For Parisians, "Paname" is the insider's nickname for their hometown, a telling indicator that this restaurant is intended for Francophiles in the know. Chef-owner Bernard Ros taps into the city’s casual bistro ethos, offering classic, reasonably-priced cuisine—some traditional, and some invigorated with modern tweaks "pour le neighborhood,” he imparts on a recent night. Dinner is served in a white-clothed dining room trimmed with banquet tables, art deco mirrors and large, Erté-esque paintings.
Absolutely everything on the menu is made in house except the crusty baguette, which comes from a trusted baker in Queens. You'll want it for the escargot ($10), which retain their signature garlicky punch but are ingeniously nuzzled into tiny hollowed-out potatoes, waxy and dense to amplify their buttery herbed pesto. Entrees are numerous, from pastas to proteins: a filet of market-price sole's light breading gives it a salty crunch of crust, with playful spritzes of sauce across white porcelains plates to add bright flavors and colors alike. Scallopini swaps out the usual veal for slices of Niman Ranch pork ($22), tender enough to render a knife unnecessary and smothered in an umami-rich reduction of meat juices and mixed mushrooms.
After the mains, a plate of pleasantly bitter little chocolates or a variety of biscuits might come complimentary, but don't let that dissuade you from ordering desserts ($10). There is just as much variety on the sweet end: the molten chocolate cake and flourless chocolate torte are both classic, fudgy and decadent. A tarte tatin is the winner though, upending traditional proportions with a plump whole apple perched atop flaky pastry in a moat of rich, sugary-bronze housemade caramel. Even the seasonal sorbets are profoundly flavorful. It's a lucky spot to have if you're local to upper Midtown West, and even if not, well... it's a lot closer than Paris.
BY: TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER DEBORAH FENKER