I just returned from a week in Paris that was a birthday treat for my niece. And since I was treating, this trip was somewhat on a budget (except for my solo treat to myself in the form of the orgasmic lunch at Chez L'ami Jean, see Parigi for details). We enjoyed a nice birthday lunch with friends at the always fun for a crowd Dans Les Landes, otherwise we stayed pretty close to home in Menilmontant/Oberkampf.
If you're looking for a really cheap, really good fun time look no farther than Les Fabricants on rue Jean Pierre Timbaud. We stumbled upon it after being turned away by Jeanne A (I mistakenly thought that Jeanne A didn't take reservations...not true). Oh no! There I was, in the worst position ever for a chowhound, hungry on a Saturday night and no reservation and no plan B! I have to hand it to my sister, who said, as we walked by Les Fabricants: "this place looks good, it's crowded and that table of guys cleaned their plates". I was not convinced, especially when I looked at the prices...around 9-13 e for plats. hmm. But we were hungry and I was tired so we went in. And I was glad! We had a lovely bottle of Madiran, we split a plate of hot and delicious escargots (perfect balance of garlic, parsley and olive oil), my sister and I both had the steak in green peppercorn sauce...that sauce was SO good. The steak was a bit chewy (see the chewy steak thread), but it was flavorful, and the sauce tasted homemade and we sauce-ed every last drop. My niece had some kind of chipiron stew, again it tasted fresh and homeade. We had a prefectly acceptable creme caramel and a chocolate mousse and the bill for 3 was around 60 e. I googled it later and I think it might be owned/managed or in some other way have a connection to Chez Gladines in the 13th. Same big salads and southwest focused menu at reasonable prices. Anyway, I thought it was a fun and tasty bargain.
I returned as I always do to L'Estaminet. It's my go-to first night bistro, of course not worth trekking all over Paris for, but I crave the Salade L'Estaminet and that's what I get and I know that I will love it and I always do.
I also went to the restaurant that's part of a music venue called La Maroquinerie (right next to the performance space la Bellevilloise.) My Parisian friend had heard that they had a new chef who was good so we tried it out. We only had the plat...I needed a break from my multi-course overindulgence. We both had the seiche, which I had to look up in my Patrica Wells - cuttlefish. It was in a very garlicky sauce provencal that we again sopped up with our bread. It was good, and I also discovered one can order a bottle of wine and only pay for the glasses consumed. I forget the term in French...I usually ALWAYS finish the whole bottle so I guess that's why I never learned the term...anyway, it was a nice space, good service and no tourists except me...
We also had a nice meal at Les Quilles on Blvd Menilmontant. Again, I don't know that I would say that it is a destination place, but it was a great neighborhood choice. I had the foie gras to start and it was enough for 4. I had the veal and my sister had beef...we switched plates because she found it too rare but I loved it. We had a lovely house red from the Loire, and my niece had a really nice "fried chicken" (poulard croustillant). I forget what my niece had for dessert but she loved it. Really warm service, menu if I recall 27e for 2 courses and 31-33 for 3.
So, there you go, some not-so-known names for those of you on the hunt for some new neighborhood haunts. And now I feel very depressed that I am no longer in Paris!