6 recommended Paris restaurants which specialise in traditional French food

Even in the most upmarket areas of Paris, authentic French cuisine is available in restaurants at prices that won’t empty your wallet.

Paris restaurant
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We got together with The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants, the unique new guide to eating and drinking in the French capital, to find six of the best traditional French restaurants.

1Le P’tit Troquet

Le P’tit Troquet restaurant, Paris

This small, charming and restful two-room restaurant, not far from the Eiffel Tower, feels rather like an extended living room. It specialises in top-class, traditional French food, and prides itself on value for money and service.

The food is a wonderful galaxy of flavours. The delicious starters include home-made foie gras with fig chutney, and rolled marinated salmon with dill, cheese, and horseradish cream sauce.  Main courses offer outstanding dishes such as the traditional boeuf bourguignon (beef stewed in red wine sauce); leg of lamb kebab marinated with thyme and rosemary, in a meat jus; and baked cod and ratatouille with olive oil and chorizo.

The scrumptious desserts feature chocolate and praline tartlet served with white chocolate ice cream; strawberry délice and chopped pink biscuits; and panna cotta with coconut milk and candied pineapple.

You can eat à la carte, or opt for the three-course evening menu, which is very reasonably priced at €35. The lunch menu is a giveaway €23 for three courses, or €16 for two. That’s great value for such culinary heights.

The restaurant is a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. So you can pop along to see the iron dame sparkle for five minutes, as she does rather spectacularly on the hour, every hour at night. It’s a lovely way to cap off the evening. Given the popularity of the restaurant, it’s a good idea to make a reservation.

Review by: Eddie Lennon


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2L’Annexe

L'Annexe restaurant, Paris

Just minutes from the steps of Montmartre’s Sacré-Coeur cathedral, in an area known for tourist trap restaurants offering bland cuisine at elevated prices, l’Annexe is a breath of fresh air.

The décor is simple and cosy, with mahogany brown tables and soft lighting. Service is friendly and fast. The emphasis is on fine French cuisine, with a twist. Expect quality cuts of meat, and creative side dishes such as courgette tagliatelle and red pepper purée. Whilst the main courses are mostly meat-based, there are always one or two fish or vegetarian options available. Be sure to save room for one of their delectable desserts.

A three-course menu without wine will set you back €35 (or €27 for two courses), which is reasonable considering the area and quality of the food. For a romantic yet informal restaurant in one of Paris’s most charming neighbourhoods, look no further.

Review by: Naomi Firsht/Eddie Lennon

3Chez Paul

Chez Paul restaurant, Paris

Chez Paul is a Bastille culinary gem, serving up outstanding classic French cuisine at affordable prices. Signature starters include escargot cooked in parsley and butter. Our favourite main course is the exceptional steak au poivre (steak with peppercorn sauce), cooked in brandy, with dauphinoise potatoes, just €19.50. You will search long and hard in Paris for a pepper steak as good, and so competitively priced, as this. The duck, cooked with apple and garlic, is also excellent value, at just under €20.

If you have room for dessert we recommend the crème brûlée with vanilla and bourbon, or the house speciality: pear in spiced wine and vanilla.

Inside, the dark wood bar, mustard-coloured walls covered in an eclectic range of pictures, and burgundy banquettes immerse diners in an authentic and traditional French bistro setting. Service is brisk and pleasant.

The only downside is that on busy nights you can find yourself elbow-to-elbow with other diners. To avoid the crowds, book in advance, and ask for a private table inside. Or go on a week night, when it’s less busy.

Review by: Eddie Lennon/Naomi Firsht

4La Jacobine

La JAcobine restaurant, Paris

This warm, romantic restaurant is hidden away in the cobble-stoned, covered passageway Cour de Commerce Saint-André. Lit with antique lanterns, the passageway connects Boulevard Saint-Michel and Rue Saint-André-des-Arts in the Latin Quarter. A pretty white wooden façade and classic sign give way to a simple but cosy interior, and old French drawings in soft pastel colours adorn the walls. The service is friendly, the cuisine entirely French.

The food is delicious, and there’s an abundance of options. Try the confit de canard des landes, a French duck specialty; or opt for the chicken tagine, beef casserole with olives, or lamb casserole with figs and prunes (all under €20). Dishes, in typical French style, are all served with potatoes (mashed or baked) and vegetables. A selection of salades gourmandes is available for €16 to €18 per dish, and there is a seriously good wine list.

For dessert we recommend the apple crumble, which rests teasingly on display near the entrance. They serve up a good café gourmand, too–coffee with a small selection of sugary treats. The clientele is mostly middle-aged couples and groups enjoying a good dinner in a pleasant, relaxed setting.

Review by: Jeroen Knippenberg/Eddie Lennon/Naomi Firsht

5Le Tambour

Le Tambour restaurant, Paris

‘Eccentric’ is an understatement at Le Tambour. From the outside, it’s just another standard Parisian café with a shaded terrace. Step inside, however, and you’ll see it’s not quite your average bar. Road signs and Métro maps cover every inch of wall space. But it’s the scale model of the bar on display, complete with flashing lights and moving parts, and the bizarre and bearded bar staff that give this venue full marks for eccentricity.

On the menu are French country classics such as andouillette (coarse-grained pork sausage), pied de cochon (pig’s foot) and entrecôte (steak). All of them are served with fantastic homemade frites at reasonable prices (€15 to 18 for a main course). The kitchen stays open late, too. Le Tambour offers an impressive wine selection (glasses start at €4). You can even order a bottle à la ficelle, a fantastic French tradition sadly no longer in use in most Parisian bars, where you just pay for what you’ve drunk.

Le Tambour is a favourite haunt for the area’s nocturnal stragglers. And no wonder―it’s perfect for late-night, last-minute drinks and dinner in an out-of-the-ordinary environment.

Review by: Naomi Firsht/Eddie Lennon

6L’Écurie

L’Écurie Restaurant, Paris

It may be small in size, but this dimly lit, old-fashioned bistro in the Latin Quarter is big in ambience. Fifteen people can just about fit in, and to reach the second room you have to squeeze through a narrow corridor. The understated lampshades and soft, background jazz combine to create a warm, serene atmosphere, and a sangria apéritif is frequently offered on the house.

Main courses are reassuringly cheap, priced between €10 and €17. Steaks are the house specialty; customers can choose from beef, lamb or entrecôte (a premium cut of beef such as sirloin or rib-eye), served with French fries and a small salad. If you happen to be seated near the open kitchen, you can enjoy the mouth-watering sight of your steak sizzling over the fire.

On warm evenings, you can eat al fresco. Sitting at the outside tables perched on the corner of the street, there’s a postcard-perfect view of the fairytale-like church Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. The small turn just before the church is the spot where the actor Owen Wilson was picked up by a carriage that transported him back to the 1920s, in Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris.

Review by: Jeroen Knippenberg/Eddie Lennon/Naomi Firsht

This article is an extract from The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants, the unique new guide to eating and drinking in the French capital, written by residents of the city and frequent visitors.

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