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Jul 15, 2010 07:02 AM

Small plates for hot Paris nights

After suffering through a couple of weeks of normal dinners during the recent heatwave, I'm desperate for a handful of suggestions for really light dinners. I've scoured wine bar recs and sites but find that most of the food is heavier than we want at this time of year. I've a good handle on crepes, and am bored to death with most salad options. Any suggestions for places where one can comfortably order several small plates, wine, water, coffee, no dessert without insulting the house?

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  1. Have you tried the "name gives it away"? We've tried it several times with great success.
    Les Petits Plats
    39, rue des Plantes in the 14th (Metro: Alesia)
    Closed Sundays
    Lunch formula 15 and evening 32, a la carte 25-35 €.

    1 Reply
    1. re: John Talbott

      The highend cafes; and all the luxe hotels have bars with limited menus (the Meurice & Ritz being two favorites). Many restaurants have large terrasses that promote limited dining options.

    2. Just about anywhere. Ask any waiter and they will tell you that most people DO NOT order a full course meal. Most people order a collection of items off the menu. Skinny women ONLY order the salad with dressing on th eside. Check it out. It's a fact.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hychka

        Man, we don't hang out with the same skinny women. Yours sound extremely Californian to me.

      2. What's wrong with just ordering entrées and wine? Besides that, I'd have recommended wine bars; but also the city is also full of Lebanese and Tapas places. I don't know any that are worth going out of your way for, though ... what part of the city are you in?

        1 Reply
        1. re: tmso

          "What's wrong with just ordering entrées and wine?"
          And at lunch I've noticed that in the last 2-3 years more and more places serving locals on lunch breaks have plats du jour that are not yersterday's slow sellers.

        2. I agree - it's too hot for a three course meal! Here are some of the food-serving wine bars that I'm really liking right now.

          Coinstot Vino, 75002 - Inside the Passage des Panoramas (home to Racines and Passage 53), this wine bar specializing in vins naturels has both small plates and heartier fare. They're relaxed and really don't care if you share plates or order just a few small things to accompany your wine. I went last night for an apero only and saw that the current starters include a tarama of sea urchin, a plate of burrata, etc.

          Aux Deux Amis, 75011. Everyone seems to be talking about this place right now. I think there's a full dinner menu also on offer now, but I was told that they'd always have a selection of tapas for those who want a lighter bite.

          Of course, there's also Le Verre Volé ( in the 10th, where you can share a nice selection of small plates or buy a bottle to go and drink it along the Canal Saint-Martin with a pizza delivered to the water's edge by Pink Flamingo (

          2 Replies
          1. re: megzimbeck

            i second Coinstot place...

          2. All good suggestions and thoughts, thanks. The problem is our visitors' mentality, I guess. It feels wrong to hold a seat that you reserved several weeks in advance and then order "short". Lesson learned: don't consider two weeks of nightly dining at buzz-restaurants in the summer. Or at least not this summer.

            9 Replies
            1. re: mangeur

              Not new, but I love going to Da Rosa on rue de Seine when I'm not in the mood for a full dinner. It's nice in the summer when you can sit outside and share a few small plates. Their tarama is addictive.

              1. re: mangeur

                I guess my superego is underdeveloped; I feel no guilt eating two starters and a dessert (common for Colette) or three or as I did today at Le Bistro-T, not finishing any of my three dishes not because they were deficient nor because it was hot (after 5 days on the East Coast of the US, it was positively chilly).

                1. re: John Talbott

                  You're right. I am still locked into the ethos of several decades ago when one of the new young bistro chefs was quoted saying "If you don't order three courses, I don't brake even", and the obligatory 3-course was the norm. Today it's much more flexible. I still feel more comfortable ordering light when I am a walk-in rather than the holder of a several week old reservation. And walking into most of the places discussed here (L'AJ, Les Papilles, L'Agrume, La Regalade SH, Frenchie, Eugene, Spring) is a fantasy.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    "walking into most of the places discussed here (L'AJ, Les Papilles, L'Agrume, La Regalade SH, Frenchie, Eugene, Spring) is a fantasy."
                    Sure mangeur, agreed on the above.
                    And I recall the book 7 years ago that said it cost the chef-owner here the equivalent of $100 to produce a 3-course meal - it must be more now.
                    My bill today (if I hadn't had the supplement for the sweetbreads) would have been 35.20 E BUT I advised not to go, altho' Alexander Lobrano and Emmanuel Rubin disagree with me (I like being the odd man out as you know).

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      "(I like being the odd man out as you know)"

                      Not me. I am never contrary. ;)

                    2. re: mangeur

                      Walking into CAJ is totally a possibility. Definitely for lunch, and almost always for a late dinner.

                    3. re: John Talbott

                      John, I have read about Bistrot T - what was your impression?

                      1. re: panaroma

                        I ate there Saturday and rated it a 4.0/10 for a nice try, it has the classic bistro "feel", a nice array of dishes but no wow factor for me (to counter that you should know that Alexander Lobrano - of Hungry for Paris Diner's Digest - liked it enough to go twice).
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