Traditional French food - Benoit? Allard?
I am new to Chowhound, and I have looked at previous threads, but I haven't quite found what I'm looking for. My husband and I are celebrating our first anniversary in London and Paris and I want a traditional, old-world bistro dinner in Paris, frog legs and escargot and tiny tables and all. I speak a bit of French and I would prefer to stay away from places with English menus and tourists, not to mention 80euro hors d'oeuvres. I've been looking at places like Benoit or Restaurant Allard, but not knowing Paris, I'm worried I'll end up in the Paris equivalent of Morton's Steakhouse. I would really appreciate your help!
I love Benoit, it was our after market lunch spot. But it is expensive and it is no longer old world, although it is Ducasse's take on tradition. If you have a bit of cash it delivers, if you want better value there are better places. We loved arriving with our bag of veggies from the market ((Lenoir) and then having a long lazy lunch surrounded by monied Parisian families. Thirty euro on veggies for a week, one hundred and fifty for a decadent boozy lunch. Bargain! (my wife never seems to understand this fiscal model though).
I heartily second Deluca's list. And I agree that Benoit deserves an over-priced has-been label. Allard still has its moments but you need luck that the moment coincides with your visit.
But sorry, it's impossible to escape the heavy tourist presence in central Paris. Just a matter of numbers: 2.2 million of us locals vs 30 million visitors (excluding the suburban hordes) a year.
Au Vieux Comptoir on the rue Lavandières Sainte-Opportune just behind the Chatelet in the 1st (search Chowhound for reviews);
Les Zygomates on the rue Capri in the 12th... way off the beaten path, ultra-cutesy, 90% local clientele, great vibe, good food (but no frog's legs).