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Oct 15, 2008 05:57 PM

What is your old reliable?

What is a reliable restaurant that you go to because you always know you'll have a good, solid meal? Your default restaurant.

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  1. Astier for value.

    Carre des Feuillants for great.

    1. I won't be particularly original, but I'll go with La Régalade, of course!
      People have been saying for a long time that it's one of the best value in town for a reason, really.

      1. They're the ones I usually recommend. I don't like keeping trying new places -- I like finding a place I can trust.

        So indeed La Régalade, Chez l'Ami Jean, Le Cinq, Gérard Besson, Yong rue de la Colonie, Tong Yen, Savoy, Vong, La Véranda in Versailles, La Fontaine de Mars, l'AOC, le Sévero, Le Duc, Solia av. de Choisy, la Table de JR, come to mind as places where I know what I'll get and I know it will be good and they never failed me (well, everyone can have one night off...)

        It's true that some big stars are less reliable but can be out of this world wonderful (in their category) -- l'Arpège, Senderens, l'Atelier de JR, Apicius, l'Ambroisie, Pierre Gagnaire, La Rotonde,

        1. A very good question, to me an “old reliable” to me is like a comfortable pair of old shoes or my favourite armchair. They are places that may not be the best of the best but they make me happy and I return time and time again. I personally don’t subscribe to the “where is the best” philosophy, instead I prefer to look for quality across a range of places – if they make the grade and I like them they go on my “old reliable list”.

          When we lived in Paris we aimed to visit a new (to us) restaurant once a week, and also return to a regular haunt once a week. But the reality of working and living in a busy city is that you usually want to chill out at the weekends and so more often than not we headed for the “old reliables” that were close to home (6/7eme). Budget is also a factor, whilst we love the Michelin starred experiences we simply didn’t have the spare cash to eat in them routinely. Here are the ones we visited time and time again:

          Fish – great for a relaxing glass of wine and interesting food cooked to a high standard. Perfect for a Friday night after a hard week.

          Le Cinq Mars – our neighbourhood bistro - simple, reliable food with friendly staff.

          Maceo – a nice place to dress up for, a grand room with good well priced food

          Gaya – a little glamourous, stylish and quite fun. Very good cooking from a young talented “Gagnaire” team.

          Benoit – great for a late Sunday lunch after a walk down the river and shopping at the Bastille market. Reliable food served with style - a decadent contrast to shopping in the market.

          Le Comptoir du Relais – we were regulars at both the bistro and brasserie. The food was always good, and we liked the atmosphere. Over hyped, but “it does what says on the tin”, so to us it was our reliable neighbourhood restaurant.

          Chez LAmi Jean – Always busy and fun, good to de-stress on a Friday evening. Food is generally good – but care is needed in ordering.

          Fables de la Fontaine – quite cheap for such a good and stylish fish restaurant. Nice for a Saturday night without breaking the bank.

          Le Nemrod – good for a glass of red (or a coffee) and a croque monsieur after the weekly shop in Bon Marche

          8 Replies
          1. re: PhilD

            Great post, PhilD! I just moved to your very same neighborhood and am looking forward to trying your old favorites.

            My old favorites --
            Aux Fins Gourmets, now under new ownership, but it seems untouched, from the smoke-stained walls to the loyal waiters. I love the harengs in oil, the confit de canard, the cassoulet (unparalleled, I think), even their vinaigrette is good. A classic.

            Café Fleurus -- cheerful little place near the jardin du luxembourg. Seems like it should be touristy, but it's not. Good for a cheering Saturday lunch -- they offer one plat du jour (usually boeuf bourginon), then the cafe menu suspects -- croque monsieur, omlettes, salade composée. V. simple. I prefer to the Nemrod (sorry PhilD).

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Aux Fins Gourmets is in the 7th at 213 bd St-Germain 01 42 22 06 57

              2. re: Cookingthebooks

                Funnily enough I used to live two doors down from "Au Fin Gourmet" and ate there a few times, I probably didn't go that often because it was to close.

                Cafe Fleurus sounds like a great local, to me Nemrod was fine as it was close but we wouldn't travel to go there.

                1. re: Cookingthebooks

                  Is Cafe Fleurus the cafe that is right on the grounds of the jardin du luxembourg?

                  1. re: ccferg

                    No, it is on rue de Fleurus, just outside the rue Guynemer entrance.

                    Another old favorite -- Café Voltaire, where the oeuf mayo was just voted the best in Paris by Le Figaroscope. I like their potage aux legumes and the plat du jour is always savory and hearty.

                    I should add that Café Fleurus and Café Voltaire are both open only for lunch.

                2. re: PhilD

                  We tried Le Cinq Mars last night and enjoyed it. For some reason (not sure why) I thought it was a more traditional bistro so was surprised to find it quite modern. But the food was very good and I liked the wine selection as well. I had the salade aux lentilles with crispy ham -- nicely textured lentils, sprigs of cilantro, crispy ham was delicious but a little too salty. Then, tartare de boeuf -- hand-chopped, nicely seasoned, slightly piquante. DH had the cucumber salad with goat cheese (a little ordinary), and entrecote with a creamy sauce of girolles -- hearty, rich, and savory. Finished with creme brulee -- delicious vanilla flavor. Nothing special but good food, well-prepared. The only down-note was the huge table of young, American women out on a hen night, whose hooting and shrieking filled our ears. Actually, the waiter apologized to us.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    La Regalade
                    and Chez Denise
                    We have never chosen incorrectly at La Regalade, which means that everything is tasty.
                    Chez Denise, for the ambiance, and spirit.
                    For old timers like us, it is a reminder of the glory days of Les Halles, and the late suppers.