The most famous antiques market in the world has been a place of peregrination and emotion, for Philippe Starck, since childhood. With Fabienne and Philippe Amzalak, owners of Eclectic, he is making a dream come true by setting out his table here, in a restaurant named ma cocotte. ‘Ma cocotte’ (litteraly ‘my hen’ – a nickname that French use with their close friends & family members) is appropriately tender for what is a stall representing the art of living, rather than just a restaurant; a home, rather than a canteen. Its sole ambition is to provide a warm and welcoming refuge for antiques enthusiasts.

Open from morning to evening, all week and weekend, it promises to be a new focal point for the theatre playing out among the 400 stands of the Serpette and Paul Bert markets, as well as a tangible sign of Saint-Ouen’s revitalisation. A pleasant and comfortable rallying point where everyone is invited to get involved. Stall-holders, locals, Parisians and travellers – ma cocotte belongs to anyone looking for a little bit of home or the comfort offered by a bowl of hot soup. ‘A bowl of hot soup that you eat at your grandmother’s early on a Sunday morning in winter,’ says Philippe Starck. This image was his starting point for the restaurant’s decor. A simple and unfashionable recipe, mixing fresh, high-quality local ingredients for 250 diners.

In terms of its packaging, this bowl is a huge duplex in a purely industrial style, with a brick and zinc façade, covered with ivy and giving onto the market via two large terraces. In terms of its content, the menu created by Yannick Papin, the chef of Le Bon, is evocative of a return to the market, while the decor, woven around the open kitchen, combines various ways of appropriating the space in a poetic whole that is faithful to the stallholder spirit.

ma cocotte restaurant

‘ma cocotte can’t be described. ma cocotte lives. Not much theory, no style, no fashion. Just a very clear desire. The desire for a place warmed by its fireplaces and its kitchen, made alive by its friends and its cooks, the kind of free space where anything can happen, rich in the surprises that are hidden or shown on or in the walls. Is it a bistro in Paris? Is it a cafeteria somewhere else? Was the brick there? Were the floor tiles really put together by a naive madman? Are the bronzes cast in stone deliberate, or is it a mistake? Are there even more hidden away somewhere? Would the Droog bathroom be better in a clinic? Did they forget to paint the chairs? Didn’t they have enough money to make the lamps and the cutlery match? Who put together this incredible collection of surrealist photographs? Why are the fireplaces there and yet not there? At ma cocotte, there are more questions than answers. All that matters is what’s in the bowl and who you’re eating with.’
— Philippe Starck —

 

ma cocotte restaurant

Extending the metaphor of a bowl of hot soup eaten at your grandmother’s arly on a Sunday morning in winter, Philippe Starck talks about ma cocotte as an obvious recipe, that of a Proustian memory brought to life. However, on the territory of antiques markets where ma cocotte makes its nest, the dream is never far away. It is distilled by a bizarre fantasy, knitted together by strange connections and improbable meetings, all occurring around the open kitchen – the soul of the restaurant and the heart of all homes, with a decor full of winks and surprises.

ma cocotte restaurant
©macocotte

ma cocotte restaurant design

As Philippe Starck warns us, ma cocotte restaurant can’t be described. The place lives; you could even say it breathes once the cooks enter the stage. Against a background of light or lacquered wood, of bricks and shuttered concrete, it connects a series of eclectic furniture and objects – many of them picked up from the market stalls (in fact, some of them are still for sale) – in the manner of a collage. On the floor, the parquet is punctuated with large patterns in cement tiles deliberately unsuited to the premises. On the walls, the fireplaces are used as frames, surrealist photographs question everything, and the shelves seem to heap together the harvest of a compulsive collector, under the surprising and sophisticated inclusions of bronzes and earthenware cast in stone. There is a similar diversity at work in the lighting, which shines from many sources and mixes together retail lamps and ceiling lights found in markets or produced especially for the restaurant, such as the surprising mirror ball agglomerated by the artist Régis-R. In this way, the space is filled with surprises, sown like so many ironic changing points on which its imagination is suspended, creating secret rooms in odd corners. A poetic approach that extends to the toilets which, ever since Café Costes in 1984, have been a stylistic signature for Philippe Starck.

ma cocotte restaurant
©macocotte

This informal mix of objects and poetry produces a reassuring feeling of positive nostalgia, so that a clock whose hands move backwards seems like a symbolic object. At ma cocotte, time is suspended and the hours pass without resembling each other. Snacks at any time, cocktails in carafes and shared plates for aperitifs, a set lunch menu and dinner à la carte in the evening, breakfast in the week-end…open seven days a week from 11am to 11pm (from 9am on Saturdays & Sundays), ma cocotte changes as the day progresses, allowing you to forget that time is passing.

ma cocotte restaurant
©macocotte

Whether you eat alone or as part of a group, ma cocotte lets you appropriate the premises for yourself. A big table by the bar for lovers of good cheer. Intimate rooms on the first floor for those who prefer to talk among themselves. Or the classic setting of high and low tables to allow everyone to choose their favourite viewpoint. It’s open plan and you are free to sit where you like!

ma cocotte restaurant
©macocotte

 

ma cocotte has two large terraces, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor. When the sun comes out, the bay windows that span the facade open up like garage doors, allowing free communication between indoors and outdoors. But even in winter, there are tables out there so you can drink a hot chocolate under a comfortable blanket. Among the more discreet figures in the Parisian restaurant scene, Fabienne and Philippe Amzalak’s career has, since 1986, included names such as Fouquet’s, the first French franchises of Häagen-Dazs, and the Maison du Danemark. In 2006, they took the reins of Le Bon, redesigning its identity in collaboration with Philippe Starck. Another success and another demonstration of their expertise in creating restaurants in tune with their times and with attentive but informal service. Their second collaboration with Philippe Starck, ma cocotte is also the first restaurant that Fabienne and Philippe Amzalak have overseen from the beginning, rather than having to revive. They have been completely involved in the development of its concept and are the most important guarantors of the warmth and soulfulness that this new restaurant promises to share with the city of Saint-Ouen and its stallholders. A mischievous rejoinder to the institution that Le Bon has become, offered in the same spirit of an excellent welcome and excellent food.