Our second week in Paris: Huîtrerie Régis, Pianovins, Ortensia, Korus, Nomicos, La Fontaine de Mars, Alliance

When close friends from San Francisco decided to join us for our second week in Paris, we saved a lot of our faves for that week: Alliance, Nomicos, Korus and Pianovins. Added to Automne and Sourire of the prior week, these six are inevitably returned to in the last few years. Montée used to be on the list, as did Pertinence, but the repetition of their dishes as well as the very quiet ambiance in these small places caused us to move on.

Huîtrerie Régis - When our friends arrived we took them here for dinner because you can now reserve and I was afraid the other option, Huguette, would be too much of a madhouse for their first night. Everyone loved the oysters and shrimp we ordered, but I thought the Spéciales de Claires that I had were a little too salty. Usually I eagerly slurp down the brine but this time I was pouring it off and adding vinegar or a squeeze of lemon. That fixed the problem. Are the oyster beds getting saltier? Must try some of the huîtres Gillardeau Parigi’s been touting.

Two unrelated issues. We had a 8:30 res and were seated a little past 9pm, the four of us waiting outside on the sidewalk. After 10 minutes I asked the owner if he could just call me on my cell (local number) when the table was ready so we could walk around the neighborhood. He didn’t like that idea, but made the waiting a little easier by comping us all a glass of wine. The other problem was that when we were presented the bill, the server said “without the tip”. I looked at him quickly and said “Comment?” He didn’t say anything further. Usually I interact with restaurant staff in French, but because our friends didn’t speak French I used English at the table. Was that the reason? First time it’s happened. (When outside I spoke to the owner in French, but he was not the server).

Pianovins - One of our favorites in the 12e since it opened a few years ago in the old Les Deserteurs venue. It’s a no-choice menu but it changes every week and is posted on their website. If you don’t like it, don’t go. The chef, Michel Roncière, ex-Guy Savoy, is incredibly talented, if not always innovative. We’ve never had a bad meal here. He seems to bring out the best in every ingredient. We love everyone at this place which is kind of traditional and kind of modern.

Ortensia - Ortensia is very elegant and very composed. The 3-course lunch was also elegant and composed but left me feeling a bit cold, although I knew I had eaten a delicious meal. Everything about the lunch seemed a bit sterile, although our table of four was having a great time. The first course was salmon, but was served on three little plates done in different ways à la Pantagruel. Each plate was a little like an amuse bouche. Then the most serious flaw, for me, was that the St. Pierre was not only slightly overcooked (do they assume Americans like it that way?), but also over-salted. In fact, I’ve never seen so much seasoning on top of a piece of fish. We had been to Pilgrim Restaurant three or four times, previously under Chef Saito, and always loved our meals. I’m sure the fish at Ortensia was a one-off mistake, but the hushed coolness of the room, almost reverential, has me debating whether to return.

Korus - This is another one of our favorites in the 11e. Yann and his wife Afrae Brasseur make everyone feel incredibly welcome. We chose the 7-course dinner which includes the amuses and post-dessert tidbits as courses, which really makes it a more manageable 5-course dinner. From the first few bites, however, I knew the chef had changed. The talented Maxime Elan, hélas, has moved on to Le Bel Ordinaire Rive Gauche. (Do I follow him there?) He has been replaced by Eugenio Anfuso, alongside chef patissière Cecilia Spurio. The sommelier Vincent is also gone, but Arkady helped us in his relaxed friendly manner. But the change of chef doesn’t mean we didn’t still love the dinner.

It seems that Chef Anfuso is willing to attempt more innovation than his predecessor, and perhaps not all of the dishes succeed perfectly. But most were very very good and we will return without hesitation.

Nomicos - We also never come to Paris without having lunch at least once at Nomicos in the 16e. There is a generosity of spirit that prevails and pervades Jean-Louis Nomicos restaurant and menus. His lunch menu for 58€ includes amuses and mignardises, and two choices for each of the three courses. For 68€ you can order the same plus a glass of wine and a cup of coffee. And as at Sourire, we did not detect other anglophones in the dining room. Altogether a very relaxed ambiance among the staff and in the dining room, despite its location in the 16e. During the week there will be more ‘suits’ coming down from La Defense, but that doesn’t seem to change things. In any event, the lunch menu is available on Saturdays.

La Fontaine de Mars - Our friends visiting from SF wanted to have Sunday lunch here because of fond memories from the past. R and I had a fine meal because we ordered St. Jacques off the daily ardoise. They on the other hand each had a chicken from the carte that tasted like it had been boiled for hours before it was roasted. How can you mess up a chicken in Paris? I had a small bite and it was like sawdust. They were very happy with their entrées and desserts, and with wine we all had a grand time, but I was embarrassed for the restaurant.

Alliance - Alliance seems to keep getting better and better. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been here, but this time it was for lunch with our two friends. They totally loved it, and, in fact, it was their favorite of their whole trip. FOH Shawn Joyeuse, aptly named, is also the sommelier and he always adds something special to the visit. (Jake, you can chime in here if you’d like :wink:). Our four-course lunch included a tomato-tatin as entrée with melty tomatoes cooked for hours to get just the right intense flavor. Perfect place to spend a rainy day Monday lunch.


Alliance was my favourite on both of my last two visits to France. I thought I had posted about it earlier but, on checking, have deduced that it was on that "other Board’ (RIP). I have a list of alternative places (kindly provided by other posters who didn’t share my enthusiasm for Alliance) - but clearly some others have similar tastes to me.

Thanks for your reviews.

As always, when sfcarole reports, you feel you are there! Many thanks for another excellent critique.

Ditto. Great report - thanks for taking the time!

Thanks for the great report, first time to read about Pianovins and it sounds like an interesting place to consider. Still unsure about our Starred/bistro modern lunch selections for our trip in a couple of months, Alliance is a strong candidate for sure, Pages and Montee too, wonder if lunch at those places should be significantly different from the evening experience ? And maybe someone here has been to Maison by Sota Atsumi at 11 ? Reading lately quite a lot about it and wonder how it compares, looks more “rustic” i guess in style… We tried Nomicos lunch menu a couple of years ago and didn’t connect to the place, maybe because it was a “basic lunch formula”, food was unmemorable and we did feel a bit out of place, probably something between the “style” of the restaurant and the fact that we don’t speak French :slight_smile:

We’ve been to Monée, Alliance and several other French-by-a-Japanese-chef places (though not Pages), many of them 1*, for lunch and find them quite enjoyable and excellent values. We returned to Montèe last month. Rarely that innovative, usually quite tasty. Most are considerably more expensive at dinner.

I went to Maison by Sota Atsumi by myself on a business trip at dinner about 3 years ago. While not inexpensive, I found it creative/innovative (a la a higher end version of Clown Bar), and myself don’t put it in the same category as all of those above places, despite Atsumi’s ethnic background.


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Thanks for your comments. We have been to Maison by Sota and were disappointed by the meal and the ambiance. One is seated at a long table on the first floor above the ground floor. Unlike many table d’hôtes meals we have enjoyed this just seemed rather cold and disconnected. And our meal was not impressive, at least not by the standards we had come to expect from Sota Atsumi when he was at Clown Bar. But our experience was shortly after Maison Sota had opened in the fall of 2019. It could be very different now. Others should chime in if they’ve been.

As to Nomicos, the nice part about their lunch menu is that it’s posted on their website. As you probably recall, you have a choice of two items for entrée, plat and dessert. Right now the mains are joue de boeuf confite and noix de coquilles Saint-Jacques. Not bad, but other days could be less inspiring.

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We had a similar experience to that of sfcarole when we went to Maison shortly after it opened (IIRC, that was fall of 2019). Plus the staff had a most off-putting attitude as though one should thank them for the privilege of dining there.

I haven’t been to Montée since the pandemic, but have had a number of good meals there over the years, both lunch and dinner.

Alliance is a step up from Montée, IMO, and for me, at least, even better at lunch than at dinner.

I’ve had, I believe, four meals at Pianovins, two good, two less good. Plus the wine list is not great and is rather expensive for what it is (this will not matter to all). For me, there are too many other outstanding places to go, so it’s off my list. Others have different opinions.

I’ve not been to Pages, but intend to go in the coming months.

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Well, like I said, you have to go online and see if you like the menu lineup at Pianovins. Sometimes it seems perfect, sometimes it just doesn’t appeal. Usually R and I just go since we like Michel Roncière’s style of cooking. He’s a little bit modern, a little bit traditional. I’m remembering what one of our good friends said after a couple of courses at Pianovins: “I could eat here every night”.

Pages: We love it. We’ve been to lunch three times, never for dinner. Always calm, but not reverential. And we’ve seen solo diners there. The meat and fish are impeccably sourced. Everything so beautiful without tipping into the precious.

I agree with Onz that Alliance is better at lunch than dinner and I’m not sure why. Part of it may be that lunch is moved along at a more relaxed pace. I feel the same way about Montée.

One final thought for those who insist on trying to fit in more than oysters or a sandwich at lunch, followed by dinner. I’ve found that I can perhaps do that when I have lunch at places like Montée or Pages where each course is very delicate. But even so, I try to make it a 12:00 pm lunch and a 9:00 pm dinner. Without a good appetite nothing is going to taste great. And the problem is that once you overeat and lose your appetite it doesn’t necessarily come back the next day, but may take two or three days.


I forgot to comment on Nomicos: I went last week for the first time at lunch. It’s good, but it’s very much French upper-class/16th arrondissement atmosphere. If you’re not used to that, it may be a bit disorienting.

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we have always gone for dinner and never for lunch - but love Pages!

But no white tablecloths! And I like the atmosphere at Nomicos just as much as that at Les Arlots in the 9th. It’s all a part of Paris.

Hi Carole and all — just now seeing this deliciously written post recounting your and R’s second week. I feel with you there at some of our favorite places ( and others will go onto our list). In particular, I can well imagine you and your table at lovely Alliance. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to “week three”?!


Has anyone been there? Menu online seems somewhat appealing, and pricing looks very attractive.

Thanks for bringing this up, Andy. I was never able to fit in a trip to Le Bel Ordinaire last fall, but I’ve put it on my list for his year. Like you, I’d love to know if anyone has given it a try.