I'm paying it forward to fellow hounds with this report.
Let me note first off that our goal in choosing restaurants was focused both on atmosphere and food. We wanted a relaxed room, with some buzz and not much pretention.
One thing I wondered before going to Paris was about dress code at restaurants (some of us care about this!) I was surprised to find men wearing jeans in many places at night (even la Regalade). Women were in their various shades of black, ballet flats, a few LBDs, etc... More casual than I imagined. I speak French, so take my service comments with that in mind.
Cafe Constant: a quick, late afternoon snack....crab salad, shrimps wrapped lighly in crispy filo. It was good, but way too expensive. Best part about it was seeing Constant himself outside talking it up with French television food star Jean-Luc Lepetitrenaud. I wouldn't go back, because there are plenty of other casual cafes in Paris in which to get a decent meal for half the price. We stopped here because were were staying around the corner.
Chez Denise: Of course, the path to this place is well tread. But it was a great night. There are more foreigners here earlier than the evening, if that matters to you. The tables are so close together that you can't help but talk to your neighbours. We chatted up the Canadians next to us, as well as the French businessman eating alone next to us.
The house brouilly sold by the litre is indeed good.
Be warned the portions are massive. I had the terrine de poisson, which was delicious but just too much food. We both had the onglet (hangar steak?) with fries. We would have had the cote du boeuf, but it was just too much meat. I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of French steak cuts and preparation, but this is a good spot if you're looking for traditional French cuisine and a happening atmosphere. Service is just right.
La Regalade St-Honore: All the stellar reviews are right. We had a divine soup prepared with shrimps, crunchy lardons (crackling), croutons and a creamy broth scented I believe with saffron. Husband had some panfried sablefish over a bed of wild mushrooms (girolles); I had a braised veal with a sauce of chopped egg, pickles and capers. Dessert was spiced poached pears with cream. Yum. A nice glass of Crozes-Hermitage with the veal. Table d'hote an astonishing 33Euros! The room was really buzzing and mostly French. I bumped into a Canadian personality in there (won't say who for privacy!)
Le Verre Vole: We wanted to go somewhere really downscale and casual one night for a different experience. The crowd here is between 18-40. I really enjoyed checking out the Canal St-Martin neighbourhood. I would describe the cusine as comfort food. I had some foie gras drizzled with honey on tartines. Husband had some grilled squid. Both had a slab of ham with their customary mashed potatoes and greens for the main. Wine of course is the big sell here, and we had a nice bottle of white St-Joseph. Service was a bit absentminded, but not rude. Crowd entirely French and fun to watch. This place gives you that feeling of being in a true neighbourhood haunt, even if it is well marked on blogs, etc...
I would like to know more about some other restaurants on the same street: La Patache and Mme Shawn (Thai food). Both were absolutely stuffed to the gills with people and had really fun, eclectic interiors.
The pains au chocolat at Secco at Jean Nicolet in the 7th are definitely the best I have ever tasted.
Croissants at Les Delices du Champs de Mars bakery on St-Dominque at L'exposition in the 7th are superb.
Enjoyed a few late afternoon glasses of wine at the Cafe du Marche on Rue Cler. Decent service and wonderful people watching.
Finally...if you want a good app for plotting your food conquests, try Paris Offline maps. No need for a connection. You just bookmark all your noted restos, and you can find them easily on the map later. I used the map constantly for sightseeing...very useful and free!
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