Hélène Darroze at the Connaught is one of my favourite restaurants in London so when I heard about her new casual bistro in Paris it was first on my list for my next visit to the French capital. Joia is found in the 2nd arrondissement on the left bank, nearby to other hotspots like the Hoxton Hotel and the popular Sezane fashion boutique.
Inside, the restaurant has a plush feel with jewel coloured seating and grand bookcases. The menu focuses on southwestern-French comfort food, accented with some of the Darroze classics… I instantly spotted the renowned armagnac baba on the dessert section of the menu.
We started our meal at Joia with the irresistibly tasty fried chicken with a mousseline of cumin… I was also tempted by DIY guacamole which arrives with the ingredients and a pestle and mortar to mix yourself at the table.
For main course our waiter recommended the ‘poulet jaune’ from Landes… roast chicken with brioche and foie gras tucked under the skin. It glistened in its roasting dish, adorned with fragrant whole bulbs of garlic. I was in heaven… the soft white meat had more flavour and texture than any chicken you would be served in England, and the skin was crispy, crunchy and flavoured with the most delicious rich filling. There are plenty of sides to choose from, we opted for the carrots which were sweet, soft and perfectly caramelised.
The kitchen couldn’t resist sending us an Armagnac Baba which I relished with fondness. But we couldn’t leave without trying the much lauded millefeuille of crepes with Matcha and yuzu cream. I am not usually a fan of matcha so was a little concerned about this dessert, but after seeing it all over social media felt the need to try it myself. But I needn’t have worried, the matcha is a bitter note in the background while the fluffy white whipped cream and the wonderfully tangy yuzu take centre stage.
After a two hour journey on the Eurostar, a meal at Joia was the best way to start our weekend away in Paris. Just like every other meal of Hélène Darroze’s I’ve tried, it was delicious and memorable, but perhaps a little more accessible than her fine dining establishments.
More information and book a table at Joia restaurant here.