Since moving to Paris, I’ve made it my mission to try at least two new restaurants a week, dinner on a weekday and brunch at the weekend. The best thing about this country is definitely the food so I’m going to eat my way through Paris and hope that I don’t turn into a balloon in the process. The thing I’ve missed most about England/uni is brunch! Every Saturday and Sunday my university hall would serve a full English breakfast with lots of bits for you to choose from and whilst I love pain au chocolats, nothing beats a good hash brown. When my friend suggested we try Holybelly, a trendy brunch spot that is renowned for its coffee, I couldn’t have been more excited. A place that offers both a full English and pancakes? Double yay!
Holybelly is a located in the 10th arrondissement near the Canal St Martin, which is well known for attracting Parisian hipsters. Walking up the road towards Holybelly there are lots of other trendy places on the same road but none of these places have quite the same reputation. I kept walking and eventually I found the pavement blocked by a gaggle of people waiting outside what looked like a small cafe. I’d found Holybelly. It didn’t look like there was any sort of orderly queue so I was a bit confused as to what to do at first. Then, a classic American hipster stepped out and shouted out a few names. These were the lucky few who could enter. At this point I was thinking that I should probably just leave and find somewhere else to eat but seeing as my friends still hadn’t arrived, I put my name down on the waitlist anyway. I was told that the wait would be a little over an hour. Ergh. Would it really be worth it? There was quite a lot of hype even outside Holybelly with lots of English speakers talking about the amazing reviews they’d read online and so on and so forth. Most of the people outside seemed to be foreigners or tourists so I assume real Parisians know when to come to avoid the crowds – or maybe there are always crowds.
After waiting for an hour, my name was finally called! We were seated a long table at the back with lots of other people and handed menus. Of course the menus come on clipboards. How else would hipsters do it? There’s a wide range of yummy brunch options including porridge, pancakes and eggs. You can opt for a healthy black rice porridge with coconut milk or go all out and get pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. My two friends and I all opted for eggs, which you can have scrambled, poached or fried, and two sides. There are lots of options for sides including: goat’s cheese, mushrooms, hash browns, Holy baked beans, a sausage patty, salad etc. This comes to €12.50, which really isn’t bad for Paris, though if you want an extra side that’ll cost you another €3. I went for scrambled eggs, baked beans and a hash brown (photographed below). They don’t serve traditional bake beans, instead they have their own little mix, which I didn’t think I’d like but I actually loved. They’ve mixed in some different beans and added a bit of spice which add an extra kick to this traditional brunch. The scrambled eggs were light and creamy and the hash brown was crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, just as they should be. The bread was also pretty darn good, but, being in France, that goes without saying. The general consensus from all of us was that a) we had been starving and b) this was one of the best brunches we’d ever had. I’d say this is a traditional brunch with a twist. On paper it looks like your typical English breakfast but each item is ever so slightly different from what you’d expect – in a good way.
As for the drinks, there’s a pretty extensive list of hot drinks with various types of coffees, espressos, lattes, hot chocolate etc. My friend ordered a piccolo (otherwise known as a baby latte) and even went as far as to say that this was the first good coffee he’s had in Paris. He’s been here for two months. I myself am not a huge fan of coffee but from reading other reviews the general consensus seems to be that Holybelly serves some of the best coffees in Paris.
I ordered a chai latte which is now up there on my list of top chai lattes in Paris, though I don’t think it topped the one I had at Oh Mon Cake!!, another popular brunch venue. The chai flavour is quite strong but there’s also a generous layer of froth on top which is exactly what I wanted. For those who’d rather have something refreshing and cool, the fresh juice seems to be the next best option and it’s served in a jam jar so it automatically gets my approval.
All in all, Holybelly definitely lives up to, if not exceeds, its reputation. I have been to a lot of brunch places in Paris, all of which have been excellent, but Holywell has everything – great food, great vibe, great decor. I ended up spending €16.50 here, as did my friends, so depending on what you order I’d say you’re looking at between €12 and €20, which really isn’t bad for this kind of brunch in central Paris. The staff are all fluent in English and French and many of them seem to be American so if French isn’t your strong point, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you’re planning on coming here I’d definitely recommend arriving either before 12pm or after 2pm at the weekends as anytime inbetween will involve a lot of queueing (though the queueing is definitely worth it).
19 rue Lucien Sampaix
9am – 6pm on weekdays
10am – 6pm on weekends
Closed on Tuesdays and Wednedays
(This is my first foodie review, constructive criticism welcome!)
*All photos belong to What’s Hot?