20, rue Rosenwald (15)
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.
38, rue Reaumur (3)
AMBIANCE/DÉCORA find, made more surprising by the nondescript location in the 3rd and the equally nondescript exterior appearance of the restaurant. Interior slightly more encouraging, but hardly imposing. Chef, however, comes with serious credentials. Was #2 to Alain Senderens, chef at then 3-star Lucas Carton.
129, rue Saint Dominique (7)
Great look. Warm welcome. Good food, but on one Sunday night, few French in sight. Still, a good Sunday choice. Very popular. Always busy.
85, avenue Kleber (16)
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.
121, rue Saint Honore (1)
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.
10 bis, rue Servandoni (6)
AMBIANCE/DÉCORFrom 2010: Informal Left Bank neighborhood spot. Small. Tired. Eccentric. Out of the 1920’s, and not much redecorating since. Owner plus daughter. Tiny kitchen in the hallway.
117 rue du Cherche Midi (6)
Classic bistro décor. Deliberately tired, but not in the kitchen. Everything L’Ami Louis has except the attitude and prices. Menu innovation: some half portions available. Luxury meats and order ahead desserts (soufflé; extraordinary apple tart). High energy. Great fun. Always full. Terrific food.
4, rue Beethoven (16)
If it is true that some Michelin 3-stars are running on fumes, it surely isn’t true of L’Astrance. Dinner can be up to 350€ fixed price, plus wine. Lunch: 70€. Wines selected for each course – and refilled – 50€/p. Every dish unusual, beautiful, perfectly executed. A reminder that Michelin stars do carry meaning. This is as good as restaurants get.
13, rue Ternaux (11)
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.
34 Rue des Rosiers (4)
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.)
28, av Ledru-Rollin (12)
A movie set bistro. In Gare de Lyon neighborhood. Elderly, energetic owner dominates the room; takes orders, checks on tables, advises on menu, creates a completely memorable experience – with one caveat: An assumed digestif gift is 15e on the check. A recommended wine substitution priced 75% higher. Great food, great fun.
Another spectacular dinner demands amplification. Le Quincy illustrates the range of Paris dining and the peril inherent in lists of “favorite restaurants”. On two back to back nights Versance (see 2nd) and Le Quincy.
Bois de Boulogne Allee de Longchamp (17)
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.