I returned this past weekend after spending last week and Paris and wanted to report back and thank all of you for your suggestions. Although I only had a small thread before going, I was able to read tons of other threads and put together a list that was perfect for this trip.
I still have a big list of places I want to go to next time. Frenchie, Spring, Les Papilles were all closed for the holidays. Despite how many times I called Septime I never was able to get through (and I called right before and after service). Next time I'd also like to try L'ami Jean and do a full tour of wine bars. But for this trip and for who I was with, these more traditional places were perfect.
Chartier (Lunch): Got off the plane and went straight to lunch which was as bustling as expected. Went with very low expectations and mostly for the ambiance, but found it much better than I was expecting. The prices are so low I think it could almost be compared to a fast food restaurant and yet, I'd rather lunch here than Le Quick. After a 20 minute wait in line we got in and we seated but at no time felt rushed by our server once we sat down. Our server was efficient but I still able to get a hold of her in the middle of the meal. Although the mains were pretty forgettable (poulet/frites, a fish casserole), I was impressed with the frisee salad with lardons and croutons. It was delicious and well made! We enjoyed the room.
Brasserie Bofinger (Dinner): I paired this on the same day as Chartier because both were really about atmosphere more than food. Between this and the often suggested La Rotonde this was close to where we were staying in the 1st and by reserving ahead we were able to sit in the beautiful room. We had a friendly waiter. Started with oysters, while DC had a special of shrimp fried and served with a mango chutney for a vaguely pan-asian dish. Not bad. Mains were steamed salmon in a garlic cream sauce with potatoes which was simple, comforting, and delicious. DC had braised beef stew which was good (although this was before Chez Dumonet). Having Ile-Flottant is always a treat and this version was classic and although the egg whites were a tad over-whipped the creme anglaise was perfect. DC had Creme Brûlée which they douse with liquor and light on fire for a nice show.
Les Fines Gueles (Lunch): The beef tartare was EXCEPTIONAL. Perfectly seasoned with a nice flavor of garlic and served with whole baby potatoes drowned in olive oil and fleur de sel. Looking at the wine list I noticed it was all bottles, so I asked if they had any by the glass. He laughed and said, "of course, you can have any of these by the glass!" I asked what he recommended and I had a nice medium bodied red from the South-West with a nice spice to it. Although he told me exactly where it was from I can't remember exactly. Does anyone on here have any knowledge or recommendations for this area for wine? Which region is this exactly? DC had a beautiful seared whitefish over vegetables that was both beautiful and delicious with a glass of Rose. I really liked the sleek atmosphere of this place and the quality of the food. I'd like to revisit it for a full dinner sometime.
Violon D'Ingres (Dinner): A safe choice but one that really delivered. Service was exceptional, engaging, and informative. It was also discreet. Midway through my squab the maitre D' came over to whisper in my ear discreetly that I was trying to cut the bird with my knife upside down and he didn't want me to cut my finger. HA! In my defense the knives are very subtle and the bottle of St. Joseph we were drinking was so delicious that may have helped... Started with a game pie en croute with a glossy and rich sauce that was to die for. I wanted to practically lick the plate. Somewhere between a chausseurs sauce and a rich and delicious demi-glace. When we ordered this started I told them we were going to split it and they happily offered to do so in the kitchen. What came out was two full portions, very generous of them. For mains, I had the famous wood-pidgeon which was rich, well seasoned, and a perfect cold weather main. DC had a beautiful seared white fish with a ring of lentils around the plate. Dessert was the only flop. Shared a tarte-tatin which was just okay. Overall a great restaurant between the food, service, and atmosphere and I would definitely return. (I really want to try the beef tongue mille-feuille)
L'Auberge Cafe (Lunch): In the 1st. It was a perfect location for a late lunch after a morning spent at the Louvre. I really really liked this place. So cute and you'd swear it was built for hobbits with how low the ceilings were. Friendly service and a very cozy place to have lunch. At this point in the trip a large salad was the perfect lunch for me while DC had entrecote-frites. I would definitely recommend for a simple lunch in a very cozy atmosphere.
Josephine Chez Dumonet (Dinner): What can I say that hasn't been said before. I will first note that I think 80% of the restaurant was Americans (not that that matters to us, but it may to some people). The wine list is a great read if you've got deep pockets, but what amused me more was after ordering a simple bottle of Julienas, the waiter didn't even blink and immeadiately informed us they were all out of that. It didn't surprise me too much I suppose. So then he brought 3 bottles to the table of other wines, opened them and had us taste each to see which we wanted to have. Miraculously they were all the same price (30 Euro). I got the feeling they have that cellar and then just carry a few house wines that they try to sell. Regardless, we found one we liked (they were all left bank Bordeauxs) and continued on. The atmosphere got loud and it really did seem like a party. The waiters are really friendly and the food is exactly what you want from classic bistro food. I'm not embarased to say that I ate a whole demi-portion of foie gras and then followed it with duck confit (although I'm sure my Doctor wouldn't be excited..) The duck confit was perfect. Crispy skin but the meat, oh, so tender that every single morsel fell straight off the bone. Not too salty (as confit can often be), and the crispy potatoes with garlic were perfect. DC had a demi portion of the beef Burgundy which was tender, smokey, and with an extremely glossy and rich sauce. For dessert we shared the soufflee. It was the perfect meal to end our trip to Paris. Classic, fun, and enough food to not need to eat the next day on the plane... Also during our meal Jeffrey and Ina Garten came in which also felt like a treat for my DC. Highly recommended.
Poilane: Although I've eaten Poilane before, read the book, made my own copies of their bread at home, I'd never been to the source. It was a treat to visit and bring home a whole miche. Having three frozen wedges of that miche in my freezer now is the best souvenir of all.
La Maison du Whisky: In the 1st. If you're a whiskey lover, I would highly recommend. 800 bottles of whiskey and a great selection from all over the world. They were quite surprised when I walked in and knew exactly what I wanted (My favorite whiskey, Green Spot, isn't sold in the States) but imagine if you're just looking for a gift or something new this would be a great spot to find it.
Pierre Herme: Foie Gras and Fig Macaron? You win Monsieur Herme, you always do.
E Dehillerin: This was another really fun food related treat. If you love copper and cookware, I would say this is a must for a trip to Paris. Used the occasion to buy a carbon steel omelet pan and some ring molds.
Thanks everyone on Chow for the recs. Until next time!