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Khoollect eats: Hollybelly, Paris

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Dining in Paris?

See which other cafes made the top of our Paris must-visit list, and check out our interview with Lindsey.

Photos by

Charissa Fay

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(No Ratings Yet)
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Dining in Paris?

See which other cafes made the top of our Paris must-visit list, and check out our interview with Lindsey.

Photos by

Charissa Fay

Lindsey Tramuta is a francophile with a taste for fine coffee. We asked the author of The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement to spill the beans (pardon the pun) on one of her favourite Parisian cafes, Holybelly. Here’s what she has written about it:

Holybelly: where good coffee meets good food

Holybelly was the lone ranger in the realm of mixing good coffee and good food when they opened in 2013 and have been the ‘ne plus ultra’ in brunching ever since. I knew there was something different about Holybelly before the café-restaurant even opened its doors. Back in 2013, I discovered Nicolas Alary’s work as a photographer for Kinfolk Magazine through mutual friends and quickly began following him on Twitter, where his profile led me to his ‘Behind the Bar’ blog (now called Holyblog), a forum to document his journey with Sarah Mouchot, his partner in life and business, into the restaurant world—their first foray into entrepreneurialism.

Alary chronicled everything from the birth of their idea to the grand opening, with play-by-play specifics of all the administrative hurdles, financial challenges (and the emotions that result from them), and construction delays in between. It was the most honest and surprising account of starting a business I had ever seen written online from a French person. Publicising personal matters, especially those related to finances, is generally considered untoward, but they spared no detail.

‘When we were putting together our business plan, we were looking for help through the process but had trouble finding any. It was our way of having a trace of our own progress and creating a resource for others,’ Alary told me.

You would think, as I did, that it should be easy enough to offer quality food and quality coffee under the same roof, especially in a city of such culinary might and sensitivity to taste. But even now, several years after Holybelly first opened, no other establishment has been able to replicate or even approximate their simple but unequivocally good approach to both. And that’s true on all fronts: food, beverage, service, and design.

The primacy of hospitality has been a hallmark to their business ethos from the start, one that challenged long-held models of indifference in Parisian service. To that they owe their experiences as expats in Vancouver and later in Melbourne. ‘We left France partly because there was no way to harness our own energy. Paris was slow and heavy . . . and nothing was changing,’ explains Alary. ‘I realised just how much Paris was suffering on the coffee and affordable food front when I saw firsthand how good it was elsewhere.’

In the time that they lived outside of France — with Alary perfecting the art of specialty coffee at Market Lane in Melbourne and Mouchot gaining serious kitchen experience at Duchess of Spotswood — things in Paris were creeping forward. When they returned to France in 2012, they sensed there was change in the air. ‘There was finally good coffee and interesting food but hardly anywhere to get both (and by food, I mean actual meals, not muffins and coffee shop nibbles, with a proper kitchen on the premises).’ The timing proved to be right for their idea, and they tackled the project with a more North American approach to risk taking. ‘France breeds ‘safe’ workers, rarely go-getters. Entrepreneurial motivation must be within you already, because the state certainly isn’t going to nurture it!’

Despite some built-in barriers and a challenging start-up system to navigate, they felt they owed it to themselves to bring to life a space they knew the city would welcome. Holybelly, as they initially imagined it, was relatively modest.

A laid-back atmosphere to unite good specialty coffee and fresh, seasonal food, much like the innumerable “brekkie” joints they frequented in Melbourne. Breakfast and brunch means eggs three different ways, a smattering of rotating sides, house-made granola, or sweet and savoury pancakes (among the best I’ve had anywhere). During the week, a savoury lunch menu guided by the seasons whose inspirations can’t be easily defined. Some dishes are Anglo, some are French, some are Mexican (white fish brandade, lentil dhal, split pea and ham hock soup, or paleron de boeuf ) — it’s all about what the duo wants to eat themselves.

‘Eggs and sides first thing in the morning was a hard sell for Parisians initially because it wasn’t part of the breakfast tradition (which is mostly toast, pastries, and coffee) but now they’ve gotten into it. It’s been exciting to see them open up!’ beamed Mouchot. They quickly learned they had tapped into something unique in Paris when they became a magnet for both coffee aficionados and breakfast lovers within weeks of opening. Besides movie premieres and burger trucks, I had never seen Parisians queue enthusiastically for anything, and the queues for breakfast midmorning, even on a weekday, were long. People turned up as much for the prepossessing interior — original floor tiling and exposed brick, leather banquettes and reclaimed wood tables, a stunning skylight strung with twinkle lights, plants that make it feel like you are dining in a garden, and an open kitchen with bar seats to watch Mouchot and her sous-chefs work — as for the ‘best brunch in Paris’ and proper service.

Three years later and as busy as ever, the couple’s greatest strengths have been an amalgam of factors, including their exposure to the Australian brekkie culture of high-quality coffee and full, savoury breakfast pastries. They came back to France, observed a gap, and jumped headfirst into unfamiliar territory. They are natural storytellers and community builders, making diners feel like guests in their home and their staff invaluable members of the family (and all it takes is one look at the menu, peppered with anecdotes and pop-cultural quips, to get a sense of their character). But key to their success is their physical presence — Alary in the front of house and behind the coffee bar, Mouchot as head chef in the kitchen—that ensures the restaurant embodies the values they established in the beginning and will have longevity.

‘We’re lucky that we’re a duo and have complementary visions. We each have aspecialisationn and can maintain the quality.’ In each flat ‘Walter’ white, a reference to the leading character in the critically acclaimed television series Breaking Bad and a weekend special, is a singular energy that has roused not only the 10th arrondissement but also the city at large.

Book credit: The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement by Lindsey Tramuta (Abrams, out April 18, £18.99) Image credit: © 2017 Charissa Fay

 

Dining in Paris?

See which other cafes made the top of our Paris must-visit list, and check out our interview with Lindsey.

Photos by

Charissa Fay

Lindsey Tramuta is a francophile with a taste for fine coffee. We asked the author of The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement to spill the beans (pardon the pun) on one of her favourite Parisian cafes, Holybelly. Here’s what she has written about it:

Holybelly: where good coffee meets good food

Holybelly was the lone ranger in the realm of mixing good coffee and good food when they opened in 2013 and have been the ‘ne plus ultra’ in brunching ever since. I knew there was something different about Holybelly before the café-restaurant even opened its doors. Back in 2013, I discovered Nicolas Alary’s work as a photographer for Kinfolk Magazine through mutual friends and quickly began following him on Twitter, where his profile led me to his ‘Behind the Bar’ blog (now called Holyblog), a forum to document his journey with Sarah Mouchot, his partner in life and business, into the restaurant world—their first foray into entrepreneurialism.

Alary chronicled everything from the birth of their idea to the grand opening, with play-by-play specifics of all the administrative hurdles, financial challenges (and the emotions that result from them), and construction delays in between. It was the most honest and surprising account of starting a business I had ever seen written online from a French person. Publicising personal matters, especially those related to finances, is generally considered untoward, but they spared no detail.

‘When we were putting together our business plan, we were looking for help through the process but had trouble finding any. It was our way of having a trace of our own progress and creating a resource for others,’ Alary told me.

You would think, as I did, that it should be easy enough to offer quality food and quality coffee under the same roof, especially in a city of such culinary might and sensitivity to taste. But even now, several years after Holybelly first opened, no other establishment has been able to replicate or even approximate their simple but unequivocally good approach to both. And that’s true on all fronts: food, beverage, service, and design.

The primacy of hospitality has been a hallmark to their business ethos from the start, one that challenged long-held models of indifference in Parisian service. To that they owe their experiences as expats in Vancouver and later in Melbourne. ‘We left France partly because there was no way to harness our own energy. Paris was slow and heavy . . . and nothing was changing,’ explains Alary. ‘I realised just how much Paris was suffering on the coffee and affordable food front when I saw firsthand how good it was elsewhere.’

In the time that they lived outside of France — with Alary perfecting the art of specialty coffee at Market Lane in Melbourne and Mouchot gaining serious kitchen experience at Duchess of Spotswood — things in Paris were creeping forward. When they returned to France in 2012, they sensed there was change in the air. ‘There was finally good coffee and interesting food but hardly anywhere to get both (and by food, I mean actual meals, not muffins and coffee shop nibbles, with a proper kitchen on the premises).’ The timing proved to be right for their idea, and they tackled the project with a more North American approach to risk taking. ‘France breeds ‘safe’ workers, rarely go-getters. Entrepreneurial motivation must be within you already, because the state certainly isn’t going to nurture it!’

Despite some built-in barriers and a challenging start-up system to navigate, they felt they owed it to themselves to bring to life a space they knew the city would welcome. Holybelly, as they initially imagined it, was relatively modest.

A laid-back atmosphere to unite good specialty coffee and fresh, seasonal food, much like the innumerable “brekkie” joints they frequented in Melbourne. Breakfast and brunch means eggs three different ways, a smattering of rotating sides, house-made granola, or sweet and savoury pancakes (among the best I’ve had anywhere). During the week, a savoury lunch menu guided by the seasons whose inspirations can’t be easily defined. Some dishes are Anglo, some are French, some are Mexican (white fish brandade, lentil dhal, split pea and ham hock soup, or paleron de boeuf ) — it’s all about what the duo wants to eat themselves.

‘Eggs and sides first thing in the morning was a hard sell for Parisians initially because it wasn’t part of the breakfast tradition (which is mostly toast, pastries, and coffee) but now they’ve gotten into it. It’s been exciting to see them open up!’ beamed Mouchot. They quickly learned they had tapped into something unique in Paris when they became a magnet for both coffee aficionados and breakfast lovers within weeks of opening. Besides movie premieres and burger trucks, I had never seen Parisians queue enthusiastically for anything, and the queues for breakfast midmorning, even on a weekday, were long. People turned up as much for the prepossessing interior — original floor tiling and exposed brick, leather banquettes and reclaimed wood tables, a stunning skylight strung with twinkle lights, plants that make it feel like you are dining in a garden, and an open kitchen with bar seats to watch Mouchot and her sous-chefs work — as for the ‘best brunch in Paris’ and proper service.

Three years later and as busy as ever, the couple’s greatest strengths have been an amalgam of factors, including their exposure to the Australian brekkie culture of high-quality coffee and full, savoury breakfast pastries. They came back to France, observed a gap, and jumped headfirst into unfamiliar territory. They are natural storytellers and community builders, making diners feel like guests in their home and their staff invaluable members of the family (and all it takes is one look at the menu, peppered with anecdotes and pop-cultural quips, to get a sense of their character). But key to their success is their physical presence — Alary in the front of house and behind the coffee bar, Mouchot as head chef in the kitchen—that ensures the restaurant embodies the values they established in the beginning and will have longevity.

‘We’re lucky that we’re a duo and have complementary visions. We each have aspecialisationn and can maintain the quality.’ In each flat ‘Walter’ white, a reference to the leading character in the critically acclaimed television series Breaking Bad and a weekend special, is a singular energy that has roused not only the 10th arrondissement but also the city at large.

Book credit: The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement by Lindsey Tramuta (Abrams, out April 18, £18.99) Image credit: © 2017 Charissa Fay

 

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Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney. READ MORE BY Sonya Gellert

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