Arrondissements

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Chez Marianne

2, rue des Hospitalières St-Gervais (4)
Tel: 01-42-72-18-86

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If you are not ready for the line or the grittiness of L’As du Falafel (see 4th Arr.), Chez Marianne around the corner serves Jewish/Israeli/Middle Eastern meze at tables in a smallish room, including falafel. In warm weather, there is a spacious adjacent garden. It attracts both the overflow and the less intrepid, and its own following too, which explains weekend lines out the door.

FOOD

Choose ten meze items for two people, 26€. Or four choices for 12€. Or five for 14€, etc. Pita, what the French call bagels, to go along. (Skip dessert. Save it for Sacha Finkelsztayn, the Jewish bakery across the street.)

SERVICE

Quick, impersonal, charmless.

PRICE

A la carte, but a great lunch (if you are in the mood) for the price. Not a dinner venue.


10 meze now 30€. All else unchanged.

(2x) (2012-2017)

Chez Michel

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

Good, but only just. Mostly fish.

SERVICE

Friendly. English speaking.

PRICE

Medium/formula with many supplements.

(1x) (2010)

Chez Paul

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

(1x) (2013)

Chez Rene

14, bd St-Germain (5)
Tel: 01-43-54-30-23

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We so wanted it to be better. A great 1950’s look. Authentic, traditional atmosphere. Fine, appropriate service. Great menu. Fair a la carte prices. So what was wrong? The food a disappointment. A sad example of a widespread trend: long established restaurants change hands because of retirement, etc., decline follows.

FOOD

An entrée plat du jour of wonderful (and pricey) cepes followed by a lukewarm and under-seasoned osso buco (another plat du jour), carelessly plated. Great bistro desserts (tarts, chocolate mousse).

SERVICE

Good, friendly service.

PRICE

A la carte prices fair to slightly high.

(1x) (2010)

Chiberta (Le)

3, rue Arsène Houssaye (8)
Tel: 01-53-53-42-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A rare excursion to the more commercial, more touristy Etoile neighborhood to 3- star chef Guy Savoy’s second restaurant for a 49€ formula lunch. Worth the trip. Plush, modern, serene, widely spaced tables. Largely businessmen. Perfect, proper service preceded by a telephone call asking to reconfirm our reservation. Plates right out of a coffee table cookbook, but with taste to match. As noted elsewhere in this diary, Michelin stars are not random. Why this is one versus two isn’t obvious, but the experience is professional and finessed in every way.

FOOD

Inventive, modern food. Large shrimp in tempura-like batter over vegetables, cream of artichoke soup with melting parmesan slivers, veal tenderloin and breast in a rich a jus, chocolate grenache with chocolate sherbet. Lunch required an immediate nap.

SERVICE

Service was professional, practiced and fully bilingual, but restrained. No intimidation.

PRICE

A la Carte. Medium Another case of expensive celebration restaurant with a “bargain” lunch. Not an everyday experience, but a memorable one.

(1x) (2011)

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)

Clocher Pereire (Le)

42, boulevard Pereire (17)
Tel: 01-44-40-04-15

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Out of the way (for us) 16th residential location. Storefront with glassed-in terrace. All white. Comfortable, but not fancy. Small, open kitchen. Two chefs, one server.

FOOD

Outstanding, well- conceived, well- executed and beautifully plated food. Mystery: restaurant nearly empty.

SERVICE

Competent, but not warm.

PRICE

An outstanding low-priced formula meal, 30€. The cab ride offsets the bargain, but a memorable meal for the price.

(1x) (2009)

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)

Closerie Des Lilas (La)

171, boulevard Du Montparnasse (5)
Tel:  01-40-51-34-50

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Every Paris restaurant guide mentions La Closerie Des Lilas in terms of its literary and social history in the heart of Latin Quarter on the Blvd. Montparnasse.  Few mention the food, except to note the large outdoor space, and that it is both a white table cloth restaurant and a no-reservations brasserie, with separate menus.  At the brasserie, outside in the larger smoking section, the food is fine, but not the draw.

On a beautiful, warm April night, every table full with a steady stream of new guests long past our 10:30 departure.  It is the crowd which is unique and a key feature:  older, entirely French, chic and good-looking in an artsy and prosperous way.  Many regulars.  The best spot we have discovered so far to see the paradox of Left Bank Parisian life:  a government and economy in painful shape, with great looking, expensively dressed middle-aged couples of intriguing combinations living a full, rich and seemingly untroubled life.

FOOD

Perfectly good – if you know what you are going for.

Céleri rémoulade and surprisingly delicate quenelles with Nantua sauce; smoked salmon and grilled filet of bass.  For dessert:  raspberry clafoutis.

SERVICE

Café-like.  Friendly, but brusque.  Without finesse, in keeping with the crowded, convivial feel of the outdoor terrace.

PRICE

A la carte.  With wine, water and coffee, 133€ for 2.

(1x) (2015)

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)

Clover Grill

6, rue Bailleul (1)
Tel: 01-40-41-59-59

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Steak frites is a ubiquitous dish on every café menu. Traditional French luxury bistros may offer chateaubriand for two, but the classic American steakhouse model (The Palm, Morton’s, Capital Grill, etc.) is unknown in Paris. The ambitious chef, Jean-Francois Piege (see Le Grand Restaurant, 8th; Clover, 7th) has created one model in the form of the year-old Clover Grill in the 1st, two doors from Spring (see 1st Arr.).

Luxurious in a hip and modern way and staffed by an entirely under-30 crew, it has a beautiful, open kitchen, a wine list plus cocktail menu, and a young vibe. How that will succeed with high prices remains to be seen, but the kitchen delivers on the focused menu’s promise. Very good food.

FOOD

Prime focus is open flame grilled steaks for two, with 3 beef choices: French, Eastern European or Kansas, each served and priced for two with a choice of sauce and roast potatoes.

Entrees (foie gras, grilled romaine Caesar salad, tuna “pizza”, asparagus) and desserts (the standouts: rotisserie grilled pineapple, strawberries with whipped cream) supplemented by grilled fish, smaller steak preparations for one, rotisserie lamb or chicken (at 68€ per person for 2!). Most tables ordered the steak for two.

SERVICE

Young, engaged, bilingual, both waiters and 21 year old sommelier.

PRICE

Very high a la carte with a small print 69€ 3 course price fixed option.

With a wonderful “trust me” wine recommendation, 261€ for 2. As I said, very high, although not unlike New York for similar food in much larger spaces and less welcoming environments.

(1x) (2017)

Clown Bar

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

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

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

FOOD

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

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

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

SERVICE

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

PRICES

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


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

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

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

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

For dessert, molten chocolate over vanilla ice cream.

All in, 157€. A significant restaurant.

(2x) (2017-2018)

(Photo from “Pinterest”)

Cobea

11, rue Raymond Losserand (14)
Tel: 01-43-20-21-39

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A new name for us, strongly recommended by American friends.

Ambitious, pricey, aspirational restaurant in undistinguished Montparnasse neighborhood. Elegant surroundings realized on a budget. Compact galley kitchen run by alum of 3-star Ledoyen. Newish, but not new. Modern cuisine served by young staff. 35 seats. Limited menu. Refined execution and presentation. A serious restaurant.

FOOD

For lunch, special menu. Three courses with two choices for entrée and plat, plus wonderful amuse- bouche; plus dessert and pre-dessert.

Our lunch: white asparagus barely cooked cut into thirds served standing up on plate secured by sauce flavored with Moroccan spices. Plat: skate wing in rich sauce or roast and grilled veal belly with roasted potatoes. Unusual. Delicious. Perfectly executed and plated.

Desserts an assortment of pastries; very good, but not equal to what preceded it.

Wines by the glass, plus multi-glass “surprise” choices matched to food.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional, practiced, but a young staff still in training. A work in process, lacking complete polish. Better that than attitude. Entirely approachable, bilingual.

PRICE

No bargains. Lunch 49€. Cheap by New York standards, but aggressive for Paris (see Frederic Simonin, 17th). Other menus at lunch and dinner. Four, six or eight courses, 65€, 75€, 95€. Serious wines across a range.

(1x) (2014)

Comice

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

FOOD

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

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

(1x) (2018)

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)

Coq Rico (Le)

98, rue Lepic (18)
Tel:  01-42-59-82-89

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Michelle’s summary: “When a management knows how to run a restaurant, they get a lot of things right which others miss or get wrong.” Fair and on point. It doesn’t automatically follow that a rock star Michelin Chef succeeds in extending his or her brand (see Terroir Parisien 5th and 2nd, Allard 6th). Antoine Westermann is a Michelin starred chef from Strasbourg with an established restaurant in Paris (Drouant, which he bought and reorganized). He seems to know what he is doing behind the range, in wine and service, and in the office.

Le Coq Rico is all chicken and chicken derivatives (as in eggs), focused on a range of legendary chicken breeds poached whole, then finished to a stunning deep brown on an open kitchen rotisserie, presented whole, then returned neatly carved. Variations, but only roast chicken (or duck, guinea hen, goose, etc.). It couldn’t have been better.

Small modern/rustic space in residential section of Monmartre. High concept for cozy home style food. (And now open in New York. Also quite good with similar concept.)


A Fall, 2017 Sunday night dinner for four confirms all of the positive things experienced at earlier meals. Relaxed; low-key; small, but roomy; simple set of choices. One innovation a new breed of chicken, less fatty than the world famous Bresse. Same 98€ (for the table) still served with wonderful salad, frites, vegetables – more than we could finish, and delicious.

New York may come close to matching the food quality (with better desserts), but New York rents do not allow the luxurious pace of this simple, but wonderful meal.

FOOD

Salads, soups, terrines, egg dishes to start. Choose your bird or prepared chicken dish, 1⁄4 or whole served for 2 – 4 offered with frites, vegetables or macaroni, plus salad. Small dessert card. Appropriate but non-encyclopedic wine list.

If you have a craving for roast chicken, you couldn’t do better.

SERVICE

Friendly. Attractive. Bilingual. Informal, but professional and knowledgeable. They know the menu. Approachable and helpful. They make it fun. For Paris a rare feature: Doggie Bags.

PRICE

Not cheap. Quarter chicken 21€, and up from there. Whole premium chicken 85€ for two; with wine, entrees, desserts, 196€. Larger bird 3-4, 95€, so bring friends.

(6x) (2013-2017)

Cordonnerie (La)

20, rue St-Roch (1)
Tel: 01-42-60-17-42

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This small family-owned restaurant has operated for almost fifty years in an ancient building built into the side of the St. Roche Church just off Rue St. Honoré. “Modest” hardly defines it. Modest in size (20 seats, including two tables in the beamed room which also serves as the kitchen), modest in staff (one chef, one waiter and a dishwasher), modest in ambition and menu. If you arrive with commensurately modest expectations, it can be quite pleasant, as it was for us. If seated in one of the two kitchen tables, a near-private demonstration of French cooking in action.

FOOD

Limited menu, with two entrée plats du jour and two plats (main courses). Stick to these. Our poached egg in cream of mushroom soup was fresh and rich. Equally so (at least the fresh part) minced salmon tartare with oil, citrus and herbs. Our breast of roasted pintade (guinea hen) was first rate, good to look at and flavorfully sauced, served with creamy scalloped potatoes. At another meal, scallops and blanquette of chicken. Limited, but adequate desserts and wines.

SERVICE

The chef’s young nephew, plus the chef himself. Informal in the extreme and totally in keeping with the spirit of the evening.

PRICE

Modest a la carte. Three courses 45€, plus wine.

(2x) (2013-2014)

Coupe-Chou (Le)

9-11, rue de Lanneau (5)
Tel: 01-46-33-68-69

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Some months ago I was touched by journalist Kati Marton’s reminiscence, “Paris, A Love Story”. The divorced widow of Peter Jennings and widow of Diplomat Richard Holbrooke described the many episodes of her life in Paris. When Holbrooke met her in Paris during breaks in the Bosnia peace talks he was negotiating, they would rush to Le Coupe- Chou for a romantic dinner. It was their place. It sounded irresistible; ancient, romantic, fine food. The guide books more or less concur.

All of them are wrong. Ancient, rustic, physically appealing it is, with terrible food carelessly served. Find your romance somewhere else. I’ve learned from this, so should you

FOOD

Aperitifs served with a saucer of packaged bar mix, the first ominous sign of many more to come. Uninspiring menu with no additions. Smoked salmon ok, but served with toasted American- style sliced bread. Portions of lotte and beef bourguignon small and unappealing. Is there a chef in the kitchen?

SERVICE

The soft spoken young waitress had so many runs in her black leggings that it looked as if she had dressed to work on her car. Then she broke the cork. Amateur hour

PRICE

A la carte and it added up, which also added insult. Four people. No desserts. 58€ wine plus aperitifs, 244€.

(1x) (2012)

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)

Détour

15, rue de la Tour des Dames (9)
Tel: 33 1 45 26 21 48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Eighteen seats in a nicely redecorated room the size of a bedroom, a chef who doubles as dishwasher during service, and a lovely partner/waitress/hostess/reservationist.  28€ for three courses, at dinner 35€ for four.  Wines by the glass under 10€.  Budget so tight that not even the check carries the restaurant’s printed name, yet in the early days critically noticed and successful.  At lunch, every seat taken.

FOOD

No choice for entrée.  Poached cold leeks with tiny clams and chopped nuts and toasted breadcrumbs with a clam juice cream; either poached fish or roast pork jowl with roasted and puree of turnip, both served with same brown glacé poured over at the table; either polenta cream with dried fruit or blue cheese whipped with cream and white grapes for dessert.

SERVICE

Relaxed, but proper.  Each selection either described or offered as a surprise.

PRICE

28€ for three courses.  (At dinner) 35€ for four.  50€ multi-course tasting.

The small size is not uncomfortable, but energy difficult to find.  Such highly personal restaurants are not unknown in Paris or on this list.  One admires both the ambition and the execution, albeit not for everyone.

(1x) (2017)

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)

Diables au Thym (Les)

35 rue Bergere (9)
Tel:  01-47-70-77-09

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The restaurant was recommended by a very knowledgeable food friend as his new favorite. He described it as honest, and without pretense. He was right on both, and that the sophistication of the food belied the space and the address in the 9th. But that is not the full story.

There must be hundreds of similarly serious, chef-driven small spots in Paris, restaurants which have settled into their neighborhoods owned by talented, but once more ambitious and perhaps more optimistic chefs hoping for wider discovery. Instead, they come to work every day running marginal small businesses, no longer hoping for discovery by critics, or in this case, even by “Zagat”.

The inventive 40€ formula menu offers unusual dishes, each unique and personal. All of this is undermined by the overly lit, tired and barely decorated small room with 28 tightly spaced seats. Charming it is not. Nor particularly inviting. I guess you are meant to bring your own.

FOOD

The menu and execution are the highlights of the experience. Except for the concert of serving each of our dishes from a bowl (which we are seeing elsewhere in Paris too), the plates look good, sound complex and prove both delicious and unusual.
First courses of slow cooked whole chicken served warm and served with pineapple chutney and confit of cepes with salad, monkfish over caramelized leeks and wonderful stuffed cabbage with chestnuts. Desserts were roast figs with chocolate sauce and ice cream, stewed plum with plum gele and sherbet.

SERVICE

Friendly, helpful, bilingual waiter with well-meaning but inexperienced assistant.

PRICE

40€ for 3 courses, plus a few supplements (meaning 45€/person), plus modestly priced wines. 155€ for 2.

(1x) (2016)

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)

Dome (Le)

108, boulevard du Montparnasse (14)
Tel: 01-43-35-25-81

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Large art deco/‘50’s café with interior restaurant. Cries out: “We’ve been here a long time”. Good food, but no soul. Stunning décor.

FOOD

Went for Dover sole. Couldn’t be better.

SERVICE

Professional, detached.

PRICE

Very high

(2x) (2010-2011)

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)

Ecailler du Bistrot (L’)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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


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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

Professional, but casual.

PRICE

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

(4x) (2010-2017)

Eclipses

27/29 Rue de Beaune (7)
Tel: 01-40-13-96-42

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Nothing about this Diary favors neighborhood restaurants. The geographical spread among the city’s 20 arrondissements reflects largely where the restaurants are which we want to try.

That said, it didn’t go unnoticed that a long vacant wine store on Rue de Beaune in the 7th, a 3 minute walk from our apartment, had been transformed into a small, upscale restaurant since our last trip. In fact, it had opened barely a month before.

It was between meal times, but we walked in and asked for a card. The chef opened the door to greet us. Someone has spent a great deal of money with obvious attention to tasteful detail. Clearly, as supported by the menu prices, this restaurant is intended neither for casual tourists on their way to the nearby D’Orsay, or exclusively for locals. This is intended as an ambitious destination address. We hope it succeeds. There is so much going for it, but with some concept-tweaking still necessary.

FOOD

Without reservation, the food was terrific; upscale, ambitious, artfully plated, many layered with multiple subtle elements. Hand-made, tweezer-assembled. A la carte and two menus, 5 or 7 course. The 69€ menu offers three courses from the small a la carte list, plus 2 desserts, plus a charming selection of house-baked breads and rolls, plus a small pre-taste, plus a generous tray of small pastries with coffee. Nothing simple.

A “declination of cabbage”, a tasting of cabbage, prepared three ways and duck foie gras and radish in radish cream; sea bass; squab (“pigeon”), both with “declination” of leeks and carrots, respectively. Granita and a remarkable “declination” of apple; dried thin apple slice rolls filled like cannoli with apple cream served with apple strips and roasted apples.

The plats are complex, not too rich and very time-consuming to prepare. It is not clear the model is scalable should the restaurant become busy. (8 tables plus basement cave private room).

Four tables filled on our visit. (The waiter’s constant use of the word “declination” with each course description became comical. Clearly, the chef’s style is sophisticated, time-consuming, intellectual and interesting but, four times (cabbage, leek, carrot, apple)? Translation didn’t help, but it is not only about language, but excessive complexity.

SERVICE

Two balletic, hard-working (running, actually) servers clear, pour, return (repeatedly) with new bread services and present new utensils from a tray for each of seven courses. Exhausting, but seemingly not to them.

PRICES

High relative to the average of this Diary, but with 69€ menu, good value for a quintessential high-end French meal; a meal which could not be duplicated except at multiples of the price in New York or Boston.

With a total of 5 glasses of wine (wine prices may be fair, but few lower priced bottles), 206€.

(1X) (2019)

7th Arrondissement|

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)

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.  (See Gaya)

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)

Flaubert

10, Rue Gustave Flaubert (17)
Tel:  01-42-67-05-81

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

More than 20 years ago, when we last ate here, the then-named Bistrot a la Cote launched a new concept in Paris restaurants.  A famous chef (Michel Rostang) running a highly acclaimed Michelin starred restaurant opening a popularly priced annex.  Until then, even the thought of running more than one kitchen seemed impossible.  Not only was the original bistro revolutionary, it was literally around the corner from the original.  It was located in the vacated space of a traditional small grocery, with most of the décor in place, tired but charming.  Since then, Rostang has repeated the trick several more times in the form of differently named, less ambitious places in Paris, and so has virtually every other Michelin 3 star chef.  It is a form of extending the halo of the brand.

What made us return – actually, what reminded us it was there – was a slight name change and reports of a new chef, possibly in anticipation of Rostang’s retirement and disappearance.  (Actually, he appeared at dinner to greet a table of French clients, I assume through an inside door which must connect the two kitchens.)

FOOD

Quite separate from the distinguished history, the food was terrific.  Short formula menu with several blackboard additions, several notches above comparable places.  The 2 star Rostang pedigree was evident in every dish, notwithstanding the modest surroundings and small, crowded, but not uncomfortable space.

Gnocchi with sweetbreads and mushrooms, raw scallops with a delicious crunchy topping.  As entrees, quenelle de brochet with classic rich sauce nantua and beautifully portioned and plated poached cod in a seafood broth as entrees.  Poached pear and light and dark pots de chocolate (sophisticated chocolate puddings).  All 6 excellent dishes.

SERVICE

One capable front of the house woman takes the coats, the orders and the credit card.  A runner brings the food.  Simple, friendly, casual, appropriate.  Tight seating.  All French.  All 50 or so seats full on a rainy weekday night.  Walk-ins turned away.

PRICES

3 courses, 45€, with a few supplements.  Diverse wine list focusing toward medium prices.  With 45€ wine, water, 2 coffee, 154€ for 2.

(1X)(2018)

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

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)

Fougeres (Les)

10, rue Villebois-Mareuil (17)
Tel: 01-40-68-78-66

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a small upscale restaurant established six years ago, just taken over by what they describe as “a new team” led by a young chef from the 3-star restaurant in the Hotel Bristol. Quiet block in the 17th, near the Etoile. Thirty- five seats, nicely decorated with an intimate feel. One hostess, one waiter, two chefs and a dishwasher. At a Monday lunch, about an equal number of guests, but it is early days.

FOOD

Short a la carte menu plus fixed price lunch and dinner, both bargains. At lunch crab soup, beet “ravioli” (stuffed sliced beets, served cold, a stunning presentation), fish or a mix of sweetbreads and kidneys. Refined dishes, but not Michelin quality.

SERVICE

Gracious, attentive, kind and helpful.

PRICE

Lunch 26€ for two courses, either entrée and plat or plat and dessert. All three, 12€ extra including soufflé. “Young” wines by the glass: 4€. Definitely worth a return trip to try other dishes.

(1x) (2012)

Frederic Simonin

25, rue Bayen (17) 
Tel: 01-45-74-74-74

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This is a find, if not a bargain. Simonin was the Atelier Rubichon chef in London, now back in Paris on his own, on a small market street in an otherwise busy Etoile-area neighborhood. Small. Modern. Comfortable surroundings. Based on the menu, expensive. A la carte at dinner, but at 39€, an extraordinary several course lunch at a giveaway price. Good enough to make one think about the a la carte dinner menu.  And surely not to last.  (And it hasn’t:  Lunch now 49€.)

Michelin star quality food in comfortable, but sophisticated surroundings served by friendly professionals.

After an early 2014 menu change which added an 86€ three-course “Inspiration” menu to the still very expensive a la carte dinner menu, we tried for dinner, following many happy lunches. This remains quite special.

Three “surprise” (no choice) courses: pan roasted cepes, choice of meat or fish (duckling with apples or mullet and pastry with Provencal accompaniments), warm chocolate cake with mint sherbet. Each course exquisite to look at and to taste, each complex without being overly fussy, each carefully arranged and carefully prepared. This is a great restaurant.

FOOD

Sophisticated. Beautiful. Complex. Modern. On the fixed price lunch, two choices in each category, plus extras; escargot or egg in a truffle cream sauce, chicken or fish. Another meal: pork or eel, or rabbit loin or cod. Equally sophisticated desserts. Several notches more refined than most other restaurants in this Diary.

SERVICE

Reserved. Friendly. (An elderly client who left before us on our last visit took my hat from the small coat closet by mistake. They knew where he lived and retrieved it.)

PRICE

Expensive a la carte. Very expensive tasting menu. 49€ lunch.  Relative to the care, beauty and intelligence of the food, still a bargain, if less so.

(9x) (2012-2016)

Fregate (A La)

30, av Ledru-Rollin (12)
Tel: 01-43-43-90-32

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We had been past several times (it is almost next door to Le Quincy). A venerable seafood restaurant in a marginal Bastille location.

On a Monday night, a paradox. Dated décor, a throwback to the provinces. Enticing, ambitious all fish menu, with prices to match. Chef takes orders. One actually feels he returns to the kitchen to cook. Two other tables occupied, plus a business group of 14 men ordering a la carte. Good food. Nothing sleek or commercial, but devoid of energy.

FOOD

Warm scallop salad, crab with spinach in three profiteroles, swordfish a la plancha, bar in tomato/oil and vinegar sauce; Grand Marnier soufflé a house specialty. Limited but carefully chosen wines.

SERVICE

Attentive, practiced service

PRICE

Fresh, wild seafood is expensive in Paris. No exception here.

(1x) (2011)

Frenchie

5 rue du Nil  (2)
Tel: 01-40-39-96-19

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Small room. Minutes from Les Halles. 22 seats, some on stools. Semi-open kitchen. Chef plus two helpers. Three relatively ambitious courses, 35€.

Reports of attitude and a mostly American clientele. Disconcerting.

It is hard to know why some formula spots get hyped, as this one does, while others not. As good as/no better than L’Agrume, Temps Au Temps, Itineraires, Affriole. Chef worked in New York.

FOOD

A notch more ambitious in terms of the combination of ingredients than the average. Well thought out, unusual dishes. Two choices for each of three categories. Every choice a winner.

SERVICE

Not in any way bad and surely friendly, but the one waiter has more to learn and maybe needs help.

PRICE

The 35€ standard, and another bargain at that. Maybe the shape of the room causes the physical space to sap some of the energy. It does not buzz like some of the others, but always full. Diners certainly seemed pleased with their choice.  (Now 45€)

(2x) (2010)

Fulgrances

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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

(1x) (2016)

Photo from “Paris Bouge”

Gaigne (Le)

12, rue Pecquay (4)
Tel: 01-44-59-86-72

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

20 seat Marais location. One chef, one helper/dishwasher. One waitress. Five courses at 39€. More memorable for the unlikely combination than the food. Unfortunately, discovered by Sunday New York Times and over-hyped.

FOOD

Good, not great, but wonderful walking neighborhood.

SERVICE

Somehow, the single waitress does it all and does it well.

PRICE

Low/moderate. Equally so the wines. Great value, if not great cooking. Formula and a la carte (larger portions).

(1x)(2010)

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)

Gaya

6 Rue de Saint Simon (7)
Tel: 01-45-44-73-73

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

For many years we walked by Gaya on the nearby Rue du Bac, a small seafood focused satellite restaurant of the Michelin 3-star chef, Pierre Gagnaire. Somewhere, I had the impression it was more a high-priced “Eurotrash” scene than a serious destination. About a year ago Gaya moved a few blocks to the larger space of Ferme St. Simon. The Rue du Bac location now a high-priced Italian spot.

We finally tried the (new) Gaya. Too bad we waited.

The space is beautifully redone, top to bottom. It is modern, without being edgy. It is comfortable, very high-end, fairly priced relative to value and no Eurotrash in sight on a Saturday night. Without the embellishments of its 3-star pedigree, it shows the originality, finesse, professionalism and experience of its history.

FOOD

Modern without being hokey. Completely original dishes, plus raw seafood platters. Largely, but not limited to fish. A la carte plus 80€ four course menu. Lunch at a steep discount, as is typical.

Poached/boiled eggs with shrimp, the yolk mixing with a rich seafood sauce. Raw thin sliced scallops over deliciously spiced avocado. Shelled mussels in white cream sauce; chopped shellfish with leeks. The thinnest, lightest apple tart to share.

SERVICE

Fully bilingual, including English language menu. Highly professional with no ballet and good humor.

PRICES

A (welcome) shock as applies to wines: every previous experience at a restaurant of this class would have led me to expect a rarefied list replete with triple digit choices. Here, half the list below that-level, many far below. Professional sommelier recommended wonderful 46€ Crozes-Hermitage.

With wine, two desserts, 216€ for two. Not cheap, but a fine meal and a more than fair value.

(1X) (2019)

7th Arrondissement|

Gorille Blanc (Le)

4 Impasse Guéménée (4)
Tel: 01-42-72-08-45

(See Le Gorille Blanc in the 7th for the history)

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Walking on the Rue St. Antoine in the Marais we spotted the name on a new orange awning. A coincidence? Let’s look in. There, in a larger, more rustic space was the original owner, now with his son and a new chef, serious if not aspiring to a Michelin star, in a lovely space virtually steps from the Place des Vosges, Similar menu and format to original. 18€ formula lunch. Cozy surroundings, already busy if not swamped. Glad to see them back.

FOOD

Better food than before, even better versions of some of the original specialties such as warm terrine of mushrooms in garlic sauce. Small menu with meat and fish, plus plats du jour (wonderful roast chicken and scallops with leeks, preceded by avocados with smoked salmon or vegetable soup).

SERVICE

Like the restaurant itself, it aims to be comfortable, lively, friendly and unobjectionable without steep ambition. The service fits right in.

PRICE

Reasonable a la carte and exceptionally reasonable formula. Wines by the bottle, pitcher or glass, similarly priced.
(3x) (2012 – 2013)

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)

Goust

10 rue Volney (2)
Tel: 01-40-15-20-30

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

No personal pride of “discovery” of the new restaurant, Goust. Alex Lobrano, a normally dependable blogger, alerted readers to what he described as the best new restaurant to open in Paris in recent years. Others echoed his praise.

Whether the superlative is fully due can be debated. What cannot be is the combination of elegant surroundings, polished and attentive service, unusual and careful selection and presentation of a multi-course menu, amazing and bountiful wine pairings, and fair prices, albeit at the high end.

Enrico Bernardo calls himself “the world’s best sommelier”, presumably on the basis of a 2004 competition. He owns this restaurant and chooses the wines. Located just off the Place Vendome on a one block quiet street, on the first floor.

FOOD

An all-Spanish kitchen crew serving French/Spanish dishes characterized by unusual ingredients and extraordinary flavors. A la carte, plus two menus, 75€ and 110€. For lunch two courses for 35€, plus dessert (10€). A large wine list or pairings at 25€, an amazing bargain characterized by variety and abundance. This is very fine food, if not at the level of a 2 or 3- star, but close enough.


Michelin star in 2014 Guide.

SERVICE

Intelligent, solicitous, friendly, informed and attentive – from every member of the young team.


Surely one of the most pleasant and helpful bilingual service experiences ever.

PRICE

A la carte – 3 courses 75€±, menus at 75€ and 110€. Lunch a la carte at 35€. Wine pairings 25€. The only extra, a cheese course (36 month Comte), 12€. Very good value.


Now a la carte. Plus 85€ tasting, with pairings at 35€. With a la carte, pairings at a giveaway 8€ per glass refilled 2x.

(3x) (2013-2014)


RECENT UPDATE:

As of Fall, 2017, permanently closed. Sad.

Grand Pan (Le)

20, rue Rosenwald (15)
Tel: 01-42-50-02-50

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Le Grand Pan was well discovered before our visit. Five years old and well- reviewed, it seemed as if everyone was a regular or at least a repeat. A good sign.

Small. Out of the way on a back street in the 15th. Two rooms. Tiny kitchen. Blackboard menu featuring meat and emphasizing the quality of the ingredients. For the most part the dishes and preparations are simple, but the food was superb. A very happy restaurant.

We will be back.


We were back two months later. Even better. Such high energy. Such a diverse crowd. All ages. Almost all French. Almost all ordering steak, veal chop or pork chop for two. An addition to our Favorites list.

An insight: The picture of the chef sticking his head out of the kitchen window reminded me of the now chic and over-hyped L’Ami Louis 25 years ago, under the original chef and ownership. Same regular devotees, obscure neighborhood. Meat-focused.

Grand Pan is not for everyone. For some, 55 seats in this tiny space would contradict their image of fine French dining. But if you like Le Regalade (See 14th), etc., you’ll love Le Grand Pan.


Le Grand Pan does not require a fresh review following another outstanding October 2016 dinner. It is not a Diary “Favorite” for nothing. But rereading my comments from earlier meals fails to fully convey how good and how unusual this small, out of the way, casual, crowded, informal, meat-centric bistro really is.

Rare in recent years – anywhere – we were the only Americans and the only tourists at dinner. As at every other meal there, the dominant clientele is older, middle-class French couples for whom this is less date night than “Let’s eat out”. They are regulars; not wealthy, chic or particularly sophisticated, and they are warmly welcomed, notwithstanding that in food terms Le Grand Pan has become widely known, by fellow chefs particularly, many of whom, I think, envy its full tables every night and its simple approach to casual dining.

Other than the middle class couples, young (and not so young) groups of French businessmen occupy most of the other tables, parties of 4 or 6. All (and most others) order either the grilled sliced pork chop, veal chop or steak, with sides of salad and thick cut frites, the restaurant’s specialty, preceded by heaping boards of carefully sourced charcuterie.

It is authentic, thriving and if not for everyone, great fun for staff and patrons alike. And at 121€ for 2, with wine, water, coffee and cocktail, a bargain.


At a 2017 dinner unchanged, in all of the best ways. High energy staff. All French. Many regulars. Everyone having fun. With chicken galantine over red cabbage and celery remoulade with crabmeat, our favorite grilled veal chop for two, one dessert and a (more) expensive wine plus one aperitif, 163€.

FOOD

Sliced veal chop in light cream sauce for two. Exceptional. Other options: beef or pork chop prepared similarly, also one fish, lobster, duck breast, etc. Most simply cooked on plancha.

First courses cepes and string bean salad with smoked duck breast and foie gras. Desserts: Pear tart, plums with mascarpone.

SERVICE

Two waiters handle the rooms professionally, quickly and casually.

PRICE

153€ for two, with mid-priced (44€) wine. Also wine specials (on blackboard we didn’t see until we left).

(6x) (2014-2017)

Grand Restaurant (Le)

7 rue d’Aguesseau (8)
Tel: 01-53-05-00-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Diary policy is a restaurant cannot become a “Favorite” on the basis of a single visit.  Policy honored, but the risk is Le Grand Restaurant will no longer offer an 80€ lunch, or that its 30 or so seats will become impossible to book.  You’ve been warned, assuming you would consider this seven month old Michelin 2-Star, surely determined to become more.  Its chef carried his previous stars with him from the 7th, now in a beautiful modern space of his own.

Open kitchen in front with a window on the small rue d’Aguesseau steps from the American Embassy.  If you cannot book, look through the window.  10 cooks led by Jean Francois Piege, reportedly there for every service.

The size and refinement leads to comparison to Astrance, but the food, while also modern, is less intellectual and more derivative of a three course meal (expanded to 5 or 6, or more with extras).


So good at lunch in May, we returned for a birthday dinner in October. 195€/person for a magnificent dinner, plus wines. Appropriate for a very special occasion. Post-terrorism, seats available. A modern take on classic high-end food, service, helpful wine selections for the price-conscious.

FOOD

The lunch allows a choice, fish (yellowtail) or meat (roasted sweetbreads), preceded by three exquisite bites, a first course of roasted celery root slices which on the plate resembles a baked apple, in morille sauce, followed by three desserts, followed by a chocolate surprise which you must be there to experience.  Plus extensive a la carte and two tasting menus.

In a city populated by numerous high-end restaurants, this merits real distinction.

SERVICE

Formal, friendly, gracious, bilingual, completely friendly.

PRICES

80€ becomes 238€ for two with three glasses of wine and overpriced coffee and tea.  Two hours but not three, and worth the experience.

(2x) (2016)

Grand Vefour (le)

17, rue du Beaujolais (1)
Tel: 01-42-96-56-27

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

One does not have to experience a Michelin 3-star restaurant to understand French cuisine, what it was or what it is today. In most ways, the handful of Paris 3-stars are costly anachronisms, characterized by a range of ingredients and flavors, impossible to consume largesse and choreographed service hardly equaled in refinement and repeated excellence of execution in other aspects of modern life. But neither does one need a private plane to experience travel.  A 3-star experience is equally special, a onetime indulgence which is more or less affordable – at lunch at least.

The modest Introduction to this Diary says “no 3-stars” (except Astrance – see 16th Arr.). That is being put aside to avail ourselves of 3-star lunchtime specials (if you can call $150/person with wine a “special”).

Technically, Le Grand Vefour is now – perhaps momentarily – a Michelin 2-star. It changes nothing. The décor is original 18th Century, in a part of the Palace Royale. The setting is exquisite and unrivaled. The greeting is friendly, considering how august the history and the meal (and bill) to follow.

FOOD

Like all 3-star food, it is conceived, executed and designed to perfection. I might prefer one establishment’s style over another’s (traditional vs. modern, etc.), but what unites them is perfection.
The 96€ lunch offers three entrée choices (foie gras, marinated bass), three main courses (boned baby duckling, cod, lotte), cheese and one dessert. Every plate is designed, every execution exacting. The meal offered on the menu represents about 2/3 of the food and 1⁄2 of the courses. Complimentary beginnings, pre and post desserts, chocolates, bite sized pastry assortments, etc., abound.

SERVICE

Very formal. Very choreographed. Very proper. Surprisingly friendly and, of course, bilingual. It doesn’t happen by chance.

PRICE

96€ lunch, plus drinks. No food supplements. Wines from a suitably broad, deep and costly list are part of the draw. (There are also some less expensive wines on the list. There should be no embarrassment in asking. That is what sommeliers do, and at Le Grand Vefour they do it well and without condescension. Of course, “less expensive” means under 100€.)
Count on 300€ for two, plus.

(1x) (2013)

Grande Cascade (La)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

Formal. Choreographed, but friendly. No intimidation.

PRICE

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


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

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

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

(8x) (2011-2018)

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 (La)

80, rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere (10)
Tel: 01-47-70-89-73

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

We ate at La Grille several years ago – pre-Diary. It was good, but eccentric, run by an elderly couple and decorated with her wedding attire. They have retired, the restaurant purchased by four younger friends. Mostly unchanged, but the few changes are for the better. Grilled meats and fish, some daily specials. A neighborhood place. If not memorable, surely enjoyable – enough to go back.

FOOD

Grilled Cote de Boeuf for two with béarnaise. Scallops with mache as plat du jour entree. Profiterole for dessert. Eight or so choices in each category.

SERVICE

The only holdover is the single waiter, older than the owners. Good at what he does and having a good time at it.

PRICE

A la carte. 120€ for two with wine and not the least expensive food choices.

(1x) (2010)

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)

Guy Savoy

18, rue Troyon (17)
Tel: 01-43-80-40-61

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

My introduction says no 3-stars, except L’Astrance, with a special lunch. (Astrance is also unlike other 3-stars; smaller, lower key.)

Guy Savoy was a charity auction purchase. Easy to delude oneself that it was “free”. Low key Guy Savoy is not. It is a lovely, modern, multi-room, plush environment.

FOOD

Exquisitely designed and inventive dishes which keep coming and coming, each more sculptural and complex than what preceded it. A different bread for each course. And thanks to our particular arrangement, a different wine.

SERVICE

Helpful, skilled, ubiquitous staff. A staff of 50, 18 chefs, 25 front of the house, for 65 covers

PRICE

I hardly can guess the arm’s length price, but 350€ per person with wine would be in the ballpark. If you are keen to experience a mainstream 3-star restaurant (and if you arrive very hungry), you will not be disappointed.

(And if you have not won the lottery, at least view the website. The best food photography I have ever seen.)

(1x) (2011)


Moved to the Left Bank 2015. Prices intact.

Gyoza Bar

56 Passage des Panoramas (2)
Tel:  01-44-82-00-62

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Passage 53 (see below) is now a two star Michelin destination. About three years ago it opened a simple, modern, apparently authentic gyoza bar (Japanese dumplings) two doors away in the same historic, but now somewhat rundown passage, the antecedent to today’s shopping mall. By itself the passage makes an interesting visit, one of about 20 which still exist in Paris.

This is a one trick pony: gyoza only, cooked to order. One variety, sautéed and steamed. Sides of rice, noodles or edamame available. Only choice: platter of 8 or 12. A second location in the 3rd.

FOOD

Gyoza. Delicious. Inexpensive. Very popular.

SERVICE

Four hardworking Japanese women behind the bar sauté, steam and serve. About as much “service” as at a McDonald’s, and equally efficient.

PRICE

8 gyoza 7€; 12 for 9. With two waters, one side and one glass of wine, 33€. Not for every day, but Paris is an international city devoted to Japanese food.

(1x) (2014)

Helen

3, rue Berryer (8)
Tel:  01-40-76-01-40

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I have written elsewhere in this Diary that high-quality, wild-caught seafood is very expensive in Paris, as it has become worldwide. There is plenty of fish available, but the handful of top choice fish specialists is a pricey group. Helen, a three year old restaurant staffed from the similarly themed Le Duc, is no exception, except it offers a 48€ lunch, not normally a bargain except within this category.

In most ways it is a perfect Paris restaurant; smallish (50 seats), impeccable food; approachable, but perfect service; a broad a la carte menu; and the special lunch. It does not disappoint.

FOOD

From the menu, three choices for each course; raw salmon with horseradish cream, fish soup (we would call it bisque – no cream), and eel. For plats, scallops or rouget simply prepared, or pasta with fish sauce. Torte, sherbet or pastry for dessert. Plus a few extras, including spinach and mashed potatoes served with the scallops, prepared with equal care. A great meal.

Dinner is a different matter, not only is it more expensive – geometrically so, and all a la carte – the menu is slightly confusing and hard to navigate although the staff is genuinely attentive and helpful. The food was excellent, the preparations perfect, but the ambiance was different – more formal and somber. Even aside from the staggering cost, I preferred lunch.

SERVICE

Proper. Bilingual. Deft. (Many other tables ordered a la carte. Waiters boned and plated the fish with surgical skill.)

PRICES

48€ is not a bargain, especially when three glasses of wine, coffee, etc. bring the bill to 157€. Still, we will return – for lunch. Not as quickly for dinner.

(2x) (2016)

Hexagone

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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

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

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

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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

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

FOOD

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

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

SERVICE

Polished.  Attentive.  Very professional.  Bilingual.  Friendly.

PRICE

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

(2x) (2015 – 2016)

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Hugo

12, rue Papillon (9)
Tel:  01-40-22-01-91

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Except to make two unrelated points which follow, this was an entirely forgettable restaurant, otherwise unworthy of this Diary or of using a precious night in Paris on.

Observation #1:  Be careful of names.  A friend passed along a tip, a new personal favorite:  Hugo’s.  We went to Hugo in the 9th.  Subsequent research confirmed it was completely unrelated to Hugo’s in the 5th, which we were advised to try.  Our Hugo was a bust!

Observation #2:

It was an unseasonably warm night.  We decided to walk, knowing it was a good distance.

We left the 7th, crossed the river, traversed the 2nd and entered the 9th, about 50 minutes through areas we had never been before, at least on foot.  We passed – literally – several hundred eating venues – fast food, slow food, cafes, bars, brasseries, bistros, French, pizza, burgers, tapas, Asian of every type, North African.  Most full of young French people, especially those with outdoor seating.  Virtually not one would fit the taste criteria of “French restaurant”, traditional or modern, high end or simple bistro, which is the focus of this guide.  For reasons of budget or neighborhood, this is not where young people in Paris congregate.  A phenomenon not unique to France.

FOOD

To give the restaurant its due, it was not bad, merely forgettable.

Low a la carte prices, or 39€ three course menu chosen from menus.  Quite good foie gras and salmon tartare, swordfish (unusual in Paris) with roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables, an unacceptable fruit tart with dough off peak freshness.

SERVICE

One busy maitre d’/waiter/runner did it all for the 15 tables, of which half were full.

PRICE

One of the least expensive three course meals with wine we can recall in Paris, 78€.

(1x) (2018)

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)

Itineraires

5, rue de Pontoise (5)
Tel: 01-46-33-60-11

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Surprisingly elegant, modern décor. Near river. Medium sized. Busy, closely spaced. Ambitious blackboard menu. Always booked.


Same chef, same address, but a “new” restaurant. Décor upgraded, fewer tables. Now a tasting menu, four courses, 59€; five courses, 79€. More refined dishes, more carefully plated, with a now older, more established clientele.

What was an attractive, but typical formula destination is now a more relaxed and elegant choice.

FOOD

Excellent, with careful plating and attention to detail.


Refined. Inventive. Choice of two (of five) entrees – shrimp with avocado, foie gras over caramelized onions – plus one plat – foie gras stuffed boneless quail formed into a cylinder, cod, pork – plus dessert. A broader (and more expensive) wine list.

SERVICE

Friendly, professional service, although on our first visit we were not told of non-posted specials. A serious misstep.


The chef’s wife oversees the room with competence, pride and a smile, assisted by equally friendly if less polished staff.

PRICE

32€ formula, with many supplements. Medium, but low for the result.

(2x)(2010-2011)


Now 59€, 79€

(1x)(2013)


Restaurant now closed.

(2019)

Joia

39 Rue Des Jeuneurs (2)
Tel: 01-40-20-06-06

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Joia is the second Paris restaurant of the chef Helene Darroze, whose other restaurant, a more formal Michelin 1 Star, reopens following a major renovation in a few weeks, with a new name. She also runs the formal dining room of the Hotel Connaught in London. Her family restaurant credentials go back several generations.

Joia is a modern, casual and, for Paris, unusual concept. It is fun and very good. Where the fun comes from depends on where you sit.

Downstairs has a large communal high-top, a bar virtually in the kitchen and a scattering of tables. Up a beautifully executed reproduction staircase leads to a large, high-ceilinged, less casual room, featuring a beautiful cocktail bar offering snacks and nicely spaced tables serving the full menu.

FOOD

A modern mix of dishes assembled to please. Our meal began with a prepare-your-own guacamole (a traditional mortar and pestle to mash perfectly ripe avocado, with all of the traditional mix-ins in bowls to add to taste).  Most main dishes are offered for 2 (turbot, chicken, etc.). Ours was a single giant slow-cooked short rib served on a cutting board with implements to slice and serve ourselves. Deeply seasoned, beautiful and delicious. For almost the first time ever in Paris, they offered to pack up what we couldn’t finish, including our 2 sides, cauliflower with stilton and fried potatoes. Very large portions. Wine list featuring female wine makers only.

SERVICE

Informal, but effusively friendly. They are having fun, proud of the restaurant and trying hard to assure that clients are too.

PRICES

Not cheap. 164€ with one drink, 4 glasses of wine, one dessert.

(1x) (2019)

 

 

Photo from “Trip Advisor”

Juveniles

47 Rue de Richelieu (1)
Tel:  01-42-97-46-49

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A long-established wine bar begun by an English-born owner, now evolved into a small, popular restaurant in the second generation.  His daughter, one of two very busy servers, her husband the chef.  Popular with tourists and French, it is well-located a few blocks from the Louvre, tight and slightly uncomfortable, boasting plenty of energy, especially on a Saturday night in June.  Prices are fair, value high, but for us, it was not unique or in any way distinguished.

FOOD

Á la carte, langoustines with grilled melon in a spicy chili sauce, dressed with chopped raw almonds as entrée.  Grilled tuna and roast lamb as plats, each dressed with herb sprigs, chopped nuts and vegetable nuggets, clearly the cooking style of the chef.  Roasted fresh apricots with mascarpone and rhubarb panna cotta with sliced strawberries.  Wines from every region by the bottle or glass.  Good food, but short of very good.

SERVICE

Two incredibly hard-working servers do it all.  They serve the water and wines, slice the bread, explain the menu, consult on the wines, clear and present the check.  Helpful, but they could use a third.

PRICES

For two, with five glasses of wine:  138€.

(1x) (2018)

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)

Lasserre

17, avenue Franklin Roosevelt (8)
Tel: 01-43-59-53-43

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

I ate at Lasserre once before, with my family in 1966. My father reveled in the name association.

Fast forward 45 years. It remains an elegant, memorable experience; fine food, luxurious and beautiful soundings, a corps of serving staff from uniformed doorman to liveried elevator attendant who delivers you one floor up to a tuxedoed maitre d’. Sommeliers and waiters with tails and runners in starched white jackets carrying large silver trays navigate generously spaced tables and rolling carts. An experience from another era – and it may have been in 1966. But unlike La Tour D’Argent (see 5th), while historic and with some appeal, Lasserre is something of a relic. Lasserre is full at a Thursday Christmas season lunch, 90% French and unfazed by astonishing prices, softened deceptively by a special lunch menu of three courses for 80€.

FOOD

At lunch, three choices in each category, no supplements: Sautéed fish with fall vegetables, a “ragout” of fish and shellfish with beurre blanc, daurade, sliced (tableside) veal shank, pear tartlet, chocolate pastry. All excellent, if not 3-star.

SERVICE

A ballet of swooshing tails, rolling carts, silver domes, golden utensils (for dessert). And except for a chilly receptionist downstairs, all friendly and welcoming, without a hint of condescension.

PRICE

Lunch with special menu served only Thursday and Friday. There are some less expensive wines. Do not be shy to ask for them. We didn’t. A 30€ glass of red wine, 12€ coffee and 12€ tea moved the check into a different category, but still way below a la carte dinner, offering a 195€ “chef surprise” six course tasting menu.

(1x) (2012)

Lazare

rue Interieure (8)
Inside Gare St. Lazare
Tel:  01-44-90-80-80

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

There exists a vast body of empirical evidence that in high-end restaurants, execution is usually not scalable. It is difficult for an accomplished chef to be in two kitchens at once. And patrons want to know he/she is there. So chefs develop alternative concepts and attempt to train and hire teams which embody their approach. Sometimes it works (Alain Ducasse – see Benoit 4th, Aux Lyonnais 2nd, Allard 6th), sometimes it doesn’t (see Terrior Parisien 5th and now a second location in the 2nd).

Eric Frechon, 3-star chef at the Hotel Bristol, has successfully reimagined the railroad station all-day service brasserie inside the Gare St. Lazare. And he has hit a home run.

Large, beautifully designed contemporary space with three seating areas; tables for four, a round copper bar for walk-ins, and two high tables each seating eight facing the busy, well staffed open kitchen. Good theater.

Diverse, unusually presented menu and wine list. Careful management and attentive service, and fair a la carte prices combine to make a winning combination.

FOOD

Deviled eggs with crab and tuna, mussels (offered as a lower priced entrée), and seven hour lamb over bulgar made a large, delicious meal. Good, but not great dessert of large crepe beggar’s purse enclosing sautéed apples in a caramel sauce. Wine by the glass (for us) at very reasonable prices.

SERVICE

Friendly, surprisingly professional and attentive, overseen by real management. In all, a smooth functioning team, all the more surprising because Lazare opened only three months ago, in October, 2013.

PRICE

This is neither haute cuisine nor high-end dining, notwithstanding its 3-star pedigree. Yet at a very slow Christmas week Saturday night, the few St. Lazare commuters were squeezed out by Parisiens with reservations, all attracted by fair a la carte prices (140€ for two) in a well- designed, expensively done physical space and good, carefully prepared food.

(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)

Lucas Carton

9, Place de la Madeleine (8)
Tel: 01-42-65-56-66

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Lucas-Carton has a very long and distinguished history.

In modern times it was a 3 Star restaurant, first as classic and traditional in an era when the chef stayed in the kitchen and worked without rock star celebrity. In the 1980’s, 3-Star chef Alain Senderens moved his L’Archestrate into the Lucas-Carton space (with the L’Archestrate space becoming Arpege). That lasted through a disastrous architectural “modernization”, with Senderens eventually renouncing his Michelin stars and walking off the competitive field.

Now a new incarnation of the venerable location, a young chef and a concept for 2 restaurants within one, an ambitious, expensive a la carte downstairs restaurant in the large museum-like art nouveau main rooms (worth visiting on its design merits alone), and a 45€ short “market menu” in a smaller upstairs room, which is what we reserved.

It was the night following the 3 day Easter weekend. Not much business. So the upstairs room was closed. We were seated in the exquisite 1902 dining room with a picture window view of the Madeleine Cathedral, with the 45€ menu. We may have been the only such ones among the 8-10 occupied tables. What luck, in combination with a finely cooked meal, replete with finesse characteristic of much more refined and expensive food.

FOOD

The menu needed sorting out. Three courses from a concise menu offering 4 choices in each category, but with several items changed, as explained by the waiter, probably reflecting the slow night.

What we ate was exquisite, although the portions were small.

Asparagus with grapefruit, beef in a rich wine sauce with a clever slice of terrine of macaroni, a chocolate dessert, barely baked clams with basil topping, parmesan gnocchi with asparagus tips, rhubarb tart. A fine meal at twice the price.

SERVICE

Perfectly adequate and friendly, but not what would be expected of the a la carte room, history, prices or ambition. Maybe a post-holiday schedule.

PRICE

45€ for 3 courses. Reasonable wines by the glass from a short list. For full bottles, the main wine list virtually all 3 digits.

(1x) (2017)

 

 

Photo from “The Fork”

L’ As du Fallafel

34, rue des Rosiers (4)
Tel: 01-48-87-63-60

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

As the name and address suggest, a kosher falafel joint in the Marais with a bare bones dining room in case you don’t want to eat on the street. No décor and barely anything resembling ambiance. So what explains long lines every day, all day? A great sandwich and an unforgettable experience. (And the long lines move quickly.)

FOOD

Hardly more than falafel. Chose the accompaniments; all of them fresh, delicious, put together in front of you, assembly-line fashion. Also lamb, chicken. Save coffee and dessert for a nearby café.

SERVICE

Basically, no service. Someone works the outside line, takes your order and collects the money. Pick up your falafel at the window. Or, for an extra 1€ per person, sit inside and have it brought to you.

PRICE

Two world class falafels, two Diet Cokes: 14€, plus 2€ to sit inside. Try to beat it in New York – or Jerusalem.


A visit to Paris isn’t complete without a walk in the Marais and lunch (inside) at L’As du Fallafel. Terrific food. Low prices. Helpful service (such as it is). More energy than any other restaurant in this guide.

(9X) (2010-2019)

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)

L’AOC

14, rue des Fosses (5)
Tel: 01-43-54-22-52

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Out of the way location. Small, authentic space. The hook is in the selection of ingredients, each artisan-produced (hence, AOC). Mostly meat. Terrines, sausages, rotisserie. Friendly, not warm.

On a Saturday lunch, no warmer, but a delicious 3 course formula lunch for 29€.

FOOD

Food quite good. Portions large. Terrines set on the table. Take what you want. Simple preparations. Exceptional ingredients.

SERVICE

Attentive. Professional. Experienced.

PRICE

A la carte, but reasonable.

At lunch, two courses from small menu, 21€. Three courses 29€. Wine by the glass, 5€.

(2x) (2013)


Restaurant now closed.

(2019)

Ma Cocotte

106, rue des Rosiers (18)
Tel:  01-49-51-70-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The deafening hype on Ma Cocotte has been a feature of virtually every major design magazine world-wide – and for good reason. It is a Phillippe Starck design masterpiece (don’t miss the bathrooms, down the Richard Serra-like stairs). But it is a restaurant, and to write that it falls short of the innovativeness of the modern design and mix of interesting materials of the purpose-built large space right in the center of the otherwise marginal neighborhood of the Clignancourt Flea Market is an understatement. Yet it doesn’t try to be much more than it is – simple food, no reservations, hip servers and a chic crowd. In fact, in all of its less appealing features, it is more American than any Paris listing in this diary.

FOOD

Very simple: Roast chicken, cheeseburger, mac and cheese, plus starters and terrific bistro style desserts. But don’t think about going for the food. It may be the best choice in the Flea Market, but having tried them all over 20 years, that says nothing.

SERVICE

Not out of work actors, but good looking young servers in jeans taking and placing their orders by hand held devices.

PRICE

A la carte. Two for lunch. 90€.

(1x) (2013)

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)

Mama Shelter

109, rue de Bagnolet (20)
Tel: 01-43-48-48-48

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Don’t bother. Too cool for its own good, and surely for ours. Way out in the 20th, plus a long walk from the metro. Reportedly an Alain Sederens collaboration, but Lucas Carton it’s not. Formula lunch uninspired. Limited choice menu. No better than competent execution.

FOOD

Maybe they do more at dinner, but nothing at lunch remotely memorable except the time it took to get there.

SERVICE

Warm and friendly – as in “Mama Shelter”.

PRICE

Reasonable prices. 19€ entrée and plat, plus 8€ for dessert.

(1x) (2010)

Marche de Enfants Rouges

39, rue de Bretagne (3)
No phone

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

This Diary is a personal restaurant list, not a Paris Guide, so it is questionable whether Enfants Rouge even belongs. It is not a restaurant per se, but an ancient covered market (from the 17th Century) in the process of evolving into what Americans would call an international food court.

There remain a handful of traditional market stalls for fish, fruit and vegetables, etc., plus established specialist shops on the surrounding blocks. What appear in every other outdoor market as Italian or North African prepared food vendors are takeout stands here, with outdoor tables on the sidewalks surrounding the market somehow allocated to each shop.

FOOD

Italian, hamburgers, filled crepes, Moroccan, Libyan and Asian are only some of the cuisines represented. Each stand displays heaping platters of cooked food to be reheated, served, sliced or portioned. Line up. Order. Pay. A waiter will help you carry your food to an eligible table. Not for the fainthearted, but on a Sunday midday full of happy French and visitors.

SERVICE

Primitive, and appropriately so.

PRICE

Very low. We chose the longest line, assuming someone knew what he was doing. Moroccan couscous, in countless variations.


Five years later, except for noting that hamburgers are appearing as the French Sunday brunch favorite (and so is Sunday brunch now replacing the traditional Sunday family lunch, at least for young urban dwellers), I would not change a word.  And the Moroccan line still the longest

(2x) (2014-2019)

Maree (La)

1, rue Daru (8)
Tel: 01-43-80-20-00

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

A longtime 2-star restaurant now under new ownership with a less ambitious and (considerably) less costly menu. Neighborhood and décor “establishment”; now slightly tired. Open kitchen. Many jackets and ties. But don’t write this off. The seafood menu and results are quite good.

FOOD

Exceptional. It may have lost its stars, but on some nights on a path to regain them.

SERVICE

Decidedly not 2 – star– or any star. Erratic, but friendly, ranges from gracious to slapdash. Needs a stronger management hand.

PRICE

A la carte prices high, but not for food of this quality, fish particularly. Best news is a formula menu: 34€ for several choices in each category from the a la carte menu. A true bargain.

(3x) (2011-2012)

Mascotte (La)

52 Rue des Abbesses (18)
Tel: 01-46-06-28-15

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Good seafood at reasonable prices remains a challenge in Paris. Fish is represented on virtually every menu, but the choices are limited. There are fish restaurants and oyster and shellfish brasseries, featuring a variety of raw oysters and grand shellfish platters. La Mascott is the latter. The shellfish is good. A range of cooked seafood dishes somewhat less so.

FOOD

Six oysters served with Mignonette sauce and brown bread and seasoned butter, four Madagascar shrimp, both outstanding. Dover sole (44€) and grilled St. Pierre served with accompaniments good, the sole particularly. Desserts offered, including sherbets from the renowned Berthillon.

What was missing in the meal and the large brasserie-like space was any energy or style, an impression heightened by walking to the restaurant from the Abbesses Metro stop a few blocks away. Along the Monmartre street we passed several crowded cafes, with happy people filling the terrace tables. Arriving at La Mascotte was a downer, notwithstanding the acceptable food.

SERVICE

A kind, reasonably attentive waiter.

PRICES

With wine, dessert and coffee, 174€

(1x) (2017)

(Photo from “Pinterest”)

MaZenay (Le)

46 Rue de Montmorency (3)
Tel: 06-42-83-79-52

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Among literally thousands of named, but otherwise nameless, small restaurants which dot virtually every block of greater Paris, only a handful combine seriousness, ambition and skill. How to identify these needles within the haystack? Only by word of mouth and personal recommendation. Many thrive for generations by the standards of this Diary and more professional reviews, never rising because location, habit and a lack of ambition – or budget – beyond neighborhood loyalists. Some get lucky and noticed. Many fail. Word of mouth – the recommendation of French-born, now part-time Parisians from Boston, we learned of one of their go-to destinations – not fancy, not special, but several notches above what would be inferred from the small, but nicely designed space in an undistinguished neighborhood behind the Pompidou Centre in the 3rd. We tried for lunch and will return for a slightly more ambitious 39€ 3 course dinner, as listed on a blackboard.

FOOD

For lunch, 2 courses of 19€, 3 courses for 25€.

Outstanding fresh Italian tomato soup with melting squares of mozzarella, roasted fish or stewed beef in a dark wine sauce. I skipped the plats in favor of an á la carte platter of delicious fresh pate, cheese and sliced salmon with pickled vegetables. For dessert, sliced fresh strawberries with a light shortbread biscuit – a light version of old fashioned strawberry shortcake. Surprisingly refined food served to neighborhood workers at lunch.

SERVICE

Two professional servers covered the 25 or so guests.

PRICE

Very fair – even cheap by the standard of the food. Recommended wines 6€/glass or 15€/carafe.

(1x) (2018)

Moissonnier

28, rue des Fosses St.-Bernard (5)
Tel: 01-43-29-87-65

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

The feeling in this restaurant on a Friday night was of older French people eating out, versus “dining out”, a neighborhood place where people went to have dinner, versus “going out” to dinner. A local crowd. Small, but full. Good food. Good value. The downside is the restaurant lacks energy – big time. Good food, promptly served, quickly consumed, home to bed.

FOOD

Two specialties maison, chicken with girolles and – at each of the two tables next to ours – a spectacular looking “soufflé quenelles de brochet”. A long list of bistro desserts. Wines by the carafe.

SERVICE

One competent waitress, not unfriendly, not much more.

PRICE

The chicken was fabulous, but pricey, 33€ per person a la carte. With starters, desserts, 127€ for two.

(1x) (2011)


(Now Closed)