5.5 L'Auberge Nicolas Flamel, 51 rue de Montmorency in the 3rd, 01.42.71.77.78, open 7/7 (Metro: Etienne Marcel) has been around a long time, at least since 1407 when M. Flamel was practicing alchemy - but Max of lesrestos.com, who like Madonna and Sade and Sting has but one name, announced this month that one Alan Geaam, he of L'Autobus, born in Lebanon, trained in Prague and Milan, was now at the piano (in researching I learned he's been here since 2007 so Max's news, if one regards news as new, is not new). In any case it's a charming old auberge with big wood beams, solid walls, sound baffling (78.9 dB) and a real old Paris ambiance.
There is an astonishingly priced "menu" - 18.50 E for 2 and 35 E for 3 courses with a drink and coffee - beat that. My pals from across the Seine chose that, one of them believing in rating the "total experience" was unduly influenced by these prices. But onward.
They started us off with tasty parmesan cakes - quite nice and we chose a Corsician wine which was anything but coarse.
They both started with the "menu" soups, one of courgettes, the other of chestnut - both were divine.
I didn't warm to any of the mains on the carte nor those on the "menu," thus I chose two starters - the sauteed foie gras and sweetbreads (without the black truffle slices). Both came with a tasteless homage to the St. Louis Gateway Arch, both were fine product but overcooked and the latter had a mushroom sauce that was heavenly.
My friends had the two "menu" mains - the bar - OK and the 7-hour lamb - OK.
Then, we essentially shared a portion of cheese and two of mixed desserts, the ice cream of which was outstanding.
Our bill, with two bottles of wine, no bottled water and one coffee (did we ever get bread? hummmm, I think not) was just under 100 E a couple.
Go? If you're staying in the Marais, are watching your wallet and have American friends visiting who want the "genuine Paris bistro experience" without those pesky fellow Yankees - yes.