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Cheap eats/inexpensive restaurants


Margaret Pilgrim
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Since Bux introduced the subject of the new breed of inexpensive restaurants so popular now in Paris, I can share a few of those that we have enjoyed enough to want to return to again and again.  As this is a very personal and idiosyncratic list, I certainly don’t suggest that these are the best of this genre, but they are restaurants that have held our interest over time.  They are also places that we have visited recently, in 2000 and 2001.  Not included in this list are several quite excellent places that for one reason or another just haven’t enticed us to want to return.  

The format is simply a list of those menu selections that we have enjoyed.

L’Agape  foie gras ravioli with port sauce; dorade with ratatoulle; crab cake, duck parmentier; anis ice cream with coffee sauce and cocoa.  Plus: very, very inexpensive for the quality of the plates.  Minus: service warm but excruciatingly slow, pareticularly for rather simple presentations.  120FF/3 courses   281 rue Lecourbe   (15e)   01.45.58.19.29  

Les Amognes   roasted tete de porc on a bed of green lentils with herb salad:  chervil, terragon, watercress, dill,  drizzled with an excellent vinegrette.; sweatbreads with cucumber confit with suggeston of clove; faux filet surrounded by carrot and cumin juice; for dessert, aubergine crepes with cardamom.  boudin with sauteed quince, while I had moelle with celery root, jus and moutarde.  Magret with leeks (far more than the sum of its parts); cepes stuffed with lievre (tinged with cinnamon) in a delicious sauce.  Plus: dazzling use of seasonings.  Minus:  rather disinterested service.  180FF/3 courses   242 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine  (11e) 01.43.72.73.05

La Bamboche  veloute de cocos with lobster raviole;foie gras ravioli in citrus and spice tinged boullion; Roast veal; roast pigeon with lemon, spice and schouan pepper with asperagus; croustillant of cocoa with orange ice cream; tomato/basil/mascarpone mille feuilles.  a la carte at around 380, altho there is a menu decouverte of 5 courses for 320.  Plus: quiet, civilized dining room; very warm welcome and service; centrally located just behind Bon Marche.   Minus: few if any.  15 rue de Babylone   (7e)   01.45.49.14.40

Bistro d’Hubert    salad of crab, cactus ears and hearts of palm in cabernet vinegrette; mold of duck thigh with foie gras and tomato confit with curry and Sichuan pepper; slices of vel with red oniononfit, jerusalem artichokes, chayote, cardemom; red peppers stuffed with fresh cod and chevre with tomato coulis; cream cheese mousse with fresh fruit in rum and red fruit coulis; caramel cake layered with cream and cheese filling.  Plus: stunning plates; interesting seasoning; menu features a traditional and an innovative sections.  Minus: few; perhaps cool service.   210FF/3 courses   41 bvd Pasteur   (15e)   01.47.34.15.50

Les Bookinistes     bar tartare with bean sprouts, watercress and intense orange vinegrette; marvelous langostine tempura served with a sparkling gaspacho; jaret of veal in a casserole with carved vegetables and a beautifully flavored sauce;  faux fillet with incredible sauce (Chuck liked it so much that I didn't even get a taste.) Chocolate macaroon with nouget ice cream and caramel sauce.  Another visit’s memorable dish: skate with farfalle, taragon hollandaise.  Plus: one of Guy Savoy’s second tier “value” offspsring; some dishes sing.  Minus: noisy; packed with Americans.  Service and table is considerably better if you come with a native.  240FF/3 courses  53 quai des Grands-Augustins   (6e)   01.43.25.45.94

Clos des Gourmets     rocket salad with nuts and beet vinegrette; jarret of porc and foie gras over chinese cabbage; wild duck with polenta studded with dried fruit, spiced reduction with corriander seed; braised oxtail parmentier with jus; lemon sorbet with basil chiffonade, fennel confit and spiced syrup.(clove, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise).Plus: another madman with seasonings.  Minus:  noisy; tiny dining room gets frenetic with packed tables, small aisles.  175FF/3 courses.  16 avenue Rapp   (7e)    01.45.75.61

La Dinee      bavaroise of chevre blanc with shrimp and gaspacho, St. Jacque with haricot coco; grilled langue de boeuf with sauce gribiche; another visit: leek mosaic with shrimp and herb vinegrette; duck breast with kimquats and spinach; pied du porc brick with carrots and demiglace, chocolate fondant with chocolate sorbet.  Around 200FF/3 courses.  Plus: a lovely, serene dining room; excellent service. A very civilized place.   Minus: can’t think of any.   85 rue Leblanc   (15e)   01.45.54.20.49

L’Etrier:  carrot and crab polenta cake with eggplant mousseline, assortment of fish and shellfish in broth; chanterelle flan with jus sauce; skate cheeks with zucchini, carrot, broccoli, souffle-fried potato in light broth.  Melon and mango soup; fig tartelette with chocolate mousse quenelles and creme anglais.. Another visit:  fondant of carrots and pumpkin served with lumps of crab and "quenelles" of guacamole; mussel risotto with curry and tiny minced vegetables; a cassoulette of white fish and langostine with vegetables and herbs with a silky cream finish; lamb, herb and foie gras wrapped in filo and sauteed "crunchy", then served in a demi glace scented broth with carved vegetables; fruit soup of strawberries, blood oranges and kiwi.  Plus: perhaps the most endearing service we have received.  Quiet dining room, seats only 24.   Minus:  some items on the plates are duplicated in more than one course or dish, (e.g., carved carrots or other vegetable) which I am more than willing to forgive given the amount of kitchen help and the low price/high quality of the dinners.  170FF/3 courses  154 rue Lamarck    (18e) (01.42.29.14.01

Le Pamphlet:  Jarret of pork terrine, scallops, salmon tartare; wild duck with fruit; chocolate biscuit (molten chocolate cake), crepes..Rare sauteed foie gras with tiny pain d'epices croutons, served in a soup plate with separate pitchers of piping hot cream of rutabega soup! I went on Wild duck with sauteed fruit (pear, apple, orange, fig) with cinnamon demi-glaze: veal filet with Veal hache with piperade . Grilled pineapple with caramel ice cream, black cherry gateau with vanilla ice cream. Fuielle a fuielle with lamb confit and herb salad; pea soup with cumin, feta and spicebread croutons; crusted slices of kidney served with mustard and parmesan sauced penne; molten chocolate cake served hot with runny interior.  Plus: pretty dining room; pleasant service; food frequently sings.  Minus:  sometimes noisy.  160FF3/courses  38 rue Debelleyme   (3e) 01.422.72.39.24

Le Repaire de Cartouche   foie gras with Calvados glace and green apples; lamb brain wrapped in bacon and deep-fried served over lentil salad and petals of baby radicchio; pot de feu glace/foie gras with dried prune, fig and date.  A la carte around 200FF/3 courses  8bd des Filles du Calvaire  (11e)  (01.47.00.25.86)

Le Trouquet, a 4 course degustation menu  included a marvelous cream of spinach soup with mascarpone and foie gras,, toasts with tomato and herb concasse topped with merlin cheeks, lamb gigot in herby white beans with ginger demiglaze drizzled overs, strawberries marinated very lightly in balsamic vinigar, then served in a cinnamon syrup with creme fraiche .  Informal, like Le Regalade.  Plus: wonderful, surprising dishes, excellent service.  Minus:  rather dowdy dining room.   160FF/4 courses   21 rue Francois-Bonvin   (15e)   01.45.66.89.83

Le Villeret  a plate of fromage de tete with asperge, leeks and herbs in vinegrette; jarret of pork in a honey/cinnamon demiglace; a plate of chevreau including saddle, leg and liver served with a saute of artichokes and asperge. Plus: interesting crowd; GaultMillau now gives this house a 15; Minus: I’m not sure that I think it’s that good.  A la carte around 250FF/3 courses.  13 rue Ternaux (an alley running parallel to Oberkampf, just west of Parmentier)   (11e)     01.43.57.89.76

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The only one of those I know is Les Bookinistes which we wandered into shortly after it opened. With so many choices we've never been back. However, not only did we find the food creative and good, but perhaps because it was still new,  they were very friendly and most eager to let us know they spoke English in spite of our preference to use French. I remember one of the waiters bending over backwards to serve two young Janapese women who spoke no French and imperfect English. The apparently weren't very familiar with French menus and were having great difficulty constructing a dinner.

Thanks for the post. As valuable as these are as recommendations, I find them even more interesting as a comment on what's cooking in Paris these days. What's on Ducasse's plates and whether or not Passard is serving meat may be the subject of many articles in American journals, but many Americans may not realize how French food in the little bistro and neighborhood restaurant has changed. The French have come to terms with foreign ingredients and new ideas, and mostly without resorting to a forced  "fusion." This is true in the provinces as well as in Paris, if to a lesser extent.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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To this wonderful list, I would like two of my own discoveries: Le Petit Machon, at 158 Rue Saint-Honore, two steps from the Louvre and the Palais-Royal.  It's somewhat like a bouchon lyonnais, and the only place that serves quenelles in the manner of Lyon, that is nice and fat (i.e. big, not grease) with a wonderful lobster shell with tomato sauce; service is warm, friendly and most welcoming, lunch and dinner, except Mondays(01.42.60.08.06).  My other favorite is Chez Jean at 38 Rue Boyer in the 20th arrondissement (01.47.97.44.58), almost at the top of the hill of Menilmontant dinner only; it's home cooking as prepared by a young man of only local fame and the small dining-room is presided over with great humor and bonhommie by Jean Chouty (former journalist and wine critic); he speaks English quite well too.  The cuisine is copious, tasty and the atmosphere most informal -- entertainment on Fridays.  I favor the Poulet au citron and also his puree de flageolets or sometimes haricots blancs (garlicky and smooth!).  Both are easy on one's budget.

I agree with Bux that France, always known for its great chefs, has pushed the envelope and is now getting recognized for its inexpensive and lesser known neighborhood restaurants; they are everywhere, and what a pleasure it is to discover them oneself and then recommend them to all.

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Danielle, many thanks for your two additions.  I'll add them to our possibilities for our October visit.  Yes, the innovations, creativity and integrity now evident at many less-than-starred kitchens are making wonderful contributions to restaurant options in France.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been told that denizens of these boards might find the following guide to bistros and the like to be of use. I managed to update this thing just a couple of weeks ago, and the new stuff appears toward the end. I began putting this list together before the one on Burgundy, and back then, for whatever reason, I just couldn't get my arms around doing a few lines on each and every restaurant. I hope at some point, however, to be able to change that and to provide the kind of detail for ALL the bistros listed here that I have, for example, for the additions that appear toward the end. All I ask is patience.

Unless otherwise noted, all the restaurants on my list are reasonably priced (I've omitted most talk of the Michelin-starred places, as that's too much ground to cover right now, and besides, the action over in another thread might be more helpful in this regard anyway):

La Régalade (Considered for the past couple of years to be the best of what I like to call the "neo/retro bistros," hence, typically booked about three weeks in advance. That having been said, I've recently heard two reports that it's perhaps slipped a little. And to further confuse matters, friends of mine who ate there just three months ago again gave it a thumbs up. Go figure.)

49, avenue Jean-Moulin

75014 Paris

01.45.45.68.58

Les Amognes (be warned: proprietor Thierry Coué can be a bit of a butthead)

243, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine

75011 Paris

01.43.72.73.05

L'Épi Dupin

11, rue Dupin

75006 Paris

01.42.22.64.56

Les Allobroges

71, rue des Grands-Champs

75020 Paris

01.43.73.40.00

Chez Michel

10, rue de Belzunce

75015 Paris

01.44.53.06.20

Le Grizzli

7, rue St.-Martin

75004 Paris

01.48.87.77.56

L'Oulette

15, place Lachambeaudie

75012 Paris

01.40.02.02.12

Les Bouchons de François Clerc (great wine list priced essentially at cost!...also, there are other locations, but this is the original)

12, rue de l'Hôtel Colbert

75005 Paris

01.43.54.15.34

Chez Catherine

65, rue de Provence

75009 Paris

01.45.26.72.88

A number of the above are both small and located in rather dreary, unexciting neighborhoods. Don't let that stop you, however. And here's one I hit for the first time a few years back (opened by Jean-Guy Lousteau, former sommelier/wine buyer for Alain Dutournier's Au Trou Gascon and Carré des Feuillants) with its own take on Basque/Pyrenées/Gascony cooking (and which I thought was great):

Au Bascou

38, rue Réaumur

75003 Paris

01.42.72.69.25

Le Restaurant

32, rue Véron (or 1, rue Audran....it's right on the corner)

75018 Paris

01.42.23.06.22

01.42.23.30.16

L'Os a Moëlle

3, rue Vasco-de-Gama

75015 Paris

01.45.57.27.27

Les Olivades

41, avenue de Ségur

75007 Paris

01.47.83.70.09

The following are some not really part of this "neo/retro bistro" trend, but are worth noting for one reason or another (viz., they pay as much attention to drinking well as they do to the food):

Graindorge (innovative Flanders cooking with a fine selection of rare Belgian beers)

15, rue de l'Arc-de-Triomphe

75017 Paris

01.47.54.00.28

Restaurant du Palais Royal

110, Gallerie du Palis Royal

75001 Paris

01.40.20.00.27

Chardenoux (beautiful turn-of-the-century room, really excellent bistro cooking, and a surprisingly well thought out wine list--Didier Dagueneau Pouilly Fumé, etc.)

1, rue Jules Vallès

75011 Paris

01.43.71.49.52

La Bastide Odéon

7, rue Corneille

75006 Paris

01.43.26.03.65

Chez Georges (excellent traditional bistro with a good wine list, including some Burgundies at prices that are halfway reasonable for what the wines are)

1 rue de Mail

75002 Paris

01.42.60.07.11

Salon d'Hélène (the latest incarnation of Hélène Darroze's take on the soulful cooking of France's southwest)

4 rue d'Assas

Paris 75006

01.42.22.00.11

Le Bamboche (ex-Manufacture chef, David van Laer, was originally installed here, though I now hear that he has left to open Le Maxence below, and I don't know whether the quality has been affected by his departure)

15, rue de Babylone

75007 Paris

01.45.49.14.40

Le Maxence (this is van Laer's new place)

9 bis, boulevard du Montparnasse

75006 Paris

01.45.67.24.88

Le Viaduc Café (attractive, open, airy space dotted with potted palms, in the trendy Bastille neighborhood; simple, clean, traditional bistro fare...a nice watering hole, even if the food isn't quite up to the level of some of the other places on this list)

43, avenue Daumesnil

75012 Paris

01.44.74.70.70

Let me make note, too, of a terrific fish restaurant (all line-caught fish, unbelievably fresh) that boasts a good wine list and a Cognac selection, put together by owner Gérard Allemandou, that might be the best in all of Paris. This place is not inexpensive, especially considering that the ambiance is anything but deluxe--sort of hokey Davey Jones' locker, with fishnets, etc.--but seafood of this quality never comes cheap. NOTE: That said, I should note that the Guide Gault-Millau 2001 says that this place is going downhill fast, and I haven't been recently enough to either confirm or deny:

La Cagouille

10, place Constantin Brancusi

75014 Paris

01.43.22.09.01

Some of the best unpretentious eating (and the highest "fun quotient") is in wine bars (I've listed only those that boast truly interesting selections; therefore, you won't see, for example, the L'Ecluse wine bars, since they're top-heavy with Bordeaux, at the expense of other less well-known regions):

Willi's (where the food here is far better than it needs to be, and where there's always something reasonably wild by the glass)

13, rue des Petits-Champs

75001 Paris

01.42.61.05.09

Le Coude Fou

12, rue du Bourg-Tibourg

75004 Paris

01.42.77.15.16

Bistro de la Nouvelle Mairie

19, rue Fosses-St.-Jacques

75005 Paris

01.43.26.80.18

Jacques Mélac

42, rue Léon-Frot

75011 Paris

01.43.70.59.27

Bistrot-Cave des Envièrges

11, rue des Envièrges

75020 Paris

01.46.36.47.84

Les Bacchantes

21, rue Caumartin

75009 Paris

01.42.65.25.35

L'Echanson

89, rue Daguerre

95014 Paris

01.43.22.20.00

Au Bourguignon du Marais (yes, you can actually drink the likes of Lafon and Leroy here!)

52, rue François Miron

75004 Paris

01.48.87.15.40

L'Ange Vin ("the most formidable collection of chenin [blanc]s from the Loire in Paris, about 70 in all," according to La Revue du Vin de France, which goes on to tag the entire list--the rest of which is equally strong--"an inexhaustible mine")

168, rue Montmartre

75002 Paris

01.42.36.20.20

La Baratin (another place with an astonishing Loire list--mostly stickies, i.e., Bonnezeaux, Côteaux-du-Layon, and the like, not to mention Bordeaux, Barolo, etc., all at bargain prices; one drawback: it can get painfully smoky at times)

3, rue Jouye-Rouve

75020 Paris

01.43.49.39.70

La Cloche des Halles (has its own cellar in which proprietor Serge Lesage keeps casks that he's bought directly from growers so he can do his own élevage and bottling on premise)

28, rue Coquillière

75001 Paris

01.42.36.93.89 (another source gives this phone number: 01.42.33.74.17; I honestly don't know which is correct)

Le Relais du Vin

85, rue St.-Denis

75001 Paris

01.45.08.41.08

Willi's, I should add, has a sister operation around the corner called Juveniles, which is a good place, too. Actually, I think what really happened is that Tim Johnston opened Juveniles, and after a while, it was consuming all his time, attention, and energy. So I think he ended up selling his interest in Willi's to partner Marc Williamson to concentrate on Juveniles full time. In any event, the most exciting thing on the Willi's front is that they have taken over the beautiful Mercure Galant space next door, and rechristened it Maceo! I'm happy for them and wish them much success: 15, rue des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris, 01.42.96.98.89. Has an excellent vegetarian menu, too, a rarity in France.

Oh, yes, one more little spot where one can enjoy a rustic but good afternoon-long lunch with interesting wines. And I do mean interesting: these guys have twice now turned me on to growers a good six months to a year in advance of those same growers' wines being "discovered" by the wine press. If you fancy a really disgusting tripe andouillette, by the way, this is the place:

Le Passage

18, passage de la Bonne Graine

75011 Paris

01.47.00.73.30

I see that I'm missing from my computer files any entries on the phenomenon known as "les Spin-offs": i.e., the informal bistros opened over the last couple of years by restaurateurs known previously for their high-end Michelin-starred establishments (Michel Rostang has several, called Le Bistro d'à Coté; Guy Savoy has perhaps as many as a half-dozen, one of the more recent additions being Les Bookinistes, and Jacques Cagna opened one a few years back called La Rotisserie d'en Face which, due to its heart-of-the-sixth location, tends to swarm with Americans, and which, frankly isn't in the same league as the Savoy and Rostang versions). They're mostly pretty good, serving hearty food in typical overly generous French portions in an informal atmosphere. The food at the Guy Savoy versions is perhaps the most imaginative, if not exactly avant-garde. I used to recommend his Les Bookinistes, but I've heard a few negative reports of late and wonder if I should continue including it here. I also understand that Bernard Loiseau, proprietor of the Michelin three-star La Côte d'Or in Saulieu (in Burgundy), has opened as many as three "baby bistros" in Paris. I'll need to do more reconnaissance on this.

Also, there are the restaurants that comprise the "Flo" group: Brasserie Flo, Julien (within a block or so of each other in a seedy neighborhood, but both so full of character as to not matter), La Coupole on boulevard Montparnasse, and Le Vaudeville on rue Vivienne in the second. All of these large, bustling places serve pretty much the same food--not exciting or great, necessarily, but solid, comforting Alsace brasserie fare. Flo will proabably always be my favorite, as its somewhat shopworn ambiance has always given it more character than the almost too spiffed-out La Coupole, except that even the latter is now starting to show some normal wear and tear.

Here's a new addition to the Paris dining scene that attempts to redefine the traditional, Flo-esque barsserie as international/Fusion/ whatever:

Alcazar

62, rue Mazarine

75006 Paris

01.53.10.19.99

It's Briton Terence Conran's new multilevel, modern restaurant all done up in red, white, and black, and serving a Euro-Asian fusion menu. I don't know how "Parisian" or even "French" it is, but it does have hipness going for it. I ate here in April and it was pretty fun and the food reasonably decent, but the Asian-inspired dishes had a troubling level of sweetness to the sauces. Also rating high on the hip scale are the likes of Barfly, Bhudda Bar, Lô Sushi, Spoon-World Food, Bubbles, and Man Ray, but at the expense of good eating, I'm sorry to say.

For people watching combined with pretty decent food, I used to enjoy L'Avenue (41, avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, 01.40.70.14.91), though I've not been lately and which may or may not still be the place to see and be seen if you're a "top model" or showbiz type (I suspect that it's still cool as ever, having been taken over some time ago by the oh-so-trendy Costes brothers). Also, check out the elegant Il Cortile (in the Hotel Castille, at 37, rue Cambon, 75001 Paris, 01.44.58.45.67), where you can eat what is some of Paris' best Italian food. Both of these are fairly stylish and upscale--and less raucous than the likes of Alcazar--without being break-the-bank (although higher-priced than the bistros mentioned in the beginning).

I now pretty much avoid the "grandes tables," i.e., the temples of gastronomy at this point ("been there, done that"), but if you want my recommendations, you should know that my wife and I really enjoyed Michel Rostang last time we were there, and that I dined at Guy Savoy with a friend in September '97 (at 軲 for two, thank you very much!), and more recently just over a year ago ("only" 趁 a head this time, but they were out of our first choice for wine, and then once our second choice was served, we had to keep pouring it ourselves...inexcusable at this level, IMO). There are a couple of other Michelin darlings that get written up a lot, Alain Passard's L'Arpège (elevated to three stars in '96, an unwarranted move in my admittedly heretical opinion...though his recent decision to severely curtail the meat program is certainly ballsy) and Jean-Pierre Vigato's Apicius, that I found to be a bit of a letdown. I prefer Rostang and Savoy to both. At close to, or even right at, the same level as Rostang and Savoy is Alain Dutournier's Carré des Feuillants (brilliant wine list, too). For a cost-is-no-object meal, these last few would be on my short list. And, of course, you don't need me to tell you about the likes of Alain Ducasse, etc.

The hottest news on the high-end dining front these days, I suppose, may well be the arrival in Paris a few years back of Pierre Gagnaire, who, in the wake of the closing of his eponymous Michelin three-star in the dreary industrial town of St.-Étienne, eventually surfaced at 6, rue Balzac, in the 8th (phone: 01.44.35.18.25; fax: 01.44.35.18.37). Or maybe it would be the return to three-star glory of Le Grand Véfour. For a cost-is-no-object meal, these last ones would be on my short list. But, frankly, "cost-is-no-object" meals just don't ring my bell that much anymore. Finally, Christian Constant, who counts as his protégés virtually all the young proprietors of the "neo/retro bistros" referenced at the beginning of this letter, left the two-star Les Ambassadeurs at the Hôtel Crillon about three or four years ago to open his own restaurant, called Le Violon d'Ingres (135, rue St.-Dominique, 75007 Paris; phone: 01.45.55.15.05). It has just reopened with a new interior design scheme, and is not really at the cost-no-object level, I'm happy to report.

The following are all "new material" (at least newly listed here; I don't mean to imply that they're all new establishments), and I'm noting them here until I figure which section above each restaurant should be slotted into:

L'Angle du Faubourg

195, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré

75008 Paris

01.40.74.20.20

I've gotten mixed reviews on the food here, but next time I'm in Paris, I'm going here anyway. First, it's got a great pedigree: it's Taillevent's "spin-off" or "baby bistro" or whatever you want to call it. Second, having seen photos, I like the look of the place: very soothing, almost zen, spare, contemporary, with enough wood and other natural materials to keep it from seeming cold. And third, the wine list is awesome, including the by-the-glass program. Not in the sense of having a bunch of '59 Mouton or '62 La Tâche, but rather, in the sense of featuring the best growers in up-and-coming (but not yet expensive) regions like the Languedoc.

Astier

44, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud

75011 Paris

01.43.57.16.35

I've see Astier mentioned with some frequency over the years as a classic bistro worth checking out, but I've never been there. But in consulting the Guide Gault-Millau 2001 for a telephone number for another place, I came across the entry for Astier, and was struck by what they had to say about the wine program there: a "hallucinatory wine list…From gewurztraminers from Faller or Trimbach (from 260 to 800F) to Pommard from Hubert de Montille (400F) continuing through the cabernet of the Haut-Poitou from Boutin (95F) or the South African Kanonkop pinotage (230F), it is a veritable viticultural world tour that is proposed here. A rarity in Paris, especially in the bistro world." Based on the foregoing, Astier is a "must try" on my next trip.

L'Astrance

4, rue Beethoven

75116 Paris

01.40.50.84.40

Pascal Barbot (in the kitchen) and Christophe Rohat (front of the house) are doing some majorly imaginative stuff: vegetables on a "cappuccino" of wild mushrooms; hare pâté accompanied by delicate a chiffonnade of soft onions; cod with glazes of sweet chestnut and green lemon; guinea fowl scented with the curry. This is maybe the hottest spot in Paris at this moment: reservations for dinner required one month out at this point (they're also open for lunch).

Ghislaine Arabian

16, avenue Bugeaud

75116 Paris

01.56.28.16.16

After a two-year absence from the kitchens of Ledoyen, where she riffed on a Belgian/Flanders theme in a luxurious, Michelin-starred environment, Ghislaine Arabian is back, having now opened a place of her own. I know someone who was to have eaten there right at the beginning, but the opening was delayed and he had to come back to the U.S. before having that opportunity. In an interview in Gault-Millau Magazine, she said that she wanted her new restaurant to be the sort of place where people would feel like coming two or three times a week, for both lunch and dinner, and that she envisioned one being able to eat for 300 francs. As at Ledoyen, she'll probably have an awesome selection of Belgian beers, Trappist ales, etc.

L'Ardoise

28, rue du Mont-Thabor

75001 Paris

01.42.96.28.18

Classic bistro fare (veal T-bone, cassoulette of langoustines, etc.) served up in an unpretentious setting. Reasonably decent wine selection.

L'Atelier Berger

49, rue Berger

75001 Paris

01.40.28.00.00

Young Norwegian chef Jean Christiansen, who worked with Michel Rostang at one (or more) of his spin-offs, has launched his own enterprise, an ultracomfortable dining room with both banquettes and freestanding tables. Look for things like pan roasted calamari, fricassée of Brese chicken, pastilla of veal feet and escargots, etc. Substantial wine list.

L'Avant-Goût

26, rue Bobillot

75013 Paris

01.53.80.24.00

A bit of a hot spot at the moment and pretty much full every night. This fits squarely in the "neo/retro bistro" category (pot-au-feu de cochon) and features some communal tables.

Le Dauphin

167, rue Saint-Honoré

75001 Paris

01.42.60.40.11

Southwesterners (both ex-Michel Guérard in Eugénie-les-Bains, ex-Café de Paris in Biarritz) Didier Oudill and Edgar Duhr have taken over an old brasserie near the Comédie Française, and rechristened it Le Dauphin. The cooking is, not surprisingly, of a Basque/Béarnaise bent.

Le Florimond

19, avenue de la Motte-Piquet

75007 Paris

Classic, atmospheric bistro in the shadow of the Ecole Militaire. Very fairly priced for the quality.

Georges

Centre Georges Pompidou

6eme étage

75004 Paris

01.44.78.47.99

The latest from the Costes brothers (Café Marly, L'Avenue, La Grande Armée, et al) is this très branché spot located on the top floor of the Pompidou Museum. Spare, minimalist, and with floor-to-ceiling windows, I'd probably opt for lunch here, to take advantage of the views, and also, I don't think you're required to endure any velvet rope nonsense during the day.

Korova

33, rue Marbeuf

75008 Paris

01.53.89.93.93

Taking its name from the Korova Milkbar in Anthony Burgess'  A Clockwork Orange, this is probably more a see-and-be-seen scene than anything else, but it's worth checking out just for that reason.

La Maison de l'Aubrac

37, rue Marbeuf

Paris 75008

01.43.59.05.14

Etienne de Montille (as in Domaine de Montille in Volnay) took me here in February. What a wacked-out, but wonderful place! First of all, it's open 24/7, rare in Paris, and virtually unheard of for a restaurant where you'd actually want to dine! The interior is like nothing so much as an Arby's: fake wood paneling on the walls and, better yet, phony "fences" separating the banquettes to complete the "corral" or "pen" effect. On the walls are beautiful color enlargements of photos of prize Aubrac beef, posing with their éleveurs. While the specialty here generally is Auvergnat fare, more specifically it's a species of beef from this region. We ordered a faux-filet (sirloin), available only for two, and it was without question the finest piece of beef I have had in ages. It was simply grilled, brought to us, sliced tableside, and served au naturel. We also ordered a side of some sort of galette of potatoes that was pretty #### good as well and an ideal accompaniment to the side of beef. The most remarkable part of the whole evening, however, was the wine program. Turns out this place is the late night hangout for all the hot young sommeliers, wine geeks, etc. Among others I met that night were David Biraud, head sommelier of Restaurant Les Ambassadeurs at the Hôtel Crillon, and Sylvain Fadat, proprietor of Domaine d'Aupilhac, a top Côteaux-du-Languedoc producer in Montpeyroux. The wine list, as you have no doubt gathered, is excellent: we had an extremely impressive '98 Côte-Rôtie from an up-and-coming future star vigneron, Jean-Michel Stéphan.

Maison Blanche

15, avenue Montaigne

75008 Paris

01.47.23.55.99

Again, a case of something being too new for me to have tried, but it looks interesting: the Pourcel twins, whose Jardin des Sens in Montpellier earned its third Michelin star last year have taken over this beautiful space, with its floor-to-ceiling windows giving onto the Théatre National. The question, of course, is whether they can pull off a restaurant in Paris while simultaneously tending the home fires down in Montpellier. On verra….

Le Pamphlet

38, rue Debelleyme

75003 Paris

01.42.72.39.24

I haven't been here, but Jeffrey Steingarten, in my opinion one of the savviest food writers around (you'll find his musings in Vogue Magazine, of all places), touted Le Pamphlet recently as his most exciting new discovery in the "neo/retro bistro" genre. And that's good enough for me. Cooking here is Southwest-inflected.

La Robe et Le Palais

13, rue des Lvandière-Saint-Opportune

75001 Paris

Seemingly a pretty serious wine bar, judging from the selection available, but the food's more ambitious than that: duck breast roasted with lavender honey, salmon rillettes with ginger and olive oil. This is a bit of a find.

La Table de Lucullus

129, rue Legendre

75017 Paris

01.40.25.02.68

Twenty-five-year-old Nicolas Vagnon is wowing the troops with his bourgeois bistro cooking: a suave and rich terrine of chicken livers, Saint-Pierre (John Dory) cooked on a bed of fennel, line-caught bar (similar to striped bass), etc. Also, a small, but cleverly put together (and inexpensive) wine list.

Au Trou Gascon

40, rue Tain

75012 Paris

01.43.44.34.26

For me to have waited until now to add Au Trou Gascon is, at the very least, scandalous, and in truth borders on the criminal. I first went here in May 1983; then in December 1984 with Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat), where we had a fabulous meal topped off with 1926 Armagnac; and I've been back off and on since. This was Alain Dutounier's first restaurant, and as we all know, he later went to open the Michelin two-star Carré des Feuillants. But his wife still runs Au Trou Gascon and runs with élan. This is cuisine du terroir at its finest, spoken with a Gascony accent.

Le 7/15

29, avenue Lowendal

75015 Paris

01.43.06.23.06

This bright, sunny bistro is in a bit of an odd location--the nether reaches of the rather boring 15th arrondissement, but it's worth considering if you're in the neighborhood. Expect the likes of eggs cooked in a casserole with grilled vegetable, chicken stuffed with ricotta and spinach, etc.

Finally, and this is NOT a new addition to my guide, I would be remiss if I did not mention Tan Dinh (60, rue de Verneuil, 75007 Paris, 01.45.44.04.84). The Vietnamese food is very delicate and refined (which you'll be willing to kill for after a steady diet of rich, cholesterol-laden French food), though frankly, not as good as that at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. The main attraction here is the still astonishing wine list (best Pomerol list on the planet, and the Burgundy selection ain't half-bad either), though various wine geeks on pilgrimage (such as myself) drank up all the museum pieces years ago. Nevertheless, I'm more convinced than ever that Robert Vifian is possibly the single most wine-knowledgeable person I've met in all of France. One more thing: be advised that Tan Dinh doesn't take credit cards.

Cordially,

David Russell

Santa Barbara, CA

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Jason,  better make that October, November and December. ;)

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 1 month later...

I think Epi Dupin was already mentioned, but it is worth repeating.  My wife and I had a phenomenal meal at this tiny restaurant.  Creative menu, friendly service and a small but well-priced wine list.  

Definitely one of the better meals we had in Paris last year and the bill was under ๥.  

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Just a sad little note on the flo chain mentioned - we tend travel to our apt in paris (which is in the newly fashionable 18th) via the gare du nord and this has always meant either lunch or breakfast at the Terminus Nord (one of the flo chain) The last 2 times the meal has been exceptional only for being unmemorable. Food is tending to be sourced cheaper and instead of solid bistro cooking is more of the "assembled" variety. Croissant for breakfast was simply bad - better ones at the station bar! - I would council caution in re Flo - which is sad - I assume cashflow or just "grown too large syndrome"

BTW if in Paris visit Gallerie Lafayette's ground floor Truffle dept (Lafayette Gourmet) there is a truffle in there the size of a baketball - must be worth a million bucks! upstairs the sandwich bar is a good fusion-y snack stop and the supermarket is reallygood  for own cook supplies.

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I'm sorry to hear of any decline in the Flo brasseries as they are now owners of what remains of many of the best braseries. It doesn't surprise me that things decline under a corporate management but I wonder how many of those brasseries would have survived on their own. It must be six or more years ago that we ate at the Vivienne and enjoyed it very much. Not great cuisine, but good brasserie food. More recently, La Coupole's renovation redered it totally unappealing to us after we had known it so well in the sixties. At the same time, we had a wonderful lunch at Les Grandes Marches just this summer. Short review on this page. It's also owned and operated by the Flo group.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The decline of the brasseries is indeed sad.  I had dinner at Julien during the summer.  Beautiful location, but the food was rather tired.  I remember an entree of foie gras aux lentilles which would have disappointed if it had come out of my own kitchen.  

I used to use Terminus Nord too, and had some excellent meals there - always loved the pied de porc pane; a shame if it's now in decline.  

I'm curious as to why the big brasseries were suffering as independent businesses.  They always seemed busy.  Any special reason for their economic fragility?

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  • 1 year later...

Hi,

I think I saw one earlier post with a few recommendations, but as someone who is traveling to Paris in a couple of days, I would be very appreciative of any current recommendations for cheap but wonderful food. I can't afford the more expensive establishments, but can't find much information about or recommendations for more casual and inexpensive restaurants. Any advice, even on where to look for further advice, would be most welcome.

Also, any tips on a good quick guide for pronounciation of French? I have no knowledge of the language or its pronounciation, and am going to feel like a clod if I have to point at menu items rather than say my order aloud. For that matter, are there any general tips on the dining experience or other interactions for someone with my lack of language skills? If the people speak better English than I do French, I'm going to feel a little stupid saying "bonjour" and "merci"...but then maybe the effort would be appreciated?

Thanks,

Josh

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Josh -- What price range are you targetting?

For example, La Regalade (spelling?) provides three courses at 30 euros:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...f=10&t=7971&hl=

I have never been to De La Garde, which is in the 15th arr., but it has received favorable reviews and has menus from 22-29 euros.

One restaurant that is on my "to do" list is De La Garde, which is indicated by other parties to have menus of 22-29 euros (members should verify prior to reliance).  Pudlowski provided favorable commentary, and the restaurant has a "buzz" factor currently.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...ST&f=10&t=13783

Three-starred Taillevant has a one-starred bistro sibling called L'Angle de Faubourg. On the night I visited during 2Q 2002, there was a three-course, no choice prix fixe dinner for 35 euros. The setting is modern and appropriate. The a la carte is slightly more.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...970&hl=raveneau

I would recommend L'Angle de Faubourg and La Regelade. Please confirm prices prior to any reliance. Of course, I defer to fresh_a's suggestions. :wink:

Edited by cabrales (log)
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I forgot to mention Gualtiero Marchesi at the Hotel Lotti, for lunch. I have never been, but hear good things from reliable sources. I forget the exact range of the lunch prix fixe menus, but there were several of them and the lower-priced ones were good deals for a restaurant of this quality. Note that the restaurant is Italian, and an affiliate of the Michelin three-starred Italian restaurant. This restaurant is easily accessible by subway.

http://www.marchesi.it/ristoranteParigi.htm

"Au déjeuner, le prix sont plus raisonnables, avec des formules à 26 € (170 F, plat et dessert) et 46 € (302 F, entrée, primo piatto, secondo piatto et dessert)."

Edited by cabrales (log)
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Also, any tips on a good quick guide for pronounciation of French? I have no knowledge of the language or its pronounciation, and am going to feel like a clod if I have to point at menu items rather than say my order aloud. For that matter, are there any general tips on the dining experience or other interactions for someone with my lack of language skills? If the people speak better English than I do French, I'm going to feel a little stupid saying "bonjour" and "merci"...but then maybe the effort would be appreciated?

(1) Get a set of "teach yourself French" tapes or do what my brother did: Find a website where you can hear French pronunciation for a fee. (Sorry, I don't have an URL for you.)

(2) Your efforts to speak French will be appreciated.

(3) You will probably find that the staff will speak some English - sometimes, very good English - in various restaurants, especially but not exclusively in Paris. But it's polite to ask them "Escusez-moi monsieur/madame/mademoiselle: Parlez-vous anglais?"

(4) "Feeling like a clod" is part of the experience of travelling in countries that speak languages you don't know. Embrace the experience, and enjoy it!

By the way, do you know where you will be staying?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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This seems like a thread that's better suited to the France board where you may get advice from a larger pool or members. I am sure fresh_a has valuable input on this, but it's not strictly a concierge question and the Q&A is drifting too far from it's essence with this post. I am moving the thread to the France board

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Cabrales, thanks for the recommendations -- I'll definitely read the threads you mention. References like this are a great help, as despite my best efforts to find information here relevant to my particular situation, I usually get sidetracked and absorbed by threads on all sorts of other topics! My price range, I'm sorry to say, tops out at around 30 euros a person. Ideally, we'd want to spend less than that day to day and more than that (50 or 60)once or twice if it meant enjoying a higher quality meal or a different sort of dining experience.

Pan, your advice is also much appreciated. We're staying at the Libertel Grand Turenne in the Marais district for part of the time, and left the last few days open in case we want to go outside of Paris or try another hotel.

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I didn't hang out in the Marais too much last June, though I did hang out in the general area of Place de la Bastille a couple of times, and there are some nice bars in that area.

One thing you might want to do is check out Japanese places in the area between the Louvre and the Opera. It makes sense for you to do that if you are going to the Louvre anyway. Yeah, I know: You're in France and it seems strange to have Japanese food when you're in Paris. But it's not, as long as you don't do it the whole time. Check out this thread: Yasube et al.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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My price range, I'm sorry to say, tops out at around 30 euros a person.

joshlh -- Do you need to drink wine or can you stick to tap water, given that price range? I would suggest La Regelade at exactly 30 euros a person (not extra tips, given the budget), if you could accept tap water.

Alternatively, although this might be slightly akward, you could order the 35 euro prix fixe at L'Angle de Faubourg (dinner) for one diner, and then order a 22-24 euro main course only for the other diner. You would then share. This might be a bit out of the ordinary for L'Angle, but, if it has to be that way, it might be a nice way to sample a Michelin one-star.

I would also call Les Ormes, a Michelin one-star, and ask what price lunch is. I have not pursued this restaurant, but it is smaller and presumably less formal. The 2001 Michelin guide (I know -- I have a 2002 edition, but I always use the 2001 one) notes Les Ormes's lunch menus are at 170 FF, which converts to less than 30 euros.

I made the above recommendation over, say, Gualtiero Marchesi because (1) GM offers only one savory dish and dessert at 26 euros, and (2) I subjectively believe one might want to take in French food while in Paris. La Regelade would probably be my overall recommendation at this price range.

Also, it was not entirely clear to me whether you have 30 euros per person per meal, and therefore 60 euros a day per person to spend. If that is the case, you could splurge on a two-star lunch with no wine or bottled water and have cheese and bread for the other meal, one of the days you are in Paris.

I noted 47 euros was the highest price point indicated in the excerpt above [in another thread]. Members might want to consider that 47 euros would buy a prix fixe lunch at, say, two-starred Relais Louis XIII (45 euros) or at two-starred Relais d'Auteuil (46 euros) and would almost buy a prix fixe lunch at Le Divellec (50 euros), Gerard Besson (49 euros) and L'Astor (50 euros with wine by the glass) -- all two-stars. Members should verify prior to reliance. Of course, wine, water and other add-ons at two-stars would render a typical meal at the above two-stars considerably more than 47 euros. A La Regelade meal could also be had for under 47 euros. I merely note these points to illustrate the untapped opportunities in Paris.
Edited by cabrales (log)
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One place that I have enjoyed for lunch is AUX BONS CRUS, 7, rue des petits champs, Métro Bourse, 15 to 30 € Tél. 01 42 60 06 45. It is right near the old Bibliotheque Nationale. It is closed on Sunday and Monday dinner, but you should confirm these details. At lunch time, it is crowded, smoky, and filled with lots of red wine -- as well as the staff of the library (Bibliotheque). The confit de canard, a kind of braised salted duck, is good. It is also well-known for its beef tartare. Perhaps a little more expensive is a restaurant nearer the Marais, located off rue Beaubourg right across from the Pompidou center. The street is Impasse Berthaud and it is easy to miss. This is a simple restaurant, light and modern in decor, that serves well-prepared food. It is popular with the locals. I think you can order a la carte for under $30, but I can't remember the prices. Another place, gastronomically more interesting is L’ARDOISE, 28, rue du mont-thabor, 1st, Métro Concorde, from 20 to 40 €, Tél. 01 42 96 28 18. The chef is well-regarded and innovative. The tables are a bit crowded and the street is tough to find, but it is a very good buy. I have enjoyed his imaginative food.

Of course if you really want to save and are busy touring, from almost any neighborhood store, buy a hunk of cheese, a good bread, perhaps some sausage or pate, for your lunches and then you will have a bit money for dinner. In addition the felafel places in the Marais are good and cheap. One is L'As du Falafel, rue Rosiers. You can also find decent shwarma there, a pita stuffed with meat sliced off the spit.

Some time ago, Bux posted the following, which I have slightly edited:

le Camelot 50 rue Amelot 01 43 55 54 04, closed Saturday lunch, Sunday, Monday lunch in the 11th

If I am not giving away a confidence, le Camelot was a gem, for what it was. Soup, appetizer, main course and dessert for no more than $30. A small list of generally inexpensive wines and even less expensive wines by the carafe or pichet. Generally there's a set menu with no choice except for perhaps a choice of desset.

Sample Options: lièvre à la royale (that is hare in a rich stew) and duck.

Anyway the limited choice helps keep the price reasonable. We found the GM description apt. We had an interesting wine from beaujolais--or at least the area. It was not an AOC wine and with its fruit, and in spite of its 14.5% alcohol content it was rather a gulping wine. You will need a reservation here.

Although I have never tried it, Robert Buxbaum's good opinion is shared by others, notably the Pudlowski guide.

On the other hand I would not recommend another place that often crops up in the guide books, Astier. It is crowded and dull. The price is right, the quantity is reasonable, but the preparation is little better than what you can find in the frozen food section of any well-stocked French supermarket, or increasingly in Trader Joe's.

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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am going to feel like a clod if I have to point at menu items rather than say my order aloud.

joshlh -- On your not being able to pronounce menu items and having to point, would you understand what the menu items in French are referring to, leaving aside pronounciation issues (difficulty would depend in part on places visited)? :hmmm:

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I'd like to highlight that a three-starred lunch can be purchased for under 85 euros/person at Grand Vefour, Lucas-Carton and Pierre Gagnaire. If I had to choose, I would forgo three meals at 30 euros and take in a meal at any of these restaurants. Lucas-Carton's prix fixe lunch of three courses is 78 euros, for instance, and I enjoyed my last sampling of that very much. Granted, I paid 150-200 euros for a solo diner, but I had several glasses of wine, a cigar, water, etc.

For under 30 euros/person, the two or three-course prix fixe at La Mediterranee, a restaurant that I find visually appealing (Cocteau artwork, beautiful murals) and the cuisine of which is appropriate (in a good way) at that price level:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...t=8814&hl=mural

http://www.la-mediterranee.com/

(indicative menu; 2 courses for 150 F; 3 courses for 180 F or less than 30 euros)

I like the decor in this restaurant a great deal. The murals are so beautiful (ask for the room with the grey-toned murals, in the back, which I believe are the most beautiful). The restaurant is reasonably close to the Jardins de Luxembourg, whose related museum has the Modigliani exhibit running through sometime in March (on-line purchase of tixs an effective necessity; lines are significant). After a meal at La Mediteranee, the Pierre Herme pastry shop on rue Bonaparte would be within walking distance for persons accustomed to walking (myself excluded). At Herme (subject of other threads in this forum), you might want to sample a few of the small macarons (caramel and salt; white truffle hazelnut) and an Ishpahan (spelling). That might cost you under 6-8 euros.

Edited by cabrales (log)
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The set lunch at Bofinger, just off Place de la Bastille, was exactly 30 euros when we were there over Christmas, and that includes half a bottle of simple but honest wine (red or white). For your money you got six oysters or some foie gras; then either magret de canard or a very, very good civet de cerf. Puddings were a bit less memorable. Personally, I thought it was a steal. Particularly since we were seated directly under the (very pretty) stained glass coupole. We just rocked up at about half past one, and there was a ten minute wait. In retrospect I'd probably reserve.

Adam

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