One of the great things about being an adult is that you can eat ice cream for dinner and sometimes, when I’m in a really low mood, this thought alone cheers me up. And it appears there are others who revere the frozen stuff. Ruby Tandoh recently described soft serve as being “so large in [her] imagination that it’s no longer a food at all but a totem”. She also pointed out just how brilliantly superfluous ice cream is: you don’t need it to survive; it doesn’t add much nutritionally speaking; it serves no other purpose than imparting pure, unadulterated pleasure – something I’m happy to get on board with.
Since opening during Covid, Folderol – the new darling of the hip 11th arrondissement – has been striving to cultivate a similar feeling. Created by the husband and wife team behind Le Rigmarole (a popular Franco-Japanese restaurant also in the 11th), this glacerie bar à vin hybrid has now successfully established itself as a neighbourhood favourite. Ostensibly ice cream with wine is an easy sell, but creating an entire establishment around just these two things, and doing so harmoniously, is a tricky ask.
The last time I drank wine and ate ice cream at the same time was Christmas 2021 in a frenzy of post-pandemic festive guzzling. Needless to say the ice cream-wine combo at Folderol presents itself with a little more sophistication – think stainless steel coupes, wafer-thin wine glasses, and handmade waffle cornets rich with notes of caramel and brown butter.
Paris is still very much caught up in the natural wine trend and all the wines on offer at Folderol are either low-intervention or biodynamic. So far so good, but what makes me slightly anxious is that there’s no menu to choose a natural wine from. Our charming server asked my party what kind of wine we’d like to drink, telling us that she would choose on our behalf. Her reassurance that “she wouldn’t stop” until she found the perfect wine for the table was not entirely convincing and we all yearned a little for a paper menu (ideally, with prices included). Still, she brought us a bottle of Les Fainéants d’Opi d’Aqui from Languedoc, which was funky and barnyardy, with undertones of very ripe plums. My companions weren’t too impressed, preferring the house red we went on to drink at a nearby crêperie, but I was pleased with her choice. You definitely need to be in the mood to be challenged by your beverage, so don’t rock up to this bar expecting anything you’ve tried before – it likes to keep you on your toes.
While I may have been excited by the wine, I was nigh on giddy to order my ice-cream. Folderol’s ice cream making process mirrors their ‘hands-off’ wine offerings, the focus being on simplicity and quality ingredients. Flavours shift daily and are selected according to the season, or what looks good at the marché that day. Every ice-cream is made fresh each day in small batches, and such care and attention to detail does not go unnoticed. On the evening we arrive, there were just a handful of flavours on offer, each as tempting as the next: apple sorbet, yoghurt, spicy chocolate, peanut, olive oil, pistachio and mandarine. I’d like to say that I made my choice based on what would best complement my glass of red, but that would be a lie. Pistachio and yoghurt did in fact go down quite nicely with the wine (the tangy yoghurt acting as a sort of palate cleanser for the very earthy tipple), but the ice creams complemented one another best of all. The pistachio, thankfully, tasted heavily of pistachio nuts (not flavouring), and had a pleasing creamy texture offset perfectly by the extremely tart yoghurt number. I nicked a spoonful of my companion’s spicy chocolate and olive oil coupe, and was surprised by the subtlety of both: the chocolate, deliciously dark and bitter though it was, was the only flavour I got, and the olive oil was just OK — lightly floral and again, creamy, but altogether a bit underwhelming.
My biggest contention with Folderol is not the wine, nor the ice cream but just how uncomfortable it is. So cool for school it is there’s practically no seating, other than a couple of (really chic but painful) bar stools scattered around the horseshoe shaped bar. So if you’re looking to while away an evening, or leave without backache —forget it. I get what they’re trying to do: recreate what every other Parisian bar does, and develop a space where everyone stands, mingles, and spills out onto the terrace. Unfortunately this doesn’t really work when you’re serving ice cream alongside the drinks. Perhaps I’m just too provincial in my approach, but I found it rather awkward to juggle eating my ice cream and quaffing my wine whilst standing up in a crowded bar. I’m told that the space holds thirty people, but it was already getting a bit steamy (and not in a good way) with half that amount inside. As it was, we didn’t linger and hurried to finish our wine in order to find somewhere more comfortable to sit.
Despite these grumbles, it’s hard to not be charmed by Folderol’s conviviality. The owners have managed to create a gloriously folderol world of sensual pleasure. At the heart of this glacerie-come-bar à vin lies a genuine desire to show us that, as adults, eating ice cream and drinking wine at the same time is pretty much as good as it gets. They’re not wrong. I just wish I could have a seat.
10 Rue du Grand Prieuré