4th Arrondissement

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Benoit

20, rue Saint Martin (4)
Tel: 01-42-72-25-76

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Beautiful bistro décor, including a new, small third dining room which looks as if it was always there. Front room still best. (They used to sit the French there, Americans in the back. Ducasse ownership may have changed that.) Calls itself a bistro. Maybe. Some traditional items remain on the relatively limited menu. At best, a luxury bistro, with prices to match. At lunch, a 38€ menu. Three choices for three courses. No one would mistake this for a chef-owned and managed address, but the Ducasse organization is no ordinary commercial chain.


After 4 years, a return to Benoit. Refined, beautifully executed versions of what may have once been bistro dishes, but are no longer. Benoit becomes two restaurant concepts within one, both successful: a beautiful and beautifully maintained bistro décor with an Alain Ducasse-level execution of historical bistro dishes (pate en croute, calf’s head, asparagus with sauce mousseline), all at very high Alain Ducasse prices.

FOOD

Terrific food which would be equally at home in a 2-star establishment. Every dish carefully plated. Subtle flavors.


The pate en croute is laced with foie gras, the sauce mousseline with truffles. 28€ and 44€, respectively (5 asparagus spears!).

Our main course, on the menu forever, rolled dover sole with sauce nantua (crayfish). Superb, at 52€.

SERVICE

Good, attentive service. Bilingual.
Professional wine service.


Charmless, but efficient, except sommelier and manager, who attempted to bridge the problem inherent in so many corporate group restaurants, even those characterized by a culinary pedigree the equal of Ducasse. There is no owner in the kitchen, and no owner or owner’s wife (or husband – see Yam’Tcha, our single favorite restaurant in the 1st Arr.) in the front, one notices.

PRICE

Prices high, even with a choice from the page of moderately priced wines at dinner, 100€ per person, easy. A fine meal, but not a bistro meal. At dinner few foreigners. At lunch, many. Formula lunch 38€.

(3x) (2011-2017)

Bofinger

5 et 7, rue de la Bastille (4)
Tel: 01-42-72-87-82

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A large, historic, exquisitely designed and well preserved brasserie between the Bastille and the Place des Vosges. Chain owned. Food and service now in the style of similar cafes (Balzar, Lipp); hearty, plentiful, varied and good, but never memorable. Without the décor, you wouldn’t bother. But the décor – and the tradition which accompanies it – makes it worthwhile – and very Parisian.

FOOD

Oysters, roast pork, roast chicken, scotch salmon, choucroute. Traditional desserts.

SERVICE

Willing and professional, but distracted.

PRICE

Medium. No bargains.

(1x) (2011)

Chez Marianne

2, rue des Hospitalières St-Gervais (4)
Tel: 01-42-72-18-86

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If you are not ready for the line or the grittiness of L’As du Falafel (see 4th Arr.), Chez Marianne around the corner serves Jewish/Israeli/Middle Eastern meze at tables in a smallish room, including falafel. In warm weather, there is a spacious adjacent garden. It attracts both the overflow and the less intrepid, and its own following too, which explains weekend lines out the door.

FOOD

Choose ten meze items for two people, 26€. Or four choices for 12€. Or five for 14€, etc. Pita, what the French call bagels, to go along. (Skip dessert. Save it for Sacha Finkelsztayn, the Jewish bakery across the street.)

SERVICE

Quick, impersonal, charmless.

PRICE

A la carte, but a great lunch (if you are in the mood) for the price. Not a dinner venue.


10 meze now 30€. All else unchanged.

(2x) (2012-2017)

Gaigne (Le)

12, rue Pecquay (4)
Tel: 01-44-59-86-72

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

20 seat Marais location. One chef, one helper/dishwasher. One waitress. Five courses at 39€. More memorable for the unlikely combination than the food. Unfortunately, discovered by Sunday New York Times and over-hyped.

FOOD

Good, not great, but wonderful walking neighborhood.

SERVICE

Somehow, the single waitress does it all and does it well.

PRICE

Low/moderate. Equally so the wines. Great value, if not great cooking. Formula and a la carte (larger portions).

(1x)(2010)

Gorille Blanc (Le)

4 Impasse Guéménée (4)
Tel: 01-42-72-08-45

(See Le Gorille Blanc in the 7th for the history)

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Walking on the Rue St. Antoine in the Marais we spotted the name on a new orange awning. A coincidence? Let’s look in. There, in a larger, more rustic space was the original owner, now with his son and a new chef, serious if not aspiring to a Michelin star, in a lovely space virtually steps from the Place des Vosges, Similar menu and format to original. 18€ formula lunch. Cozy surroundings, already busy if not swamped. Glad to see them back.

FOOD

Better food than before, even better versions of some of the original specialties such as warm terrine of mushrooms in garlic sauce. Small menu with meat and fish, plus plats du jour (wonderful roast chicken and scallops with leeks, preceded by avocados with smoked salmon or vegetable soup).

SERVICE

Like the restaurant itself, it aims to be comfortable, lively, friendly and unobjectionable without steep ambition. The service fits right in.

PRICE

Reasonable a la carte and exceptionally reasonable formula. Wines by the bottle, pitcher or glass, similarly priced.
(3x) (2012 – 2013)

L’ As du Fallafel

34, rue des Rosiers (4)
Tel: 01-48-87-63-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

As the name and address suggest, a kosher falafel joint in the Marais with a bare bones dining room in case you don’t want to eat on the street. No décor and barely anything resembling ambiance. So what explains long lines every day, all day? A great sandwich and an unforgettable experience. (And the long lines move quickly.)

FOOD

Hardly more than falafel. Chose the accompaniments; all of them fresh, delicious, put together in front of you, assembly-line fashion. Also lamb, chicken. Save coffee and dessert for a nearby café.

SERVICE

Basically, no service. Someone works the outside line, takes your order and collects the money. Pick up your falafel at the window. Or, for an extra 1€ per person, sit inside and have it brought to you.

PRICE

Two world class falafels, two Diet Cokes: 14€, plus 2€ to sit inside. Try to beat it in New York – or Jerusalem.

(8x) (2010-2017)

Mon Vieil Ami

69, rue Saint Louis en L’Ile (4)
Tel: 01-40-46-01-35

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I’lle St. Louis location. Busy tourist street. Modern décor. Popular. Many non- French. 3-star chef-affiliated (Antoine Westermann).  Cool décor. Good value, but lacks ambiance. Open Sunday.

FOOD

Very good. Varied menu.

SERVICE

Detached, but proficient.

PRICE

Medium/formula

(3x) (2010-2014)


Reported Closed (2017)