I just returned from a wonderful trip that included four and a half days in Paris. I was able to eat several fun and incredible meals in my short time thanks to the advice of this board. I leaned a little heavy towards trad french, only because in Tampa, FL it is in short supply. I was also traveling with friends who do not love food as much as I do, so I had to keep that in mind with my choices.
1st stop for dinner. A La Biche au Bois. They had to roll me out of here. I think maybe this was the most traditional French restaurant we visited. The waitstaff was very patient with us (five Americans and only one that can read French) as we deciphered the menu. The food was fine, not outstanding, but what it lacked in panache they made up for in quantity. They really seemed to take pleasure in overloading us, the cheese course was over the top. For the euros, it was a bargain and a lot of fun.
2nd stop - dinner. Philou. Aahh! This was more like it. The food was excellent, my companions were beginning to understand the joy of eating duck (outstanding here). Very seasonal and fresh meal, I had some lovely sardines as an app and a turbo for the main. Once again we were treated wonderfully, still a party of five.
3rd stop - lunch. Pirouette. Service here was efficient and brusque, no complaints. Only two of us this time. The food keeps getting better each day. The creativity and presentation here were amazing. I had a four course menu. Beef tongue w/radish as an app - so delicious, veal cheeks as a main also a standout.
4th stop - dinner. Juveniles. We stopped by here (no rez) hoping to get a table -convenient to our sightseeing. Happily, they obliged. The choices here were a bit limited for our group and a little too similar to Philou & A La Biche (my fault, I had really wanted to stop in). That said; the food and wine were great but nothing we hadn't already had. A bit of a let down.
5th stop - lunch. L'Ami Jean. We were sat right next to the kitchen, so I got to see the chef in action, quite the show - he was very animated and every single dish left the kitchen with his finishing touch. I did the tasting menu. Very creative - heavy on the seafood (always a good thing). Seafood soup, bar-b-que leeks w/crab meat, smoked haddock dish (amazingly complex and wondeful - my ability to describe lacking), skate fish in light broth, and a seven hour beef dish. Only the dessert was lacking imagination imo (rice pudding).
Final stop - dinner. Spring. By far the best looking restaurant we visited. Service was stellar and the food was as great or better than anywhere else we visited. The presentations were absolutely stunning definitely the best of the trip (though Pirouette were not shabby). Mackerel w/ peas and radishes (refreshingly light), Asparagus & poached egg in an emulsion, rare veal steak w carrots, followed by an extremely rich sweet breads in a reduction. At this point I cannot say if the food here was any more outstanding than Pirouette but I loved every course.
Thanks to John Talbot, Ptipois, Parigi, Parnassien, Souphie, Delucacheesemonger, PhilD, and many other posters. Your insights were invaluable in helping shape my list even if some of my stops were not necessarily your favorites.