Restaurants Now: La Petite Chaise


The dog days of August—when there are no new restaurant openings—seemed like the perfect time to check out the surprising address recommended by a number of food-loving friends vacationing in Paris. Founded as a coaching inn in 1680, and so perhaps the oldest restaurant in Paris, La Petite Chaise is a place I’ve always dismissed as the American restaurant in Saint Germain. To be sure, the menu’s just about as vieille France as they come, but during the many years I lived on the Left Bank, I never walked by without hearing any customer speak a language other than English, usually with an American accent. So could it be that such a bona fide Paris tourist restaurant, a place that’s open seven days a week, might actually serve good food?

I wasn’t particularly hungry when I met Michele, a French friend who was a decidedly skeptical of my restaurant choice, but I ended up eating like a trencherman. First up, onion soup, which would immediately tell me whether we were wasting our time. Well, it was excellent, with the delicious, deep taste of roasted marrow bones and a gooey cap of melted Gruyère. Flecked with bright green pistachios, Michele’s terrine de canard was dense and wonderfully earthy. Next, steamed pollack with a light vinaigrette and a beautiful assortment of baby carrots, snow peas, haricots verts; and radishes and an incredibly tender and flavorful mignon de porc in Cantal cheese sauce with perfectly cooked tagliatelle. Desserts were good, too, including a strawberry bavaroise and a nougat glacée, and since the service was charming to the point of being gallant, the only criticism I have of this place is that the wine list is top heavy.

La Petite Chaise 36 rue de Grenelle, 7th Arrondissement, Paris (01-42-22-13-35;

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