest. Inspired by the burgeoning culinary scene in Athens, the restaurant combines a contemporary, easy-going vibe with a menu of traditional Greek dishes cooked with French finesse. This is the second venture from Chef Chloé Monchalin and Benjamin Rousselet, whose collaboration is driven by their shared passion for Greek cuisine. Whereas their first project “Filiakia” (kisses in Greek) was a canteen-like eatery serving gourmet Greek street food, Grand Café d’Athènes is an all-day restaurant evoking the weathered charm of contemporary Athens where patrons can enjoy their morning coffee, snack on a koulouri — a ring of bread sprinkled with sesame seeds that constitutes the breakfast-on-the-go for many Athenians — grab a kebab sandwich for lunch, or unwind after work for a hearty dinner with friends or family.
Designed by Studio Parisien, the bistro’s interior design channels the motley charm of modern Athens where rundown buildings and dusky taverns coexist with crowded cafés and swanky new bars. Underpinned by a subdued palette of earthy hues, the space transports guests to a Mediterranean haven: distressed walls, marble table tops and mottling floor mosaics that give way to salvaged ceramic tiles, are combined with floral wallpaper, pistachio-painted wainscoting and vintage light pendants that Chloé spotted during her travels to the Greek capital. Thonet bentwood chairs and suede upholstery imbue the space with French elegance, while an eclectic collection of books, candlesticks, ceramics and vases echo the colours and textures of Greece.
Inspired by Chloé’s Greek mother-in-law’s cooking, the menu comprises a range of meze and comfort food dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients that patrons are encouraged to share. Classic mezze such as homemade tzatziki with freshly baked pita bread, olives from Kalamata, zucchini fritters and “spanakopita” with feta cheese and aromatic herbs can be combined with cooked octopus with mashed potatoes, fried calamari with smoked chili mayonnaise or grilled lamb chops with red cabbage couscous, as well as staples of Greek cuisine such as moussaka, fasolada and crispy pork gyros.
The food menu is accompanied by an eclectic wine list that brings together some of Greece’s most outstanding wines and a selection of classic cocktails re-imagined through a Greek lens: Mastiha Mojito, made with mastiha liqueur from the island of Chios, Meli Daiquiri sweetened with Greek thyme honey and Athenian Sunset, a Greek-style Spritz based on vermouth, tonic grapefruit, marigold flower and elderberry.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a range of deserts like “loukoumades”, traditional donuts bites dipped in honey syrup and served with cinnamon ice cream, while in the morning guests can taste a selection of breakfast treats like “bougatsa”, a traditional pie with custard cream filling and Greek yogurt with pistachio granola. Served on colourful terracotta plates which have been handcrafted and painted on the Greek island of Sifnos, the dishes at Grand Café d’Athènes are a distillation of both Greek gastronomy and craftsmanship.