1st Arrondissement

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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)

Au Vieux Comptoir

17, rue des Lavandieres (1)
Tel:  01-45-08-53-08

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

From the outside, it could be any one of hundreds of similarly looking corner bars/cafes, with food as an afterthought. This is a real bistro, nearly all French on a Saturday afternoon. Fresh bistro dishes; welcoming, professional staff. Every seat taken. Every customer happy.

FOOD

Classic bistro food: Celery remoulade, razor clams in wine, pates and foie gras. For plats: beef, scallops, blood sausage, ballotine of chicken, lamb. For dessert, prunes with armanac, Tarte Tatin. Fresh. Good if not great. The overall experience probably better than the individual elements, but very authentic.

SERVICE

Friendly. Professional. Appropriate.

PRICE

A la carte starters 10 – 12€. Plats 20-25€. Plus wine.

(1x) (2012)

Brioches Vapeur a Emporter – (yam’Tcha Boutique)

4, rue Sauval (1)
Tel: 01-40-26-06-06

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The Yam’Tcha “boutique” now selling steamed Chinese buns (bao) from the former kitchen window and offering tea inside (but not buns). I’m skeptical that format will endure, but all involved in this exemplary restaurant deserve to succeed here and at their new space around the corner scheduled to debut in March, 2015. The buns – purchased cold and steamed at home – are terrific, four assorted varieties for 16€.

(1x) (2014)

Cafe Marly (Le)

93 Rue de Rivoli (1)
Tel:  01-49-26-06-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The best thing which can be written about Café Marly – maybe the only thing – is its prime location literally in the building of the Louvre with a large open terrace overlooking the Pyramid in the Louvre courtyard.  But an A+ location cannot offset mediocre food geared entirely to international visitors.  The inside main dining room is located in an original period room.

FOOD

Entirely forgettable, at prices you will not soon forget.  Salads, a hamburger, grilled dishes reflective of greater ambition.  None the equal of countless alternative nearby neighborhood choices, though none at/within the Louvre.

SERVICE

Superficially pleasant, but without heart.

PRICES

One course each for 6, no wine, three desserts, water.
(1x) (2019)

Café Des Abattoirs

10 rue Gomboust (1)
Tel:  01-76-21-77-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Michel Rostang pioneered the concept of a Michelin-starred chef opening a second, more modest restaurant, what is now nearly universal. Along with his 2-Star restaurant he has four other restaurants in Paris. Café des Abattoirs is the fifth, in some collaboration with his two daughters (which also may define their relationship to the others).

The space is small, modern and tastefully decorated. Empty, it boasts charm. Full, as it was on a Sunday night, it looks good, suffuses energy and offers a compact, but generous and well-executed meat-centric menu as part of a three course formula meal.

This is surprisingly good food offered in a pleasant, low-key environment in a convenient part of the 1st behind the St. Honore.

FOOD

Meat. Beef, pork, lamb (with a grilled chicken for two). They select the entrees (red pepper soup, bacon-wrapped cheese). You choose the style of potato accompaniment and the dessert. Lamb shoulder prepared for three and carefully sliced served at the table on a platter. Very good sides. Large meal. Wonderful chocolate tart, plus other dessert choices.

SERVICE

Friendly. Casual. Bilingual.

PRICE

32, 38 or 45€, depending on meat chosen. Our wonderful lamb, 38€. Reasonable wine prices. Three people, 195 with wine, aperitif, coffee.

(1x) (2014)

Café des Marronniers

Jardin Des Tuilleries
113, rue de Rivoli (1)
Tel: 01-40-20-04-97

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In addition to la cream and snack kiosks, the Tuilleries Gardens has 4 sit down restaurant/cafes, all seemingly similar in format, menu and price. We happened to choose Café des Marronniers, but we might as well have been at any of the other 3, each with different names, but occupying 4 corners of an imaginary square.

The food, service and menus are oriented toward the tourists who crowd the beautiful park on warm days. All serve light meals, including perfectly acceptable hot dishes, plus drinks, coffee and ice cream desserts. Service is completely pleasant and friendly. Not to be confused with a real restaurant, but neither are these American-style snack bars.

For a lunch or afternoon tea in the sun, well worth trying.

(1x) (2017)

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Champeaux

101 Porte Berger (1)
Tel:  01-53-45-84-50

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

When history makes comparisons of the destruction of artistic monuments, ISIS will have competitors.  Pennsylvania Station in New York City and the Les Halles market in Paris each represent official cases.  In the name of urban progress, Madison Square Garden and the crime scene below now called Penn Station, and the underground Forum retail shopping center in Paris which replaced Les Halles were respectively destroyed and rebuilt.  Unlike New York City which periodically announces its latest new plan, in Paris a modern successor of parks and retail has already opened between the old Bourse on the end and the great Saint-Eustache Cathedral along the side, the excavated underground complex covered by a contemporary glass canopy with new shops, restaurants and cafes opening steadily.  It proves to be a vast improvement.

The Alain Ducasse organization has seized the initiative and opened Champeaux; a large, modern, well-designed, carefully appointed, modern brasserie.  It serves continuously day to night from a simple, well-chosen, moderately priced traditional menu organized in a way which allows a conventional meal or lighter grazing.  For what it is, it is very good and already quite popular – effectively full on our first visit on a Sunday night in October.

FOOD

Large, relatively moderate wine list with bottles, carafes and glasses.  A train station arrivals board fills one wall announcing a revolving list of specials.

Sections of the menu dedicated to crus (salmon, scallop or dorade), delicious.  Another devoted to steaks; 4 cuts, 3 sauce choices (béarnaise excellent) and 4 sides; frites, salad, etc., choose one.

Other traditional entrees and many courses (including beautiful roast salmon served with mango sauce).  And a section of savory soufflés (cheese or lobster), in addition to dessert soufflés.  We shared a wonderful, room temperature classic chocolate mousse for dessert.

SERVICE

Young, but professional servers order on iPhone-sized electronic devices.  No paper tickets.  Orders go directly to kitchen.  Runners deliver food.  Service friendly and attentive, if sometimes overburdened by full house, even with the all-hands on deck assistance of manager/sommelier and hostess.

PRICES

2 crus, a platter of charcuterie, salmon, steak, mousse plus 4 glasses of wine, 139€ for 2.

Light on charm, strong on good food, a unique new location and an obvious professional hand behind every step along the way from conception through execution.

(1x) (2016)

 

 

Photo from “Pinterest”

Chez Denise – La Tour de Montlhery

5, rue des Prouvaires (1)
Tel: 01-42-36-21-82

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Touristy Les Halles location. Touristy “old bistro” look. Surprise: good food, professionally served. Hearty menu, with some fish choices. In fact, few tourists, at least foreign ones.


Walked by unexpectedly, decided to return for lunch after 4 years. A good choice.

With tens more restaurant experiences under my belt (!) since my original write- up, a few different thoughts: Touristy look, because it is original and authentic, one of the original Les Halles restaurants, before Les Halles became a shopping mall.

Spacious, but not large, with closely spaced tables for 4 around 3 sides of a rectangle. Even when not full parties of 2 are seated next to other twos. Ignore or embrace your neighbors.

Hearty bistro food with many plats du jour. Immense portions. Wine, Bordeaux or Brouilly, poured into open bottles from casks, pay for what you drink. Not a Michelin caliber meal, but great fun.

FOOD

Not much finesse, but well executed, traditional bistro choices.


Twice as much as you can (or should) eat, but sharing probably not encouraged. Of course, no doggie bags. Salmon cru: four fillets make a portion. Terrine du Chef: 2 thick slices. Grilled lamb chops: 4, plus frites. Salmon with mustard sauce: enough for 2. Ditto chocolate mousse. All without finesse, and completely agreeable and appropriate.

SERVICE

Professional. Without charm.


As advertised above. Practiced. Not unfriendly, but not warm either.

PRICE

Not cheap, but reasonable for what it is. A la carte.


With water, coffee, 1⁄2 Bordeaux, 126€, all a la carte.

(2x) (2011 – 2014)

Chez La Vieille (Adrienne)

1, rue Bailleul (1)
Tel:  01-42-60-15-78

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

What remains from the legacy of the late Adrienne who owned and presided over this now-tired and cramped space in the 1st Arr. is not worth wasting a precious slot. Charmless (Michelle called it grim), in large part because of the six tables in the downstairs barroom. Only one was occupied on a Monday lunch, in addition to ours. The single waitress went through the motions, assisted by the chef when she was tending to the equally empty upstairs room.

Small blackboard menu. Actually, tasty fresh food, but the package wasn’t enough.


Published rumor that in addition to opening in New York, Daniel Rose from Spring is taking over this restaurant (also called Chez Adrienne) as of April.  It is more or less across the street from Spring.  “For Rent” sign in window and no evidence of construction.


Then it was closed, with rumors flying it would be purchased and redone by Daniel Rose, originally of Spring across the street (and now of New York’s hottest luxury spot in Tribeca, Coucou).

The space was shut up in October and sold out in April. And not only from the hype.

Still tiny. Now 16 or so stools in the unreserved ground floor barroom; 5 tables for 2 and 3 tables for 4 on the charmless first floor (in daylight at least).

Not so in the unreserved bar, though casual in the extreme.

FOOD

Four a la carte choices in each category. We tried mache salad with lardons and salmon tartare, followed by roast veal from a casserole with onion sauce, snap peas and carrots. All quite good, as was the molten chocolate cake with crème anglaise.


Very limited menu. About 15 items, half starters, 3-4 plats, 2 sides, plus 1 unlisted dessert. White asparagus, wonderful bouillon with noodles and poached egg, an old Chez Adrienne recipe, plus a shared divided half chicken with mushrooms. Cheese and simple lemon tart for dessert.

Terrific food, simply served.

SERVICE

Distracted.


Friendly, but inept. Sort of in character with the tone of the restaurant.

PRICE

A la carte. 82€ for lunch for two with one glass of wine, coffee and water.


Very low, and very much worth it.


For a city once known for its “classic” restaurants, meaning long established and rarely changing, Paris has become a whirlwind of change.

Review the chronology of what was Chez Adrienne, now Chez La Vieille. For some years, the buzz was the derelict Adrienne would be reopened by the hot American French chef Daniel Rose, whose primary restaurant Spring was across the street. And it was, but now Spring is closed and Daniel Rose is in New York, with his chef-wife opening a place of her own within the last few weeks. (Try to fit this into a published guidebook with a 1-2 year publishing deadline!)

As currently operating, Chez La Vieille is a better kitchen than it is a restaurant, meaning the food is very good.

Restaurants need energy to animate them, especially for tables of 2. Larger tables can bring some of their own energy with them (one good reason to eat out with friends). Staffs can help.

At Chez La Vieille the staff is perfectly adequate (but not professional), but bring no sense of fun or personality to the serving job. So the energy in the upstairs dining room (5 tables for 2, 2 tables for 4 or 6) dies even when the room is full, as it became halfway through our recent dinner. The downstairs bar room has plenty of energy when full, but not much comfort.

But the food from the very limited menu produced from a miniscule kitchen is excellent: beet salad in a lovely pink sauce, a fresh, homemade slab of duck terrine with novel accompaniments, roast chicken with mashed potatoes and a rich, steaming hot beef Bourguignon; a wonderful chocolate tart to share for dessert.

A mixed group of guests who enjoyed their food, but who had no trouble hearing. 129€ for 2, with a 42€ Morgan.

(3X) (2014-2018)

Clover Grill

6, rue Bailleul (1)
Tel: 01-40-41-59-59

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Steak frites is a ubiquitous dish on every café menu. Traditional French luxury bistros may offer chateaubriand for two, but the classic American steakhouse model (The Palm, Morton’s, Capital Grill, etc.) is unknown in Paris. The ambitious chef, Jean-Francois Piege (see Le Grand Restaurant, 8th; Clover, 7th) has created one model in the form of the year-old Clover Grill in the 1st, two doors from Spring (see 1st Arr.).

Luxurious in a hip and modern way and staffed by an entirely under-30 crew, it has a beautiful, open kitchen, a wine list plus cocktail menu, and a young vibe. How that will succeed with high prices remains to be seen, but the kitchen delivers on the focused menu’s promise. Very good food.

FOOD

Prime focus is open flame grilled steaks for two, with 3 beef choices: French, Eastern European or Kansas, each served and priced for two with a choice of sauce and roast potatoes.

Entrees (foie gras, grilled romaine Caesar salad, tuna “pizza”, asparagus) and desserts (the standouts: rotisserie grilled pineapple, strawberries with whipped cream) supplemented by grilled fish, smaller steak preparations for one, rotisserie lamb or chicken (at 68€ per person for 2!). Most tables ordered the steak for two.

SERVICE

Young, engaged, bilingual, both waiters and 21 year old sommelier.

PRICE

Very high a la carte with a small print 69€ 3 course price fixed option.

With a wonderful “trust me” wine recommendation, 261€ for 2. As I said, very high, although not unlike New York for similar food in much larger spaces and less welcoming environments.

(1x) (2017)

Cordonnerie (La)

20, rue St-Roch (1)
Tel: 01-42-60-17-42

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This small family-owned restaurant has operated for almost fifty years in an ancient building built into the side of the St. Roche Church just off Rue St. Honoré. “Modest” hardly defines it. Modest in size (20 seats, including two tables in the beamed room which also serves as the kitchen), modest in staff (one chef, one waiter and a dishwasher), modest in ambition and menu. If you arrive with commensurately modest expectations, it can be quite pleasant, as it was for us. If seated in one of the two kitchen tables, a near-private demonstration of French cooking in action.

FOOD

Limited menu, with two entrée plats du jour and two plats (main courses). Stick to these. Our poached egg in cream of mushroom soup was fresh and rich. Equally so (at least the fresh part) minced salmon tartare with oil, citrus and herbs. Our breast of roasted pintade (guinea hen) was first rate, good to look at and flavorfully sauced, served with creamy scalloped potatoes. At another meal, scallops and blanquette of chicken. Limited, but adequate desserts and wines.

SERVICE

The chef’s young nephew, plus the chef himself. Informal in the extreme and totally in keeping with the spirit of the evening.

PRICE

Modest a la carte. Three courses 45€, plus wine.

(2x) (2013-2014)

Grand Vefour (le)

17, rue du Beaujolais (1)
Tel: 01-42-96-56-27

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

One does not have to experience a Michelin 3-star restaurant to understand French cuisine, what it was or what it is today. In most ways, the handful of Paris 3-stars are costly anachronisms, characterized by a range of ingredients and flavors, impossible to consume largesse and choreographed service hardly equaled in refinement and repeated excellence of execution in other aspects of modern life. But neither does one need a private plane to experience travel.  A 3-star experience is equally special, a onetime indulgence which is more or less affordable – at lunch at least.

The modest Introduction to this Diary says “no 3-stars” (except Astrance – see 16th Arr.). That is being put aside to avail ourselves of 3-star lunchtime specials (if you can call $150/person with wine a “special”).

Technically, Le Grand Vefour is now – perhaps momentarily – a Michelin 2-star. It changes nothing. The décor is original 18th Century, in a part of the Palace Royale. The setting is exquisite and unrivaled. The greeting is friendly, considering how august the history and the meal (and bill) to follow.

FOOD

Like all 3-star food, it is conceived, executed and designed to perfection. I might prefer one establishment’s style over another’s (traditional vs. modern, etc.), but what unites them is perfection.
The 96€ lunch offers three entrée choices (foie gras, marinated bass), three main courses (boned baby duckling, cod, lotte), cheese and one dessert. Every plate is designed, every execution exacting. The meal offered on the menu represents about 2/3 of the food and 1⁄2 of the courses. Complimentary beginnings, pre and post desserts, chocolates, bite sized pastry assortments, etc., abound.

SERVICE

Very formal. Very choreographed. Very proper. Surprisingly friendly and, of course, bilingual. It doesn’t happen by chance.

PRICE

96€ lunch, plus drinks. No food supplements. Wines from a suitably broad, deep and costly list are part of the draw. (There are also some less expensive wines on the list. There should be no embarrassment in asking. That is what sommeliers do, and at Le Grand Vefour they do it well and without condescension. Of course, “less expensive” means under 100€.)
Count on 300€ for two, plus.

(1x) (2013)

Juveniles

47 Rue de Richelieu (1)
Tel:  01-42-97-46-49

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A long-established wine bar begun by an English-born owner, now evolved into a small, popular restaurant in the second generation.  His daughter, one of two very busy servers, her husband the chef.  Popular with tourists and French, it is well-located a few blocks from the Louvre, tight and slightly uncomfortable, boasting plenty of energy, especially on a Saturday night in June.  Prices are fair, value high, but for us, it was not unique or in any way distinguished.

FOOD

Á la carte, langoustines with grilled melon in a spicy chili sauce, dressed with chopped raw almonds as entrée.  Grilled tuna and roast lamb as plats, each dressed with herb sprigs, chopped nuts and vegetable nuggets, clearly the cooking style of the chef.  Roasted fresh apricots with mascarpone and rhubarb panna cotta with sliced strawberries.  Wines from every region by the bottle or glass.  Good food, but short of very good.

SERVICE

Two incredibly hard-working servers do it all.  They serve the water and wines, slice the bread, explain the menu, consult on the wines, clear and present the check.  Helpful, but they could use a third.

PRICES

For two, with five glasses of wine:  138€.

(1x) (2018)

Petit Machon (Le)

158 rue St. Honore (1)
Tel:  01-42-60-08-06

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The area behind the Louvre along the St. Honore is full of cafes and small restaurants, most, like this one, modest in ambition and execution, all catering to tourists and local shoppers.  Except for convenience and an 18.50€ two course lunch, nothing distinguishing about this one.

FOOD

Fresh carrot soup or sautéed chevre in filo, sliced supreme of chicken with vegetables and potato au gratin.  That and a 15€ carafe of wine hit the spot.

SERVICE

On a busy Saturday afternoon, three energetic servers covered a steady stream of late arriving customers.

PRICES

18.50€ for either entrée and main course, or main course and dessert.

(1x) (2016)

 

 

Photo from “paris-bistro.com”

Poule au Pot (La)

9 rue Vauvilliers (1)
Tel:  01-42-36-32-96

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Les Halles is gone, sadly. The awful Forum de Halles is nearly gone, thankfully. (see Champeaux, 1st Arr.). But there remain vestiges of Les Halles, including numerous late night or all night restaurants originally catering to food market workers, customers and visitors.

La Poule au Pot is one. Open from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. According to the 3 waiters who run it perfectly, it remains busy at 2:00 a.m., despite there being no market anymore.

Founded in 1935 and looking more or less as it must have then, we walked past it one afternoon and wondered “tourist trap”?

Not so. Its specialty: chicken cooked in bouillon with vegetables, potatoes and a toss-in of pork served from a steaming earthenware tureen. Basic, rich, filling and a throw-back to a different time. At 8:30 on a cold January night, nearly full, all French.

FOOD

Chicken namesake, lamb shank, cassoulet, beef specialties, supplemented by blackboard specials.

Wonderful tarte tatin for dessert.

SERVICE

Friendly, fast, professional, hardworking. No 35 hour French work week for this team.

PRICES

Relatively low a la carte prices. Chicken and most plats 26€. Entrees 18 – 20€.

(1x) (2017)


Same name and address, but taken over to operate with a traditional bistro menu by two-star chef Jean-Francois Piege (see Clover, 7th Arr., Le Grand Restaurant, 1st Arr.)


This is what this Diary is really about. An 85 year old market restaurant taken over by a successful 2 Star chef. And everything changes – almost.

See the last sentence of our 2017 write-up of La Poule Au Pot – the original. Most printed guides will not have yet caught up with the makeover. For Paris, where restaurants used to seem to go on forever, this “tear down” and make-over trend has become widespread, often for the better, but not always.

Piege has left intact everything physical. Even the once-ubiquitous chicken in the pot remains on the menu, probably unchanged, but the rest of the menu has changed a great deal, as have the prices.

FOOD

We had warm green asparagus with hollandaise and duck galantine, a rare and sophisticated duck pate, both perfect and both expensive. We followed this with baby leg of lamb in a parsley crust served for two, sliced at the table (and slightly overcooked from the rose ordered) and served with a heaping plate of shoestring frites, a gratin dish of ethereal mashed potatoes (the familiar name does not dignify this version) and a dressed salad to share. The entire plate was covered with sliced lamb, surely the best, most tender we have ever eaten. Served simply with parsley and garlic infused jus, it was as delicious as it was abundant.

That good menu choice notwithstanding, I’m not ready to call this a triumph on the order of the new owner’s 2 Star in the 8th, where attention to detail brought forth a meticulously orchestrated experience we will not soon forget.

Here things are more casual; sometimes too casual.

The early crowd (8:00 – 8:30) was scruffy and largely tourists (like us). The staff is bilingual, but the atmosphere with the tables inches from one another is not that of an undiscovered French restaurant. By the time we were ready to depart at 10:15 p.m., people were still coming in and all French.

No room for dessert.

SERVICE

Friendly and well meaning, but somewhat chaotic. A long wine list without obvious bargains, but there is a 48€ menu.

Traditional French food. Unusual choices within a 1950’s space. A new life for a venerable address.

(1x) (2019)

 

Photo from “lapouleaupot.com”

Regalade Saint-Honore (La)

106, rue St.-Honoré (1)
Tel: 01-42-21-92-40

New Address:  (Across the street. Better, still not equal to original.)

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

It is widely accepted that La Regalade in the 14th launched a sea change in Paris restaurants, classically trained chefs moving from high end hotel kitchens and reinventing themselves in a stripped down formula format: three courses, limited choice, high end food for a price. That chef – Yves Camdeborde – moved to the always sold out (and over-hyped) Comptoir in the 6th, with a hotel to go along with it. La Regalade was sold, but continued to succeed and to spawn a host of similar establishments. Now Regalade has expanded to a second location in the 1st, steps from the Louvre. Not atmospheric. Very good food.


A revisit to new space, almost directly across the street from the 2011 satellite launch. Same format, now 39€, lunch and dinner. Pate, plus three high-end, sophisticated courses. Almost raw tuna, black rice risotto with deep fried croutons and garlic slivers with shrimp; cod over beans and flavorful foam; lean pork belly with sautéed shredded cabbage; Grand Marnier soufflé and a dish described as 3 tastes of chocolate; one scoop chocolate mousse, one scoop chocolate ice cream, one scoop chocolate ganache.

Well prepared, carefully served, sophisticated dishes for a remarkable price.

If there is a downside, the Saint Honore spinoff has moved away from the original in the 14th in its first space. The move across the street has added more tables, but more space and comfort too, maybe allowing for a larger kitchen. Ownership has changed too, more recently. None of the tight space and very high energy of the original in the 14th which made the food even more of a bargain surprise, but even better food.

FOOD

Widely reviewed and widely praised. Many diverse, appealing choices within each category. Three courses preceded by signature terrine set on the table. A long and diverse wine list. Menu heavy on luxury ingredients (scallops, foie gras, cepes, Grand Marnier soufflé, figs, etc.)

SERVICE

Casual in the extreme. Three girls who mean to be helpful, but clearly not in training for careers in the restaurant business.

PRICE

33€, a remarkable bargain. A short blackboard of supplements reasonably priced – i.e., duck for two an 8€/p supplement.

(2x) (2011-2017)

Spring

6 rue Bailleul (1)
Tel: 01-45-96-05-72

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Every reader of every English language Paris food blog knows about Spring and its Chicago-born chef, Daniel Rose. Talk about hype. It is over the top. Spring closed its 16 seat restaurant two years ago. Finally, it has reopened, with a no reservation tapas-type menu downstairs (reserved for a private party when we were there). The impossible reservation crush and praise from loyal bloggers is unrelenting. I must have missed something. A nice space dominated by a completely open kitchen. In contrast to the ballet of a practiced brigade, three or four cooks wandering in the space.


Seven weeks later, the cooks still have not established a rhythm. Better to hide the kitchen until they have.


As users of this Diary may have experienced personally, and as warned in its Introduction, it is intended as neither definitive nor universal. My observations reflect what works and doesn’t for me.
What I wrote on the basis of two visits to Spring in 2011 stand. That it is now a new and different restaurant, and a very good one, doesn’t reflect reconsideration on my part, but evolution on theirs. So let’s start again.

Six cooks plus Chicago-born chef Daniel Rose at the pass, calling orders and reviewing plates. A dishwasher; young and helpful sommelier; outgoing, professional manager recruited from the Ducasse organization, plus three other servers/coat checkers/hosts/hostesses.  This is now a professional organization turning out very good food to a full house at every meal. 45 seats upstairs and down. No longer a separate menu for the downstairs, which lacks a view to the theater of the open kitchen that dominates the small upstairs room. What a change! Spring is now worthy of the hype which surrounded – and wildly exaggerated – its opening phase.

FOOD

Four courses (one more than the traditional 33€- 38€ formula of so many others); 64€, plus wines on the high end. Good, but not exceptional food (mullet and duck consommé, “bacon and eggs” with mushrooms, squab). Good food, not great food. No menu. No choice. No listing of what you are eating.


Getting better.


Chef’s menu only.  Five courses.  At our dinner, either pigeon breast (guinea hen) with lobster, or saddle of lamb with neck of lamb, with or without wine pairings.

Ambitions multi-course menu. Truffle bouillon with roasted vegetables and truffle slices.  Scallop and oyster combination, with a second course of two fried oysters in oyster cream.  Filet of sole over sautéed cabbage leaves.  Beautiful saddle of lamb with second serving of slow cooked caramelized lamb’s neck, served with puree of celery root.  Cheese or dessert.  Cheese: eight slices of wonderful selection.  Dessert: in five courses, including fruit and light chocolate tart.  Unusual.  Well-prepared.  Not all works of art to look at, but they are working on that too.

SERVICE

Casual; almost uncoordinated.


Now more attentive and professional.
Better staffed. A dedicated team of young waiters work and try hard, and seem to be succeeding.


Polite. Attentive. Informed. Still less polished, but in keeping with the tone of the restaurant, which straddles formal in terms of ambition, no choice chef’s menu and prices, while casual in terms of its obscure alley location and room-dominating open kitchen.

PRICE

Insupportably high fixed price. Twenty alternatives in this Diary, including the new La Regalade Saint-Honore literally around the corner, serve better food (but one fewer course), at barely more than half the price. I don’t get it.


38€ lunch still on the high end for two courses and dessert plus extras (See Frederic Simonin in the 8th.)


Very expensive. Menu 78€ with expensive wine list (although the sommelier happy to recommend less costly choices. Just ask). So prices on a par with vastly more traditional, more formal competitors. Take your choice. You will no longer be disappointed at Spring.
(Now 84€)

(3x) (2011-2013)


Daniel Rose, the now-elevated chef/owner of Spring (plus two other spin-offs in Paris) has announced Spring will close in 2017. I sense business was strong, but Rose has more or less moved to New York where he is a chef and part owner of Le Coucou, a very hot and ultra expensive Tribeca French restaurant.

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|