Restos for the rentrée
by Julie Baker
Whatever your taste or budget, below is a selection of neighborhood favorites to try after the long summer break.
Taiken 63 rue Pierre Charron, 8e, M° Franklin D. Roosevelt, tel: 01 43 59 78 78, open daily Located in the heart of the fashion worlds Golden Triangle just a few steps from the Champs-Elysées this new Japanese restaurant has a long, airy terrace, and a luminous interior featuring blond wood paneling and tables. Elegant lighting includes glass candle-like stems that glow then fade revealing different pastel hues. Taiken means turning in Japanese and the centerpiece of the restaurant is a large, gleaming, oval-shaped sushi bar, where a team of chefs prepare traditional Japanese delights such as tuna or salmon sashimi, temaki cornets with salmon eggs, and superb prawn tempura. The plates, which are color co-ordinated according to price, are placed on a soundless conveyor belt, and customers can select whatever takes their fancy. The novelty of the setting, and the quality of the food, have already made it popular with a hip, modish crowd that stops by before going next door to the Monkey Bar, or just around the corner to the Buddha Bar. Waiter service is also available for a selection of mainly fish dishes prepared by the inside kitchen, such as a superbly seasoned turbot and wickedly rich tuna steaks. The wine list is well chosen and there is also a selection of Japanese beers and saké. €€
Le Suffren 84 av Suffren, 15e, M° La Motte Picquet-Grenelle, tel: 01 45 66 97 86, open daily Its easy to see why this family-run brasserie has been a quartier favorite for so long: it occupies a large, sun-drenched corner overlooking the Ecole Militaire and was just a few steps away from another neighborhood institution, the late, lamented Kinopanorama cinema. Perhaps it was the demise of that picture palace which prompted Le Suffren to recently undergo a total renovation. Whatever the reason, it has been a great success. The fusty decor and cramped, old-fashioned seats have been replaced with airy, comfortable seating arrangements and a bold red, black and orange decor. The popular outside terrace has also been greatly enlarged. We observed that the regular waiters had a noticeable spring in their step the day we went to sample the cooking in the new surroundings, and we all agreed that it too had noticeably improved. The veal liver was generous, thick and tender, the seared salmon and confit de canard perfectly cooked, and the guinea fowl with cabbage a classic rendering of an old favorite. All the indications are that the new-look brasserie will be even more popular than before. €
L'Avenue 41 av Montaigne, 8e, M° Alma-Marceau, Franklin D. Roosevelt, tel: 01 40 70 14 91, open daily. Occupying a superb and sunny corner site on the most glamorous street in Paris, this is a great favorite with the fashion crowd, which flocks here to see and be seen. But while the celeb-watching from the three-sided terrace is among the most rewarding in town, the real action takes place inside, in the champagne-toned back room with its green and pink striped banquettes, or better still, the upstairs corner room with its view onto the street, its long sight-lines down the rest of the restaurant, and its nightclub-purple and gold decor. The discreet throb of world and techno music anchors the often-animated conversation, the international crowd attended to by the attractive and friendly young waiting staff who dress down for lunch and up for dinner. Although our meal began with a glitch having to send back our champagne aperitifs because they were flat they were replaced graciously and without a flutter and from that moment on, the rest of the meal was perfect. The menu is inspired by Asian flavors and the nems and coconut-based Thai shrimp soup were excellent, as were our main courses, a generous swordfish steak, which displayed none of the dryness so often associated with that fish, and an immense mixed omelette. €€€
Le Pétel 4 rue Pétel, 15e, M° Vaugirard, tel: 01 45 32 58 76, closed Sat lunch & Sun A neighborhood institution for nearly two decades, this charming, intimate establishment looks out across a quiet, tree-lined street to a pleasant pedestrian square and preserves all the classic notions of a what a bistro should be, including a loyal regular clientele and a blackboard menu that changes with the market and the season. Dark, oak-paneled walls and smoked mirrors create a cozy and soothing space overseen by the owner, Monsieur Tabouret.We started with a skate salad, which was large but somewhat tasteless, and a superb feuilleté of asparagus with thick slivers of foie gras, followed by a noble beef fillet served with a rich Perigourdine sauce and veal kidneys nestled within a velvety Porto sauce. The extensive wine list is impressive and fairly priced. €€
7 Lezards 10 rue des Rosiers, 4e, M° St-Paul, tel: 01 48 87 08 97, open daily Situated in the very center of the Marais, the long, welcoming bar of this casual and friendly restaurant has become the pre-eminent hangout for the citys expat jazz community, which is only natural as the downstairs jazz cellar regularly hosts some of the towns leading musicians, such as saxophonist Steve Potts, drummer John Betsch, and pianists Chris Culpo and Alain Jean-Marie. The upstairs restaurant, with its cut stone walls, big windows looking onto the courtyard terrace and open kitchen, draws a pleasing mix of locals and students, all attracted by the generous portions and affordable prices. Many of the dishes display a taste for Mediterranean flavors, improvising over more traditional dishes, such as the addition of roasted eggplant to a classic salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and balsamic dressing, or the extra tang provided by pink peppercorn chutney to the rouget wrapped in crispy filo pastry. €
Price Key: € = up to 25Ä, €€ = up to 35Ä, €€ = more than 35E. Prices are based on the average cost of an entrée, a main course and a dessert and do not include wine. Although every care is made compiling estimates, we cannot assume any responsibility for any fluctuations or changes.