Review: Bones, Paris


Sophie Dening dines at Australian chef James Henry’s “furiously sceney” Paris restaurant, Bones, where process and production is everything

Bones Paris

As the bistronomie movement enters its third decade, the most interesting openings in Paris continue to be at the looser, hipper, younger end of things. Furiously sceney when it opened at the beginning of the year, Bones was at the top of my list when I went to Paris two weeks ago*. I took a friend who once worked in banking, now publishes geopolitical and scientific non-fiction, and prefers Papa Haydn to punk rock. He very much liked it, and so did I.

The front area, which is where all the noise comes from – bobo chat, full-throated laughter, Iggy & the Stooges – is a no-reservations wine bar. It’s on the moshpit side of busy, and you’ll be compelled to mill around unless you can find a bit of window ledge to get territorial about. We gratefully advanced to our table on the upper level. It’s only slightly raised up, but you still get a sort of view over the sashimi and oysters slipping down in the bar, and the whole suckling pig glowing on the counter.

Australian chef James Henry cooks in a small open kitchen at the rear, serving a €40 set menu that changes every few days. He previously cooked at Au Passage, nearby at Oberkampf, where his seasonal “small plates” won intense admiration. At Bones, he gets to do exactly what he likes, and what he likes seems to be the process behind the product: pickling, smoking, barbecuing and, daringly, baking his own incredibly good sourdough bread and churning his own butter.


We ate amuse-bouches of sea urchin with goat’s yoghurt (made in-house) and sesame oil, barbecued octopus with romesco, and a pork bouillon with fermented cabbage. Next came pollock with clams and smoked onions, and fantastic lamb with pan-fried salsify and singed brussels. Pudding was unpretentious and lovely: caramelised apples with jasmine sorbet. The plaid-shirted boys running the dining room could do with a bit more vim and vigour, but we were kept informed, and the food was so good, delicate and deftly done, we didn’t mind feeling slightly abandoned at moments.

Henry says he has kept it small (26 seats) partly in order to have a bar that’s “genuinely a place to come by just for a glass of wine or a beer”, and it’s the bar that gives Bones its balls. All that energy bouncing off the brick walls, concrete floors and marble-topped tables makes for fun, young gastronomy. Book a few weeks in advance. Dinner only.


Bones, 43 rue Godefroy Caviagnac, Paris 11e
+33 (0)9 80 75 32 08;

* The rest of the list, in case you’re interested:

Vivant Cave: Bâtard-Montrachet, salad of mandolined veg with Parmesan, tattooed forearms.

Roseval: hip bistronomie with friendly vibes and a savvy sommelier. Don’t sit at the counter in midwinter without thermals on.

Abri: for the best sandwich in Paris (Mondays, Saturdays) and tasting menus the rest of the week. Good luck getting a rezzy.

Au Deux Amis: great food, hot staff, pub atmos. It’s always packed to the rafters – ça bouge, literally.