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!
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.
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
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
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.
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 recipes. Signatures include Challans Duck with olives, shoulder of Limousin lamb, slow cooked Coq au Vin, Fernande Allard’s traditional frogs legs, and île flottante. Match with rich, ripe red Bordeaux Pessac-Leognan-Clarandelle 2008 (30€).
Member of Châteaux & Hôtels Collection. 1 rue de l’Eperon, 6th. Tel: 01 58 00 23 42. Metro: St-Michel. Open 7/7 Lunch & Dinner
“We don’t do fast food; we only do good food as fast as we can.” That’s the mission statement from Coffee Parisien creators Alison and John Goldstein who have re-thought their very popular Coffee Parisien concept together with their daughter Anna, son Dylan, and American chef/photographer Carrie Solomon (Une Americaine A Paris, 100 Authentic Recipes from Editions de la Martiniere). Here you’ll find delicious sandwiches, hot dogs, bagels, salads, and beautiful burgers (Obamac’Burger anyone?). House specials include Chicken Fajitas, Grilled Pacific Tunafish, BBQ Spare Ribs and save room for Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, and Pecan Pie. Pair these delights with cocktails, shakes, fresh juices or a glass of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon Crane Lake (6€).
87 rue d’Assas, 6th. Tel: 01 43 29 87 87. Open 7/7 Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner. Average Spend 19-45€ and To Go.
Damien Duquesne, the former food blogger, has named his recently opened restaurant after his blog and magazine, 750grammes. Located a bit off-the-beaten path near Porte de Versailles in the 15th arrondissement, La Table 750g is like no other eatery: there starters, three mains, three desserts and all from his recipe books served by his wannabe chefs. Don’t expect perfection, you may be asked to garnish your chosen dish, but there’s enthusiasm and passion in every mouthful. Tap into Damien’s concept on Daily Motion.
97 Rue de Vaugirard, 15th. Metro: Porte de Versailles. Average Spend 20-50€. Open 7/7 from 11:30 am- 11 pm.
Located opposite of UNESCO, the former Les Olivades bistro– with its tiny terrace outside and interesting Charles Eames style decor inside– relaunched at the end of August. Grandma’s Mediterranean style cuisine is revised and corrected by brilliant young talent, former Top-Chef contestant, Paul-Arthur Berlan, who comes from Carcassone. L’Escudella (which means plate in Occitan) serves dishes like crab canellonni curry mayonnaise, grilled line-caught hake, parsley potatoes and grilled Black Angus, pommes dauphines garlic and rosemary, or slow cooked Sisteron lamb with eggplant confit all with the touch of a true artist. Cheese by Marie-Anne Cantin and, for dessert, a delicate meringue sphere with raspberry and yuzu, or the chef’s signature hazlenut and praline chouchou, “Le Paris-Carcassonne.” And, if you want more of chef Berlan, find him, and his team, in Le Marais at Le Métropolitain.
41 avenue de Segur, 7th. Metro: Ségur. Average Spend 40€ + wine. Tapas & Charcuterie. Open Mon-Friday Lunch & Dinner. Tel: 09 82 28 70 70
And another favorite, for good measure: Chez Fernand, Maison fondée 1970. 13 rue Guisarde, 6th. Metro: Mabillon/Saint Germain des Pres, Open 7/7. Tel: 01 43 54 61 47.