Insider guide to the City of Light
Restaurants – Hot Tables
Chef Toutain’s ethereal treatment of unusual produce at Restaurant David Toutain (davidtoutain.com; dinner set €98 per person) has notes of Scandinavian-style naturalism, but his dishes are locally sourced. The seasonal menu may include steamed sea urchin with espresso foam or black truffle with raw hazelnuts and pea shoots.
If the justifiably famous Septime (septime-charonne.fr; dinner set €55 per person) is booked, Bertrand Grébaut’s casual Clamato (80 Rue de Charonne; 33-1/43-72-74-53; €30) next door, with its focus on fresh seafood, is first come, first served. The crab fritters and maple syrup tart have become instant crowd-pleasers.
Chef James Henry’s flair on the grill at Bones (bonesparis.com; tasting menu €55 per person) is the only hint at his Australian origins; his house-made charcuterie, baked bread, and cultured butter are from regional farms and producers.
With a willingness to dial up the spice, Le Servan (32 Rue St.-Maur; 33-1/55-28-51-82) specializes in updated bistro classics in a slick white-on-white dining room. The fried quail is lacquered in soy and honey; beef bouillon is served with a wonton —nods to Asian cooking that never feel like gimmicks.
A sous-chef and a sommelier from the upscale Sergent Recruteur have created a homier, but no less refined, version of the same locavore cuisine at the tiny neighborhood bistro Les Déserteurs (46 Rue Trousseau; 33-1/48-06-95-85; four-course meal €45 per person). Portions are generous in dishes such as poached, line-caught grouper with peas and fava beans in a milky yuzu foam.
Where to sample the culinary classics
Few restaurants will take the eight hours needed to cook this beef stew down to its richest extreme, but the regulars at Joséphine Chez Dumonet, in Montparnasse, demand nothing less. 117 Rue du Cherche-Midi; 33-1/45-48-52-40; dinner for two €100.
Antoine Westermann’s upscale Le Coq Rico, in Montmartre, is the last word on spitroasted bird, with special breeds from Landes, Challans, Gers and Bresse. lecoqrico.com; dinner for two €100.
Pate de Campagne
This spiced liver loaf is a grandmotherly staple. Le Repaire de Cartouche raises it to an art, offering five to six different choices—pork with apples and Calvados, and duck with pistachio, for example. 8 Blvd. des Filles du Calvaire; 33-1/47-00-25-86; dinner for two €80.
Celebrity butcher Hugo Desnoyer supplies Le Severo, in Montparnasse, with aged cuts, from côte de boeuf to faux-filet to pavé de rumsteak, which are served with either thick fries or green beans. 8 Rue des Plantes; 33-1/45-40-40-91; dinner for two €90.
Twice-cooked in its own fat, duck leg seems simple, but needs proper crisping or is likely to disappoint. That’s never the case at La Fontaine de Mars, in the Seventh. fontainedemars.com; dinner for two €80.