Classic French menus are practically pre-ordained to include the standard fare of onion soup, steak tartare, snails and frogs' legs not to mention duck, rabbit and soufflé. Although these selections can vary according to the region that the classic French restaurant represents. If it’s Burgundian cuisine, you can count on the snails, for a taste of Bordeaux, try the duck at Le Petit Bordelais.
The real classic here on this list, however, is Au Pied de Cochon. A fixture in Les Halles since the '40s, this landmark just keeps getting better. It's disinguished, too, by the Maitre Restaurateur label, meaning everything is made in-house. So go ahead and indulge in the pork paté, it's some of the best in the city, not to mention the signature dish, their pig's trotters. Another true classic on this list, at least for beef lovers, is Maison de l'Aubrac. For those who love steak and potatoes, you'll be in heaven here with their carefully raised cows served up as steaks with the regional specialty, aligote, a cheesy creamy French-style mashed potato.
We tend to romanticize the inclusion of frogs' legs and escargots (snails) on a menu and call it French. But for visitors to France these seem to be the classic dishes that make us feel like we’ve tried the local cuisine. So, you’ll find the fairly new and very popular restaurant, with wine connoisseurs, at least, Les Climats, on this list. For a classic French bistro menu, and moreover, the ambiance of this place which has stood in its same Left Bank spot since 1845, Le Polidor is a great pick. For truly fine French traditional dining, nd you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere which does it better, or with more warmth and generoisty than Les Tablettes. And, to top off a day of shopping in the fabulous Place Ternes district, stop in at La Lorraine for lunch or dinner for a treat or even a platter of outstanding seafood and oysters.
Au Pied de Cochon
You can't say you've really been to Paris until you've dined here at Au Pied de Cochon. The name of the restaurant means "pig's foot" literally translated, or pig's trotters for the culinary translation. And that is what the restaurant became famous for. Opened in 1947 by a former butcher. It has kept its authenticity, even if it has added a touch of elegance and refinement, over the years.
The restaurant is known, and loved, for still making all their dishes by hand on premise. This is the place to order that plate of pork paté since it was made right there in the kitchens, and not bought from outside. And though they do sell hundreds of thousands of plates of pig's trotters here annually, the dish not to miss is their onion soup. It is one of the best in the city. (+33 1 40 13 77 00)
Le Petit Bordelais
In the perfect little Eiffel Tower neighborhood of rue St. Dominique sits this comfortably wonderful neighborhood restaurant, Le Petit Bordelais. The Chef-Owner, Philippe Pentecôte, is originally from Bordeaux -- St. Emilion to be exact -- hence the name of his restaurant. The interior of all deep red and burnt orange velvet-upholstered high-backed chairs and banquet seating instantly invites you to settle in and prepare yourself for a superb meal.
And a superb meal is what you will enjoy here. The menu is presented in both French and English which makes choosing between Sea Bass served with crispy seasoned skin coupled with tender white flesh garnished with roasted pine and hazel nuts or the Duck which goes so well with Bordeaux wines, a breeze. At least, no translation is required. With your coffee come the traditional Bordelais cannelés, also house made. Even in Bordeaux you will be hardpressed to find better. (01 45 51 46 93)
This is one of those old bistros that are still standing in a tucked away sidestreet on the Left Bank. Its date painted on the door proclaims its age -- it's been here since 1845. This isn't the place for fancy, but it is the place for good. Expect standard French traditional fare such as entrecote with roast potatoes or steak-frites or even boudin.
Their wine shop just next door, serving as a sort of annex to the restaurant has outstanding choices and a selection that spans from reasonable to splurge-affordable. It also assures that the wines served here are good quality and accompany your meal choices fittingly. (01 43 26 95 34)
This 1-Michelin-starred, Joel Robuchon-trained, 30-something chef humbly turns out exquisite meals in his all black-and-white restaurant in the shadows of the Arc de Triomphe.
Style triumphs here not just in the décor, however, but also in the kitchens. The seasonal menu is the creative inspiration of this young chef who is that rarity these days: a chef who is content to whip up extravagant and inspired dishes in the kitchen while more or less shunning the spotlight for himself. This is the kind of restaurant where the local culinary elite go on their days off. The cuisine here is refined French Traditional, meaning here you are served dishes that are based on the culinary history of France but which dare to have a fresh spin. (01 45 74 74 74)
What could be more classically French than a soufflé ? In this cosy little restaurant just off the Place de la Concorde, you can indulge in up to 20 different kinds of soufflés. The list includes savory as well as sweet. For the savory soufflé try the Henri IV, a soufflé served with roast chicken and mushroom gravy. For dessert the chocolate soufflé comes with rich, thick, hot chocolate sauce, served right at your table.
This is a family friendly restaurant and English is spoken here. There are two seatings, 7pm and 9pm. The menu includes an all-soufflé choice of appetizer and main, such as: a cheese (Swiss or Comté) soufflé followed, as a main dish, by a beef bourgignon soufflé. Their traditional menu includes duck in stewed fresh peaches or salmon served with a mini spinach soufflé. The restaurant is always full so make reservations in advance. (0142 60 27 19)
This chef, trained under the esteemed Alain Senderens, has enjoyed buzzworthy instant success since he and is pastry-chef wife opened up their own restaurant here in the Fall of 2014. The food here is French witth a nouvelle accent and Japanese aesthetics. The open kitchen allows you to watch Chef "Teshi' at work with his staff throughout your meal. Lunch time is when the seats are filled with businesspeople, but dinner time offers a more subdued ambiance, one in which you are surrounded by the purity of the simple white décor.
The open kitchen here, too, affords a dynamic view onto the chef and his team hard at work to prepare this fine dining cuisine. Here you won't find dishes so much hearty as they are delicately crafted and intricately presented. (01 47 20 74 94)
Maison de L'Aubrac
This is meat-eater's paradise. The beef here comes from the celebrated region of Aubrac. Until you've tried it, that might not sound like a big deal. But once you've indulged, you'll be seeking out your steak dinners here from now on.
The husband-wife owners of this restaurant also raise their own cattle in the south of France in the celebrated Aubrac region. This makes them the only restaurant in Paris who serve steaks from the cows they raise themselves. If the term "traceability" has become a catchword in foodie circles, then this is the place that demonstrates that. The downstairs dining room fills up quickly for both lunch and dinner, but there is plenty more seating upstairs, as well.
For dessert don't even think of passing up their house version of tarte tatin - suffice it to say it's not the apple pie your grandma used to make. (01 43 59 05 14)
Brasserie La Lorraine
lace Ternes, not far from the Etoile on the top end of the Champs Elysées, is one of the prettiest little "places" in Paris. Nestled in the shopping district of the 17th arrondissement, this historical brasserie perches, in a very obvious way, right on the roundabout. You'll notice straight away its offerings of fresh oysters and other crustacean delicacies, all sourced fresh and direct from the producers, mostly in Brittany.
But that's not to say that if you have a taste for something more terrestrial, you won't be satisfied. Au contraire, as every good Parisian brasserie, you will also find on the menu a hearty selection of beef, pork and chicken dishes, mostly served with accompaniments of some form of potato, such as oven roasted, au jus, whole potatoes. (01 56 21 22 00)
This restaurant is devoted to the extrarodinary wines of Burgundy. The word "Climat," refers, in French, to the small parcels that make up the mosaic-like terroir of Burgundy and its famous vineyards.
Hence, this is the best restaurant in Paris to bring a Burgundy wine lover. The cuisine served here, of course, is that which pairs perfectly with Burgundy wines. In addition to the region's famous escargots (yes, snails) there are also other regional specialties on offer her, such as wild sea bass, veal and black truffle, oysters from Utah Beach, venison and red partridge. These mains and appetizers are all dressed to perfection by Chef Julien Boscus, who earned a Michelin star earlier for the restaurant in 2015. (01 58 62 10 08)
Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos
Hands down one of the most cheerful gastronomic restaurants in Paris, Les Tablettes Jean-Louis Nomicos highlights the talented chef's Mediterranean origins. Nomicos took over this former Joel Robuchon outpost several years ago and has been delighting the very difficult-too-please 16th arrondissement finicky Parisians ever since. The name comes from the fact that the menus are presented on iPads or "tablettes" in French.
Signature dish is Black Truffle Macaroni with Foie Gras. His menu is full of dishes inspired from his Mediterranean roots, such as citrus and caviar, but made with the finest French gourmet ingredients like ris de veau (sweet meats) a French delicacy. And the chef himself is friendly, generous and gregarious, characteristics you feel in his dishes, the ambiance of his restaurant and the good nature of his staff. A rarity here as well is that this gastronomic restaurant is open 7 days a week. (01 56 28 16 16)
About Paige Donner
Paige is a transplanted Parisian. She first arrived as a young bride in the early 90s to live in Paris, having uprooted herself from her native California.
From then on it has been an on-again, off-again love affair with the City of Lights, one that has grown fonder over time.
Paige hosts Paris GOODfood+wine which airs on World Radio Paris and is also available on iTunes. When not in Paris Paige often visits vineyards and wine regions. She is also founder of Paris Food And Wine.
As a journalist, Paige writes/has written for the NY Times,LA Times, Michelin Guide, Fodor's, Blackbook, Variety
Read more about Paige Donner here.
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