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Oct 30, 2012 09:40 AM

Un Defi -- ex-Parisian (born US) Here; non-Trendy Places?

I haven't lived in Paris since 2004, so I've been telling US friends (for a couple of years at least) that my resto choices can't be trusted. Things change too quickly.

Now it's my turn to ask, as my wife and I will make a visit:

Good North African? West African?

Unpretentious bistro?

Reliable southeast Asian, 13eme or not?

Solid boulangerie?

You get the idea: I'm not interested in the latest, fashionable, yadda-yadda; I lived in Paris long enough to know what I like, and it's >good grub<.

Can anyone get me >down< to speed, so to speak?

Oh -- no fusion, please.

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  1. unpretentious, traditional food, very good service, nice selection of wine, no bling ambience : le Grand Pan, 15th e.

    3 Replies
    1. re: moto

      Mister Moto:

      Thanks for the reply.

      If you know the 15th, can you tell me if Belisaire is still in business? I lived around the corner from it in the early 2000s. It was the best bistrot for the money in the area. There was, as well, a real working-class place off rue Vaugirard -- in the 15th, near to Blvd Montparnasse. Felt like a cafeteria; authentic, cheap-but-good grub -- qui s'appelle?

      1. re: 75 percent cacao

        I remember the name of the place off Vaugirard:

        Le Baribal.

        While wondering if it's still around, what about:

        L'Epi Dupin?
        Le Repaire de Cartouche?

        These were once favorites; of those still standing, which have retained their, er, >standing< with Chow'ers?

        Oh -- thanks, John, for all of your contributions -- I'm grateful.

        1. re: 75 percent cacao

          we walked by Bellisaire on one of our neighborhood strolls last month and they're still going. a working chef who posts here strongly recommends it. only spent two nights in the 15th, and saw small neighborhood spots with reasonable prices literally everywhere in the part where we were staying, a few blocks from r.Vaugirard. picked le Grand Pan in part because it was a ten minute walk from where we stayed and we were travel weary on our very first night, but we'd happily return if we had to cross the city on our next visit.

      2. "Unpretentious bistro?"
        Casse Noix.
        The rest not my rayon.

        1. "Unpretentious bistro?"

          For a number of years, La Dirigeable was a favorite of ours. Some of the dishes were truly outstanding and we loved Guy's sweet and professional service. We also liked that it was a truly local spot. We were always the only tourists. It is also quiet enough to hold a conversation.

          37 Rue d'Alleray 75015
          01 45 32 01 54

          1. Le Baribal is actually quite well known. Because it was dirt cheap and open very late, I used to go once or twice a month when I was a skint student xx years ago. A la recherche du temps perdu, we went a few months ago and were a little disappointed. It's been redecorated which made it look more appealing, the prices are still good (but no longer such a bargain), and the clientèle is still very much local but the food, with the exception of the grillades and the pommes sarladaises, was way over-salted, over-sauced and stodgy... the bojo house wine was anything but beau... and the desserts were totally forgettable. Yet, because the ambiance is so distinctly "paname" and so "quinzième", the meal entre potes was still quite enjoyable. If we had stuck to the grillades and skipped dessert, it would have been even more enjoyable.

            Using Baribal as a good indicator of the sort of non-pretentious resto you're looking for, I'd also recommend Au Chien Qui Fume on the corner of rue du Cherche-Midi/ boulevard Montparnasse, Le Chartreux on the rue Chartreux at the rue d'Assas in the 6th (but best for lunch... small plates in the evening), La Mascotte on the rue des Abbesses in the 18th, La Bougnate on the rue Germain Pilon just off the Pigalle in the 18th, the time-warp Le Bar Fleuri on the rue Plateau near les Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th. But there are literally hundreds of other old-school bistros/ brasseries that might appeal. What's your budget? Quartier? Very few are worth crisscrossing Paris for but are great fun if you happen to be in the area.

            Le Repaire de Cartouche: food remains good but the ambiance is a little less than festive. As a more fun alternative in walking distance, you might like to try Le Taxi Jaune on the rue Chapon in the 3rd (but a warning: Trigger is on the menu).

            L'Epi Dupin: food is ok but it's so firmly on the tourist circuit that we locals have been elbowed out of the way.

            L'Affriolé: like it a lot. Not as good as the neighbouring and more expensive l'Ami Jean but still good enough. Comparable choices: Pottoka (also in the 7th). Le Troquet on the rue François Bonvin in the 15th, La Cantine du Troquet on the rue de l'Ouest in the 14th. For dirt cheap but sill good basque, Au Dernier Métro across from Dupleix métro station in the 15th but can get very raucous on rugby-match days.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parnassien


              I am so grateful to you for the extensive -- more Olympian than Parnassian, je me sens -- list of recommendations.

              Plutot, your implicit criticism of my request -- just what was I looking for? unpretentious bistrots are off almost every coin in Paris -- has made me think harder about what I'm after.

              I guess that I seek the kind of bistrot that is almost unknown in NYC: Here, French means fancy as well as properly prepared and cooked -- or, as Root discusses, >bourgeois< (when used, here, in that sense, and not as it is used by the French). He opposes to that, for his US readers, >paysan<, to describe food that's unstuffy or dwelled over in its preparation, but food that respects terroir.

              My wife and I will be >returning< to Paris, where I lived. I seek places that, if they're not unpretentious bistrot, manage to respect the food of the region that they serve without making such a fuss about it.

              Those, and to learn about the places that I used to go to.

              But if we have one meal that >is< pretentious, while being exceptional in quality, we won't suffer much. A place that I used to find just this side of pretentious -- but, because of its location and, therefore, price, attracted tourists -- was the old-fashioned place alongside Notre Dame. Vieux Bistrot, it might have been called.

              I had good meals there even though, it seemed, the tourists came from a sense that they were avoiding the tourist traps . . . which made this almost a trap itself.

              What is at about tourists, that while they complain when the bill is expensive, don't seem satisfied with the choice of restos unless it is high-priced?

              Another place that I found this side of pretentious: Cartet, 11eme, when it was run by the old lady.

              In general, I don't like to dine where I feel that someone is giving me special treatment or some sort of display.

              That's why I used the word >grub<.

              Parnassien: You have been terribly generous with your time and suggestions -- even if, from the tone of what you wrote, you could have sent twenty more unpretentious places.

              Thank you so much for the help.