If by day, Paris is the city of love, by night, it’s really quite the spot to party!
Of course, there are plenty of clubs in town, but what Paris truly excels at is the understated, intimate sort of party.
Rooftops & champagne bars, teeny-tiny wine bars, and everything in between, it has nothing in common with London’s sweaty clubs and their ‘are-you-kidding-me’ priced drinks.
And the place to be to party the Parisian-way?
The holly hipster area between République and the Canal Saint Martin!
At daytime, it’s home to loads of small clothes & home boutiques, with loads of street art and a handful of nice coffee shops and cafés…
But at night, it’s all about the underground, speakeasy-like bars!
Hidden behind a door that looks just like any other one, at the back of an absolutely ordinary courtyard, is my favourite of them all: Comptoir Général.
If it wasn’t for the bodyguards (and the constant flow of people), you’d never know it was there…
The rather grand entrance sets the tone in terms of decor.
Think colonial palace meets dirty-around-the-edge brothel, with a hint of flea market added in for good measure.
It even gets quite random at times, with a full-sized tiki bar…
… and a full size pirate boat to match!
Which is all rather weird if you think about it, but Comptoir Général is really all about discovering & exploring obscure, marginal & under-estimated cultures from around the world.
And the thing is, the atmosphere you get from those seemingly juxtaposed bits is simply fantastic.
Authentic and relax, fun, very, very bo-bo (bourgeois-bohème, Paris’ answer to our hipster culture!) and a little bit dirty around the edges…
Trendy Parisians come in group, with their friends, their parents and even their dogs for a couple of cocktails, a bite to eat and the garantee of a great time.
There’s a small but to-the-point cocktail list, with brilliant African-inspired drinks full of tropical flavours.
The Draquecito: rum, lime, cane sugar & mint
Basically a pimped-up mojito, and just as refreshing as you’d expect!
Punch Bimbo, a citrus-y take on the Caribbean classic.
And a few too many glasses of the obligatory Planteur.
In hintsight, a few less of those would have been wiser, but the combination of rum, orange, pineapple, guava and mango was just too good to resist!
Starving and a little bit tipsy, we made our way to the next room in search of some nibbles to match.
With that same flea-market-y feel that runs through the whole thing, super friendly staff & a short-and-sweet sort of menu, Comptoir Général’s restaurant is basically a piece of central Africa in the heart of Paris.
With food to match!
We started off with a double order of a Salt Cod puffs with ‘Chien‘ dipping sauce.
Delightfully light and subtle fish doughnuts, and not one dog in sight in the sauce!
Despite it’s name, the traditional dipping sauce from Martinique is actually made of herbs, garlic, chilli, lemon & oil.
Sour, fresh and rather pungent, its the perfect accompaniment to cut through the richness of the salt cod puffs!
Corn hush puppies with fiery Chipotle mayo
Followed by the Special of the day, an Indian-inspired burger.
A vibrant and tasty hommage to the flavours of India, that are becoming more and more popular in Africa.
And an excellent Chicken Maffé (a traditional peanut-based stew from Sénégal), which took me back to a trip to Africa I did many years ago.
Down to Earth, homely food that tastes just like what an Africa Mamma would cook, good cocktails, some cracking music and a winning experience everytime, Comptoir Général is the perfect place to get a taste of Africa in the heart of Paris!
Go with friends, book a table and stay ’til late… It’s always a fun place to be!
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