Contributing editor Carla Hunt has been writing about France
for decades. A few of her dining recommendations in Paris
Among the places to book months ahead (and save up for years in
advance), Taillevent is considered perhaps the finest, serving the
most classical cuisine in Paris. The decor is lush, the wine list
outstanding. The tab can be well over $200 for a glorious meal that
might include fricassee of lobster from Brittany, rabbit torte and
chocolate cake with pistachio sauce.
No finer seat in the house than a sidewalk table on the historic
Place des Vosges at Ma Bourgogne (No. 19), a wine cellar in the
Middle Ages. Serving up dreamy steak tartare and country-style pork
sausage with pommes frites.
When fish is the favorite dish, Gourmard Prunier comes
immediately to mind. Synonymous with fresh seafood and excellent
desserts, this expensive restaurant at 8 rue Duphot is wonderfully
aglow with Lalique light fixtures and sculpture.
Watching your francs
Brasseries with Belle-Epoque decor and culinary roots in Alsace
are longtime and reasonably priced favorites. The house specialty
is choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with ham, sausages and bacon).
Among the favorite spots are Brasserie Flo and Bofinger, both with
prix fixe menus around $35.
The wine bar can be the thing for the American traveler, a place
where the wines are carefully chosen -- average $5 per glass -- and
served up with platters of cheese, several kinds of hams, sausages,
pates and bread, sometimes quiches or dessert tarts. New wines are
often sampled at these bars. Among the most successful -- and
knowledgeable on Cote-du-Rhone wines -- is Willi's Wine Bar at 13
Rue des Petits-Champs.
Prix fixe (a set, three- or four-course menu) is offered for
lunch at many of the two- and three-star temples of haute cuisine
at a fraction of the dinner cost. Consider L'Ambrosie at 9 Place
des Vosges or Les Ambassadeurs at the Hotel Crillon in the Place de
No day in Paris is complete without a drop-in at a pastry shop,
and there are hundreds. Pastry king is Gaston Lenotre, whose band
of Lenotre-schooled pastry chefs are all over France. Among the
eight shops in Paris for the best chocolates is the Cafe Marly in
the Richelieu wing of the Louvre.
Tops for very haute tea are the hotel tea rooms of the Ritz, the
Grand Hotel and the Plaza Athenee. The truly serious tea taster
should stop at the Mariage Freres in Le Marais. Combining shopping
with lunch is easy at department stores. The classiest is Au Bon
Marche at 38 Rue de Sevres. The newest and the first encountered on
the Champs- Elysees is the ornate Laduree.
Food for Thought
Often multi-starred eateries are closed on Saturdays and Sundays
as well as throughout July and August.
A new law in France provides for smoking and nonsmoking sections
in restaurants. Specify with reservations.
Going by the book means a copy on the agent's shelf of the red
Guide Michelin to France ($26), filled with the lowdown on hotels
and restaurants throughout the country.
Also, Gault Millau's Best of France ($25) is filled with chatty
and often controversial views on shops, hotels and restaurants.