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Help me find my favorite dishes in Paris

I love the following French cuisine items:

Croissant - almond or chocolate
Poulet a la creme avec Champignons (chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce)
Tartiflette
Gratin Dauphinois
Duck Confit
Pot-au-feu
Coq-au-vin
Beef Bourguignon

So as you can see, I like classic dishes, simple beef, duck, chicken, potatoes, cheese. That kind of stuff. I don't like fancy or hipster-ish / alternative preparations. I do not want to see my food made into some kind of modern art where only 1/4 of the plate has food on it and there are flower petals sprinkled all around or something or they put bacon mixed with chocolate ice cream and pickles or something. I just like simple but I want it cooked by a master chef using the finest ingredients and attention to detail on the cooking, seasoning, etc... I also like to eat in relatively fine dining establishments with good wine and cheese selections, desserts, views, patios, clean, nice, etc...

I will be staying in St Germain des Pres.

Thank you for helping me find my perfect spots in Paris!

Posted by
13204 posts

Tartiflette is delicious but it is a Savoyard dish from the French Alps, mainly winter food during ski season. It could be hard to find in Paris in the summer.

Posted by
223 posts

I appreciate your passion, but finding such cliché dishes "cooked by a master chef" might be a bit of a stretch. Such experts are going to be doing their own thing; not repeating a simple recipe from the countryside.

One thing to keep in mind is that Paris is not really a food center of France. Few famous dishes in France originate in Paris. Rather, what you can find are Paris kitchens preparing their own cutting-edge dishes, or dishes from the provinces where they originate. If you want authentic dishes such as duck confit, tartiflette, or boeuf bourguignon, then you might want to prepare yourself to travel to the Dordogne, Savoie, or Bourgogne.

Posted by
31 posts

I found the following places in Paris with Tartiflette on the menu. Are any of them good and/or open in August?

La Taverne de Montmarte
Au Doux Raisin
La Jacobine
Pain Vin Fromage
La Fresque
Galette Cafe
Le Vieux Bistrot
Le Jardin d'en Face

Posted by
31 posts

OK, K, well, any places in Paris with an almost master chef which prepare these simple, traditional dishes from the whole of France? Come on!

Posted by
2250 posts

You'd probably enjoy the food at A la Biche au Bois. The first review here does make some interesting points, and highlights the value of having some familiarity if you wish to seriously pursue food in France, or any other country. I recommend the venison stew, and the mashed potatoes are great. They offer various game in season as well. Known for their Coq au Vin, as are lots of spots. Have fun.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d781447-Reviews-A_la_Biche_au_Bois-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

Posted by
784 posts

As you stroll around the streets of Paris, check the chalkboards in front of cafes and bistros to see if any of your dishes are listed. All restaurants are required to post "La carte" outside, so check those, too.

Posted by
10114 posts

We had an outstanding Beef Bourguignon at a hole-in-the-wall in Montmartre, La Cave Gourmand. So good we've been there 3 times to enjoy it and consistently good. One portion enough for two if you order extra mashed potatoes and share teh goat cheese salad. Mmmmmmm! Can't wait to go back in October!

Posted by
1806 posts

Try to get a copy of "A Food Lover's Guide to Paris" by Patricia Wells from your local library, or buy a copy of it on Amazon. Lot of good recommendations in there and she includes places that serve up the classics, fine dining and you get the added bonus of recommendations for bakeries, markets, cheese shops, etc.

Posted by
776 posts

I have an app from Patricia Wells Food lovers Paris. I did pay a bit for it and have had it a while. Bakeries, markets, cafes, food shops. It is worth it imho.

I have not had those specific dishes, so cannot guide you there, do read the menu outside as they must post it as earlier suggested.

Enjoy Paris

Posted by
776 posts

I have an app from Patricia Wells Food lovers Paris. I did pay a bit for it and have had it a while. Bakeries, markets, cafes, food shops. It is worth it imho.

I have not had those specific dishes, so cannot guide you there, do read the menu outside as they must post it as earlier suggested.

Enjoy Paris

Posted by
244 posts

Have you considered a food tour? Last year we took a food tour with Paris by Mouth. We took the tour Paris by Mouth, Taste of Saint-Germain. It was a wonderful tour! We started a Poilane bakery! Wine, cheese, chocolate need I say more! Our tour guide also gave us restaurant suggestions. At her suggestion we went to Cafe Constant, it was delicious! You will find their website very valuable! Enjoy!

Posted by
2920 posts

A la Biche Au Bois for coq au vin.
Josephine Chez Dumonet for boeuf Bourguignon and also duck confit.
Drouant or Le Roi du Pot Au Feu for pot au feu.
Chez Clement for duck confit.
Bleu Sucre for croissants.
Contact A Table de Hugo Desnoyer in the 16th to see what they are serving.
I can't help with the other three items.

Posted by
2466 posts

If you are this picky about having your food prepared by "master chefs", most of them don't prepare the dishes you prefer.

They will fiddle around with your food, spray some foam emulsion on it, and most probably decorate it with algae and edible flowers.

What you are looking for is seriously old-fashioned food, which may or not be available in the Summer - and if it is, will likely have come from Metro, which is the big wholesale food shop where most cooks who are not "master chefs" buy their wares, then microwave them.

Posted by
6720 posts

Master chefs are not preparing duck confit but the restaurant Chez Dumonet Josephine has excellent beouf Bourguignon (which can be ordered in half portions if you wish) and duck confit (and steak frittes as well) They also have an excellent grande marnier soufflet.

Most bakeries have almond croissants with chocolate.

Posted by
31 posts

Regarding croissants... I don't mean almond AND chocolate but almond OR chocolate. Two different kinds of croissants.

Last time I was in Paris in August I couldn't find a croissant better than Le Panier in Pike market Seattle where I lived.

Posted by
2920 posts

Perhaps the croissants in Seattle are world class or perhaps your taste standard is set by the ones in Seattle and so you will not like any that are not the same as those. Best is really subjective.

As others have said, "master chefs" in Paris are not making traditional old school dishes but are creating what I would call modern food but even so you can find well prepared classics in Paris. I see from your other thread that you plan to be in Paris in August. You need to call or check the websites of the places mentioned here to see if the places are open in August. You will find that some are closed all of August and some are open for one or two weeks of the month, but if you are going old school for food don't be surprised that the restaurants are old school with respect to vacances and even having websites.

After my other response, I thought of a place that serves a very good potatoes dauphinois as a side with some of their beef dishes: Chez Gabrielle on Rue d'Etoile in the 17th but only about a 5-minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe. They are closed for part of August and it could be that it is the entire month, but it may be worth looking into. I don't think that I have ever seen Poulet a la creme avec champignons on a menu in Paris. I love mushrooms so I would recall seeing that and probably would have ordered it.

Posted by
2466 posts

A chocolate croissant is called "un pain au chocolat".
An almond croissant is called "un croissant d'amande".
The creamy chicken dish with mushroom sauce would be available during mushroom season and would be worth waiting for.
Otherwise, the dish will be made with plain white mushrooms and will probably be microwaved.

Posted by
8491 posts

chexbres let the secret out of the bag--a lot of these traditional dishes are made in big factories and microwaved or re-baked. And it's delicious because the French know what it's supposed to taste like and want a close approximation of what mom used to make for Sunday lunch. Most of the time the quality is good. For example, a friend who was born, raised and still lives in Beaune joined us in Nuits St. George for a quick lunch one day. We popped into a cafe, ordered boeuf bourguignon and we all enjoyed it. The only thing made fresh in the pocket-size kitchen of that cafe was the boiled potatoes. All the rest was frozen reheated. Looking at the menus of the restaurants suggested, some say "maison" after the dish, meaning it was cooked there, some don't. One says the mashed potatoes are "maison" but nothing about the beef burgundy. Looking at the websites, these restaurants that have been recommended look wonderful!

Patricia Wells book and app sound like a good leads, as is the Michelin Red guide (unstarred restaurants if you want to avoid the frou-frou), Paris by Mouth, David Lebovitz, and Alexander Lobrano. A bit of overlap, as some write for Paris by Mouth.

Posted by
6720 posts

A chocolate croissant is called a 'chocolate croissant' and can be found at a couple of places in the 13th including across from Place Verlaine where the water well is. They are quite different from ordinary pain chocolates which are not croissant shaped but are also quite tasty. The chocolate croissants are made of striped dough including a chocolate dough.

There were three boulangeris within 4 blocks of this square that had almond/chocolate croissants as well as ordinary croissants and almond croissants. People's tastes differ. Just walk into a few artisanal bakeries and see their array of interesting pastries and breads and try them out. I personally con't care for croissants but tried the chocolate ones out of curiosity -- they look rather like zebras and are tastier to me than the ordinary kind.

Posted by
8491 posts

A google.fr search indeed shows croissant au chocolat and even pain au chocolat aux amandes sold at La Brioche Dorée chain. Lots of recipes, too. Something new every day. Calorie count for pain et croissant au chocolat is similar, but beware that one with the chocolate and almonds!

Posted by
234 posts

Two places that will, I think, fit your bill are La Fontaine de Mars (near the Eiffel Tower), and Le Comptoir du Relais (St. Germain-des-Pres). The former has a fairly classic menu, as I recall, and it's excellent. I had coq au vin and one of my favorite classic desserts, ile flottante. Convenient to pair with an evening walk over to the Eiffel Tower.

The latter was described to me as "classic with a twist," and I'd agree with that. Not a twist of the trendy variety you're describing, just a little bit elevated from the basics you've listed. I had really fantastic foie gras and an incredible milk braised pig cheek there that I'm still thinking about. Excellent cheese, too. They don't take reservations on the weekend, but when I lined up around 7 pm I waited less than 30 min (granted, this was in October; not sure what it would be like during a busier time of year).

Posted by
2466 posts

Actually, artisan patisseries/boulangeries use day-old regular croissants to make almond croissants. They just put almond paste inside and on top and sprinkle with almonds.
There is also "pain au lait avec pepites du chocolat" or a " tressé " - braided or not, it's bread made with milk and added chocolate chips.
Now boulangeries are selling "croissant feuilleté " - croissant dough with more butter and sugar - sold in cupcake or whole loaf sizes.
Not to be confused with the Bretagne specialty "kouign-amann".

Posted by
8392 posts

Gundersen, hmm... possibility.

We ate at La Fontaine de Mars in Feb and did not enjoy it at all. The food was lousy imo. I paid 36 Euros for 5 very small scallops on 1/8 c of cooked spinach. They weren't even good.
We were in a small room upstairs and I soon realized the other 4 tables were also Americans... I said, in French, laughing to the waiter "I see we were put in the American room 😂"... he pulled back with wide eyes and said "madame, the entire restaurant is Americans, only Americans eat here". I was really taken aback and couldn't get out of there fast enough. I do not go to Paris to be surrounded by Americans. Good ol' rue Cler area. If the food had been good it would have mitigated it but the food was very expensive and lousy.

I suspect most of the places recommended here, based on the criteria, are geared to Americans / tourists. Not my cup of tea.

Posted by
8491 posts

Susan--ouch a bit harsh but rue Saint Dominique area has been anglophone for a while with British Library and the La Varenne Cooking School in the old days. But the menu looks very French, with tête de veau salad. What American is going to order that! It is very eclectic but escargots on the menu is a give-away that it serves a lot of non-French clientele, as well as the French who eat tête de veau. Again, beyond the grilled food with a sauce, one needs to see if the sauce dishes say maison.

We found something weird on the main street of the Ile St. Louis at a place up the street from Sausalito Susan's favorite place (hers was closed)--The waitstaff was too nonchalant and the food was very ordinary for the price. Something was off. Not much real cooking going on. No one had skin in the game. This had to be an investor-run place opened in an Ile St. Louis storefront to bring in the tourist euros.

Posted by
234 posts

Sorry to hear you did not have a good experience at La Fontaine de Mars, Susan. It's been about three years since I was there last, so perhaps it has declined. FWIW, I speak French and travel in France a lot, and generally avoid horribly tourist trap-type places, but a lot can change with restaurant quality over time.

Posted by
31 posts

I am not pulling legs. I want to find the dishes I mentioned, cooked to their best possibility, in Paris. I am hoping that Paris is a melting pot for France and that I can find good restaurants which provide a sampling of French cuisine from all over France, tailored for an American tourist palate, but without sacrificing quality.

I know some think in black and white but I believe it is possible to find places like this.

In my thread on Rome, it was suggested that perhaps some of the nicer hotel restaurants may have the kind of food I am looking for, Anyone care to mention some of those?

Posted by
1023 posts

"I want to find the dishes I mentioned, cooked to their best possibility, in Paris. I am hoping that Paris is a melting pot for France and that I can find good restaurants which provide a sampling of French cuisine from all over France, tailored for an American tourist palate, but without sacrificing quality."

With respect, Monkeyface seems to be looking for Americanized French food, items with which he/she is familiar from dining experiences in the US. As some of the posters mention, the French master chefs are not there to repeat what has been done before by others, and I would be leery of places where a "sampling" of traditional French dishes are offered from many regions, all of which have been tailored for the "American tourist palate," as the resulting dish would not seem to be either French or of any consistent quality. Also, as has been discussed, Paris is not really a place where most of the items listed originated. I tend to seek Gumbo and red beans and rice when I am in New Orleans, not from a "Louisiana Kitchen" type of place in Cleveland or Phoenix. Believe me, the burritos from the Mission District of San Francisco are unlike anything you will find anywhere else--not better, but unique.

I don't really think that Paris is a gastronomical "melting pot" for cuisines originating in other regions, so with few exceptions, I enjoy the dining treats close to their points of origination, whether in the Dordogne, in Marseilles, or the Alps. As a rule, and in my experience, the traditional dishes are usually found in regionally focused restaurants. Cassoulet, for example, is ubiquitous in the South of France but rare in Paris, as are Parisian restaurants which specialize in alpine food.

My favorite source for decent food referrals comes from David Liebovitz, an American expat who publishes a blog. His recommendations are all very good. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/

Good luck on your culinary search, however, because you never know.

Posted by
8392 posts

Margaret, Maybe the "chef" (if there is one after reading all these posts) was off the night we were there. It wasn't an obvious tourist place, and the interior (including restroom) was beyond charming and old-fashioned authentic (imo) which was fun. I just was put off by the lousy food (again, maybe a one-off) which soured my mood considering how very expensive it was. Being told "only Americans eat here" was the final strike for me.

Bets, yes, there are many lousy restaurants on ISL. All over Paris actually. In SF too for that matter.

Posted by
234 posts

That would put me off too, Susan, I don't blame you! A disappointing experience for sure.

MonkeyFace, I hope you find what you are looking for, and maybe some new food experiences too. Have a great time in Paris!

Posted by
8392 posts

Margaret, thank you. Have you eaten at Café Constant a few doors down? I've heard it's exceptional. We had to choose between the two, next time we'll try Café Constant. Just wondering if you liked it if you've been... : )

Posted by
2920 posts

I last ate at La Fontaine de Mars in March 2016 and it was still good in a traditional been there done that way. It's different than it was before the Obamas ate there in 2009 but I wonder if the time of year may have been a factor in Susan's bad experience. In 2016, our food was good but expensive for what we got and the service was very good and almost all of the tables were filled with people speaking French. It's not one of my top restaurants in Paris but it is okay. I just went to Cafe Constant this May and it was excellent. It is just around the corner from the hotel where we stayed and we ate two breakfasts and one lunch there. Everything was very simple but well executed. We also tried Cocotte which is nearby and part of the same family of restaurants and it was not good. The food was very salty. There was however, a very impressive woman running the front of the house who kept tracks of all the people waiting and their drink orders without any kind of list or note taking.

Posted by
234 posts

I have not been to Cafe Constant...I'm taking my mom and sister to Paris in September, and La Fontaine had been on my list, but now I'm going to swap it out for Cafe Constant! I'll report back on how it is.

Posted by
8392 posts

Thank you JHK, we'll try Café Constant next time.

Margaret, hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
4716 posts

This thread simply highlights just how subjective restaurant recommendations are. What one may find good another may find poor as evidenced above. Some people value quantity over quality, others may be used to a certain style of cooking/flavours/seasoning and as such I tend not to give or solicit restaurant recommendations.

As for the OP's list, many are slow cooked dishes that are not generally cooked in restaurants, particularly Paris. They are typically bought in pre-made from wholesalers in portions and heated up when required. To experience such dishes as they were intended you would need to visit a bistro somewhere more rural which offers a particular dish as a special of that day.

Posted by
781 posts

I believe that the culinary capital of France is in Lyon,we spent five days in Lyon in May and ate at two of Paul Bocuse restaurants Michelin 3 stars and worth it.For Croisants that might be as good as the ones in Seattle you might try Du Pain et des Idees in the first in Paris.I have traveled to Paris many times and have a great list of restaurants that I have compiled and I would suggest that you do the same to discover the food that you want.My Beef Bourguignon dinner in May in Paris was outstanding but it would not fit your criteria.I am an SF person born and raised and know good food.
Mike

Posted by
605 posts

I think asking where to get traditional French dishes in the capital city of France is a very reasonable question.

Posted by
2466 posts

Paris does not feature regional specialties, like boeuf bourguignon, tartiflette, coq au vin or confit de canard.

If you can find them, they will be produced in a factory and microwaved.

Probably the only Paris specialty is steak-frites.

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you Matt! One would think!?!?!

Jeez chexbres! I wonder if there is a forum of Parisian restaurant owners and chefs where we could post your assertion and see what they have to say!?!?! Sacrebleu!!!

Posted by
28075 posts

Just have a look at all of the little numbers on the menu

Posted by
2920 posts

Chexbres,
Are you asserting that the coq au vin at A la Biche au Bois is factory produced and microwaved. What about the boeuf bourguinon at Jospehine Chez Dumonet? What about La Jacobine over in the 6th? There are other places I could ask about. The statement that regional specialities if you can find them in Paris "will be produced in a factory and microwaved" is awfully broad and IMO inaccurate. Maybe consider saying might instead of will.

Posted by
31 posts

I plan to start calling restaurants tomorrow in Paris and asking them the following:

Do you serve a cheese and potato dish such as gratin or tartiflette?
Do you serve a steak with bearnaise sauce? (bear-nays)
Do you serve duck confit? Confit de canard?
Is everything home made? Fait maison? (fay mayzon)
What are your operating days and hours in the month of August?

Posted by
2466 posts

Go ahead and amuse yourself, monkeyface.
I believe I did state that Chez Dumonet makes a very good boeuf bourguignon , and that Au biche au bois sometimes has coq au vin on the menu.
I only know of one restaurant - les Philosophes - which makes confit de canard - but it isn't made correctly, because it isn't submerged in duck fat, rather braised at high heat.
The rest of duck confit comes from factories.
Tartiflette is not served in summer. If it is, it will be frozen.
Gratin dauphinois can sometimes be found in the summer, but it usually isn't very good.
There is a restaurant called Le roi de pot-au-feu in Paris. You might try finding it.

Who puts bacon in ice cream where you come from??? That's disgusting...

Posted by
46 posts

Here are a few specific places that I have personally enjoyed, although of course others likely have different opinions. These may not have the exact dishes you seek but are in the traditional vein it sounds like you're seeking. These are mostly right bank, but that's what I know best, so it's admittedly a little biased!

  • A La Biche a Bois (as others have suggested)
  • Chez Marie Louise (10th)
  • Restaurant Square Trousseau (12th)
  • Square Gardette (11th)
  • Bistrot Paul Bert (11th -- and not to be confused with Le 6 Paul Bert, on the same street - still excellent but probably not what you're looking for)

Check out lunch vs. dinner (where available) and you'll have a wonderful experience and save a ton.

Posted by
317 posts

Well, I can tell you where NOT to get tartiflette! I was also interested in tasting this specialty, and ordered it from Le Pain Quotidien on Rue De Varenne a few years back. It was a big disappointment. This was in February, for a late quick dinner, and it was really uninspired.

So, good luck in your foodie adventures...but don't bother with that particular rendition of tartiflette.

Laurie

Posted by
28075 posts

If you ask them if they make it themselves, what do you think the answer will be, if they answer at all?

Posted by
31 posts

La Fontaine De Mars is highly rated and has all of the following:

  • Gratin Dauphinois
  • Steak w/Bearnaise
  • Duck Confit
  • Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Is it open in August??? I will call later.

Posted by
2466 posts

Monkeyface - Fontaine de Mars is open every day of the week, including August.
Go eat, already...