We just received a voice mail from an Official Friend Of ELV inquiring about places to eat in Paris (France, not Texas). After the slide show, you (and they) can jump to a list of favorites complied after four trips there in the past 3 three years. We haven’t been this year due to the falling dollar — but will be attending the Bocuse d’Or (in Lyon) this coming January. Something tells us a stopover for a few days of cassoulet, choucroute, andouillettes, and pot au feu in Gay* Paree may just sneak into our agenda as well.
As in: full of or given to social or other pleasures.
Restaurant Le Troquet, 21, rue Francois Bonvin, 75015, Tel: 01 45 66 89 00
A bit out of the way (in the 15th Arrondissement), this neighborhood institution serves but one menu a night, at bargain prices, and is a must for anyone wanting to experience the essence of French everyday life (and cuisine) on a budget.
Les Papilles, 30, Rue Gay Lussac, 75005, Tel: 33 1 43 25 20 79
The Marche Bacchus of Paris — once again you get a pre-set meal at a bargain price served at tables strewn about a small wine shop. The owner is a soccer fanatic and the food is rustic French at its best.
Laduree, 75, Champs Elysees, Tel: 01 42 60 21 79 ( + other locations)
You can’t miss it, and you can have a full meal here, but what we go for are the classic French pastries served in a Belle Epoque setting with some serious chocolat (French hot chocolate).
Brasserie Flo, 7 Cour Des Petites-Ecuries (in the 10th Arrondissement — enter at 63 Rue du Faubourg-St.-Denis), 01 47 70 13 59
Another out-of-the-way place, quite historic (Sarah Bernhardt was a regular), and right off a street teaming with various Arab and Turkish food sellers, this classic brasserie features classic brasserie fare: choucroute, steak frites, etc., but it’s the shellfish platters and timeless decor that bring us back. p.s. Julien, another famous brasserie (dating from 1889) is just around the corner and down street at 16, Rue du Faubourg, and is listed as a national historic monument.
Les Bouchons de Francois Clerc, 12, rue de la Hotel Colbert (5th Arrondissement), 01 43 15 34
The best wine deal in restaurants in Paris. Oenophiles go for the incredible list at bargain store prices, accompanied by solid, if unremarkable, New French fare. This is where ELV first coined the phrase: “The way the French cook lamb is someone yells ‘fire’ as it’s being brought from the kitchen.” Nevertheless, our gigot de agneau went perfectly with a ’99 Pommard…even if it was blood rare and cool to the touch.
Les Bouquinistes, 53, quai des Grands-Augustins, Tel: 01 43 25 45 94
Of all of Guy Savoy’s baby bistros, this is the first and still the best. Innovative, market-driven cuisine savored along the Seine.
Gaya, 44, Rue Bac, 75007, Tel: 01 45 44 73 73, www.pierre-gagnaire.com/index-fr.htm
Right across the street from L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, this small, sleek fish restaurant is Pierre Gagnaire’s gift to the Left Bank. Creative, compelling, mind-boggling food at (relatively) affordable prices. Not for the timid of palate, but a must for serious foodies.
Chez Diane, 25, Rue Sevandoni (6th Arrondissement), Tel: 01 46 33 12 06
Classic bistro that plows no new ground, but is warm and welcoming to locals and tourists alike. A perfect lunch spot after a walk in the Luxembourg Gardens. Highly recommended by Elizabeth Sue Curtas Carmean of Athens, Georgia — The Official Sister Of ELV.
Le Train Bleu, In the Gare de Lyon (12th Arrondissement), 01 43 43 09 06
Only in France do you find restaurants as spectacular as this, in a train station. The food takes a backseat to the breathtaking Belle Epoque decor, frescoed ceilings and beautiful murals that envelope the (huge) dining rooms, but it’s whole lot better than it needs to be. Still one of the definitive steak tartares and Dover soles we have ever had. Worth a special trip even if you’re getting nowhere near a train.
Carre des Feuillants, 14 rue de Castiglione, (First Arrondissement), 01 42 86 82 82, www.carredesfeuillants.fr/
When ELV was in Paris in late 2006, Alain Dutournier was offering a 3-course prix fixe lunch for 65 euros. As with all Michelin 3-star restaurants, the number of courses you get is usually double what is announced on the bill of fare. Between an amuse here and a Chef’s tasting there, our three courses easily became seven or eight (including the three dessert courses that are de rigeur at 3-star haute cuisine palaces); making it the best lunch deal we’ve ever had. Even if the tariff has increased, this is still the place to go to experience the tops in French cuisine for a (relative) bargain.
Guy Savoy, 18 rue Troyon (17th Arrondissement), 01 43 80 40 61, www.guysavoy.com
Within a block of the Arch de Triomphe is a haute cuisine experience like no other. A favorite of Americans, Savoy and his staff are gracious, welcoming, instructive, and entertaining as they lead you through what might be the best meal of your life. Your meal will be expensive and delightful and worth every penny. Favorite anecdote: No sooner had Mon. Savoy himself explained to me that the pigeonneaux I was being served had been shot that morning, did I find myself picking out a piece of buckshot from its meat. Fresh indeed!
Le Grand Vefour, Palais Royale, 17, rue de Beaujolais (First Arrondissement) 01 42 96 56 27, www.legrandvefour.com/
This Michelin 3-star has been around since the 18th Century and has to be seen to be believed. Chef Guy Martin served us our first 3-star meal here 14 years ago, and remains one of the top toques of Paris. He is a master with vegetables, and his staff couldn’t be nicer. Collette ate here. So did Jean Cocteau, Victor Hugo and Jean-Paul Satre. Oh, and so did Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte. ‘Nuff said.
ELV also recommends:
Cafe de Flore
Au Pied de Cochon
Le Petit Zinc
Brasserie de I’lle St. Louis
Nos Ancetres Les Gaulois
Leon de Bruxelles
L’Ecluse Wine Bars
Pur Grill (in the Park Hyatt Place Vendome)
L’Escargot Montorgueil (a must for snail lovers)
Willi’s Wine Bar
…and yes, ELV has eaten in every one of them….some of them twice. We also recommend going to JohnMariani.com and Dorie Greenspan’s website (both links are on the right), since they travel there extensively and file periodic restaurant reports that are even more up to date than ELV’s!