August is either a blessed or cursed time in Paris, depending on your needs. For my wife Colette, it’s when we can park anywhere, in the most crowded part of town – an event to be celebrated. For me, it means trying to find places that are open to eat at, which can be dicey.
The first summer we “lived” here, Patricia Well’s wrote up the Bistro du Dome in the IHT; it had just opened and she noted that it was open every day but Christmas (or was it Christmas Eve?), now it’s closed Sundays and Mondays in – you got it – August. Then a few years later, Flora Mikula moved to the Right Bank to open her eponymous resto just before August and kept it open that month – lesson duly noted.
On the other hand, in 2009, despite the Great Recession, almost all the places that opened just before August were shuttered with no messages on their answering machines about their reopening dates.
So how is a poor slob supposed to find out.
Well, each time we eat out in July and like it, Colette nudges me as we’re leaving and says “Find out their vacation dates.” And sometimes I am lucky and do get a telephone message I can understand about when a place returns to duty.
Of course there are places that are always open, McDo’s, Hippopotamus and the brasseries, for example, but that’s not why I’m eating in France.
July 1st, 2009, Le Figaroscope published a 4-page piece listing those open, a first in my recollection.
I ate at several of the new ones during August 2009. Of the places listed as restos in the “greenery”, Le 51 is a “snack resto” in the Cinematheque (ex-American Center/Library designed by Frank Gerhy) that serves light food such as roast chicken which I’d only recommend for those needing a bite to eat around the showing of the films. Rosa Bonheur has grown its “café-bar-grignotage” in the Butte Chaumont to a full-fledged resto.
The only one listed as a good bistrot I hadn’t been to was Zinc Caius, sister of Caius across the street which had somewhat more substantial dishes; boudin, beef and crème caramel for example with good wines.
Passing over the ethnic places, one comes to the places that opened in 2009: Cru, which as its name implies, serves largely raw food such as carpaccios, ceviches and tartares but has a few dishes made a la plancha and the Cantine Merci, a terribly healthy, bio, natural, protein and booze-avoidant cantine located in a “concept store” where elegant ladies from the rich suburbs come to spend oodles of money on supposedly fashionable over-priced items, under the impression that part of it is going to save starving children, which is why I suppose they eat rabbit food – that is amazingly good despite my snide attitude.
In any case, August 2009 was good, one didn’t starve and excepting minor inconveniences and unanswered phone messages, the customer-restaurateur relationship was good.
This year, Wednesday, July 1st (2010) in Le Figaroscope, Emmanuel Rubin listed 12 restos for this summer:
Le Crabe Marteau, 16, rue Acacias in the 17th, 01.44.09.85.59, open 7/7, costing 30-50 E
La Terrasse du Café Odeon
La Terrasse at the Galeries Lafayette
La Regalade St Honore
Le Renard, 12, rue du Renard, 01.42.71.86.27, 7/7, 30-50 E without beverages
La Tete Dans Les Olives
And Francois Simon, in his “Hache Menu,” tested the Pavillon du Lac and says one must go (for the pintade and moelleux at 93 E for two) [alert readers will recall that three weeks before, his colleague gave it a busted heart].
And in an unrelated article, Colette Monsat among others gave 50 reasons to summer in Paris, including in:
La Terrasse Mirabeau, Le Grand Pan + Le Stella
Starting August 15th La Regalade St Honore, Les Delices d’Aphrodite + La Fontaine de Mars.
Finally, a participant in Chowhound’s France Board, kirikara, using lafourchette, listed:
La Villa Corse Rive Gauche
Aux Trois Nagas
August 2010, therefore, I’d recommend:
Le Regalade St Honore starting August 15th
123, Rue St Honore in the 1st (Metro: Louvre-Rivoli)
Menu at 33 E.
Chez Grenouille closed only the first week of August
52, rue Blanche in the 9th (Metro: Trinite)
Closed Saturday lunch and Sundays
Lunch menus at 15 and 25 and a 40 E carte but they’re cool about mix & matching
7, rue Charlemagne/Village St Paul in the 4th (Metro: St Paul)
Closed Sunday dinner and Mondays
Lunch menu 19, a la carte 35-40 €
La Cantine de Merci
111, bd Beaumarchais in the 3rd (St Sebastien Froissart)
A la carte 20-40 €.