The moment we decided to have North African food for dinner on Friday night the puzzle begun. Where to go? Even if we know plenty of North African restaurants in Paris, the beauty of eating out is also about discovering new things. My husband had read Le Figaro‘s review of Paris’s top ten couscous restaurants and we used it as our compass. Direction: L’Atlantide, Parc Buttes Chaumont, the 19th arrondissement! I discovered North African dishes when I moved to Paris in 1999 and deepened my knowledge while working in Algeria. My husband used to eat couscous in his childhood once a month. Together we did an amazing trip across the Algerian Sahara some years ago and every night by the fire we were served the most delicious lamb couscous, prepared by our Tuareg guides. So, as you can imagine, a lot of wonderful memories associated with couscous!
Upon our arrival at L’Atlantide I felt right away that the restaurant may be Algerian. The nomad-like style (in comparison to the more common Mauresque-like architecture) reminded me of one of the couscous restaurants in Algiers. The menu pointed toward Kabylie: it is not in many restaurants that one can find a typical Kabylie couscous dish called Ameqful where semolina is steam-cooked with seven different types of vegetables and mixed with olive oil in the end. And my intuition was right: the server confirmed that the restaurant is Kabylie, and specifically from Tizi Ouzou.My husband promised to taste Ameqful the next time and opted instead for Seksu, which is a more common couscous dish of vegetable stew served with lamb, grilled chicken and merguez sausages. I hesitated between a fresh vegetable tajine and a dried fruit tajine, and chose the latter. The accompanying grilled almonds, onion confit, dried raisins and prunes married well with the lamb, and the Moroccan red Guerrouane, Les Trois Domaines 2011, had a hint of the Mediterranean sun in it. Everything was very, very good, and on the top of everything, L’Atlantide is one of the least-expensive top couscous (and tajine) restaurants in the central Paris.
L’Atlantide: 7 Avenue de Laumière, 75019 Paris. Tel. 01-42450981. Metro: Laumière
The Michelin review: http://restaurant.michelin.fr/restaurant/france/75019-paris/l-atlantide/40xzl4u
Previous posts about eating North African food in Paris are:
L’Alcôve: finest meat of Paris (also serves couscous and tajine, but the house specialty is grilled meat –delicious!)
L’Homme Bleu: Berber hospitality in the center of Paris (reputable couscous and tajine restaurant but I was disappointed during my last visit)
Le Tipaza: refined Moroccan food (a good address near the Eiffel Tower)