Our third week in Paris, 2023: Café du Coin, Pianovins, Petrelle, Korus, Le Comptoir des Mers, Aspic, La Table de Colette

Café du Coin - Smack in the middle of the 11th, Café du Coin has always been one of our favorite places for lunch, and it’s the type of place you can easily have what amounts to a very modest meal and still have dinner later. Well, maybe it would be safer to skip dessert. It offers an entrée-plat-dessert menu with two or three choices for each course for 24€. And everything is made with quality products. Although the restaurant is open 7/7, it offers its lunch menu only on weekdays and it’s best to reserve a couple of days ahead of time (by phone only). Evenings and weekends it serves tapas and pizzettes, with no reservations required. And, finally, it was written up here in the NYTimes in 2019, with no ill effects to the clientele. We were still the only anglophones around.

Pianovins - It was hard to hold off Pianovins until our third week in Paris, but there are so many new places to try! It’s also hard to describe why I like this place so much. I guess it’s the calm atmosphere and quiet intimacy of the restaurant, a place where we can really have a conversation and not be competing with music or noisy tables around us. We see fellow diners doing the same with a friend, a spouse or their family. Add to that the flawless cooking of Michel Roncière who serves dishes midway between traditional and modern cuisine, and you have, for me, a consistently winning combination. For some, the no-choice menu may be a problem. The practical way to work around that is to check the menu for the coming week, which is posted online Tuesday mornings. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. This past week we thought the menu looked great and made a res for later in the week. We chose the seven course menu and started with a small shot glass of velouté of parsnip with bits of smoke eel, followed by two entrées: one, a bowl of a creamy bisque with mussels; and, the second, sautéed foie gras with cèpe. The fish course was Saint-Pierre with fennel/potato purée in a bit of bouillabaisse, followed by the meat course of a small fillet of very tender roast duck breast and celery root. The first dessert was a clementine confite served with pain d’épice. The second a chocolate ganache/mocha crunch slice, which was better than the first. The seven-course menu (which includes the amuse as a course) is 69€. You can choose instead a 3-course menu for 37€ or a 5-course menu for 58€. As usual, this was one our best lunches.

Petrelle - Everyone seems to love Petrelle and after my first visit I can see why. It’s beautiful with its wood paneling and faux marble painted walls, its soft lighting, its ambiance — calm yet not boring, and its delicious and well executed cuisine. So, yes, it is a very romantic and delightful restaurant, where I would nevertheless feel comfortable dining alone. Even the service was excellent, helpful and friendly yet not intrusive. And again I was able to persuade our server to allow me a half portion of the wine pairing since I cannot comfortably drink three glasses of wine at dinner. One of the standout courses was the delicata squash gnocchi with crabmeat and colannata lardo draped across the top. Rich and buttery, it was one of the best gnocchi I had every had. Another memorable dish was the pigeon breast and leg with roasted radicchio and a jus corsé with great depth and complexity. I can easily see why this is a favorite Paris restaurant for so many.

Korus - We returned here for lunch for perhaps the seventh or eighth time over the years and it may have been our best lunch ever. I was a little worried about the lunch because last year I thought the new chef still had to settle in a bit. Then Vincent Glaymann at Géosmine, who was the previous sommelier at Korus, told me that Korus had hired another new chef in the last three months. Uh oh. However, it turned out that each plate of our 4-course lunch (for 49€) was excellent, with the exception of the dessert perhaps which was just good. The new chef is Roberto Valladares from Ecuador, previously a chef at Sola. Thus, not surprisingly, the fish course, an ordinary lieu jaune (pollack) was truly exceptional. Assuming the new chef stays put, I wouldn’t hesitate again returning to Korus in the 11th (not far from Bastille). Our server Chloe was a delight, as was Margot the new sommelier.

Le Comptoir des Mers - After walking around one evening through the Christmas market in the Tuileries, avoiding the vin chaud and tartiflette, we thought we might seek out some real food. We ended up at Le Comptoir des Mers at 1 rue de Turenne in the Saint Paul quartier of the 4th where I ordered a dozen Gillardeau oysters (no. 3) and a glass of wine. We saw some beautiful fish meunière coming out of the kitchen, but for the time being we steered clear of anything aside from raw shellfish, recalling Parn’s comment about it being “less recommendable as a restaurant”. The oysters were heavenly, however.

Aspic - We’ve rarely missed a year at Aspic since they opened in 2016. But we were a little anxious about this year since the chef, Quentin Giroud, announced on the restaurant’s website that he is turning over the head chef position to his sous-chef Sami Chakour. Giroud and his staff both say that he spends his days at the restaurant creating new dishes and directing operations. But I guess we were still a little skeptical. Well, we didn’t need to fret. It turned out that every dish in our 7+course meal was original, well thought-out and delicious. From lobster bisque to scallops in a light cauliflower crème anglaise, from a knock-out lieu jaune dish with a light chorizo sauce to duck breast with caramelized fennel, from a creative vegetarian dish of beets to a cheese “course” consisting of a whipped parmesan mousse, parsley ice cream and a blackberry. There were all kinds of amuses and mignardises as well, but somehow we didn’t roll out of there. The room is small and there were no more than 18 or 20 diners. We had a nice chat with Sami at the end of the meal, even talking about the temperature at which he sous-vided the duck breast (52°C)! No question we’ll be back next year.

La Table de Colette - After the disorganized, inexperienced and bizarre service (but all well meaning!), it’s astonishing that La Table de Colette managed to pull off an exceptional lunch. But then I’ve never had a bad meal with a Breton at the helm, and chef Josselin Marie is originally from Brittany. We came for the 3-course “eco-responsible” lunch, but after tasting the chef’s winter squash soup, we asked if we could change our choice to the 5-course menu! We’ve never done that before and, needless to say, the kitchen was delighted to accommodate us. If we can still love plant-based Greens in SF after 30 years, we can easily love La Table de Colette, which does sneak some fish into the dishes.


Our last dinner at Korus (a year ago Sept) with Onzieme was ok but lacklustre. So much so that I had it with a question mark for our upcoming May trip. The question mark has now been removed. Thanks.

Your dinner last September sounds like it was during the same time period we tried out their new, but short lived, chef. Our meal wasn’t exactly lackluster but a dish or two wasn’t up to their previous standard.

Thanks for the new reviews and was happy you enjoyed Parcelles as much as my daughter and I did in March. It’s a repeat in 2 weeks but just when I think my restaurant plans are all set, you or @onzieme get me topsy turvy! I think you may be going to Datil on Thursday so will be interested how you feel about it compared to Le Table de Colette (like you, I also love Greens—and its location too). Pianovins is back on my list and now not sure about Hemicycle. Sooooo many great choices.

I was at Datil lasat night and am extremely negative on it. I will write more later.

When you say extremely negative, onz, that sure captures my attention!

I wasn’t too wild about it myself. I wouldn’t say extremely negative but I would say that I don’t think the known food critics in Paris are treating this restaurant as they would any other restaurant. I also didn’t like it when without a word the sommelière started pouring a glass of wine for me without even asking me what type of wine I would like. All she knew from the server is that I had asked to see the wine list in order to select a glass of wine. It felt very condescending. Even R was shocked.

I took the full wine accompaniment to the meal, which sfcarole did not, and although there were a couple of good wines, there were also a number of cloudy, stinky wines that I thought had finally disappeared from the natural wine universe. They were so bad that people were grimacing when they tried some of the wines and at times I noticed that when the next course of wine was brought, the previous glass remained at the same level that had been poured. That may be a large part of my even more negative reaction than sfcarole, but even so, several of the the food courses were not particualarly/very good, either – muddy flavors, too many ingredients, etc.

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I ended up with a glass of whatever they were pouring for the first glass in the wine pairing. It tasted fairly decent. I hope it was one you @onzieme thought was okay! I’ll post my summary review next week, but in general I’m in accord with onzième. Also, one of things I don’t like about some three star, and even two star, restaurants, is the reverential approach to a place or the food. I felt there was some of that at Datil. Plus the whole political approach to food leaves me a little cold. We should all encourage every restaurant to source locally and responsibly, avoid waste, minimize carbon footprint, etc. I think a lot of the small restaurants are doing that already, and even mention something about it on their menu, but otherwise they don’t make a cause célèbre about it.


I’m pretty in synch with places both of you like, @onzieme and @sfcarole so with those negative responses, it is off my list. Easy to fill that slot with a place that is a better fit. Thanks for sharing your initial experiences there.


Re “cloudy, stinky wines that I thought had finally disappeared from the natural wine universe” :

We had a couple of those unpleasant creatures four weeks ago at appropriately named “Sauvage,” in the 6eme. One in particular, an Alsace riesling that did not at all taste like one (I would have guessed wild chenin blanc, if blind) seemed like it was still fermenting in the bottle. No discernible characteristic of the grape variety; just wild and cloudy juice.

As we sat there tying to enjoy the wines, I was thinking, “so much for the rather ridiculous motto of the natural wine boosting blog, ‘Not Drinking Poison in Paris.’ “ We didn’t jump to the conclusion that we were drinking poison — but we knew that we were sipping something quite unstable. And it was, like so many other so-called “natural” wines we’ve had, quite volatile — and not at all enjoyable to us.

In our experience, some “natural” wines are OK. Indeed some, from the Beaujolais, we actually seek out. Likewise, we love other wild creatures like vin jaune. We are glad to continue to hear from Onz that as a general matter, the “natural” category has improved. But still we avoid restaurants that provide no choice (“Poison”!) beyond that category.


I’m not a big fan of natural wines; never developed a taste. Thanks for the tip that Beaujolais is one where you actually seek out / prefer; very useful to know. @onzieme, do you have any wines where you actually prefer the natural ones?

Does anyone have a list of restaurants that only serve natural wines? Even just a partial list of restaurants that are mentioned with any frequency on this site would be helpful.

The first thing one has to do is define what is “natural wine.” I generally consider anything that is organic and/or biodynamic to be natural, but that brings in a lot of well-known producers that much of the natural wine crowd is trying to exclude for reasons unrelated to the quality of the wine or how it is produced.

I wouldn’t be scared of anything that is called “natural” just because it is “natural” – which is good because the great majority of restaurants in NE Paris, regardless of age group that they’re trying to appeal to, and in the rest of Paris that is trying to appeal to 20- and 30-somethings is at least heavily natural. As I indicated, most of the awful stuff has disappeared from the market, and it’s only a relatively few places, like Datil, that want to impose the pain on their diners. (And note, there area still some awful Beaujolais, so you can’t buy natural Bojo blind).

I suggest if you have any doubts, say to the server that you don’t want wild natural wines (pas de vin sauvage) and ask if you can have a taste before deciding (they may not do that for wine by the bottle, but they should for wine by the glass, unless you’re talking about a super-expensive glass).


As usual, I agree with Onz — one still has to be careful with natural Beaujolais. Among the producers I like and see quite often in Paris at some good places is Marcel Lapierre. I would avoid vintages 18-20, they are too ripe / “hot” for our taste.

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