6th Arrondissement

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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)

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)

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)

Au Pied de Fouet

3, rue Saint Benoit (6)
Tel: 01-42-96-59-10

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Movie set French. Small as in tiny. Twelve seats downstairs plus only slightly larger upstairs balcony. Ambition (and price) commensurate with size. Surely not a destination, but the second of a three location group, in business for a long time. The combination makes it highly popular, and deservedly so.

FOOD

Comfort food in the extreme, but cooked by an actual chef (roast pork, Shepherd’s Pie with duck, fresh fruit tarts, sausage with lentils), carafe wines. A perfect simple lunch or dinner on a narrow Left Bank street, steps from the Blvd. St. Germain.

SERVICE

Four employees, including the chef. Waitresses leave finesse at home, but neither is it called for. They are friendly and warm, if always in a hurry.

PRICE

Very low. Three courses, plus water, coffee, wine for two: 55€.

(4x) (2012 – 2014)

Aux Charpentiers

10, rue Mabillon (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-30-05

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A low priced basic bistro across from the St. Germain market in a neighborhood of restaurants. Fairly large, with small, closely spaced tables, but a real chef with his wife in the front. Friendly, warm, welcoming. Avoid the basement room.

FOOD

Good, basic, hearty, traditional. Not refined. Just what we wanted. Relatively extensive menu, including traditional daily plats du jour. Name the day and you name the plat, week after week, year after year.

SERVICE

Friendly, helpful, informal.

PRICE

Lunch 19.5€ formula for two plats. Dinner 28€. Plus a la carte.

(1x) (2010)


RECENT UPDATE:

As of Fall, 2017, closed.

Aux Pres

27, rue du Dragon (6)
Tel:  01-45-48-29-68

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If you do not speak French you do not routinely watch French TV, so there is no reason to know Cyril Lignac, a dashing young TV chef with a small group of restaurants.  This is the most modest in terms of size and ambition, what appears to be a former café with a beautiful white marble bar and a dozen or so tables for two in a well-decorated, updated wood panelled space in the 6th.

At the bar for lunch, friendly service and a nice formula menu of modern food.  (But also at the bar for lunch – I learned after, when I checked out Cyril Lignac on the internet – was Cyril Lignac, when he wasn’t outside posing with customers for photos.  This was confusing to me.  Chefs are supposed to be in their kitchens, especially Michelin-starred chefs (See Le Quinzieme, 15th Arr.) with 3 kitchens!

FOOD

From ten or so choices, fresh crab over avocado on toast, followed by pulled chicken tacos served with roast potatoes.  The crab entrée was attractive and good.  The pair of tacos not nearly as good as 100 U.S. alternatives, without sufficient originality to compensate.  Probably a poor ordering choice.

SERVICE

Helpful.  Friendly.

PRICE

3 course lunch 45€, expensive for the neighborhood.  Skip dessert (or the main course) and 2 courses become 32€.  With a glass of wine and a complimentary warm madeleine, 43.50€.


On a very busy Saturday night, every seat full; restaurant and bar for each of 2 seatings. Small, crowded, high-energy (noisy) space, about 60 seats total. All French. No tourists, except us.

3 course 48€ menu, 6 or so very good choices in each of 3 categories. Marinated dourade over chick-pea squares and quick fried filo wrapped shrimp over shredded romaine in dressing, roast cod and sautéed scallops in foam, with vegetables underneath, molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and brie with salad. All preceded by American-style cocktail menu.

Exceptional/surprisingly good and inventive dishes in much less than sedate atmosphere. Service quick, but intentionally hurried. No thought to finesse. And everyone seemed to love it.

In all, a terrific dinner.

(2x) (2015-2016)

 

Photo from “Pinterest”

Bastide Odeon (La)

7, rue Corneille (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-03-65

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Lovely Left Bank location. Comfortable, but nondescript modern decor. On two floors. About 60 seats. Open kitchen. Upstairs is not Siberia. Mostly French neighborhood crowd – at least in winter.

FOOD

Provencal-oriented menu. Heavy on vegetables, fish, roast chicken with garlic.

SERVICE

Semi-professional, but helpful and friendly. Quick; maybe too quick.

PRICE

Three good courses, 36€ formula for dinner.

(1x) (2012)

Bon Saint Pourcain (Le)

10 bis, rue Servandoni (6)
Tel: 01-43-54-93-63

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

From 2010: Informal Left Bank neighborhood spot. Small. Tired. Eccentric. Out of the 1920’s, and not much redecorating since. Owner plus daughter. Tiny kitchen in the hallway. Use the bathroom before you leave your hotel. Like a comfortable old shoe, with a rarely changing menu of comfort dishes.

FOOD

Good. Never more. Large portions. Roast chicken, lamb shank, cassoulet, sole, beef with olives.

SERVICE

Efficient, but neither unfriendly nor warm.

PRICES

A la carte. No credit cards. 8x (2010-2013)


Sign in the window, “Under Construction” Rarely does that tell the real story. (2014)


Closed (2015)

A new/old restaurant, and a good one.

28 seats. Warm. All middle-aged French couples and a foursome of businessmen. 2 chefs working in coordination with hallway prep kitchen. Small blackboard menu. (Beet salad with goat cheese, leeks in vinegar, crab salad with sliced asparagus; cod, pork shoulder, chicken breast). Little ambition, other than to serve competently executed, simple weekday food to a small crowd of local neighborhood folk (except for us) looking exactly for that.

Not polished, not a gourmet destination, but exactly what proved perfect for a chilly first night in Paris and a major improvement over the somewhat sleepy version which preceded it.


Two meals in 2019.  Still the quintessential neighborhood place.  Still all French. Still highly competent, if not ambitious. Still full. Prices higher.

(6x) (2015-2019)

 

Photo by “Trip Advisor”

Bouquinistes (Les)

53, quai des Grands-Augustins (6)
Tel: 01-43-25-45-94

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A moderately expensive, moderately elegant, comfortable, modern restaurant on the Quai near Notre Dame. Lovely, formal, without being overbearing. Businessmen in ties are comfortable; so are tourists without them. The kitchen is Guy Savoy 3-star standard for a “second restaurant” (of four), but managing a restaurant is challenging to delegate. Where is the soul?

FOOD

Professionally managed, creative, carefully executed food, as one would expect from Guy Savoy ownership. The formula lunch menu focuses on seasonal choices, without shortcuts.

SERVICE

Professional service, but without a sense of ownership.

PRICE

The surprising news is the formula lunch: Two courses for 26€, three courses for 29€, with a glass of wine. A steal.

Dinner a la carte and more expensive.

(2X) (2011)

Brasserie Lipp

151, boulevard St. Germain (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-53-91

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

There are many good reasons to want to experience Lipp, at a weekend lunch with friends or relatives, for example, it is just that the food isn’t one of them – not if facing so many choices for too few days in Paris.

Brassiere Lipp is historic, original, beautiful and classic. It is an institution with a celebrated history at a Left Bank crossroads across the boulevard from Café Flore and Deux Magots. Every guidebook counsels to eat downstairs; that upstairs is “Siberia”. Maybe so. Drop by the day before and book a reservation. They are happy to have you.

On a winter Saturday lunch, not a tourist in sight. All French. Many couples. Some singles. Motorcycle helmets outnumbered by canes, with many regulars.

FOOD

The food is no better than fair. Hearty; traditional; German- influenced. Chourcroute, roast chicken, roast leg of lamb. Nothing modern. Nothing exciting, but taken together, a wonderful experience.

SERVICE

Experienced, old school, deft waiters. The grumpy, but friendly type. What you expect at a New York steakhouse. If you play along, they can make it fun.

PRICE

Surprisingly high. All a la carte. With wine, 50€/ per person.

(11x) (2009-2018)

Brasserie Lutetia

43 Boulevard Raspail (6)
Tel:  01-49-54-46-46

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

2018-2019 has not been the best year for Paris.  The Yellow Vest protests have been disruptive and disturbing, but one high note has been the reopening following five years of reconstruction of the Hotel Lutetia on the Left Bank.

Now this part of Paris (one block from Le Bon Marche department store, whose original owners first built the hotel in the 19th Century) has a grand hotel equal in every way to the Right Bank Five Star palais in an arguably better location.

In Paris, grand hotels now feature Michelin-starred restaurants.  The Lutetia is trying with two.

The Brasserie is overseen by Gerald Passedat, a 3 Star chef from Marseilles.  His seafood restaurant there, Le Petite Nice, inspires the Brasserie menu.

This is the more casual restaurant of the Lutetia.  Modern and elegant, but at once casual, chic, friendly and relaxed.  A seafood bar featuring shellfish platters, plus a small a la carte menu, plus a single set menu featuring the chef’s signature, more modern take on traditional bouillabaisse.

FOOD

Our meal began with a small portion of mushroom flavored fish broth.  Delicate; refreshing, exceptional.  This was followed by a small portion of Tempura-style calamari with parsley sauce.

Then the fish soup.  The soup served separately from the broth.  The fish cooked in a light broth with potatoes.  The diner is expected to add it piece by piece to the soup, to add croutons with grated cheese, and in place of the traditional garlic mayonnaise aioli, a tomato concasse.

Delicious dessert was a surprisingly refreshing combination of celery, cucumber, kiwi and yogurt sherbet.  A wonderful meal.

SERVICE

Friendly.  Helpful.

PRICE

Mixed wine prices.  Our 60€ Burgundy at the lower end.  The menu 95€.

This may be the second restaurant, but like everything else about the Lutetia, it is top notch.

(1x) (2019)

Chez Dumonet – Josephine

117, rue du Cherche Midi (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-52-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Classic bistro décor. Deliberately tired, but not in the kitchen. Everything L’Ami Louis has except the attitude and prices. Menu innovation: some half portions available. Luxury meats and order ahead desserts (soufflé; extraordinary apple tart). High energy. Great fun. Always full. Terrific food.


No reason to change a word above, except for a fall 2015 dinner which underscores every superlative.  This is the real thing, a luxury bistro, with the luxury part found in the menu, ingredients, portion sizes and prices.  One negative note:  more foreign voices than ever before, all having fun.  New (seasonal) menu item:  duck for two with figs served very rare.  Girolles with poached egg as an entrée.  The two noted desserts remain spectacular, as does the mille-feuille – each ordered ahead, and each large enough for the table.  Order all 3!

FOOD

Excellent bistro food. Beef with béarnaise, veal chop, stuffed girolles, wild duck confit, foie gras. Some fish. Large portions. Rich.

SERVICE

Friendly, casual, attentive service. Hurried; occasionally gruff, but with a smile.

PRICE

High – as expected. All a la carte. Very high wine prices. Not a good range at the lower end.


Four people.  One bottle, plus 2 glasses of wine.  Plenty of food, 372€.  Wine list unchanged; very expensive wines, plus (only) 1 or 2 affordable choices in each category for the rest of us.

(11x) (2010-2019)

Comptoir du Relais (Le)

9, Carrefour de l’Odeon (6)
Tel: 01-44-27-07-97

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

For Americans, the best known and most highly publicized of the formula/price fixed menu/formally-trained chefs gone downscale places. And among the first. (Original chef of Regalade.) Still perennially crowded, hard to get a table. Good food, but no longer unique- no longer even unusual.

FOOD

Five courses at dinner. 50€. No choice. Smallish portions, plus cheese tray. One sitting. At lunch, no reservations. Line up at noon. Some choice, 35€.

SERVICE

At dinner, bring out the plates. All the same. Not quite a test of a waiter’s skill, and it shows.

PRICE

Plenty of competitors, many as good at 35€-40€.

The wine list a shocker, without equal among formula spots: prices/selections disproportionately, unfairly high.

(2x) (2011)

Cuisine de Philippe (La)

25, rue Servandoni (6)
Tel: 01-43-29-76-37

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

With so many favorites to return to, plus those among our new discoveries to try again, plus new names and recommendations, we rarely leave the apartment without a plan and reservation.

Today we took a long walk in the 6th, following an exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum. We passed this place, at the top end of a small street we know (at the other end is Au Bon Porcain, see 6th). It was small, cozy and had an unusually ambitious menu, part of a 27€ formula lunch. We were very pleasantly surprised, notwithstanding the toilet outside in the cold courtyard.

FOOD

Starter soufflés (wild mushroom, cheese or smoked salmon), plus mousseline of fish. Four choices for the main course, plus a plat du jour of duck tortue (a pastry wrapped minced duck preparation), plus dessert soufflés, apple tarte or crème brulee. The soufflés were very good, the moussenline outstanding. In all, food unexpectedly pleasing and sophisticated. And very large portions.

SERVICE

One friendly, helpful young woman for 30 or so guests (supporting the owner / chef and one helper / dishwasher). She did great.

PRICE

27€ includes one glass of wine and coffee. Refills, 4€. At dinner, similar menu for 35€.

Lunch now 29€, still noteworthy for price, portion and quality. And the chance to eat two soufflés in one lunch, cheese to start and chocolate to end!

(3x) (2013 -2018)

Deux Magots (Les)

6, pl St. Germain-des- Pres (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-55-25

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This café occupies what may be the most prime real estate on the Left Bank, including most of the sidewalk of the two streets which make up its corner location. In warm weather, it spills across the sidewalks into the Place St. Germain, across from the ancient church. It teems with clients at all hours, as it has for generations.

FOOD

No one comes for the food. There are countless better choices within blocks, although for breakfast or simple lunch, it is perfectly adequate. It is the scene, the legend, the history, location and legacy which is the attraction.

PRICES

High as expected.

SERVICE

Professional, but not warm.

(10x+) (2010-2015)

Epi Dupin (L’)

11, rue Dupin (6)
Tel: 01-42-22-64-56

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Ten years after first eating at L’Epi Dupin (on a recommendation from a Ritz chef), and tens of meals later, a late 2011 summary reassessment:

Still among the best food to cost values in Paris. (Except lunch at Frederic Simonin, see 17th).  Inventive dishes, well executed, served by a hardworking, long serving team in tight quarters, always packed. Turnover the key to its model – no lingering over the table for the evening. 2 – 3 turns the norm. That plus small, closely spaced tables and hard surfaces makes for noise, bustle and palpable energy. Not for everyone, but the concept succeeds better than a legion of others which have tried to duplicate the basic format.

Why? The menu is constantly changing and the food is always first-rate; well thought out and well executed.

FOOD

Exceptional, and consistently so. Every meal a winner.

Unique dishes. Constantly changing menu. Real thought goes into the menu and the six choices for each course.

L’Epi Dupin is not as comfortable physically as many of the other three course formula restaurants in this Diary, but year-in, year-out, its food is both superior and unusual.

SERVICE

Friendly and professional. Chef often on the floor. High turnover, but not without grace.


A 2014 change in key dining room/service staff with the departures of the two most senior waiters/managers, but you wouldn’t know it unless you did.

PRICE

Medium/Low formula. 38€. Some supplements.

Lunch 27€

(10x+) (2010-2014)

 

Photo from “Yelp”

Epigramme (L’)

9, rue de l’Eperon (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-36-36

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Entirely forgettable, which is too bad. A small, pleasant room on an ancient Left Bank street just doors from the once venerated Chez Allard, now, sadly, a mecca for American and Japanese tourists.

A 38€ formula menu in every way unobjectionable, but with nothing to recommend it.

FOOD

Nicely cooked shrimp with foam, lamb without embellishment, the ubiquitous durade (or was it the more universal cod?), molten chocolate cake. Good, but passé.

SERVICE

What service? The food got to the table, but entirely without finesse – or even a tucked-in shirt. Could the wait staff have had the night off?

PRICE

38€ formula. Fairly priced wines.

(1X) (2010)

Ferrandaise (La)

8, rue de Vaugirard (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-36-36

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A total disappointment despite the dated guidebook write-ups.

FOOD

Only fair.

SERVICE

Slipshod.

PRICE

Low/formula

(1X) (2009)