100 best restaurants: Bistros

Our pick of the new batch of gastro bistros

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Le 6 Paul Bert - © Time Out Paris

They've been termed 'gastro bistrots', 'néo-bistrots' and other things besides. And with good reason: much like Britain's gastropubs, this new breed of smart bistros offers affordable, creative cuisine in classy surroundings. Bistros, while a French institution, don't have a clear-cut cuisine of their own; cue some of the country's most creative chefs, who spice up these venues with some interesting – and always delectable – dishes.

Le Pantruche

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The name is old-fashioned (Pantruche is an old slang word for 'Parisian') and the Pigalle location a little frentic, but once inside Pantruche its charm is immediately apparent, with a classic and cosy bistro décor, myriad mirrors and smiling staff. Young chef Franck Baranger, who cut his teeth at some of the most prestigious Paris establishments, offers simple yet sophisticated cooking at affordable prices – there's a set menu for €17 (dish of the day and dessert) at lunchtime and €34 in the evening (starter, main and dessert). Try the white asparagus, the chicory cream or the excellent black truffle risotto. It's especially worth mentioning... Read more

  1. 3 rue Victor Massé, 9e
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L'Office

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Brother-in-law to the chef-owner at Frenchie, Alsatian-born Nicolas Scheidt is making a name of his own in a neighbourhood not known for its bistros. Wallpaper-decorated pillars, big mirrors and hanging lights give the dining room a modern spirit that's reflected in the food. Not everything works perfectly but there are flashes of brilliance, as in a salad of squid, cherry tomatoes and olives, or the slow-cooked guinea hen. Good to know about in this area, even if the bill is a bit steep.

  1. 3 rue Richer, 9e
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La Table d'Eugène

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Named for Parisian novelist Eugène Sue, the gourmet cuisine at La Table d’Eugène is actually affordable. Too bad for Eugène himself, who departed this life in 1857. The décor is, admittedly, charmless, but the men behind the scenes – Geoffroy Maillard and François Vaudeschamps – are both talented and driven. They cook up some magnificent food using simple flavours, all skilfully assembled and beautifully presented. There’s blue shrimp from Mozambique in a walnut crust, or ravioli of Bresse chicken with foie gras and morel mushrooms in a wine, cream and foie gras sauce. There’s a perfectly cooked pork chop... Read more

  1. 18 rue Eugène Sue, 18e
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Abri

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Mondays and Saturdays, 10am-5pm, there’s only one reason to come to Abri (‘shelter’), a pocket-sized restaurant next to the Poissonière metro: their multi-layered, super-stacked, millfeuille-esque sandwiches, put together by chef Katsuaki Okiyama. One regal specimen contained grilled bread, a deep and lovely sauce, a vegetable omelette, crusty breaded pork (‘tonkatsu’), sweet and sour cauliflower purée and soft cheese. The rest of the week, there are plenty more of the young Japanese chef’s talents to enjoy. His CV (Robuchon, Taillevent, Agapé) would already be impressive on a far older chef, and against a bare décor... Read more

  1. 92 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 10e
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Le 6 Paul Bert

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chic without being bobo, refined without being gastro – Bertrand Auboyneau, already heading up two other well-respected bistros in the 11th (the Bistro Paul Bert and l’Ecailler du Bistrot), opened Le 6 Paul Bert, his third venue, at the end of 2012. It's a restaurant that wants to be different to its elders, offering a more refined, lighter style of cooking. Two charming, efficient young servers welcome you into the light-filled room dominated by an enormous zinc bar, surrounded by formica tables and studded with original lamps made of forks and bottles of wine. Everything is set up to make you hungry... Read more

  1. 6 rue Paul Bert, 11e
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Pirouette

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A restaurant called Pirouette suggests both deft maneuvering and a dash of panache. Set in a secluded little courtyard behind the concrete mess of Les Halles in the 1st arrondissement, the stage set for the meal is immediately promising, so shiny new behind its huge plate glass window that the first thing you notice as you walk in is the fresh smell of the wood pannelling. So, with a swift arabesque, to the menu, which includes a formule for a mere €36. We started with a perfect coddled egg on a bed of greens, over which a subtle mushroom and chestnut was poured at the table, and the ‘alouette sans tête'... Read more

  1. 5 rue Mondétour, 1er
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Bones

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Youthful self-taught Aussie chef James Henry flexes his muscles, tattoos and chutzpah at this new venture where the ingredients are the stars of the show. Book several weeks in advance for the no-choice four-course tasting menu at €47 a head, served in the 25-seater dining room, or try the bar for craft beers, freshly-shucked oysters and homemade charcuterie.

  1. 43 rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 11e
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Le Comptoir du Relais

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Yves Camdeborde runs the bijou 17th-century Hôtel Le Relais Saint-Germain, whose art deco dining room, modestly dubbed Le Comptoir, serves brasserie fare from noon to 6pm and on weekend nights, and a five-course prix fixe feast on weekday evenings. The single dinner sitting lets the chef take real pleasure in his work. On the daily menu, you might find dishes like rolled saddle of lamb with vegetable-stuffed 'Basque ravioli'. The catch? The prix fixe dinner is booked up as much as six months in advance. If you don't manage to dine, you can sidle up the bar, an area the locals call L'Avant Comptoir, for wine and tapas.

  1. Hôtel Le Relais Saint-Germain, 9 carrefour de l'Odéon, 6e
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Haï Kaï

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Amélie Darvas has a distinguished chef's CV, her precise and inspired cooking having already been in evidence at Le Bristol, L'Ami Jean and The Broken Arm. Her new 2014 venture is all pale walls and wood, brought to life with lots of plants and bright flashes of colour like a very upmarket mountain cabin. Haikai is a satirical Japanese verse form, a nod to the Far Eastern influences on the décor and cooking. The menu is distributed along more traditional Parisian lines, with a daily lunch menu set at €17 for two courses or €23 for three. In the evenings, à la carte is around €10 for a starter, €20 for a main and €8 for a dessert... Read more

  1. 104 quai de Jemmapes, 10e
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Roca

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Another new hot néo-bistrot, and one worth the hype. The menu is fairly short (four each of starters, mains and desserts) but varies its ingredients and flavours enough to hold your attention. On our visit, we started with a ceviche of pollack with beetroot, black sesame mousse and orange caramel (€12) and a burratta with marinated vegetables and olive puree (€8). Then a topside of veal with salsify, ginger, spinach and a sauce spiced with Vadouvan curry mixture (€19) and the €14 plat du jour of whiting with crispy rice, cream of mushroom and soya, parsley and shiitake mushrooms... Read more

  1. 31 rue Guillaume Tell, 17e
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La Cantine du Troquet

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Christian Etchebest opened Le Troquet, a popular basque bistro on the left bank, several years ago, now followed by its ‘canteen’. The addition is certainly more modest than the original, but also friendlier, a bit of an oasis of bonhomie in the aloof neighbourhood of Pernety. You can’t reserve, so make sure to come early especially if you’re a group, and be aware that there’s no set menu either. Instead, you choose your dishes from a big blackboard; it's regularly brought up to date, even if Etchebest’s cuisine never forgets where it comes from, maintaining its love for the cuisine of the southwest, though touched by the expertise... Read more

  1. 101 rue de l'Ouest, 14e
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Pierre Sang Boyer

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4

Along the bar-lined rue Oberkampf, food usually serves as little more than a sponge for alcohol. It’s a different story at Pierre Sang Boyer, where by 7.30pm the stools facing the narrow open kitchen were already filled with food-lovers anxious to taste the subtly Asian-influenced cooking of this Top Chef finalist. If the young Sang can already claim celebrity status – he occasionally interrupts his cooking to pose for photos with diners – success does not seem to have gone to his head. During our meal, we watched him orchestrate the well-timed service, joke with staff and explain his recipes to curious diners... Read more

  1. 55 rue Oberkampf, 11e
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