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Mar 21, 2012 01:58 PM

Recommend a brasserie in Paris

I am traveling to Paris next month with my girlfriend for the first time. We are both very excited. I was wondering if someone could recommend a brasserie that offers great traditional fare. We're staying in the Latin Quarter but are willing to go where ever necessary for great food. I have already made reservations at a few bistros and restaurants. Is this necessary for brasseries? Thanks for your assistance.

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  1. "a brasserie that offers great traditional fare. We're staying in the Latin Quarter "

    Brasserie food is as a rule not great.
    Two good brasseries in the Latin Quarter are Balzar and Brasserie de l'Isle Saint Louis. I mean they are good as far as brasseries go.
    See this discussion:

    And yes it's always safer to reserve, unless you truly don't mind being turned away at the last minute.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi

      Balzar is really "hit or miss" (to use a famous chowhound expression). If you order right you can have a nice time with nice food (not stellar, just nice). But if you order wrong you will feel cheated and disappointed at the price/quality.

      And unfortunately it isn't a matter of me telling you what is the right and what is the wrong thing to order, as it is the lottery (I had great foie de veau, I had mediocre foie de veau, I had great tartare, I had tartare so peppery it could be called Szechuan Tartare, I had good Baba au rhum, and I had sad soggy chewy Baba au rhum...)

    2. I like this place:

      Bistrot rather than Brasserie. Maybe someone can put me right on what the difference is?

      1. Maybe something more "fancier" like "Thoumieux" (rue st-dominic, 7th) ?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Maximilien

          Thoumiuex in its forelife was a brasserie.
          A brasserie has brass, duh, and is theoretically open all day, serving not-so-fast fast food, for people who proverbially have a train to catch.
          A bistro is a small restaurant that chooses to call itself a bistro.

            1. re: vielleanglaise

              I think some of the best brasserie food is found at La Rotonde in Montparnasse. Consistently delicious steak tartar and escargot etc. If you plan to eat at a common meal time, it's always best to reserve anywhere. If you're hitting a brasserie at an off time (3:00-5:00PM for example) you'll have no trouble just walking in.

        2. As others have pointed out, you don't go to a brasserie for the food but rather for the ambiance and history. My favourites are Le Grand Colbert on the rue Vivienne/ Galerie Colbert just north of the Palais Royal for the buzzy, sparkling atmosphere (and great oysters!) and the now once again very "in" and historic Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard Montparnasse. The Closerie also has a wonderfully civilized piano bar and a more expensive restaurant in addition to the brasserie. La Rotonde on the boulevard Montparnasse does win in the food stakes but the sparkle is a little more subdued. Also on boulevard Montparnasse, La Coupole is an Art-Deco gem, quite decent food, usually fun, but can be inconsistent if you stray away from the excellent shellfish menu. BTW, the boulevard Montparnasse places are walkable from most parts of the Latin Quarter or a straight no-change m├ętro from Saint-Michel to Vavin.

          I'm not a fan of Le Balzar. Very has-been, I think. Once a Left Bank institution, its reputation has been sadly dulled by a change in ownership.

          Another iconic brasserie, Bofinger off the place Bastille is architecturally sensational but gastronomically stodgy. And since most of the clientele seems to be celebrating their 40th anniversary, not really a place for younger couples. But if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, drop by for a look-see. If it were in any other city, it would be a major tourist sight. But, in Paris, it's just another restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Parnassien

            La Rotonde may have an edge in the food column, but Balzar has the most friendly wait staff. We are always seated with locals and find the food good to excellent (steak tartare). As with all brasseries, if you come at odd hours don't order dishes that can be reheated (Poulet roti etc).