Arrondissements

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Village (Le)

25 Rue Royale (8)
Tel: 01-40-17-02-19

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

In deference to there being a paucity of listings for the 8th Arr., I offer a lunch spot around the corner from Hermes off the rue St. Honore.

In warm weather, the interior crossover between rue Royal and the parallel street is a lovely enclave of small shops, plus this Costes-owned café.  Like their hotel and other establishments, it is high on style (and price) without much soul.  For a sunny day and the opportunity to sit outside without visible traffic, it could work if you are in the neighborhood.

FOOD

Competent, with a menu which images what fashion models would like to order.

SERVICE

Bilingual. Casual.  Upscale.  Café-like.

PRICES

High for what is offered, but in a high priced neighborhood.

(1x) (2016)

Photo from “Yelp”

Villaret (Le)

13, rue Ternaux (11)
Tel: 01-43-57-89-76

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

If not a discovery, a find. A bistro as defined by menu and ambition. Attractive space, but not a period one. Nondescript neighborhood. Major wine list. Concise, but broad a la carte menu. Serious execution. An exceptionally good package. The number of apparent regulars attests to both loyalty, consistency and quality.


Over seven years and six satisfying dinners, nothing has changed. All to the good. The neighborhood remains scruffy. The clientele, almost always all French and trending older, the menu extensive, varied and traditional. The preparations, like the restaurant wisely, its staff and its look eschewing flash and empty innovation.

Sautéed wild mushrooms and a platter of sliced Spanish ham; lamb shoulder for two with roasted garlic and wonderful beans arriving in a gleaming copper casserole; sautéed apple and pear in a caramel sauce with vanilla ice cream. These chosen from a long menu.

Kind man and woman serving, both with some English, she in charge on the extraordinary Burgundy wine list, an unlikely highlight.

Villaret is something of a hold-out in a street full of small bars and restaurants catering to the young crowd now gentrifying the neighborhood. A real French restaurant in the traditional sense.

FOOD

Meat and fish. Presentation not painstaking, but execution exceptional. Choices diverse and appealing. A wide range within a concise menu, with some seasonal emphasis.

SERVICE

Friendly and professional, if not classic bistro. Helpful. Knowledgeable.

PRICE

A la carte menu. Ex wine, food reasonably priced. Some affordable wines, but not many. For the serious wine person, a joy.

(6x) (2010-2017)

Violon d’Ingres (Le)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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


Violon has changed since we last ate there in 2011.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOOD

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

SERVICE

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

PRICE

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


(See Ambiance/Décor)

(4x) (2011-2017)

Voltaire (Le)

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

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

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


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


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

FOOD

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


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

SERVICE

Professional. Friendly. Many regulars greeted warmly.


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

PRICE

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


Very high prices across the a la carte menu.

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

(5x) (2012 – 2014)

yam’Tcha

121, rue Saint Honoré (1)
Tel: 01-40-26-08-07

AMBIANCE/DÉCOR

Hard to describe, and why bother? Twenty- four seats, sold out lunch and dinner a month ahead with a one month limit on future bookings. But so good, worth trying. Occasional openings for lunch.

Open kitchen. One (French) woman chef/owner, one Asian helper, dishwasher, three front of the house, including the Asian husband of the chef, in charge of tea pairings. Mostly French clientele. A great meal.


The buzz last year was that Yam’Tcha was temporarily closing for an expansion. Wrong. The only expansion was the chef’s family. A second baby born in April. While the restaurant was closed, it was tastefully renovated, including the menu which basically lists prices and beverage options. There are no menu choices. Every dish is over the top. The staff could not be nicer or more professional, in a professional, but friendly way. For us, a top choice in Paris.


A recent dinner at the two seat kitchen counter reconfirms our past enthusiasm. Very expensive, but in every way memorable, unusual, exceptional and fine. Beautiful to look at, better to eat. Eight unique courses, each exquisite. And a third chef in the kitchen, so now a staff of three, plus dishwasher. Worth repeat calls for a hard-to-book table.


Bittersweet. An early October (2014) dinner was our last meal at Yam’Tcha on rue Sauval. After three more services, it closes to become a tea and Chinese steamed bun take-out shop (see Brioches Vapeur a Emporter, 1st Arr.) while a new, larger (35 vs. 24 seats) restaurant is built around the corner at 123 rue St. Honore. Fingers crossed, the expansion works for the restaurant, and in terms of charm, intimacy and what remains our every-time- best-meal/experience in Paris is able to survive. They deserve to succeed and to prosper.


Yam’Tcha was our favorite restaurant in Paris when it was on Rue Sauval. Now literally around the corner on Rue St. Honore it remains our favorite restaurant, in slightly larger, but more comfortable, more refined space. The kitchen has expanded by 3x or more, allowing for the addition of a pastry chef, a third cook and prep space in the basement. Otherwise, no change, which is very good news. Never a repeat dish. Every meal better than the last. Restaurant and staff keep getting better.


Yam’Tcha now open four days, Wednesday through Saturday. Six course meal which was 120€, now 150€, and still a steal.


Still, our best meal in Paris and our favorite people. 28 seats, ten small courses (some with multiple separate tastes), no choice, wonderful wines and careful service. Every day a different menu – for 12 years.

During Covid, closed two months and again for seven. Everything back in order, and better than ever.

Our welcome developed over 12 years of many dinners, but the same menu and its careful and creative French/Chinese excellence available to everyone.

 

FOOD

Technically, a fusion menu. Elegant, inventive Chinese-style French food. Tasting menu only. No choice.

100€, multiple courses at dinner and most lunches. Several days a week, a 60€ lunch. One course better than another. A Michelin 1- star. In every way deserved.


Our most recent dinner: Fried shrimp wonton, salad with Spanish ham and quail egg, scallops, foie gras and oyster with potato, steamed sea bass with chili pepper and black bean, chicken breast over shitake mushrooms, cheese- filled steamed Chinese bread, Pavlova with grapes and sherbet, chocolate filled rice balls

There is a great deal of food, served in 10 or so small courses.  It is a long evening.  For us, this is the perfect restaurant.  And it has gotten better, if such a thing is possible.

Still a hard table, but 68 lucky folks succeed every day. The French version of Nexflix “Chef’s Table” has done an episode (with subtitles) on the chef and her family. Next best thing to being there.

 

SERVICE

Attentive, proper, friendly. English- speaking.

PRICE

Tea pairings offered at 25€. Wine and tea combination pairings at 35€. Wines only, 45€.

Lunch 60€ on some days. And lunch on other days and dinner, 120€. No choice. (They know better anyway!)

The food could not be better, the fixed meal more interesting or diverse, the paired wines more tasty or generously poured, or the service more intelligent, solicitous and genuinely warm.


The legendary American food authority James Beard was once asked, “Mr. Beard, what is your favorite restaurant?” He famously responded, “Why madam, it is the same as yours, a restaurant where I am loved.”

We feel loved at Yam’Tcha, but that took time. We became familiar clients because we returned trip after trip to experience warm hospitality, beautiful French/Asian food consistently executed and served at the highest standards by lovely people who hardly change year to year.

Our 2019 lunch confirmed – once again – that this is our favorite Paris restaurant still. Book early. (And if you fail to book, or fail to land a precious table, consider an impromptu lunch at the Boutique around the corner on Rue Sauval, the original Yam’Tcha location, where they serve tea and steamed buns (bao), including the “cheese course” at the restaurant.)

Or try the newest offshoot, a more overtly Asian casual restaurant and take-out, Café Lai‘Tcha, across the new Les Halles Park accessible from Rue Sauval at 7 Rue du Jour  (around the corner from the 24 hour Au Pied du Cochon.)

(12x+) (2012 – 2021)

1st Arrondissement, Favorites|