Paris-Est Cart de l'Est (10e) Nord 81-63
The lowly buffet de la gare is rarely an epicure's corner. Since the war, however, the station restaurant has taken a sudden new lease on life. Under the paternal prodding of French government ownership, many a buffet ha s beome the epicurean highlight in its community. Now you can obtain perfectly wonderful meals in some of them, if you don't mind the occasional shrill tooting of French locomotives. According to a recent official appraisal, the five best station restaurants in the provinces are in Dijon, Limoges, Caen, Toulon, and Agen, in that order. But the best one of all, by common consent, is installed in a large upstairs dining salon in the Gare de Yost. Here they offer a prix fixe luncheon or dinner, with both fish and meat courses, for seven hundred francs or two dollars, and it is absolutely delectable. Wine and service are extra, but it still remains a phenomenal value at today's Paris prices. One of the explanations is the gifted young chef. Monsieur Rene Viaux. who won the contest for the best chef in France in 1949 and who has just received another crown in England. Train passengers traveling eastward arc urged to dine at the Gare de I'Est as a vital part of their trip.
SAN FRANCISCO I, rue Mirabeau (16e) MIRabeau 75-44
This is recognized as the best Italian restaurant in Paris. French gourmets who pontificate at length about the existence of only two cuisines—French and Chinese—take undisguised pleasure in the noble Italian dishes supervised by Signor Berdondini. They are truly remarkable, as is the cellar tilled with peninsular vintages. Those who long for a familiar pizza, reminiscent spaghetti. ravioli, or lasagne will rejoice in the subtlety of this cooking. It is a bit expensive; closed Wednesday and, alas. all of August.
Taverne Nicolas-Fiame 51, rue Montmorency (3e) Archives 07-11
This one is for those who search for a bit of medieval atmosphere combined with a toothsome cuisine. It is a genuinely ancient auberge, dating back to the fifteenth century, some say as early as 1407. Located in a populous, quite untouristy part of Paris, it is worth a visit for Monsieur Salvi's rich, savor)' specialties alone, but the atmosphere makes them twice as tempting. They say that this is the favorite Paris restaurant of Charles Boyer, so tell your daughter to be on the lookout. Closed Sunday and from August fifteenth to September fifteenth.
Cochon D'or 192, avenue fean-faurès (19e) Nord 23-13
Finally, here is an item for beefeaters. Regardless of the talents of other Paris rôtisseurs. the exacting epicures contend that the finest steaks, the noblest cbateaubriands, entrecôtes, and tor/medos, are only found in the specialized restaurants near the cattle market (a nicer word than abattoir) at the edge of the city. A dozen or more steak strongholds are clustered together on the avenue Jean-Jaurés, the most notable ones being the Boeuf Couronné, Dacorno, and the Cochon d'Or. They are all good, but the Golden Pig obtains the critic's vote. Numberless Parisian voluptuaries travel out there for an extra-thick chateaubriand with the classic sauce bearnaise and souffléed potatoes. The owners of these favored places know their beef and how to condition it. 'I heir cooks are downright geniuses at the grill. The portions arc lusty, the atmosphere is friendly. The wine which almost every body orders is a good Rabelaisian Beaujolais. in sizable flagons. It's a man's place, all right, but there arc daintier dishes for the ladies, in case they quaver before two other specialties of the house—frogs' legs provençale and grilled pig's feet.
This winds up. reluctantly, an admittedly incomplete list. There are so many others I would like to include: Chez Francis, Brasserie Lorraine, Auberge du Coucou, Kuntz, Berlioz … but there is a limit to space, and to the assimilative talent of even a GOURMET reader.