16th Arrondissement

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Alan Geaam

19 Rue Lauriston (16)
Tel:  01-45-01-72-97

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

For a careful reader of this Diary, it must be clear we have a strong preference for traditional French cooking and only occasional admiration for modern cooking, what I sometimes refer to as “tweezer” food.  Sadly, in Paris at least, traditional food in restaurants is in decline and modern food on the rise, in addition to fast food, sushi, pizza and burgers.  So many different factors are at work to explain this.

Alan Geaam is a contradiction.  As modern as can be, but in a small space (what was once the even more modern Akrame) of eight tables, the five people in the kitchen produce a five course meal with an array of extras of beautiful, delicious food for 60€.  Astonishing (and unlikely to last; the numbers just cannot work.)  You will not recognize without help what you are being served, but it is a meal of high order at an astonishing price.

FOOD

A cracker-like snack followed by three carefully imagined small bites.  Raw scallops with kohlrabi, followed by quickly seared foie gras as two entrees.

Main course of slow cooked (sous vide) chicken breast with Lebanese spices (the chef is Lebanese).  Cheese as an option, followed by two complex pastry desserts.  Modern, but delicious.

SERVICE

Two professional, bilingual servers.  One doubles as sommelier and oversees available wine pairings – 40€.  Helpful.  Professional.  Relaxed.

PRICE

A bargain.  Five courses, no choice, 60€.  Seven courses 80€.  Five is plenty to eat.  Wine pairings 40€ and 50€ with the five and seven course meal, respectively.

(1x) (2017)

Antoine

10, avenue de New York (16)
Tel: 01-40-70-19-28

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Not a brand new restaurant, but a new name to us. Across from and with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, almost next to the Museum of Modern Art and around the corner from the upscale Wednesday/Saturday Marche President Wilson. An elegant Michelin 1-Star. Seafood specialist. Large. Spacious. Open Kitchen. Older crowd, with a more modern take on fish preparations.

FOOD

The prix fixe lunch was generous, advertised as 3 courses which became six with delicate hors d’ourves served with an aperitif, pepper soup with mustard cream as a pre-course, crab with olives in a cream sauce made with coral, lotte with potatoes in an olive foam, 2 desserts and exquisite chocolates with coffee.

SERVICE

If not quite a ballet, the servers worked as a well- coordinated team. All dishes cooked, filleted, decorated to order.

PRICE

The only set-back. Against the 76€ lunch menu or a la carte, the advertised 42€ preset lunch was a bargain. And it was. What wasn’t was 2 glasses of a recommend red wine at 22€ (!) per, plus coffee at 7€ and water at 9€. Somehow, the 42€ lunch became 163€ for two. Still, it was fine food, a tranquil adult atmosphere and a good discovery.

(1x) (2014)

Astrance (L’)

4, rue Beethoven (16)
Tel: 01-40-50-84-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If it is true that some Michelin 3-stars are running on fumes, it surely isn’t true of Astrance. Dinner can be up to 350€ fixed price, plus wine. Lunch: 70€. Wines selected for each course – and refilled – 50€/p. Every dish unusual, beautiful, perfectly executed. A reminder that Michelin stars do carry meaning. This is as good as restaurants get. The Gold Standard.


An update. Could it be even better? Possibly.
It is not the grand 3-star experience (see Pre Catalan, also 16th Arr.) Instead, it is a superior restaurant which achieves a perfect balance of food, price, service and ambiance, with an emphasis on exquisite, boutique food. 24 seats, lunch and dinner. That’s it. Every seat taken at every service.


Less theater, more subtlety of flavor, more measured. This is as perfect a restaurant as a restaurant can be.

FOOD

In its own way, lunch no less a bargain than the tasting menu at Temps au Temps or L’Agrume. Very hard to book. Few seats, and fewer than other 3- stars. For us, Astrance is the best food in Paris.

SERVICE

Highly professional. Polished without ballet. Cool, but friendly. Waiters test you: “Taste, tell us what you think it is.” Five intelligent waiters/dining room managers. They achieve the precisely proper balance between servers and advisors. Utterly without intimidation. One owner/partner in the kitchen, one in front. Very hands on.

PRICE

No surprises. 70€. With wonderful wines, generously refilled, 120€…

(9x) (2010 – 2017)

 

Photo from “Yelp”

Chez Geraud

31, rue Vital (16)
Tel: 01-45-20-33-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Highly rated, but highly disappointing.


Above the line are the reactions from a lunch two years ago. At dinner with two regulars from the upscale 16th, there was a noticeable difference. A warm greeting. A well-dressed, familiar, local crowd. Attention from the owner and a better experience, but still not worth the detour.

FOOD

Fair


Fair to better than fair from off the menu recommendations from the host.

SERVICE

Adequate.


Accommodating, if not polished.

PRICE

Medium


Medium – high.

(2x) (2011)

Comice

31 Avenue de Versailles (16)
Tel: 01-42-15-55-70

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Eight months old, four with a Michelin star, this is a wonderful, personal, cleanly designed, carefully managed, youthful, friendly, high-end restaurant with complex,artfully plated, delicious food.  A keeper in every way.

The chef, about 40, Canadian, 3 years at The French Laundry, a brief stint at L’Astrance in Paris.  He bakes his own bread and churns his own butter.  His wife, also Canadian, manages the front of the house and oversees the wines, of which she is justly proud.  Thirty seats, one block back from the river in a less fancy part of the 16th.

FOOD

Tight menu, essentially four choices in each category.  Carpaccio of fish, foie gras, roast tenderloin of veal, sweetbreads, breast of pintade, monkfish.  Two desserts:  chocolate soufflé, rhubarb tart.  An attractive entrée also offered as an extra course, tagliatelle with shellfish in a rich butter sauce.

Yet a listing hardly suggests the complexity, beauty, deliciousness (and richness) of each dish which emerges from the open kitchen, which forms an active, colorful stage at the rear of the small, but well-designed room.

SERVICE

All young.  All impeccably dressed, friendly, but formal, bilingual.  If occasionally less polished in move or manner, it is all a fast moving work in progress.

PRICE

High a la carte, but good value.  A spread of wine prices arranged on the list by price.  For two, with a wonderful 68€ red, 266€.

(1x) (2018)

Grande Cascade (La)

Bois de Boulogne Allee de Longchamp (16)
Tel: 01-45-27-33-51

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We have been going to Le Grand Cascade since the market menu (offered lunch and dinner) was 68€ with two glasses of wine. Given the elegance of the food, service and location (and in warm weather the opportunity to eat outside), it was a standout bargain. Nothing has changed since 2011, but the price. Le Grand Cascade is on a par all-in with special occasion lunch-only choices such as Hexagone, Le Grand Restaurant and Sylvestre, with more spacious historical surroundings and more formal traditional service. If no longer a standout bargain at 89€, plus 10€ for two glasses of wine and 10€ for water and coffee (109€ total), it remains a great splurge choice.

Zagat says “A step back in time”. Indeed it is, in the best sense of the phrase.

Glittering turn of the century building set in the Bois Boulogne within earshot of Longchamp. Large, grand style room. Jacket and tie not required, but certainly in the majority. Formal, but friendly welcome.

A family celebration venue, the perfect spot for Sunday lunch in celebration of a great family event.

FOOD

Elegant. Refined. 2 – 3-star quality. A la carte plus 135€ and 185€ set menus. But wait, a small carte as well. “Market” menu. Four choices for each of three courses. 89€ served at lunch and dinner, 99€ with two wines. No embarrassment in ordering from it. A la carte wonderful, but shockingly expensive.

SERVICE

Formal. Choreographed, but friendly. No intimidation.

PRICE

Even at 89€ for a meal of such caliber and finesse, it makes high-style, traditional French cuisine affordable, and in an unequalled setting.


What used to be 70€ with two glasses of paired wines is now 89€, without the wines. Two paired wines, 10€ each. 70€ has become 109€.

It is hard to call that a bargain, and maybe in bad taste.

Yet on an 80° spring Saturday afternoon with all of the tables set under umbrellas on the terrace in and facing the Bois de Boulogne, with kind service and art on every plate, it doesn’t get much better.

(8x) (2011-2018)

Hexagone

85, avenue Kleber (16)
Tel:  01-42-25-98-85

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I acknowledge some “luxury creep” in the composition of this Diary.  No one should need my help with the international, starred names.  This was to be about lesser known (and less ambitious), smaller places where French people actually eat.  And so it remains, mostly.

But more refined (and more expensive) names have crept in, mostly at lunch where prices can be a fraction of an a la carte dinner, and always because of my awe at the preparation and cooking, reflective of labor and training virtually unknown in the U.S.  Le Grande Cascade (See 16th), Frederic Simonin (See 17th) and Astrance (See 16th) are lunch-only (for us) examples of special treat restaurants which have become regular favorites.

Now, a new addition:  Hexagone, a large, modern, ambitious new space open since January, 2015.  Owned by Mathieu Pacaud, son of 3-star chef Bernard of L’Ambroisie in the Marais.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Elegant, refined and friendly.  Exquisite a la carte menu, with a 49€ 3 course lunch, 2 choices per course.

On the basis of our first meal, it sets a new standard.

FOOD

Vol-au-vent with sweetbreads or what is listed as ratatouille, but which like every plate put on the table is a multi-element work of visual art and complex cooking.  (Fast forward to dessert:  the poached pear on brownie includes 8 separate elements, each cooked, baked, frozen, etc.).

Main courses either duck breast of filet of merlan in light cream sauce.  This is meant to be food, but meant to impress versus to startle.

SERVICE

Polished.  Attentive.  Very professional.  Bilingual.  Friendly.

PRICE

Wines by the glass 11€ – 25€.  At 49€, plus water, coffee, etc. and 3 glasses of wine, the bill became 151€, but still a bargain.

(2x) (2015 – 2016)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Monsieur Bleu

20, avenue de New York (16)
Tel:  01-47-20-90-47

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Paris has always had “hot tables”, restaurants where reservations seem impossible. In this Diary, Astrance and yam’Tcha are examples. Most are small, very good and in demand because of food, size or value. What is new to us is the New York phenomenon of the “restaurant of the moment”, impossible to book because it is chic and fashionable. Those restaurants run the risk of turning away prospective clients, then having too few once they cool. In New York, it happens regularly.

French friends scored such a table through an inside connection at the recently opened and white hot Monsieur Bleu in the Palais de Tokyo, a formerly abandoned wing of the Paris Museum of Modern Art. It is a large, soaring space with 30’ ceilings, skillfully redesigned into an ultra-modern dining room and large warm weather outdoor terrace overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Well-dressed French, mostly young. The surprise: quite good food. High, but not crazy prices

FOOD

Small menu card offers relatively wide range of mostly straight-forward dishes. Girolles with Spanish ham, cream of vegetable soup, smoked salmon, raw scallops as entrees. Roast chicken for two carved in the kitchen, scallops, several simply prepared grilled items; fish, steak, pork chop or beef cheeks. Simple desserts, including a wonderful, light mille- feuille.

SERVICE

Waitresses in long, black strapless gowns. Waiters in white shirts with black suspenders. For our table, the look was better than the skill, but he tried. It was not a case of attitude, but aptitude.

PRICE

High, but not impossible. All a la carte.

(2x) (2013)

Pre Catelan (Le)

Bois de Boulogne (16)
Tel:  01-44-14-41-14

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This Diary at first is eschewed famous restaurant names in favor of unknown or lesser known alternatives, in part in reflection of taste, budget and a desire to dine amidst French versus Americans or Japanese, and in part because my friends didn’t need my help with Taillevent or Alain Ducasse. But over time we drifted from that ideal in favor of relative lunchtime “bargains” at Astrance (see 16th), La Tour d’Argent (see 5th), Lasserre (see 8th), etc. That drift continues, albeit at ever-higher cost with lunch at Le Pre Catalan situated in a mansion in the Bois de Boulogne at 110€ (150€ with wine pairings). Only a bargain compared to the a la carte menu or the fixed price options offered alongside the lunch-only carte, or at dinner.

And what a meal. A beautiful building hidden inside the park. A warm reception, a lively window table for two in a sparkling, elegant large room (adjoining a newer expansion). Attentive service. Two choices for each of three courses, plus cheese. Most tables seemed to order it, notwithstanding my moment of panic when the 110€ lunch was not presented with the menu as we were seated. Two minutes later it arrived on a separate card.

This is a splurge, but more characteristic of the 3-star experience than the less formal and more intimate Astrance.

FOOD

The dishes were complex and modern without being weird. Generously portioned and exquisitely presented. A choice of langoustines in two services, lightly fried and in a curry sauce, or duck liver foie gras, each preceded by a cream of mushroom soup. Cod with a side plate of brandade of cod or sweetbreads with girolles. Paris Brest puff pastry with rhubarb cream or chocolate tarte made with 70% chocolate, almost bitter. Each course accompanied by a selected wine, glasses refilled. Dessert preceded by classic cheese cart with beautiful choices, all ripe and generously offered.

SERVICE

Friendly. Bilingual. Never intimidating. Not faultless (it took more time that it should have to receive our first courses), but professional and informed.

PRICE

110€, plus 40€/person for wines. Coffee included. In that world, a bargain. In the real world, a lot to spend for lunch, but only in Paris!

(2x) (2014)

Table Lauriston (La)

129 rue Lauriston (16)
Tel:  01-47-27-00-07

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This didn’t work out as we had hoped. A well regarded, if modest location. For us, the perfect combination of elements: chef-owned, wife in the front, small, diverse a la carte menu with interesting choices, ambition in seeming proportion to what they try to deliver. In most respects we were not disappointed. The food was quite good, if pricey. The welcome was warm and genuine. The problem: When we arrived at 8:30 p.m. we were the second table of 15 or so. A third reservation arrived at 9:30 p.m. And that was it for the night. Obviously, no energy. Some awkwardness, on our parts at least. We have decided to try again sometime. Maybe it is a lunch spot; maybe an off night. We do not enjoy empty restaurants, even good ones.

FOOD

White asparagus with fresh herbs, crayfish tails over herbs and arugula. Large veal chop heaped with seasonal morilles in light cream sauce. Prune and Armagnac ice cream.

SERVICE

One funny, friendly waiter who seemed unphased by empty room, plus chef’s wife. Both warm and helpful.

PRICES

We ordered luxury dish (veal chop with morilles). With 46€ wine, 212€.

(1x) (2016)

Photo from “Google Images”

Tablettes (Les)

16, avenue Bugeaud (16)
Tel: 01-56-28-16-16

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Jean-Louis Nomicos is a name chef who ran the kitchen at the 2-star Lasserre for 25 years. Now on his own in the 16th, a beautiful, serene, well-decorated, high-end restaurant. Formerly, Les Tables de Robuchon. Opened December, 2010. Extensive a la carte menu plus, at lunch, a “Club Menu”.

Entrée, plat, fromage, dessert, wine, coffee, water: 58€. No extras. At dinner, the equivalent is 80€, with an extra course.


I do not care for the modern French décor. The restaurant may be slightly too large. The food may come too quickly. But the execution, finesse, taste and beauty of each of the four dishes on the 80€ dinner menu (also a la carte, plus menus at 120€ and higher) (and the two glasses of wine included with the 80€ menu) is at the very highest end of French food. A fabulous menu.

FOOD

Refined, elegant, delicious modern French food (white asparagus with sauce Maltaise, pork loin, pastry). Inventive, appealing choices.


Fall vegetables with truffle shavings, scallops, quail with foie gras, meringue with chocolate. Plus extras

SERVICE

The chef works the dining room. His wife at the front. Professional. Sophisticated.

PRICE

Fair for this style. (Tablettes refers to an iPad wine list available for a la carte choices.)

(3x) (2011 – 2014)

Victor Resturant

101 bis, rue Lauriston (16)
Tel:  01-47-27-55-07

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Victor is not a destination restaurant – except for the neighborhood, which crowds its many tables and clearly enjoys the traditional menu of French favorites prepared with perfectly acceptable ingredients in a workmanlike way.  No one – client or staff – carries different expectations.  Good looking in an authentic way, a look more modern, more ambitious bistros often attempt to duplicate.

Want to see how most Parisians who eat out eat?  Victor could be a case study.

FOOD

Perfectly OK, but easily forgettable – no surprises good or bad.

A “modern” first course of raw tuna and salmon could have benefitted from a sharper knife.  Swordfish with eggplant was small; slices of rare-cooked fish fanned over a puree of eggplant.  A roast piece of veal with peas and griolles was fine, if not memorable.

Profiteroles and pain perdu for dessert

SERVICE

Prompt. Friendly.  Professional.

PRICES

As expected, very reasonable a la carte.

 

(1x) (2017)

 

(Photo from “Trip Advisor”)