Because I have received such great advice from Parnassien, Nancy S. and others, and because I am here for one month and can't imagine writing one long post after all of that, I'm going to do a running report here in this thread. Join me if you like! I will probably leave out ancillary culinary experiences, like random sandwich purchases or cafes, but if I do find something under-reported, I'll add it here.
Let's start with tonight. Our first proper restaurant meal on our third full day here. My boyfriend and I had just hauled ourselves back to the 11th after going to see a film at the big cineplex in Les Halles. Ugh. I did not want to go there but we were running an errand near Champs Elysées prior to that and this location was the closest. Getting home on the métro was...a pain in the ass. Anyway, we were tired, I was grumpy. It was 9:30pm and we were like WHERE SHOULD WE GO?!?! We made a list of four places (all on Oberkampf) that ranged from acceptable to good (in that order: L'estaminet, Chez Justine, Aux Deux Amis, Ober-Salé) and decided to walk by and see where we could eat. The first we passed was Aux Deux Amis, where the crowd was literally spilling out the door. We kept going. When we got to the address of Ober-Salé, we were confused because we saw a Sicilian bistro. But we looked a little further and there it was, unassuming, empty tables, and completely charming in exactly the way we hoped. Our meal was VERY good and it was made all the better by the extremely hospitable, charming, knowledgeable, and friendly waiter. (He literally pulled out a copy of Escoffier to answer one of my questions.) We both had the 3 course prix fixe (at 33 euros). My boyfriend had a red wine from the Loire valley (Mabileau?) and I had two different wines, on the waiter's suggestion: first, Crozes Hermitage from 2011, then a Beaujolais that I can't remember. My boyfriend had an asparagus appetizer with a chicken samosa (strange), then for his main he had roasted cod with zucchini "spaghetti" and sesame seeds. I had homemade ravioli that was stuffed with a salted cod brandade, followed by braised beef shoulder with red wine and carrots. We both had cheese (which was too much), followed by a Bas-Armagnac for me and a Cognac for him. Oh, and the amuse-bouche was a cup of mushroom cream.
It was SO GREAT. We ended the night chatting with the waiter and the chef/cook(?) and the waiter's girlfriend, who had shown up. We will definitely be returning here, as they have an excellent fixed lunch. And I found out about this through Chowhound. THANK YOU!