It's like walking into a different world - leave behind the limestone columns and grand monuments of central Paris and enter a distinctly Thai world, filled with towering Buddha statues, hanging chandeliers and intensely fragrant aromas. Though you've not quite been magically transported to Phuket, welcome to the second best thing: Buddha Bar.
Situated not far from Paris' famous Place de la Concorde at the head of the Jardin des Tuileries, Buddha Bar is classy, underground and completely unexpected considering its Parisian surroundings. Its prestigious location should give you some idea of the dress code - well-dressed clientele line every inch of the interior and trainers will be stared out before you can take a step in the front door.
If, however, you are lucky enough to get past the lovely gentlemen on the front door, the first thing that hits you is the heavy bass coming from the DJ booth, playing atmospheric beats and the latest in house music - certainly not what you'd expect from a Thai fusion restaurant. But even though it is a little loud, it fits the atmosphere, and the décor, perfectly.
If you haven't booked, be warned that you may have a bit of a wait on your hands, but seeing as there's a very suave-looking bar in which to wait, it's of little matter. Situated on a balcony, the bar looks down onto the restaurant below, so grab yourself a cocktail and enjoy the aromas drifting up from the depths. The cocktails, for one, are beautiful to behold. Made with all the flair and fresh fruit you could possibly want, they've got the regulars on the menu, as well as a cheeky few of their own.
Dark, lavish and sultry is the only way to describe your surroundings once you've been seated. Rich tapestries adorn the walls and enormous chandeliers hang from the ceilings. You won't be able to tear your eyes away from the slightly intimidating Buddha that towers over all proceedings but once you've had your fill, check out the menu (that is, if you can see it - this place has taken mood lighting to a whole new level). As far as recommendations go, if you feel like a starter, their sushi bar is the indisputable favourite, whilst the main courses comprise of rather small yet satisfyingly good portions of rich Thai blends and flavours. The prawn curry is a winner, served in two halves of a coconut shell, and the black cod is also cooked to perfection.
This restaurant is, needless to say, one for special occasions. The portions may be small but the prices are not quite their equal so best save this one for an especially impressive evening rather than a regular night out in the French capital.
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Smoking area: no
Details: 8/12, rue Boissy d'Anglas, 75008 Paris