11 rue Dupin (6)
Tel:  01-42-22-64-56

For years, Epi Dupin was our go to place.  And we were not alone.  Full lunch and dinner, tourists and French.  Gradually the front of the house staff who brought some order from the chaos and who allowed Epi Dupin to work for us as the surging crowds made it harder to snag a table and to enjoy its unique menu moved on, one by one, for reasons we concluded had nothing to do with the restaurant itself.  We were again strangers and we moved on too.  So, after an absence of several years, we scored a last-minute dinner reservation.  And now we know why.  Now Dupin.  Same address and décor, more or less, with half the seats removed.  But nothing else but memories.  Chef retired.  New chef and format.  He rented the real estate.


Our familiarity with the address (and our error in thinking we were returning to our one-time favorite) initially disorienting.  Epi Dupin would have hopeful diners waiting on the street at 8:00 p.m.  On a rainy Thursday, one table. An hour later, a sprinkling of more guests to order a la carte from a limited menu of beautifully prepared, complex multi-ingredient choices (pigeon, char-roasted veal, mushrooms).  Much to visually admire, but not deeply flavorful.  The space seems physically incongruent with the delivery of the food.  Half the original number of tables, but the contrast (and the surprise – entirely our fault) made it all the more difficult to embrace the meal we were served verses what we came for.


So many restaurants like it – each would be greeted gushingly in New York (In Boston there would be a parade).  But now common in Paris:  a brilliant young chef trying to rise above the crowd offering carefully executed, complex and beautiful food at 75-100€ per person, but without the essential combination to make it memorable.


(1X) (2022)

Epi (L) D’Or

25 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1)
Tel:  01-42-36-38-12

This is chef Jean-Francois Piege’s fifth restaurant.  The second purchase of a long-established more modest restaurant (see La Poule au Pot).  I’m sure Piege’s CFO and operations head spends time there, but this is a distant connection to his world class Le Grand Restaurant (see).

I never ate at (or knew) Epi D’Or in its original 1920’s version.  Physically, nothing much could have changed.  It is intentionally so.  This is no re-creation.  It is as it was left by its former owners.  That’s not all bad. It helps create the strong energy which is the restaurant’s best attribute.  Full, uncomfortable, jammed.  It is a small space with 40-50 seats, a prominent bar flanked by tiny tables for 2 and an open closet of a kitchen manned at a packed dinner service by a young chef and one helper (there must be prep and dishwasher in the basement).

I’m sure people were having fun, all ages and nationalities.  Prices appear low (although it adds up); walk-ins turned away.


The food?  It’s an issue, and not the highlight.  Actually, at any price, it was a disappointment, both what was served and what wasn’t.

The unique feature presumably carried over from the 1920’s is a very limited menu with a daily menu of 3 widely advertised courses offered every week.  It was Monday, so the offer was ricotta gnocchi in a (delicious) fresh tomato sauce, duck confit and whipped cream with pastry dessert.  So, we knew from the date we reserved what we would eat.  Except at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, no duck.  How can that be, contradicting the key feature of the restaurant’s format?  Maybe worse, an hour later when I walked past the open kitchen, what did I see?  Two orders of duck, saved, I assumed, for special guests.  More confusing, in substitution I was offered pork belly with leeks (pretty good).  But this is a slow-cooked dish, not something pulled out of the refrigerator when they run out of duck.  This was planned.  We were disappointed, glad to have tried it, but are not considering returning.


Service was not very good; two hard-working waiters in the entire restaurant setting and cleaning tables, opening and serving wine, taking orders, greeting guests and frequently stopping to close the front door.  I’ve never seen two harder working staff, and keeping it together, more or less.


155€ for two.


(1X) (2022)


Rue Chappon (3)
Tel: 01-43-37-91-64

This is a terrific new (2022) restaurant.

Small, casual. Located on an otherwise deserted 18th C Marais street.  A boutique selling wines across the street, the one other source of light on the dark street emanating from this professional, but low-key storefront.

Wine focused with a very long list from across France.  The price range tending toward high.  A concise menu, evidently different every day.  Four-five choices per category, unusual, fresh basic preparations of seasonal ingredients.


Scallops with garlic butter on open shells; then sliced cold head cheese,   ris de veau (sweetbreads) lightly fried over mashed potatoes.  Also offered:  a pasta (gnocchi), a vegetarian option and bass.  Poached pear and several other enticing desserts.


Friendly service. Bilingual.


Precious tables.  Fair, but equally precious prices.

Could not be more contemporary Paris without artifice or pretention.  With wine, 90€ per person.


(1X) (2022)


8 Avenue Dutuit (8)
Tel:  01-53-05-10-00



When 3-Star chef Yannick Alleno left the Hotel Maurice several years ago to take over the venerable, but tired Pavilion Ledoyen behind the Petit Palais along the Champs Elysses, it was big news in the food world.  First reports where of mice running around the dining room.  We never checked.

If true, no more. Covid must have interceded with an ambitious construction program, turning the building into three separate restaurants with three kitchens; the Alleno 3-Star, a 2-Star sushi space and the new Pavyllon, a ground floor space which combines an enclosed garden terrace and a completely open kitchen separated from the dining room by a 30 seat counter,.  What a show!  What exceptional food and service!  What prices!  Pavyllon received its first star after three months.  On its merits, more should be coming.


The facility, space, concept and theater are rarely equaled in Paris.  Two set menus, five courses or seven, plus a la carte.  The most welcoming, sincere, attentive and professional service we have ever encountered in Paris at a restaurant at this level.

The five course, at 145€, mussels with a light glaze, steamed cheese soufflé with celery root foam, a tempura pike fish with tarter sauce, grilled breast and legs of quail, a Lebanese wafer of nuts over delicate ice cream.  House made bread, Bordier butter.  A 3-Star wine list with matching prices.  Even the coat check delivered a level of service we have never experienced before.  And, twelve chefs performing from start to finish in front of us.

In the spirit of full disclosure, one discordant note:  the young (Italian) sommelier was friendly, charming and solicitous.  His 5th day on the job, but with an impressive resume.  He offered a glass of champagne and responded when I asked about a red wine to complement the meal.  (He made no mention of a wine pairing offer I had not seen, 73€ per person (for a 145€ menu).  His first recommendation:  590€.  He got as low as 290€, when I caved and agreed.  It was a wonderful wine, but the experience left a deeply bitter taste, both because of the offensive pressure and cost, and because it was so strongly unusual and inappropriate.

We loved the food and the restaurant, nonetheless.  We may have been tourists, but I have been eating across France at 3-Star restaurants since the 1970’s (my first was in 1963 – La Tour d’Argent – See 5th).  I’ve kept most of the checks as souvenirs.  Not one time did I experience what I did that night.  It is rude and unprofessional, even after first, responding what should have been obvious, “I don’t want to spend that much.”  As they say:  “Just say no”!

Our second visit, and an opportunity to reframe our view.

This is dinner theater in super luxury surroundings within a 3-Star Michelin culture (the 3-Star Ledoyen upstairs, from which this new, more casual counter and garden space was carved out). Don’t think about the garden. You are coming here for the theater of the counter, a fully open real kitchen with real cooks preparing a four or seven course meal (135€ or 245€), plus more expensive a la carte. The food is quite good, ambitious and complex, but not 3-Star. What is unique is to watch a real kitchen in action, and it is not all ballet. There is a hierarchy, a chorus (“yes chef”), some running for ingredients, furious activity, many bare hands, a glove rarely in sight. Service is friendly and bilingual. Wine service has bias to higher prices, but no resistance to pushback. For us, the theater is the lure. The food alone is not special enough to justify the prices. The combination is.

(3X) (2021 – 2022)

Photo from yannick-alleno.com

Fogon Ultramarinos

38 Rue de Verneuil (7)
Tel: 01-43-54-31-33


Fogon was a well-regarded longtime Spanish restaurant on the Quai in the 6th.  I never ate there.  The restaurant is gone.  Instead, the owners have opened a beautifully designed take-out shop on Rue Verneuil in the 7th, with 6 seats and a pleasant location for a simple lunch:  Iberico ham, followed by 4 vegetarian tapas tastings.  Wines and desserts available too.

First rate food and environment.  Modest prices.


(1X) (2021)



23 Rue Treilhard (8)
Tel: 01-40-74-20-80

It’s a complicated story with a great ending.

I noticed Cena on line, a new restaurant in the 8th owned by the same group as one of our neighborhood favorites, Le Bon St. Pourcain (see 6th). The internet raved about a new young chef. We knew our 3-star personal favorite, L’Astrance (where lunch was an affordable bargain), was closed; its new location evidently delayed by Covid and construction.

An email from a Paris friend of an American friend: the young chef gone, cooking at Cena the chef and co-owner of L’Astrance, Pascal Barbot. Managing the front, his L’Astrance partner, Christophe.


Cena full. Why not, a 3-star meal in what was built as an upscale neighborhood restaurant. The young staff seemingly agog.

Imagine a resume with a history of 3 Michelin stars.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a 3-star experience, or so remotely priced.


A short a la carte menu designed and executed by Pascal in a semi-open kitchen, including a few dishes lifted from the L’Astrance menu: mixed mushrooms and foie gras, scallops in a rich but light-scented sauce, Arctic white fish with special Japanese rice and beurre blanc sauce. Truly exceptional. For dessert, pear tartlet and chocolate pastry with chocolate ice cream.


Not cheap, but a bargain. Fun to be with such a happy crowd, staff and clients.

If all goes well, L’Astrance opens in July, 2022, so months remain (from October 2021) to participate.

(1x) (2021)

Aux Bons Crus

54 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac (11)
Tel: 01-45-67-21-13


An engaging retro bistro menu of disappearing French classics served to a full house of seeming regulars, deep in small restaurant territory in the 11th. In this Diary, reminiscent of Le Quincy (see), one of our favorites which serves some of the same dishes. Aux Bons Crus is new, but looks old. Le Quincy is old, and looks old.


The best dish we sampled was the classic Lyonnaise fish dumpling, quenelle de brochet. Also pate en croute, lentil salad with sliced sausage and stuffed cabbage. Profiteroles for dessert.


Very low prices. Friendly, but very casual service. Three floor staff for 50 diners, one of the things which can’t be duplicated in the US and which allows small Paris restaurants to work.


My preference is to pay three times more for the real thing at Le Quincy, but a room full of happy diners might disagree.

(1x) (2021)

Scene (La)

32 Avenue Matignon (8)
Tel: 01-42-65-05-61

A new name for us from American friends who, in turn, received the recommendation from their hotel concierge. Opened more or less during Covid, after which it was closed for a year. Already 2 Michelin stars.


A basement dining room for 28 people with an open kitchen and an upstairs street level more casual a la carte bistro with less formal choices (but not necessarily less expensive).


Small menu snacks, first courses, plats, four choices: scallop cru and hard boiled eggs with truffle mayo; escarole and lightly cooked sliced tuna over vegetables and Asian noodles. For dessert, a light pastry, two biscuit discs with vanilla pastry cream in between.

A wonderful lunch, polished, professional, friendly, bi-lingual service. Busy location in the heart of the 8th.

(1x) (2021)


12 Rue de Mirbel (5)
Tel: 01-45-87-89-40


A new restaurant for us, recommended by French friends new to the 5th. Unprepossessing from the outside, wine-focused, the domain of a bilingual wine partner proud of his list, represented by cartons of unopened new arrivals stacked everywhere. Reasonable prices, good choices.


Short a la carte menu; four starters, four plats. Sophisticated dishes, well-imagined and well-executed. Wild mushrooms, raviolis followed by boneless stuffed pintade, fish, pork, all served without ceremony or pretense, but with pride.

Every seat taken, mostly by neighborhood young people and couples.

There must be hundreds of such barely-known neighborhood places in Paris, most never to be known, a few to rise to the next level. With luck or partners, it is what makes Paris entirely different from the US, where skill and labor are more willing and abundant, and where a regular daily clientele (as distinct from a special “date night”, supports their system).

(1x) (2021)