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Grand Pan (Le)

20, rue Rosenwald (15)
Tel: 01-42-50-02-50

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Le Grand Pan was well discovered before our visit. Five years old and well- reviewed, it seemed as if everyone was a regular or at least a repeat. A good sign.

Small. Out of the way on a back street in the 15th. Two rooms. Tiny kitchen. Blackboard menu featuring meat and emphasizing the quality of the ingredients. For the most part the dishes and preparations are simple, but the food was superb. A very happy restaurant.

We will be back.


We were back two months later. Even better. Such high energy. Such a diverse crowd. All ages. Almost all French. Almost all ordering steak, veal chop or pork chop for two. An addition to our Favorites list.

An insight: The picture of the chef sticking his head out of the kitchen window reminded me of the now chic and over-hyped L’Ami Louis 25 years ago, under the original chef and ownership. Same regular devotees, obscure neighborhood. Meat-focused.

Grand Pan is not for everyone. For some, 55 seats in this tiny space would contradict their image of fine French dining. But if you like Le Regalade (See 14th), etc., you’ll love Le Grand Pan.


Le Grand Pan does not require a fresh review following another outstanding October 2016 dinner. It is not a Diary “Favorite” for nothing. But rereading my comments from earlier meals fails to fully convey how good and how unusual this small, out of the way, casual, crowded, informal, meat-centric bistro really is.

Rare in recent years – anywhere – we were the only Americans and the only tourists at dinner. As at every other meal there, the dominant clientele is older, middle-class French couples for whom this is less date night than “Let’s eat out”. They are regulars; not wealthy, chic or particularly sophisticated, and they are warmly welcomed, notwithstanding that in food terms Le Grand Pan has become widely known, by fellow chefs particularly, many of whom, I think, envy its full tables every night and its simple approach to casual dining.

Other than the middle class couples, young (and not so young) groups of French businessmen occupy most of the other tables, parties of 4 or 6. All (and most others) order either the grilled sliced pork chop, veal chop or steak, with sides of salad and thick cut frites, the restaurant’s specialty, preceded by heaping boards of carefully sourced charcuterie.

It is authentic, thriving and if not for everyone, great fun for staff and patrons alike. And at 121€ for 2, with wine, water, coffee and cocktail, a bargain.


At a 2017 dinner unchanged, in all of the best ways. High energy staff. All French. Many regulars. Everyone having fun. With chicken galantine over red cabbage and celery remoulade with crabmeat, our favorite grilled veal chop for two, one dessert and a (more) expensive wine plus one aperitif, 163€.

FOOD

Sliced veal chop in light cream sauce for two. Exceptional. Other options: beef or pork chop prepared similarly, also one fish, lobster, duck breast, etc. Most simply cooked on plancha.

First courses cepes and string bean salad with smoked duck breast and foie gras. Desserts: Pear tart, plums with mascarpone.

SERVICE

Two waiters handle the rooms professionally, quickly and casually.

PRICE

153€ for two, with mid-priced (44€) wine. Also wine specials (on blackboard we didn’t see until we left).

(6x) (2014-2017)

Au Bascou

38, rue Reaumur (3)
Tel: 01-42-72-69-25

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A find, made more surprising by the nondescript location in the 3rd and the equally nondescript exterior appearance of the restaurant. Interior slightly more encouraging, but hardly imposing. Chef, however, comes with serious credentials. Was #2 to Alain Senderens, chef at then 3-star Lucas Carton.


Not sure why it took us 3 years to return to what our first 2 visits invited designation as a “Favorite”.

Food very good, and unusual. 18€ for 2 course formula lunch, outstanding – at any price.


Still scruffy in a scruffy neighborhood in the 3rd Arr. Not uncomfortable (maybe the bathroom), but decidedly rundown. But not in the kitchen, where the Basque chef/owner continues to turn out a menu plus a long list of daily specials, all of which look, taste and are homemade. No pretenses. A loyal regular crowd always greeted as friends by the chef. In five meals, never another foreigner in the house. Still a favorite.

FOOD

Unusual Southwestern food and wines. Not Michelin-starred flawless, but exceptional flavors, all well executed. A la carte menu plus long list of daily blackboard additions. Stuffed peppers, grilled griolles, confit of lamb “brick” wrapped in filo, fig tarte, traditional tourtiere of apples and prunes. Menu faithful to regional traditions.

Ravioli Royan (tiny ravioli filled with cheese and herbs), followed by roast cod or sliced fresh sausage with potatoes aligot (mashed with cheese). Desserts: fresh pear crumble and prune and apple tortiere (a style of tart). All first rate.

SERVICE

Informal, but professional. One waiter, one hostess/waitress.

PRICE

Reasonable a la carte prices. 10€ starters. 17€ plates. Numerous blackboard specials, some higher. Low priced wines. Great meal for the price. Formula lunch.

126€ for two, with 35€ wine. 25€ three course formula lunch.

(5x) (2010-2017)

Agrume (L’)

15, rue des Fossés Saint-Marcel (5)
Tel: 01-43-31-86-48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Until included in a New York Times survey of this week’s hottest places, it may have languished in anonymity. No more. Smallish. Modern. Completely open kitchen its best feature. Four seats at the pass. In few other restaurants I know can one be “in the kitchen” like in this one.


Our fall, 2016 dinner, the first since…

Rereading comments from 4 visits 2011-2013, some has changed, some not. Price for 5 courses now 45€, up from 40€. An amazing value. No more wife. Instead, a competent server. Still 28 seats, including bar seats at the pass virtually in the small kitchen watching the chef perform a tightly wound, completely focused ballet. A very nice meal without the kitchen theater, but an extraordinary experience with it. Each of our 5 dinners included both menu and theater.

What is missing from my previous comments is just how good the food is and how well thought out the menu and individual dishes.

FOOD

Chef, stager, dishwasher. That’s it. Five fixed courses. No choice. Food with style and finesse, interestingly chosen and carefully plated. Plus more expensive a la carte.


For our 2016 dinner, cold foie gras in celery root soup with foam, scallop cru with avocado mousse and apples, filet of sole with carrot puree and asparagus, chicken breast with potatoes, and mango with whipped cream for dessert. Each course carefully imagined, prepared in front of us from scratch, meticulously plated, appropriately, but highly sauced and delicious to eat.

SERVICE

At the bar, the chef serves. At the tables, his wife does (or did, see above). A small operation with service suitable to its ambition.

PRICE

40€ chefs menu. Four courses, plus a la carte. Set meals exceptional for the price, on the theme of Epi Dupin and L’Affriole.

(5x) (2010-2016)

Fontaine de Mars (Le)

129, rue Saint Dominique (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-46-44

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Great look. Warm welcome. Good food, but on one Sunday night, few French in sight. Still, a good Sunday choice. Very popular. Always busy. Obama’s new favorite. Do not sit upstairs.


A recent Saturday night showed a full house, mostly French. Good food, careful service and new blackboard specials.

FOOD

Quite good. Limited menu plus specials and plats du jour.

SERVICE

Professional, but can be overburdened. Noticeably well- managed.

PRICE

Medium


Re-reading my early review of Fontaine de Mars, subsequently tweaked once or twice, it does not do the restaurant justice.

This is not exciting food, but it is very good food, at a restaurant we have returned to again and again since the beginning of the Diary. It is very well managed, consistent, dependable and increasingly French, notwithstanding the Obama’s date night and the Americans who followed. A recent dinner on a Sunday night was largely French, the restaurant relatively full, the food good and the portions large, with several less predictable dishes. It is the perfect restaurant to take visiting American friends. It looks (and is) very French, and though it rarely surprises, so does it rarely disappoint.

(8x) (2012-2016)

yam’Tcha

121, rue Saint Honoré (1)
Tel: 01-40-26-08-07

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Hard to describe, and why bother? Twenty- four seats, sold out lunch and dinner a month ahead with a one month limit on future bookings. But so good, worth trying. Occasional openings for lunch.

Open kitchen. One (French) woman chef/owner, one Asian helper, dishwasher, three front of the house, including the Asian husband of the chef, in charge of tea pairings. Mostly French clientele. A great meal.


The buzz last year was that Yam’Tcha was temporarily closing for an expansion. Wrong. The only expansion was the chef’s family. A second baby born in April. While the restaurant was closed, it was tastefully renovated, including the menu which basically lists prices and beverage options. There are no menu choices. Every dish is over the top. The staff could not be nicer or more professional, in a professional, but friendly way. For us, a top choice in Paris.


A recent dinner at the two seat kitchen counter reconfirms our past enthusiasm. Very expensive, but in every way memorable, unusual, exceptional and fine. Beautiful to look at, better to eat. Eight unique courses, each exquisite. And a third chef in the kitchen, so now a staff of three, plus dishwasher. Worth repeat calls for a hard-to-book table.


Bittersweet. An early October (2014) dinner was our last meal at Yam’Tcha on rue Sauval. After three more services, it closes to become a tea and Chinese steamed bun take-out shop (see Brioches Vapeur a Emporter, 1st Arr.) while a new, larger (35 vs. 24 seats) restaurant is built around the corner at 123 rue St. Honore. Fingers crossed, the expansion works for the restaurant, and in terms of charm, intimacy and what remains our every-time- best-meal/experience in Paris is able to survive. They deserve to succeed and to prosper.


Yam’Tcha was our favorite restaurant in Paris when it was on Rue Sauval. Now literally around the corner on Rue St. Honore it remains our favorite restaurant, in slightly larger, but more comfortable, more refined space. The kitchen has expanded by 3x or more, allowing for the addition of a pastry chef, a third cook and prep space in the basement. Otherwise, no change, which is very good news. Never a repeat dish. Every meal better than the last. Restaurant and staff keep getting better.


Yam’Tcha now open four days, Wednesday through Saturday. Six course meal which was 120€, now 150€, and still a steal.

 

FOOD

Technically, a fusion menu. Elegant, inventive Chinese-style French food. Tasting menu only. No choice.

100€, multiple courses at dinner and most lunches. Several days a week, a 60€ lunch. One course better than another. A Michelin 1- star. In every way deserved.


Our most recent dinner: Fried shrimp wonton, salad with Spanish ham and quail egg, scallops, foie gras and oyster with potato, steamed sea bass with chili pepper and black bean, chicken breast over shitake mushrooms, cheese- filled steamed Chinese bread, Pavlova with grapes and sherbet, chocolate filled rice balls

There is a great deal of food, served in 10 or so small courses.  It is a long evening.  For us, this is the perfect restaurant.  And it has gotten better, if such a thing is possible.

Still a hard table, but 68 lucky folks succeed every day. The French version of Nexflix “Chef’s Table” has done an episode (with subtitles) on the chef and her family. Next best thing to being there.

 

SERVICE

Attentive, proper, friendly. English- speaking.

PRICE

Tea pairings offered at 25€. Wine and tea combination pairings at 35€. Wines only, 45€.

Lunch 60€ on some days. And lunch on other days and dinner, 120€. No choice. (They know better anyway!)

The food could not be better, the fixed meal more interesting or diverse, the paired wines more tasty or generously poured, or the service more intelligent, solicitous and genuinely warm.


The legendary American food authority James Beard was once asked, “Mr. Beard, what is your favorite restaurant?” He famously responded, “Why madam, it is the same as yours, a restaurant where I am loved.”

We feel loved at Yam’Tcha, but that took time. We became familiar clients because we returned trip after trip to experience warm hospitality, beautiful French/Asian food consistently executed and served at the highest standards by lovely people who hardly change year to year.

Our 2019 lunch confirmed – once again – that this is our favorite Paris restaurant still. Book early. (And if you fail to book, or fail to land a precious table, consider an impromptu lunch at the Boutique around the corner on Rue Sauval, the original Yam’Tcha location, where they serve tea and steamed buns (bao), including the “cheese course” at the restaurant.)

Or try the newest offshoot, a more overtly Asian casual restaurant and take-out, Café Lai‘Tcha, across the new Les Halles Park accessible from Rue Sauval at 7 Rue du Jour  (around the corner from the 24 hour Au Pied du Cochon.)

(12x+) (2012 – 2019)

1st Arrondissement, Favorites|

Rotisserie d’Argent (La)

19, quai de la Tournelle (5)
Tel: 01-43-54-17-47
Renamed La Rotisserie

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On the quai beyond Notre Dame. Casual, something less than crisp décor, but good menu and very fine food. Warm welcome. Professionally run. Open Sunday.


My 2010 write-up omitted what wasn’t clear to me at the time:  La Rotisserie (they dropped “du Beaujolais” several years ago) was started and is owned by the venerable and still legendary La Tour d’Argent (See 5th) across the street.  Except for website bragging rights and house-branded wines prominently featured on its list, you wouldn’t know it otherwise, and I didn’t five years ago.

Interesting as history, but every restaurant must stand on its own.  We returned because we had heard good comments following our pleasant, but otherwise unmemorable meal, also on a Sunday night.

A successful and entirely satisfactory dinner, roasted shoulder of lamb for two.  Exactly the type of food we hoped for – a lesson in itself.  Few Paris restaurants aspire to be everything to everyone at every service.  It is hard when you book far ahead for a full week or more, but keep in mind when planning that variety/diversity is no less desirable in Paris than at home.  Sometimes you feel like one thing, sometimes something else.

Two rooms, an enclosed sidewalk terrace and a cozy dining room, of which one side is an open kitchen focused on a gas-fired rotisserie.  A chef and two helpers, 3 waiters and a manager.


A name change, this time more than name only.

Long-owned by La Tour d’Argent, it is now edging closer in several highly positive ways. Completely redone; brighter, fresher, but clearly casual. The Tour d’Argent wine and memorabilia shop on the corner has become a bakery serving both restaurants with wonderful bread. Dessert pastries from the staff across the street (supposedly – but very nice). Best of all, menu additions including a superb quenelle de brochet “Andre Terrail” (founder of La Tour). Not clear whether sourced from that kitchen or a third party, but an entrée worth going for if nothing more. But there is more and always was, including 5 hour lamb shoulder for two which was our main course. Otherwise menu of mostly meats, many prepared on rotisserie, continues.

On a Monday night nearly full, more full than on any of our previous visits, suggesting the May, 2016 re-do is working.

Service was entirely friendly, but rushed and without polish as the staff struggled to keep up with what must have been an unexpected crowd.

Fair prices still, including several wine selections from the La Tour d’Argent once vast cellar.

FOOD

Quite good, focusing on roasted meats and poultry. Roast chicken at 15€ ranging to duck, lamb, beef for two at 50€. Simple desserts.


Grilled/roasted food, mostly meat, foul and game.  Lamb beautifully sliced over a heaping mound of roasted potatoes, preceded by a mélange of mushrooms provencale and ceps with boiled egg to break into a sauce.  Chocolate mousse to share.  A perfect fall dinner.

 

SERVICE

Like the décor, quite relaxed, but warm and professional.


Friendly, helpful, bilingual, informal, but largely efficient.

 

PRICE

Wide-range, low to moderate.


A la carte.  Reasonable wines within a broad range from a short list.  Starters 9€ – 19€.  Plats 22€ (roast chicken) – 87€ (sliced steak for 2 with béarnaise).  Our dinner:  148€.


A note following our most recent 2019 Sunday night dinner:  the website boasts caneton for 2 in 2 services (roasted whole duck).  The menu lists it.  The blackboard menu of daily specials above the kitchen pass includes it.

Of our 3 most recent meals here, including  this one, “Out of duck”.  To be fair, all were Sundays.  Of course, they are open on Sunday (one reason, in addition to the promise of duck, we go there).  Two times of 3 is not just bad luck.  Could anyone imagine eating at the parent restaurant across the street, La Tour D’Argent, and not ordering – and being served – pressed duck?

(4x) (2010-2019)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Bon Saint Pourcain (Le)

10 bis, rue Servandoni (6)
Tel: 01-43-54-93-63

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

From 2010: Informal Left Bank neighborhood spot. Small. Tired. Eccentric. Out of the 1920’s, and not much redecorating since. Owner plus daughter. Tiny kitchen in the hallway. Use the bathroom before you leave your hotel. Like a comfortable old shoe, with a rarely changing menu of comfort dishes.

FOOD

Good. Never more. Large portions. Roast chicken, lamb shank, cassoulet, sole, beef with olives.

SERVICE

Efficient, but neither unfriendly nor warm.

PRICES

A la carte. No credit cards. 8x (2010-2013)


Sign in the window, “Under Construction” Rarely does that tell the real story. (2014)


Closed (2015)

A new/old restaurant, and a good one.

28 seats. Warm. All middle-aged French couples and a foursome of businessmen. 2 chefs working in coordination with hallway prep kitchen. Small blackboard menu. (Beet salad with goat cheese, leeks in vinegar, crab salad with sliced asparagus; cod, pork shoulder, chicken breast). Little ambition, other than to serve competently executed, simple weekday food to a small crowd of local neighborhood folk (except for us) looking exactly for that.

Not polished, not a gourmet destination, but exactly what proved perfect for a chilly first night in Paris and a major improvement over the somewhat sleepy version which preceded it.


Two meals in 2019.  Still the quintessential neighborhood place.  Still all French. Still highly competent, if not ambitious. Still full. Prices higher.

(6x) (2015-2019)

 

Photo by “Trip Advisor”

Chez Dumonet – Josephine

117, rue du Cherche Midi (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-52-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Classic bistro décor. Deliberately tired, but not in the kitchen. Everything L’Ami Louis has except the attitude and prices. Menu innovation: some half portions available. Luxury meats and order ahead desserts (soufflé; extraordinary apple tart). High energy. Great fun. Always full. Terrific food.


No reason to change a word above, except for a fall 2015 dinner which underscores every superlative.  This is the real thing, a luxury bistro, with the luxury part found in the menu, ingredients, portion sizes and prices.  One negative note:  more foreign voices than ever before, all having fun.  New (seasonal) menu item:  duck for two with figs served very rare.  Girolles with poached egg as an entrée.  The two noted desserts remain spectacular, as does the mille-feuille – each ordered ahead, and each large enough for the table.  Order all 3!

FOOD

Excellent bistro food. Beef with béarnaise, veal chop, stuffed girolles, wild duck confit, foie gras. Some fish. Large portions. Rich.

SERVICE

Friendly, casual, attentive service. Hurried; occasionally gruff, but with a smile.

PRICE

High – as expected. All a la carte. Very high wine prices. Not a good range at the lower end.


Four people.  One bottle, plus 2 glasses of wine.  Plenty of food, 372€.  Wine list unchanged; very expensive wines, plus (only) 1 or 2 affordable choices in each category for the rest of us.

(11x) (2010-2019)

Deux Magots (Les)

6, pl St. Germain-des- Pres (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-55-25

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This café occupies what may be the most prime real estate on the Left Bank, including most of the sidewalk of the two streets which make up its corner location. In warm weather, it spills across the sidewalks into the Place St. Germain, across from the ancient church. It teems with clients at all hours, as it has for generations.

FOOD

No one comes for the food. There are countless better choices within blocks, although for breakfast or simple lunch, it is perfectly adequate. It is the scene, the legend, the history, location and legacy which is the attraction.

PRICES

High as expected.

SERVICE

Professional, but not warm.

(10x+) (2010-2015)

35° Ouest

35, rue de Verneuil (7)
Tel: 01-42-86-98-88

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This critically well regarded small seafood restaurant is literally down the block from our apartment, yet until lunch in December we had never been in, despite the enticement of a 36€ formula lunch, unusual for a seafood specialist.

For lunch, a pleasant, cozy 10 table space. All French business people, most ordering the formula. No buzz, but warm and relaxing, with nice food. Perfect for lunch.

FOOD

For formula lunch, 3 entrée choices including fried squid or tempura langoustines. Main course cod or recasse, wine or water, and coffee.

SERVICE

Runner plus waiter. Do the job with good humor.

PRICE

A la carte menu typical for seafood: very high, making 36€ a bargain.

(1x) (2014)


RECENT UPDATE:

As of Fall, 2017, Closed. Now Les Climats Wine Bar.

Provinces (Les)

20, rue d’Aligre (12)
Tel: 01-43-43-91-64

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The Marche d’Aligre is one of the most interesting of the many outdoor markets in Paris. It combines a small flea market with a bustling outdoor fruit market with a traditional covered indoor market with a dozen or so specialty vendors; of fruit, poultry, meat, fish, charcuterie, Italian and Mid-Eastern specialties, flowers, etc. It is open daily in the mornings (except Monday), is scenic, authentic and crowded. Like most marketplaces, the immediately surrounding streets house small food shops, bakeries, cafes, etc.

Along rue d’Aligre, behind 20 fruit sellers lining both sides of the street, is Les Provinces, a more upscale butcher with 8 or so tables, a waitress and a chef offering a simple meat-entrée menu drawn directly from the butcher counter, where 3 butchers go about their cutting, trimming and wrapping.

Not fancy, and not a gourmet destination, but a great stop for lunch.

FOOD

A menu listed by beef, lamb, pork and veal, with various cuts offered under each. Based on café menus, Paris has gone hamburger crazy (including McDonalds). Until Les Provinces, we resisted. Thus, worth waiting for. On a brioche bun and served with two artisan bacon slices. The meat is coarsely ground and barely compacted. Like every plate, including the grilled lamb (gigot), served with fabulous roasted potatoes and salad.

SERVICE

One friendly and efficient waitress, probably a butcher’s wife.

PRICE

Not cheap. Burger (and lamb) each 18€ with shared first course, wine, water and coffee, 68€.

No reservations. Walk in.

(1x) (2014)

Antoine

10, avenue de New York (16)
Tel: 01-40-70-19-28

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Not a brand new restaurant, but a new name to us. Across from and with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, almost next to the Museum of Modern Art and around the corner from the upscale Wednesday/Saturday Marche President Wilson. An elegant Michelin 1-Star. Seafood specialist. Large. Spacious. Open Kitchen. Older crowd, with a more modern take on fish preparations.

FOOD

The prix fixe lunch was generous, advertised as 3 courses which became six with delicate hors d’ourves served with an aperitif, pepper soup with mustard cream as a pre-course, crab with olives in a cream sauce made with coral, lotte with potatoes in an olive foam, 2 desserts and exquisite chocolates with coffee.

SERVICE

If not quite a ballet, the servers worked as a well- coordinated team. All dishes cooked, filleted, decorated to order.

PRICE

The only set-back. Against the 76€ lunch menu or a la carte, the advertised 42€ preset lunch was a bargain. And it was. What wasn’t was 2 glasses of a recommend red wine at 22€ (!) per, plus coffee at 7€ and water at 9€. Somehow, the 42€ lunch became 163€ for two. Still, it was fine food, a tranquil adult atmosphere and a good discovery.

(1x) (2014)

Mama Shelter

109, rue de Bagnolet (20)
Tel: 01-43-48-48-48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Don’t bother. Too cool for its own good, and surely for ours. Way out in the 20th, plus a long walk from the metro. Reportedly an Alain Sederens collaboration, but Lucas Carton it’s not. Formula lunch uninspired. Limited choice menu. No better than competent execution.

FOOD

Maybe they do more at dinner, but nothing at lunch remotely memorable except the time it took to get there.

SERVICE

Warm and friendly – as in “Mama Shelter”.

PRICE

Reasonable prices. 19€ entrée and plat, plus 8€ for dessert.

(1x) (2010)

Baratin (Le)

3, rue Jouye-Rouve (20)
Tel: 01-43-49-39-70

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A find. Out of the way in safe, but dingy Chinatown. Warm greeting, high-energy ambiance. “Wine bistro”. Unusual, inexpensive wines. Miniscule kitchen.

FOOD

Very good.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional.

PRICE

Low/formula

(1x) (2009)

Ma Cocotte

106, rue des Rosiers (18)
Tel:  01-49-51-70-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The deafening hype on Ma Cocotte has been a feature of virtually every major design magazine world-wide – and for good reason. It is a Phillippe Starck design masterpiece (don’t miss the bathrooms, down the Richard Serra-like stairs). But it is a restaurant, and to write that it falls short of the innovativeness of the modern design and mix of interesting materials of the purpose-built large space right in the center of the otherwise marginal neighborhood of the Clignancourt Flea Market is an understatement. Yet it doesn’t try to be much more than it is – simple food, no reservations, hip servers and a chic crowd. In fact, in all of its less appealing features, it is more American than any Paris listing in this diary.

FOOD

Very simple: Roast chicken, cheeseburger, mac and cheese, plus starters and terrific bistro style desserts. But don’t think about going for the food. It may be the best choice in the Flea Market, but having tried them all over 20 years, that says nothing.

SERVICE

Not out of work actors, but good looking young servers in jeans taking and placing their orders by hand held devices.

PRICE

A la carte. Two for lunch. 90€.

(1x) (2013)

Coq Rico (Le)

98, rue Lepic (18)
Tel:  01-42-59-82-89

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Michelle’s summary: “When a management knows how to run a restaurant, they get a lot of things right which others miss or get wrong.” Fair and on point. It doesn’t automatically follow that a rock star Michelin Chef succeeds in extending his or her brand (see Terroir Parisien 5th and 2nd, Allard 6th). Antoine Westermann is a Michelin starred chef from Strasbourg with an established restaurant in Paris (Drouant, which he bought and reorganized). He seems to know what he is doing behind the range, in wine and service, and in the office.

Le Coq Rico is all chicken and chicken derivatives (as in eggs), focused on a range of legendary chicken breeds poached whole, then finished to a stunning deep brown on an open kitchen rotisserie, presented whole, then returned neatly carved. Variations, but only roast chicken (or duck, guinea hen, goose, etc.). It couldn’t have been better.

Small modern/rustic space in residential section of Monmartre. High concept for cozy home style food. (And now open in New York. Also quite good with similar concept.)


A Fall, 2017 Sunday night dinner for four confirms all of the positive things experienced at earlier meals. Relaxed; low-key; small, but roomy; simple set of choices. One innovation a new breed of chicken, less fatty than the world famous Bresse. Same 98€ (for the table) still served with wonderful salad, frites, vegetables – more than we could finish, and delicious.

New York may come close to matching the food quality (with better desserts), but New York rents do not allow the luxurious pace of this simple, but wonderful meal.

FOOD

Salads, soups, terrines, egg dishes to start. Choose your bird or prepared chicken dish, 1⁄4 or whole served for 2 – 4 offered with frites, vegetables or macaroni, plus salad. Small dessert card. Appropriate but non-encyclopedic wine list.

If you have a craving for roast chicken, you couldn’t do better.

SERVICE

Friendly. Attractive. Bilingual. Informal, but professional and knowledgeable. They know the menu. Approachable and helpful. They make it fun. For Paris a rare feature: Doggie Bags.

PRICE

Not cheap. Quarter chicken 21€, and up from there. Whole premium chicken 85€ for two; with wine, entrees, desserts, 196€. Larger bird 3-4, 95€, so bring friends.

(6x) (2013-2017)

Rech

62, avenue des Ternes (17)
Tel: 01-45-72-29-47

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

According to all of the guide books, Rech was a venerable oyster bar/brasserie, originally founded in 1925, recently “restored” by Alain Ducasse of 3-star fame and seemingly unlimited ambition. The ‘50’s deco décor has been preserved on the main floor, with a second dining room up a flight of stairs. Also preserved is the devotion to fine ingredients and the focus on shellfish. Brimming shellfish platters on traditional stands appear at virtually every table, despite high prices.

Ducasse has also lured from retirement a famous fellow Michelin starred chef, Jacques Maximin, to “inspire” the cooked menu, whatever that means.

Like other Ducasse Group-owned places, however, where the food is beyond reproach, the absence of local ownership is obvious. Management is slapdash, and obvious in the first minute.

FOOD

No complaints about the food, the shellfish particularly. If that is what you are in the mood for, you cannot go wrong. Ditto their famous camembert cheese for dessert, complete with (for us, a first ever) an elegant doggie bag to take home what remains from the oversized portion. The cooked dishes are less distinguished, inspiration notwithstanding.

SERVICE

The absentee management is most evident in the front of the house, graceless and disorganized waitresses. Inattentive management. Noticeably annoying.

PRICE

For high quality seafood, very expensive, as expected.

(1x) (2011)

Guy Savoy

18, rue Troyon (17)
Tel: 01-43-80-40-61

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

My introduction says no 3-stars, except L’Astrance, with a special lunch. (Astrance is also unlike other 3-stars; smaller, lower key.)

Guy Savoy was a charity auction purchase. Easy to delude oneself that it was “free”. Low key Guy Savoy is not. It is a lovely, modern, multi-room, plush environment.

FOOD

Exquisitely designed and inventive dishes which keep coming and coming, each more sculptural and complex than what preceded it. A different bread for each course. And thanks to our particular arrangement, a different wine.

SERVICE

Helpful, skilled, ubiquitous staff. A staff of 50, 18 chefs, 25 front of the house, for 65 covers

PRICE

I hardly can guess the arm’s length price, but 350€ per person with wine would be in the ballpark. If you are keen to experience a mainstream 3-star restaurant (and if you arrive very hungry), you will not be disappointed.

(And if you have not won the lottery, at least view the website. The best food photography I have ever seen.)

(1x) (2011)


Moved to the Left Bank 2015. Prices intact.