My husband and I spent 8 days in Paris and Lyon last month and I thought I'd share some of our dining experiences since I got such great info here before we left. We rented an apartment at the top of the 9th bordering Montmartre and mid-week took the TGV down to Lyon for a couple of days to visit my father in law who is living there for a year.
Lunch at Chez La Cousine (12, rue Norvins in the 18th)
When we first arrived, we walked up to Montmartre to get some sun and grab a quick lunch to help with the jetlag. As usual, we had a hard time deciding and finally just plopped ourselves down in the first available space we could find, weak from hunger. This place turned out to be Chez La Cousine on a side street off Place du Tetre. It has a very tiny dining room in front which was filled with French tourists. In the back however, is a large room in which they've been doing a Caberet show since 1928, all in French of course. We could hear quite a bit of laughter coming from there. We each had a 12.9 E menu. I had Salad au lardon, David had terrine pork maison, we both had entrecote frites and chocolate mousse. That, plus 2 beers was 30 E total. In all, it wasn't bad if you find yourself stuck up in the place du Tetre (which is always packed with tourists).
Dinner at Le Petit Canard (19 Rue Henry Monnier, 01 49 70 07 95, Metro Pigalle et St Georges).
This is a place I read about here on Chowhound-thanks Preceptor!
We went here for dinner the first night, without reservations. The menu looked good, they had only two tables left, so we sat. They serve mostly duck, all of which have been raised on the farm owned by restaurant. There are menus posted on the window outside, including one in English, but inside you'll need to read the blackboard with menu on it. The place is very hot and smoky inside, and tiny, seating maybe 40. It seemed very much to be a "locals" type of place, we heard no English spoken. That said, both the server and owner spoke English, so if you don't speak French, I don't think it would be a problem.
We ordered; "Les Vins du Moment"-Chateau des Turquets 2002 Bordeaux 1/2 bottle 9 E. I had a warm goat cheese salad (Chevres Chauds sur Toasts & Salad) for 7 E. The salad was good, but underdressed. D had Fois gras de Canard 15 E. For my main course I had Confit de Canard 16 E which was very good, and served with roasted potatoes and an eggplant casserole. D had Canard a l'Orange 16 E which was probably the same duck as the confit but with an Orange sauce. The service was very casual as was the server's dress; camisole, black pants, belly showing, no shoes. Both the server and the owner stood in back smoking and drinking when not at a table (something we would see elsewhere). I would like to go back here to try some of the other appetizers.
Bakery with amazing pain au chocolate:
The bakery is three or four blocks south of the Place de Clichy (in the 9th) on the Rue de Clichy and is called Florentin. Light, flaky, perfect, they made me never want to eat the leaden lumps that pass for pastry at home again.
Lunch near St Eustache:
Comptoir du Commerce (Rue Montorgueil turns into rue des Petits Carreaux at the restaurant, which is located at 1 rue des Petits Carreaux)
We were waiting for the Sunday organ recital at St. Eustache. It was mid afternoon and I was really in the mood for something light, so I ordered the Cheese plate (12 E) which came on a wooden board and included St Nectaire, Camembert, Chevre, Bleu Duavegre, and Cantale. D had the a pate/terrine of chicken and duck for 8 E. We also ordered a 1/2 btl of wine, Broilly-13 euro. Rue Montorgueil is a great walking street with tons of shops and restaurants and it was nice to sit outside and people watch here.
Dinner at Terminus Nord (23, rue Dunkerque, across the street from the Gare du Nord):
For dinner, we decided to go back to Terminus Nord, a restaurant we'd eaten in on two prior trips to Paris. Both meals had been wonderful and we love the Belle Epoque decor and efficient service. Terminus is a member of the Flo Brasserie group, a restaurant company that owns several historic brassieres in Paris. When we arrived the restaurant was busy and they asked us to wait at the bar for a moment. D's curse is ordering a "martini" in countries where they are not made (just about anywhere outside the US or Britain, or British commonwealth). The young bartender grabbed a bottle of "Martini" as was about to pour it into a glass when D gave him the proper instruction on what went into a Dry Gin Martini and how to make it. Unfortunately, they had no shaker, no olives, and no proper martini glasses. The bartender shook the gin martini in a juice bottle and served it over ice in a water glass. It was actually pretty good.
Terminus has a full menu which includes heaping platters of shellfish. I've never ordered one, but vow to do it someday. We went with the "menu", which for 34.40 euro each includes 3 courses, water, 1/2 bottle wine, and service/tax. We opted for a bottle of white wine, Petit Bourgeois, 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, Henri Bourgeois for an extra 8 euro supplement. I had 6 oysters, Belon #4, which were very yummy and very briny. D had Fois Gras du Canard, good but better the night before at Le Petit Canard. I had Bar (seabass), roasted with a risotto and saffron sauce, garnished with a bit of caviar. D had salmon, roasted with skin on served with mashed potatoes and mushrooms. Both of us cleaned our plates. For dessert, I had a chocolate torte with coffee sorbet and D had three small creme brulee; coffee, plain and pistachio. Once again, we left satisfied and not at all disappointed with our meal.
We passed a Laduree shop off the Place de Madeline and a bell went off in my head. Inside I saw the macarons. These are not macaroons (coconut cookies we have in the US), but rather a light cookie sandwich with a creme filling. They come in many flavors and both large and small sizes. The large ones were almost 3 euro each (I think), but you could get 6 little ones for 6 euro. We got an assortment of the small and the chocolate and caramel ones were my favorites.
Lunch at Taverne Henri IV (at end of Place Dauphine at the Pont Neuf).
This is a tiny place that seats about 30 pp. I had a glass of Viognier Gerard Bertrand (4 E), D had a glass of Hautes Cotes de nuits 2001 (6 E). We shared the Cheese Plate was (8 E). (Chevre, St. Nectaire, Cantal, Fourme, Brebis Basque, Camembert, Pont l' Eveque). With one coffee, and two yummy crepes filled with orange creme the tab was 30 E. D ordered a "Pruno", but there was not enough for a full glass left in the bottle, so they gave him the 1/2 glass free.
Dinner at Les Coulisses (19, Passage des Panoramas, entrances at 38 rue Vivienne or 11, Blvd. Montmartre. 2nd arr.)
We walked from the apartment to area with a few restaurant recommendations I had. The first place, Chez Jean was very expensive and the menu didn't seem all that appealing. Another, Bistro de Gala, no longer existed. Vaudeville (part of Flo group) looked too similar to the Terminus menu.
So, we walked back to a place we had seen in the Passage des Panoramas called Les Coulisses (which means "backstage").They have a 19 euro two course menu, and a 24.50 euro three course menu. The walls are covered with movie posters, theater posters, and black and white photos of celebrities. The owner/waiter was smiling and joking with everyone and the Chef, with his mis-buttoned jacket, was running food to table. As we were sitting waiting for our food, an orange and white cat walked under the tables and through the diner's feet. His name is Sascha and he seems to be a "regular" as people were continually letting him in and out of the front door.
We had Terrine de Fois Gras du Canard, Salmon Fume Maison, gigot d'agneau with pommes anna (lamb steak) and sole muniere (+4E). The wine was a glass of Cotes du Rhone, and a glass of white, Chateu Menton Blanc. The fois gras was not served with fleur de sel or something sweet, as it is traditionally, but it was still quite good. Since we had been eating so much the past few days, we decided to skip dessert for once and walk home.
That evening I woke up feeling sick at about 2:30 in the morning. Nauseated, I thought, I must have had too much to drink today, so I drank some water and went back to bed. In the morning, I still felt sick and thought, maybe I just ate too much fatty food, too much cheese and fois gras. No such luck. It just got worse and I spent the entire day in bed sleeping. It was definitely some sort of food poisoning. D ended up with it too, albeit in a milder form than mine. So, we never even left the apartment and lost an entire day in Paris. I can't blame any one meal or restaurant.
Lunch at Le Comptoir des Marronniers (located at 8, rue des Marronniers, one block off the Place Bellcour).
Le Comptoir is a Jean Paul Lacombe restaurant, one of 10 different restaurants he owns in Lyon, including the grand three-star Leon de Lyon. Since I still wasn't feeling well, I barely remember what I ate. I know it was roasted pork with a crispy skin and was very tasty. T had steak tartar, which he said was wonderful.
Dinner at Restaurant Lysaio (4 rue Ferrachat in Vieux Lyon).
This is a funky, offbeat place, filled with original artwork and owned by a mother/daughter team. Both attended to all the tables in the restaurant which sat maybe 35 people. Their business card says, "cuisine traditionnelle, produits du marche" (traditional cuisine and market products). The menu seemed to a an eclectic, modern, attempt on traditional French food. They have an 18 euro menu and a 27 euro menu. I had the smallest menu and David and Tracy both had the larger one. Tracy ordered a bottle of Ch. Clement Termes, Gaillac, 2002. We all received an amuse bouche of pumpkin-cumin soup which was really tasty. My appetizer was a mascarpone and tuna mousse with a tomato-basil coulis. D's was pate de fois gras with a quenelle de fig "maison". I can't really say I enjoyed the tuna mousse, but the fois gras pate was very good. Then, each of us received a lime sorbet with vodka which I just could not stomach. My main course was "salmon-trout", otherwise known as Artic Char, which was perfectly roasted and served with a chestnut flan. D had a Cote du Beouf served with carrot-cinnamon puree and mushrooms. Dessert was a selection of chocolate items, which, because I was still not feeling well, I did not eat.
Dinner at Paul Bocuse:
The restaurant sits alongside the Soane river and it's impossible to miss; there's no shortage of signs pointing the way and bright lights illuminate an an even brighter red, green and gold painted building with "PAUL BOCUSE" in neon above. Lest this sound garish, let me say, it is, but it's somehow not insulting. We pulled into the parking lot and a red uniformed valet opened our doors and let us through the courtyard to the front entrance. The courtyard walls are covered in murals from Bocuse's life and family business (food!).
The interior of the restaurant is about as over-the-top as one would expect from a 3 star place. Edges are guilded, there are silver candelabras on every table, exquisite fine china and crystal, and everywhere, Bocuse's name and likeness. There's even a photo of him shaking hands with President Clinton near the ladies' room. I believe there were at least three people serving our table. At this point, I have to admit I still wasn't feeling well, and was a bit overwhelmed by the attention and the surroundings. We were given the menu, a huge, heavy papered thing, with an insert containing two of the three set menus and some "suggested" wines. I never saw a formal wine list. I really wanted to take some photos and I noticed that another guest had a camera so I took my camera out and set it on the table.
Just then, I looked up, and there was the man himself, coming to personally greet each table. He was much shorter and older then I expected (he must be close to 80 by now), but he still maintains a grand presence. However, as intimidated as I was by his legacy, I found him to be very warm, almost "grandfatherly". T spoke to him (in French) and told him I was a chef (I used to be and still work in the business). Bocuse brightened, took my hand and then noticed the camera. He asked if we wanted to take a photo with him. Of course! And with the practiced ease of one who does this a lot, he called over the captain and had him take not one, but three photos of us, all together and just him and me. And then just as fast, he was gone.
A few minutes later, the server came back and asked me to print my name so Bocuse could sign a menu for me. When he returned with the menu, he asked if I'd like to see the kitchen. Ya think??? In a flash, I was back in the kitchen, and they were clearing off the counter where the food goes out. Bocuse introduced me to his head chef, we all moved behind the counter, they took photos as if I was a visiting dignitary, and then I was whisked back to my table. I had barely a moment to look around the kitchen, but here's what I noticed; it's so clean you could eat off the floor, it's quiet, there were maybe 10 cooks for the 40 or so dinners they would do that evening, there was very little food out and visible (no mis en place), and finally, I think the cooks were as curious about me as I was of them. Perhaps they don't see to many female chefs there still? As far as I could tell, I was the only guest honored that evening with a kitchen visit.
I was immensely impressed with the service. Everything was done table side, from the mixing of drinks to filleting the lamb and veal, to an immense cheese and desert selection. The service was attentive, but not overbearing. I watched them serve the sea bass en croute to our neighboring table in a seamless effort that had the fish deboned and sauced, still steaming on the plate along with a piece of the beautiful pastry all within 2 minutes. It was a well practiced dance.
As for the food, I think I could sum it up in one word; perfection. The kitchen seems to strive for the best of everything. There was an aspic served with my fois gras that contained peas. These peas were perfectly cooked, five seconds either way and they would have been wrong. My lamb was just as I asked, a beautiful medium rare and was juicy and tender. The portion sizes were larger than I expected (or hoped, given how I was feeling). Fortunately, D has a bottomless pit for a stomach, so he was able to finish what I could not. The cheese tray was truly huge, and I wished for a second stomach so I could taste more. By the time I got to the dessert course, I could barely fathom of eating more, so I just had some fresh fruit. But again, those had to be the most perfect raspberries I've ever had. We also had a bottle of 2001 Baux de Provence "Coin Cache"-Mas de la Dame and T and D had pre-dinner aperitifs and after dinner coffee.
Lunch at Le Gailleton (5, place Gailleton, Lyon), another Jean Paul Lacombe restaurant.
I had a decent roast chicken and D had the same steak tartare the T had at Le Comptoir des Marronniers.
Dinner at Aux Tonneaux des Halles (28 rue Montorgueil)
We were over by the Eiffel tower so we decided to check out Au Bon Accueil. They weren't open for dinner yet, and it seemed fairly expensive for the choices, so we moved on and walked down the Seine for a bit. Somehow we ended up back on the rue Montorgueil, and after walking the entire street looking at every menu, we found and settled in at aux Tonneaux at an outside table. I had an extremely tasty entrecote served with a bordelaise sauce and a marrow filled bone. My steak also came with the best tasting, thick cut fries I have ever had. They must have been cooked in lard or duck fat, but I don't care, they were fantastic. D had rumsteak with haricot verte, and along with a beer and 25 cl of red wine the total was 47 euro.
Dinner at Bofinger (5-7 rue de Bastille, 75004)
Bofinger is supposedly the oldest brasserie in Paris, first opened in 1864. It's now owned by the Brasserie Flo group, the same company that owns Terminus Nord. While there are some similarities in the menus, Bofinger seems to have retained it's own individual charm. The restaurant is lovely, with stained glass, gilded mirrors, original murals, and leather banquettes.
We arrived without reservations and asked to be seated under the stained glass dome in the center of the restaurant (also the non-smoking section). It was a busy night, so we needed to wait a while at the bar. This time, D got his martini without having to instruct the bartender on how to make it. It was already on their drink list, and as it turns out, "Luigi" the bartender made a perfect dry martini. Finally, we were seated under the cupola. I won't say it was all tourists, but there were quite a few different languages being spoken on all sides. My guess is that "non-smoking" and "tourist" can go hand in hand.
We both selected from the 33.50 euro menu, though they had a nice a la carte menu as well with tons of fantastic looking shellfish platters.
Our wine was a 2003 Marquis des Tours Bordeaux. D's appetizer was foie gras (last night, last foie) and a glass of Gwerztiminer (7 euro supplement) and mine was bouillabaisse served with croutons and rouille. Both were very good. We both had a roasted duck breast for our main course which was excellent and came with a crispy skin, a demi glace sauce and tasty mashed potatoes with hazelnuts, garlic, and chanterelle mushrooms. My dessert was a wonderful chocolate cake with crème anglaise and D's was vanilla ice cream with a cassis coulis. In total the meal was 80 euro.
If you'd like to see more of the trip, including the menu from Paul Bocuse, general sightseeing, links and tons of photos (including most of the food!) you can see my full travelogue at the link below.