Paris trip report & thoughts for those going next
Had a great trip, thanks to everyone who gave me feedback. I wanted to give a report as well add my two cents for those planning their own upcoming trips. It's a bit over-comprehensive, but I wanted to touch on all the various experiences we had (high&low) over a week.
Le Mary Celeste - Went there on our first night after a train ride from Barcelona. Good cocktails, food, wine etc; a lively bar scene composed of locals, upscale expats and tourists. English definitely spoken here by the staff, including our waitress who gave us several good tips for the rest of the trip. As much as we liked it, I will say that depending where your table is (especially downstairs) you could be sitting in a trendy restaurant in almost any major city in the world.
Bistro Paul Bert - We had a great experience, but I get why feelings about it are mixed on this board. We were sat in the "American" section, however we randomly ended next to a friend of a friend, and had a great time. This can either be a feature or a bug depending on your POV. I speak some French and the waiter had a great time with us, but I noticed another couple (who seemed a bit shy) getting a bit brusquer treatment. My wife and I both had the green bean salad with "truffles" to start. The beans were good, and it was nice to get a bit of vegetables where you can while eating like a tourist, but the truffles seemed more for show, and didn't have much taste. I had the steak frites, my wife had the sole in brown butter. Both were good solid renditions, though the frites were excellent. The dessert and cheese were on another level. The famed Paris Brest was sublime and giant, and as for the cheese, I'm running out of superlatives. It was one of our best "meals" in Paris due to the overall experience. I could be wrong but I get the sense that this is a place where people go for fun night with good food, not necessarily for the food itself.
Frenchie - As good as it was, this is the one place we went where I wouldn't rush back. As with Paul Bert, desert and cheese seemed more revelatory than the mains. I had the foie gras torchon starter and pigeon main. My wife had the red mullet starter and skate main. The foie was good if unexceptional and the pigeon was tasty. The red mullet may have been the highlight of the savory dishes, a perfectly cooked piece of fish. The cheeses were fantastic, and the financier with cherries was close your eyes good. That being said, at this price point and level of preciousness, I expected more. Service was lackluster and a little off. Our plates were cleared too quickly and there seemed to be some issue with our wine, which no one explained, it just didn't materialize till after our starters were already served. I think for the hype (Natalie Portman was there) and price, I expected a little more.
Le Servan - This place lived up to the hype. I'm trying to remember what exactly we ate here (I suspect my wife has pictures), but I can't quite remember. I think I had some sort of crab and peas starter and the duck, and both were fantastic. As I mentioned on another post dessert and cheese here were nothing special, to the point that the french woman at the next table referred to her own Paris Brest as "anorexic". After commenting on dessert, she then offered to trade apartments next time we came to Paris and gave us several great bar recommendations. Some english spoken here, and the waitress will happily guide you through the menu, but seemed like mostly locals on Tuesday night.
L'Entree Des Artistes - The surprise hit of the trip. I'd had this on my list, and then it was also recommended by our waitress at Mary Celeste. We wandered in the first time after a long, long Saturday at the French Open and needing to find food around midnight. The kitchen was closed, but the owner/manager was accommodating and able to get us some cheese, charcuterie and dessert. Excellent cocktails and fun music in a small intimate environment. We went back again for cocktails another night, and if we had more time would have gone back for dinner. The manger/owner promised/boasted "The food is good". It's the type of place where if we lived there, I could see us being at all the time.
Le Camion Qui Fume - Wanting something a bit different, we hit up this food truck along Canal St. Martin on a Sunday night. Certainly not the best burger (by Los Angeles standards, I can't speak for Paris) , and we could have had better weather, but sitting outside along the canal with some beers was a fun and different way to spend a night. A french person will invariably cut the disorganized queue at some point but enjoy your beer and the spring/summer night and ignore it.
Le Taxi Jaune - Thanks to Parnassien for this rec. My reward for entertaining my wife's shopping expedition on Rue Turenne was a fantastic lunch at this place. I called about 45 minutes in advance and was able to get a reservation. Though we ate at what I thought was the normal hour of 1:30, be forewarned that by that time the kitchen already seemed to be running out of certain items, ie I got pommes puree with my onglet instead of the delicious looking croquettes that other tables had when we walked in. The waiter was friendly, but I'd recommend knowing at least some french if venturing here.
Le Baratin - Recommend by my local wine store here in Los Angeles, as well as a random shopkeeper, we had our final lunch here before leaving for the airport and I'm glad I took the tips and made it here. Same as Le Taxi Jaune, we called ahead for a same-day reservation. At 19E for a 3 course lunch, it was the perfect way to end our trip. There is nothing like soulful classic cooking on a rainy day, and Le Baratin delivered. Bonus points for excellent fresh vegetables (bean salad, cucumber salad with ricotta) along with a braised rabbit, and great wines by the glass. Minus points for hard stale bread, though other tables looked like they got better pieces. Cannot recommend this place enough, especially if one is in the area.
Le Barav - Around the corner, so we ended up here a few times. Only for wine, but everything looked good.
Le Septime Cave - Had a nice glass of wine here before Paul Bert.
Lockwood - Went for cocktails after Frenchie. Definitely seemed like a tourist crowd, it was pretty raucous around midnight on a Monday. (For what it's worth, Travel & Leisure calls the 2nd "up & coming", while the local couple at La Servan pooh-poohed it. Take both sides of that that however you will). Good cocktails, and recommended if you have a group looking for a party.
Moonshiner - Recommend by our french friends at Le Servan, you enter through the back of a pizza place. Seemed a bit less touristy than Lockwood, though I feel like I've now been in a version of this bar in LA, SF, San Diego, NYC etc. Drinks were good, and if I was in Paris for longer I would definitely go back to the pizza place and make a night of it.
(NB. This doesn't include our stops at Marche Popincourt and Bastille were we wandered, grazed etc. I've written enough as is, and others have covered the markets better).
134 RDT - Near where we were staying this bakery, and it's sister shop (59 RDS I believe) were our daily stop for croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche and coffee. Amazing stuff when fresh out of the oven, and very, very good at all other times.
Gerard Mulot - Stopped here at various locations while shopping/sight-seeing, very good macaroons and an amazing fresh out of the oven pear tarte. My wife also got some prepared food one day, and if there is one near you (especially the location in the 6th) it's a good spot for picnic supplies/take-away.
Angela's Banh Mi @ 81 Rue Turbigo - Thank you, thank you Parigi for this gem. We wanted to bring sandwiches with us to Roland Garros on Saturday, so we stopped in on a Friday afternoon to check the place out. The door was locked, but we deciphered the sign, and after a quick knock Angela came out from the back and let us in. She seemed quite delighted we'd found her, and happily took our orders for the next day. She normally opens later on Saturdays, but said she'd have the sandwiches for us in the morning, and to knock on our way to the metro. Amazing Banh Mi, nothing else to say. As with many of our experiences in Paris, when you find someone passionate about what they make (like Angela, or the oyster guy at the market, the guy with the new juice store etc) trust them, they've got the goods.
Bottle Shop - After a week of croissants and coffee, and late night the previous evening, my wife wanted something a bit more substantial on a Sunday morning. A traditional full english breakfast, with ex-pats catching up and reading the paper is what you'll get and she loved it. If you're in Paris for a while, and need something like this, it's a decent spot.
Jeanne A - Stopped in for dessert after our Le Camion Qui Fume. If you need a neighborhood spot for a casual meal, lunch or dinner, this seems like a good place. Would have gone back if we had more time.
Cafe Phillipe - Near Le Barav, not worth mentioning except for the fact that sometimes unremarkable places are good enough. After over-indulging on crepes and oysters at the Marche in the AM, we skipped lunch and found ourselves needing a mid-afternoon bite before dinner. A lentil salad and gazpacho did just the trick. Down the block from some bland looking tourist places, it's a small place with friendly staff and good food.
L'As Du Falafel - Had we seen Chez Hanna first, we probably would have gone there based on recs, but wandering through the Marais we passed L'As, and as luck would have it there was no line. Seemed perfectly good to me, but I doubt we would have waited in line for it.
A couple last overall points. As stated on many threads, chances are the thing in front of you is better or just as good as a place you read about that may be closed that day, out of said item etc. The random bakery where I got supplies for the plane (baguette, pear tarte, apple tarte) was just as good as the other more famous places we went.
The flip-side of this if that if someone gives you a specific recommendation, take it. Whether a friend from home, someone on this board, a waitress or shopkeeper, if you get a recommendation, and it fits your agenda/itinerary, go for it. The best places we went were direct recommendations of one kind or another, not necessarily the most written about places.
"The best places we went were direct recommendations of one kind or another, not necessarily the most written about places."
Well done! Many thanks for your report.
Thanks so much for the report. Looks like some good spots. Last month, we also ate at Le Mary Celeste and had our first dinner in Paris at Le Taxi Jaune. Really enjoyed it. We also loved Les Enfant Rouges in the haut Marais, a newish spot that John Talbott and others recommended. Maybe Frenchies has become a victim of their own popularity with tourists...