Eating with a Companion

Internationally inspired dishes made with seasonal and regional products are prepared with a distinctly French touch at Gesa Hansen and Charles Compagnon’s neo-brasserie 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis in Paris. The couple cooked a favourite for us to sample.

The way to the heart is through the stomach, as the saying goes. And we’re left with no doubt as to its truth after a meeting with Gesa Hansen and Charles Compagnon. Gesa, an interior designer from Germany’s Sauerland region — and a passionate adopted Parisian — met her husband, the restaurateur Charles, in his first eatery, Le Richer, where she started out as a regular and ended up a fixture. And in the same way, the couple is now a family of five: the Compagnon restaurant empire has grown significantly over recent years. Besides Le Richer, since 2014 Charles also runs 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis, right around the corner from the new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord in the trendy 10th arrondissement.

‘We love the neighbourhood and live right above the restaurant, except for when we escape to the countryside for the weekend,’ says Charles. His country home is tucked away in the picturesque town of Courances, where he cultivates vegetables and even roasts the coffee that he delivers to his own restaurants and a few other cafés. ‘But the 10th arrondissement has become fairly fancy. The idea behind 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis was to open a modern but affordable brasserie here in the neighbourhood.’

Instead of the usual stodgy fare served in many French bistros, Charles has created a weekly menu of light dishes, prepared using regional and seasonal ingredients. They include delicious treats like burrata with puréed bell pepper and olives, mackerel with broccoli cream and thickened coconut, and lentil salad with aubergine caviar, courgette, and tahini — all of them inspired by international cuisine, and artfully arranged by his creative, multicultural kitchen team — using ‘French techniques’, as the native Parisian is quick to emphasise.

For all its modern dishes and eye-catchingly hip style, the neo-brasserie has nevertheless remained a family restaurant. And it’s certainly a family project: while Charles is in charge of the food and drink, Gesa looked after the design concept and the purpose-built solid wood furniture. All of the pieces were crafted by their own furniture company, which they run as a side business with Gesa’s family in Germany. But the designer only returns to visit the studio in Sauerland ‘once a month, tops’. Otherwise, she can often be found at 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis, where the whole family eats together as often as they can.

Gesa’s favourite dish there? ‘Choux’, she fires back, straight from the hip — the French take on cream puffs and a popular dessert in winter. But she’s equally enamoured with the tuna sashimi and artichoke cream that currently graces the menu, and which Charles has prepared for COMPANION. So are we. And it tastes best of all when sampled with all of your compagnons seated together round a big table.



Sashimi à la Française

For 6 people


300–500 g bonito or tuna for the sushi
500 g artichoke bottoms
12 whole artichokes
12 raspberries

1 sprig of basil
1 spring onion
1 lemon
1 dash of cream butte
white wine
table salt
whole peppercorns


For the sashimi

Ask your favourite fishmonger for bonito or regular tuna to prepare the sushi, reckoning with a good 50 to 70 grams of raw fish per person. Use a sharp knife to slice the fish into roughly one-centimetre thick strips, then season them with salt and olive oil.

For the artichoke-basil cream

Braise the artichoke bottoms — frozen ones are fine, as long as the quality is excellent — in the French ‘barigoule’ style: to do this, lightly braise the spring onion in oil, add the artichoke bottoms, season with salt and whole peppercorns, and douse in plenty of white wine.

As soon as the wine has evaporated, cover the artichoke bottoms with water and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, until they are very soft, almost mushy. Then drain the vegetables and mix in a sprig of finely chopped basil while they are still hot. Stir in some cream, butter, and the zest from half a lemon. Check the seasoning and put the cream aside to cool.

For the artichokes

Strip the leaves off the artichokes until only the hearts remain, keeping around three centimetres of the stalk. As before, braise the artichokes ‘barigoule’ style. The hearts take less time to cook, so check your progress after just a few minutes by poking the tip of a knife into the end of a stalk. The knife should sink in without resistance. Once they are done, leave the artichokes to cool and then cut into four parts.

Serving suggestion

Arrange the artichokes, cream, and sashimi on plates. Slice the raspberries in half (two per portion). Small basil leaves make for an attractive decoration. Bon appétit!






Plus d'articles

Plus d'infos

Mona’s Cake Repertoire

Mona Asuka combines two passions: playing the piano and baking. The Munich-born professional musician tells COMPANION why the two disciplines are in fact quite similar — and she also shares her recipe for the perfect summer cake.

Plus d'infos

Find Your Own Woodstock

Be it for a musical weekend trip with the family, melodious evenings at a winery, or experiencing the jazz stars of tomorrow performing live — COMPANION presents the best festivals close to our cities.

Plus d'infos

Diving into The Forest

Nature, awareness, deceleration, meditation: 'shinrin-yoku', meaning 'bathing in the forest', is a recognised treatment in Japan. It's also spreading to Germany as a by-product of the general mindfulness trend. Why is it so popular? What does the bathing part involve? Accompanied by two guides, partners Carlos Ponte and Emma Wisser, COMPANION headed off to the Mangfall Valley, close to Munich, to test the waters and discover what this activity is all about. Between the trees and wet earth, we learned something about the healing qualities of the forest - and about ourselves as well.

Plus d'infos

The Science of Scent

Subtle and seductive, the aroma molecule Iso E Super was created in a laboratory in 1973. In 2006, the master perfumer Geza Schön bottled it pure to create Molecule 01 - a fragrance that fast gained a cult following the world over. Many more scents later, COMPANION visited Schön at his Berlin apartment and lab to get a whiff of the chemistry behind his 'anti-fragrances', and glean his take on the wellness industry's obsession with nature (hint: it's overrated).

Plus d'infos

Happy Go Vienna

Once again, Vienna has been named the most liveable city in the world. Horse-drawn carriages, Sachertorte chocolate gateau, 'Küss die Hand' - really now? Oh yes, says Zara Pfeifer. Thirteen years ago, she came here from Cologne to study and, bar a few short hiatuses, has stayed ever since.

Plus d'infos

Petit Paris

In all its sophistication, Paris often feels very grown up. But the pleasures it holds for pint-sized bon vivants are manifold, if you know where to look. Xavi Vega, general manager of the new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord and father of two-year-old Sofia, helped us plot out the city's treasures for les petits. The Catalan-born Francophile first moved to Paris in 2009, and returned in 2016, after a short intermezzo in Madrid. Together with his wife, he delights in raising his daughter amidst the culture, cuisine, intellectual rigour, and simple pleasures the city so elegantly embraces. Here are his secrets to sharing the Parisian art de vivre with your little ones on a weekend in and around Paris.

back to
now we are talking.

Informations sur l'univers 25hours et actus locales - inscrivez-vous ici !