7th Arrondissement

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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)

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.

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)

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”)

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)

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)

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)

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 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)

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”

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)

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 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)

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)

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)

Cinq Mars

51, rue de Verneuil (7)
Tel: 01-45-44-69-13

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Some rustic charm. Good Left Bank location. Otherwise forgettable. Easily duplicated in innumerable similar spots in the neighborhood, often at lower prices.

FOOD

No better than fair.

SERVICE

Friendly, but amateurish.

PRICE

At Saturday lunch, at least, a la carte only. Expensive for what it is.

(1x) (2009)

Climats (Les)

41, rue de lille (7)
Tel: 01-58-62-10-08

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I’ve read that Les Climats is housed in a former dormitory for unmarried post office employees. It has been a different restaurant since the advent of this Diary, and evidently several other restaurants before that.

The space is large and elegant, with a separate bar area, an outdoor garden and a bright garden room, plus a large dining room. The crowd at a recent lunch would have filled innumerable other nearby spots, but the space is too large for its own good. It needs a larger crowd to infuse it with the energy it requires.

It will be worth checking in again at dinner, a la carte or a 75€ six course tasting menu. Only Burgundy wines are served – many by the glass.


Positive changes in management, kitchen and service. The public seems to have responded.

FOOD

Two choices for each of three courses at lunch. Inventive, complex, good to look at and carefully prepared. Mushrooms with soft poached egg or octopus salad over burrata and sautéed eggplant, pheasant with brussel sprouts or a large portion of poached merlu, each with sauce and puree of parsnips. Very nice food in comfortable surroundings.


New chef, but food still outstanding.

SERVICE

Our waiter tried hard and meant well, but with a slight case of attitude. By observation, service, at lunch at least, might suffer from too little business (the restaurant has only been open since April) and a consequent reluctance to notch up service to match the food and wines.


Now, service and greeting couldn’t be better.

PRICE

36€/45€ lunch, plus a la carte, with two glasses of wine, water and coffee, 107€ for two.

At dinner, 75€ tasting, plus a la carte. The tasting menu appears to be the way to go.

Also a separate bar area with tapas-type menu.

(2x) (2013-2014)

Clos des Gourmets (Le)

16, avenue Rapp (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-75-61

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In the upscale Alma neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower. Small, warm room. Modern cooking. Attentive, professional service. On a weekend night, every seat booked, mostly middle-aged groups, mostly locals. Not cool. Just what we hoped for.

FOOD

Modern dishes or modern takes on traditional dishes. Formula – sort of. Numerous supplements. Good food, instantly comfortable and likable ambiance.

SERVICE

Attentive and professional.

PRICE

The menu – including at dinner – 35€ with an average supplement of 10€ each. Relatively expensive wines, but a lovely meal, fairly priced.

(1X) (2011)

Clover

5, rue Perronet (7)
Tel :  01-75-50-00-05

 

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Unquestionably, New York has great food.  Boston too (although I know it less well).  But the food in Paris is different, as is the entire eating-out experience across the price spectrum.

Clover is a good example.  It is a new restaurant, the third opened under the Jean-Francois Piège name.  He is a Michelin 2-Star chef and a hot property.  At Clover, not surprisingly, he is nowhere in sight, except on the PR blogs.  The restaurant is in the supremely capable hands of a 10 year Asian protégé, with help from two waitresses, a (Bangladeshi?) dishwasher, and two sous chefs.  Not a Frenchman in the kitchen, but what a kitchen!

First the space:  a narrow storefront, no more than 10’ wide.  Deep enough for 10 closely spaced tables for 2 along one wall, opposite glass fronted refrigerators holding fresh produce.  In the back, an “open kitchen”, not one where you see the top of the cooks’ heads, but not the mess on the floor.  This kitchen is open – in the room, with no separation, installed galley-fashion stretching the length of the space, with no dividers.

In New York/Boston, 20 seats and 30 covers at a multi-course dinner with no choice would be a financial non-starter.  It seems to work in Paris.

FOOD

A fixed menu.  No choice except for the main course.  On our night, filet of merlan or ris de veau, quinoa crackers with eggplant; cured bacon with foie gras; asparagus with hollandaise; scallop in shell cooked on a burning hot rock; the chosen main course, followed by strawberries with rhubarb ice cream and meringue, and a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie.

Every dish inventive and beautifully executed, but be prepared for a menu replete with unfamiliar ingredients.

SERVICE

Two helpful, bilingual waitresses handle the 20 or so guests with ease.  If I was to make one complaint, it is that the food emerges too quickly.  (Increasingly in Paris restaurants, no lingering over aperitifs.  Guests are seated.  Menus are immediately handed out.  Orders expected to be taken 2-3 minutes later.  Food arrives promptly.)

PRICE

58€ menu at dinner.  A bargain.  Fairly priced wines from a limited list.  With wine and 2 aperitifs, water and coffee, 182€.  And at the moment, among the hottest tables in Paris.

At lunch two menus, 30€ and 42€.

(2x) (2015)

Divellec

18, rue Fabert (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-91-96

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This old, established fish restaurant facing the Esplanade in the 7th has just been reopened by the chef/owner of Hexagone (see 16th Arr.).

It had been closed for several years following the retirement of its previous owner/chef, M. Divellec. Now expanded into what was an adjacent boutique and exquisitely redone, it remains a high-priced, serious restaurant, but no longer fussy, unfriendly and self-important, what I recall from several visits to the original years ago and before this Diary. But, like all fish specialists in Paris (Ecailler may be a rare exception, see 11th Arr. or Helen at lunch, see 8th Arr.), the a la carte menu offered at lunch and dinner is very expensive.

FOOD

Unfortunately as applies to a broad review, our meal was a special 49€ weekend brunch, a stand-out bargain compared to the normal menu, but not sufficient for a definitive opinion.

The brunch itself was plentiful, unique and indicative of the care, plating and artful execution which also distinguishes the a la carte menu, as it also does the lunch menu at Hexagone.

Fresh juice, a basket of warm breakfast pastries with two types of butter and jams and coffee, then a beautiful plate of thinly sliced and dressed fish crudo and a half bagel with herbed French cream cheese, avocado and seared tuna, along with a boiled egg to which a sauce had been added. For dessert, a bowl of sliced strawberries with strawberry sherbet served with a pastry shortbread topped with fraises du bois. 49€ all in!


At a follow up dinner a few months later, all of the good things remain, but as predicted, at very high prices. The a la carte dinner menu offers a broad range of enticing entrees. Main courses consist of prepared dishes and whole fish sold by the kilo, for simple preparation. Plus a 282€ tasting menu and various caviar-themed menus, even more expensive.

But also a 90€ “Discovery Menu”. No choice and delicious. Hard to call it a bargain except relatively, and relatively it was, and wonderful.

A beautiful plate of paper thin slices of fish crudo, followed by tuna pastilla, almost raw tuna seasoned with middle eastern spices and wrapped in a single sheet of phyllo, the entire thick disk browned on a plancha. This was followed by John Dory fillets with tiny clams over Jerusalem artichokes in a light foam. For dessert, oranges with chestnut sorbet. A beautiful meal with a 70€ wine happily chosen by the sommelier from a generally much more expensive list. It was a top meal and a top notch experience.

SERVICE

Formal, friendly without a lot of small talk.  Bilingual.

PRICE

The brunch is a virtual giveaway.  The offered a la carte menu tells a different story.  Three courses +/- 125€, plus drinks.

(2x) (2017-2018)

D’Chez Eux

2, avenue de Lowendall (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-52-55

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Classic, long established bistro. Warm greeting. Regular clientele.


(Rumor that ownership has changed)

FOOD

Good. Meats. Not truly memorable, but always reliable. Hors d’oeuvres and dessert carts.

SERVICE

Old school. Professional. Welcoming.

PRICE

Medium/high

(3X) (2009-2010)

Fables de la Fontaine (Les)

131, rue Saint Dominique (7)
Tel: 01-44-18-37-55

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Small, crowded. Limited blackboard menu. Mostly fish. Less memorable than advertised. Christian Constant pedigree, now independently owned. Not as good as its reputation or self-importance.

FOOD

Good, not great; not up to the hype.

SERVICE

Proficient.

PRICE

High/formula

(1x) (2009)

Ferme St-Simon (La)

6, rue de St-Simon (7)
Tel: 01-45-48-35-74

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Traditional; what some would call old- fashioned in a formal way. Little ambiance, but comfortable. Not required, but a tie would not be out of place. Worth a try. Mostly French.

FOOD

Large a-la-carte plus daily fixed price limited menu. Ambitious dishes. Execution good, not great.

SERVICE

Professional

PRICE

Fixed price 36€, moderate for the style

(1X) (2010)


Restaurant closed. Former space now Gaya, the second restaurant of 3 Star chef Gagnaire, which was nearby on Rue du Bac.

Florimond (Le)

19, avenue de La Motte-Picquet (7)
Tel: 01-45-55-40-38

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Neighborhood location and clientele. Modest ambition. Small. Cozy. Warm. No pretense.

FOOD

Quite good with some unusual dishes cooked with care.

SERVICE

Accommodating.

PRICE

Low/formula

(1x) (2009)

Fontaine de Mars (Le)

129, rue Saint Dominique (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-46-44

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Great look. Warm welcome. Good food, but on one Sunday night, few French in sight. Still, a good Sunday choice. Very popular. Always busy. Obama’s new favorite. Do not sit upstairs.


A recent Saturday night showed a full house, mostly French. Good food, careful service and new blackboard specials.

FOOD

Quite good. Limited menu plus specials and plats du jour.

SERVICE

Professional, but can be overburdened. Noticeably well- managed.

PRICE

Medium


Re-reading my early review of Fontaine de Mars, subsequently tweaked once or twice, it does not do the restaurant justice.

This is not exciting food, but it is very good food, at a restaurant we have returned to again and again since the beginning of the Diary. It is very well managed, consistent, dependable and increasingly French, notwithstanding the Obama’s date night and the Americans who followed. A recent dinner on a Sunday night was largely French, the restaurant relatively full, the food good and the portions large, with several less predictable dishes. It is the perfect restaurant to take visiting American friends. It looks (and is) very French, and though it rarely surprises, so does it rarely disappoint.

(8x) (2012-2016)

Garance

34, rue Saint Dominique (7)
Tel:  01-45-55-27-56

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Opened in 2012 by a former chef from 3- star Arpege. This is a serious, high-end, modern a la carte luxury restaurant. Small. Two levels. Kitchen on street level with a few seats at the pass to watch the action at lunch. Dining room upstairs. Eight or so tables in main room, plus second room used some nights for private parties.

Non-traditional, but readily recognizable food offered from compact menu, plus well priced five course “surprise” tasting menu. Service takes second place to food. Friendly and helpful, but casual given the price level and food quality. An outstanding meal.

This is “modern” food, but very good. Small size allows for real conversation.

FOOD

A la carte. Three choices in each category. 88€ “surprise” menu about the same price as two courses: asparagus with Spanish ham with sliced and shaved black truffles, sautéed scallops, lobster tail, duck breast, roasted pineapple. Generous tasting portions. Original preparations, without obscuring the fine core ingredients. Each course beautifully arranged and decorated, although a certain sameness to the basic vertical look of plates (asparagus, lobster tail, thick-sliced duck breast, etc.) An observation, not a criticism.

Open kitchen at entry shows small, but disciplined four person brigade still prepping for the next day when we left after 11.

SERVICE

Warm and friendly. Bilingual. Casual in (welcome) contrast to the more formal atmosphere. Runners carry trays of plated food up the stairs; waiters serve.

PRICE

Untested bargain formula at lunch at 34€. A la carte dinner, plus 88€ tasting menu. Wines by the glass plus large list. Open wine storage suggests an additional reserve list. A la carte entrees 24€±, plats 42€±.

(4x) (2014-2016)

Gorille Blanc (Le)/Botanistes (Les)

11 bis, rue Chomel (7)
Tel: 01-45-49-04-54

Botanistes (Les)
(New name as of 4/10)

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Quiet. Civilized. Small. Pleasant. Welcoming. Very comfortable, without luxury. A favorite. Near Bon Marche.


Les Botanistes is, sadly, the poster child for this personal restaurant diary and why long lead time restaurant guidebooks do not work.

In less than four years this otherwise small, charming, well located Left Bank restaurant has had three owners, two chefs and two names. Change is not your friend, in this case at least.

Now owned by a couple. He cooks, she serves. Some of the dishes are quite good (duck pate, warm raspberry dessert), others acceptable, but unoriginal and uninspired. The pate, served without garnish or cornichons, may be a metaphor for what the restaurant has become: no energy, no spirit.


Stop the presses. Le Gorille Blanc lives – but now in the 4th, in the Marais. (See the 4th).


A long-postponed revisit reveals the same “new” owners, but a new chef (husband) and new staff (wife, with waiter), plus a new attitude.

Same small, charming, inviting room. Same great location (almost next door to Bon Marche). Now an a la carte menu; six entrees, six plats plus dessert. No complex cooking, but honest, fresh and appealing, except without a formula prix fixe, more expensive than it should be and more expensive (by alot) than any number of comparable restaurants which offer better value. Still, a welcome return.

FOOD

Good, but food may not be the main draw. Less appealing than before the change.

SERVICE

Informal. Attentive

PRICE

Low/formula lunch.

Prices have crept up, but still reasonable. Formula lunch still offered. It might be the meal to try. Too bad. This is a potential gem waiting to be re- polished.

(2009)


(2010)


(10x) (2011 – 2014)

L’Ami Jean (Chez)

27, rue Malar (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-86-89

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Fabulous. Noisy. Busy. Non-descript exterior opens to busy, crowded, high- energy bistro with semi-open kitchen and ever-present chef. Not a locale for an intimate evening.


Showing its popularity. Prices creeping up. Tables turn too quickly. Go with a group.


There has been an announced change. Supposedly, the chef decided to slow down. Fewer tables (hard to notice; maybe fewer bookings), less turnover and fewer covers; an emphasis on tasting menus (at dinner 75€ for multiple courses, at lunch 42€ and 52€), plus a shorter a la carte menu. Table cloths. Decidedly less noise, except from the kitchen. Still the source of great fun, frantic activity and a stream of large casseroles and luxury meats, punctuated by shouts from the chef. In all, it is a better experience than before.

FOOD

Excellent. Hearty. Never delicate. Southwestern tilt.


Soups, charcuterie Basque ham, veal chop, pintade, beef, some fish. Hearty. Large portions. Roasts. Casseroles with vegetables. Large portions from serious kitchen, all plated carefully or at tableside without frills.

SERVICE

Fast, maybe rushed, but competent. Very friendly.


Sadly, turnover has become the model. Uncomfortably hectic on a weekend night.


What hasn’t changed is the frantic atmosphere. Small, always full. Experienced, long serving waiters run, slide, shout, gesture. They know what they are doing, are having almost rollicking fun at it and make it fun for the customer. If this looks, feels and sounds like a Basque soccer bar with a focused, serious luxury kitchen, they play their parts.

PRICE

Medium/high


Prices were always high. If you are prepared to spend 75€ plus wines (offered in a high but wide range, with only a few below 50€), it is a great value. A la carte with a 50€ St. Joseph, 180€ for two.

(6x) (2010-2012)


As evidenced from three write-ups of 8 meals in the early years of this guide, the last in 2012, L’Ami Jean was once one of our favorites. It changed and we changed. In the interim it changed again. We returned to a jumble of contradictions.

The energy of a coiled spring inspired by the highly visible chef, who continues to shout impatiently from the kitchen, now renovated and with a slim window to the dining room removed to make an open wall, allowing the energy and theater to spill out into the tight, uncomfortable dining room. There is no real renovation except a possible rearrangement of tables. Maybe they have squeezed in more seats, however challenging that must have been. Now, chairs and tables must be lifted and moved to allow access to the banquette along one unbroken wall. Don’t try for the bathroom!

Service is chaotic if deliberately so, surely part of the style of the house. The menu is smaller and shorter, the prices higher, a la carte with a multi-course tasting menu. The food is very good, although our entrees and principal courses were all insufficiently hot. Maybe a kitchen issue, maybe service. Each of the four servers who work the room covered our table, a system which must work for them, less so for us. All work with intensity, speed and gruff manner in French and English. Lucky for that, because half the tables (at least) are non-French, a big change from earlier visits.

Glad we returned, but a reinforcement of why we gave up.

Forget a party of two. A table of four would not overcome, but would help push back against the many negative threads of what we used to admire as the restaurant’s unique energy. Simply said, the food is good, but the restaurant is not remotely comfortable (which is different from its level of luxury. This guide is largely composed of restaurants where the physical ambiance is basic, but not so uncomfortable and cramped that it detracts from the food.)

L’Ami Jean is simply not a relaxed place to dine. And the food is simply not so good or the prices so low that we can look past it.

(1x) (2017)

Oeillade (L’)

Affable (L’)
10, rue de Saint Simon (7)
Tel: 01-42-22-01-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

No ambiance. Dated décor. On Rue St. Simon in the 7th, two doors from Hotel Duc de St. Simon. An abandoned restaurant? No, part-time, lunch-only with an intriguing blackboard menu posted outside. Eccentric, but appealing.

Sadly, now closed. In its place a new “bistro”, so far untested. A real loss.

I was disappointed, but not surprised to see L’Oeillade close. I don’t know how long it was there, but it was surely both idiosyncratic and uneconomic, with erratic opening hours and not much evidence of clients, notwithstanding what I found to be large portions of very good home-style food.


In its place, following a total physical redo, is L’Affable, a more conventional, but surprisingly pleasant successor. Based on a Tuesday, lunch with a nearly full house, it is a worthy addition to the neighborhood.

FOOD

More like home cooking than any Paris restaurant we know. One chef, one waitress, no helpers. Lunch only, Tuesday – Friday.


At lunch, a short a la carte menu plus a two plat (entrée and plat, or plat and dessert) formula for 26€. Chicken liver pate (fair) and lamb shoulder pastilla (quite good).

SERVICE

A charming, helpful, proud waitress/owner.


Without great charm, but more than competent and professional.

PRICE

A la carte. Immense portions. Moderate prices.

(2x) (2010-2012)


Very reasonable, with good bread, nice linens and good local crowd.

(1x) (2012)

Oudino

17, rue Oudinot (7)
Tel:  01-45-66-05-09

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In every way pleasant and a notable value, but not memorable in décor (perfectly nice Art Deco in style, not original), service (manager/bartender, one workman-like Asian waitress) or food.

In a quiet, out of the way residential part of the 7th. Medium-sized. On the night we were there, few clients. More energy would have helped. We enjoyed it, but not enough to return.

FOOD

Diverse, surprisingly extensive menu (cold tomato and pepper soup, salmon with avocado, slow-cooked lamb reheated in phyllo, tuna steak, refreshing rhubarb with fraises. Some refined attempts (they like food rings in this kitchen).

SERVICE

Like the restaurant, acceptable, but without style or engagement.

PRICE

For Paris and a restaurant with actual cooks in the kitchen, very low a la carte. Entrees: 8 – 12€. Plats under 20€. House wines by the pitcher, plus a longer list. Formula lunch: 19€.

(1x) (2011)

Perron (Le)

6, rue Perronet (7)
Tel: 01-45-44-71-51

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Recommended by a neighborhood antique dealer as a canteen for neighborhood antique dealers. Low key Italian restaurant on an obscure one block street, just behind Blvd. St. Germain. Sometimes, one gets a craving for pasta. Everyone is having a great time, including the waiters. A real chef in the kitchen. Good, not great food. Nice place. Nice welcome. Good change.

FOOD

Pastas, meats and fish. All freshly prepared if not inventive.


Reportedly, white truffles in season at fair prices.

SERVICE

Service – and everything else – with a smile, even laughs.

PRICE

A la carte. Reasonable. 110€ for two with a bottle of wine.

(1x) (2012)

Petit Bordelais (Le)

22, rue Surcouf (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-46-93

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A paradox: A restaurant where the food is better than the restaurant and where the chef outshines in warmth, welcome and service his entire service staff put together, who are, in a word, hapless.

On a narrow Left Bank street of mostly modest restaurants. What is put on the table, and the ambition and evident experience of the chef stands out – despite the dreary and faded décor.

The chef works the room, then disappears to cook and plate the food, then reappears to serve it, then reappears again to say goodbye. The house is full- mostly French couples and groups of all ages.

How can this coexist with a staff so leaderless, sullen, graceless and inept?’

It is a reminder that good restaurants do not just get that way. It is difficult to get all of the elements in place, then to keep them in place. Here, so much is right, but not everything.

FOOD

The food is quite good, and very good value. Most people seem to order the five course menu, preceded by gougeres and mackerel with mustard cream. Foie gras in cider jelly, scallops with truffles, sautéed lamb with eggplant roulade, cheese and desert. 56€, or 73€ with paired wines. A bargain.

SERVICE

What more to say? No one seems to be in charge of the front. Not exactly unfriendly, but no one with personality (or training, experience, supervisory skill or particular purpose). And they looked the part, including drab uniforms of untucked shirts. It was completely unfathomable, given how proud and solicitous the chef. Yet happy French fill every seat on a busy Friday night.

PRICE

Extremely reasonable. Menu 56€, 73€ with wine. A la carte entrees 15 – 20€, plats 25€. Small wine list with low to medium prices.

(1x) (2013)

Philippe Excoffier

18, rue de L’Exposition (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-78-08

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A new discovery. Just off the Rue St. Dominique, an area already heavy with good, smaller restaurants. On a small one block street, the former chef (11 years) of the American Embassy purchased an existing restaurant, at first left the name and changed everything else. Now the name too. Refined without a hint of stuffiness, it offers a tightly edited menu of carefully prepared, cooked to order plates. A menu exciting to read. Food good to look at and to taste.


Some important changes. In place of a la carte, now 37€ Formula.

According to the chef, quality untouched, but some of the a la carte luxury ingredients gone. And on a Thursday night, every table full.

A slightly larger staff to handle more business, but this remains a small, personal restaurant.

FOOD

Refined. Beautifully plated. Fish, scallops, veal shoulder, chicken with morels, lamb shank. Desserts: poached pear, caramel soufflé. Entrees: lobster stuffed ravioli, crabmeat. Limited additional plats du jour, but the menu offers plenty of choice. Desserts a weak spot.

SERVICE

The chef and his wife are ubiquitous and attentive hosts, assisted by a small staff offering fine, personalized, but informal service.

PRICE

A la carte, medium to high. Four people with wine, 220€ – 335€. Not a 34€ menu, but at its own level, a great value. 29€ menu at lunch.


Now 37€ for three courses. Lunch 21€.

(6x) (2011-2014)

Récamier (Le)

4 Rue Récamier (7)
Tel:  01-45-48-86-58

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

One of the unique dining opportunities widely available in Paris is eating outside.  Since an indoor smoking ban was instituted many years ago, every café and bar has installed some form of outdoor seating supplemented in season by portable heaters.  Some “outdoor seats” crowd the sidewalks and seem almost on the narrow, busy street, but others are genuine and garden-like.  Le Récamier is one of these, an unlikely alcove in a busy neighborhood in the 7th, two blocks from the Bon Marche department store and food hall along a pedestrian street leading to a small, gated park.  It is civilized, popular and, on a spring day, very welcoming.

FOOD

And it is not only the location.  The food is very good, long focused on (but not limited to) soufflés, savory main courses and sweet dessert versions.

We shared a wonderful deconstructed Caesar salad with shrimp, followed by Roquefort soufflé with Roquefort sauce to pour inside, and a large portion of fresh salmon tartare.  For dessert we shared a lovely raspberry tart.  Perfect lunch for a hot day.

SERVICE

Competent, although with a full outdoor house (and a near-empty interior) on one of the warmest days of spring, they were busy – too busy for anything resembling attentive.

PRICES

For two, with water, two glasses of wine, shared entrée and dessert, 104€.

(1x) (2018)

 

Photo from lerecamier.com

Restaurant David Toutain

29, rue Surcouf (7)
Tel: 01-45-50-11-10

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

With many exceptions, this Diary skews its restaurant selections toward traditional and classic versus new and modern. If asked, I respond without further thought: I do not enjoy “tweezer” food or otherwise over-intellectualized dishes and combinations. Yet sometimes (Astrance, see 16th), if done exceptionally well, such menus can at once astonish and please. For sure, Restaurant David Toutain is such an exception.

A small, sparsely decorated space in a restaurant–heavy short block in a restaurant–heavy section of the 7th near the Invalides, 25 or so seats on 2 levels, plus an adjacent small event space accessed separately seating up to 18.

No choice, only wine pairings or not. The dishes keep coming, 12 or more, heavy on vegetable combinations, most 2-3 bites. After 2½ hours some lag at the end as the room begins to empty, but never a lag in the mystery of the preparation or the inventiveness of the ingredient combinations.

FOOD

We should have taken notes, or like everyone else, joined in the rudeness of picture-taking. Yet even with pictures, which would be good to capture the beautifully designed plates and bowls and the detail and care of the plating, full recall would be difficult. Beets, white and green asparagus, smoked eel, egg, cod, duck breast, strawberries and chocolate dominated eight of the dishes, but to mention a primary ingredient doesn’t begin to do justice to the beauty of the preparation or the remarkable tastes. Even the breads (focaccia, brioche roll, peasant loaf) were paired with specific dishes.

SERVICE

In the main dining room, 22 guests and 7 servers and runners; approachable, young, bilingual, knowledgeable about what was being offered.

PRICES

Simple: 110€, the only choice available for dinner. With wines, 40€ more. With “prestige” wines, 180€. At lunch, smaller meals available, but not many seats available. For the result and the effort which went into it, a bargain.

(1x) (2017)

Restaurant ES

91, rue de Grenelle (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-25-74

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

By far, the discovery of a month-long stay in Paris in late 2014. I had failed twice before in trying to book ES for dinner. Both times, its 20 places were already full by the time of my call. Yet at a pre- Christmas lunch, we were two guests of only four.

ES is barely recognizable as a restaurant in walking by. No sign. No view inside. Only a small card in the window listing the lunch options, 42€, 55€ or 80€. No menu because there is no menu. Chef’s choice.

I know from the avalanche of favorable reviews the chef is a young Japanese whose primary training was at 3-Star Astrance (See 16th).

The food is French, but the sensibility is Japanese, reflected in the “hidden” location, the delicacy of the plating, the incredible attention to detail and the Zen- like, undecorated, all-white space. Open less than 18 months, it already has a Michelin star. The food and experience merit more, although you pay for the experience.

FOOD

The mid-price lunch menu began with cream of artichoke soup. The entrée was two beautiful, delicious scallops, followed by cod followed by pork, followed by dessert followed by delicate pastries. Every course a marvel of taste and presentation.

SERVICE

The tri-lingual French waiter – English/French/ Japanese – was kind, proper, professional and informative. Of course, he and his assistant served only 4 guests!

PRICE

Very high – and worth it. The wine list was impressive, but devoid of less expensive options. The 5 wines by the glass offered were very fine, but in the range of 18€!

(2x) (2014)

Restaurant Pottoka

4, rue De L’Exopsition (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-88-38

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This relatively new French-Basque restaurant has received major publicity and uniformly strong reviews. At the 8:00 p.m. seating (there is also 9:30 – 9:45) every seat taken with mostly middle-aged, serious-looking French. The chef comes with a pedigree tracing to the nearby Les Fables de la Fontaine.

As far as the food goes, the buzz is justified, but Pottoka doesn’t fully come together for my taste, despite exceptional plats.

The room is small, modern and narrow; a few seats at a bar, high tables for two or four mixed with small tables for two. It isn’t comfortable. The great food comes too quickly. An 8:00 p.m. table has us back on the street close to 9:30 p.m. – after 3 courses. The combination of tight conditions and excessively quick service combines to explain the two service business model, but does not add up to gracious dining for me.

FOOD

Very good. A 35€ menu, plus a la carte specials, plus a tapas menu.

We began with two a la carte tapas, basque charcuterie – enough for 3, and wonderful sautéed calamari. Our a la carte plats were wild striped bass in a white truffle foam over slow cooked chopped leeks. Outstanding. We shared a freshly assembled chocolate dessert with passion fruit sherbet. Sophisticated.

SERVICE

Young. Bilingual. Helpful, but no space for anything like traditional service.

PRICE

With 32€ wine, 142€. Also 3 courses for 35€. 22€ at lunch. A la carte bass 33€, tapas 19€.

(1x) (2014)

Sylvestre

79 Rue Saint-Dominique (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-79-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a small, 2 Michelin star restaurant above and part of Thoumieux, what used to be the breakfast room for the adjacent hotel.  Until six months ago, it was called Jean-Francois Piege.  That chef left (see Le Grand Restaurant, 8th), to be replaced by Sylvestre Wahid, an established star from Ducasse, who cooks for Sylvestre’s 24 seats and oversees the much larger Thoumieux downstairs.  This is elegant, inventive, hand-crafted food, with wine choices to match.

Small, elegant, intimate space, but still relaxed.  Several formality notches down from Astrance or Le Grand Restaurant, but otherwise comparable, and every bit as worthy.

FOOD

Three menus or very high priced a la carte, or select choices from the menus.  A meat and vegetable menu, a seafood menu and a larger tasting menu.

We tried the first:  Four exquisite hors d’oeuvres, a taste of asparagus bouillon, asparagus with morilles in an appropriately modest pastry, fresh peas and early spring vegetables in a pea flavored foam, a tasting of tiny baby roast lamb with eggplant and potatoes, cheese selected from a “cheese bar” with jellies and breads, a yuzu sherbet to prepare for the multi-course dessert and green tea.  The dessert – strawberries in five versions – was irresistible, leaving (almost) no room for the coulis with warm chocolate sauce which concludes the meal.  The individual preparations surely number twenty or so, but not twenty courses.

SERVICE

Hardworking.  Gracious.  Helpful.  Bilingual.

PRICE

Menus 155€ (ours), 175€ or 295€.  Not cheap, but a bargain.  A range of wines, many under 100€.  Ours 110€.

(1x) (2016)

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Table D’Aki (La)

49, rue Vaneau (7)
Tel: 01-45-44-43-48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Move over Le Timbre (see 6th). La Table D’Aki makes Le Timbre seem large. Eight tables for two along two facing banquettes, with an open kitchen in the back. In total about the size of a Boston fashionista’s suburban closet. Literally. One chef (Aki). One waitress. Period. Open one year, Aki was for many years a fish chef at 3-star L’Ambroisie. He is not making that kind of food here, but the very limited a la carte menu is refined and subtle. The experience is good and the food top notch.

FOOD

Two entrée choices (scallops cooked one of two ways, sautéed sole in a rich brown sauce or fish with vegetables in a rich yellow sauce), an ethereal baked apple.

SERVICE

Hardly service. She checks A or B, tells the chef, prepares the checks and opens the wine. Two steps from kitchen to table to deliver food.

PRICE

Prices are high. Entrées 12€. A la carte plat 26€ or 39. Dessert 8€. A splurge, but good story telling thrown in.

(1x) (2012)

Tan Dinh

60, rue Verneuil (7)
Tel: 01-45-44-04-84

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

On Rue Verneuil for thirty years. A nondescript, even scruffy exterior. Inside, a slightly dated Oriental décor. Could be Hong Kong, but of course, it is Vietnamese with authentic, serious, even renowned Vietnamese cuisine. Surprise: A legendary wine list. An unusual combination and an exquisite meal – if you are in the mood for Vietnamese food. Every seat taken. Every seat reserved. Most appeared to be regulars. All French. All well-dressed, although the place is not dressy.

FOOD

Limited menu. Two chefs. Sons of the elderly founder who still works the front. The sons alternate, one day one in the kitchen, the next day in the front, and vice versa. All Vietnamese dishes. High quality ingredients.

SERVICE

The non-cooking son takes the orders and explains the menus. Silent waiters bring the food and leave the charm at home. Food promptly served.

PRICE

A la carte, and it mounts up. Some tables appear to be sharing dishes, probably the way to go. The wine list is special. Even without one of the legends, pricey. Relatively expensive (except by Paris standards). Worth it.

(1x) (2009)

Tante Marguerite

5, rue de Bourgogne (7)
Tel: 01-45-51-79-42

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Like Le Ferme St. Simon, but even cooler/colder. Beautiful Left Bank location adjacent to Assembly National. Upscale, businessman/politician hangout.

FOOD

Adequate, but unexceptional.

SERVICE

Attentive, but colorless

PRICE

47€ formula. Fair, perhaps, for the ambiance, but who needs/wants that ambiance?

(1x) (2010)

Thoumieux

79, rue St.-Dominique (7)
Tel: 01-47-05-49-75

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Large food hall. Original ‘20’s – ‘30’s décor. Traditional menu with occasional 20th C. touches. Time warp décor and menu, which isn’t all bad.


All that was is gone. Costes brothers new owners. New famous chef. New décor. Mediocre food remains, only different. The old-fashioned charm, the prime allure, is gone. New, haute luxury annex upstairs, reportedly very high end.

FOOD

Better than one would expect, but no gourmet rendezvous.


Now less than one should expect. Short a la carte menu.

SERVICE

Proficient. Old school.


No school.

PRICE

Low/Medium

(2x) (2009-2011)


Now a new chef in charge. Let’s wait and see.

Violon d’Ingres (Le)

135, rue Saint Dominique (7)
Tel:  01-45-55-15-05

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In 2006, Le Violon was downgraded from 2-stars to one. This led to a complete change in décor and menu, from plush to less formal and more bistro-like. Still, a bistro it is not. The cooking is refined, the menu a mix of original and modern spins on more traditional dishes. Either way the food is first rate; carefully imagined, well cooked, artfully plated. Open Sunday.


Violon has changed since we last ate there in 2011.

The décor has been freshened. High tables have been added near the open kitchen. Prices have risen – by a lot. A 208€ dinner in 2011 was 235€ in 2014. A la carte menu still a modern take on traditional dishes and the cooking still quite good. Service has slipped, with weekend fill-ins eager to please doing on the job training for high paying guests. This is a very good restaurant, but shockingly expensive and no longer “good value for the money”.


After a three year gap, we return to Le Violon, unchanged physically and in evaluation. The menu, food and history of this restaurant merit an “A”. The restaurant overall merits a “B”. In every way, the food in conception, choice and execution is better than the restaurant, recognizing “A” level food is increasingly rare, even in Paris.

Considering its high prices (263€ with a wonderful 66€ wine from an extensive French list), long-held Michelin Star and pedigree, a “B” reflects choice; a giving up of what is possible.

Pedigree matters. The owner/chef (not clear if he ever cooks), Christian Constant, is a legend. He led the brigade at the Crillon Hotel and was the first top chef to go off on his own to found the upscale bistro movement, now dominant. He was followed by his team, many of whom established their own small and individualized restaurants, numerous of which (chefs and restaurants) remain well-known and successful today. (Their photographs, with Constant in the center, dominate one wall of the well-decorated and maintained dining room).

The website for Le Violon pictures 6 personal specialties. Three – eggs moellet, sea bass with almonds and chocolate torte made up my meal. Each was delicious, if not 3-star in the perfection of plating or decoration. Wonderful food.

The relatively small a la carte menu lists six or so choices in each category. No specials.

What otherwise makes it a “B” restaurant – unchanged from 2014 – is the staff and service. Young, unpolished, poorly supervised and insufficiently trained/experienced. Friendly and earnest (and largely bilingual), but not close to equal to the food. That by one-star standards the restaurant is large – at least 60 covers – means a small army of young servers bumping into one another throughout the meal.

But that said, the food is worth a visit, what merits an “A” rating.

FOOD

Meat and fish. Entrees: terrine of foie gras layered with thin sliced beef tongue, fish crudo, cold soups, “Caesar” salad. Plats: Rotisserie of the day (roast lamb), roast fish, pigeon, sole soufflé. Desserts: vanilla soufflé with caramel.

SERVICE

Friendly; particularly competent, with vestiges of its former pedigree. English spoken, with plenty of guests using it.

PRICE

Prices: A la carte and not cheap. Entrees: 15 – 20€, Plats: 36€, plus or minus. Desserts 10 – 15€. That said, good value for the money.


(See Ambiance/Décor)

(4x) (2011-2017)

Voltaire (Le)

27, quai Voltaire (7)
Tel: 01-42-61-17-49

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Classic quai location and décor. Very good food. Diverse, extensive menu. Well executed, attentively served. Expensive seasonal ingredients. Popular with Americans and with fashionistas. Restaurants of this type used to be common. Traditional, extensive menu. Formal service. So many of the others are gone. Voltaire remains, supported by painfully high prices.


Less a reevaluation than an amplification following a 2013 dinner:
This is a terrific restaurant. The dishes are for the most part simple (one exception: quenelle de brochet with sauce bon femme), but perfectly executed. The portions are large enough to share, including starters and desserts. If they could be it would make Voltaire affordable. But that would undermine its business model and change the clientele.


An added note from a 2014 meal: Mostly English being spoken; most of these older, over-dressed. Detracts more than I recalled. Two corner tables reserved for French.

FOOD

Café (lunch only): mediocre.
Restaurant: very good. Relatively simple soups, composed salads, grills with sauces. Vegetable accompaniments. Nothing “modern” on offer. An appealing package for an Upper East Side crowd and their French equivalents.


Many cold starter choices augmented by daily specials, followed by daily specials for fish, meats and desserts. All top notch, including simple, but great desserts.

SERVICE

Professional. Friendly. Many regulars greeted warmly.


Waiters are fixtures. Part of the allure (for some) is to be remembered by the waiters, which adds to the clubby mystique. An ever- present, sometimes frosty owner takes orders and the cash.

PRICE

Very high. Wines also very high, with only a handful of exceptions.


Very high prices across the a la carte menu.

The wine list is simply eccentric:. Five pages of high three and four digit wines, with page 1 listing five choices in the mid 30€ range, including our 35€ “wine of the month” Morgan.

(5x) (2012 – 2014)