I discovered Pirouette, a stylish bistro located in central Paris near Les Halles, during my winter visit to France’s capital in January. The contemporary setting, with its soaring ceiling and huge windows looking out on a small square, invites one to relax, but the inventive food of talented chef, Tommy Gousset, would make any place shine. Gousset has done stints at Taillevent and Le Meurice in Paris and with Daniel Boulud in New York, and his talents were expertly honed in these great restaurants.
At dinner, our waiter brought two tempting amuse-bouches—an ethereally light cream of shallot soup capped with foam and a tartine topped with a flavorful cream and chorizo. Other highlights included a cream of artichoke soup with a soft poached egg and trompette de la mort mushrooms, an excellent ris de veau with duxelles, and baba au rhum with lime. At lunch a few days later, I started with a mouthwatering risotto de blé (made, I assumed, with wheat berries) set in a creamy broth and garnished with sautéed celery and bacon. My main dish, a dauraude grise (a mild white fish), served atop wild mushrooms and petit grenaille potatoes, succulently completed this menu.
The prix fixe is 38 euros for three courses at dinner and 18 euros for two at lunch—a veritable bargain in Paris The staff was warm and helpful, and the setting inviting. I plan to go back on my next visit.
5, rue Mondetour
Métro: Etienne Marcel
Le Casse-Noix is a bistro I’ve been booking at regularly for the last few years. Located in the 15th arrondissement not far from the Eiffel Tower, it has an old fashioned ambience with the chef’s collection of nut crackers (a reference to the restaurant’s name ) displayed throughout. Chef Pierre Olivier Lenormand, an alum of the celebrated La Régalade in the 14th, never fails to please me with his creative menus.
On a recent visit, I started with a glorious sauté of winter mushrooms topped with a poached egg and surrounded by a delicious foam, continued with a beautiful main course of perfectly pan-fried scallops served on a bed of julienned root vegetables with a garnish of crisp arugula. My husband raved about his sliced duck breast set atop an Asian-scented mix of cabbage and carrots. My fresh orange and grapefruit tart and his riz au lait (rice pudding) with caramel sauce made memorable finales.
The service is always friendly at this spot, and the 34 euro prix fixe for three courses a terrific value.
56, rue de la Fédération
Métro: Bir-Hakein or Dupleix