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Fougeres (Les)

10, rue Villebois-Mareuil (17)
Tel: 01-40-68-78-66

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a small upscale restaurant established six years ago, just taken over by what they describe as “a new team” led by a young chef from the 3-star restaurant in the Hotel Bristol. Quiet block in the 17th, near the Etoile. Thirty- five seats, nicely decorated with an intimate feel. One hostess, one waiter, two chefs and a dishwasher. At a Monday lunch, about an equal number of guests, but it is early days.

FOOD

Short a la carte menu plus fixed price lunch and dinner, both bargains. At lunch crab soup, beet “ravioli” (stuffed sliced beets, served cold, a stunning presentation), fish or a mix of sweetbreads and kidneys. Refined dishes, but not Michelin quality.

SERVICE

Gracious, attentive, kind and helpful.

PRICE

Lunch 26€ for two courses, either entrée and plat or plat and dessert. All three, 12€ extra including soufflé. “Young” wines by the glass: 4€. Definitely worth a return trip to try other dishes.

(1x) (2012)

Clocher Pereire (Le)

42, boulevard Pereire (17)
Tel: 01-44-40-04-15

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Out of the way (for us) 16th residential location. Storefront with glassed-in terrace. All white. Comfortable, but not fancy. Small, open kitchen. Two chefs, one server.

FOOD

Outstanding, well- conceived, well- executed and beautifully plated food. Mystery: restaurant nearly empty.

SERVICE

Competent, but not warm.

PRICE

An outstanding low-priced formula meal, 30€. The cab ride offsets the bargain, but a memorable meal for the price.

(1x) (2009)

Caius

6, rue d’Armaille (17)
Tel: 01-42-27-19-20

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Within eyeshot of the Arc de Triumph, but in a strictly residential neighborhood. A surprisingly luxurious décor for an ambitious, unusual 35€ menu. Novelty is in the dishes and the spices. Recommended by Epi Dupin chef as a favorite.

FOOD

Ethereal gnocchi with parmesan foam, the only Italian influence. Other interesting blackboard choices.

SERVICE

Attentive and professional.

PRICE

39€ formula Reasonable. Unusual wines.

(1X) (2010)

Bigarrade

106, rue nollet (17)
Tel:  01-42-26-01-02

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

An extraordinary restaurant experience, but not for everyone. Format, menu and preparation in an unusual, far from city center working class/ethnic neighborhood in the 17th.

Twenty seat storefront dining room (15 covers at our lunch). Behind on an elevated “stage”, a fully open kitchen with three chefs. No choice except 8 courses or 12, with the dessert “course” consisting of five dishes, plus three uncounted pre-courses. Each course barely more than one bite. For some, you are encouraged to use your fingers. The food is heavily Asian inspired, mostly fish-based. Beautifully plated and imaginative, each totally unique.


Now closed.

FOOD

Each course a subtle combination of nuanced flavors, mostly unfamiliar, some exotic (squid tempura, quail egg with urchin, scallops, St. Pierre with barely cooked clams, coffee ice cream with mushrooms).

SERVICE

Friendly. Intelligent. Appropriate to the menu and format.

PRICE

It adds up. 45€ or 65€ at lunch, plus wine pairings (40€) or wines by the glass or bottle. Not for everyday, but could not be duplicated in New York.

(1x) (2011)

Tablettes (Les)

16, avenue Bugeaud (16)
Tel: 01-56-28-16-16

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Jean-Louis Nomicos is a name chef who ran the kitchen at the 2-star Lasserre for 25 years. Now on his own in the 16th, a beautiful, serene, well-decorated, high-end restaurant. Formerly, Les Tables de Robuchon. Opened December, 2010. Extensive a la carte menu plus, at lunch, a “Club Menu”.

Entrée, plat, fromage, dessert, wine, coffee, water: 58€. No extras. At dinner, the equivalent is 80€, with an extra course.


I do not care for the modern French décor. The restaurant may be slightly too large. The food may come too quickly. But the execution, finesse, taste and beauty of each of the four dishes on the 80€ dinner menu (also a la carte, plus menus at 120€ and higher) (and the two glasses of wine included with the 80€ menu) is at the very highest end of French food. A fabulous menu.

FOOD

Refined, elegant, delicious modern French food (white asparagus with sauce Maltaise, pork loin, pastry). Inventive, appealing choices.


Fall vegetables with truffle shavings, scallops, quail with foie gras, meringue with chocolate. Plus extras

SERVICE

The chef works the dining room. His wife at the front. Professional. Sophisticated.

PRICE

Fair for this style. (Tablettes refers to an iPad wine list available for a la carte choices.)

(3x) (2011 – 2014)

Pre Catelan (Le)

Bois de Boulogne (16)
Tel:  01-44-14-41-14

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This Diary at first is eschewed famous restaurant names in favor of unknown or lesser known alternatives, in part in reflection of taste, budget and a desire to dine amidst French versus Americans or Japanese, and in part because my friends didn’t need my help with Taillevent or Alain Ducasse. But over time we drifted from that ideal in favor of relative lunchtime “bargains” at Astrance (see 16th), La Tour d’Argent (see 5th), Lasserre (see 8th), etc. That drift continues, albeit at ever-higher cost with lunch at Le Pre Catalan situated in a mansion in the Bois de Boulogne at 110€ (150€ with wine pairings). Only a bargain compared to the a la carte menu or the fixed price options offered alongside the lunch-only carte, or at dinner.

And what a meal. A beautiful building hidden inside the park. A warm reception, a lively window table for two in a sparkling, elegant large room (adjoining a newer expansion). Attentive service. Two choices for each of three courses, plus cheese. Most tables seemed to order it, notwithstanding my moment of panic when the 110€ lunch was not presented with the menu as we were seated. Two minutes later it arrived on a separate card.

This is a splurge, but more characteristic of the 3-star experience than the less formal and more intimate Astrance.

FOOD

The dishes were complex and modern without being weird. Generously portioned and exquisitely presented. A choice of langoustines in two services, lightly fried and in a curry sauce, or duck liver foie gras, each preceded by a cream of mushroom soup. Cod with a side plate of brandade of cod or sweetbreads with girolles. Paris Brest puff pastry with rhubarb cream or chocolate tarte made with 70% chocolate, almost bitter. Each course accompanied by a selected wine, glasses refilled. Dessert preceded by classic cheese cart with beautiful choices, all ripe and generously offered.

SERVICE

Friendly. Bilingual. Never intimidating. Not faultless (it took more time that it should have to receive our first courses), but professional and informed.

PRICE

110€, plus 40€/person for wines. Coffee included. In that world, a bargain. In the real world, a lot to spend for lunch, but only in Paris!

(2x) (2014)

Monsieur Bleu

20, avenue de New York (16)
Tel:  01-47-20-90-47

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Paris has always had “hot tables”, restaurants where reservations seem impossible. In this Diary, Astrance and yam’Tcha are examples. Most are small, very good and in demand because of food, size or value. What is new to us is the New York phenomenon of the “restaurant of the moment”, impossible to book because it is chic and fashionable. Those restaurants run the risk of turning away prospective clients, then having too few once they cool. In New York, it happens regularly.

French friends scored such a table through an inside connection at the recently opened and white hot Monsieur Bleu in the Palais de Tokyo, a formerly abandoned wing of the Paris Museum of Modern Art. It is a large, soaring space with 30’ ceilings, skillfully redesigned into an ultra-modern dining room and large warm weather outdoor terrace overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Well-dressed French, mostly young. The surprise: quite good food. High, but not crazy prices

FOOD

Small menu card offers relatively wide range of mostly straight-forward dishes. Girolles with Spanish ham, cream of vegetable soup, smoked salmon, raw scallops as entrees. Roast chicken for two carved in the kitchen, scallops, several simply prepared grilled items; fish, steak, pork chop or beef cheeks. Simple desserts, including a wonderful, light mille- feuille.

SERVICE

Waitresses in long, black strapless gowns. Waiters in white shirts with black suspenders. For our table, the look was better than the skill, but he tried. It was not a case of attitude, but aptitude.

PRICE

High, but not impossible. All a la carte.

(2x) (2013)

Chez Geraud

31, rue Vital (16)
Tel: 01-45-20-33-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Highly rated, but highly disappointing.


Above the line are the reactions from a lunch two years ago. At dinner with two regulars from the upscale 16th, there was a noticeable difference. A warm greeting. A well-dressed, familiar, local crowd. Attention from the owner and a better experience, but still not worth the detour.

FOOD

Fair


Fair to better than fair from off the menu recommendations from the host.

SERVICE

Adequate.


Accommodating, if not polished.

PRICE

Medium


Medium – high.

(2x) (2011)

Astrance (L’)

4, rue Beethoven (16)
Tel: 01-40-50-84-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If it is true that some Michelin 3-stars are running on fumes, it surely isn’t true of Astrance. Dinner can be up to 350€ fixed price, plus wine. Lunch: 70€. Wines selected for each course – and refilled – 50€/p. Every dish unusual, beautiful, perfectly executed. A reminder that Michelin stars do carry meaning. This is as good as restaurants get. The Gold Standard.


An update. Could it be even better? Possibly.
It is not the grand 3-star experience (see Pre Catalan, also 16th Arr.) Instead, it is a superior restaurant which achieves a perfect balance of food, price, service and ambiance, with an emphasis on exquisite, boutique food. 24 seats, lunch and dinner. That’s it. Every seat taken at every service.


Less theater, more subtlety of flavor, more measured. This is as perfect a restaurant as a restaurant can be.

FOOD

In its own way, lunch no less a bargain than the tasting menu at Temps au Temps or L’Agrume. Very hard to book. Few seats, and fewer than other 3- stars. For us, Astrance is the best food in Paris.

SERVICE

Highly professional. Polished without ballet. Cool, but friendly. Waiters test you: “Taste, tell us what you think it is.” Five intelligent waiters/dining room managers. They achieve the precisely proper balance between servers and advisors. Utterly without intimidation. One owner/partner in the kitchen, one in front. Very hands on.

PRICE

No surprises. 70€. With wonderful wines, generously refilled, 120€…

(9x) (2010 – 2017)

 

Photo from “Yelp”

Pere Claude (Le)

51, avenue de la Motte-Picquet (15)
Tel: 01-47-34-03-05

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Modern, but modestly luxurious. Glassed in terrace. Walk into an open rotisserie and plancha attended by the chef. That defines the menu. Reasonably priced. Reasonably good, but not memorable. Open Sunday. Friendly, but not warm.

FOOD

A good assortment of mostly cold first courses. Wine in carafes. Predictable grilled items, including an assortment of rotisserie meats and a comparable offering of fish. Good for Sunday night, but maybe not much more.

SERVICE

Friendly, but not particularly professional.

PRICE

A la carte and set price menu. Reasonable, but appropriate to the food.

(1x) (2011)

Severo (Le)

8, rue des Plantes (14)
Tel: 01-45-40-40-91

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Well hyped in the blogs and guide books, but deservedly so. A tiny restaurant owned by a former butcher. Meat only, mostly beef. Twenty eight seats, tightly arranged. Reservations essential. People turned away. Steaks in various cuts with more varied starters, plus a handful of simple desserts. A very large, very extensive wine list, with only a few lower priced choices. Three in staff: Chef/dishwasher, waiter, owner/manager/waiter. A combination of tourists and regulars.

FOOD

For the American palate, The Palm would beat it every time, but for steak in Paris, a good choice.

SERVICE

Good energy. Friendly service.

PRICE

A la carte with a medium priced wine, 164€ for two.

(1x) (2011)

Dome (Le)

108, boulevard du Montparnasse (14)
Tel: 01-43-35-25-81

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Large art deco/‘50’s café with interior restaurant. Cries out: “We’ve been here a long time”. Good food, but no soul. Stunning décor.

FOOD

Went for Dover sole. Couldn’t be better.

SERVICE

Professional, detached.

PRICE

Very high

(2x) (2010-2011)

Cobea

11, rue Raymond Losserand (14)
Tel: 01-43-20-21-39

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A new name for us, strongly recommended by American friends.

Ambitious, pricey, aspirational restaurant in undistinguished Montparnasse neighborhood. Elegant surroundings realized on a budget. Compact galley kitchen run by alum of 3-star Ledoyen. Newish, but not new. Modern cuisine served by young staff. 35 seats. Limited menu. Refined execution and presentation. A serious restaurant.

FOOD

For lunch, special menu. Three courses with two choices for entrée and plat, plus wonderful amuse- bouche; plus dessert and pre-dessert.

Our lunch: white asparagus barely cooked cut into thirds served standing up on plate secured by sauce flavored with Moroccan spices. Plat: skate wing in rich sauce or roast and grilled veal belly with roasted potatoes. Unusual. Delicious. Perfectly executed and plated.

Desserts an assortment of pastries; very good, but not equal to what preceded it.

Wines by the glass, plus multi-glass “surprise” choices matched to food.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional, practiced, but a young staff still in training. A work in process, lacking complete polish. Better that than attitude. Entirely approachable, bilingual.

PRICE

No bargains. Lunch 49€. Cheap by New York standards, but aggressive for Paris (see Frederic Simonin, 17th). Other menus at lunch and dinner. Four, six or eight courses, 65€, 75€, 95€. Serious wines across a range.

(1x) (2014)

Cerisaie (La)

70, bd Edgar Quinet (14)
Tel: 01-43-20-98-98

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Closely spaced tables for 25 in a space suitable for 10 makes this a fun evening. You talk to your neighbors (unless you are four). Toilets out the back door and down the hall. Very casual. In teeming commercial Montparnasse neighborhood.

FOOD

Well-prepared Southwestern cuisine at reasonable prices. Wines to go along.

SERVICE

Chef and helper. Two busy, extroverted waitresses.

PRICE

A good meal and a fun experience. Reasonable.

(1x) (2011)

Cagouille (La)

10, place Constantin Brancusi (14)
Tel: 01-43-22-09-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A paradox. Great simple fish served unembellished and unaccompanied, an imposing wine list (plus an apparently famous cognac list), friendly and helpful waiters (if occasionally distracted) and high prices, set in a modern and character-less apartment block in the redeveloped/over-developed Montparnasse neighborhood. (Montparnasse Tower is the infamous building which blights the center Paris skyline.) The restaurant is modern and physically charmless, except for the mix of virtually all French middle aged clientele with the money and desire for impeccably fresh fish, happy to leave charm to the competition.

FOOD

Poached langoustines, fried calamari with onions (and without equal), sautéed Dover sole, red mullet, scallops, etc. Profiterole with chocolate for dessert. Every dish superb – but served under glaring bright lights. Literally, the restaurant could be in a suburban mall. Large portions.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional. Occasionally distracted, bordering on inept, but not enough to bother them or us.

PRICE

A few dishes offered as part of 42€ formula, but not the ones you would want to order. Sole 48€. Langoustines 30€. Two people with lower priced wine, one dessert to share, 190€.

(1x) (2011)

Bistrot du Dome

1, rue Delambre (14)
Tel: 01-43-35-32-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The adjacent bistro sibling of the very expensive, very established, very establishment Le Dome. Open Sunday. Metro stop virtually outside. Good fish choices. A la carte, but reasonable. Good execution. Another good fish restaurant choice.

FOOD

All fish, both entrées and main courses. Varied blackboard menu. Short, deliberately low priced wine list (most 23.50€)

SERVICE

Friendly, helpful service.

PRICE

Moderate a la carte prices, low priced wines. Average 40€ – 50€ for food, per person.

(1x) (2012)

Assiette (L’)

181, rue du Château (14)
Tel: 01-43-22-64-86

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Far out on the Left Bank, but worth the trip. A medium sized, comfortable room with a semi-open kitchen. A serious staff, serious about cooking. Very good restaurant worth the trek.

FOOD

A la carte menu with five or six choices in each category. One specialty: cassoulet. The best ever. Ditto the desserts, both crème caramel and tarte tatin; unusual, distinguished. Serious wines.

SERVICE

Intelligent, helpful. One of two waiters reviews the menu without being asked, in French or English.

PRICE

A la carte, but .reasonable. A wide range in wine pricing, including some at the lower end. An emphasis on dessert wines to complete the meal. Also formula lunch, 23€

(3x) (2011 – 2016)

Petit Marguery (Le)

9, bd de Port-Royal (13)
Tel: 01-43-31-58-59

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On the border between the 5th and the 13th, a nice walk. Good looking bistro, but since my last visit ten years ago, it has changed ownership and lost its soul. Everything looks right, but there is a veneer of the slick, the fast and the commercial which has overtaken what was a traditional a la carte experience.

FOOD

The food good if not memorable. The menu relatively predictable, having shifted to a modified formula. That is, formula with every other item an extra, some quite expensive.

SERVICE

Three servers handle a large room, but do it professionally. The food comes too quickly.

PRICE

Next door (and maybe serving from the same kitchen) is an annex, making the prices at the original seem high, although they are not.

(1x) (2010)