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Special Restaurant or Cafe in Paris

My wife and I will be in Paris for 8 days and while we are there we want to splurge one evening and experience a truly fine French restaurant. We will be staying in Saint Germaine but are willing to take the Metro anywhere in the "central core" of Paris for a special meal. Here are some of the things that would be "special" to us:
1) First and foremost is the food. We want to experience food prepared with excellent sauces - several courses including an amazing dessert.
2) Atmosphere -- Would prefer a smaller more family style cafe than an overly formal restaurant but once again this is secondary to the food.
3) Price -- Will have to keep it under $100/person and hopefully less since we will be eating at other places too throughout the week.

I know there must be tons of possibilities of fine restaurants in Paris but would appreciate your personal experiences.

Posted by
2023 posts

I can recommend L'Ange 20 in the Marais--cannot remember the exact street but my notes indicate it is near Place de Vosges . The street is small as is the restaurant and reservations are essential. Our meals were great and we stopped by a day ahead to reserve. You can google to learn more. I will add that we have never been disappointed with meals at Bofinger and it surely must be one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris and it is in that same area. Near the Eiffel Tower are several Christian Constant restaurants. Violin d'Ingres is expensive but Les Cocottes is not and is quite good--very casual. You mention excellent sauce--I had Langoistine Ravioli at Cocottes and the sauce was incredibly good--wish I knew what went in it--four of us at the table enjoyed the sauce with their fabulous bread. The third CC restaurant is Cafe Constant--all on the same street. Have a fabulous trip!

Posted by
1962 posts

Now that Le Pamphlet has closed, does anyone know where their chef went?

This is the one that was at 38 rue Debelleyme in the Marais.

If you ask your hotelier for a recommendation and include the same keywords -- excellent sauces and amazing dessert,
and they have a place that leaps to mind (not via a google search) then go with their gut instinct.

Posted by
2740 posts

I love Les Petit Papiers on rue Oberkampf. Thierry, the owner/chef mans the kitchen while wife and daughter serve their primarily Parisienne clientele. Food and service are excellent, reasonably priced and artfully presented. I would definitely advise making reservations since the restaurant is on the smaller side. My last visit there included a foie gras with pineapple that was unique. In Florida, I eat a lot of very good seafood. That night Thierry’s sea bass was the best I had ever enjoyed. And the dessert put me into insulin shock.

Posted by
451 posts

All of our visits to Paris have included a meal at Le P'tit Troquet. Wonderful food, warm welcome upon arrival, great service and cosy atmosphere! It is a very small establishment so consider making a reservation. Our experience at Pottoka was the opposite of previous poster. The absolute worst dining we have ever had in France with the rudest staff I've ever experienced in all of our travels.

Posted by
384 posts

"All of our visits to Paris have included a meal at Le P'tit Troquet."

Seconding this! My wife and I enjoyed two fabulous meals there during our last visit to Paris. Amazing food, wonderful wine selection and the best hostess in all of France.

Posted by
3 posts

I would agree Petit Troquet fits your requirements-lovely restaurant. Also, in the 7th and close to the Ecole Miltaire metro is Le Florimand. Excellent food, very French, friendly owner and great experience. Have been there many times and never disappointed.

Posted by
2576 posts

I guess that is why there are enough restaurants to satisfy everyone in Paris! When we visited a few years ago Le Florimand had a signature dish which was great (can’t recall what it was but his grandmother made it). Everything else was just OK. Surrounded by large parties of loud Germans which spoiled our night. Le P’tit Troquet paled in comparison to Potakka where we dined the night before and enjoyed elegant creative food, great wine, and terrific service. At Troquet the food was OK, not wow, sort of like our neighborhood French bistro at home, and, like at home, we were surrounded by Americans. Not a French voice in the place as opposed to Potakka where we were the only Americans.

Posted by
8512 posts

The three suggested all fit #2 above. But, let's look at what we consider French cooking. We seem to be comparing apples and oranges here. All these restaurants look delicious, but let's look at the type of cuisine.

Big sauces covering the meat are sort of a thing of the past, except for in home cooking, and Le P'tite Troquet comes closest for sauces with two stewed dishes and two grilled meats with sauce on the side, and one very interesting fish dish. Le p'tite Troquet is comfort food. This is what we serve friends and family in France, stew or grilled meat. This is what makes a hungry husband happiest. If there were a thread for French people, asking what foods they miss while living overseas, this would be it--stews, pâté, etc.

L'Ange 20 looks solid, with 3 grilled meats, one fish, and one saucy chicken dish. It does have an agneau de sept heures, ie: 7-hour lamb, too, (which I make at home) that should give you some sauce. It's all the little accompaniments in this restaurant that look tasty, too. Again, these are dishes people make at home but with a bit of a twist.

The other two seem to have a finer, more researched menu. Les Petits Papiers has modern, cuisine with a lot of vegetable dishes, more fish, some olive oil sauce, and a Bernaise in one dish, 3 grilled meats, including a hamburger, on the menu. This is market-fresh cooking, original, but not elegant. However, for creative dishes served, Pottoka looks interesting. Their dishes appear the most original and may be the closest to what your are describing in your question. This is what I mean by needing to establish what are the different kinds of French cooking: comfort foods, company food, grilled food, and creative cuisine.

Another with original cuisine, first recommended here by Janettravels, is l'Initial. I've gone twice and recommend it for flavor and creativity. It's an elegant fixed menu with amuse bouche, many small plates of food, including foie gras, a soup, a fish, a meat, two desserts, friandises after dessert. You will find only a dash of sauces on the food (and at most of these restaurants, probably), enough to highlight, but not cover. Myself, I'll try Potakka, Les Petits Papiers and Ange 20, but that may not be the type of food you are seeking.

This is simply my observation after 40 years of cooking French food at home for a hungry Frenchman and going out to eat in France. I didn't look at the prices. Bon appétit.

Posted by
2002 posts

I highly recommend L'Ami Jean. Fantastic food and atmosphere. This restaurant featured on the "I'll Have what Phil's Having" Paris show that you can see on You Tube -- highly recommended you check it out.