6th Arrondissement

­

21 Rue Mazarine

21, rue Mazarine (6)
Tel: 01-46-33-76-90

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Fish is expensive worldwide. A great deal of fish is consumed in Paris, and there are no bargains. The best (wild caught) fish is more expensive still. Paris has always been distinguished by a few specialist fish restaurants, but every menu carries fish choices.

Paul Minchelli is a legendary fish chef who has had several restaurants. This is the latest. Small, deceptively casual, located on a street of art galleries in the 6th. Fish only, with a limited number of choices. Each we tried was delicious with an emphasis on simple preparation. Prices were chokingly high, including 48€ for a modest portion of steamed bass.

FOOD

The food was good, the fish soup particularly. Simple preparation can be taken to an extreme; steaming in seawater a popular technique.

SERVICE

For the handful of tables (of which only a few were occupied at lunch), service is casual, bilingual and helpful.

PRICE

No price concessions at lunch, all a la carte and all through the roof. (On the next block is Fish le Boissonerie. For the price of one fish soup, an excellent multi-course fish meal is available there. It may be a better bet.)

(1x) (2011)

Agape Substance

66, rue Mazarine (6)
Tel: 01-43-29-33-83

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A very modern, very expensive tapas-style menu with many courses on set menu, described on the menu card only by principal ingredient. Of the 30 or so seats, most on stools at long tables running 2/3 of the length of the long, narrow, very modern room, with the kitchen taking the rear third.

FOOD

Many of the combinations on the 2 – 3 bite dishes were interesting. Many of the tastes were good, some very good. All were carefully and artfully plated and served with optional wine pairings. In all, a great deal of food, but to our taste, too modern, too untraditional. Others will love it.

SERVICE

Service is caring and attentive, but physically awkward. Couples are seated on opposite sides of the long table. For our party of five, three on one side two on the other.

PRICE

Shockingly high. At dinner no choice menu 129€. With wines, 199€. Alternative truffle menu higher.

(1x) (2012)

Allard

41, rue Saint Andre-des- Arts (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-48-23

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I first ate at Allard in the late ‘60’s. It was chic, with Americans in particular. An old (1932) traditional bistro in an obscure, ancient Left Bank street, it looked the part and delivered old fashioned French comfort food at a time when the best known alternatives for tourists featured haute cuisine, formality and were focused in central arrondissements.

After hitting a peak, Allard began a decades-long decline, along with the neighborhood, which became a street of pizza, crepe and souvenir shops. Five years ago (pre-Diary) we gave it another try. The food and décor were less changed than the all- foreign clientele, heavily weighted toward Japanese, guide books in hand and coke bottles on every table. To the rescue (?) Alain Ducasse (again), very recently.

The result is a work in progress – it is hoped. The décor is unchanged, as it should be. The food at a Christmas week dinner was excellent, prepared by four chefs in toques who work just inside the front door. Recognizing the holiday timing of our single datapoint, our meal may be untypical. The crowd was mixed, including French. It arrived late (9:30 p.m.+), but energized the two rooms, which were 1⁄4 full at 8:30 pm. Service and management were shockingly disorganized for a Ducasse- managed operation. It made a difference, but did not mar the quality of the food, only the overall experience.


Since first trying the “new” (Ducasse-owned) Allard in 2013, we have enjoyed progressively better meals and appealing menus, including a recent Spring, 2017 dinner.

In the older (read: very old) of the 2 rooms bi-sected by the female chef-run, traditional bistro kitchen, it was full (international mix) and convivial. Family and couples-focused; casual in look and manner. Except the menu and food were serious and delicious. Early asparagus with sauce mousseline, frisse salad, turbot with buerre blanc and roast lamb with vegetables. A plate of pre-selected 3 cheeses for dessert. All excellent, pricey (216€ with a 52€ Givry 1st Cru) and served with energy and good feeling, if somewhat less than old school finesse.

A good restaurant.

FOOD

Thick-sliced marinated salmon and frisee salad with croutons and lardons, followed by a Bresse chicken for two. Profiteroles with chocolate sauce for dessert. Other meat, fish choices, all in the bistro tradition. Accompanying potatoes and a la carte string beans both exceptional.

SERVICE

Uncoordinated, even sloppy. A few of the waiters had the old-timer look and knew what they were doing, but did not function as a team, much less a well- oiled one. Surely, the Ducasse machine knows how to do this, and to install a management system to oversee it.

PRICE

High, but fair a la carte. Chicken for two 36€/person, on a par with/ Le Coq Rico (see 20th). 34€ formula lunch with two choices. Extensive wine list weighted toward the high-end. With a 60€ wine, 184€.


Lured by a well-promoted 34€ 3 course lunch (with only two choices), we gave Allard another try and are pleased we did.

A new (female) chef, what appears to be a fresh staff and serious management combine, albeit on the basis of a single meal, to correct the disappointments experienced in the immediate aftermath of the Ducasse ownership change in 2013. We loved everything about our lunch.

Sea bass cru or onion soup, roast chicken with mashed potatoes or monkfish with vegetables in a light cream sauce, baked figs with ice cream or cold chocolate soufflé.

SERVICE

Service was cordial and attentive (and bilingual). The surroundings are charmingly run-down (as a restaurant founded in 1932 should be), but freshly painted, clean and with a gleaming new bathroom.

(3x) (2013-2017)

Au Pied de Fouet

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

(4x) (2012 – 2014)

Aux Charpentiers

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

Friendly, helpful, informal.

PRICE

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

(1x) (2010)


RECENT UPDATE:

As of Fall, 2017, closed.

Aux Pres

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

Helpful.  Friendly.

PRICE

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


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

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

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

In all, a terrific dinner.

(2x) (2015-2016)

 

Photo from “Pinterest”

Bastide Odeon (La)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

Three good courses, 36€ formula for dinner.

(1x) (2012)

Bon Saint Pourcain (Le)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

Efficient, but neither unfriendly nor warm.

PRICES

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


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


Closed (2015)

A new/old restaurant, and a good one.

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

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


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

(6x) (2015-2019)

 

Photo by “Trip Advisor”

Bouquinistes (Les)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

Professional service, but without a sense of ownership.

PRICE

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

Dinner a la carte and more expensive.

(2X) (2011)

Brasserie Lipp

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

(11x) (2009-2018)

Brasserie Lutetia

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

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

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

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

FOOD

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

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

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

SERVICE

Friendly.  Helpful.

PRICE

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

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

(1x) (2019)

Chez Dumonet – Josephine

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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


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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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


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

(11x) (2010-2019)

Comptoir du Relais (Le)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

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

(2x) (2011)

Cuisine de Philippe (La)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

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

(3x) (2013 -2018)

Deux Magots (Les)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

PRICES

High as expected.

SERVICE

Professional, but not warm.

(10x+) (2010-2015)

Epi Dupin (L’)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

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

FOOD

Exceptional, and consistently so. Every meal a winner.

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

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

SERVICE

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


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

PRICE

Medium/Low formula. 38€. Some supplements.

Lunch 27€

(10x+) (2010-2014)

 

Photo from “Yelp”

Epigramme (L’)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

38€ formula. Fairly priced wines.

(1X) (2010)

Ferrandaise (La)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A total disappointment despite the dated guidebook write-ups.

FOOD

Only fair.

SERVICE

Slipshod.

PRICE

Low/formula

(1X) (2009)

Fish Boissonnerie (La)

69, rue de Seine (6)
Tel: 01-43-54-34-69

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A somewhat thrown together wine bar/café into a restaurant. Kitchen upstairs. Food arrives by dumbwaiter. That the food is so good for the price is the surprise. Unusual wines. Dishes executed and plated with care. Many Americans. Great value.

FOOD

Mostly fish. Interesting wine list (the owners run a nearby wine shop). The value and finesse of the cooking, sauces and presentation surprise. “Finesse” is not how one would describe the atmosphere.

SERVICE

Casual, but professional.

PRICE

Lunch 25€ – a bargain. Dinner higher.

(3x) (2009-2011)

Grande Cremerie (La)

8, rue Grégoire de Tours (6)
Tel:  01-43-26-09-09

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A good looking small wine bar with small plates and a 19€ lunch – plat plus glass of wine.  Popular, convenient.  Serious, but for a glass of wine and snack before, after or instead of a conventional meal.

FOOD

Nicely put together dishes, sourced, not cooked.

SERVICE

Casual and friendly.

PRICE

Wines, plus by the glass.  (Wine bars are not well-represented in this Diary, but are very popular among Parisians.)

(1x) (2014)

Grille Saint Germain (La)

1, rue Guisarde (6)
Tel: 01-43-54-16-87

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On a small street of restaurants and wine bars adjacent to several other small streets (Rue Princesse, etc.) of restaurants and wine bars, La Grille St. Germain is among the oldest and most established – and perhaps most establishment, but it serves the same largely young neighborhood clientele. The area surrounds the covered Marche St. Germain, itself now composed largely of established restaurants and bars, plus a few traditional food vendors which populated it exclusively in earlier times.

The neighborhood is casual, a block or so off the Boulevard St. Germain. Each of the restaurants is different, but each small, convivial and inexpensive. Not surprisingly, none are distinguished. No hidden jewels. La Grille St. Germain no exception. But sometimes no plan is the best plan. Walk until you spot an appealing posted menu, an attractive décor and an empty table.


And now the Apple Store has opened across the street. Coffee while you wait for your call.

FOOD

The menu is predictable. Cooked to order sauté dishes, mostly meat with a few fish choices, each competently prepared with generous accompaniments of vegetables and potatoes. Two entrées and two plats du jour, daube of beef and salmon with sorrel.

SERVICE

As you would expect. Casual, rudimentary, friendly.

PRICE

With water and a bottle of wine, a la carte for two: 95€.

(2x) (2010-2017)

Huitrerie Regis

3, rue de Montfaucon (6)
Tel: 01.44.41.10.07

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Oysters, and virtually only that. A handful of tables with white tablecloths and a counter, no seats. High shelves of wine bottles behind counter, plus two “chefs” (oyster-openers) (plus shrimp, clams and urchins). A Left Bank institution.

FOOD

Oysters. Chosen by season, medium or large. One dozen minimum or two set menus, oysters with a glass of wine and coffee. Fresh, delicious oysters. Ditto shrimp and scallop pate offered as first course.

SERVICE

A little snippy, but not egregious. Waitress at times seemed stressed. No big deal.

PRICE

Oysters 34€/dozen. Shrimp 25€. For a light lunch, this could be the spot.

(1x) (2014)

Laperouse

51, quai des Grands Augustins (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-68-04

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Forty or so years ago Laperouse was my favorite Paris restaurant. It was a splurge, but I ate there when it had 3 Michelin stars. I ate there when it had 2 Michelin stars. Then it became a historic relic; a beautiful building and location hollowed out as a great restaurant. In the meantime, Paris changed. Paris chefs and restaurants changed. French food changed.

Now Laperouse is attempting a revival with a serious chef and, according to the a la carte menu, serious ambitions. And there is a special lunch menu, 45€ for two courses, 55€ for three, each served with wine.

Good food in exquisite, historic surroundings. Not a 2 or 3-star experience (see Astrance, Grand Vefour, Lasserre, etc.), but a very good one.

FOOD

On the lunch menu, carrot soup with mushroom ravioli or skate wing meat over sliced radishes, grilled pike or lamb in pastry over wild mushrooms, pain perdu or exotic fruits.

SERVICE

Laperouse is primarily a warren of small and smaller private rooms. In an open space overlooking the river from the 2nd floor, 8 tables nicely served by three. If lacking some polish, it was not because they didn’t try.

PRICE

A la carte, chef’s menu at 115€ and lunch at 45€ and 55€. An extra glass of offered wine, 13€.


In 2019, shuttered. Not clear when it closed. And a 3 Star historic property now a relic. Sad. (Spring, 2019)

Update:

Being reopened by new owners with a name chef, but as an event space, not per se a traditional classic restaurant. (Summer, 2019)

(1x) (2013)

Locanda (La)

8, rue du Dragon (6)
Tel: 01-45-44-12-53

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Martino is a charming and hard-working host of this small, well located Italian restaurant just off the Blvd. St. Germain. The space is cozy and frequented by many regulars. Sadly, the kitchen is not up to the promise of the host or the ambition of the menu, with prices reflecting the elusive promise. Still, on a low-key night, a worthwhile stop.

Open every day.

FOOD

The kitchen falls short on a compact menu of familiar Italian dishes of pastas, simple meat and fish grills and sautés, plus specials. In general, execution and presentation disappoint.

SERVICE

The two servers carry through on the owner’s spirit of warmth and welcome.

PRICE

Too high for the type of restaurant it is. Grilled vegetable entrees 14€ and 19€; fish or pasta with sausage and cepes, 27€ and 29€. Wine by the glass, 10€.

(1x) (2014)

Maison du Jardin (La)

27, rue de Vaugirard (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-22-31

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I have probably walked by La Maison du Jardin, more than once. Its exterior is unprepossessing. There is nothing chic or cutting edge about its look, its clientele or its interior. In fact, it is quite traditional physically. So are its clients, at a Monday lunch at least. Mostly regulars. Several occupying single tables among 15 or so, with napkins tucked under their chins and half bottles of red wine open at the table. Just our kind of place!

Had it not been for some well-travelled New York friends we would have continued to walk by. Not anymore.

This is not a bistro, but a middle class restaurant for middle of the road clients with a real chef in the kitchen.

FOOD

The menu is original by today’s standards, but probably quite ordinary by the rules of 30 years ago. Yet there is no time warp, only well- prepared dishes with carefully chosen accompaniments prepared fresh and served piping hot. Beef cheek terrine with beet sauce, salmon and halibut chilled, rolled and sliced, roasted fish over potatoes and onions, prunes in red wine, apple tart. Comfort food for the comfortable.

SERVICE

Two hard working, skilled, middle-age professionals who act as if they care. Friendly and bilingual.

PRICE

34€ fixed price for 3 courses. A few small supplements from the menu, plus plats du jour.

(1x) (2014)

Petit Vatel (Les)

5, rue Lobineau (6)
Tel: 01 43 54 28 49

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Opposite the St. Germain covered market. Well located. Along a “restaurant row” pair of streets replete with small restaurants. This the smallest, its principal distinction. At lunch, nine other customers and the place was almost full. Not for dinner. Wash up before you get there.

FOOD

Hearty food with numerous choices. Stuffed cabbage, slow cooked lamb and pork. Simple, but pleasant desserts. Good for a quick lunch, probably not a leisurely dinner.

SERVICE

One server. Friendly. She hardly has to do more than stretch her arms to reach every table.

PRICE

Low prices, 18€ for two plates at lunch.

(1x) (2010)

Relais de l’Entrecote (Le)

20, rue Saint-Benoit (6)
Tel: 01-45-49-16-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The 6th Arr. branch of a mini chain, recently expanded to Lexington Avenue. No menu. Attractive, bistro-like décor. Probably less classic than the Rue Marbeuf original. No reservations. Good meal, if low on originality.

FOOD

Salad, frites, sliced steak with (too much) butter and herb sauce. Choice of desserts. Inexpensive house wines. And a line out the door – every day, every meal.

SERVICE

Women in black and white uniforms bring the food. Only choice is how you like your steak and what you want for dessert. They do the job and add to the idiosyncratic format.

PRICE

One price, 24.50€. (On Lexington Avenue, the same price in dollars!).

(1x) (2009)

Relais Louix XIII

8, rue des Grands Augustins (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-75-96

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Left Bank. Small. Two levels. Old timbered building. Enjoyable food, but not a full Michelin 2-star experience.

FOOD

Very good.

SERVICE

Good. Appropriate to a 2-star.

PRICE

Very high, a la carte, a less pricey formula lunch.

(1x) (2009)

Restaurant du Petit St. Benoit

4, rue St. Benoit (6)
Tel: 01-42-60-27-92

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In business since 1901 and probably not much changed. Never ambitious in décor, menu or execution, but unerringly reliable, predictable, dependable. Long, narrow room. Crowded. Small tables. Little effort at finesse, exactly the source of its charm. Hearty, unfussy, traditional bistro menu, with blackboard additions. Perfect for lunch. In the heart of St. Germain

FOOD

Hot, hearty, traditional and plain, but quite good for what it is. (I have been eating at Petit Benoit for 40 years, but never dinner. There are just too many better choices, but sometimes all you want is lunch.)

SERVICE

Also part of the charm; rough, friendly, professional and to the point. Orders written on the paper table cloth. No computers here (and no credit cards).

PRICE

Two starters (endive salad, egg mayonse; two roast pork specials with squash and mashed purple potatoes; water, two glasses of wine, one pear in wine: 50€)

(2x) (2012 – 2013)

Rotisserie d’en Face (La)

2, rue Christine (6)
Tel: 01-43-26-40-98

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

For 20 years this was 2-star Jacques Cagna’s “second” restaurant, one of what became several. In August Cagna closed his restaurant, sold the building and retired. His empire is now La Rotisserie d’en Face. Rotisserie roasted chicken with mashed potatoes is a specialty, but the offerings are much broader. It isn’t suggested that the famous chef is now in the kitchen, although it is said he stops in.

It is medium sized on an ancient Left Bank street just off the quai. The space has been recently redone. It is comfortable and modern, but restrained and in good taste. The surroundings are well done and the staff both professional and solicitous.

The mystery is in the guests. No longer very many, at least on a late March Tuesday night.

It surely isn’t explained by the food, service, surroundings or prices, all of which were favorable and in good balance. At one time, this was a popular spot for Americans – too popular. Fewer Americans are traveling to France; surely fewer to Rotisserie d’en Face. They are missing an enjoyable experience, if not an exciting one.

FOOD

Foie gras, smoked salmon, braised pork shoulder, rotisserie chicken. Of course, molten chocolate cake and tartelette Tatin. Similar sautés and hot and cold starters from a longish menu including six fish choices. What we ate was well prepared.

SERVICE

Highly professional. Bilingual. Helpful without a hint of condescension.

PRICE

A la carte. Entrees 10€ – 20€. Plates in the mid-20’s. Desserts 10€ +/-. With wine from a good list, water and coffee, 178€ for two.

(1x) (2010)

Select (Le)

99, boulevard du Montparnasse (6)
Tel: 01-45-48-38-24

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Picasso and the other great artists of the early 20th Century are no longer coming to Le Select, the brasserie in Montparnasse – or to Le Dome or La Coupole across the boulevard, or to La Rotunde next door. A few metro stops and a world away from St. Germain, Montparnasse is now trendy and urban-renewed, the great cafés of history mostly chain-owed and touristy – but they are a part of Left Bank history and worth a lunch if touring the Cimetiere de Montparnasse.

FOOD

Great salads. Bargain formula. Don’t come for the cuisine, come for the scene.

SERVICE

Old school. Busy. Gruff, but friendly

PRICE

Low prices appropriate to the limited menu.

(1x) (2010)

Semilla

54, rue de Seine (6)
Tel: 01-43-54-34-50

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Same owner as La Fish Boissonnerie across the street. Totally open kitchen in modern, nicely designed, causal space. At lunch on a busy Saturday, every seat taken for a pleasant if not memorable meal, an alternative to Fish at an equivalent level.


A second try, this time a dinner. A disappointment. Very crowded. Not comfortable. Many Americans. High prices. Diverse menu, but without finesse to the point of discomfort. Sole not boned; lamb shoulder for two not portioned.

The room is good sized, but conditions are crowded and tight. Tables are small. Two grilled soles and a lamb shoulder for two served uncarved with just a spoon from a hot-from-the-oven jus-filled sauté pan just doesn’t work. No plate for fish bones. No room for extra plates. No utensils or room to cut the shared lamb. Traditional French tableside service would be out of place. And, of course, the servers could not spare the time even if they possessed the skill to bone a sole or carve a lamb shoulder. Obviously no side tables – so it is left to the diner – at 35€ for the sole and 75€ (for two) for the lamb.

A menu oblivious to the comfort of the diner. Messy and uncomfortable conditions at high prices, reflecting a careless attitude and flawed concept.

FOOD

At lunch, limited choice of well prepared, but relatively simple dishes. On the two course 23€ formula, one first course of three plates centered around rich cauliflower soup, choice of dorade with fennel or lamb shoulder with roasted carrots. Dessert or cheese, 8 – 10€ extra. Reasonable wines by the glass, carafe or bottle.


At dinner, more complexity, higher prices.

SERVICE

Taking a broad view of “service”, there is a more fundamental problem, which is a disconnect between the menu and the “style” of the restaurant, including its physical limitations.

PRICE

For the neighborhood, low prices for solid food at lunch. A reversal at dinner, including very few lower priced wines.

(2x) (2012-2013)

Sensing (Le)

19, rue Brea (6)
Tel:  01-43-27-08-80


Rebranded: Now Guy Martin Italia

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Very modern. Cold. Was a tough table, but overall experience not memorable. (Guy Martin, Grand Vefour – the 3-star name chef).

FOOD

Quite elegant, reflective of 3-star pedigree.

SERVICE

Professional, but without warmth.

PRICE

Very high.

(1x) (2009)

Taokan

8, rue du Sabot (6)
Tel:  01-42-84-18-36

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Most foreign visitors (Americans like us, at least) come to Paris for French food. Yet like in New York, Chinese food, sushi, pizza and pasta, and now even hamburgers are becoming ubiquitous. The absence of Chinese restaurants in this Diary reflects our taste, not the range of choice.

French friends introduced us to this contemporary, high-style space, deceptively large, decorated with a Zen- like sparseness. Nothing French about the Chinese food, except an aspiration of finesse in menu, food and service not typical of Chinese restaurants at home. A welcome break. (A second branch in the 1st)

FOOD

Dim sum, composed menus, steamed fish. Food on the lighter side. Fried options lightly fried. Good food. Nice change, if not equal to the best Chinese food in New York.

SERVICE

Black-clad servers. Some polish, some mix-ups.

PRICE

No bargains. This is not Chinese take-out. Spring roll, rice and dim sum assortment menu, 22€. A regular French wine list.

(4x) (2013-2019)

Timbre (Le)

3, rue Sainte-Beuve (6)
Tel: 01-45-49-10-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

For the most part Le Timbre is famous for its size – as in postage stamp. It is small, with an open kitchen the size of a closet. One (English) chef, a server and a dishwasher. Limited formula menu. Facing tables lined up against each wall. 26€ for lunch with a handful of supplements. A good meal and a nice time. That said, if not for the unusual space, it would probably be less talked about. Of course, it is always the package, and this is a nice one.


A 2014 ownership change. These bets off.

FOOD

Several choices per course, all carefully prepped and brought to the table with surprising speed – although I have heard it is not always that way.

SERVICE

Efficient and friendly, including the chef who hands it over when ready.

PRICE

A good meal for a reasonable cost.

(1x) (2010)