After extensive research and some helpful suggestions from ‘hounds, we headed off to a week in the 7th (St. Germain side) on April 9. We’re back now, and I wanted briefly to thank everyone, and say that we were extremely pleased with our meals, and somewhat more surprisingly, in spite of the weak dollar, we felt we got decent value, if not any bargains. Some highlights:
Chez l’Ami Jean
As I noted in response to another poster, we went on a Friday night at 9:00 p.m. and found the jam-packed, cheerful bedlam all had described. Though it was louder than anyplace else in Paris, it was not loud by American standards, not even close. We got the 32€ dinner menu and a more-than-decent Chablis for around the same price (there were a lot of interesting bottles in the 25€ range). In spite of some stumbles – the kitchen produced a calamari with beef for my fiancée in spite of our specific request to steer clear of meat – the harried staff made everything good (incredible vegetable veloute swiftly produced in place of the calamari), and the meal got better and better. We had the cod and scallops, respectively, as mains, the former superb, complete with unbilled creamy mashed potatoes, the latter very good (shells covered with light pastry). The desserts were the best thing about the meal – mine especially, a raspberry, cream and ice cream confection layered between delicate thin biscuits.
la Ferrandaise (6ême)
Thanks to poster Dodo, we stumbled onto this place in seeking its now-defunct predecessor, I having been to the latter a dozen years ago. We booked for a Saturday night, when it turned out they were surprisingly – and quite unjustly – uncrowded. We had a pleasant welcome and were given English menus, though we hadn't asked for them (which was fine). Our starters were a very good salmon tartar. For mains, I had a wonderful delicate bream (dorade) with spiced grains; now I’m forgetting what my fiancée had, though I do recall she loved it. The wine list was decent and offered some nice 2/3 bottle pichets, a good choice for a couple who don’t want a whole bottle, and which are also great value (most under 12€). The three-course dinner menu was around 32€. This place is underrated and under-mentioned here. My advice: Go!
le Dome du Marais
This was a minor splurge, in the sense that we went off the menu, got more expensive wine, etc., though in fact its lower-priced menu (36€) is only a bit more expensive than the preceding two bistronomiques. The room is lovely, as described, and service was quite leisurely in a way we appreciated – most tables were not turned and we were there nearly three hours. I am blanking on what we ordered, but we were quite pleased with all courses. An excellent selection and decent value from the wine list, it seemed to me.
le Poisson Rouge (facing Canal St. Martin)
We had a wonderful, unreserved and spontaneous lunch at this place. I had a delicious Asian-inflected boneless chicken dish. It’s tiny, and the staff were extremely pleasant. It’s also a wine bar, and I loved the floral white Tarn by the glass. Other selections looked interesting too. Great value for money at lunch (maybe at dinner too, I didn’t check prices). I remembered this place because the late Maurice Naughton posted about it a few years back. Maurice, wherever you are, thank you – for this and so much other good advice.
les Deux Magots
I know, I know. But my fiancée saw someone’s post about the goat cheese sandwich and had to try it. So this is just to say – it’s as good as billed. Certainly not a place to go out of your way to eat, but the light dishes (that sandwich, the omelettes) are well-executed and don’t – perhaps surprisingly – break the bank. If you’re in the neighborhood and hungry, you could certainly do worse.
We also had a lovely first dinner at Brasserie Balzar, for which I must thank another poster (whose name escapes me, apologies) who waxed rhapsodic about its charms. A wonderful introduction to Paris for my fiancée.
One other observation: in a half-dozen previous visits to Paris over the past several decades, I have never noticed so few Americans. It was quite a stark contrast, I assume the result of the exchange rate.
Again – thanks, all.