A Few More Notes from Paris

May 12, 2012

Found myself giving a friend advice on where to go in Paris the other day, so I thought I’d augment my recent notes a bit.

L’Ami Jean – Still one of my favorite places in Paris for straight ahead great food in a raucous atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where strangers are likely to lean across the table and offer you a taste.  I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t love.

Minipalais – It’s almost impossible to find a great place to eat on Sunday night in Paris.  I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than this rather grand room, where the service is wonderful and the food appealing.  Eric Frechon, of the Bristol, is the consulting chef, and the food is fresh and modern. Meals begin with giant popovers, and the charcuterie plate is swell.  Open every day, which is unusual.

Huiterie Regis – Just about everyone’s favorite place for oysters in Paris.  It’s small, and there’s always a wait.  It’s worth it.

Le Baratin – Raquel Carena cooks simple, personal, rustic food in a small Belleville restaurant. There’s a reason why everyone loves this restaurant.

Chez Robert et Louise – I’ve been going to this restaurant since the sixties (the first time I ate there Jeanne Moreau was at the next table), and it reminds me very much of the way Paris used to be.  The food is inexpensive and almost brutally rustic. Robert was a butcher, and he cooked all his meat right in the fire; they still do. 

Chartier – An old bouillon, a working man’s restaurant, that is the picture-perfect turn of the century bistrot. The food isn't fabulous, but it is absolutely classic and extremely inexpensive. If you loved Midnight in Paris, you'll love it; it's like walking into history.  No reservations.  I try to stop in every time I’m in Paris.

Finally, notes from the morning that Nancy Silverton and I spent with Meg Zimbeck, who leads wonderful food tours of Paris. I’d recommend these to anyone; in a very intense two hours we worked our way through Androuet and Barthelemy, and discovered a few cheeses that were completely new to me.  We also, I might add, indulged in the single best Brie (de Meaux)I’ve ever had; it was creamy with those lingering hints of forest and mushroooms. Afterward, Meg emailed me these notes.  



  • Le Bambois (Bambois is the name of the farm): a ten day-old chèvre frais with a wet, ricotta-like texture (Alsace)
  • Rove de Garrigues (Rove is the breed of goat with very low production): the smaller button with a clay-like texture and citrusy nose, 2 weeks old (Provence)
  • Saint-Nicolas: the small bar-shaped chèvre which Nancy described as "nutty" and which can also taste of lavender or thyme depending on the goat's diet. Produced in an orthodox abbey in Languedoc, and just under three weeks old (Languedoc-Roussillon).
  • Bethmale du chèvre: an eight-month goat which is created in the Pyrenees and then transferred at three months to a special aging cellar in the Auvergne (central) region inside an old train tunnel (Pyrenees). Bethmale is usually a cow's milk cheese, so this one is unusual.
  • Reblochon du chèvre: similar to the AOC Reblochon which is made from cow's milk, this one is made with goat. We tasted it last and it wasn't our favorite (Savoie, near lake Geneva).


  • Ossau-Iraty at 17 months (purchased at Androuet) produced by the laiterie (milk cooperative) Agour, awarded the title "meilleur fromage du monde" last month in the World Cheese Awards against 2700 competing cheeses (Basque Pyrenees)
  • Ossau Iraty at 30 months (purchased at Barthélémy) – very rare to find one at this age. The Trader Joe's version (they sell one) is 4 months old and most Parisian fromageries sell it at 12-14 months (Basque Pyrenees).
  • Roquefort from Monsieur Carles, producer, aged for 3 months in the Cambalou caves beneath the village of Roquefort (southwest France)
  • Fleur du Maquis aux Herbes aged for three months with a covering of herbs and chili (Corsica)


  • Brie de Meaux: can taste of buttered mushrooms and oysters; uses rennet to separate curds and whey, aged 6-8 weeks (Ile-de-France, near Paris)
  • Brie de Melun: tastes sharper, more metallic & salty than the Brie de Meaux (which is made 15km away); uses lactic fermentation (slower separation over time in controlled conditions) to separate curds and whey, then aged 8-10 weeks. (Ile-de-France, near Paris)
  • Saint-Marcellin: the runny, sour, and floral cow's milk cheese. It's not always quite so liquid – the woman at Barthelemy described it as "à cuillèur" – to be eaten with a spoon. It's normally 2-6 weeks old and this would be closer to six weeks. (Rhône-Alps, near Lyon) 
  • Comté at 12 & 36 months – the younger cheese is good for grating/cooking or fondue, the older one is more crystallized and concentrated, better for tasting on its own (Jura, eastern France).
  • Bleu d'Auvergne: the much more affordable and milder flavored blue that's often used here in salads, aged 2-3 months (Auvergne, central France)

 Pastries tasted today (from Hugo & VictorPierre Hermé)

  • Tarte aux fruits de passion, éclair au chocolat (H&V)

 Other addresses discussed

  • Du Pain et des Idées - Christophe Vasseur's adorable bakery near the Canal Saint-Martin, selling the "pain des amis" that they serve at Frenchie
  • Le Bonbon au Palais – a candy store with hundreds of artisanal confections from every region
  • 134 RdT - one of my favorite baguettes in the northern Marais, across the street from Jacques Genin chocolate/pastry



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  • chezchloe says:

    What a fantastic list. L’Ami Jean is my favorite… I also loved l’epi dupin in the 6th. thx wendy

  • It makes me so happy to see Robert et Louise on your list. It is the one place I always recommend to anyone going to Paris- unassuming, simple, rustic- a true Parisian experience. We are headed back this summer and cannot wait to go back and check out Spring, something I had on a must-try list for a year now.

  • Why are there no addresses to the restaurant list? Let alone one thinks L´ami Jean must mean
    L´ami Louis and hopefully I am wrong.
    Why not test the restaurants where you find the tenors of French political parties?
    In France politicians love restaurants and above all those in Paris.

  • Ah most admired Ruth Reichl as for cheese do please make a point of the advantage in looking for unpasteurised cheese. When you buy cheese in France every cheese always carries information in this matter.
    I also see to my great surprise that you have not included in your list of cow´s milk cheese
    the king of cheese, Napoleon´s favourite cheese, the gorgeous unpasteurized glory from Bourgogne the EPOISSES made by Berthaut. You might visit the little town of Epoisses and meet the devastatingly handsome head of the cheese firm.
    A part de cela: Roquefort is always unpasteurised goat cheese as is rocamadour.
    Saint Marcellin on cow´s milk is also always unpasteurized.
    There is rigorous control in France of unpasteurized production whether it be cheese or the silkiest of butter so no reason for worry.

  • Samara Kline says:

    Thanks again for your guidance Ruth. We were at Chez L’Ami Jean Tuesday night. The chanterelles to start seemed to have been picked moments before being served, and my husband loved his sweetbreads dusted in cacao. We did indeed meet the young couple seated next to us and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. At their suggestion, we tried Cafe Constant last night – the pate there was savory deliciousness. Both spots had excellent wine choices and service was attentive and considerate, even for me with my very limited French! I was so stuffed I could not finish my meal, and I loved that waiters at both places expressed disappointment when they saw my unfinished plate and asked me if everything was OK. Looking forward to L’Arpege tomorrow – and still hope to squeeze in Minipalais and Robert et Louise. Got sidetracked today at the Rue Saxe market, where we assembled a picnic of exceptional olives, feta, and charcuterie to have with a warm baguette. Yum! So much great food, so little time!! Hope your writing is going well. Au revoir!

  • Regine Ibold says:

    Missing your essence of summer recipes. Are you on tour? Just made Aunt Birdie’s Potato Salad with six pounds freshly pulled from the rich soil at a nearby Amish farm. With Cincinnati German metts and roasted corn…..mmmmm: a Feastiary.

  • Your chapter on the small but delicious restaurants in Paris on a budget made me swoon and salivate. We moved from Europe to Sarasota where we’ve yet to find an excellent restaurant, only a few decent but not exquisite ones. Loads of chain restaurants and tasteful ‘fresh’ produce seem to be the norm.

  • Carole Warner says:

    tasteful…read tasteless produce!