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Jul 16, 2010 04:09 PM

Bistro For a First Quasi-Date: Central Paris, Monday...Specific Criteria

Hi...fairly specific are the specs:

I'm looking for a French bistro for a date on critieria are:

-- Open Monday (obviously)

-- good yummy wine (easy)

-- but, a bistro that walks the line between being *slightly*, off-handedly romantic without being too romantic...for example, i'd thought about Le Reminet but the very-dark candlelit etc looks too obviously romantic for a first date that's not really a date...on the opposite side: Bistro Paul Bert (where i like the food) is too bright, casual, matter of fact, mainly about the food..and, higher-end fun places like Monsieur Lapin, which i love, are out because they are too must be comfy and relaxed yet somewhat special...

the restaurant choice should say: "We are just flirty friends dining together for the first time, so no expectations and it's just a fun simple dinner, yet: since we're in Paris and drinking wine and eating delicious food, let's play this out happily..."

I'm leaning strongly towards Chez Janou, which is a simple bistro, etc yet somewhat darkly lit enough to lend an air of "Casablanca" to the is important: not too bright, yet not too-too dark...

-- Should be as central as possible: my friend is coming from the 16ieme...i live on Isle St. Louis....her home is in the far south...

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  1. How's Fish? Also, I think La Régalade is open on monday nights. So is Joséphine, not formal, not romantic, not bright and casual either. And it has the cheap old Sauternes which is the stuff flirting is actually made of.

    5 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      I like the idea of Fish; I had an enchanting evening there two Octobers ago with an enchanting woman followed by an enchanting stoll along the Seine.

      1. re: John Talbott

        Thanks...Fish is the kind of place i'm looking for...i went there for the first time recently, and ate solo at the bar -- while i liked the wines, i found the food only so-so...i hadn't planned on returning, but it might be a default option for this Monday dinner if Chez Janou proves inconvenient for her to get to or if i don't find a better option...

        similar-to-Fish suggestions welcome :) thanks...

        1. re: Simon

          i have found the food at fish to be consistently very good. it won't rock your boat but i have not been disappointed for what it is.

          i have had good luck at au basqou although it may be a bit too cozy. haven't been for several years but i presume it is still there.

          1. re: jock

            Au Bascou looks nice...the menu seems like my kinda place...will check it out...

            1. re: Simon

              Not romantic at all. (For me.) Like porn or art, maybe it's in the eye of the beholder).

    2. OK, this thread sent me to the archives, to wit: and

      Le Marcab (romantic but not too....)
      225, rue de Vaugirard, 15th, (Metro: Volontaires)
      Open 7/7
      Menus for 16, 25 and 35 €

      1 Reply
      1. re: John Talbott

        We really like Au Vieux Comptoir in the 1st. It's a wine bar with nice food and casual atmosphere. The tables are a little close together so maybe not so romantic but we liked it enough to go twice during our last trip. It's not on the tourist radar screen ( a local we met at another small place in the Marais steered us here) so I haven't really read about it anywhere else.

        Here's the website:

        oops, just noticed it's not open on Mondays, sorry, but maybe for another time!


      2. I think Bistro Volnay may be what you are looking for. Good wines, enjoyable ambiance and food a cut above. Central location between Place Vendome and the Garnier Opera.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Laidback

          "walks the line between being *slightly*, off-handedly romantic without being too romantic..."
          Laidback: usually we're pretty much in agreement but all my three times here I've had problems with the acoustics, ie hearing my eating partner right across the table. That seems to me to inhibit romance, even off-handed romance. On second thought, Fish, Regalade (#1) and Joséphine do as well; Marcab does not, it's quieter, has good acoustical tiling, tables are well-spaced, is neither bright nor dingy, good wine list, big back room on a garden, etc.

          1. re: John Talbott

            "walks the line between being *slightly*, off-handedly romantic without being too romantic..."

            The problem is that this condition has such a heavy sense of staging (am thinking of a restaurant that is blithe but not blokey, debonair but not desultory, rye but not whole wheat") that every restaurant suggested sounds completely right, and completely wrong.

            1. re: Parigi

              You recall we had a thread on "romantic" places a while back.
              Next to "what is a bistro" and "can I get into Spring" defining romantic restos seems the most challenging issue on this site.

              1. re: John Talbott

                I frankly don't recall. There are days the CH-side of my brain is one big wherecanIfindabistromanticwithnotouristlikeme blur.

        2. Anyone ever eaten at L'Enoteca on Rue St. Paul?...

          7 Replies
          1. re: Simon

            Ok food. Very good wines. Very nice lamps by Romeo Gigli. Maybe too romantic. Or not enough untentionally romantic.

            1. re: Parigi

              hmm, thanks...but are we talking about the same place?...on St.Paul about a block south of R. Rivoli?...i've walked by it dozens of times en route to Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore or en route my from home towards least by day, it looks pretty casual, like a neighborhood trattoria/wine bar...slightly grungey even...

              Does it transform itself into something more overt at night?...

              1. re: Simon

                "are we talking about the same place?...on St.Paul about a block south of R. Rivoli?"

                Actually door address on 25 Rue Charles V.

                "Does it transform itself into something more overt at night?"

                Overtly what?

                1. re: Parigi

                  hi Parigi,

                  i just meant that when i've walked by during the day, it looks like a very modest, simple trattoria type place, w/ somewhat subdued lighting and a casual vibe: which, for purposes of this dinner, would be perfect...

                  Your description of it having designer lamps and possibly being too romantic didn't mesh w/ the impression of it i'd gotten when i'd peeked in by daylight --- and as i don't want to go somewhere too overtly over-the-top romantic, i was just curious whether the vibe at dinner is drastically different from what by-day looks like casual off-hand charm...

                  Maybe that made sense, not sure :)

                  1. re: Simon

                    Since you go by it often, why don't you go by it one evening and see for yourself. These questions concerning the exact gradations of romanticism cannot be answered except by yourself.
                    If you want to avoid the Romeo Gigli lamps, you can book a table in the lampless upstairs,

                    1. re: Parigi

                      fair enough...though since the dinner is tomorrow, i'd have to go by tonight...but that i can do :)

                      p.s. i do not know what Romeo Gigli lamps are, so not sure whether i dig them or not...

                      1. re: Simon

                        i did due diligence and walked past there tonight 'round 10:50pm...Parigi, you're right: nice lamps -- i must be slacking off, aesthetically speaking, for not having noticed them before, even in daylight walk-bys...

                        on the other hand, even at 10:50, w/ 2 or so tables finishing food inside, the place was blazingly bright (and thus was not showing off the lamps to any nice effect)...

                        it remains a solid contender for tomorrow night's dinner, but the brightness and randomness of the vibe when i peeked in seemed just a bit sloppy, even for a casual place...almost like a university cafe really...

                        but that could work...

          2. thanks to all for the suggestions...

            -- as it turned out, the lady in question called at 1pm and wanted to start early and make a whole day of we went for a long walk in Pere LaChaise, followed by meeting her best friend in a cafe in Belleville, followed by various wanderings...and as were fairly close to Chez Janou (where i'd made an 8pm res as a default option) we went there: it was good and worked for this occassion...we shared the petite friture des eperlans (which i'd had before there and liked) and moules gratinee (also very yummy)...she had and loved the risotto w/ St. Jacques (very good, though a bit creamy and sweet)...i tried the rabbit which was poached (?) in olive oil: while it was tender, i found it bland, and didn't like the mountain of mashed potatoes it sat on (but i don't like mashed potatoes anywhere, so that's just me)...

            Atmosphere was good and bustling, but a bit loud...and, while on my previous trips there it'd seemed like quite a local place, on Monday night it had a lot of American tourists (not that i care so much about such things, but i could have done without the large American man at the table to our left pontificating in a booming voice about various medical procedures)...

            Am planning to try L'Enoteca with a group of three or four soon, so will report back...

            And, i tried the above suggested Le Reminet today for a solo lunch: quite lovely and the formule was a *steal* for 13.50 euros: had a salade composee that was a tomato stuffed w/ sausage and potato (just ok), a splendid splendid filet of daurade w/ veggies (one of the best pieces of fish i've had recently), and a nice little cheese/salade course for dessert...great place...