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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Paris pas cher: Chez Pim's cheap eats guide to Paris

I’ve been getting quite a few emails asking for recommendations for inexpensive Paris bistros. I do have a long list of them, but I simply haven’t had the time to write about them all on Chez Pim.

I pride myself in my ability to appreciate good food at any price. I’ve been very lucky to have many opportunities to eat at the fanciest of tables, but even I <roll eyes> cannot eat like that everyday, so here’s a list of the other places that I love and would like to share with you. Trust me, eating well doesn’t always mean eating extravagantly, especially not in a food heaven like Paris.

I hope you find this useful, please consider this a humble holiday gift to you from Chez Pim. Thank you so much for spending your precious time with me here, and for the many words of encouragement in your comments and via email. You’ve helped made this a fabulous year, and I so look forward to the next year –I have so many surprises in store, stay tuned.

Paris pas cher: Chez Pim’s cheap eats guide to Paris

Paris Bistros
These are small bistros which generally have a small three to five-course menu ranging from 25-35€ and a reasonably priced wine list.

83 Rue Laugier 75017 M: Porte de Champerret (01 40 54 97 24)
My current favorite. The chef has a good pedigree, and is cooking up a storm for just 28€ for dinner. The cooking here is hearty and delicious, and with a finesse that separates them from the rest of the field. The room is cramped but very cheerful and charming. One of the best price/value rapport in the city.
92, rue Broca 75013 Paris (01 47 07 13 65)
A delicious new bistro, overseen by Yves Camdeborde of La Régalade fame. Very cute little space, run by a very agreeable African lady who speaks perfect English.
L’Os à Moelle
3, Rue Vasco de Gama 75015 M: Lourmel (01 45 57 27 27)
My parennial favorite. The chef is a Constant protégé. The menu here is still very refined, with at least 5 courses, each complex in its simplicity. They are on the higher price end of this group, with the dinner menu at 38€, but worth every penny.
Le Repaire de Cartouche
8, boulevard des filles du calvaire 75011 M:St Sebastien Froissard (01 47 00 25 86)
Here is another Constant protégé, in a space that looks like it could be an old hunting lodge. The cooking here is big and bold.
Chez Michel
10, Rue de Belzunce 75010 M: Poissonnière ( 01 44 53 06 20)
Yes, yet another Constant protégé, with roots from Brittany which show in the menu. When I am here I always order something from that region, his yummy Kig-ha-farz, a pot au feu of sort, with pork jowls (the Kig bit) and curious doughy dumplings with sweet raisins (that would be the Farz bit). A great spot for a meal before/after the Eurostar.
28 rue du Mont Thabor 75001 M: Beaubourg/Les Halles (01 42 96 28 18)
An ever popular spot for Anglo gastro tourists, but has managed to not let the quality goes down the drain even with the mainly non-local clientele.
Café Constant
139, rue Saint-Dominique 75007 (01 47 53 73 34)
The first outgrowth in Christian Constant’s plan to take over rue Dominique. A simple neighbourhood bistro serving simple and good food. The clientele is a mix between high-rolling Le Figaro readers to local workmen.
Les Fables de la Fontaine
131 rue Saint-Dominique 75007 (01 44 18 37 55)
The newest of Christian Constant’s places on rue Dominique. This one focuses on fish and seafood. A lovely spot for a deliciously fishy lunch.
Mon Vieil Ami
69 Rue St Louis en l'Ile 75004 M:Cité (01 40 46 01 35)
Another favorite. This is a bistro outpost of the fabulous three-star Le Buerehisel in Strasbourg. The menu is not entirely Alsatian, but gives a nod to the general direction. Also on the higher price end of this scale (dinner menu 38€), and in a more refined -and highly designed- atmosphere than all the others. It is on the charming Ile St.Louis from where you could take a romantic and enchanting walk along the Seine to digest the meal.
L’Ami Jean
27, rue Malar 75007 M:Alma Marceau (01 47 05 86 89)
The chef here was once a sous chef at La Régalade while Yves Camdeborde was still cooking. The menu is very similar to La Régalade, robust, hearty food. They do very good game (wild meats) during the season.
À la biche aux bois
45 Ave Ledru-Rollin 75012 M: Gare de Lyon (01 43 43 34 38)
This place is always packed with locals. The tables are so closed together you’d think you are eating from a communal table –not that there’s anything wrong with it. The menu is completely void of pretension, the cooking is perhaps simpler than the others on this list, but no less tasty, and a great value at only 25€.
L’Avant Gout
26 rue Bobilot 75013 M:Place d'Italie (Auguste Blanqui exit) (01 53 80 24 00)
My friend Mr.Naughton is in love with the incredible 12.50€ lunch menu here. You get an entree, plat, a glass of wine, and coffee, all included for the price, the bargain of Paris in my opinion.
La Table de Lucullus
129 rue Legendre 75017 M: La Fourche (01 40 25 02 68)
Clotilde introduced me to this place, a favorite of hers. I've only had foie gras and chocolate here (such a hard life I lead), but they were so lovely as to warrant a mention in this list. The affable young chef Nicolas Vagnon is reportedly a wiz at fish and seafood. His specialty dessert, chocolate saucer with ginger ice cream is a delectable treat.

Ethnic Eats
Le Bambou
70, rue Baudricourt 75013, 01 45 70 91 75 Metro: Place d'Italie
This is my favorite Vietnamese place in Paris. I go there for a giant bowl of Pho, served properly with saw-tooth herbs on the side to be torn and thrown in the already fragrant soup. The best cure for food/booze/smoke-induced hangover that I know. Another favorite is a steamed crèpe with minced pork (Bun Cuon).
Les 4 Frères
Metro Menilmontant
For cheap and delicious couscous, order a salade méchui (or whatever other salade on the menu du jour) and a couscous maison (with a meat of your choice) and you should be all set. I have no address for this one, sorry, but it's super easy to find. Take metro to Menilmontant, get up to the street, look ahead and to the right, just a few doors down, next to a North African supermarket is Les 4 Frères.
L’étoile Kabyle
93 Ave. de Paris, Chatillon M:Chatillon
This is a very good Algerian restaurant, recommended to me by an Algerian cab driver in Paris. It’s a bit of a trek, all the way out the Chatillon, but worth the trip I promise you. The food is inexpensive and the portion enormous, bring lots of dining companions.

Portable Eating
Le Grand Epicerie
on Rue de Sèvres at Blvd. Raspail (1st floor of the Bon Marché department store)
Another perfect way to eat inexpensively and well in Paris is to buy ready-made items from food shops and eat them al fresco somewhere fun. And for this I cannot think of a better place than le Grande Epicerie, the Mother-of-All épicerie, carrying everything from the fabulous black pig Ibérico ham to jelly beans. You will be dazzled by the plethora of choices, cheese, sausages, hams, patés, breads, and even desserts. But don’t let anything faze you, take your time, walk around, check out everything before you decide.
Here you could buy a baguette, some cheese, a bit of ham or sausages and even a bottle of wine and have a lovely picnic out in the nearby park with your sweetheart, all for less than 20€. I don’t usually buy desserts there though, I prefer to walk a few blocks over to rue Bonaparte for fabulous desserts from Pierre Hermé –they are not inexpensive, by any means, but entirely worth the price, and I would rather have one sublime macaron than a giant bag of cookies any day.
L’As du Falaffel
34 rue des Rosiers 75004 (01 48 87 63 60)
You can sit down or take a famous falafel to eat while strolling the Jewish quarter on rue de Rosier. The best fast food in the entire city, in my opinion. I once had a falafel as appetizer on the way to a lunch at Les Ambassadeurs. Yes, I am crazy, I know, but why do you sound surprise? ;-)

Drinkable fun
La Cave de l’Os à Moelle
across the street from L’Os à Moelle
A wine bar extension of my darling L’Os à Moelle. There is no menu here, you pay 20€ and eat whatever on offer that day, buffet style. You could also pick up a bottle of wine from the bar to drink with your dinner, for the same price as a take-away bottle. The food is simple but delicious, the wine list inspired and full of wines from small artisanal makers, and the atmosphere friendly and fun. I love it.
47 rue de Richelieu Paris, 75001 (01 42 97 46 49)
Another fun place for a few tapas items and a spot of drink, run by a funny Scotsman. The food -mostly tapas-ish items like duval sausages and great cheeses (with surprising English ones from Neals yard)- is good, and the wine even better. The bar man speaks perfect English, in case this is important to you.
Le Verre Volé
67 rue de Lancry 75010. M: Gare de l'est. (01 48 03 17 34)
A tiny little place focusing on wines produced with natural methods, biodynamic, sulphur-free, etc. The list here is incredible if you are interested in those wines from small artisanal producers. The menu is small but always has interesting items to try, and you are actually required to eat something with your drinks here. Just my kind of wine bar. ;-)


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