It has never tasted so good. First trip for my wife, fourth for me, and we had one delicious meal after another. Here are the highlights:
Les Papilles - for our first night out, this was a great spot, the owner could not have been more charasmatic, we let him recommend a couple of wines which were perfect for the food, we loved the family style service even for a table of two, started with a gorgeous sweet potato bisque served tepid on a warm Paris night, the garnish was varied with big flavors, chorizo, herbs, lovely, the entree was perfectly braised pork belly with white beans, oven dried tomatoes and pistou, forme d'ambert with wine soaked prunes and finished with a sublime chocolate cream with burnt caramel and sea salt chantilly, all for about 70 euros each, one small kitchen and one very big Chef this place is worth the effort.
Le Mabillon - perfect croque jeunne fille with a nicely dressed salad and great people watching, of all the cafes we visited, this was probably the best.
Epicerie Olivier Pitou on rue des Saints-Peres - impecible gourmet shop we visited a couple of times for provisions, run by a very passionate Frenchman and his wife and son, the wine selection was small but spot on, the cheese and charcuterie same, the real standout was fresh case full of amazing salads, scallop and truffle, giant head on prawns, amazing stuff.
La Pallette - another favorite cafe in a quiet neighborhood in St. Germaine surrounded by galleries, mostly locals, great smoked salmon plate and glass of Sancerre, lovely setting, quiet and intimate.
Cochon a l'Oreille - what a wild experience, near Les Halles, historic decor, bistro classics, functional wines, but the most memorable part was the owner, what a character, btw, he is changing the name to "The Christ inn's Bistrot", very stange stuff, the ambiance made up for a lot of the quirky nature of the place, the food was very straight forward, foie gras terinne, charcuterie (watch out for the andouillette), sole meunier, steak rossini, we skipped dessert, word of warning, real foodies may not like the food, but if you are looking for a truly authentic experience, this place is it.
Huiterie Regis - we were recommended this place by a Chef friend here in Napa Valley who had eaten there three times on his last stay, we got there a little early to find out from Regis that he was closing for his annual holiday, when he saw our dismay, he graciously invited us to join he and his friends that night for a celebration, when we returned they could not have been more welcoming, we guzzled cold Sancerre and slupred briny oysters with all of his local, well heeled clientele, music, dancing, what a party, we felt like such fortunate guests.
Josephine Chez Dumonet - we had a great experience here, we were having a bit of a family reunion and they were very warm an accomodating, although the wine list is hard to understand, we ordered a stellar bottle of Leflaive Volnay, it was served in perfect shape properly decanted with excellent glassware, worth every euro, the food was classic and expertly prepared, go for the half orders where possible, the foie was exceptional, great roasted veal chop, best ever duck confit and the standout was the incredible mille feuille, I am so glad we experienced this place, it was so satisfying.
Le Comptoir au Relais, - we made the queue for lunch at 11:45 and got right in, good thing because it filled in 30 minutes, the menu was overwhelming, we did a few things from the menu plus a couple of specials, portions were perfect and a good value, best escargot ever, lightly flavored so you could enjoy the snail, beautifully presented octopus, very nice tuna with nicoise flavors, kinda weird salmon with formage blanc sauce, too fatty, nice rice pudding and pot de creme, excellent bottle of Saint
Veran, good choice for a 3 course lunch but it was not the meal we were talking about on the way home.
Chez l'Ami Jean - this was the meal we were talking about on the way home, totally old world setting with very exciting contemporary food, very confusing menu so ask for help, the prix fixe worked well for us, beautiful presentations, generous portions, great flavors, lots of surprises, standout was a parmesan soup to start, luscious texture, lots of crunchy garnish, amazing chicken, sinful potato puree, the most amazing rice pudding ever with several cool garnishes, the wine list was short but very well selected, we ordered a chilled bottle of Moulin-a-Vent which was perfect for the food, this place is a must.
58 at the Eiffel Tour - yeah I know, a really touristy restaurant, but it was one of the best surprises of the trip, we went with a group of 45 students so the expectation was low, but the service and food were totally elegant, cured salmon with mustard to start, delicious chicken with chanterelles and truffle and a beautiful chocolate terrine, it could have so easily been dissapointing, but turned out to be really memorable, the view is amazing at sunset, seriously a pleasant surprise.
Brasserie de l'Isle Saint Louis - a friend who lived in Paris took us here, if you are looking for authentic Alsatian food, this is a good choice, onion tart, boiled beef salad, choucroute garni, ham hocks with lentils, we really enjoyed the old world dining hall setting and gruff old french waiters right out of a Guy Buffet painting, we skipped dessert for a much needed walk down to Berthillon for an ice cream, we loved this place, so real, no pretense, just good hearty food.
Brasserie Balzar - we got the proverbial cold shoulder when we walked in without a reservation, the Maitre D' was the real deal, we passed on the cold table by the door and tucked into a cozy corner, once we ordered a good bottle of chateauneuf and some classic dishes, the waiter warmed up nicely and we had a great experience, I think this is the kind of place that might not go well for some tourists, but if you approach it from their perspective, the experience is very warm and satisfying, all the standards, onion soup, roast chicken, leg of lamb, creme caramel, all exactly what they should be, we left full and very appreciative.
Restaurant La Grappe on rue du Petit Pont - this place was on our block, we walked by it for 9 days without so much of a thought, but on a rainy last night, it turned out to be one of the best surprises of our trip, run by three classmates from hotel school, the Restaurant au Vins has a very interesting style, the wine list was short but well selected, all of their suggestions were great, the food was pretty agressive but mostly worked, roast bone marrow, scallop carpaccio, smoked pork, beef with summer truffles, the real standout was the spirit of the young owners, they have created a warm wine-centric dining experience in a very toursity neighborhood, and it really worked, we could not have been more pleased on our lat night in Paris, I hope they make it.
In our neighborhood on the Left Bank by Shakespere and Co., we were blessed with a great wine shop, Maison Eric Kayser for baguette, Laurent Dubois for cheese, an amazing green market 3 days a week, when not enjoying restaurants, we snacked well on our balcony.
Sorry for the long report, but we had a big time in Paris, not to worry, I walked so many miles chasing my artist wife from museum to museum, good thing we took a little time to eat. Can't wait to go back!