11th Arrondissement

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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)

Auberge Pyrenees Cevennes

106, rue de la Folie- Mericourt (11)
Tel: 01-43-57-33-78

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On a quiet, dark street in the 11th, a robust beacon of energy. A+ for ambiance. Large. Full. Busy. Boisterous. B+ for execution. Good food, not great food. A classic Lyonnais bistro/bouchon.

FOOD

Longish bistro menu, every classic. Each well-executed, but none memorably. Onglet with shallots, a portion large enough for three. Ditto the quenelle, swimming in lobster sauce (additional sauce offered). (Try to find one restaurant in New York which offers quenelle de brochet. In this Diary, there are now four, for what I thought was a dish which had disappeared. Tour D’Argent, the hands down winner.
La Maree a close second.)

SERVICE

Friendly, but casual. A full house, but no wait for food.

PRICE

Prices a la carte, 122€ for two.

(1x) (2011)

Bistrot Paul Bert (Le)

18, rue Paul Bert (11)
Tel: 01-43-72-24-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Busy, bustling, attractive if (deliberately) threadbare bistro and setting. A la carte blackboard and formula menu. Mostly meat. Deservedly popular, with Americans especially.


Bistrot Paul Bert was among my original group of Paris write-ups. It took 5 years to return, with plenty of comparison meals in between. It is better than the original review suggests, although nothing said then is different, only that it demands elaboration.
Larger than I remembered – a spacious, busy side room I must have missed. Very high energy. Diverse crowd. Still plenty of Americans, but except for an occasional loud American voice, mostly French. A mix of motorcycle helmets and older men eating alone, and everything in between. Busy and frenetic, but serious about food and menu. Like (and similar to) Le Grand Pan (see 15th) and Restaurant du Marche (see 15th), it is fun and good.

FOOD

Quite good; made better by the robust environment.


More interesting and diverse formula menu than often found, with a la carte additions. Scallops broiled in shells, hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise and black truffles. A la carte steak for two with shallots and marrow. Grand Marnier soufflé and crème caramel from menu. All impeccable. Featured bio wines plus reserve list.

SERVICE

Good, conscientious. (Waitress noticed and comped an undercooked dessert soufflé).


Hard-working and enjoying it.

PRICE

Moderate.


Three formula courses 38€. A la carte steak 58€ for two. With 32€ wine, coffee and water, 137€.

(3x) (2009-2015)

Chez Paul

13, rue de Charonne (11)
Tel: 01-47-00-34-57

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Ask the hotel concierge for an authentic old Paris bistro. There are some, including a few on this list (see Chez Denise 1st, Allard 6th, Auberge Pyrenees Cevennes 11th). Little chance he sends you to Chez Paul, “Le Bistrot Traditions”. First of all, it is in the 11th, likely far from the hotel in the safe, but non-descript 11th, a reasonable walk from the Place Bastille except at night, when reasonable means a gauntlet of narrow streets lined with bars and nightclubs on both sides. At the end is the more tranquil Rue de Charonne and a genuinely ancient building supported inside by large wooden beams holding up large wooden beams. Nothing retro here. The Alain Ducasse organization passed this one by in its campaign to breathe new life and finesse into once distinguished bistros (see Aux Lyonnais 2nd, Benoit 4th, Allard 6th). The result is a combination of charm, shabby chic and physical ruin, given life by a large, traditional bistro menu. Two rooms of tables dominated by French couples and families, dependable cooking and low prices. This, presumably, is what a bistro was, versus L’Ami Louis (see 3rd) or Benoit, at 100€+ per person.

FOOD

Watercress salad with fish-stuffed vegetables and vegetable soup heavy with lentils, followed by grilled filet mignon with béarnaise and roasted potatoes, and grilled entrecote with roquefort sauce, sautéed potatoes with shallots, marrow bone and sel gris. A pitcher of wine and tarte tatin with crème fraiche. Delicious. Generous. Decidedly “non- gourmet” and seemingly proud of it.

SERVICE

Practical. Deliberate. Some would say slow, but that is what they do. No effort to turn the tables.

PRICE

Quite low prices. With wine, water and coffee, 91€ for two. Also a 20€ formula with five or six choices of three courses.

(1x) (2013)

Clown Bar

114 Rue Amelot (11)
Tel:  01-43-55-87-35

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Experience has taught me to avoid the hype on new restaurants until the serious reviews come out.  Good word of mouth can be created by skilled PR.  (In the U.S., even before the restaurant opens, complete with photos of “delicious” dishes which will be served.)  And if the new restaurant occupies an historic space, the hype is magnified.

So we took the drumbeat about Clown Bar with detachment.  We were wrong.

In the out of the way 11th Arr., the name derives from an original painted circus décor inspired by a real circus next door.  Nice, but not worth the trip.  What is, is the food.  Two Japanese chefs cooking highly refined versions of classic French dishes.

The space is small.  22 seats inside, plus a seasonal terrace.  The original bar dominates the small room, with the tables filling in the rest of the space; modest, spare and lacking additional decorative touches.  Don’t dress up, but do go for the food.

FOOD

At lunch and dinner, all a la carte.  No formula menus, and not cheap, except by Boston or New York standards, where neither menu nor the plating or execution can be matched – at any price.

22 – 30 covers, a surprisingly long menu covering the range of snack-like entrees through more complex executions.  A number of tables seemed to be enjoying self-created tasting menus.  For the space, an extensive wine list.

Cold beets with pear and burrata, a caramelized onion and parmesan buckwheat crepe; photo-worthy turbot wrapped in an herb-decorated cabbage leaf with a light cream sauce; duck and foie gras pithiviers (solid duck breast and a slice of foie gras in a duck pate baked inside a pastry, served individually as two half-spheres), accompanied by a green salad.  Too much food for one of the four more simple desserts.  The menu evidently changes daily.

SERVICE

Hard working waiters take orders and run the food, but clearly the kitchen takes precedence.

PRICES

All a la carte.  With one glass of wine, water and coffee, 111€ for two.  Main courses 34€-36€ in a city where two and three course lunches are routinely available at that price, but well worth the splurge.


When I wrote up my very positive lunch at Clown Bar last October, I expressed a strong desire to return. I tried upon my return to Paris in January, but no luck. Fully booked. In April we succeeded. Worth the wait.

As described above, the décor is mixed, part historic art nouveau-like décor; part cramped and scruffy. Small tables here and there, plus a crowded bar and terrace on the street. Clearly the space was not designed as a full service restaurant. It is part of its charm and the surprise, but may not be for everyone. Don’t dress up.

That said, the food is the draw, plus unusually attentive, caring, intelligent service. Bilingual. Lucky for that, because plenty of young English-speakers. What they have discovered is an unusual a la carte menu of well-executed, carefully plated dishes, several measures ahead of seemingly comparable places. This is much more than another 39€, 3 course meal. A la carte doesn’t mean necessarily higher cost, but a wider range and greater sophistication. An extensive wine list characterized by young makers and bio wines, with a wide range of modest choices. (Our Rhone wine was 32€, and delicious.)

Sliced charcuterie to go with our first glass of wine. A buckwheat crepe filled with caramelized onions and cheese, and raw scallops with parmesan and arugula as entrees. White asparagus with sliced turnips and garlic cream as an extra in between course. Sea bream with romaine and an enormous pithiviers as mains. A rare, but well known preparation, duck breast and foie gras surrounded by duck pieces are wrapped and baked in pastry. The softball sized disc is sliced in half and served open, along with a fruit sauce.

For dessert, molten chocolate over vanilla ice cream.

All in, 157€. A significant restaurant.

(2x) (2017-2018)

(Photo from “Pinterest”)

Ecailler du Bistrot (L’)

20-22, rue Paul Bert (11)
Tel: 01-43-72-76-77

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Owned by and next to Bistro Paul Bert. All fish. Relaxed, bistro-like ambiance. Casual. A find. One of only a handful of reasonably priced serious fish restaurants.


On a recent Friday night, every seat full, largely French despite bilingual service and an English language version of the chalkboard menu. Terrific fish. Unusual preparations. Whole Dover sole meuniere at 42€. Many tables with cold seafood platters (oysters, crab, etc.) the size of small tables. Weaker desserts. Cozy atmosphere. Good prices. An excellent fish restaurant.

FOOD

Large selection of shellfish. Blackboard entrees and plates. Beautiful Dover sole, 38€. Massive range of oysters, shellfish and lobsters.

SERVICE

Professional, but casual.

PRICE

Moderate a la carte. High value for what served, but not inexpensive. Plus 19€ lunch. 12 oysters 30€.

(4x) (2010-2017)

Fulgrances

10, rue Alexandre Dumas (11)
Tel:  01-43-48-14-59

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This small, brand new restaurant in the young, Brooklyn-like emerging 11th is difficult to review, primarily for its concept.  In my words, it is a permanent pop-up.  There is a permanent space and address, and a permanent infrastructure staff, but by design a temporary chef, style and menu.

The idea is to hire a chef for six months or so, someone in between emerging prominence on an established team, and having his/her own place.  This “ownership internship” gives the chef practice and experience (on someone else’s investment).  The risk is that it becomes an entirely new restaurant every six months.

FOOD

In its first iteration with a former sous chef from Septime (see 11th Arr.), the three choice menu (3 entrees, 3 plats, 2 dessert choices and cheese) was weak in entrees (crab bouillon, steamed oysters), stronger with what came after (beef, fish and wonderful breast of pintade baked en croute in a pita-like crust).

SERVICE

This is both new and intentionally casual, almost seat-of-the pants in style.  And it works perfectly for its target audience.  On a spring Saturday night, young couples, a few with strollers, waited for the 24 seats.

PRICE

44€ fixed price.  A short wine list.  With a 50€ Bordeaux, 130€ for two.

(1x) (2016)

Photo from “Paris Bouge”

Restaurant Cartet

62, rue de Malte (11)
Tel: 01-48-05-17-65

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Where to begin? This was a memorable meal; good, enjoyable, wildly overpriced and completely unforgettable in its eccentricity.

Cartet carries a legendary name, a once celebrated female-run bistro which changed hands 12 years ago. The current owner/chef/waiter/reservationist/doorman/sommelier/dishwasher took it over then, maintaining many of the classic dishes. But the similarities stop there.

There is a name on the awning. In the windows flanking the door meant to hold menus, or anywhere else is there any evidence it is a restaurant. Including the locked door. As we began to turn away despite a reserved table, it was unlocked for us, then relocked, lest some unreserved guest have the temerity to try for a table. One older couple and a table set for two reserved for us. The other 18 places empty. When asked, the chef replied that he serves “as few as he can”.

He was charming, friendly and everywhere at once, doing everything. The menu is broader than one would expect for four covers, and not everything was available. This isn’t exactly a private chef, but neither did it evoke the awkwardness of an empty restaurant waiting for guests. It was unusual, as in never before, but fun. Again? Probably to show off, but we’ve seen the film.

FOOD

Terrine for every table. Fresh and good. Magret, thinly sliced with orange sauce, veal chop with morels in cream sauce. Both served with a double portion of irresistible potato cake. Entrees, salade with lardons, morels (again) on toasted brioche with a different cream sauce.

Desserts: All of them put on the table: chocolate mousse, lemon tart, rice pudding, floating island, flan.

SERVICE

Gracious and personal

PRICE

Very high. With two glasses of wine, one water (10€!) and two coffees, 232€.

(1x) (2014)

Rigamarole (Le)

10 Rue Du Grand Prieure (11)
Tel: 01-71-24-58-44

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The food isn’t fussy but the history is.

Opened in late 2017, Rigamarole is a small space in the 11th, around the corner from Clown Bar (see). A counter behind which the 2 chefs work, the French-American husband with the unlikely combination of skills in yakitori and fresh pasta, and his Asian-American wife, a pastry chef with a distinguished French and American restaurant pedigree. They are assisted by a dishwasher and a single waitress, an unusually thoughtful, articulate and intelligent American. Unlikely, but it works!

FOOD

A la carte grilled dishes, pastas and tempura, but the 49€ and 69€ tasting menus are the way to go. A seeming unending flow of small plates, including tempura vegetables, multiple charcoal grilled chicken pieces on skewers including organ meats (they ask first) – every tasting menu customized for the tastes of the table.  Grilled white asparagus, whole grilled fish, pastries. Dessert charcoal grilled strawberries over ethereal ice cream. A wine card in a wide range of mostly reasonable prices chosen to complement the food.

The food is delicious and pleasant, fresher and better than New York’s premier yakitori table, Torishin, where the chef used to work.

The order of the dishes isn’t entirely clear, but it didn’t seem to matter – to me, at least. Every dish was delicious.

SERVICE

Informal, but highly personal. Only a few degrees away from eating at home.

PRICES

Very reasonable.
(1x) (2019)

 

Photo from “Yelp”

Septime

80, rue de Charonne (11)
Tel: 01-43-67-38-29

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Septime shares gushing P.R. glamour with Spring (see 1st), Frenchie’s (see 2nd), Chateaubrand (see 11th), but it is much better – to a point. These (and other) so-called “neo bistros” are new restaurants started by young people who feed off of, but do not share the classical, large kitchen backgrounds of the previous generation, such as Regalade (see 14th), Epi Dupin (see 9th) or LeComptor (see 6th). Fairly large (by Paris bistro standards) open room with a format the envy of restaurant owners across the globe: no menu. No choice. Five (actually six) courses served to all 40 or so guests. A young bearded chef, plus five kitchen staff and dishwasher – three of whom are women. (We asked if deliberate or accidental. In this and several other ways, they are breaking the mould).

Hard to snare table (for now). Good food. Interesting menu. Major drawback: very loud. Might be better to go as a table of four.

FOOD

Dorade cru with feta; best ever grilled octopus with onion puree; scallops in broth; lamb leg, shoulder and belly; two desserts.

SERVICE

Warm, friendly and bi-lingual, if casual

PRICE

Easy to remember: 55€ (reportedly up from 40€ when they opened several years ago). Wines in broad range.

(1x) (2013)

Temps au Temps (Le)

13, rue Paul Bert (11)
Tel: 01-43-79-63-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Very small. Quite out of the way. Terrific food. Very low prices. A real find – if you can get in. Formerly owned by current Itineraires chef, now on to bigger, better location. Tight surroundings.

FOOD

Fine food. More interesting, better executed dishes than most formula alternates.

SERVICE

One helpful, skilled waiter/host/ reservationist.

PRICE

26€ for a top meal in a less than top space.

(2x) (2011-2012)

Vantre

19 rue de la Fontaine au Roi (11)
Tel:  01-48-06-16-96

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

It might have been months or longer before we would have ever heard of the 3 month old wine-focused restaurant Vantre, except for a personal recommendation from a New York-based friend, a young wine expert, experienced and well-fed beyond his years.  Although his taste is often more cutting-edge and less traditional than mine, we agree on Vantre.

The bilingual French and French-Canadian team which opened Vantre came from the 3-Michelin star Epicure at the Hotel Bristol.  The chef returned from 5 years of travel after opening his own Paris restaurant. Marco Pelletier, the senior member, was sommelier at the Bristol and before that at Taillevent.

Their space on a quiet street in the 11th is high-ceilinged and spare, with 15 or so marble-topped tables.  Highly personal modern dishes from a constantly changing daily a la carte menu.  For the scale of the restaurant, a vast wine list across a broad price range.  A very proud team, earnest and professional.

FOOD

A la carte.  Four choices in each category.  Entrees:  ethereal classic gnocchi with sage, squid in bouillon with avocado, Spanish-style ham.  Plats:  steak with roasted pumpkin, turbot with Swiss chard, scallops.  Desserts:  a potato (!) soufflé with blood orange sherbet (which tastes like a brioche), rich chocolate ganache.  A 46€ Southeastern wine, recommended according to my price and other parameters with genuine enthusiasm.

SERVICE

By the owners.  Room was half full, but the attention paid and genuine interest expressed was fully reflective of the proprietary tone of the entire staff.

PRICE

Entrees 8€ – 12€; main courses:  24€ – 28€; desserts 8€.  With aperitifs, cheese course, 16€ for 2.

(1x) (2017)

Villaret (Le)

13, rue Ternaux (11)
Tel: 01-43-57-89-76

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If not a discovery, a find. A bistro as defined by menu and ambition. Attractive space, but not a period one. Nondescript neighborhood. Major wine list. Concise, but broad a la carte menu. Serious execution. An exceptionally good package. The number of apparent regulars attests to both loyalty, consistency and quality.


Over seven years and six satisfying dinners, nothing has changed. All to the good. The neighborhood remains scruffy. The clientele, almost always all French and trending older, the menu extensive, varied and traditional. The preparations, like the restaurant wisely, its staff and its look eschewing flash and empty innovation.

Sautéed wild mushrooms and a platter of sliced Spanish ham; lamb shoulder for two with roasted garlic and wonderful beans arriving in a gleaming copper casserole; sautéed apple and pear in a caramel sauce with vanilla ice cream. These chosen from a long menu.

Kind man and woman serving, both with some English, she in charge on the extraordinary Burgundy wine list, an unlikely highlight.

Villaret is something of a hold-out in a street full of small bars and restaurants catering to the young crowd now gentrifying the neighborhood. A real French restaurant in the traditional sense.

FOOD

Meat and fish. Presentation not painstaking, but execution exceptional. Choices diverse and appealing. A wide range within a concise menu, with some seasonal emphasis.

SERVICE

Friendly and professional, if not classic bistro. Helpful. Knowledgeable.

PRICE

A la carte menu. Ex wine, food reasonably priced. Some affordable wines, but not many. For the serious wine person, a joy.

(6x) (2010-2017)