3rd Arrondissement

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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)

Au Bascou

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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


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

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


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

FOOD

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

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

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

(5x) (2010-2017)

Marche de Enfants Rouges

39, rue de Bretagne (3)
No phone

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This Diary is a personal restaurant list, not a Paris Guide, so it is questionable whether Enfants Rouge even belongs. It is not a restaurant per se, but an ancient covered market (from the 17th Century) in the process of evolving into what Americans would call an international food court.

There remain a handful of traditional market stalls for fish, fruit and vegetables, etc., plus established specialist shops on the surrounding blocks. What appear in every other outdoor market as Italian or North African prepared food vendors are takeout stands here, with outdoor tables on the sidewalks surrounding the market somehow allocated to each shop.

FOOD

Italian, hamburgers, filled crepes, Moroccan, Libyan and Asian are only some of the cuisines represented. Each stand displays heaping platters of cooked food to be reheated, served, sliced or portioned. Line up. Order. Pay. A waiter will help you carry your food to an eligible table. Not for the fainthearted, but on a Sunday midday full of happy French and visitors.

SERVICE

Primitive, and appropriately so.

PRICE

Very low. We chose the longest line, assuming someone knew what he was doing. Moroccan couscous, in countless variations.


Five years later, except for noting that hamburgers are appearing as the French Sunday brunch favorite (and so is Sunday brunch now replacing the traditional Sunday family lunch, at least for young urban dwellers), I would not change a word.  And the Moroccan line still the longest

(2x) (2014-2019)

MaZenay (Le)

46 Rue de Montmorency (3)
Tel: 06-42-83-79-52

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Among literally thousands of named, but otherwise nameless, small restaurants which dot virtually every block of greater Paris, only a handful combine seriousness, ambition and skill. How to identify these needles within the haystack? Only by word of mouth and personal recommendation. Many thrive for generations by the standards of this Diary and more professional reviews, never rising because location, habit and a lack of ambition – or budget – beyond neighborhood loyalists. Some get lucky and noticed. Many fail. Word of mouth – the recommendation of French-born, now part-time Parisians from Boston, we learned of one of their go-to destinations – not fancy, not special, but several notches above what would be inferred from the small, but nicely designed space in an undistinguished neighborhood behind the Pompidou Centre in the 3rd. We tried for lunch and will return for a slightly more ambitious 39€ 3 course dinner, as listed on a blackboard.

FOOD

For lunch, 2 courses of 19€, 3 courses for 25€.

Outstanding fresh Italian tomato soup with melting squares of mozzarella, roasted fish or stewed beef in a dark wine sauce. I skipped the plats in favor of an á la carte platter of delicious fresh pate, cheese and sliced salmon with pickled vegetables. For dessert, sliced fresh strawberries with a light shortbread biscuit – a light version of old fashioned strawberry shortcake. Surprisingly refined food served to neighborhood workers at lunch.

SERVICE

Two professional servers covered the 25 or so guests.

PRICE

Very fair – even cheap by the standard of the food. Recommended wines 6€/glass or 15€/carafe.

(1x) (2018)

Pamphlet (Le)

38, rue Debelleyme (3)
Tel: 01-42-72-39-24

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Attractive space on a quiet street in the 3rd. Hints of elegance. Short formula menu. Quite good execution, but one is conscious that they make it on the volume. Somehow, it doesn’t come together as the individual elements suggest it should. Lacks soul.

FOOD

Good food. Ambitious execution. Limited choice.

SERVICE

Particularly friendly, but the food comes too quickly.

PRICE

Reasonable for what you get, but the experience less memorable than it could be.

(1x) (2009)

Robert et Louise

64, rue Vieille-du-Temple (3)
Tel: 01-42-78-55-89

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A (very) poor man’s L’Ami Louis. In the Marais. Small ground floor room and bar. Shared tables. Open fireplace for grilling, mostly steaks. Young crowd; French and tourists. Redone downstairs cave (and modern bathrooms) with mostly gay clientele. Fun.

FOOD

Good, if not great. Try once; with larger group particularly. Focus on steak and potatoes.

SERVICE

Friendly, haphazard. Gets the job done.

PRICE

Moderate. One quarter (or less) than L’Ami Louis.

(1x) (2009)