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Jun 10, 2012 04:31 AM

So Far . . . Eating in Paris

My SO and I are in Paris for part of May and June. Here are some of the places we have been. Many times, though, we have just shopped at the wonderful markets and eaten in, which is just lovely. Staying in the 11th, very close to the 3rd. Based on this list, if anyone has any recs for us, we would be grateful.

Le Pré Verre (5th) Excellent, innovative food. Highlights were the pea guacamole and cuttle fish (seiche) and duck breast with charred melon. Service, on the other hand, was a bit dismal, especially at the end of the meal when we waited almost one hour to pay the check. I know they let you sit a long time here, but this was a bit much.

Café Des Musées (3rd) My SO said it was his favorite steak tartar of all time. Delicious frites. I prefer them a bit crunchier, but my SO thought they highlighted the beauty of the potato.

Restaurant Lilane (5th).Very good. Lamb was a highlight. Pretty affordable prix fixe for what you get.

La Pharmacie (11th) Pretty good. Asparagus appetizer was amazing, as were many of the side dishes. We thought the meat was a bit overcooked and tough. Interesting strawberry and tomato dessert.

Ober-Salé (11th) A Very intimate neighborhood restaurant featuring bold flavors and a small menu. Perhaps not for everyone. A lot of meat and everything was very rich. And rather unique. I had deliciously seasoned pork served on bread with courgettes.

Bistrot Populaire (3rd) Casual, basic, good. We ate spare ribs and quiche du jour made with a strong cheese and were happy.

Les Papilles (5th) Probably our favorite lunch. The chef's special was beef with vegetables - rustic and refined. You can order the chef's menu with 4 courses, including cheese, or just get the entrée/plat, as I did. They also have a small à la carte menu. My SO had escargot and boudin noir, which he said was the best he ever had. It's a bit expensive, especially if you order one of the wines they have by the bottle, but overall a good value for the money. The only time I wished I could get a to-go bag in Paris.

Café Breizh (3rd)
This was a great find. The Galettes are superb for a casual lunch or dinner. So is the cider. And the rhubarb dessert was crazy good. We ate lunch in the epicerie connected to the restaurant since the restaurant was full. It was perfect.

Le Tagine (11th)
Good middle eastern tagines and cous cous. We ate here our first night in town and really enjoyed it.

Chez Janou (3rd) Great, well-priced lunch formule. I had entrecote and creamed spinach with an endive salad to start and a glass of wine. Seems a bit pricey for dinner, but we found the weekday lunch to be just right.

Le Bar à Huitres (3rd) Expensive, not that great. We didn't try the oysters, so may go back for those. But there are better seafood places.

La Briciola (3rd) Popular pizza restaurant, very much like something you would see in Brooklyn. No reservations after 8PM, at least on weekend. PIzza was good and affordable, but not amazing. But then, we live in Brooklyn. Seems like a good spot for groups or families with kids.

King Falafel (3rd) There are many falafel joints in the Marais. We just picked this one out of the blue. Loved it. I had regular falafel and my SO had the merguez. Had to stand in line for about 20 minutes, and then we ate it standing on the street. But it was very good and fresh. Be sure to add extra sauce piquante. I'm sure many of the other falafel purveyors in that area are also good.

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  1. Very nice report on some little-commented places. Thank you for your adventurous spirit and sense of exploration. A relief after seeing so much comment on Chez L'Ami Jean or Chez Dumonet, etc., which sometimes makes it seem like the good places in Paris may be counted on the fingers of one hand. This is so much more like the true Paris.

    1. Thank you so much for report back. Posters like you make this board work.

      1. Thanks for the "off-beat places" reviews; I have been to Paris on average 3 months a year since I retired several years back and have never been to over half of the places on your list.

        33 Replies
        1. re: Laidback

          Thanks, everyone. I lurk on Chowhound quite a bit, so I decided it was time to post.

          Forgot two places worth mentioning:

          Shan Gout (12th) a wonderful Chinese restaurant in a non-tourist quartier. Well-portioned, spicy dishes that are fresh and inventive. A real find.

          A La Renaissance (11th) Quelle bonne addresse! We loved our lunch here. The service is wonderful and friendly. My SO enjoyed the terrine du lapin and the andouillettes (tripe sausage). Very rich and delicious. Perhaps a bit too strong for my taste, but he loved them.
          As for me, I had the best artichokes ever followed by a stew of scallops and shrimp (it said gambas on the menu, which I assumed were large shrimp, more like Langoustines. These were a bit smaller, more like crevettes, but very good.) House wine was also good. Unfortunately the formule is not available on Sunday (which is when we dined there), so we spent a little more than the 22 euro each for the prix fixe, but it was a lovely meal.

          1. re: Brooklyn_Paris

            A La Renaissance is a few blocks from my flat, l will give it a shot soon. Thanks for your report back.

            1. re: Brooklyn_Paris

              Me too. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never given the Bastille-section of the rue Roquette/ rue Lappe much of a chance because of its reputation for fast-food and suburban teenagers on the prowl. But you've sold me on A la Renaissance.

              I think Ptipois' remark about the real Paris needs to be repeated again and again. It's exasperating to us locals that Chowhound makes it sound like there are just a handful of restaurants capable of good food.

              1. re: Parnassien

                Parnassien. as a frequent reader of chowhound I want to say that your input, as well as Pairigi's and Pitopois and all of the other locals is so much appreciated and I can just imagine how crazy you must feel to live in a city like Paris and see the same old names mentioned over and over on this board. Which is why this post and others like it are so great and so important to a site like CH.
                But, imagine if you are a tourist who loves great food and you ONLY have one week to experience Paris! It's so stressful! Of course there are so many really worthy neighborhood places all over Paris, places that if I had them around the corner, I would think that I have died and gone to heaven! But, as visitors, our expectations are so high, that when we read on CH or another blogging site (in English because that is the language of the posters on CH as well as my other sites Paris by Mouth and JT) about some place that everyone seems to love, well, that means is really hard to leave things to chance when, again. you only have one week. And so, there you go, the same places get recommended over and over because many people have had good experiences there, and these are the same people who post here.
                I guess I am trying to understand and trying (and hopefully not failing) to explain the traveling Chowhounder's dilemma, while at the same time really trying to see things form the local Chowhounder's dilemma and feelings as well!! That's why it's really important that everyone gives reviews and reports back and doesn't just ask questions never to be heard from again - it's the only way that everyone can learn. I've been fortunate to go to Paris at least once a year for the past several years and so hopefully I will be able to contribute in some way. But know that with just one week, it's really scary to venture out into the unknown without some kind of guidance. Whew, I hope that made sense...

                1. re: sistereurope

                  It is also important for reporters to describe rather than to opine. My "delicious" or "best" is probably not yours or hers or his or their. But a simply and clearly described plate can provide others with important decision making information.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    Amen to that, Mangeur and a goof photo is helpful. "Perfectly cooked" is a bit overused as well. Perfectly cooked to me means rare for steaks whereas John Talbott has another concept of "perfecly cooked".

                    1. re: Laidback

                      Good points. Wrote this run-down quickly. No time to spend on real descriptions. Hopefully can edit later with more details.

                      1. re: Brooklyn_Paris

                        Ooops. In no way was I critiquing your report. Just adding a suggestion that I, myself, need to remember.

                    2. re: mangeur

                      But isn't that about working out who shares your taste and has your level of experience. I know who I follow and who I trust. If Parigi DCM or Parnassien likes something I don't need a flowery description, I trust their simple comments.

                      Laidback - I disagree about "perfectly cooked" part of my trusting a reviewer is understanding that their perfectly cooked is indeed correctly cooked i.e well done steak is badly cooked steak as it ruins the meat. I understand some people like it like that and that is their prerogative but it doessn't really mean perfectly cooked as that shouldn't be a term used for personal taste.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        So Phil what is a perfectly cooked saignant or John's bleu? My point, poorly made, was that "perfectly cooked"is perhaps over-used and not as descriptive as saingnant, bleu or à point.

                        1. re: Laidback

                          To me it is getting the dish cooked as ordered. At Le Severo and L'Ami Louis l order my cotes de Boeuf saignant and that is the way it comes, perfectly cooked. At Chez L'Ami Jean l ordered my pigeon a point and it comes bleu, three times, never again; that is imperfectly cooked.

                    3. re: sistereurope

                      Very important point from Sistereurope.
                      There are the kind of recommendations I make (1) to visitors stuck in a hotel with no kitchen, (2) for plan-B or plan-C or plan-D type backup, (3) to colleagues who must eat near the office.
                      Then there are the kind of recommendations I make to somebody like Sistereurope, who comes twice a year to Paris, staying in an apartment with a kitchen, who researches well, aiming for a unique culinary experience.
                      Exhibit A: Le Hangar. A while ago, a fellow hound mentioned it was a very good restaurant that has - sousentendu unfairly - escaped the attention of this board. Well, it has not escaped me. I have written about it a couple of times. It is exactly the type of restaurant that, while I do not consider very good, I do consider quite ok if you (1) are stuck in a hotel nearby with no kitchen, (2) are stuck in an office nearby looking for an eatery nearby that is not humiliatingly bad, (3) looking for a plan--C if, say, Chez L'Ami Louis springs one of those they-forgot-your-reservation numbers on you.
                      But why o why would I recommend it to Sistereurope?

                      But those down-the-street ok eateries do have their place, especially for visiitors who don't want to pig out chez Denise every night, yet don't want to eat badly either.
                      Indeed I don't have expertise on those places at all and have no recommendations to make. Either I eat DH's good cooking with ingredients from any one of the 5 excellent markets nearby, sitting comfortably at home, or we go out and eat better and pay more.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        You have a DH who cooks for you?! Dear child, you are blessed!

                        1. re: Parigi

                          You make an excellent point. l would rather not go to a restaurant for food that l could prepare better in the comfort of my home. l only go out to places that have menu items l wish and cannot make or items so well done, as Chez Josephine's boeuf bourgignon, that l have no intention of trying to replicate it.

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            Indeed. People don't understand when I say that I never go out to eat just because I'm hungry.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              In 35+ years of marriage with two wives, who never cooked a meal, l was the cook and loved it. l never went out to eat, l went out to dine.

                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                "l never went out to eat, l went out to dine."

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  Indeed. However, for some reason I can't explain, I can't use the word "dine". :(

                                  1. re: mangeur

                                    One of the first slang phrases I learned after moving to Paris was s'empiffrer.

                                    1. re: Parigi


                                      Our Paris dining adventures continue. This is a lovely little spot in the 15th across the street from a post office. There is one chef cooking in plain view and one server working the room. The menu is very affordable, at 24 and 28 euros. But there is only one choice if you want the menu. There is also an à la carte menu that costs a bit more.

                                      We had: foie gras and goat cheese crouistillant to start followed by 1) canette (baby duck) with sweet potatoes and 2) pork Iberique. All were delicious and worth your time and money.

                                      1. re: Parigi

                                        Ahh, another food term that I never knew but describes me so well!! Merci :)
                                        My strategy when "dining out" (sorry Mangeur): I always try to order something that I don't/can't make at home, either because a) I can't get the ingredients or b) because the dish seems above my pay grade...meaning I want to be wowed in some way. And that bar is higher in Paris, just because there are so many options, so little time. And I'm glad that you understood my late night ramblings.

                                        So to get back to the original poster, it's great that you are braving the way with some new reviews, and kudos to you for reporting!!

                                        1. re: sistereurope

                                          "So to get back to the original poster, it's great that you are braving the way with some new reviews, and kudos to you for reporting!!"

                                          Exactly. Just the kind of information that many visitors need, that this board lacks.

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            According to my translator, that means 'is irritable', what is the slang mean ?

                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                              s'empiffrer? Pig out.

                                              And not long ago I heard a Frenchman explaining the American Thanksgivng traditon to another, how you watch sports all day… "et on s'empiffre grave - you bust a gut something awesome".

                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                deluca, time for a new translator, i think .... with s'empiffrer, i have image of skinny model binging on a bucket of KFC and then barfing.... or the folks who lunch at Chez l'Ami Jean, scoff a half a dozen Jacques Genin millefeuilles for tea, and then have dinner at Joséphine/ Chez Dumonet all on the same day

                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                  "with s'empiffrer, i have image of skinny model binging on a bucket of KFC and then barfing"
                                                  The person who said "s'empiffrent grave" was a burly journalist from Libé.

                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                    A food binge happens at Thanksgiving ... and when bulimics feast.

                                                    Added colour: in my mind s'empiffrer has no implication of mess or noise, just quietly stuffing yourself.

                                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                                      It means "pigging out" I believe.

                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                        That's what I thought. But if I am told it is the wrong description for thanksgiving, I must be wrong, of course. :-)

                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                          huh? it is the right word for Thanksgiving food binging... who said it wasn't? ... but now i see ...i was responding to deluca's "be irritable" with my examples rather than to yours

                                2. re: sistereurope

                                  To Sistereurope, what a delightful and thoughtful reply! And yes, you are perfectly right. Distilling Paris into a week or few short days imposes a dynamic totally different from la vie parisienne that we natives cherish. And maybe my complaint isn't so much the repetitiveness of the Chowhound universe but rather the lack of adventure and the well-worn ruts that seem to diminish Paris. I'm not a hardcore foodie but I am a hardcore parisien. I love restaurants but a great restaurant is not just about the food. At the right time and in the right mood, a good restaurant can seem much more than just good. And just the opposite too. Some restaurants with amazing food can at the wrong time and in the wrong mood be somehow very unsatisfying. I'm blessed to be able to have expense-account meals at haute-cuisine restaurants-- and I do enjoy them (well, sorta)-- but the meal that sticks most indelibly in my memory was a lunch on a sunny day last summer in the garden of the Maison de l'Amérique Latine... just a good 60 € prixe-fixe lunch (glazed duckling with fruits du mendiant) that was elevated to wondrous by time and place and the irreducible Frenchness of it all.

                                  I also get very confused by the spectrum of people looking for advice on Chowhound. Some are total foodies whose entire universe is focused on the search for the next great meal. And others are looking for the stereotypical Irma la Douce or Amélie bistro not yet fallen into tourist trap status. Some are young and hip. Some are old and not so hip. Some are here out of fear of missing out. FOMO-itis. Trying to suss out what posters really want is sometimes a futile task.

                                  1. re: Parnassien

                                    I agree with both Parnassien and SisterEurope. My observation is that the board gets really stuck on a couple of place then moves on and drops the originals. I think I bought up Le Hangar that Parigi mentions, and that is an example, a few years ago it was frequently recomended with ZKG, Jadis, Le Regalade etc. Then JCD, Le Cinq, and CLJ and Spring came in. Then the Spring backlash (seated in the basement complaints) and no the Le Cing backlash. With Dans Les Landes Saturne, Agape Substance, and Caius starting to rise to dominance. I am certain all the aforementioned places still have their place in the lists and none of them really have dropped their standards - but you wouldn't see that from he rather narrow (and to be more controversial are they much different from Fodors?). Thankfully Parnassien is trying his best to broaden horizons - keep up the good work.

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      l completely agree with you, l keep recommending the same places as l tend to go to the same places. l must get out there and 'kiss some frogs' if need be and l intend to do just that.

                          2. You're probably near another really nice crepe restaurant, West Country Girl. I had a nice lunch there and another CH poster had dinner recently...good value and delicious crepes

                            1. You seem to be staying close to Merci-Merci...which is a lovely "newish" concept store on the edge of the 3e, blvd Richard Lenoir...there is a sweet lunch space on the lower level, adjacent to a sunken courtyard potager. Get their grand assiette of several beautiful salads....makes you feel really healthy after days of cheese, bread and wine. I hope you like it...we visit Paris for a month or more each year and always seek this out.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: susan41

                                Thanks! It is nearby. We'll check it out.