Disclaimer: I'm not a restaurant critic. I don't even play one on TV. What follows is just my opinion, take it or leave it.
Call me spoiled but I've already gone out to lunch twice this week. No, this isn't the usual state of affairs and my guess is that today's lunch will be more along the lines of peanut butter and jelly or some stray leftovers lurking in my fridge. But the back-to-back experiences suggested to me that either a) Paris dining isn't all that it's cracked up to be, b) sometimes the best meals come at the most reasonable prices or c) all of the above.
Yesterday, I joined a group at Brasserie Flo, one of Paris's venerable Belle Epoque brasseries, hidden away in a courtyard near the Porte St. Denis. It's got the whole nine yards: gruffy waiters in tuxedos and aprons, white tablecloths, incredible decor, and plates heaped high with choucroute. Or make that a platter of oysters on the half shell if you like. The place was packed. Definitely an experience. And the food? I took the 22 euro menu (which offered a choice of first course and main dish, or main dish and dessert) starting with foie gras served with Poilane's dark bread followed by duck accompanied by a mound of green beans. All perfectly fine but nothing to get excited about. Plus it was so noisy I had a hard time keeping up a conversation with my lunch companions.
The day before, I enjoyed a rare lunch with my husband at Le Taxi Jaune in the 3rd arrondissement. The setting is simple: tile floors, ladderback chairs for maybe 20 people, and just a few choices on the blackboard. My husband had a hearty pea soup while I started with a light salad, and we both dug into the rabbit with mustard sauce served on a bed of noodles and root vegetables for our main dish. It was the perfect match for the cold damp day. Better yet, the bill was just 38 euros for the two of us, including wine and coffee. Now that's, as the French say, a good "rapport qualité prix." Not a bargain but definitely value for the money.
Was Brasserie Flo worth the visit? Certainly. Will I go back? Probably not. As for Le Taxi Jaune, see for yourself. And buyer beware, dinner's always twice the price of lunch.
7 Cour des Petites Ecuries
01 47 70 13 59
Le Taxi Jaune
13 Rue Chapon
01 42 76 00 40