Arrondissements

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153 Grenelle

153, rue de Grenelle (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-54-12

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A “grande” restaurant in ambition. Small, formal, friendly. Limited menu.


Closed. Now an Irish pub.

FOOD

Pure, high style. Three – four choices; multiple desserts.

SERVICE

Formal. Proper.

PRICE

High/formula 59€.

(3x) (2009)

21 Rue Mazarine

21, rue Mazarine (6)
Tel: 01-46-33-76-90

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Fish is expensive worldwide. A great deal of fish is consumed in Paris, and there are no bargains. The best (wild caught) fish is more expensive still. Paris has always been distinguished by a few specialist fish restaurants, but every menu carries fish choices.

Paul Minchelli is a legendary fish chef who has had several restaurants. This is the latest. Small, deceptively casual, located on a street of art galleries in the 6th. Fish only, with a limited number of choices. Each we tried was delicious with an emphasis on simple preparation. Prices were chokingly high, including 48€ for a modest portion of steamed bass.

FOOD

The food was good, the fish soup particularly. Simple preparation can be taken to an extreme; steaming in seawater a popular technique.

SERVICE

For the handful of tables (of which only a few were occupied at lunch), service is casual, bilingual and helpful.

PRICE

No price concessions at lunch, all a la carte and all through the roof. (On the next block is Fish le Boissonerie. For the price of one fish soup, an excellent multi-course fish meal is available there. It may be a better bet.)

(1x) (2011)

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.

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)

Affriole (L’)

17, rue Malar (7)
Tel: 01-44-18-31-33

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Simple. Busy. Low on ambiance, high on food, without the energy of Epi Dupin, but similar mission and high level execution.


A complete redo. Now modern, with a full blackboard wall listing the menu. The food is (or has become) exceptional, particularly for the price. Busy. Booked; deservedly.

FOOD

Very good. Sophisticated for the price.

SERVICE

Cool. Professional. Unpretentious.

PRICE

Low/formula 38€

(1x) (2009)


(1x) (2010)

Agape Substance

66, rue Mazarine (6)
Tel: 01-43-29-33-83

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A very modern, very expensive tapas-style menu with many courses on set menu, described on the menu card only by principal ingredient. Of the 30 or so seats, most on stools at long tables running 2/3 of the length of the long, narrow, very modern room, with the kitchen taking the rear third.

FOOD

Many of the combinations on the 2 – 3 bite dishes were interesting. Many of the tastes were good, some very good. All were carefully and artfully plated and served with optional wine pairings. In all, a great deal of food, but to our taste, too modern, too untraditional. Others will love it.

SERVICE

Service is caring and attentive, but physically awkward. Couples are seated on opposite sides of the long table. For our party of five, three on one side two on the other.

PRICE

Shockingly high. At dinner no choice menu 129€. With wines, 199€. Alternative truffle menu higher.

(1x) (2012)

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)

Akrame

7, rue Tronchet (8)
Tel:  01-40-67-11-16

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a very small, very expensive, very special restaurant.  Tasting menu only, 6 course or 9 at dinner.  No choice except for meat course (beef, squab or sweetbreads).  Very small portions, each served and plated with whimsy and complete originality.  But that is just the food part of the story.

Steps from the Etoile, walk into what looks like the cocktail lounge, greeted by black-clad hostess.  It is the restaurant.  That is all there is.  Nine tables, 20 or so guests, maximum.  Open kitchen.  The hostess is one of four servers, all of whom, taking their cues from the extroverted young chef, bring humor and infectious informality to their work.  That spirit animates the restaurant, making what could be a somber temple to 2-star cuisine into a relaxed, enjoyable experience.  Until the check!


As of Fall, 2017, new address, new space. Now in the 8th. Not yet reopened.

FOOD

Extraordinary, unique.  Small portions, some with multiple sub-courses.  Yet not an over-filling meal, preceded by 5 separate amuse-bouche (hors d’oeuvres).  Several courses characterized by humor.  A lobster tail appears in a specimen jar.  Out comes a teapot.  Ginger broth is poured over, left 3 minutes, then extracted with tweezers and placed in a bowl over mussels and seaweed.  Delicate red mullet served with crispy quinoa over Greek yogurt.  Squab breast roasted in chocolate beans, dug out from a covered terrine.  Clever, but in every course, great food.

SERVICE

Polished-looking, but unpolished – and intentionally so according to the chef.  Unlike so many equally accomplished Paris counterparts, not possible to feel intimidated or out of place.  They do their jobs well, but serve as the deliberate spirit-lifters of the restaurant.

PRICE

High, but fair.  So-called 6 course had 14 separate services, 130€.   Four course 100€.  Appropriate wine list.  Our choice 110€.  With coffee, aperitifs, 435€.  Not an everyday experience, but without equal in the U.S.

(1x) (2015)

Alan Geaam

19 Rue Lauriston (16)
Tel:  01-45-01-72-97

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

For a careful reader of this Diary, it must be clear we have a strong preference for traditional French cooking and only occasional admiration for modern cooking, what I sometimes refer to as “tweezer” food.  Sadly, in Paris at least, traditional food in restaurants is in decline and modern food on the rise, in addition to fast food, sushi, pizza and burgers.  So many different factors are at work to explain this.

Alan Geaam is a contradiction.  As modern as can be, but in a small space (what was once the even more modern Akrame) of eight tables, the five people in the kitchen produce a five course meal with an array of extras of beautiful, delicious food for 60€.  Astonishing (and unlikely to last; the numbers just cannot work.)  You will not recognize without help what you are being served, but it is a meal of high order at an astonishing price.

FOOD

A cracker-like snack followed by three carefully imagined small bites.  Raw scallops with kohlrabi, followed by quickly seared foie gras as two entrees.

Main course of slow cooked (sous vide) chicken breast with Lebanese spices (the chef is Lebanese).  Cheese as an option, followed by two complex pastry desserts.  Modern, but delicious.

SERVICE

Two professional, bilingual servers.  One doubles as sommelier and oversees available wine pairings – 40€.  Helpful.  Professional.  Relaxed.

PRICE

A bargain.  Five courses, no choice, 60€.  Seven courses 80€.  Five is plenty to eat.  Wine pairings 40€ and 50€ with the five and seven course meal, respectively.

(1x) (2017)

Allard

41, rue Saint Andre-des- Arts (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-48-23

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I first ate at Allard in the late ‘60’s. It was chic, with Americans in particular. An old (1932) traditional bistro in an obscure, ancient Left Bank street, it looked the part and delivered old fashioned French comfort food at a time when the best known alternatives for tourists featured haute cuisine, formality and were focused in central arrondissements.

After hitting a peak, Allard began a decades-long decline, along with the neighborhood, which became a street of pizza, crepe and souvenir shops. Five years ago (pre-Diary) we gave it another try. The food and décor were less changed than the all- foreign clientele, heavily weighted toward Japanese, guide books in hand and coke bottles on every table. To the rescue (?) Alain Ducasse (again), very recently.

The result is a work in progress – it is hoped. The décor is unchanged, as it should be. The food at a Christmas week dinner was excellent, prepared by four chefs in toques who work just inside the front door. Recognizing the holiday timing of our single datapoint, our meal may be untypical. The crowd was mixed, including French. It arrived late (9:30 p.m.+), but energized the two rooms, which were 1⁄4 full at 8:30 pm. Service and management were shockingly disorganized for a Ducasse- managed operation. It made a difference, but did not mar the quality of the food, only the overall experience.


Since first trying the “new” (Ducasse-owned) Allard in 2013, we have enjoyed progressively better meals and appealing menus, including a recent Spring, 2017 dinner.

In the older (read: very old) of the 2 rooms bi-sected by the female chef-run, traditional bistro kitchen, it was full (international mix) and convivial. Family and couples-focused; casual in look and manner. Except the menu and food were serious and delicious. Early asparagus with sauce mousseline, frisse salad, turbot with buerre blanc and roast lamb with vegetables. A plate of pre-selected 3 cheeses for dessert. All excellent, pricey (216€ with a 52€ Givry 1st Cru) and served with energy and good feeling, if somewhat less than old school finesse.

A good restaurant.

FOOD

Thick-sliced marinated salmon and frisee salad with croutons and lardons, followed by a Bresse chicken for two. Profiteroles with chocolate sauce for dessert. Other meat, fish choices, all in the bistro tradition. Accompanying potatoes and a la carte string beans both exceptional.

SERVICE

Uncoordinated, even sloppy. A few of the waiters had the old-timer look and knew what they were doing, but did not function as a team, much less a well- oiled one. Surely, the Ducasse machine knows how to do this, and to install a management system to oversee it.

PRICE

High, but fair a la carte. Chicken for two 36€/person, on a par with/ Le Coq Rico (see 20th). 34€ formula lunch with two choices. Extensive wine list weighted toward the high-end. With a 60€ wine, 184€.


Lured by a well-promoted 34€ 3 course lunch (with only two choices), we gave Allard another try and are pleased we did.

A new (female) chef, what appears to be a fresh staff and serious management combine, albeit on the basis of a single meal, to correct the disappointments experienced in the immediate aftermath of the Ducasse ownership change in 2013. We loved everything about our lunch.

Sea bass cru or onion soup, roast chicken with mashed potatoes or monkfish with vegetables in a light cream sauce, baked figs with ice cream or cold chocolate soufflé.

SERVICE

Service was cordial and attentive (and bilingual). The surroundings are charmingly run-down (as a restaurant founded in 1932 should be), but freshly painted, clean and with a gleaming new bathroom.

(3x) (2013-2017)

Amarante

4, rue Biscornet(12)
Tel:  09-50-80-93-80

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Our last dinner on a Spring, 2016 three week visit. A new name, highly recommended by sources with mixed records.

A non-descript one block street close to the Bastille Opera, a convenient location. One look inside through the window, and our expectations sank. Bright. Charmless. Ten tables and a service bar in an L-shaped room. Plain tables. No linens. A single Asian waiter. In our section of the room, table of four Asians and an older Asian couple next to us. Are we in a Chinese restaurant? The unsmiling waiter drops the menus. Then it all changed. The waiter began to respond. Formerly at 3-Star Guy Savoy. The long a la carte menu (with a low priced formula section too) reflects simple, but classic French preparations. The Asian couple next to us, Parisians for 65 years, are foodies seeking out new restaurants.

The food is terrific; the ingredients impeccable and the preparations like the décor: simple, direct, unadorned, unfussy. The prices are low, especially for the quality. Ditto the wines.

For Michelle, the décor trumps the outstanding food. For me, a great find.

FOOD

Sliced veal tongue; tender, simple broiled pork chop with puree of Jerusalem Artichokes; perfect, unsweetened chocolate mousse.

Perfect smoked salmon; slow cooked lamb with fresh peas (and better than recent lamb preparations at Michelin-starred dinners); lemon crème brulee.

SERVICE

Once he opened up, the waiter was professional, helpful, bilingual and proud. The waiter, chef and helper make up the staff.

PRICES

125€ for 2, with water, coffee and a 28€ Burgundy. A bargain.

(1X) (2016)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Ami Louis (L’)

32 rue du Vertbois (3)
Tel: 01-48-87-77-48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Movie-set bistro. Could not be more authentic, but not worth the price. Mostly foreign clientele. It is among the most famous tables in Paris among Americans and Middle Easterners.

FOOD

Terrific. Roasted meats, roast chicken, foie gras.

SERVICE

Professional, but cool and distracted.

PRICE

Astronomical.

(6x+) (pre-2010)

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)

Ardoise (L’)

28, rue du Mont-Thabor  (1)
Tel: 01-42-96-28-18

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Another Regalade clone. Falls far short. Well located behind Rue de Rivoli near Concorde. Small room with downstairs cave. Rustic, but comfortable. Mixed tourists/French. Lacks ambiance.


Now modernized. Still attractive.

FOOD

Good, if not refined. Ambitious blackboard menu with some high points, plus daily additions.

SERVICE

Competent, but inelegant.

PRICE

Medium priced (36€) formula. For same price, other choices superior.

(1x) (2010)

Arlots (Les)

136, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière (10)
Tel: 01-42-82-92-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Les Arlots is a perfectly pleasant, small bistro in the marginal 10th. While reports point to gentrification, it isn’t yet intuitive that one walks the streets in complete comfort, although any such concerns are probably unjustified.

Very small, 28 seats, 22 in the street front main bar room, an unlucky 6 in the corridor between the kitchen and dining room. Earnest, dedicated, frenetic staff, friendly and bilingual. Largely French middle class, plus what seem like young neighborhood regulars. Small blackboard menu. Not unlike 25 others of similar character and history. For inexplicable reasons, Les Arlots hit the February New York Times lottery, followed by the Alex Lobrano blog and the Financial Times. Must have been a slow news day. Why and how some restaurants experience such remarkable and unique good luck while others languish for years in obscurity remains a mystery of the food (and journalism) worlds.

FOOD

Five or so enticing first courses:  white asparagus, beef cheek terrine, beet salad, fresh pea soup.  Of the plats, the most popular, a house made sausage, was out by the time we ordered.  Dish after dish appeared all around us at tables which ordered earlier.  With a choice of five, being out of one at 8:45 is a serious failure.  That left entrecote, cod or lemon sole meunière on the bone, but easy to filet, drenched in too much butter.  For dessert, wonderful cheese plate, chocolate mousse or strawberry crumble.  No wine list per se.  Sommelier/manager asks what you would like, brings to the table several options, all reasonable in price.  Our Cahors was right on at 29€.

SERVICE

Friendly and totally in keeping with the intended character of the restaurant, but frantic.  Hold onto the silver and pass the plates.

PRICE

A la carte.  Very reasonable.  Entrees 10€- 16€; plats 22€; desserts 9€.  For 2, 124€.

(1x) (2017)

 

 

Photo from “The Fork”

Arnaud Nicolas

46, Avenue de la Bourdonnais (7)
Tel:  01-45-55-59-59

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A new (May, 2017) restaurant in the 7th; handsome, modern, small, spacious.  A specialist in charcuterie, but with a broader menu.  If our one lunch so far is indicative, this will become a regular stop.

FOOD

To call this restaurant and integrated pate takeout shop (“boutique”) a charcuterie specialist may shortchange the chef’s specialty.  These are pates of such delicacy, beauty, variety and finesse that they elevate the craft.  In addition, Michelle’s entrée of shrimp in a tempura-style batter, so light it resembled a single sheet of filo.  This was followed by roast cod and a vegetable accompaniment.  28€ for two courses!

I ordered a la carte, large servings each of two recommended pates, one en croute, served with a delicate green salad.  With wine, water and coffee, 70€ for two.  And according to the menu, much more where that came from.

SERVICE

Two waiters covered the room.  At lunch, all well-dressed businessmen, no women.  Efficient, but without the finesse of the room or the execution of the menu.

PRICE

Formula lunch:  two courses 28€; three courses 35€.  Plus a la carte.  At dinner, 62€ with three wines, 80€. Or a la carte.


As promised, we returned on our next trip for dinner. Every seat filled by middle-aged French (from the upper middle class residential neighborhood?)

Marinated salmon served elegantly, with unusual accompaniments. Lobster pate, both top notch. Lotte (monkfish) over lentils, quenelle de brochet. Both impeccable.

Modern, clean space lacks warm touches, but food and genuinely caring service more than compensate. A very carefully thought out and well executed meal at a fair price.

A la carte with 49€ wine, 164€ for 2.

(2x) (2017-2018)

 

(Photo from “Trip Advisor”)

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)

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)