Dining in Paris: The once run-down neighborhood of Belleville is now home to an exciting new dining scene

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Chef Emily Chia, trained at St John’s in London, delicately balances finesse and pleasure, creating complex dishes that don’t seem stuffy. During a recent visit, scallop tartare with shavings of fennel and persimmon, haddock and zucchini with saffron sauce, and gourmet wild mushrooms on brioche stood out. A cheesecake topped with oozing figs finished the meal off perfectly, and we managed to drag ourselves in before ordering another cocktail and staying past midnight.

The rapidly changing seasonal menu is complemented by low-intervention wines, all organic, biodynamic or natural. Lax buys directly from winemakers across France and Europe, and has 200 bottles on his list, with many more stored in a cellar downstairs.

An infectious joy seems to escape from the kitchen and behind the bar. “I believe that if the person cooking the food is unhappy, the people eating it won’t be happy,” Chia said.

Small plates are €6 to €18 (S$9 to S$26). More information here.

LADY JANE

39 Rue Ramponeau, 75020 Paris

Close to Le Grand Bain, you’ll discover another world of character: stepping into Dame Jane is like being invited into the living room of a long-lost aunt. The aunt’s name is Julie Caute, owner-master-in-the-kitchen, and she welcomes guests brilliantly.

The space is tiny (less than 20 seats), the decor soft and tasteful. A strong believer in the overall restaurant experience rather than a simple focus on food, Caute has cleverly devised a way to do it all, recently changing the format to accommodate residencies for other chefs.

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