There are so many great restaurants in Paris, and so many not so great places where you can get mediocre food for exorbitant prices. Then there are the 3* Michelin restaurants such as Arpege and L’Epicure at The Bristol Hotel where you will be totally spoilt for incredible food at an incredible price. If you have to ask the price don’t go to one of these.
Visiting Paris for a week or so at least three times a year has given me the opportunity to whittle down a list of favourite restaurants where you’ll find great food and great service plus value for what is on offer. Unless you know about them you may not think of visiting them - they’re not exactly hard to find, but very special.
These are places where if you are planning one special meal and don’t quite want to reach for the lofty heights of the 3*s I would suggest you consider for a special night out and a great meal. Visit them all if you can and you won’t be disappointed.
Frederic Simonin - 25, rue Bayen, 75017 Paris, 01 45 74 74 74
Frederic Simonin has one well deserved Michelin Star. Don’t go here with a noisy party, this is a hushed, chic environment well suited to the enjoyment of excellent food. There is no huge choice here, just a small collection of dishes all of which will be beautifully presented and taste exceptional. They also at time of writing offer two set lunch menus at 38 and 49 Euros.
This is not the place for a noisy meal with your children but perfect for a special occasion or dinner a deux and the service and knowledge of the what is on the menu is superb. I’m not sure if they still serve the salted caramels they originally used to offer. Weep in your soup if they don’t. They were exceptional.
I also wrote about it here. Book ahead.
Le Dome - 108, Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, +33 1 43 35 25 81
One of Paris’s most famous fish restaurants, at least to insiders, this is a bustling elegant brasserie where you can be sure that the oysters will be fresh and the sole cooked to perfection. Just a note, they also do a marvellous mixed green salad which you won’t necessarily find on the menu but which makes an excellent starter. Things to try - the asparagus, the sardines and the coquilles St Jacques – all when in season of course.
Fish cooked perfectly isn’t easy to find. When you book ask for a booth (you’ll be lucky to get one) and then ogle the photos of film stars who have visited the restaurant as you enjoy your meal. And if you have room order their incredible desert, Millefeulle parfume au rhum et vanille.
A word of advice – don’t go off menu unless you’re sure what you’re doing. Book in advance. If you have the energy, walk up to Montparnasse from the centre of Paris or wherever you’re staying, you’ll need to build up a big appetite. I also wrote about it here.
La Luna - 69, rue du Rocher, Paris, +33 01 42 93 77 61
La Luna is another fish restaurant well worth visiting. More of a restaurant and definitely not a brasserie, the atmosphere is quiet in the enjoyment of great food. There are frequently couples dining together and tables full of a small party celebrating, but never very noisy. And I’ve never seen children there in the evening. It tends to get busy later on in the evening.
The menu offers selected fish in season, perfectly cooked and a day and evening menu for 50 Euros. Don’t think that you’ll get smaller portions because it’s the fixed price menu, you don’t and it is hugely good value.
Walk up to the rue du Rocher from where you’re staying if you can to build up an appetite. I’ve written about it here. Book ahead.
They’re famous for their Rhum Baba – a huge creation of rum soaked sponge and cream. We watched in astonishment as the table next to us demolished a huge one of these after a large meal. I dare you.
Penati Il Baretto - 9-11, Rue Balzac, 75008 Paris, +33 1 42 99 80 00
Eat Italian food in Paris? Perish the thought you might think…. well think again. This is a hidden gem in Paris serving some of the best Italian food you’ll find anywhere, attached to the delightful Hotel de Vigny so if you can stay in the hotel then you can just stagger up to your room after a delightful meal.
When you book, as you need to, ask for a booth. Again this is a restaurant for grownups, celebrations, dinner a deux and with a Michelin Star you wouldn’t expect to find cheap Italian nosh here. But what you will find is authentic Italian culinary excellence. Chef Alberico Penati seriously knows what he’s doing and you can read about him here.
Take a night out to visit Il Baretto, I try and go every time I’m in Paris. Usually, because I can’t resist the pasta when I’m here, I have a simple starter and a pasta dish – last time fresh pea soup followed by spaghetti just with broccoli, anchovies, garlic and olive oil. My mouth is watering at the memory. You can spend as much as you want.
114 Le Faubourg - 114 rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, 75008 Paris, +33 1 53434300
This is another wonderful treat. 114 Le Faubourg is part of the Bristol Hotel and is just as excellent as you’d expect. With one Michelin Star and beautiful surroundings this is somewhere you really have to make sure you book in advance. Expect to be surrounded by celebrities, wealthy Parisians and guests of the hotel, all beautifully dressed.
The food is delicious, the service perfect, and the little box of chocolates you’ll be given at the end of your meal totally irresistible. Everything on the menu is worth trying, I particularly like the ‘Thin slice of Iberian paleta “Bellota” with candied tomatoes on bread’ which you can share, and the ‘Mesclun salad with black truffle viniagrette and parmesan’. They are famous for their cheeseburger….. yes it’s expensive but you will come away with a smile on your face.
I have written about 114 Le Faubourg previously here.
I will admit that I am a creature of habit and don’t like to take risks on going somewhere I know very little about, that may prove to be expensive, so when I write a review it will almost always be of somewhere I have visited several times and loved each time.