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Traditional Bistros in Paris -- 2009


LuisMiguel
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Hi all,

I will be spending 5 days in Paris next week with my partner and have been trying to decide on 3 dinner options with some difficulty. I have already booked, as the big splurge, a lunch at Les Ambassadeurs and a Balzar lunch for the Saturday. I am after dinner recommendations for the Wed, Thu and Sunday.

We are staying in the 6th so ideally would like to stay within arrondisement 1-8 or south of 6. We are after traditional bistros with great service not too averse to English speaking (my French is very basic). Romantic and not TOO boisterous also ideal but above all great food. Here's my shortlist, any suggestions to narrow these down would be of great help. Budget-wise, up to a total of about 120 Euros with wine and 3 course so nothing too extravagant

Repaire de Cartouche

L'Ami Jean

L'Os A Moelle

Afaria

Chez Denise

Chez Georges

Le Comptoir

Au Bon Accueil

GRand Pan

Josephine (Chez Dumonet?)

Any others you feel will be better suited to my needs, please feel free to mention :)

Thanks

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I have eaten lunch at L'Ami Jean twice. Two couples I know well have eaten there, respectively twice and once. I don't know if this was an accident, but the consensus among these diners seems to be that lunch on Saturday is better than weekday lunch.

The Saturday lunch I had was more relaxed, the amuse bouches more generous, and the overall quality of the food was superior. The base price was higher since there were fewer (perhaps none at all) prix fixe options, but the overall price-quality ratio was better on Saturday.

I did enjoy my weekday lunch, but next time I can I would book the Saturday lunch. Unfortunately next month when I get to Paris I won't be there on Saturday.

That said, I have no dinner information to share.

Sorry, just noticed that your Saturday lunch slot is already booked, so my recommendation is for nought.

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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Thanks for the info, have read a lot about L'Ami Jean but only thing putting me off is it sounds a bit cramped and noisy whereas the vibe I'm looking for is more intimate without being cramped. In saying that I don't want a morgue :)

Edited by LuisMiguel (log)
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Repaire de Cartouche

L'Ami Jean

L'Os A Moelle

Afaria

Chez Denise

Chez Georges

Le Comptoir

Au Bon Accueil

GRand Pan

Josephine (Chez Dumonet?)

Any others you feel will be better suited to my needs, please feel free to mention :)

Thanks

Luis

L'Ami Jean is my top choice on your list. L'Os à Moelle is interseting for it's 6 courses meal. If you like traditional bistrot food, I strongly recommend la Régalade (Paris 14), good product and excellent cooking. Also, recently tried Les Terrines de Gérard Vié (ex starred chef from Les Trois Marche in Versailles) they have simple traditional dishes like rabbit terrine, cassoulet, boeuf bourguignon... They serve different dishes on different days, like thursday for cassoulet for example. So be sure you call them up and ask for the menu and choose your day according to the dish you would like to eat.

Edited by naf (log)
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That's an excellent list. If you're looking for something intimate, then forget indeed about l'Ami Jean or La Régalade or l'Os à Moelle -- even Chez Denise's charm has a lot to do with sharing food with your neighbours.

I'd say there are two types of restaurant in your list -- the traditional ones and the bistronomiques. My favourite in the first category would be Joséphine with its excellent generous food, nice service and exceptional Bordeaux wines; and Au Bon Accueil in the second category, where I just had yet another excellent meal just today (even in fine dining establishments, really fine, precise cooking with good juices has become very rare - Au Bon Accueil does it).

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Thanks for all the great tips. L'Ami Jean seems too good to pass up, so my itinerary is looking like this:

Wed: Dinner at Josephine

Thu: Dinner at Le Bon Accueil or Repaire De Cartouche

Fri: Lunch at Les Ambassadeurs

Sat: Lunch at L'Ami Jean or Le Severo for steak frites

Sun: Dinner at Brasserie Balzar

I'm not sure we can fit 2 big meals in a day, so the other main meal each day we'll see where chance takes us :)

My partner is fairly new to Paris as well so obviously want her to get a real taste of Paris in the list above.

I was a bit iffy about Balzar but being a Sunday night + the tradition of the place, I figure it worth the trip

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Can I come?

:) I take that as a sign that you approve of the itinerary. I have however had 2nd thoughts about Balzar reading some very mixed reviews, and quite a few downright bad ones.

So after a bit of research I've come across a nice bistro called Louis Vins which seems to get good reviews. It won't break the bank and the food is apparently very good. Has anyone here been and if so, are there better sunday night options? I've been through the threads here but none have appealed to me so far.

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Can I come?

:) I take that as a sign that you approve of the itinerary. I have however had 2nd thoughts about Balzar reading some very mixed reviews, and quite a few downright bad ones.

So after a bit of research I've come across a nice bistro called Louis Vins which seems to get good reviews. It won't break the bank and the food is apparently very good. Has anyone here been and if so, are there better sunday night options? I've been through the threads here but none have appealed to me so far.

I would suggest Le Gaigne in the 4th; tried it last week and was pleased.

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Unfortunately I tried calling La Gaigne and they said they were closed on Sunday evening. At the moment I have reservations at Le Repaire de Cartouche (opted for that ahead of Josephine) and L'Ami Jean for Thursday.

Have a reservation at Balzar for the Sunday evening but really have that as a back-up in case I can't find anything else so any other ideas?

Can't wait now, off on Wednesday :)

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Can't wait to see where you end up on sunday. So many places are closed. My trip is planned for September so I'm following your choices (and subsequent reviews) closely. I think that the last time we were in Paris, we ended up at Le Mediterranee (sp) just down the street from Le Comptoir. Loved L'Ourcine and will probably revisit.

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Can I come?

:) I take that as a sign that you approve of the itinerary. I have however had 2nd thoughts about Balzar reading some very mixed reviews, and quite a few downright bad ones.

So after a bit of research I've come across a nice bistro called Louis Vins which seems to get good reviews. It won't break the bank and the food is apparently very good. Has anyone here been and if so, are there better sunday night options? I've been through the threads here but none have appealed to me so far.

I don't recommend Louis Vins, except for wine.

Your sunday options include La Rotisserie du Beaujolais, l'Auberge Bressanne, la Rotonde, la Fontaine de Mars, Benoit, Chez George porte Maillot, Le Comptoir (less traditional but no less delicious ones follow:), Le Petit Pontoise, Fish, Christophe.

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Suprised no one has mentioned le Polidor in the 6th http://www.polidor.com/

Founded in 1845 and not changed much since.

Long communal tables, checked oilcloth

Boeuf Bourguignon, Blanquette de veau à l’ancienne, petit salé aux lentilles

Wine in tumblers

I'd love to hear comments on this. We went to Polidor several years ago, on the recommendation of a Calvin Trillin piece I'd read somewhere. He described the ambiance as Jackal10 did, and it sounded really appealing. To him, it was the neighborhood bistro where he always went for his first meal in Paris, because it grounded him and made him feel at home and, well, French.

The food was fine and matched our expectations. But, maybe because it was White Nights and the 6th was mobbed, we were disappointed by what struck us as less a neighborhood place than a tourist destination. Everyone seemed to be like us--clutching their Trillin clippings :rolleyes: --and looking for the quintessential bistro experience. In the process, crowding out whatever made the place special.

Just my thoughts, and like I said, there was a big arts festival going on which undoubtedly contributed to the scene we experienced.

Margo Thompson

Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,

You're my little potato, they dug you up!

You come from underground!

-Malcolm Dalglish

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I am going to try some of these recommendations for Sunday and hopefully get something booked. Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I'll be sure to share my experiences next week on what I've experienced.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to add some of my thoughts from our brilliant trip to Paris.

Wed - Repaire de Cartouche

I loved the feel of the restaurant, felt very neighbourhood-like and of course very rustic. I started with the pate en croute, and my girlfriend had the terrine. The whole terrine dish was served, to help yourself with and my girlfriend enjoyed it, though wasn't blown away. My pate en croute was a huge portion, again very good but not blown away. The mains were quite disappointing. My girlfriend's pigeon with peas was cooked perfectly, the pigeon was tender and well seasoned but the dish just lacked that something. I had the veal rump with braised vegetables, which in essence was an overcooked rump of veal, with well cooked vegetables and a veal jus. For dessert I had the burnt rice pudding with orange marmalade, which I enjoyed but after a few spoonfuls you definitely have enough. Far too tart and not sweet enough in my view. Though I forget what my girlfriend have, we left reasonably satisfied but it's not somewhere I would recommend to others

Thu - L'Ami Jean

Possibly the highlight of the trip. We went in and experienced our first mildly rude French waiter, who was getting a bit annoyed as we were taking our time deciphering the menu. But this was all minor once we ordered. We went for the set menu, which was a lot more economical than the a la carte, but mainly because we didn't understand all the dishes (my french is decent, but not great).

To start, my girlfriend had an amazing gazpacho with a ravioli in the middle. I'm sure there was more to it than just that. I had a braised shin of beef, shredded and immersed in a delectable carrot puree, which was also served with a carrot-based foam. You know when dishes are so amazing, that you purposely take small spoonfuls and savour each one until the last possible moment before you have to swallow...that's what our starters felt like. Then the mains. I ordered the rack of lamb, which was delicious but the real star were the pig cheeks my girlfriend ordered. Though she'd felt a bit uneasy about ordering it because we weren't sure about the other items, she soon lit up when it arrived. The flavours were out of this world, pig cheeks came with a healthy portion of small pasta tubes. Desserts are hazy in my memory now, my girlfriends was a peach trifle of sorts and she loved it. We left the restaurant already planning our next trip. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Fri - Les Ambassadeurs

My Michelin experience is fairly decent I would say. 2 star establishments I've dined in include Le Bristol (before it gained it's 3rd star), THe Capital in London and Brunei in Brussels. I thoroughly enjoyed Les Ambassadeurs, a wonderful experience as you'd expect. We had the set menu, which was a crab broth for my partner and the fois gras served in both a broth and something else. I was not blown away though really enjoyed it. My girlfriend's crab broth was wonderful. For main, we both had the veal sweetbreads...simply fantastic though I recall sweetbreads I had at Le Meurice a couple of years back which blew this out of the water. Desserts were wonderful though, my girlfriends a beautifully decorated chocolate dessert, based loosely on Black Forest gateau and I had a wonderful take on rice pudding. Simply divine. wonderful little extras, including never ending amounts of petit fours make this a fantastic lunch experience. With 2 stars, I don't believe in going back to the same place unless you are completely and ridiculously blown away (such as my experience at Le Bristol years earlier, not as keen on Le Meurice). So though loved it, I won't be returning. Great lunch though

Sun - Le Petit Pontoise

A wonderful bistrot to the east of the Latin quarter along the Seine. Though very hot inside (dress light in the summer - you have been warned) we had excellent, simple homey food. It's only fair to compare it to our first night's meal at Le Repaire de Cartouche and it won hands down for me. Dishes are a bit hazy but they included white asparagus starter, a beef stew, pig's cheeks, creme brulee and a very good tarte tatin (apples were not caramelised enough and pastry was slighly under and not chewy enough for my liking). All in all, you can't do much better on a Sunday night

Mon - Balzar

This was just a quick bite for lunch before the airport. Not much to report. Girlfriend had a goat's cheese salad only and I had the roast chicken. Ordered a roast chicken on Sunday in a pub in Hampstead which blows the Balzar one out of the water on every level. Chips not much to write home about. Balzar is a place to go if you're passing by and need a bite...I would never make a dinner or lunch event out of it though.

So thanks all for the great advice on here, hopefully you find my thoughts useful :)

Edited by LuisMiguel (log)
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"We went for the set menu, which was a lot more economical than the a la carte, but mainly because we didn't understand all the dishes (my french is decent, but not great). "

We have eaten several times at Chez L'Ami Jean and the menu is always a problem. The dishes are not traditional so the menu is more a list of ingredients. I do not speak French very well but it is my impression that some of the menu names and descriptions might be French "play on words". Once you get past the difficulty with the menu (which is exacerbated by the quick pace of the place) you are rewarded because the food is fabulous.

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... I do not speak French very well but it is my impression that some of the menu names and descriptions might be French "play on words".  ...

It seems to be an important cultural barrier.

Word games, levels of meaning, are greatly appreciated by the gallic punter.

I suppose I first became aware of this with those remarkably advanced Citroen models the ID and DS.

"It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma ..." as the great man said (although about something else).

However, the puzzle-setters are often happy, if asked admiringly, to take the time to explain their cleverness!

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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