A view, a terrace, fine Lebanese fare

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As beautiful as Paris can be, it is not rich in restaurants with grand views or open terraces. Le Zyriab, perched high in the sky on the 9th floor of the architecturally modern Institut du Monde Arabe on the Left Bank, fills that bill. Even if you don’t intend to dine there (and you should) you can take the elevator up to the terrace floor just to admire the spectacular view: Notre Dame is almost in your face. The towers of Montmartre and the Bastille are there for your eyes to explore. The cuisine here is authentically Lebanese, and comes from the omnipresent house of Noura, which has several restaurants, cafes, catering shops and patisseries around the city. (See www.noura.com for details.) The dining room, which seats 90 guests indoors, is bright, spacious and comfortable, and each table offers diners a stunning view. Service is efficient and warm, and the food clean, clear, well-seasoned and memorable. All the favorites are there, from the refreshing parsley-rich tabbouli to a particularly spicy version of the chickpea puree, hommos Beyrouti. The thick, white drained laban cheese comes well-adorned with crisp cucumbers, and the falafel (deep fried balls of seasoned chick peas) arrives crisp, crusty, moist, and satisfying.

Do try the mixed grill, kebabs of moist, seasoned chicken breasts, lamb, as well as a particularly assertive version prepared with ground lamb.. I could easily make a meal of the yeasted flatbreads --- including manakiche, a pizza-like pleaser topped with zaatar, or a local blend of thyme leaves, sesame seeds, sumac,  and the lamb-stuffed arayes, a dish that with a touch of leban could become a major snack of its own. There’s a good list of Lebanese wines, and we loved the  white  Chateau Kefraya from Lebanon Bekaa Valley, a complex blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc,  Ugni Blanc, and Chardonnay. This is a great place to go with a group, so one can share in a multitude of flavors

LE ZYRIAB BY NOURA, INSTITUT DU MONDE ARABE, 1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard,Paris 5, Tel: +33 1 55 42 55 42

Métro: Cardinale-Lemoine. Open: lunch only Tuesday-Sunday. Dinner Friday & Saturday. Closed Monday.

www.noura.com Lunch: 45€ menu. A la carte, 35 to 45€. Dinner: A la carte 35-55 € Reservations: Recommended

Back to the country: In Paris

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Thank you, Yannick Alléno, for bringing us yet another chic, casual, well-priced good-food bistro that’s open seven days a week. I am loving this trend. Alléno is the Michelin three-star chef at the outstanding Hotel Meurice, who several years ago began a lunch menu centered around products of the Paris region: Special carrots and onions, poultry and mushrooms, lettuces and even beef and lamb. He’s now carried his passion one step further with the brand-new bistro Terroir Parisien, a bright, light, airy space in the Maubert-Mutualité area of the 5th arrondissement, home to the twice-weekly produce market, Eric Kayer’s  bread and pastry boutiques,, and Laurent Dubois’s top-flight cheese shop. As Alléno began at the Meurice and continues here, most of the dishes are historic, relating to the days when the bulk of what Parisian ate came from the city’s surrounding fields. There’s a classic – and perfect – salade de frisée, cresson à l’ouef mollet et croutons et lardons (photo), tender curly endive and watercress topped with a flawless soft-cooked egg, crunchy croutons and crisp rectangles of fragrant bacon. A few grindings of the pepper mill and I was good to go. I’d be proud to bring to the table their navarin printanier d’agneau de chez Morisseau, a moist, delicate spring lamb stew teamed up with baby carrots, potatoes, green beans, peas, and herbs. I have not seen the old-fashioned merlan Colbert (whole whiting breaded and deep-fried) since the 1980’s, when Joël Robuchon brought it back to the table at Jamin. Here the dish was as golden, tender, and crisp as can be, served with a delicate herb butter. There is also the classic French onion soup, stuffed cabbage, platters of excellent charcuterie from Gilles Vérot’s boutiques, and a cheese plate. Service here was tentative and distracted, and the wine list needs a serious boost. Soon they hope to continue service nonstop from noon to midnight, meaning you can pull up a stool and enjoy a croque monsieur and a glass of wine at 4 in the afternoon. Sunday brunch will also be offered in the coming weeks.

TERROIR PARISIEN, 20 rue Saint-Victor,Paris 5. Tel: +33 1 44 31 54 54. Métro: Maubert-Mutualité. Open daily.

www.yannick-alleno.com Email reservations@bistrot-terroirparisien.fr Lunch & Dinner: 11-35€

Chez Rene: Back to the classics


Anyone in the mood for classic Parisian bistro fare should reserve a table at the ultra-traditional and purely authentic Chez René set on a sunny corner along Boulevard Saint Germain in the 5th arrondissement. This has been a favorite haunt for decades, with copious portions of excellent preserved duck leg (confit de canard), whole beef kidneys (rongon de veau), and classic Burgundian beef stew (boeuf Bourguignon). The fries are hot and crispy, and taste of real potatoes. The cheese comes from Madame Quatrehomme, so you know that the warm goat cheese salad (chèvre chaud) will be first rate, with the greens a superb blend of lamb’s lettuce (mache) and arugula (roquette). In winter months there is a terrific starter, a gratin of blettes (Swiss chard), a recipe that uses the wilted leaves as well as the chopped stems, tossed with a flavorful Bechamel and topped with plenty of beautifully gratinéed Gruyère cheese. On my last visit, the famed saucisson de Lyon chaud pistaché left me a bit disappointed: the potatoes were lukewarn and rather tasteless, while the slices of pork sausage were dry and ordinary. But I’ll keep coming back, for the service is thoroughly professional and décor right out of central casting: regular male diners feasting all on their own, newspaper in hand and napkins tucked beneath the chin. The walls are filled with classic art show posters dating from the 1940’s. Woody Allen would be right at home here!

CHEZ RENE, 14 boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris 5. Tel: +33 1 43 54 30 23 Métro: Maubert-Mutualité. Open: Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday-Monday, 10 days at Christmas, & August.Lunch and Dinner: A la carte 40-55€

Tiny tastes from France's southwest

Fried Baby Squid Dans les Landes

Anyone in the mood for a quick, inexpensive, hearty lunch should head over to the 5th and the month-old Dans les Landes, the second restaurant of a 15th arrondissement favorite, Afaria. A rambling café just steps from the Rue Mouffetard market and the charming St Médard square, this smart little spot is full of varied tapas-style tastes from France’s southwest, including meaty grilled quail breasts; tender fried chipirions (baby squid) sprinkled with a touch of sweet pepper (photo); good spare ribs (travers de porc) marred by a sauce that was much too sweet; and an adorable salade landaise, a take on Asian spring rolls: foie gras, salad and duck breast wrapped in rice paper and cut into bite-sized pieces. Just ask them to please hold the chemical truffle oil in the dipping sauce. Sip a glass of white Irouleguy, and enjoy! One can lunch well for 20 euros or less. 

Dans les Landes, 119 bis, rue Monge, Paris 5. Tel: +33 1 45 87 06 00. Métro: Censier-Daubenton.