8 Favorite Restaurants on the Left Bank of Paris

8 Favorite Restaurants on the Left Bank of Paris
Many of our readers write to us seeking recommendations for bistros in St. Germain or good quality restaurants on the rive Gauche. Here are our picks for Left Bank favorites. Bon appétit! Restaurant Sylvestre Life certainly begins at 40 for Pakistani born chef Sylvestre Wahid facing one of the most exciting challenges of his culinary career. September 7th saw the launch of the Restaurant Gastronomique Sylvestre at Hotel Thoumieux, with Wahid taking the place of Jean François Piège, who’s now to be found at Le Grand Restaurant on rue d’Aguesseau in the 8th. Following time spent in NYC with Alain Ducasse and nine years at the L’Oustau de Baumanière, Wahid says, “I took a step back by traveling the world, then met Thierry Costes who suggested this exciting project.” They’ve changed the decor at Thoumieux with accents on exotic plants. There are three menus– Terroir (€120); Ocean, Lakes & Rivers (175); Signatures (€210)– or you can order à la carte. In the kitchen, Sylvestre Wahid commands a brigade of seven, including his second, Grégory Garimbay who used to work at the Plaza Athénée. Head Sommelier Anthony Tirone recommends an Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg 2013 Domaine Albert Mann (75€) and Pascal Fulla’s red Terrasses du Larzac “Pensées”, 2009 Mas d l’Ecriture, with notes of chocolate and spices(70€). And, what delights the chef ? “At 30, I joined the team at L’Oustau de Baumanière, Provence. And for my 40th birthday, I joined Thoumieux, Paris. It’s a new start and I’m like a fish in water.” Restaurant Gastronomique Sylvestre, Hôtel Thoumieux, 7th. Rue Saint Dominique. Tel: 01 47 05 79 79. Metro: La Tour Maubourg. Valet Parking. Closed Sunday but Brasserie Thoumieux, located downstairs, is open 7/7. Gaya Rive Gauche par Pierre Gagnaire Located near the Musée d’Orsay, Pierre Gagnaire’s contemporary fish bistro, with decor by Violaine Jeantet, is a sophisticated and delightful exploration of la mer. Imagine a jazz concert with Chet Baker and a painting by Jackson Pollock, and you get the picture. The starters (“Pour Commencer”) include tuna and mackeral tartare, seaweed, rocket, samphire, an infusion of onions and tarragon. Or choose from the “Vegetal” portion of the menu: Cromesqui of soft egg, tomato jam au curry vert, grated cauliflower and mange-touts peas. Carnivores have a meat choice such as Cœur d’Entrecôte Béarnaise served with Pommes Darphin. But the fish and seafood dishes are so incredible it seems a shame not to discover signatures like the Poêlée of casserons (cuttlefish) spinach and daïkon, green crab bisque. Finish with the Latour Chocolate cake. A flurry of perfect notes, just like jazz, Gagnaire’s cuisine is restless. It won’t stay put and never will. 44 rue du Bac, 7th. Tel: 01 45 44 73 73. Metro: rue du Bac. Average Spend: 65-110€. Closed Sunday lunch & Monday Fables de la Fontaine This is an atmospheric petit bistro near the Fontain de Mars Fountain (1-Michelin star) created by chef Christian Constant and acquired by David Bottreau (ex-director of Le Violon d’Ingres) in 2005. The bright new decor by Luis Alelulia includes a central table d’hôtes (which seats eight) for making new friends. In the kitchen is Julia Sedefdjian, a young chef from Nice. Julia’s sunny accents are on fish like Collioure anchovies; raw and baked haddock topped with egg yolk and crispy leeks vinaigrette; Skate wings with fried spinach and capers, celery citrus emulsion. Here, traditional Provençal flavors meets contemporary styling, as in dishes like salad nicoise, eggplant caviar, Marenne oysters, kiwi tartare and lemon caviar aïoli. And something really fun: the Lobster Hot Dog with sweet chilli, ink and turmeric, lemon thyme, sage and chervil. We recommend the Chardonnay Petit Chablis Domaine Pommier 2013 with aromas of white flowers. Wines by the glass from 6€ and bottles from 35€. 131 rue Saint Dominique, 7th. Tel: 01 44 18 37 55. Metro: Ecole Militaire. Average spend from 25€-75€. Open 7/7 Lunch & Dinner Restaurant Philippe Excoffier The charming and talented Philippe Excoffier *may* be related to Auguste Escoffier; he’s been meaning to make enquiries but somehow never has the time! As the chef at the American Embassy in Paris for 13 years, he served three Ambassadors. His backstory takes in Lucas Carton, with Alain Senderens, with Jack Lang as Chef de Cuisine Ministère and private dinners for Yves Saint Laurent; he also did time at Pic, with the brothers Jacques and Alain, and Guy Martin at Chateau Divonne. And what is it that’s so different from working at the Embassy? “I feel free to create my style of cuisine bourgeoise, a wonderful sensation that motivates me every day,” grins the chef. Auguste would be proud! And check out availability for Excoffier’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday November 26th. 18 rue de l’exposition, 7th. Tel: 01 45 51 78 08. Average spend from 22-38€ + drinks. Closed on Sundays. Allard Opened in 1932, this bistro has a long tradition of female chefs. Marthe Allard and subsequently Fernande, her daughter-in-law, described their dishes as: “traditional slow-cooked and simple meals beginning at the market, using seasonal products”. So, hardly surprising, when Alain Ducasse took over it was with the understanding he would change nothing and pass the kitchens to a woman chef. Meet Laëtitia Rouabah, inspired by her mother and grandmother. Laëtitia has worked in the kitchens of the Plaza Athénée, Le Relais Plaza, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (London), and Le Jules Verne. All dishes are cooked in the open kitchen from original Allard…

Lead photo credit : courtesy of Chez Fernand

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend It.com, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !