I thought it might be useful to post a few comments on restaurants where we ate on our recent 10 day trip, partly so I can find them again myself 🙂
Le Cafe des Musees, 49, rue de Turenne in the 3rd, and right across the street from the apartment we rented. This is pretty much a classic small bistro, and the food is reliably well prepared. The night we arrived most of the patrons were English speakers, which was very different from a few years ago, but the food and simple wine list were just fine. It also has the advantage of being open every day, so can fit nicely on Sundays and Mondays when many places are closed.
Chaumette, 7 Rue Gros in the 16th, is a little hard to find, but worth the search. An excellent bistro near Radio France, where I’ve eaten several times over several years. The food is well prepared (if a little salty), and the daily specials can be wonderful. This time the surprise was beet ravioli stuffed with crab meat. Very thinly sliced roasted beet replaced the pasta, and was wrapped around a simply seasoned crab with mayonnaise and a little lemon. Delicious! Their fish is always fresh and perfectly cooked. It is recommended by Michelin, so likely it is a good idea to reserve. It certainly filled up about 9:00 on a Friday night.
Les Bacchantes, 21, rue de Caumartin in the 9th, close to the main department stores. Yet another excellent bistro. The service is friendly, and the food delicious. This visit the facade is being redone, which made it very hard to locate behind its painted plywood, but it was worth the search. Perfectly cooked fish and a very nice Sancerre by the glass.
Semilla, 54, rue de Seine in the 6th was great for lunch. This is much more modern than the bistros above, and at noon offers a prix fixe menu including 3 appetizers delivered together with a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian mains at a reasonable price. The vegetables were all well cooked, and the appetizer trio was great fun, including a nice soup, tasty hummus and a small, crispy felafel. A treat.
Les Cocottes Arc de Triomphe, 2, avenue Bertie Albrecht in the 8th, is the second Christian Constant restaurant by this name, relatively recently opened in a new Sofitel. The food is wonderful, and all dishes are served in Staub cast iron cocottes (surprise!). This location is much larger than the original no-reservation location, and at least the day we went, a Friday, had seating available for walk-ins. The style is updated bistro, with all the flavours very clean. Again here, vegetables are well cooked, and the fish was fresh and declicious.
Café Constant, 139 Rue Saint-Dominique in the 7th, was a considerable disappointment. After having had great meals in the 2 locations of Les Cocottes, this tired looking bistro had uncomfortable seating, overcooked food (even a simple pork chop), and rather rushed service. It certainly was busy, filled by a mix of Parisians and tourists but I would avoid it.
Septime, 80, rue de Charonne in the 11th, was definitely a splurge, and not surprisingly so for a Michelin 1 star. What was surprising was how informal and relaxed it was. My only previous experience with a star-holding restaurant was all stuffed-shirt and haughtiness, so it was very pleasant to find the atmosphere modern and the staff friendly, knowledgeable and happy to chat in response to questions. The food certainly merited the star. There is no menu really, just a tasting menu of 8 or 9 courses, plus an optional cheese plate. We went for the wine pairing as well, and found that they specialize in natural, unfiltered wine, often from very small producers and quite unusual. Perhaps because of the terrorist attacks a week earlier, there was no trouble getting a reservation only a couple of days ahead. Reviews said that is unusual. I’d say this is worth every penny and a long wait for a reservation as well if needed.
Restaurant Bon, 25 rue de la Pompe in the 16th, is a very nicely designed place (Philippe Starck) that serves South-east Asian-French fusion. It was great, and a pleasant break from the mostly-bistro experience of the week. The fusion is carefully done, leaning slightly more to the SE Asian side. Servings were large enough to share, and since we were eating with friends gave us a chance to sample quite a few dishes. A little out of the way, but thoroughly enjoyable. Our table was upstairs, not too far from a very large plaster rhinoceros head placed strategically if dangerously above the service table, where the taller staff members were often in danger of being impaled on the beast’s gigantic horn.