by Alex Novak
After hearing about several bad experiences in French restaurants from friends and having numerous people ask me about good places to eat at in Paris, I decided to put together a quick list of restaurants that I have eaten at with pleasure. The bad ones are NOT usually on the list. Consider it an emergency list for when you go to the auctions in Paris, Paris Photo, FIAC, or even to the open air market in Bievres in June. Even better yet, just go on vacation and enjoy yourself.
I have had my share of surly service (often at the most expensive places) and mediocre food here (as elsewhere), but I have been fortunate enough to have avoided the disasters that some have reportedly encountered. Paris is a safer bet than most major cities for food. It is rare that I have experienced the sadism of some English eating (and I use that term loosely) establishments. In Paris the worst you usually feel is that it was disappointing or overpriced for what it was. To avoid the disappointment, I have culled out the worst. Yes, you might experience a night of less than perfect service, especially on a busy weekend evening, but then you don't have to put up with the smiley-button type service that I often find here in the U.S.--from the "Hi, my name is Phil, and I am your server tonight" style of training. I find that if you are patient and polite, most restaurant people will respond positively. The most crowded and understaffed establishments will understandably be the most unresponsive, as they are in America. These are likely to be the most touristy spots. Just relax, have another glass of wine and be patient.
A few other differences: the French tend to eat later (usually after 9 p.m.), so most restaurants do not open until 7:30-8 p.m. If you go early, you will see a smaller crowd and mostly other tourists. When in doubt of when a restaurant opens its doors, call.
Restaurants in Paris are supposed to be non-smoking or have non-smoking (non-fumeur) areas, but in typical French fashion this regulation is sometimes disregarded. But ask for a non-smoking area. The French are largely giving up smoking, except for the very old and the very young (much as it is here), but avoid being seated next to tables of English or Japanese tourists who tend to smoke the most at the moment. And be aware that smokers are allowed at the outside tables, which are often the most sought after on a pleasant day or evening.
French restaurants do not understand the concept of a "doggie bag", so don't even try. This won't even work at places that also do "take-out"! The only exception is a new French government program encouraging French restaurants (the better ones) to allow you to take away your partially unfinished bottle of wine in a special sack. This is because when the government started to crack down on drunk driving, wine sales at restaurants went down dramatically. Hence the program. Many of the less expensive restaurants offer a house wine by different carafe sizes (1/4, ½, full). Sometimes it is good value, but sometimes you would be better looking at the wine list and half bottles.
Eating in France is a slower process (dinner is often about two-three hours long) than in the U.S. (thank god!), so again, relax, savor and enjoy. My French friends tolerate my need for coffee with dessert, although it is usually served about a half hour after dessert. My plead for "café avec dessert" is usually politely responded to and often ignored. C'est la vie. You will probably have to request the check. A simple "L'addition, s'il vous plait" will usually do the trick, along with some air-scribbling. Avoid shouting "garçon!", which is something reserved for bad 1930s movies.
It always helps to understand a bit of French. Do not expect your wait person to understand English, although many do. But smile and be polite and learn some "menu" French before you go, you will probably make it through ok.
Order the "menu", "formule" or "plat du jour" for the best value. A "menu" refers to a two, three or four-course meal offered at one special price in which you choose from a list of items within each course category. For example: a "menu" of €20 could consist of one "entrée" (first course), one "plat" (main course) and one "dessert" (dessert). You may be given three or more choices within each category. Often a menu will also give you a choice of "fromage" (cheese) and/or dessert, or offer a choice from any two categories, such as "entrée et plat" or "plat et dessert." During lunch, you may see a restaurant offer a "formule." This is normally more limited in choice, but a very good value. When ordering "à la carte," you can often order any assortment of dishes, charged for individually. Quite often, "un plat garni" (one main course garnished with a side dish) from the à la carte menu, is usually a larger portion than if you had ordered it as part of a "menu." Special note: what we call "the menu" in English is "la carte" in French; what we call "an entree" in English is "un plat" in French and "un entrée" in French is an appetizer or first course in English. Confusing, but true.
Also Europeans use their knives and forks considerably different than Americans. The European style looks every bit like peasant eating to me, but then I look worst to Europeans. Frankly I have tried to emulate my European friends, but my cutting and eating skills apparently leave much to be desired, as one Belgium friend told me.
A quick word about French pizza: don't. It is usually at best a mediocre experience. Believe it or not, the best pizza in Paris is at Pizza Hut. There are several, but, when I just have to have my dose of pizza, I usually go to the one on the Blvd. des Italians, not far from the Opera or order one at Amore Mio (see below for their listing). Most French pizza is a non-appetizingly thin doughy crust and very greasy, which they make worse by pouring red-peppered oil over it. There are a couple of ok French ones around, but just don't think you will be bowled over by French tomato pies.
The phone numbers below are local numbers if made from a Paris phone. If you are dialing from the U.S. (or using a phone that requires you to dial as if you were), you will need to dial 011-33-(drop the first zero in the number string) and then the number below. From other parts of Europe, your first number is 00 then the 33 and so on.
The prices below are quoted per person without wine but including appetizer (entrée), dessert and non-alcoholic beverage. Most restaurants offer prix fixed menus that are good bargains, although a lot of food for some. Portions, however, are generally a bit smaller in Paris than in the U.S. You can probably eat cheaper if you skip an entrée and/or a dessert.
A guide to prices:
Inexpensive: 15-25 euros
Moderate: 25-50 euros
Expensive: 50-100 euros
Very Expensive: 100-150 euros
Ridiculous: Over 150 euros (well over at the hot and well starred tourist traps)
Wine can run between about ten euros to thousands depending on the bottle and the restaurant. Most places have decent bottles for 15-35 euros. At the more expensive places, a decent (but not usually great) bottle could start at about 65 euros.
If you prefer regular tap water, just order "carafe d'eau" (pronounced doe) with your meal. The water is perfectly ok in Paris, but some stomachs are more sensitive than others, so you might prefer the "eau mineral".
A 12-15% surcharge is included in your check (which goes mostly to the house and to the VAT), but tipping an additional 5-10% if service was good is considered normal and appropriate. Cash for the extra tip is always preferred in Europe; most restaurants don't even have a provision for an extra tip on their credit card receipts. That doesn't mean you shouldn't add that extra bit in cash though.
Consider that most of what would be a tip and the tax is already part of your bill and Paris restaurants are about the same cost as most similar restaurants in most large American cities and considerably cheaper than the London counterparts.
Many European restaurants now only use Visa or MasterCard. Amex is less and less available. Also American cards don't run easily on some of the restaurant card readers, which are more designed to take the more secure European cards, so make sure you have enough cash on hand in case your card can't be processed.
Reservations from Thursday through Sunday are highly recommended. Usually a day or two in advance is enough, except at the top restaurants. Some restaurants do not take reservations. And remember most restaurants are closed on Mondays, as they are here in my Pennsylvania neighborhood. Also most restaurants are closed for most of August due to lack of trade (except tourist) and lack of air conditioning (one more reason to ask for a table on the terrace or near a window during the summer months of June, July and September).
Please note that I rate very conservatively on a scale of 1-10. For me an average good restaurant would rate 5. I have tried to recheck all of the restaurants when I made up this list, but you should call and check for availability. Most I have eaten at within the last two years. You will also notice the lack of the big names, such as Tour Argent (the best of the Michelins and in the 5th arrond.), which I find are terribly overpriced, overbooked and usually snobbish to the extreme.
4, rue Blainville, 5th arrond. (off Place de la Contrescarpe)
01 46 33 29 82
Perhaps, my favorite restaurant in Paris. Eric is the very able and suave manager; Christian is the owner. Reservations, especially on weekends or during May-July; Sept.-Oct. are a must. You usually dine downstairs in the stone cave; but don't worry, it is quite an elegant place. Perfect for a romantic evening. The fireplace upstairs is a very nice place to take your coffee and cognac--in fall or winter. This also could be one of the best deals on lunch or brunch in the city. A three-course prix fixed menu will be as cheap as at most mediocre brasseries. The regular dinner menu is pricey but well worth it (about 125 euros a person with a lower priced bottle of wine). One of the big starred Michelins will cost you three times this or more, and the food and service will not be as good. The wine list is enormous, but expensive. The service overall is first-rate. They know me very well here, so don't be afraid to use my name. But please act and dress nicely if you do. The restaurant, although somewhat touristy in its clientele, does draw local French as well, who appreciate the refinements in food preparation, service and atmosphere. English well spoken here.
Food: 9-10 Service: 8-9 Atmosphere: 9 Value: 9 Price: Expensive (Although Moderate for lunch or brunch)
Maceo Restaurant & Bar
15 Rue des Petits-Champs (behind the old Bibliotheque Nationale and backs up to the Royal garden and the Palace Royal), 1st arrond.
+33-(0)142-97-53-85; events, phone: +33-(0)142-96-37-47
One of my current faves. Great, inventive seasonal prix fixed menus. I once had their tomato menu, which included a dessert with green tomato (it was great!). The wines are fabulous and the waiters and wine steward are generally wonderful. Some are more friendly and relaxed than others, but all are very professional and polite. Staff is French but the owner is a flamboyant Englishman, Mark Williamson. One of the best values in the city, although not cheap. You can get a GREAT bottle of wine for a mere 30-35 euros here. The five course prix-fix is not much more, although you can also order a la carte. They also have a vegetarian prix-fixed menu as well. Most of the fluently English wait staff know me, so do use my name. My thanks to Sebastian Dobson for suggesting we try it out years ago.
Before dinner, or as an only-slightly less elegant alternative to Maceo's, you might want to try Willi's Wine Bar just a door down and owned by Mark as well. It is really a great casual place for an interesting glass of wine and superb cheese selection, but diner and lunch reservations are even tougher here because of its tiny space. Prices are only slightly cheaper for dinner here, but then the food is quite interesting. Last time that I dined with friends here we had a U.S. senator at a nearby table, but I won't hold that against them. To make reservations at Willi's, just call 0142610509.
Food: 8+ Service: 8-9 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 9 Price: Moderate-Expensive
Café de Delices
87, rue d'Assas, 6th arrond.
01 43 54 70 00
Subway: Vavin/RER Port-Royal, but not very close.
M. Choukroun is the proprietor here. He used to run the great restaurant in Chartres and is considered by the French media to be quite the up-and-coming chef. Good food, if a bit weird décor; need reservations because of good Zagat's review. Not a big selection of wines, but ok wines at good prices. May have gone down a bit considering Choukroun is spending his time at the next place on my list. I heard a couple of reports of bad service, but I personally only experienced very friendly service, if sometimes a bit spacey, on my three dinners there with friends. I gave the lower rating on service only because of those other complaints. Closed Sat. and Sunday.
Food: 8 Service: 6-7 Atmosphere: 5 Value: 7+ Price: Moderate
Perhaps even better than the previous listing, although I have not yet visited, is Choukroun's new restaurant:
39 avenue de l'Opéra, 2nd arrond.
0 1 42 61 86 25
Appropriately named, just down from the restored Opéra Garnier, this new offering from Choukroun is just a stone's throw from the Grands Magasins (ie. Galeries Lafayette & Printemps). Closed Saturday and Sunday. Reportedly fabulous food, but difficult to make reservations. It has gotten rave reviews from the press. My bet would be that they are right. His restaurant in Chartres was my favorite in France.
Le Coupe Chou
9 et 11 rue de Lanneau, 5th arrond.
01 46 33 68 69
Actually the name of a type of razor favored by the barbers who originally were located here; the name translates roughly into Cut Cabbage. Across from Petite Prince (see below) and a much better but more expensive restaurant. Perhaps my second favorite in the 5th arrond. after La Truffiere.
Food: 8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 8 Price: Moderate-Expensive
36 rue du Mont-Thabor, 1st arrond.
01 42 60 27 19
Near Place de la Concorde, this superb little specialty restaurant focuses on delicate soufflés for both main dishes and desserts. Really lovely place with friendly but formal service and well executed food. A bit crowded on the tables, but everything else is first-rate. Take your cholesterol medication before one of these dinners though, which are just a melt-in-your mouth pleasure. My thanks to Cecile for this fine suggestion.
Food: 8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 8 Price: Moderate+
Le Restaurant and Tea Room of the Musée d'Orsay
On the 3rd floor, Staircase 3-1
1, rue de Bellechasse, 7th arrond. Metro: Solferino
The restaurant (middle level) serves lunch; teas (except Thursday); and dinner (Thursday only). Like the museum itself, it is not open on Monday. This is the best food deal in the city. The service is sometimes a bit frantic, but usually friendly (unlike the Georges Pompidou's cold and uninviting restaurant and its staff), the food is good, and the muraled and mirrored room is simply spectacular. You have to go to the museum, which is the perhaps the best in Paris, but so what? GO! Oh, and I almost forgot, the prices are insanely low. Do not go to the Café des Hauteurs or other eating facilities in the museum. They are ok, but why would you? Just remember to get in line early.
Food: 7 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 9 Value: 10 Price: Inexpensive
Fish la Boissonnerie Restaurant Mediterraneen
69 rue de Seine, 6th arrond.
01 43 54 34 69
I used to say good simple seafood, but an even better wine bar. But on my latest trip, it appears the kitchen has taken it up another notch in creativity. Go, you'll like it. Run by an English ex-pat. Inventive and reasonably priced wine list. Often gets crowded and noisy (which makes it fun), so go early or reserve.
Food: 8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6+ Value: 7 Price: Moderate
Olio, Pane, Vino
44,rue Coquillière, 1st arrond.
01 42 33 21 15
This is minimalist Italian at its very best: food that is simply prepared, but with the finest ingredients and care. The owner and chef are one and the same. The menu is simple and changes often, depending on the seasonal availability. After a superb appetizer of fresh Buffalo mozzarella and tomato, I had simple homemade pasta--maybe the best to be found in Paris--with just a little garlic and olive oil, covered with fresh shavings of black truffle, which was literally flown in that day. The taste here is fresh, clean and wonderful. The surroundings are a bit Spartan, but the walls are covered with black and white photographs from American photographers Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamblee, who have become good friends with the owner. The room is small and reservations for dinner (only Thursday and Friday) and lunch (Monday-Saturday) are usually a necessity.
Food: 8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7-8 Price: Moderate
Proprietors: Pierre and ColetteBardeche
10, rue Mabillon
01 43 26 30 05
A truly historic place with very good basic food, if just a hair more expensive than some other Brasseries, which usually don't measure up to this one though. Good atmosphere and a fun place.
Food: 7 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 7 Price: Moderate
42, rue Daubenton, 5th arrond.
01 4331 1717
Best Greek restaurant in Paris (Zagats agrees). Oddly enough it is near an area (Rue Mouffetard) where there are a multitude of cheap mediocre Greek tourist spots. But this restaurant is a little off that well-beaten path and is not like any Greek food that you have tasted. Call it Greek Nouveau because it is beautifully prepared and actually light eating. Decent wine list with even quite drinkable Greek wines. Restaurant is airy and light despite not having any outside dining. Also you can actually hear yourself talk here.
Food: 8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 7 Value: 7 Price: Moderate-Expensive
Chez Tante Alice
31-33 rue du Chateau-d'Eau (a quick walk from Place de Republique, 10th arrond.)
01 42 40 62 34
Very good traditional French menu, well above the average. Reasonable prices and nice people. My favorite in this area. There are a few outside tables when it is warm. I have been told by friends in the area though that they recently had a more mediocre experience here, so it will bear checking out again soon.
Food: 7 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7+ Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
Au Petit Riche
25, rue Le Peletier (and very apt), 9th arrond.
01 47 70 68 68
Reservations at what is perhaps the best fish restaurant in the city are a must, even for lunch. The soupe de Poisson is the best I have had (Huitre et Demi mentioned just below is close though). Un peu cher.
Food: 7-8 Service: 7-8 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 7-8 Price: Moderate+
L'Huitre & Demie
78/0 rue Mouffetard, 5th arrond.
+33 01 43 37 98 21
Very good seafood restaurant on touristy Mouffetard.
Metro: Place Monge or Censier-Daubenton
Food: 7 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Moderate
La Cabane d'Auvergne
44 Rue Gregoire-de-Tours, 6th arrond.
01 43 24 14 75
This used to be a boisterous and fun place with good food, good, inexpensive wines and a rough but interesting atmosphere. I once called this the real deal in the midst of Tourist Central in the Latin Quarter. Unfortunately new owners have taken over the place and turned it into a tourist rip-off, which I found out about first hand on one of my last trips to Paris. The current owners tried to force us to the bar for an expensive aperitif before they would seat us in the empty restaurant.
Food: 4+ Service: -1 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 2 Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
Le Volant Restaurant
13, rue Beatrix Dussane, 15th arrond.
01 45 75 27 67
I have not been here in quite some time--not because it isn't first-rate, but because I haven't been back to the area. If Marie is still there (and I expect she is), she is a pistol and a very good hostess/waitress. The Boeuf Bourgogne and the braised rabbit (lapin) are both wonderful. So is the chocolate bar (that they call a cake) with fresh raspberries--a real chocoholic's dessert. Because the original proprietor, Georges Houel, was an ex-race car driver, you can probably guess the décor. A young Basque chef has taken over the restaurant recently, kept most of the menu, added good fish dishes (such as fresh tuna), and the reviews are quite good. C'est trés petite, so reservations are a must. Closed the entire day Sunday, also closed for lunch on Monday and Saturday. Reasonable and very good.
Food: 8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 8 Price: Moderate
Ok, this is a "chain" restaurant, but this is also France, so unlike the chains in the U.S., this group features some fabulous eating and beautiful surroundings. Service is relatively good too. I have eaten at one or two of the nine that are in Paris (there are also three more in the suburbs). It isn't cheap though.
Opéra , Paris 2ème - 01 53 43 82 00 Bastille, Paris 4ème - 01 40 29 17 00 St-Michel, Paris 6ème - 01 56 81 32 00 Marbeuf, Paris 8ème - 01 53 23 90 00 Elysées, Paris 8ème 01 40 73 87 00 Montparnasse, Paris 14ème - 01 44 10 54 00 Pte de Versailles, Paris 15ème - 01 53 68 94 00 Maillot, Paris 17ème - 01 45 72 93 00 Wagram, Paris 17ème - 01 53 81 97 00 Boulogne, 92 Boulogne - 01 41 22 90 00 Bougival, 78 Bougival - 01 30 78 20 00 Petit-Clamart, 92 Petit Clamart - 01 46 01 59 00
Food: 8 Service: 7-8 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 7-8 Price: Moderate-Expensive
7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 9th arrond. (near Drouot)
01 47 70 86 29
Metro: Grands Boulevards
White-aproned waiters serve at this "Belle Epoque" venue, as they have been doing since 1896, when it opened to offer good, cheap French food to local workers. Not much has changed, although today antique and photo dealers from nearby Hotel Drouot mingle with politicians and locals. Where else will you find a three-course meal with wine for around €15 and eat a part of Parisian history? The menu changes daily, but pot au feu (meat stew) has been served every Monday for a century. The roast poulet (chicken) is also an excellent choice. The décor of the room is worth the price of the meal. The service is frantic and impersonal, but "c'est la vie".
Food: 7+ Service: 6 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 7-8 Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
The Studio Restaurant
41, rue du Temple, 4th arrond.
01 42 74 10 38
I finally found a good Tex-Mex restaurant in Paris that will stand up to those in the States. That's a major accomplishment in a town that calls sour cream, "crème acide". But you sure will have to search for it. Located inside and to the left in a small courtyard (or cour) just at 41, rue du Temple, this bar/restaurant is open most days for lunch and dinner (except Monday for lunch). They serve a killer (but actually mild) enchilada plate and very good chili. All the good Mexican beers (order a Bohemia; it's my favorite Mexican beer) and a first-rate Margherita are all available to quench your thirst. The courtyard is surrounded by dance studios and also has one of the oldest live theaters in Paris. The courtyard service in nice weather is also a great place to have a meal with a group of friends. The service is a little slow and French-average, but the food is the star. Prices are also cheap for Paris. My thanks to Kem for the tip and the good company.
Food: 6 Service: 5 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Inexpensive
La Mosquée de Paris
39 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 5th arrond.
01 43 31 18 14
Metro: Censier-Daubenton or Place Monge
Yes, this is a restaurant in a mosque. Brightly colored ceramic tiles, shiny, brass tables and the scent of mint tea define the Paris Mosque, a hospitable spot where diners enjoy hearty chicken and pickled lemon tagine or couscous with garlic merguez sausages. Try the Couscous Royal to taste as many flavors as you can in one dish or opt for the "Formule Orientale" for the full experience: hammam (steam bath), couscous/tagine and mint tea and sweet pastries (really). Choose your favorite spot, outside in the shady courtyard or inside beneath a brightly patterned ceiling.
Food: 7 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 8 Value: 7-8 Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
Le Petit Canard
19 Rue Henri-Monnier, 9th arrond.
01 49 70 07 95
Everything duck Foie gras aplenty. Good chocolate mousse. A fun and casual place and good for a small group.
Food: 7+ Service: 7 Atmosphere: 7+ Value: 7-8 Price: Moderate
Les Fetes Galantes
Proprietors: Bibi and Isabelle
17, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, 5th arrond.
Food: 7 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Moderate
Proprietor: M. Dubois
64 Boulevard du Port Royal, 5th arrond.
01 47 07 24 47
Food: 7 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Moderate
La Forge Restaurant
14, rue Pascal, 5th arrond.
A bit old fashioned, but good solid food, if uninspired.
Food: 6-7 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 7 Value: 6 Price: Moderate
13, Rue Linné, 5th arrond.
01 45 35 83 95
Fax: 01 43 36 27 38
My favorite down-and-dirty Italian in the 5th. Nothing fancy here, just good food at reasonable prices in a neighborhood place. They have outside tables when it is warmer.
Food: 7 Service: 6-7 Atmosphere: 5 Value: 7 Price: Inexpensive
Le Jardin des Pâtes
4, Rue Lacépède, 5th arrond.
0 1 43 31 50 71
Metro: Jusseiu or Place Monge
An interesting restaurant focused on pasta (pâtes in French). Much of it is made from different whole grains. It can be a bit heavy, but it is a decent restaurant that is usually quite full for its off-beat location. Reservations are suggested.
Food: 7 Service: 6-7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Inexpensive+
Le Saint Medard Cafe
53 Rue Censier, 5th arrond.
At bottom of Mouffetard
Metro: Censier Daubenton
Excellent cafe with great crocques madams et messieurs (maybe the best such open face sandwiches in Paris), tarts and tartars. I like the upstairs room where I usually spent my Sundays watching the crowd dance to music at the bottom of the Rue Mouffetard market. The mayor for the 5th arrondissement usually is out working the crowd then too.
Food: 7 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Inexpensive
Le Petit Prince
12, rue Lanneau, 5th arrond.
08 26 10 06 02
Good food, reasonable prices, solid middle kind of place. The décor leaves a bit, but the food is usually decent.
Food: 6 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 5 Value: 6 Price: Moderate
107, rue Monge, 5th arrond. 01-43-37-09-70
Metro: Censier Daubenton
Other ok Italian restaurant in the 5th. Big, but always crowded.
Food: 5 Service: 5 Atmosphere: 5 Value: 5 Price: Inexpensive
2 rue Descartes, 5th arrond.
Food: 6 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 6 Price: Moderate
Chez Lena et Mimile
32, rue Tournefort, 5th arrond.
01 47 07 72 47
Solid prix-fixed menu. When it is warm, the patio is nice. I went back recently and it was even better than I remembered. The food is a very eclectic mix of Scandanavian, French and a bit of Spanish (an excellent gazpatcho was being served this summer). Reservations a must.
Food: 7-8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 7+ Value: 7 Price: High Moderate
159 rue Saint-Honore, 1st arrond. (across from the Carrousel du Louvre and Paris Photo)
Often used for breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings because of its former proximity to Paris Photo and the Louvre. Decent, if uninspired, food, but service can be distracted and slow, especially when it is crowded, which it usually is on a weekend. Not inexpensive, but it is open late.
Food: 7 Service: 5 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 6 Price: High Moderate (on Lunch/Dinner)
24, rue de Rivoli
This is a bistro that my friend Gerard Dole has suggested to me that I have not yet had a chance to try. His recommendations have always been reasonably priced and first-rate when it comes to the food.
A La Grange Bateliere
16 rue de la Grange Bateliere, 7th arrond.
Proprietress: Francoise Le Carrer
Closed Saturdays and Sundays. A great little place in the chic 7th, but check because I thought it had closed. Apparently it has reopened. They had a deadly (but amazing) egg with foie gras dish and superb desserts. Nice people too.
Food: 8 Service: 7+ Atmosphere: 7-8 Value: 8 Price: Moderate+
7, cour des Petites EcuriesBateliere, 10th arrond.
0147 70 13 59
Typical old brasserie with beautiful décor. Food is old fashioned, but quite good. Friendlier than many similar establishments. The cour where it is located is not easy to find though (I had an apartment on it one summer and the taxi drivers could never find it).
Food: 7+ Service: 7 Atmosphere: 7+ Value: 7 Price: Moderate-Expensive
Chez Georges: Restaurant le Jeu du Mail
1 Rue du Mail, near La Place des Victoires, 2nd arrond.
01 42-60 07 11
Traditional French food, but very well prepared. A small place, so reservations are a must even on slower days. The waitress/hostess reminds me a bit of those waitresses at Boston's Durgin Park restaurant, which are famed for their brusque rudeness, although our older waitress here was much more pleasant, almost jovial. The result is more like acceptance as one of the family than actual rudeness. The fresh foie gras is first rate. Fish and meat dishes equally excellent.
Food: 7+ Service: 7 Atmosphere: 7+ Value: 7 Price: Moderate-Expensive
Novotel Tour Eiffel (ex-Hotel Nikko de Paris)
61 quai de Grenelle, 15th arrond.
01 40 58 20 00
Open daily. At what was the most famous Japanese hotel in Paris, the Benkay is located on the 4th floor, and has good views through a glass wall onto the Seine. As well as French media and television folk, you'll find Japanese businessmen, tourists and JAL staff sitting at the counter, or else sampling the assorted menu-formulas, such as the classic sushi-zen, offering delicate slivers of octopus, salmon or tuna, or the shokado murasaki combining small portions of smoked, fried and fresh fish with accompanying condiments prettily arranged on green leaves. Yes, the beef is very good, and the tastings of Saki wine extensive (and expensive), but for my tastes, the restaurant is interesting but terribly overpriced.
Food: 8 Service: 7+ Atmosphere: 8 Value: 5 Price: Very Expensive
25, Rue Charles V (at rue Saint Paul), 4th arrond.
01 42 78 91 44
Very good Italian. The restaurant also has an inventive and not overpriced Italian wine list, something of a rarity in Paris. Order one of the Aglianico wines. They aren't very expensive, but they are good. Pastas with various vegetables and meats are a specialty, along with the long table devoted to antipastos. Reservations are often needed, especially on Thursday-Saturday nights. Often very crowed and occasionally noisy.
Food: 7 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 6+ Value: 7 Price: Moderate
11, rue Mandar, 2nd arrond.
(0)140 26 81 04
Very good Kurdish food. This small but excellent restaurant serves this unusual ethnic food. But if you are familiar with Middle Eastern food, you will know most of the menu. Prices are very reasonable. Regional wines from the Middle East are quite good. The service is friendly and helpful.
Food: 7 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 6 Value: 7 Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
Le Dome du Marais
53 Bis Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 4th arrond.
Decent food, if a bit overpriced, this beautiful restaurant is more a pleasure for the eye than the palate. The historical site with spectacular dome was built in 1778 and converted into a restaurant in 1981. Service is friendly enough if somewhat slow. The food tries to be inventive and creative, but it should try for taste first. The menu changes often and tries to make the most of the seasonal offerings. Occasionally first-rate, but does stumble at times. Still, it is one of the best restaurants in the Marais, which is known more for its tourist rip-offs than anything else. Small, so reservations are really a must. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Food 6-8 Service 6+ Atmosphere 8+ Value 6-7 Price: Moderate-Expensive
14 rue Houdon, Montmartre, 18th arrond.
01 42 62 04 80
Very good food, an excellent wine selection and friendly service make this a favorite bistro in the Montmartre area. They used to be open for lunch, but apparently are now only open for dinner from Monday through Friday. Worth the trip.
Food 7+ Service 7+ Atmosphere 7+ Value 7+ Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
La Refuge du Passe
32 rue du Fer a Moulin, 5th arrond.
01 47 07 29 91
Good traditional food and nice people. The cassoulet has always been excellent. The restaurant was sold to two men, Hubert and Lionel, who have reportedly kept the restaurant and kitchen much the same. The walls are plastered with old posters of musical past. May need to be re-reviewed because of the change in ownership, but the recent reviews that I've seen posted still indicate that this is a winner.
Food: 7-8 Service: 7 Atmosphere: 7+ Value: 7+ Price: Moderate
6 rue de L'Englise
Auberge Le Bretois used to be my favorite here, but it closed, so this is the remaining edible restaurant in this town. Reservations are often necessary during the photo market weekend, which is always the first one in June. Otherwise you are stuck with the burnt sausage sandwiches or mediocre dishes from the other restaurants in the main part of the town. Reasonably decent food, but not up to Auberge Le Bretois.
Food: 5+ Service: 5 Atmosphere: 5 Value: 5 Price: Inexpensive-Moderate
Novak has over 41 years experience in the photography-collecting arena. He is a long-time member and on the board of the Daguerreian Society, and, when it was still functioning, he was a member of the American Historical Photographic Society. He is also a long-time member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers. Novak has been a member of the board of the nonprofit Photo Review, which publishes both the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, and is currently on the Photo Review's advisory board. He was a founding member of the Getty Museum Photography Council.
Novak has had photography articles and columns published in several newspapers, the American Photographic Historical Society newsletter, the Photograph Collector and the Daguerreian Society newsletter. He writes and publishes the E-Photo Newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the field. Novak is also president and owner of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, a private photography dealer, which sells by appointment and at exhibit shows, such as AIPAD New York and Miami, Art Chicago, Classic Photography LA, Photo LA, Paris Photo, The 19th-century Photography Show, etc.