Please recommend me a Parisian bistro!
First post on Chowhound, although I have been reading with interest for a while. Myself and my boyf will be in Paris this weekend (first visit in over 10 years!) and I would like to visit a very Parisian bistro for either lunch or dinner. I realise I have left this very late so if possible I'd like somewhere that might have last min availability or where you may be able to turn up sans reservation. We're staying near Montparnasse station but nearby location not a priority. What I'd like is somewhere cosy with fab food and wine, not stuffy or rushed. From reading other posts on this board I like the sound of La Regalade and Chez l'ami Jean.
Would really appreciate any suggestions and apologise for what I realise must be a frequent post!
Thanks in advance
Just wanted to say thanks very much to all of you for your suggestions, I have kept note and hopefully wiill visit Paris again very soon to try some more of them! We had an amazing weekend (also amazingly expensive - thanks to the recent plummet of sterling v euro!!) and a lovely meal on Sat night at Fish. It was more modern than the stereotypical Parisian restaurant I was expecting but no detriment - I loved the area and restaurant, so vibrant and buzzy. Both wine and food excellent - can provide further details and pics if anyone interested.
Thanks again for your help.
We didnt make a reservation in advance (we found out upon arrival that they apparently dont reserve tables after 8.30pm - dont know whether thats just on weekends or every day) but they accommodated us very quickly, even though the restaurant was very busy. People were also eating up at the bar which seemed like a nice casual option and throughout the evening other people would come and go around that area. The street outside was very busy as well, lots of restaurants and bars around.
We opted for a bottle of Chablis for 33 euro, not the cheapest bottle on the menu but it was my boyfriend's bday and his choice - and my treat!! It was one of the special wines of the week on the board and was very crisp and fresh tasting. Water and bread provided - the bread was lovely, soft and warm. We opted for the 3 course fixed price menu at 36 euro pp which I thought was a good price. My French is a little rusty so the few dishes I had trouble with the waitress was more than happy to help translate - she was English and from Warwick Uni and really welcoming and helpful. I had scallops to start that were served cold which were tasty, although I found the texture slightly strange and also the fact that they were cold I wasnt used to. The boy had foie gras, served with crusty toasted bread and we swapped halfway through and he was more than happy with the scallops. Foie gras was even better with the bread basket where the bread was warm - rich and silky!
For the main course I had the lamb with vegetables which was amazing. I usually have my meat cooked medium rare but I opted for medium for fear of too blue meat and it was perfect for me. The lamb was incredibly tender and packed with flavour, I ate every last bit! The boy had salmon, which was served with a poached egg on top on a creamy risotto. It was lovely and not overly salty which I sometimes find with salmon and risottos (for me anyway). We did the usual swap halfway through but swapped back almost immediately as I was enjoying the lamb way too much and the same for him with the salmon! I usually have red wine with red meat and tend to order a glass if we're drinking white but I didnt on this occasion.
We finished with a warm apple crumble with ice cream for him and the citron tarte for me also with ice cream. I love sour flavours so I thought the tarte was delectable, really sharp and tangy and a perfect mix with the ice cream but it was too sour/sharp for my boyfriend. He enjoyed his apple crumble but didnt think it was anything extraordinary - just a good apple crumble.
They made a mistake with our bill and didnt charge us for the wine but we pointed it out to them and they were really grateful. We really enjoyed our meal there - the food wine, service and ambience and the bill came to 105 euro (without service). Hope this helps anyone who's considering going to Fish. Paris is a beautiful city and Fish a worthy addition in my opinion!
If you are staying in the Montparnasse area and like beef/veal, check out l'Opportun, a Lyonnais bistrot at the Edgar Quinet stop (no walk at all from Montparnasse station). The owner won a Meilleur Pot prize in the 90s.
For a warts-and-all review:
Specialty is onglet (beef or veal). It's not the cheapest but the ambience is great and so is the food.
When Chirac was president, he hosted then-Spanish PM Aznar to a meal at l'Opportun.
Is l'Opportun open on weekends? Your problem is that Parisian bistrots and weekends don't go well together - for instance la Cerisaie, l'Ami Jean, La Régalade, Joséphine to name a few are closed sat-sun. Maybe you're already here on friday night?
On weekends, I would check l'Auberge Bressane, Fish, l'Ourcine (closed sun, not sat), chez Christophe if it's not too sad for you (excellent food and wine, go for lunch rather than dinner due to sadness), les Papilles (closed sun), l'AOC (closed sun).