More of Paris branche’

One of the wine bars and restaurants NOT mentioned in Nouvel Observateur’s Paris’s Top 400 branche’ spots was Chai 33 located at Cours St. Emilion in Bercy Village.
This may not have made the Nouvel Obs list, but it definitely rates high in my book.

Chai 33 is a combination restaurant and wine bar. The building is divided into four sections: wine store and casual wine-tasting cafe, 2nd floor ‘formal’ bar, formal restaurant and wine cellar. Don’t confuse the word ‘chai’ with tea. This place has nothing to do with tea. Chai is the French word for wine depot and the whole Bercy Village consists of restored wine depots.
There are many reasons why I became enthralled with Chai 33. We stumbled into the wine bar around three in the afternoon. (I like finding places in Paris where you can drop in, sip wine and have a bite at any time of day). The manager immediately took us under his wing and introduced us to some southwestern wines. When he saw that he had piqued our curiousity, he pulled out a bottle of South Dakota wine (yes, South Dakota, USA) and proceeded to explain how these were technically derived from the OLDEST VINES anywhere). Is this the truth? I’m not a wine expert, but I was still quite floored to have a French wine specialist introducing me to a South Dakota wine in Paris. We spent the afternoon sipping wine, snacking on spicy sausage and cheeses, and checked out the restaurant for a future date.
Chai 33 has a different concept about drinking wine. They encourage diners to take a walk into the wine cellar, choose their bottle of wine, not according to what they plan to eat, but by the sort of tastes that please them. I don’t want to wreck the experience for you if you ever decide to go there, so I won’t tell you HOW you choose your wine, but I think this is an incredibly fun way to approach wine tasting.
If you plan on meeting friends, the upstairs bar is a great spot to hang out for a while. Slabs of stone serve as low tables and a cross between Adirondack chairs and ‘chaise longue’ give this trendy bar a laid back aura.
If you plan on one special night out in Paris, this is the place I’d suggest. Other restaurants may promise greater culinary masterpieces (for which you will pay dearly) but Chai 33 offers a menu with diverse choices for the diet conscious, vegetarians, etc. You can count on having a good meal with a wine that suits your taste and budget, and above all, a good time.