Just got back from 9 days in Paris and enjoyed some wonderful food!! First we must thank all you hounds for your suggestions and advice! All of the main dinners we had were based on recommendations from this board.
As Butter did a few months ago, I thought it would helpful to provide a little background about us: My husband and I turn 30 this year, live in Cambridge, MA and go out to eat fairly regularly. We enjoy trying new places and have been to several of the best restaurants in town. We also really enjoy trying different ethnic restaurants and smaller hole-in-the-wall types of places. This was our first trip to Paris and we wanted to try several nicer restaurants and not break the bank on one dinner. We selected several places in the range of ~35Euro for a prix-fixe menu, so that we could enjoy wine with dinner as well.
La Fontaine de Mars: Saturday night, it was a lovely night and we were able to sit outside. This is a really cute place with the quintessential red checkered tablecloths. We loved the little courtyard setting with the fountain. The service was very friendly and helpful! All of the tables around us were filled with locals. We had a bottle of Margaux which was very pleasant. For dinner, we started with the escargots, which were wonderful with lots of herbs. I got a steak and potatoes which was served with a béarnaise sauce. The sauce was amazing and completely made the dish! My husband got the pork chop and the scalloped potatoes. He LOVED the potatoes and couldnt get enough! For dessert we had the Ile Floatant which was wonderful! It was one of the most unique desserts of our trip!
LArdoise: We stopped by here after a long day at the Louvre on Sunday without a reservation but, we were there around 6:30pm so it was not a problem. I started with shrimp ravioli which had a wonderful light cream sauce. My husband started with small fried fish which were served with a tartar sauce. These were a special that day and were very addictive! Then for our main dish we got a fish stew which was for two people. It had 2 different types of white fish, scallops, potatoes and a few other vegetables. This was extremely tasty and very enjoyable! Then for dessert I had a crème brulee with a blackberry filling which was creamy with a nice sweetness added by the filling. My husband had the chocolate pot au crème, there were two little containers, one was topped with fresh whipped cream and the other with crème anglaise. They were so smooth and decadent! I think the best dessert of the trip!
L' Epi Dupin: Monday night. This a wonderful dining room on a small little side street. We had an early reservation and found that most of the diners were Americans which didnt bother us since we were there for the food! The waiter was extremely helpful and recommended a wonderful, full bodied languedoc wine. I started with endive and goat cheese caramelized tart. This was very unique and I loved the endive and goat cheese combination but I felt the caramel topping was a bit too sweet. My husband started with the rabbit which was in a pastry shell and was very nice. I had a eggplant and lamb dish for dinner which was very tasty and a great combination of flavors. My husband had the pork dish which included pork cheeks and ears and absolutely loved it! By the way, the pork didnt look like cheek or ears. It was his favorite dish of the trip! We really enjoyed this restaurant! It is a cute room with wonderful service and very creative food. For dessert we had the cheese special of the night and a chocolate tart.
Restaurant at the Mosque: Tuesday night. On Tuesday evening we were walking around the Latin Quarter and got hungry. We decided to stop at the restaurant at the Paris Mosque. This is a lovely setting! There is a tiled courtyard where you can have tea and smoke a hookah. Then you enter into the dining room which was pretty large with nice decorations. We shared a lamb tangine and vegetable couscous. The lamb was perfectly well cooked and very tender. The couscous was a perfect accompaniment. I highly recommend this place because it is such a unique setting with wonderful food!
Willies Wine Bar: Wednesday night. We had heard that this place tended to have many Americans but we actually found that we were surrounded by locals. The manager stopped by and talked to us about wines and recommended a wonderful Bandol. It was one of the best wines we had in Paris! I had a wonderful roast chicken with baby vegetables and my husband had the duck. Both were very tasty and well prepared but not the highlights of our trip. What was the highlight was the wonderful cheese plate we ended our meal with. There were three different types of cheese, one goat cheese, one blue cheese and one cows milk cheese. What was most impressive was how well the three cheeses worked together. The blue cheese was not too pungent and was almost silky! I really hope I will be able to find this type of cheese again!
Chez Michel: This is a wonderful cute out of the way place. We started with the selection of charcuterie items and the foie gras. Both were nice starters. My husband had a pork stew with potatoes and vegetables, which he really enjoyed. I had an absolutely wonderful seared tuna steak which was served over a stew of leeks and herbs which was the perfect and unusual accompaniment to the tuna. For dessert I had the cheese plate which unfortunately had some very pungent cheeses on it which I did not enjoy. I am usually ok with cheeses that are some what pungent but these were not something I could enjoy. My husband had a wonderful chocolate cake which he was willing to share with me.
A note on service and smoke: We had heard lots of horror stories on French service and the smoking in restaurants. It might have been the restaurants we picked, or the times we went, or just luck. But we had no problems with smoking in the restaurants. It was very rare to see someone smoking. Service was also decent (by American standards) and most waiters spoke some English. Some waiters translated the menu, while others pointed out a couple of special dishes.
Overall we had wonderful culinary experiences in Paris and each restaurant provided something different. I think our favorites were LEpi Dupin and La Fontaine de Mars. Although they both provided very different meals and cannot really be compared! Thanks for all of the wonderful recommendations!