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Ourcine (L’)

92, rue Broca (13)
Tel: 01-47-07-13-65

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The books describe L’Ourcine as rustic. Maybe. Or just low budget decor. Perfectly safe, but entirely nondescript location in the 13th. Casual. Young. Interesting blackboard menu with high style, sophisticated, diverse food.

FOOD

In the L’Epi Dupin/Regalade genre. Ambitious, sophisticated chef who turns out an interesting, well executed, stylishly presented menu – at a low price.

SERVICE

Casual and competent, without finesse.

PRICE

The menu (and wine list) are reasonable, 34€ for three courses.

(1x) (2013)

Auberge du 15 (L’)

15, rue de la Sante (13)
Tel: 01-47-07-07-45

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Call it a “find” for the 1%. For the rest of us, a below-the-radar small luxury restaurant with a traditional, largely a la carte menu of finely executed, richly prepared dishes and desserts from a limited menu. Twenty-five guests seated at 6 widely spaced, large tables in a clean, nicely decorated modern room with open kitchen.

Enter and be greeted by a young chef in whites. He takes your coats, offers menus, takes orders, consults on wine, cooks and serves. Other sources report two brothers. We saw only one owner/chef, with a female chef-helper and dishwasher in a quiet, orderly kitchen.

On second visit, with a total of eight guests at three tables, a dedicated young server.

FOOD

Either very pricey a la carte with a handful of choices, or a 68€ five course “surprise”, meaning no choice, supposedly inspired by the wine choice. Our courses: Cream of cauliflower soup with chestnuts (DuBarry), a single scallop over mushrooms and shredded cabbage, roast rack of veal with mashed potatoes and two desserts, both exceptional: a take on fromage blanc and warm chocolate cake with sorbet.

SERVICE

The chef by day is the server by night. No other front of the house help.

PRICE

With wine, etc., and 68€ menu, 100€ pp. Don’t even think about a la carte. It appeared as if most tables followed this plan. (As is normal, the entire table must order the chef’s menu. All or none). The window displays notes about a formula lunch at 30€.

(2x) (2013)

Fregate (A La)

30, av Ledru-Rollin (12)
Tel: 01-43-43-90-32

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We had been past several times (it is almost next door to Le Quincy). A venerable seafood restaurant in a marginal Bastille location.

On a Monday night, a paradox. Dated décor, a throwback to the provinces. Enticing, ambitious all fish menu, with prices to match. Chef takes orders. One actually feels he returns to the kitchen to cook. Two other tables occupied, plus a business group of 14 men ordering a la carte. Good food. Nothing sleek or commercial, but devoid of energy.

FOOD

Warm scallop salad, crab with spinach in three profiteroles, swordfish a la plancha, bar in tomato/oil and vinegar sauce; Grand Marnier soufflé a house specialty. Limited but carefully chosen wines.

SERVICE

Attentive, practiced service

PRICE

Fresh, wild seafood is expensive in Paris. No exception here.

(1x) (2011)

Biche au Bois (A la)

45, avenue Ledru Rollin (12)
Tel: 01-43-43-34-38

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A busy, rollicking, out of the way bistro in the safe, but blue collar Gare de Lyon neighborhood. Crowded. Bustling. High energy. All French. No motorcycle helmets.

FOOD

Three courses with cheese, 26.90€ at dinner. Fresh terrines, inexpensive wines, classic bistro dishes including a wonderful, rich coq au vin. Generous cheese tray. For dessert, the definitive mousse au chocolat. Fun. Great value.

SERVICE

Not much finesse. Friendly staff.

PRICE

This is not a suitable restaurant for either romance or a business meal, but if you want to relive “Europe on $5 a Day”, this may be your place. Obviously, they make it on turnover.

(1x) (2011)

Villaret (Le)

13, rue Ternaux (11)
Tel: 01-43-57-89-76

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If not a discovery, a find. A bistro as defined by menu and ambition. Attractive space, but not a period one. Nondescript neighborhood. Major wine list. Concise, but broad a la carte menu. Serious execution. An exceptionally good package. The number of apparent regulars attests to both loyalty, consistency and quality.


Over seven years and six satisfying dinners, nothing has changed. All to the good. The neighborhood remains scruffy. The clientele, almost always all French and trending older, the menu extensive, varied and traditional. The preparations, like the restaurant wisely, its staff and its look eschewing flash and empty innovation.

Sautéed wild mushrooms and a platter of sliced Spanish ham; lamb shoulder for two with roasted garlic and wonderful beans arriving in a gleaming copper casserole; sautéed apple and pear in a caramel sauce with vanilla ice cream. These chosen from a long menu.

Kind man and woman serving, both with some English, she in charge on the extraordinary Burgundy wine list, an unlikely highlight.

Villaret is something of a hold-out in a street full of small bars and restaurants catering to the young crowd now gentrifying the neighborhood. A real French restaurant in the traditional sense.

FOOD

Meat and fish. Presentation not painstaking, but execution exceptional. Choices diverse and appealing. A wide range within a concise menu, with some seasonal emphasis.

SERVICE

Friendly and professional, if not classic bistro. Helpful. Knowledgeable.

PRICE

A la carte menu. Ex wine, food reasonably priced. Some affordable wines, but not many. For the serious wine person, a joy.

(6x) (2010-2017)

Temps au Temps (Le)

13, rue Paul Bert (11)
Tel: 01-43-79-63-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Very small. Quite out of the way. Terrific food. Very low prices. A real find – if you can get in. Formerly owned by current Itineraires chef, now on to bigger, better location. Tight surroundings.

FOOD

Fine food. More interesting, better executed dishes than most formula alternates.

SERVICE

One helpful, skilled waiter/host/ reservationist.

PRICE

26€ for a top meal in a less than top space.

(2x) (2011-2012)

Septime

80, rue de Charonne (11)
Tel: 01-43-67-38-29

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Septime shares gushing P.R. glamour with Spring (see 1st), Frenchie’s (see 2nd), Chateaubrand (see 11th), but it is much better – to a point. These (and other) so-called “neo bistros” are new restaurants started by young people who feed off of, but do not share the classical, large kitchen backgrounds of the previous generation, such as Regalade (see 14th), Epi Dupin (see 9th) or LeComptor (see 6th). Fairly large (by Paris bistro standards) open room with a format the envy of restaurant owners across the globe: no menu. No choice. Five (actually six) courses served to all 40 or so guests. A young bearded chef, plus five kitchen staff and dishwasher – three of whom are women. (We asked if deliberate or accidental. In this and several other ways, they are breaking the mould).

Hard to snare table (for now). Good food. Interesting menu. Major drawback: very loud. Might be better to go as a table of four.

FOOD

Dorade cru with feta; best ever grilled octopus with onion puree; scallops in broth; lamb leg, shoulder and belly; two desserts.

SERVICE

Warm, friendly and bi-lingual, if casual

PRICE

Easy to remember: 55€ (reportedly up from 40€ when they opened several years ago). Wines in broad range.

(1x) (2013)

Ecailler du Bistrot (L’)

20-22, rue Paul Bert (11)
Tel: 01-43-72-76-77

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Owned by and next to Bistro Paul Bert. All fish. Relaxed, bistro-like ambiance. Casual. A find. One of only a handful of reasonably priced serious fish restaurants.


On a recent Friday night, every seat full, largely French despite bilingual service and an English language version of the chalkboard menu. Terrific fish. Unusual preparations. Whole Dover sole meuniere at 42€. Many tables with cold seafood platters (oysters, crab, etc.) the size of small tables. Weaker desserts. Cozy atmosphere. Good prices. An excellent fish restaurant.

FOOD

Large selection of shellfish. Blackboard entrees and plates. Beautiful Dover sole, 38€. Massive range of oysters, shellfish and lobsters.

SERVICE

Professional, but casual.

PRICE

Moderate a la carte. High value for what served, but not inexpensive. Plus 19€ lunch. 12 oysters 30€.

(4x) (2010-2017)

Chez Paul

13, rue de Charonne (11)
Tel: 01-47-00-34-57

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Ask the hotel concierge for an authentic old Paris bistro. There are some, including a few on this list (see Chez Denise 1st, Allard 6th, Auberge Pyrenees Cevennes 11th). Little chance he sends you to Chez Paul, “Le Bistrot Traditions”. First of all, it is in the 11th, likely far from the hotel in the safe, but non-descript 11th, a reasonable walk from the Place Bastille except at night, when reasonable means a gauntlet of narrow streets lined with bars and nightclubs on both sides. At the end is the more tranquil Rue de Charonne and a genuinely ancient building supported inside by large wooden beams holding up large wooden beams. Nothing retro here. The Alain Ducasse organization passed this one by in its campaign to breathe new life and finesse into once distinguished bistros (see Aux Lyonnais 2nd, Benoit 4th, Allard 6th). The result is a combination of charm, shabby chic and physical ruin, given life by a large, traditional bistro menu. Two rooms of tables dominated by French couples and families, dependable cooking and low prices. This, presumably, is what a bistro was, versus L’Ami Louis (see 3rd) or Benoit, at 100€+ per person.

FOOD

Watercress salad with fish-stuffed vegetables and vegetable soup heavy with lentils, followed by grilled filet mignon with béarnaise and roasted potatoes, and grilled entrecote with roquefort sauce, sautéed potatoes with shallots, marrow bone and sel gris. A pitcher of wine and tarte tatin with crème fraiche. Delicious. Generous. Decidedly “non- gourmet” and seemingly proud of it.

SERVICE

Practical. Deliberate. Some would say slow, but that is what they do. No effort to turn the tables.

PRICE

Quite low prices. With wine, water and coffee, 91€ for two. Also a 20€ formula with five or six choices of three courses.

(1x) (2013)

Restaurant Cartet

62, rue de Malte (11)
Tel: 01-48-05-17-65

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Where to begin? This was a memorable meal; good, enjoyable, wildly overpriced and completely unforgettable in its eccentricity.

Cartet carries a legendary name, a once celebrated female-run bistro which changed hands 12 years ago. The current owner/chef/waiter/reservationist/doorman/sommelier/dishwasher took it over then, maintaining many of the classic dishes. But the similarities stop there.

There is a name on the awning. In the windows flanking the door meant to hold menus, or anywhere else is there any evidence it is a restaurant. Including the locked door. As we began to turn away despite a reserved table, it was unlocked for us, then relocked, lest some unreserved guest have the temerity to try for a table. One older couple and a table set for two reserved for us. The other 18 places empty. When asked, the chef replied that he serves “as few as he can”.

He was charming, friendly and everywhere at once, doing everything. The menu is broader than one would expect for four covers, and not everything was available. This isn’t exactly a private chef, but neither did it evoke the awkwardness of an empty restaurant waiting for guests. It was unusual, as in never before, but fun. Again? Probably to show off, but we’ve seen the film.

FOOD

Terrine for every table. Fresh and good. Magret, thinly sliced with orange sauce, veal chop with morels in cream sauce. Both served with a double portion of irresistible potato cake. Entrees, salade with lardons, morels (again) on toasted brioche with a different cream sauce.

Desserts: All of them put on the table: chocolate mousse, lemon tart, rice pudding, floating island, flan.

SERVICE

Gracious and personal

PRICE

Very high. With two glasses of wine, one water (10€!) and two coffees, 232€.

(1x) (2014)

Bistrot Paul Bert (Le)

18, rue Paul Bert (11)
Tel: 01-43-72-24-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Busy, bustling, attractive if (deliberately) threadbare bistro and setting. A la carte blackboard and formula menu. Mostly meat. Deservedly popular, with Americans especially.


Bistrot Paul Bert was among my original group of Paris write-ups. It took 5 years to return, with plenty of comparison meals in between. It is better than the original review suggests, although nothing said then is different, only that it demands elaboration.
Larger than I remembered – a spacious, busy side room I must have missed. Very high energy. Diverse crowd. Still plenty of Americans, but except for an occasional loud American voice, mostly French. A mix of motorcycle helmets and older men eating alone, and everything in between. Busy and frenetic, but serious about food and menu. Like (and similar to) Le Grand Pan (see 15th) and Restaurant du Marche (see 15th), it is fun and good.

FOOD

Quite good; made better by the robust environment.


More interesting and diverse formula menu than often found, with a la carte additions. Scallops broiled in shells, hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise and black truffles. A la carte steak for two with shallots and marrow. Grand Marnier soufflé and crème caramel from menu. All impeccable. Featured bio wines plus reserve list.

SERVICE

Good, conscientious. (Waitress noticed and comped an undercooked dessert soufflé).


Hard-working and enjoying it.

PRICE

Moderate.


Three formula courses 38€. A la carte steak 58€ for two. With 32€ wine, coffee and water, 137€.

(3x) (2009-2015)

Auberge Pyrenees Cevennes

106, rue de la Folie- Mericourt (11)
Tel: 01-43-57-33-78

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On a quiet, dark street in the 11th, a robust beacon of energy. A+ for ambiance. Large. Full. Busy. Boisterous. B+ for execution. Good food, not great food. A classic Lyonnais bistro/bouchon.

FOOD

Longish bistro menu, every classic. Each well-executed, but none memorably. Onglet with shallots, a portion large enough for three. Ditto the quenelle, swimming in lobster sauce (additional sauce offered). (Try to find one restaurant in New York which offers quenelle de brochet. In this Diary, there are now four, for what I thought was a dish which had disappeared. Tour D’Argent, the hands down winner.
La Maree a close second.)

SERVICE

Friendly, but casual. A full house, but no wait for food.

PRICE

Prices a la carte, 122€ for two.

(1x) (2011)

Astier

44, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud (11)
Tel: 01-43-57-16-35

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Old bistro under new owners. Young, international crowd; many foreigners. Highlight of formula meal: large cheese tray brought to the table. Keep it as long as you want! Very welcoming. Open Sundays. Great bistro look but with so many alternatives (except on Sundays), no longer the favorite it once was.

FOOD

Fair/good, but no better; limited menu, plus daily specials. Desserts a low point. Broad wine list across all price ranges.

SERVICE

Friendly, quick. Professional

PRICE

Low/formula 39€ plus a la carte. (Make sure you are not charged a la carte for formula meal.)

(5x) (2011-2013)

Grille (La)

80, rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere (10)
Tel: 01-47-70-89-73

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We ate at La Grille several years ago – pre-Diary. It was good, but eccentric, run by an elderly couple and decorated with her wedding attire. They have retired, the restaurant purchased by four younger friends. Mostly unchanged, but the few changes are for the better. Grilled meats and fish, some daily specials. A neighborhood place. If not memorable, surely enjoyable – enough to go back.

FOOD

Grilled Cote de Boeuf for two with béarnaise. Scallops with mache as plat du jour entree. Profiterole for dessert. Eight or so choices in each category.

SERVICE

The only holdover is the single waiter, older than the owners. Good at what he does and having a good time at it.

PRICE

A la carte. 120€ for two with wine and not the least expensive food choices.

(1x) (2010)

Chez Michel

10, rue de Belzunu (10)
Tel: 01-44-53-06-20

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Messy. Overall disappointing, in spite of/because of extensive hype. Many foreigners. Did not feel like a Paris restaurant. A profound let down in look, greeting, clientele, food. Highly rated, but highly disappointing.

FOOD

Good, but only just. Mostly fish.

SERVICE

Friendly. English speaking.

PRICE

Medium/formula with many supplements.

(1x) (2010)

Abri

92, rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere (10)
Tel: 01-83-97-00-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On Mondays and Saturdays at lunch, Abri serves only its already legendary Japanese- style sandwich.

A tiny space with open galley kitchen and 14 seats at small tables. The room is otherwise undecorated, including no sign outside. The sign remains from the coffee bar which preceded it.

The sandwich was quite good, but Abri is one of the new English language blogger/magazine story hype restaurants in the tradition of Le Comptoir du Relais (see 6th), Frenchie (see 2nd) and Spring (see 1st).

Ironically, our lunch took place on the day following a major story in the New York Times which asked in the headline, can such restaurants “save” French food? I doubt Abri can, as if French food broadly requires saving.

It is not fair to doubt what dinner could be like without trying, but with the prep space so small it is hard to imagine cooking of complexity or finesse. But we might try next time.

FOOD

The sandwich was very good: thick sliced crustless brioche toast with an omelet, a fresh fried breaded pork cutlet, shredded cabbage, a slice of cheese and two condiments. Freshly made to order.

Abri attracts primarily French and Japanese on sandwich days, at least, for eat-in and take-out.

Sandwich, beverages, and a large madeleine for dessert complete the menu.

SERVICE

Not really service. And only in Japanese, but willing and with a smile.

PRICE

I cannot speak to dinner. Sandwich 13€. With two waters, two coffees and one glass of wine, 31€.

(1x) (2014)

Table des Anges (La)

66, rue des Martyrs (9)
Tel: 01-55-32-24-89

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If you walked by, on a non-descript street off the decidedly fringe Place Pigalle, you wouldn’t look twice. Too bad. The surroundings may look like a bar/café, but not the food, which is first rate, surprisingly sophisticated, rich and varied.

The current owner and chef took over two years ago, the chef with high-end experience at Michelin-starred restaurants. His menu shows it. Nothing fancy, except on the plate.

FOOD

Cepes in cream sauce, mousseline of cauliflower, risotto with girolles, whole roasted filet of bass over vegetables, a single large quenelle de brochet with cream sauce over potatoes and vegetables. Molten chocolate cake. A gift of digestif. A terrific meal in unlikely surroundings in an unlikely neighborhood. Modest wine list

SERVICE

Two friendly, busy, English-speaking waiters serving a mostly young, mostly French crowd.

PRICE

A la carte, 180€ for three people, with 60€ of wine and water. Also 32€ formula. 20€ at lunch – a real value too.

(2x) (2013)

Casa Olympe (La)

48, rue Saint Georges (9)
Tel: 01-42-85-26-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Chef shows her age. No longer cutting edge. Small, tight location. Good, not great food.

FOOD

Good, not special.

SERVICE

Perfunctory.

PRICE

Medium

(1X) (2009)