Dining: Chez Georges, Thaim, Dome, Jules Verne & Ze Kitchen

Dining: Chez Georges, Thaim, Dome, Jules Verne & Ze Kitchen

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Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower. Publicity photo ©Alain Ducasse Restaurants.

Parisians raised dining to an art form centuries ago, and visitors to the City of Light have been enjoying the results ever since. From that first sip of café au lait in the morning, through a croque monsieur lunch and on to a four-course dinner capped with a snifter of cognac, eating out is meant to replenish both the body and the soul. Don’t expect a quick bite, unless you’re selecting a crêpe from a sidewalk vendor or picking up a baguette filled with sliced meat and cheese in a bakery to eat sitting on a nearby park bench. Dining is leisurely in Paris: savor the experience.

There are many choices, and it’s fun to select different kinds of restaurants. On a recent trip, I found a whole new-to-me group of restaurants to recommend, from Thai to classic bistro to tourist mecca.

Chez Georges

Restaurant Chez Georges

Some restaurants are so popular that they don’t always answer their telephones (and, with some, it’s not possible to make a reservation online). One of these is the venerable Chez Georges. After calling several times and getting no answer, my husband and I finally decided to knock on the door. We took the Métro to Bourse and walked over, about an hour before they were scheduled to open for dinner. The door was ajar, so we peeked in—startling the staff, who were sitting at a table sipping coffee. No, there were no tables available that evening, but they could take a reservation for me a couple of days later, and wrote our name in the book.

Chez Georges, which opened near la Bourse (the stock exchange) in 1964, is run by three generations of the Brouillet family and has a loyal clientele. The man sitting next to me on the long banquette when we dined there said he’d been coming to Chez Georges for 40 years.  It specializes in what Americans call comfort food or, in French, la cuisine bourgeoise. I had a traditional favorite (Sole Georges sauced with Pouilly wine and crème fraîche), while my husband enjoyed a steak. The service was charming, the atmosphere very old Europe and the food delicious. Just be sure you end up at this Chez Georges and not one of the other (less notable) restaurants in Paris with the same name!

Tel: 01 4260 0711

1, rue du Mail, Paris 2nd

Métro: Bourse

Open: everyday but Sunday for lunch and dinner. Reservations required. Closed holidays.

Thaïm

ThaïmWhen we couldn’t get into Chez Georges on that first stop, we continued our search for sustenance through the streets of the Paris 2nd, and happened upon Thaïm. Ethnic restaurants are trendy in Paris, and this one showed its one-toque award from Gault Millau in the window. It’s a very elegant, small restaurant decorated with lavender and touches of gold (even the plates—square, of course—were a light shade of purple).

We each chose one of the day’s specials. I started with a crunchy shrimp spring roll, then chicken soup with lemongrass and hot and spicy shrimp served on white rice. The light yellow cake with mango sorbet was the perfect finish.

Tél: 01 4296 5467

46, rue de Richelieu, Paris 1st

Métro: Pyramides or Quatre Septembre

Open: Lunch Mon-Fri 12:15-3pm; Dinner Mon-Sat 7:15-11:30pm

Ze Kitchen Galerie Restaurant

Reservations at Ze Kitchen Galerie Restaurant in the Paris 6th are almost impossible to snag at the last minute, but we lucked out (once again) by turning up in person to beg for a slot. This is contemporary haute cuisine served in an intensely 21st century setting. The tasting menu offered seven courses, each of which was a delicious work of art— from the fish eggs through the cucumber gazpacho, gnocchi, codfish and black pork right through the chocolate and raspberry dessert.

Tél: 01 4432 0032

4, rue des Grands Augustins, Paris 6th

Métro: Saint-Michel

Open: Lunch 12-2:30pm Monday through Friday; Dinner 7-11pm

Le Dôme

Another venerable Paris institution is Le Dôme in the Paris 14th. It’s been known for its seafood since it opened in 1898. It’s a bit stuffy (the reviews say traditional décor), but the bilingual wait staff is charming. Seafood stars here, and you can’t go wrong starting with oysters. My sole meunière entrée was darned tasty, too. Besides, don’t you want to have a meal where everyone from Vladimir Lenin to Ernest Hemingway has dined? It’s even mentioned in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

Tél: 01 4335 2581

108, blvd du Montparnasse, Paris 14th

Open: daily except some holidays; lunch and dinner service

Métro: Vavin, Montparnasse

Ze Kitchen Galerie Restaurant

Reservations at Ze Kitchen Galerie Restaurant in the Paris 6th are almost impossible to snag at the last minute, but we lucked out (once again) by turning up in person to beg for a slot. This is contemporary haute cuisine served in an intensely 21st century setting. The tasting menu offered seven courses, each of which was a delicious work of art— from the fish eggs through the cucumber gazpacho, gnocchi, codfish and black pork right through the chocolate and raspberry dessert.

Tél: 01 4432 0032

4, rue des Grands Augustins, Paris 6th

Métro: Saint-Michel

Open: Lunch 12-2:30pm Monday through Friday; Dinner 7-11pm

And, PS: It’s not true that you can’t get a bad meal in Paris. Just look for the signs in restaurant windows that read (in English or Chinese or Spanish or Japanese) “tour buses welcome”.

Le Jules Verne

Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower. Publicity photo ©Alain Ducasse Restaurants.

OK, so it’s probably as touristy an upscale restaurant as you can find in Paris, but we really enjoyed lunch at le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 7th. It’s an Alain Ducasse restaurant, so the menu is inventive if limited. But, then there’s the view. Right out the window: all of Paris at your feet. We took the dedicated elevator up to the restaurant, grateful we didn’t have to wait in line with the dozens headed to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The menu is somewhat limited and expensive: the menu déjeuner at 85 € offered three courses with three choices each. Mine? Shellfish soup, Poulet de Bresse and strawberry/rhubarb sorbet with a pistachio biscuit.

Eiffel Tower

Champ de Mars

Quai Branly, Paris 7th

Tél: 01 4411 2323

Métro: Line 6, Bir-Hakeim or Dupleix; Line 8, Ecole Militaire; Lines 6 or 9, Trocadéro across Pont d’Iéna (bridge)

RER: Line C, Pont de l’Alma or Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel

Buses: 42, 69, 72, 82, 87 to Champ de Mars

And, PS: It’s not true that you can’t get a bad meal in Paris. Just look for the signs in restaurant windows that read (in English or Chinese or Spanish or Japanese) “tour buses welcome”.

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