Arrondissements

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153 Grenelle

153, rue de Grenelle (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-54-12

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A “grande” restaurant in ambition. Small, formal, friendly. Limited menu.


Closed. Now an Irish pub.

FOOD

Pure, high style. Three – four choices; multiple desserts.

SERVICE

Formal. Proper.

PRICE

High/formula 59€.

(3x) (2009)

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)

35° Ouest

35, rue de Verneuil (7)
Tel: 01-42-86-98-88

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This critically well regarded small seafood restaurant is literally down the block from our apartment, yet until lunch in December we had never been in, despite the enticement of a 36€ formula lunch, unusual for a seafood specialist.

For lunch, a pleasant, cozy 10 table space. All French business people, most ordering the formula. No buzz, but warm and relaxing, with nice food. Perfect for lunch.

FOOD

For formula lunch, 3 entrée choices including fried squid or tempura langoustines. Main course cod or recasse, wine or water, and coffee.

SERVICE

Runner plus waiter. Do the job with good humor.

PRICE

A la carte menu typical for seafood: very high, making 36€ a bargain.

(1x) (2014)


RECENT UPDATE:

As of Fall, 2017, Closed. Now Les Climats Wine Bar.

Abri

92, rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere (10)
Tel: 01-83-97-00-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On Mondays and Saturdays at lunch, Abri serves only its already legendary Japanese- style sandwich.

A tiny space with open galley kitchen and 14 seats at small tables. The room is otherwise undecorated, including no sign outside. The sign remains from the coffee bar which preceded it.

The sandwich was quite good, but Abri is one of the new English language blogger/magazine story hype restaurants in the tradition of Le Comptoir du Relais (see 6th), Frenchie (see 2nd) and Spring (see 1st).

Ironically, our lunch took place on the day following a major story in the New York Times which asked in the headline, can such restaurants “save” French food? I doubt Abri can, as if French food broadly requires saving.

It is not fair to doubt what dinner could be like without trying, but with the prep space so small it is hard to imagine cooking of complexity or finesse. But we might try next time.

FOOD

The sandwich was very good: thick sliced crustless brioche toast with an omelet, a fresh fried breaded pork cutlet, shredded cabbage, a slice of cheese and two condiments. Freshly made to order.

Abri attracts primarily French and Japanese on sandwich days, at least, for eat-in and take-out.

Sandwich, beverages, and a large madeleine for dessert complete the menu.

SERVICE

Not really service. And only in Japanese, but willing and with a smile.

PRICE

I cannot speak to dinner. Sandwich 13€. With two waters, two coffees and one glass of wine, 31€.

(1x) (2014)

Affriole (L’)

17, rue Malar (7)
Tel: 01-44-18-31-33

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Simple. Busy. Low on ambiance, high on food, without the energy of Epi Dupin, but similar mission and high level execution.


A complete redo. Now modern, with a full blackboard wall listing the menu. The food is (or has become) exceptional, particularly for the price. Busy. Booked; deservedly.

FOOD

Very good. Sophisticated for the price.

SERVICE

Cool. Professional. Unpretentious.

PRICE

Low/formula 38€

(1x) (2009)


(1x) (2010)

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)

Agrume (L’)

15, rue des Fossés Saint-Marcel (5)
Tel: 01-43-31-86-48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Until included in a New York Times survey of this week’s hottest places, it may have languished in anonymity. No more. Smallish. Modern. Completely open kitchen its best feature. Four seats at the pass. In few other restaurants I know can one be “in the kitchen” like in this one.


Our fall, 2016 dinner, the first since…

Rereading comments from 4 visits 2011-2013, some has changed, some not. Price for 5 courses now 45€, up from 40€. An amazing value. No more wife. Instead, a competent server. Still 28 seats, including bar seats at the pass virtually in the small kitchen watching the chef perform a tightly wound, completely focused ballet. A very nice meal without the kitchen theater, but an extraordinary experience with it. Each of our 5 dinners included both menu and theater.

What is missing from my previous comments is just how good the food is and how well thought out the menu and individual dishes.

FOOD

Chef, stager, dishwasher. That’s it. Five fixed courses. No choice. Food with style and finesse, interestingly chosen and carefully plated. Plus more expensive a la carte.


For our 2016 dinner, cold foie gras in celery root soup with foam, scallop cru with avocado mousse and apples, filet of sole with carrot puree and asparagus, chicken breast with potatoes, and mango with whipped cream for dessert. Each course carefully imagined, prepared in front of us from scratch, meticulously plated, appropriately, but highly sauced and delicious to eat.

SERVICE

At the bar, the chef serves. At the tables, his wife does (or did, see above). A small operation with service suitable to its ambition.

PRICE

40€ chefs menu. Four courses, plus a la carte. Set meals exceptional for the price, on the theme of Epi Dupin and L’Affriole.

(5x) (2010-2016)

Akrame

7, rue Tronchet (8)
Tel:  01-40-67-11-16

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a very small, very expensive, very special restaurant.  Tasting menu only, 6 course or 9 at dinner.  No choice except for meat course (beef, squab or sweetbreads).  Very small portions, each served and plated with whimsy and complete originality.  But that is just the food part of the story.

Steps from the Etoile, walk into what looks like the cocktail lounge, greeted by black-clad hostess.  It is the restaurant.  That is all there is.  Nine tables, 20 or so guests, maximum.  Open kitchen.  The hostess is one of four servers, all of whom, taking their cues from the extroverted young chef, bring humor and infectious informality to their work.  That spirit animates the restaurant, making what could be a somber temple to 2-star cuisine into a relaxed, enjoyable experience.  Until the check!


As of Fall, 2017, new address, new space. Now in the 8th. Not yet reopened.

FOOD

Extraordinary, unique.  Small portions, some with multiple sub-courses.  Yet not an over-filling meal, preceded by 5 separate amuse-bouche (hors d’oeuvres).  Several courses characterized by humor.  A lobster tail appears in a specimen jar.  Out comes a teapot.  Ginger broth is poured over, left 3 minutes, then extracted with tweezers and placed in a bowl over mussels and seaweed.  Delicate red mullet served with crispy quinoa over Greek yogurt.  Squab breast roasted in chocolate beans, dug out from a covered terrine.  Clever, but in every course, great food.

SERVICE

Polished-looking, but unpolished – and intentionally so according to the chef.  Unlike so many equally accomplished Paris counterparts, not possible to feel intimidated or out of place.  They do their jobs well, but serve as the deliberate spirit-lifters of the restaurant.

PRICE

High, but fair.  So-called 6 course had 14 separate services, 130€.   Four course 100€.  Appropriate wine list.  Our choice 110€.  With coffee, aperitifs, 435€.  Not an everyday experience, but without equal in the U.S.

(1x) (2015)

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)

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)

Amarante

4, rue Biscornet(12)
Tel:  09-50-80-93-80

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Our last dinner on a Spring, 2016 three week visit. A new name, highly recommended by sources with mixed records.

A non-descript one block street close to the Bastille Opera, a convenient location. One look inside through the window, and our expectations sank. Bright. Charmless. Ten tables and a service bar in an L-shaped room. Plain tables. No linens. A single Asian waiter. In our section of the room, table of four Asians and an older Asian couple next to us. Are we in a Chinese restaurant? The unsmiling waiter drops the menus. Then it all changed. The waiter began to respond. Formerly at 3-Star Guy Savoy. The long a la carte menu (with a low priced formula section too) reflects simple, but classic French preparations. The Asian couple next to us, Parisians for 65 years, are foodies seeking out new restaurants.

The food is terrific; the ingredients impeccable and the preparations like the décor: simple, direct, unadorned, unfussy. The prices are low, especially for the quality. Ditto the wines.

For Michelle, the décor trumps the outstanding food. For me, a great find.

FOOD

Sliced veal tongue; tender, simple broiled pork chop with puree of Jerusalem Artichokes; perfect, unsweetened chocolate mousse.

Perfect smoked salmon; slow cooked lamb with fresh peas (and better than recent lamb preparations at Michelin-starred dinners); lemon crème brulee.

SERVICE

Once he opened up, the waiter was professional, helpful, bilingual and proud. The waiter, chef and helper make up the staff.

PRICES

125€ for 2, with water, coffee and a 28€ Burgundy. A bargain.

(1X) (2016)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

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)

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)

Ardoise (L’)

28, rue du Mont-Thabor  (1)
Tel: 01-42-96-28-18

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Another Regalade clone. Falls far short. Well located behind Rue de Rivoli near Concorde. Small room with downstairs cave. Rustic, but comfortable. Mixed tourists/French. Lacks ambiance.


Now modernized. Still attractive.

FOOD

Good, if not refined. Ambitious blackboard menu with some high points, plus daily additions.

SERVICE

Competent, but inelegant.

PRICE

Medium priced (36€) formula. For same price, other choices superior.

(1x) (2010)

Arlots (Les)

136, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière (10)
Tel: 01-42-82-92-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Les Arlots is a perfectly pleasant, small bistro in the marginal 10th. While reports point to gentrification, it isn’t yet intuitive that one walks the streets in complete comfort, although any such concerns are probably unjustified.

Very small, 28 seats, 22 in the street front main bar room, an unlucky 6 in the corridor between the kitchen and dining room. Earnest, dedicated, frenetic staff, friendly and bilingual. Largely French middle class, plus what seem like young neighborhood regulars. Small blackboard menu. Not unlike 25 others of similar character and history. For inexplicable reasons, Les Arlots hit the February New York Times lottery, followed by the Alex Lobrano blog and the Financial Times. Must have been a slow news day. Why and how some restaurants experience such remarkable and unique good luck while others languish for years in obscurity remains a mystery of the food (and journalism) worlds.

FOOD

Five or so enticing first courses:  white asparagus, beef cheek terrine, beet salad, fresh pea soup.  Of the plats, the most popular, a house made sausage, was out by the time we ordered.  Dish after dish appeared all around us at tables which ordered earlier.  With a choice of five, being out of one at 8:45 is a serious failure.  That left entrecote, cod or lemon sole meunière on the bone, but easy to filet, drenched in too much butter.  For dessert, wonderful cheese plate, chocolate mousse or strawberry crumble.  No wine list per se.  Sommelier/manager asks what you would like, brings to the table several options, all reasonable in price.  Our Cahors was right on at 29€.

SERVICE

Friendly and totally in keeping with the intended character of the restaurant, but frantic.  Hold onto the silver and pass the plates.

PRICE

A la carte.  Very reasonable.  Entrees 10€- 16€; plats 22€; desserts 9€.  For 2, 124€.

(1x) (2017)

 

 

Photo from “The Fork”

Arnaud Nicolas

46, Avenue de la Bourdonnais (7)
Tel:  01-45-55-59-59

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A new (May, 2017) restaurant in the 7th; handsome, modern, small, spacious.  A specialist in charcuterie, but with a broader menu.  If our one lunch so far is indicative, this will become a regular stop.

FOOD

To call this restaurant and integrated pate takeout shop (“boutique”) a charcuterie specialist may shortchange the chef’s specialty.  These are pates of such delicacy, beauty, variety and finesse that they elevate the craft.  In addition, Michelle’s entrée of shrimp in a tempura-style batter, so light it resembled a single sheet of filo.  This was followed by roast cod and a vegetable accompaniment.  28€ for two courses!

I ordered a la carte, large servings each of two recommended pates, one en croute, served with a delicate green salad.  With wine, water and coffee, 70€ for two.  And according to the menu, much more where that came from.

SERVICE

Two waiters covered the room.  At lunch, all well-dressed businessmen, no women.  Efficient, but without the finesse of the room or the execution of the menu.

PRICE

Formula lunch:  two courses 28€; three courses 35€.  Plus a la carte.  At dinner, 62€ with three wines, 80€. Or a la carte.


As promised, we returned on our next trip for dinner. Every seat filled by middle-aged French (from the upper middle class residential neighborhood?)

Marinated salmon served elegantly, with unusual accompaniments. Lobster pate, both top notch. Lotte (monkfish) over lentils, quenelle de brochet. Both impeccable.

Modern, clean space lacks warm touches, but food and genuinely caring service more than compensate. A very carefully thought out and well executed meal at a fair price.

A la carte with 49€ wine, 164€ for 2.

(2x) (2017-2018)

 

(Photo from “Trip Advisor”)

Assiette (L’)

181, rue du Château (14)
Tel: 01-43-22-64-86

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Far out on the Left Bank, but worth the trip. A medium sized, comfortable room with a semi-open kitchen. A serious staff, serious about cooking. Very good restaurant worth the trek.

FOOD

A la carte menu with five or six choices in each category. One specialty: cassoulet. The best ever. Ditto the desserts, both crème caramel and tarte tatin; unusual, distinguished. Serious wines.

SERVICE

Intelligent, helpful. One of two waiters reviews the menu without being asked, in French or English.

PRICE

A la carte, but .reasonable. A wide range in wine pricing, including some at the lower end. An emphasis on dessert wines to complete the meal. Also formula lunch, 23€

(3x) (2011 – 2016)

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)

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”

Atelier de Joel Robuchon (L’)

5, rue Montalembert (7)
Tel: 01-42-22-56-56

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Try it, but recognize it has become a small global chain. Barely anything French left. Prices very high. Worth trying – once. Counter seating only. Limited ability to book.

FOOD

Excellent.

SERVICE

Professional; friendly.

PRICE

Very high.

(6x) (Pre-2010)

Atelier Maitre Albert

1, rue Maître Albert (5)
Tel: 01-56-81-30-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Near Notre Dame. Owned by 3-star chef Guy Savoy. A fairly large, good-looking, well-designed modern décor. Specializes in rotisserie roast chicken, particularly. Also veal shank. One grilled fish du jour.

FOOD

Terrific roast chicken. Other items carefully plated, served and conceived with intelligence. A modern take on traditional dishes. Great choice for formula lunch. A good possibility for a casual dinner. Open seven days.

SERVICE

Practiced, but casual. Friendly, if rushed.

PRICE

30€ formula for three courses at lunch. More expensive, but reasonable a la carte for dinner. Wide- ranging wine list. Also 36€ prix fixe dinner.

(3x) (2010-2011)

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)

Au Petit Riche

25, rue Le Peletier (9)
Tel: 01-47-70-68-68

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A large restaurant in the 9th. Authentic 1880’s décor. At lunch, full of businessmen. Hearty food.

FOOD

Fairly standard, traditional menu. Well executed. Another addition to the quenelle list. (See Auberge Pyrenees Cevennes, 11th Arr.). And a great version.

SERVICE

Needs work, but the attitude is helpful. Clearly, a large daily lunchtime crowd stresses things slightly.

PRICE

Fair a la carte prices. A good meal in a nice environment.

(1x) (2011)

Au Petite Tonneau

20, rue Surcouf (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-09-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Sometimes you just want lunch. For us, that normally means “comfort” food, what used to be considered, in Paris at least, lunch, vs. a quaint memory of what food was. Largely, this Diary eschews trendy, hot, crowded, large, noisy and new. It is less judgment than preference.

Au Petite Tonneau, on a Left Bank block distinguished only by a concentration of other small restaurants in a neighborhood crowded with other old streets and small restaurants. Relates to the original Gorille Blanc (see 7th), the lamented L’Oeillade (see 7th), although the only female we saw was the one waitress. (Her filling-in husband/manager told us his wife owns the restaurant).

FOOD

The food was close to homemade. Simple, basic, fresh without visual artistry on the plate. Artichoke heart with poached egg and mushrooms, pan seared lamb, broiled scallops, scalloped potatoes, chocolate mousse and Tarte Tatin. Modest. Just cooked. Delicious.

SERVICE

Two cooks, One waitress. Charming fill-in husband chef. Caring. Attentive. Not particularly polished. Perfect for the Sunday afternoon multi- generation families which surrounded us.

PRICE

A la carte and 37€ menu. A la carte with 1⁄2 bottle Cote du Rhone, coffee, water: 138€.

(1x) (2012)

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)

Au Vieux Comptoir

17, rue des Lavandieres (1)
Tel:  01-45-08-53-08

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

From the outside, it could be any one of hundreds of similarly looking corner bars/cafes, with food as an afterthought. This is a real bistro, nearly all French on a Saturday afternoon. Fresh bistro dishes; welcoming, professional staff. Every seat taken. Every customer happy.

FOOD

Classic bistro food: Celery remoulade, razor clams in wine, pates and foie gras. For plats: beef, scallops, blood sausage, ballotine of chicken, lamb. For dessert, prunes with armanac, Tarte Tatin. Fresh. Good if not great. The overall experience probably better than the individual elements, but very authentic.

SERVICE

Friendly. Professional. Appropriate.

PRICE

A la carte starters 10 – 12€. Plats 20-25€. Plus wine.

(1x) (2012)

Auberge Bressane (L’)

16, av de la Motte- Picquet (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-98-37

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is real a French bistro; authentic, good looking, high energy. Busy, popular, open Sundays. Classic dishes, well prepared and served, with a deep wine list. Food served in large portions. Every bistro specialty. Not Michelin star quality, but dependable and enjoyable.

FOOD

Traditional bistro dishes plus a few atypical specialties (cheese or crab soufflé as starters, Baked Alaska for dessert), Lyonnaise sausage, coq au vin, scallops Provencal, grilled meats, chicken in cream sauce with morels). Some better than others; all served with verve. Some, but not all, prepared with care. Deep wine list.

SERVICE

Young, friendly bilingual servers. Warm greeting in a style which suggests old hands, but delivered by 30 year olds. The staff makes it fun while taking their work seriously.

PRICE

At dinner, a la carte, but reasonable for large portions, some quite inventive, most fresh and well- executed.

(4x) (2011-2016)

Auberge du 15 (L’)

15, rue de la Sante (13)
Tel: 01-47-07-07-45

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Call it a “find” for the 1%. For the rest of us, a below-the-radar small luxury restaurant with a traditional, largely a la carte menu of finely executed, richly prepared dishes and desserts from a limited menu. Twenty-five guests seated at 6 widely spaced, large tables in a clean, nicely decorated modern room with open kitchen.

Enter and be greeted by a young chef in whites. He takes your coats, offers menus, takes orders, consults on wine, cooks and serves. Other sources report two brothers. We saw only one owner/chef, with a female chef-helper and dishwasher in a quiet, orderly kitchen.

On second visit, with a total of eight guests at three tables, a dedicated young server.

FOOD

Either very pricey a la carte with a handful of choices, or a 68€ five course “surprise”, meaning no choice, supposedly inspired by the wine choice. Our courses: Cream of cauliflower soup with chestnuts (DuBarry), a single scallop over mushrooms and shredded cabbage, roast rack of veal with mashed potatoes and two desserts, both exceptional: a take on fromage blanc and warm chocolate cake with sorbet.

SERVICE

The chef by day is the server by night. No other front of the house help.

PRICE

With wine, etc., and 68€ menu, 100€ pp. Don’t even think about a la carte. It appeared as if most tables followed this plan. (As is normal, the entire table must order the chef’s menu. All or none). The window displays notes about a formula lunch at 30€.

(2x) (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)

Auguste

5, rue de Bourgogne (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-61-09

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A neighborhood location. Modern, small. Severe décor. Friendly, but cool greeting, service. Elaborate, delicious, but overly rich and complex food. Heavy on foams, etc.

FOOD

Fancy, beautiful, but too rich.

SERVICE

Formal. Reserved.

PRICE

Very high

(1X) (2010)

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 Fins Gourmets

213, bd St-Germain (7)
Tel: 01-42-22-06-57

Aux Vieux Garcon
(New name as of mid- 2013)

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

According to the awning, founded in 1904. Also the date of the last paint job. That, plus its outstanding Rue de Bac/Boulevard Saint Germain location give it its charm. Less so the food and predictable menu, but convenient for the right mood.


New name. New kitchen. New owners and staff. And a paint job (see). Not a Michelin-track competitor, but a very well-located, friendly bistro which has turned a new page. Friendly staff proud of fresh, never frozen commitment and connections to their suppliers. Promising.

FOOD

Decent, but not much more.


Simple. Traditional, with some more unusual daily options at lunch. Salmon cake and tagine of veal, thin sliced beets wrapped around goat cheese and grilled whole calamari salad. Poached pear with spice cake. Comfort food with a twist. Reasonable wines. Well sourced bread.

SERVICE

Competent, but no better.


Unpolished, but helpful. Friendly. Proud.

PRICE

A formula menu which makes it a good candidate for lunch. Don’t bring high expectations.


A la carte with water, carafe of wine, coffee, 88€ at lunch.

(2x) (2011-2013)

Aux Lyonnais

32 rue Saint Marc (2)
Tel: 01-42-96-65-04

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Alain Ducasse purchased this venerable restaurant some years ago, but you would hardly know it, which is good. A few inauthentic elements.

FOOD

Spruced up bistro; very good. Classic Lyonaise dishes. Some unusual.

SERVICE

Casual; professional; appropriate.

PRICE

Medium.

(2x) (2011)

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”

Baratin (Le)

3, rue Jouye-Rouve (20)
Tel: 01-43-49-39-70

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A find. Out of the way in safe, but dingy Chinatown. Warm greeting, high-energy ambiance. “Wine bistro”. Unusual, inexpensive wines. Miniscule kitchen.

FOOD

Very good.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional.

PRICE

Low/formula

(1x) (2009)

Basilic (Le)

2 Rue Casimir Perrier (7)
Tel:  01-44-18-94-64

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A handsome, modern art deco reproduction with a large heated terrace looking out on a small majestic park in the 7th.  On a busy Saturday night, full of casually dressed French friends and families.  The surroundings would support a more ambitious menu and execution.  Instead, a large printed menu which involves little actual cooking.  Mediocre execution, careless service and low prices.  Obviously a model which works for the neighborhood.  Like New Yorkers and Bostonians, many people prefer (or accept) a comfortable nearby address where they are known.  No lofty ambition, nothing modern, nothing traditional, as long as it comes with frites!

FOOD

A mammoth veal chop Milanese best shared, scallops with truffle-specked rich mashed potatoes, grilled cod.  Probably okay, but not better.

SERVICE

Waitress in black leather pants.  Waiter in loose jeans and untucked shirt.  They get the food to the table.

PRICES

3 main courses (1 shared), 1 68€ bottle of wine, 1 dessert:  196€.

(1X)(2018)

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

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)

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)

Biche au Bois (A la)

45, avenue Ledru Rollin (12)
Tel: 01-43-43-34-38

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A busy, rollicking, out of the way bistro in the safe, but blue collar Gare de Lyon neighborhood. Crowded. Bustling. High energy. All French. No motorcycle helmets.

FOOD

Three courses with cheese, 26.90€ at dinner. Fresh terrines, inexpensive wines, classic bistro dishes including a wonderful, rich coq au vin. Generous cheese tray. For dessert, the definitive mousse au chocolat. Fun. Great value.

SERVICE

Not much finesse. Friendly staff.

PRICE

This is not a suitable restaurant for either romance or a business meal, but if you want to relive “Europe on $5 a Day”, this may be your place. Obviously, they make it on turnover.

(1x) (2011)

Bigarrade

106, rue nollet (17)
Tel:  01-42-26-01-02

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

An extraordinary restaurant experience, but not for everyone. Format, menu and preparation in an unusual, far from city center working class/ethnic neighborhood in the 17th.

Twenty seat storefront dining room (15 covers at our lunch). Behind on an elevated “stage”, a fully open kitchen with three chefs. No choice except 8 courses or 12, with the dessert “course” consisting of five dishes, plus three uncounted pre-courses. Each course barely more than one bite. For some, you are encouraged to use your fingers. The food is heavily Asian inspired, mostly fish-based. Beautifully plated and imaginative, each totally unique.


Now closed.

FOOD

Each course a subtle combination of nuanced flavors, mostly unfamiliar, some exotic (squid tempura, quail egg with urchin, scallops, St. Pierre with barely cooked clams, coffee ice cream with mushrooms).

SERVICE

Friendly. Intelligent. Appropriate to the menu and format.

PRICE

It adds up. 45€ or 65€ at lunch, plus wine pairings (40€) or wines by the glass or bottle. Not for everyday, but could not be duplicated in New York.

(1x) (2011)

Billebaude (La)

29, rue de l’Exposition (7)
Tel: 01-45-55-20-96

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

There must be literally hundreds of Paris restaurants just like this one, small storefront, 32 seats in a warm square room with a bar on one side, blackboard formula menu offering three courses for 33€, six or so choices in each category. Indeed there must be more than 100 in the 7th arrondissement alone, including numerous on this small, short block. Some, like this one, have serious ambition and food, others a large supply of sauté pans overseen by untrained, but hardworking novices.

FOOD

They specialize in season in game. Out of season, a diverse, interesting menu. Each dish quite well executed. Pheasant terrine, pheasant in jelly, gravlax, supreme of pintade, several choices of fish, each with appropriate sauce. Home baked pastries, frozen Grand Marnier soufflé.

SERVICE

With every seat taken, one manager/waiter/wine server. He handles the entire room calmly, professionally and quietly.

PRICE

33€ for three course. With aperitif, wine and water, 201€ for four. Some wines by the pitcher.

(1x) (2012)

Bistro-Cave Quedubon

22, rue Du Plateau (19)
Tel:  01-42-38-18-65

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We loved this restaurant.  And good we did, because getting there – in the remote 19th – represented a substantial commitment.  Fortunately, worth the journey (by Metro, return by Uber).

Storefront on a nondescript residential street.  Seven years old, but unknown to us.  A crowd of mixed ages, joined together in their comfort and enjoyment.  Not a neighborhood place, but unprepossessing in appearance, clientele and ambition.  A self-described wine restaurant.  One large wall a blackboard wine list across a range of prices.  Small blackboard menu; 4-5 choices each category.  Friendly welcome.  Smiles and good cheer throughout.  Terrific food, without pretense.  The business card reads “sincere and serious”.  Not a tweezers in sight.

FOOD

White asparagus with bacon crumbs; turbot over bed cabbage; leg of lamb with root vegetables.  Cheese plate of 6 artisanal selections.

Straight-forward “home style” cooking with top ingredients – confirmed by a 10:00 p.m. fish delivery.  A large white refrigerated truck pulls up outside the restaurant, completely blocking the street.  Out the front door goes the chef.  Driver and his clipboard-wielding wife stand behind open cargo door deep in negotiation.  In come trays of sole, mackerel, cod.  The truck direct from Normandy, where the driver buys from the boats that afternoon.  No dealer.  No Rungis.  Same day, direct to selected restaurants in Paris, including Quedubon.

SERVICE

Two extroverted, highly competent, experienced servers who help to animate the experience and assure satisfaction.

PRICE

A la carte, medium prices.  Entrée 14€; plats 25-30€, cheese 12€, middle/low priced red wine (delicious) 35€.  Bill for two 131€.  Lunch formula:  17.50€.

(1x) (2015)

Bistrot Belhara

23, rue Duvivier (7)
Tel:  01-45-51-41-77

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In the heart of the restaurant-heavy 7th, beyond the Invalides off Rue Grenelle; a small, brightly lit, traditional space.  A small bar, with white tablecloth-covered tables closely spaced in two parallel rows spread back toward the open pass.  Every one full.  An adult crowd, plus the requisite table of four Japanese girls.  A surprising number of Americans, evidently guests of nearby hotels.  A negative, but not nearly enough to spoil a very good meal comprised of unusual, original dishes.  Two and a half years old, and a very welcome, appealing addition to this Diary.

FOOD

Short menu, five or six choices in each category, plus one or two plats du jour.

Most part of the prix fixe, a few with supplements.

Beautiful, rich-looking fish soup with shellfish, sautéed baby squid over caramelized eggplant, a fricassee of octopus, foie gras and griolles.  Main course choices of roasted salmon, cod on plancha, what was described as sparerib casserole over beans (without bones).  Most tables displayed one of two terrific desserts:  berry soufflé or chocolate tart.

Medium-sized, but wide-ranging wine list.

At the end of the meal, a hot madeleine served from the oven and a mini-macaroon.  A friendly touch.

SERVICE

Two hard-working, competent waiters, plus chef, helper and dishwasher.  This is the way small Paris restaurants succeed today.

Service friendly, if harried.  In an effort to be friendly and approachable, English-speaking waiter first offered poorly translated English menu and tried to explain the 38€ formula, then pushed hard several dishes.  Was perfect for some foreign guests, an off-note for us, notwithstanding what I think were good intentions.

PRICE

Two formulas at 38€, no supplements, but including one soufflé, 76€, plus a 45€ wine, water and coffee, 135€.

A warm, friendly, truly Parisian experience with a winning format, and good and original cooking.

(1x) (2015)

 

Photo from “The Fork”

Bistrot Capucine

22, rue des Capucines (2)
Tel:  01-49-26-91-30

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We enjoyed a wonderful cote du boeuf for two, but it wasn’t quite like going out to dinner.

A small, narrow wine bar with food. A handful of tables. What was on the plate was very good, but the choices are limited in the extreme. Similarly, the bartender/server was exceptionally pleasant and helpful, but it was not a real restaurant experience.

FOOD

Three course “market” menu with two choices in each category, plus at night a steak special for two at 48€. We ate Spanish bellota ham while we waited for our steak, cooked beyond bloody as requested, and very good. Shared an equally good apple crumble.

SERVICE

Helpful. Friendly. Bilingual.

PRICE

Set meal 30€. Steak 48€. For two, with recommended Margon, 97€.

(1x) (2013)

 

Bistrot de Paris (Le)

33, rue de Lille (7)
Tel: 01-42-61-16-83

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Busy neighborhood bistro with local business and resident clientele. Good menu. Competent execution. Stylish French crowd. Feels like the Upper East Side.

FOOD

Not ambitious, but reliable. Many regulars. Menu without flourishes. Good, well-priced plats du jour.

SERVICE

Professional, but not normally warm. Over time, waiters know the regulars.

PRICE

A la carte with plats du jour. Average 45€.

(7x) (2012 -2013)

Bistrot du Dome

1, rue Delambre (14)
Tel: 01-43-35-32-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The adjacent bistro sibling of the very expensive, very established, very establishment Le Dome. Open Sunday. Metro stop virtually outside. Good fish choices. A la carte, but reasonable. Good execution. Another good fish restaurant choice.

FOOD

All fish, both entrées and main courses. Varied blackboard menu. Short, deliberately low priced wine list (most 23.50€)

SERVICE

Friendly, helpful service.

PRICE

Moderate a la carte prices, low priced wines. Average 40€ – 50€ for food, per person.

(1x) (2012)

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)

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)

Bon Georges (Le)

45, rue Saint Georges (9)
Tel: 01-48-78-40-30

 

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Experienced diners in every country know that behind a good meal is a team, a complex of factors which either make or undermine an experience. Location, décor, size, format, menu, kitchen, prices, hospitality, greeting and service all part of the mix. A good greeting, and the strong and attentive interest of a working owner can elevate the ordinary to the memorable.

So it is at Le Bon George. Great location in the attractive 9th, steps from the Place St. George metro. An attractive décor inside and out. Only three years ago a new owner cut the lock off a bistro there for decades. Simple, short blackboard menu emphasizing meat. Modest ambition. Largely local crowd. All elevated by caring service led by bilingual host who clears tables, takes orders, delivers food.

FOOD

Asparagus with hollandaise. Roast lamb in four cuts. Fresh strawberries. Proudly served simple food. A blackboard wine list with broad range.

SERVICE

Friendly, caring, informal.

PRICES

A la carte with 56€ wine (many less expensive offered), 156€ for two.

(1x) (2016)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

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”

Bouillon Chartier

7, rue Faubourg Montmartre (9)
Tel: 01-47-70-86-29

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Probably, you’ll want to see this restaurant, but maybe not eat there. Three hundred seats in an historic setting. Lines out to the street. No reservations. All day service. Miniscule prices. The kind of restaurant you looked for as a student. Historic interior with balcony. Steam table food from a large menu. A Paris experience, but not a gourmet experience. Closer to a college cafeteria or a training table for the rugby team. Cavernous, loud. Full plates crashing to the floor (and left there). Chairs banging and falling. Cheapest prices in Paris. Entrees beginning at 2 or 3€. Plats 8 or 10€. Wines 15€, plus half bottles. See it once, go with the right attitude (and the right companions).

FOOD

Steam Table.

SERVICE

Very rough.

PRICE

Two people with wine and water, 53€. No coffee. We couldn’t get out fast enough.

(1X) (2011)

Bouillon Pigalle

22 Boulevard de Clichy (18)
Tel:  01-42-59-69-31

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

When I wrote about Bouillon Chartier in 2011 (see 9th Arr.), I said:  “You’ll probably want to see this restaurant, but maybe not eat there”.

Now, the historic bouillon model is being revived; cavernous, non-stop service, no reservations, very low prices, but in restaurants you would both like to see and to eat at.  For sure if our lunch at Bouillon Pigalle is typical, and that’s what Paris-based American food writer Alex Lobrano writes in the New York Times.  We tried his first pick; a great lunch at virtually fast food prices.

450 seats including 2nd floor covered/heated outdoor terrace.  A short line at 1:15.  1200 covers a day, 7 days a week.

FOOD

Large, traditional a la carte menu.  Classic French preparations:

Egg mayonnaise, three fresh half hard boiled eggs loaded with delicious freshly made mayonnaise; cold leeks with a complex vinaigrette; mushrooms vinaigrette; freshly poached salmon in an herb flecked sorrel sauce; lemon tart and baba au rhum.  We were pleased with our choices and admired the food being brought to other tables.  We would have been equally pleased had these been served in a 20 seat bistro.  And good bread.

SERVICE

Friendly, fast service with bilingual recommendations.

PRICES

Very low.  Eggs 1.90€, salmon 13.50€, dessert 3.10€, etc.

For 2, with two waters, no wine, 52.30€.

 

(1x) (2019)

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)

Bourse Ou La Vie (La)

12, rue Vivienne (2)
Tel:  01-42-60-08-83

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Two things are going on in Paris, both impacting on and reflective of this (then) 22 day old restaurant from American chef Daniel Rose of Spring (See 1st Arr.)

Paris is crazy for everything American at the moment.  It is evident on the streets of New York and on every flight between Paris and New York:  planes full of French tourists of every age.  Paris retail stores are branding themselves with a “Brooklyn vibe”.  Hamburgers and hamburger spots have become ubiquitous.  Bagel stores abound.  Stories appear in the English language food press about a spate of new Paris barbeque restaurants. And American chefs cooking French food like Spring, the nearby Verjus and the mini-empire of Frenchie (See 2nd Arr.) are jammed with French and American clients. Some of this may reflect the French economic malaise, but the trend continues. Verjus opened a second spot last year. And now Spring opens a “traditional French bistro” manned by American cooks.

Except a traditional French bistro it is not.  In fact, despite a level of hype reminiscent of the opening of Spring itself, it is no better than pleasant and fair.  Despite its very small size and an instant reputation of a hot but impossible table, there were tables to spare.

FOOD

Five or so traditional a la carte starters:  three delicious oysters with cream served hot from the broiler, leeks, beet salad, cold mackerel, foie gras.

Plats included a pot au feu specialty, a workman-like steak frites with pepper sauce, skate and duck breast.

Great chocolate mousse among desserts.  A giant gougere served for the table at the start.

More than acceptable food, but not special, and no obvious connection to Spring, which with its act now well together continues to turn out 4 distinguished courses, albeit at a very high price, and the chef himself headed for New York.

SERVICE

A young, friendly bilingual woman takes the orders and serves the food.

PRICE

A la carte and reasonable.  Entrees 9€ – 14€, plats 26€ – 28€.  Let’s hope this is a work in process, and not the final product.

(1x) (2015)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Brasserie Balzar

49, rue des Escoles (5)
Tel: 01-43-54-13-67

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Classic. By Sorbonne. Clientele like a faculty club. Nothing daring, but never changing. Dependable. Heavy on atmosphere, but not on charm. Except such tradition can be charming. In its own way, that applies here. No motorcycle helmets. At lunch and dinner an older, sedate crowd. Old school waiters serving an old school menu intentionally plain, but quite satisfying. Open Sundays.


Everything positive I experienced at Brasserie Balzar in 3 visits in 2010-2011 has changed as of our 2017 lunch, and none for the better.

Adam Gopnik, first in The New Yorker and then in a chapter of his book on living in Paris famously described the Brasserie Balzar “crisis”, a traditional old school restaurant acquired by a large chain. The staff warned what would follow. They were right.

Service, food, even the clientele is different. And sad. Careless food, promotional leaflets on the table. Inexperienced (and inadequate) staff, absent-minded management.

The worst imagined in Gopnik’s entertaining, but culturally informative piece has come to pass

FOOD

Good, not special. Reliable. Traditional. Sole, steaks, roast lamb, grilled sausage. Not a food destination as much as a cultural one.

SERVICE

Professional, detached. Not chatty, but neither unfriendly.

PRICE

Medium

(4x) (2010 – 2017)

Brasserie Gallopin

40 rue Notre-Dame des Victoires (2)
Tel:  01-42-36-45-38

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The only consolation from the otherwise wasted lunch at Terrior Parisien (see 2nd Arr.) was that we walked by Brasserie Gallopin across the street. Elegant and refined in appearance, I later looked it up in multiple sources.

Dinner confirmed the published reports: an adult restaurant. Tablecloths, an extensive a la carte menu of traditional dishes with an occasional nod to Asia and modernity, plus a 35€ 3 course menu of four choices, a bargain.

But nothing comes easily. There was a downside too, in the form of a completely out-of-place giant screen TV over the otherwise quite stately bar, with music to supplement it. Out of place hardly describes it.

We were offered the more crowded (but hardly full) front bar room, or the sparsely populated, more sedate back room. We chose the company and the TV. More guests and no TV could elevate this to a favorite.

FOOD

The food was far beyond what we expected. Compared to the steam table of some large brasseries (see Brasserie Lipp, 6th), this was refined, unusual and freshly prepared. Marinated salmon and grilled dorade with sautéed Asian vegetables, open ravioli of pigs feet and almonds in a sauce of rich foam, and slow cooked shoulder of lamb with mashed potatoes. For preordered desserts, orange tart with orange sherbet and molten chocolate cake. All from the a la carte menu offered as a nightly formula.

SERVICE

Indications suggest this is a more popular lunch location than dinner. That may explain the large staff who, while attentive and professional, seem to enjoy one another’s company. The TV may be for them. (And, as the waitress explained as she turned it off when asked, for the bar traffic at lunch watching news and markets.)

PRICE

35€ for the three fine and perfectly executed courses we ordered was a standout bargain, even among a Diary replete with 34-38€ menus. This came in a more refined, historical environment, albeit without evidence of the young crowd which normally predominate in other neighborhoods. Of course, for the TV, no supplement.

With drink, wine, water and coffee, 120€.
(1x) (2014)

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)

Brioches Vapeur a Emporter – (yam’Tcha Boutique)

4, rue Sauval (1)
Tel: 01-40-26-06-06

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The Yam’Tcha “boutique” now selling steamed Chinese buns (bao) from the former kitchen window and offering tea inside (but not buns). I’m skeptical that format will endure, but all involved in this exemplary restaurant deserve to succeed here and at their new space around the corner scheduled to debut in March, 2015. The buns – purchased cold and steamed at home – are terrific, four assorted varieties for 16€.

(1x) (2014)

Buisson Ardent (Le)

25, rue Jussieu (5)
Tel: 01-43-54-93-02

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Out of the way location in the 5th. Interior, plus warm weather terrace. Friendly welcome. Bilingual menu (bad). Not worth a journey.

FOOD

Unusual dishes with Mid East/Asian touches. Well prepared. Good, not great. Forgettable.

SERVICE

Attentive, but appropriate for causal, young clientele.

PRICE

Formula. Very reasonable.

(1x) (2011)

Cafe Marly (Le)

93 Rue de Rivoli (1)
Tel:  01-49-26-06-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The best thing which can be written about Café Marly – maybe the only thing – is its prime location literally in the building of the Louvre with a large open terrace overlooking the Pyramid in the Louvre courtyard.  But an A+ location cannot offset mediocre food geared entirely to international visitors.  The inside main dining room is located in an original period room.

FOOD

Entirely forgettable, at prices you will not soon forget.  Salads, a hamburger, grilled dishes reflective of greater ambition.  None the equal of countless alternative nearby neighborhood choices, though none at/within the Louvre.

SERVICE

Superficially pleasant, but without heart.

PRICES

One course each for 6, no wine, three desserts, water.
(1x) (2019)

Café de l’Esplanade

52, rue fabert (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-38-80

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Modern, chic café overlooking the Invalides. Beautiful location catering to Paris’ beautiful people, complete with uniformed car parker and luxury cars stacked in front. At a Sunday lunch, well dressed French families with a sprinkling of elegant elderly couples. None are there for the food, which is perfectly acceptable, but cautious and basic.

FOOD

Simple preparations across a fairly diverse menu. Fish, meats of high quality, but without imagination. The scene and being seen takes priority.

SERVICE

Surprisingly inexpert.

PRICE

High a la carte.

(1x) (2013)

Café Des Abattoirs

10 rue Gomboust (1)
Tel:  01-76-21-77-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Michel Rostang pioneered the concept of a Michelin-starred chef opening a second, more modest restaurant, what is now nearly universal. Along with his 2-Star restaurant he has four other restaurants in Paris. Café des Abattoirs is the fifth, in some collaboration with his two daughters (which also may define their relationship to the others).

The space is small, modern and tastefully decorated. Empty, it boasts charm. Full, as it was on a Sunday night, it looks good, suffuses energy and offers a compact, but generous and well-executed meat-centric menu as part of a three course formula meal.

This is surprisingly good food offered in a pleasant, low-key environment in a convenient part of the 1st behind the St. Honore.

FOOD

Meat. Beef, pork, lamb (with a grilled chicken for two). They select the entrees (red pepper soup, bacon-wrapped cheese). You choose the style of potato accompaniment and the dessert. Lamb shoulder prepared for three and carefully sliced served at the table on a platter. Very good sides. Large meal. Wonderful chocolate tart, plus other dessert choices.

SERVICE

Friendly. Casual. Bilingual.

PRICE

32, 38 or 45€, depending on meat chosen. Our wonderful lamb, 38€. Reasonable wine prices. Three people, 195 with wine, aperitif, coffee.

(1x) (2014)

Café des Marronniers

Jardin Des Tuilleries
113, rue de Rivoli (1)
Tel: 01-40-20-04-97

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In addition to la cream and snack kiosks, the Tuilleries Gardens has 4 sit down restaurant/cafes, all seemingly similar in format, menu and price. We happened to choose Café des Marronniers, but we might as well have been at any of the other 3, each with different names, but occupying 4 corners of an imaginary square.

The food, service and menus are oriented toward the tourists who crowd the beautiful park on warm days. All serve light meals, including perfectly acceptable hot dishes, plus drinks, coffee and ice cream desserts. Service is completely pleasant and friendly. Not to be confused with a real restaurant, but neither are these American-style snack bars.

For a lunch or afternoon tea in the sun, well worth trying.

(1x) (2017)

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Café Trama

83 Rue du Cherche Midi (5)
Tel:  01-45-48-33-71

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A great choice for lunch or a casual, lighter dinner.

On a sunny Saturday in June, full of French couples and families enjoying sophisticated, unusual dishes generally above the level expected. Deserving of its popularity and reputation.  Physically attractive with some sidewalk seating, large windows, a bar and, behind, a dining area. Slightly cramped, but fine for lunch.

FOOD

Fresh.  Creative.  Unusual.  Untraditional.  International.

Cold sliced octopus over fregola, whelks remoulade, sautéed salmon, slow-roasted shredded pork “barbeque” on a sesame roll.  Cherry clafoutis.  Wines by the bottle, carafe or glass.

SERVICE

Friendly.  Helpful.  Bilingual.

PRICES

Very reasonable, especially in relation to freshness and quality of food.  Lunch for two with carafe of wine, 117€.

(1x) (2018)

Cagouille (La)

10, place Constantin Brancusi (14)
Tel: 01-43-22-09-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A paradox. Great simple fish served unembellished and unaccompanied, an imposing wine list (plus an apparently famous cognac list), friendly and helpful waiters (if occasionally distracted) and high prices, set in a modern and character-less apartment block in the redeveloped/over-developed Montparnasse neighborhood. (Montparnasse Tower is the infamous building which blights the center Paris skyline.) The restaurant is modern and physically charmless, except for the mix of virtually all French middle aged clientele with the money and desire for impeccably fresh fish, happy to leave charm to the competition.

FOOD

Poached langoustines, fried calamari with onions (and without equal), sautéed Dover sole, red mullet, scallops, etc. Profiterole with chocolate for dessert. Every dish superb – but served under glaring bright lights. Literally, the restaurant could be in a suburban mall. Large portions.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional. Occasionally distracted, bordering on inept, but not enough to bother them or us.

PRICE

A few dishes offered as part of 42€ formula, but not the ones you would want to order. Sole 48€. Langoustines 30€. Two people with lower priced wine, one dessert to share, 190€.

(1x) (2011)

Caius

6, rue d’Armaille (17)
Tel: 01-42-27-19-20

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Within eyeshot of the Arc de Triumph, but in a strictly residential neighborhood. A surprisingly luxurious décor for an ambitious, unusual 35€ menu. Novelty is in the dishes and the spices. Recommended by Epi Dupin chef as a favorite.

FOOD

Ethereal gnocchi with parmesan foam, the only Italian influence. Other interesting blackboard choices.

SERVICE

Attentive and professional.

PRICE

39€ formula Reasonable. Unusual wines.

(1X) (2010)

Camondo (Le)

61 Bis Rue de Monceau (8)
Tel: 01-45-63-40-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a Paris restaurant guide, not a tour guide. That said, The Museum Nissim de Camondo has always been among my favorites; for its unmatched collection of period French furniture and decorative arts, for the mansion itself, and because of the tragic history of the Camondo family and of WW II in France which it reveals. I write “reveals”, because like so much of the modern history of French Jews, there is an ambiguity in the telling of that story, which is not what the Museum is meant to be about.

In any case, Le Camondo opened in early Fall, 2017 in the former carriage house/garage and garden of the mansion. In no way is it a museum restaurant. It is an upscale, stand-alone restaurant housed in what was an unused section of the Park Monceau mansion which houses the decorative arts collection.

That there is only a la carte at lunch suggests its uncompromising ambition. We ate inside. If that was all there was to it, we might not make a special effort to return but on a beautiful spring day the private garden would make the effort worthwhile.

The inside room is spacious and very high-ceilinged, as befitting a carriage house, and comfortable in every way, but the garden is quite special.

FOOD

Complex. Modern. Many ingredients. Not tweezer food, but over-thought, overworked and untraditional.

Confit of tuna over cold cucumber sauce with bits of bean, Spanish ham, lightly boiled egg in a round of crabmeat. Filet of bass with celery root puree and foam; cuttlefish (like squid), scallops, belotta ham and guacamole. All quite tasty, but overwrought and more modern than our taste.

SERVICE

Attentive. Bilingual.

PRICES

A la carte only. With water, coffee and one glass of wine, 128€. Not cheap in a city where 30€ – 40€ two course lunches are routinely available.

(1x) (2017)

 

(Photo from “Trip Advisor”)

Casa Olympe (La)

48, rue Saint Georges (9)
Tel: 01-42-85-26-01

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Chef shows her age. No longer cutting edge. Small, tight location. Good, not great food.

FOOD

Good, not special.

SERVICE

Perfunctory.

PRICE

Medium

(1X) (2009)

Cerisaie (La)

70, bd Edgar Quinet (14)
Tel: 01-43-20-98-98

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Closely spaced tables for 25 in a space suitable for 10 makes this a fun evening. You talk to your neighbors (unless you are four). Toilets out the back door and down the hall. Very casual. In teeming commercial Montparnasse neighborhood.

FOOD

Well-prepared Southwestern cuisine at reasonable prices. Wines to go along.

SERVICE

Chef and helper. Two busy, extroverted waitresses.

PRICE

A good meal and a fun experience. Reasonable.

(1x) (2011)

Champeaux

101 Porte Berger (1)
Tel:  01-53-45-84-50

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

When history makes comparisons of the destruction of artistic monuments, ISIS will have competitors.  Pennsylvania Station in New York City and the Les Halles market in Paris each represent official cases.  In the name of urban progress, Madison Square Garden and the crime scene below now called Penn Station, and the underground Forum retail shopping center in Paris which replaced Les Halles were respectively destroyed and rebuilt.  Unlike New York City which periodically announces its latest new plan, in Paris a modern successor of parks and retail has already opened between the old Bourse on the end and the great Saint-Eustache Cathedral along the side, the excavated underground complex covered by a contemporary glass canopy with new shops, restaurants and cafes opening steadily.  It proves to be a vast improvement.

The Alain Ducasse organization has seized the initiative and opened Champeaux; a large, modern, well-designed, carefully appointed, modern brasserie.  It serves continuously day to night from a simple, well-chosen, moderately priced traditional menu organized in a way which allows a conventional meal or lighter grazing.  For what it is, it is very good and already quite popular – effectively full on our first visit on a Sunday night in October.

FOOD

Large, relatively moderate wine list with bottles, carafes and glasses.  A train station arrivals board fills one wall announcing a revolving list of specials.

Sections of the menu dedicated to crus (salmon, scallop or dorade), delicious.  Another devoted to steaks; 4 cuts, 3 sauce choices (béarnaise excellent) and 4 sides; frites, salad, etc., choose one.

Other traditional entrees and many courses (including beautiful roast salmon served with mango sauce).  And a section of savory soufflés (cheese or lobster), in addition to dessert soufflés.  We shared a wonderful, room temperature classic chocolate mousse for dessert.

SERVICE

Young, but professional servers order on iPhone-sized electronic devices.  No paper tickets.  Orders go directly to kitchen.  Runners deliver food.  Service friendly and attentive, if sometimes overburdened by full house, even with the all-hands on deck assistance of manager/sommelier and hostess.

PRICES

2 crus, a platter of charcuterie, salmon, steak, mousse plus 4 glasses of wine, 139€ for 2.

Light on charm, strong on good food, a unique new location and an obvious professional hand behind every step along the way from conception through execution.

(1x) (2016)

 

 

Photo from “Pinterest”

Chez Andre

12, rue Marbeuf (8)
Tél: 01-47-20-59-57

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Located close to the grand hotels, so a popular recommendation of concierges. Looks right. Friendly service. Bustling. All good – until presented with an English menu – missing the insert with the daily specials.

FOOD

Good if not memorable. Plat du jour merits attention. Convenient for the neighborhood, but not worth a special journey.

SERVICE

Friendly. Fast (too fast?). Efficient.

PRICE

A la Carte. Medium

(2X) (2010-2015)

Chez Denise – La Tour de Montlhery

5, rue des Prouvaires (1)
Tel: 01-42-36-21-82

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Touristy Les Halles location. Touristy “old bistro” look. Surprise: good food, professionally served. Hearty menu, with some fish choices. In fact, few tourists, at least foreign ones.


Walked by unexpectedly, decided to return for lunch after 4 years. A good choice.

With tens more restaurant experiences under my belt (!) since my original write- up, a few different thoughts: Touristy look, because it is original and authentic, one of the original Les Halles restaurants, before Les Halles became a shopping mall.

Spacious, but not large, with closely spaced tables for 4 around 3 sides of a rectangle. Even when not full parties of 2 are seated next to other twos. Ignore or embrace your neighbors.

Hearty bistro food with many plats du jour. Immense portions. Wine, Bordeaux or Brouilly, poured into open bottles from casks, pay for what you drink. Not a Michelin caliber meal, but great fun.

FOOD

Not much finesse, but well executed, traditional bistro choices.


Twice as much as you can (or should) eat, but sharing probably not encouraged. Of course, no doggie bags. Salmon cru: four fillets make a portion. Terrine du Chef: 2 thick slices. Grilled lamb chops: 4, plus frites. Salmon with mustard sauce: enough for 2. Ditto chocolate mousse. All without finesse, and completely agreeable and appropriate.

SERVICE

Professional. Without charm.


As advertised above. Practiced. Not unfriendly, but not warm either.

PRICE

Not cheap, but reasonable for what it is. A la carte.


With water, coffee, 1⁄2 Bordeaux, 126€, all a la carte.

(2x) (2011 – 2014)

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)

Chez Georges

1, rue du Mail (2)
Tel: 01-42-60-07-11

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

There is more than one Chez George, each unrelated. Book the right one. Situated in the 2nd, a beacon of warmth on an otherwise deserted street. Terrific, busy; the good news and the bad news. Reportedly, lunch is all French. At dinner, half American. It doesn’t change the food; it does compromise the ambiance.


It was announced in the fall of 2010 Chez George had changed hands, not good news. The buyer owns Bistro de Paris and Chez Rene. In fact, so far, so good. Nothing changed, including classic bistro food, friendly service and high prices.


A return after several years to Chez Georges, which used to be a favorite.

The good news: high energy, classic bistro menu, very good food all intact, along with the traditional décor. A Hollywood French bistro.

The less good news: If it was half Americans before, it is 2/3 foreigners today, mostly Americans. Tables packed tightly, so highly likely your two is an effective table of six with Americans (or Japanese, or Italians) on either side. Service and turnover quick – too quick, allowing for at least two turns. In some ways Chez Georges has become so authentic it is inauthentic, a problem if you are looking for the same great food, classic preparations and attractive décor, but in a French environment.

The restaurant is doing just fine. It has not changed its standards except to accommodate to the demand, but it is not the French bistro experience it once was.

Roasted cepes couldn’t be better. Grilled Dover sole (no sauce offered, even though I asked), impeccable. Tarte tatin and profiterole with chocolate. Great meal, but a compromised experience.


A return visit to what was once a favorite three years later, a paradox.

Chez Georges is an old, traditional French bistro, physically authentic in every way and movie set perfect exactly as is, including the efficient, black-clad team of hardworking waitresses. Crowded. Busy. Always full. The menu is as authentic as the surroundings; classic French specialties unchanged from three years ago; well-sourced, well-cooked, quickly served, accompanied by a long and varied wine list at every price level. One or two seasonal blackboard specials. So the good news is very good still, and unchanged.

But so is the bad news: alongside the two long mirrored facing walls tables for two or four, with a long banquette and facing chairs. Not uncomfortable because of the spaciousness of the room, but literally no space between the tables. And to the left and to the right, English – almost exclusively. English spoken mostly by Americans, but also by English, Germans and Italians. Some French squeezed into the bar area.

Try to explain it: Among the most historically correct and attractive French restaurants taken over by American visitors.

We prefer to experience France among French, but it often means passing up the few remaining French restaurants still true to a history which has mostly passed them by.

FOOD

Bistro classics – salads, terrines, a famous smoked herring, meats, plenty of fish, all with wonderful sauces. Profiterole an irresistible dessert. Entrees slightly boring, served family style. Serve yourself. Wonderful, though pricey fish.

SERVICE

Efficient and friendly. Like the food, without finesse.

PRICE

A la Carte. Medium/High.

(5x) (2010-2017)

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)

Chez La Vieille (Adrienne)

1, rue Bailleul (1)
Tel:  01-42-60-15-78

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

What remains from the legacy of the late Adrienne who owned and presided over this now-tired and cramped space in the 1st Arr. is not worth wasting a precious slot. Charmless (Michelle called it grim), in large part because of the six tables in the downstairs barroom. Only one was occupied on a Monday lunch, in addition to ours. The single waitress went through the motions, assisted by the chef when she was tending to the equally empty upstairs room.

Small blackboard menu. Actually, tasty fresh food, but the package wasn’t enough.


Published rumor that in addition to opening in New York, Daniel Rose from Spring is taking over this restaurant (also called Chez Adrienne) as of April.  It is more or less across the street from Spring.  “For Rent” sign in window and no evidence of construction.


Then it was closed, with rumors flying it would be purchased and redone by Daniel Rose, originally of Spring across the street (and now of New York’s hottest luxury spot in Tribeca, Coucou).

The space was shut up in October and sold out in April. And not only from the hype.

Still tiny. Now 16 or so stools in the unreserved ground floor barroom; 5 tables for 2 and 3 tables for 4 on the charmless first floor (in daylight at least).

Not so in the unreserved bar, though casual in the extreme.

FOOD

Four a la carte choices in each category. We tried mache salad with lardons and salmon tartare, followed by roast veal from a casserole with onion sauce, snap peas and carrots. All quite good, as was the molten chocolate cake with crème anglaise.


Very limited menu. About 15 items, half starters, 3-4 plats, 2 sides, plus 1 unlisted dessert. White asparagus, wonderful bouillon with noodles and poached egg, an old Chez Adrienne recipe, plus a shared divided half chicken with mushrooms. Cheese and simple lemon tart for dessert.

Terrific food, simply served.

SERVICE

Distracted.


Friendly, but inept. Sort of in character with the tone of the restaurant.

PRICE

A la carte. 82€ for lunch for two with one glass of wine, coffee and water.


Very low, and very much worth it.


For a city once known for its “classic” restaurants, meaning long established and rarely changing, Paris has become a whirlwind of change.

Review the chronology of what was Chez Adrienne, now Chez La Vieille. For some years, the buzz was the derelict Adrienne would be reopened by the hot American French chef Daniel Rose, whose primary restaurant Spring was across the street. And it was, but now Spring is closed and Daniel Rose is in New York, with his chef-wife opening a place of her own within the last few weeks. (Try to fit this into a published guidebook with a 1-2 year publishing deadline!)

As currently operating, Chez La Vieille is a better kitchen than it is a restaurant, meaning the food is very good.

Restaurants need energy to animate them, especially for tables of 2. Larger tables can bring some of their own energy with them (one good reason to eat out with friends). Staffs can help.

At Chez La Vieille the staff is perfectly adequate (but not professional), but bring no sense of fun or personality to the serving job. So the energy in the upstairs dining room (5 tables for 2, 2 tables for 4 or 6) dies even when the room is full, as it became halfway through our recent dinner. The downstairs bar room has plenty of energy when full, but not much comfort.

But the food from the very limited menu produced from a miniscule kitchen is excellent: beet salad in a lovely pink sauce, a fresh, homemade slab of duck terrine with novel accompaniments, roast chicken with mashed potatoes and a rich, steaming hot beef Bourguignon; a wonderful chocolate tart to share for dessert.

A mixed group of guests who enjoyed their food, but who had no trouble hearing. 129€ for 2, with a 42€ Morgan.

(3X) (2014-2018)

Chez Les Anges

54, bd de la Tour-Maubourg (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-89-86

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We were walk-ins. When we showed up at our reserved restaurant to find it had turned Thai (same phone number accepting reservations intended for its predecessor), we walked over.

Chez Les Anges is a venerable name. Forty years ago a 2-star restaurant. Possibly in the same location. This version same ownership as Bon Accueil.

FOOD

A formula menu in a more modern, more upscale location. Completely full. Food conceived, cooked and plated with finesse and style. Older crowd typical of the neighborhood. Plenty of a la carte orders. An appealing find at a surprisingly attractive price.

SERVICE

Professional, formal.

PRICE

At 33€, a bargain, plus a la carte.

(1x) (2010)

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)

Chez Michel

10, rue de Belzunu (10)
Tel: 01-44-53-06-20

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Messy. Overall disappointing, in spite of/because of extensive hype. Many foreigners. Did not feel like a Paris restaurant. A profound let down in look, greeting, clientele, food. Highly rated, but highly disappointing.

FOOD

Good, but only just. Mostly fish.

SERVICE

Friendly. English speaking.

PRICE

Medium/formula with many supplements.

(1x) (2010)