Some old and some new [Paris Part 1]
Eight days in Paris returning to some old haunts and trying some new places. We were traveling with two friends who are new to Paris so tried to put together an eating itinerary that covered multiple styles of food but wasn’t too extreme as not all of the party were adventurous eaters (although we did successfully push boundaries – based on amazing execution). Most meals were pretty similar in size – entrée, main cheese or dessert - so the prices are comparable, generally we drank two bottles of wine between us and that’s reflected in the prices (if we had more I have noted that) hopefully that goes to answer many of the “how expensive questions".
* La Saotico (€ not expensive – I lost the receipt) is a great place for a casual meal if you are in the area (near the Bourse). Reasonably good classic bistro dishes, we enjoyed some decent salads and a good boudin noir with potatoes, and a decent mixed fish special. Good reasonably priced wines and a daily menu with good selections.
* La Palette is a simple bar in the 6eme usually full of art dealers and students. It’s was a good lively terrace for a drink however it now seems to be a real tourist haunt and seems to have had an ownership change, and with that prices now up with the likes of Deux Magots so unfortunately one now off our list of old haunts.
* Fish, for a quick drink on the way to dinner, Fridays here used to be busy and it used to have a good atmosphere but it’s been renovated and seems to have lost its soul. The old bar has gone and the nice new just feels new, the patina of age has gone and I think the regulars are now in Semilla across the road. We didn’t eat here – but they have a big new kitchen – could fish about to be reincarnated as the upmarket cousin of Semilla?
* Semilla (€170 for four) is Fish’s new sibling is a complete contrast; it’s busy and lively with lots of atmosphere. The menu is interesting with a mix of classics and innovative dishes like a veal tartare mixed with green mustard; tea smoked salmon served sashimi style; chicken pastille, and good ris de veau. It’s really fine food served very lively atmosphere. It’s modern and represents today’s Paris very well. Highly recommended
* Dans Les Landes (€81 for two – limited wine) for a quick lunch, it’s more traditional Paris than I thought and we sit on the café terrace in the sun. Some very interesting French tapas which are very moreish and we order far too much – the calamari are especially good – perfection in simplicity. Service is good and they make you feel very welcome with locals leaning over to tell us what to order (and it was good advice).
* Thoumieux (€290 for four – 2 bottles of wine plus two glasses of champagne) has a strange reputation on the board, almost disliked on principle as it is now a Costes place. But we wanted a classic old brassiere type experience with a bit of glam for Saturday night and it delivered. It was full of locals apart from the little corner of English speakers were we sat (a real irritant as we can survive in French food talk very easily).
The service is good, possibly a little too fast, and the food is good if maybe a little too creative. I had their “classic” calamari cabonara where the calamari replaces the pasta in the dish; it’s good but half way through gets quite rich. Mains are great with a classic steak tartare and some wonderful roasted veal (the best we ate). It’s a good option for a glam/fun night on the town which the locals seemed to be doing.
* Baron Rouge remains a timeless classic and a superb cheese with wonderfully ripe cheese. It’s often cited as place for wine and oysters but it’s foolish to miss its bar snacks which are great – and cheep.
* Le Comptoir (€284 for four) has always had a special place in our hearts as it was our neighbourhood local when we lived in Paris. It’s definitely busy these days with an orderly line of people waiting for a Sunday night table (the advice was an hours wait). We put our name down and ignore the queue to prop up the bar at Avant Comptoir only to be seated ten minutes later. Our meal was good in parts but dishes seemed less carefully put together than in the past. The mashed potato with the beef cheeks is now replaced by pasta in the sauce (easier to cook), and bread was hardening after being cut too early. It was an enjoyable meal but the special touch has gone with its popularity.
* Pirouette (€200 for four) is in the shadow of the big new Les Halles development in an odd little square in a modern building. But as it was good and warm we ate in the square. The staff are really friendly possibly, because or despite its location, it’s not at all touristy. The wine list is very reasonable and has lots of interesting options and the menu offers lots of intriguing choices. All the food is very interesting and pushes the envelope a little from the standard classics e.g. a duck rillettes coated in wafer thin slices of pear, or girolles on a cheesy sauce, or tomatoes and anchovies in a fine jelly with little flowers, or ris de veau served on a fennel and tomato puree – it also has a classic rice pudding that beats Chez L’Ami Jeans. It is a wonderful little restaurant with a much deserved and growing reputation, very much an example of the new wave of French cooking.
* Le Mini Palais (€98 for two – including 2 glasses of Champagne and 2 of Chablis) sits on the terrace of the Grand Palais overlooking the Petit Palais, it’s a great spot for a quick lunch in a nice setting. Most of the other diners are suited local business people enjoying working lunches but don’t let that put you off. The food is modern bistro so a light lunch with some interesting touches – a boudin noir terrine for example.
* Goust (€516 for four – wine is included in the menu but we had an extra four glasses of red and champagne to start which is extra) has gained quite a reputation on the board and it is much deserved. Its stylish and definitely a place to dress for, we went for the set menu and added wine pairings.
The food is innovative and quite refined but very satisfying never the less. We choose the Iberian menu and start with a cucumber jelly and cauliflower-cream amuse bouche; followed by a Carpaccio with lychee sorbet (odd but it really worked). Then onto a tomato and strawberry gazpacho with amazing Camarones (the Spanish prawns) - all three of the elements in the disk work very well together. Next lobster, some squid with fine vermicelli and a prawn wafer, the meat main course is beef, then dessert of citron tarte with lychee sorbet and tuille basket. The meal finished with some great petit fours. The wine pairings are all interesting with the sommelier asking you to guess the wines – needless to say he fooled us with every one of them, but all were well matched to the food. It may not be a cheap meal but it’s good value for the quality of food, service and ambiance of the room.
Totally appreciate the list and updates. Le Comptoir is a favorite and we have only had the beef cheeks with the pasta (mashed potatoes would be great with it). It is my husband's favorite in Paris and I love the lobster bisque, when they have it.
Heading back in few months and always on the lookout for new spots.
Really appreciate this list. I went to La Palette in May. It has been a favorite of mine for years, but it didn't have the usual feel to it this time around, I have to admit. Hadn't occurred to me that there was an ownership change.
This is so helpful. We will be in Paris for 5 days in November and have been looking for new, interesting and moderately priced places to try. I saw your mention of Youpi et Voila, Pirouette and Semilla on another thread and then read your reports. They look very intriguing. Thanks for the reports and for including cost in them.