PAPI may be small, but it’s already mighty. Although it’s been open for just a few months, Étienne Ryckeboer’s new venture, with a menu as short as its name, has become a contender on the Parisian market since it opened in...
A taste of elsewhere from the moment you push the door open, you have the idea that you have arrived in a slightly faded Cuba. Family photos support the fact that it’s Maria Marguerita, whose nickname is Margús, who is the queen here. The inspirational grandmother of the site’s founders, Jean-Charles and Alexandre. Mid-way between France and Colombia, the Quillet family explores and plays with South American flavours with verve and panache, and leaves us with a savour of spicy surprise on our lips. Tacos, tapas and sliced meats are in the spotlight, accompanied, of course, by carefully selected beverages. Without a doubt, Margús wishes us a safe journey.
Margús, 1 rue des Prouvaires – 75001 Paris. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 12:00 to 14:30, then from 19:30 to 23:00. Temporarily closed.
Margús is a family story. Can you tell us more?
Indeed, it is the family that inspires us above all because our history is composed of travels, of mixed cultures! We are three boys born of a Franco-Colombian marriage. Our parents met in Paris. Our mother came to explore Europe with her backpack and guitar and ended up working for the Café de Colombie in Paris in the same building on the Champs Elysées where my father worked for Rémy Martin. The rest is their story, and the beginning of ours. We travelled a lot thanks to my father’s work, but we came back to France to take our Baccalaureate because it was important to my mother that we had a French education. My brothers decided to go into finance. For me, it was travel, entrepreneurship, adventure… We finally met again in Paris.
The desire to work among brothers around the same passion: the restaurant business.
How was the restaurant project born?
Margús is the second restaurant we have created. The first was Sōma, a Franco-Japanese zakaya that was a great success from its opening in late 2014. At the time my brother Alexandre was still working in finance, and his role in the restaurant business was that of investor and advisor just like our older brother Philippe. From the beginning our dream was to work as a family, each bringing his own experience. It was when he embarked on this second adventure that Alexander left his job to devote himself 100% to entrepreneurship. Margús is a tribute to our Colombian origins, an invitation to travel through our childhood memories. It’s our way of saying thank you to our mother and grandmother for instilling in us a sense of family, which is what we hold most dear.
Margús, why that name?
That’s the nickname we gave to our mother and grandmother, both named Maria Margarita. It’s affectionate, family-oriented, personal: just like how we like to receive our clients. The logo comes from a portrait of my grandmother with whom we grew up. The original portrait is at the back of the room. That way she keeps an eye on us. Sometimes I think she’d be proud to be with us on this adventure… and Parisian!
Who took charge of the decor? What did you want to achieve?
When we discovered this place in the heart of Paris, the interior immediately transported us to Cartagena, Havana or certain districts of Rio, Buenos Aires… This place looked very Parisian to us, and by adding a little colour, it could become very Latino! At the same time, we found some old family photos that were left tucked into drawers in a country house… this adventure was the perfect opportunity to share with Paris our vision of Latin America.
What do you eat here, what do you drink here?
This restaurant is above all a place for sharing, meetings and sometimes parties. The idea is to find these large tables filled with relatives at family meals, often involving a main course surrounded by several side dishes. This new menu by chef David Kjellstenius is a real cultural bridge between Europe and Latin America. It is very feminine, sensitive to local and seasonal products. It is an approach that we respect very much and that we wanted to rapidly absorb into our DNA. It’s something our father would have liked. In the same way, we find many varieties of French and South American natural wines. We are children born of a mixture of cultures, and it was important to us to help people discover our two worlds.
You must also taste the cocktails my brother makes!
Is there a Margús flagship recipe yet?
I don’t know if we can speak in those terms, it’s a little pretentious! We change the menu almost every day, adding and removing some dishes. The chef plays with what he finds at the market or with exceptional suppliers like Annie Bertin. In any event, our sweet potatoes have a certain success, it is difficult to remove this dish from the menu!
If you had to describe Margús in a few words?
A friendly space, where you can escape.
Family-friendly, warm, greedy!
D you have plans and aspirations for the future?
Photography & Text: Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily