In any city with too many choices, it is a good idea to get a recommendation from someone who lives or has recently lived in the neighborhood. I asked another Elaine for her recommendations in Paris since she lived there for a year (and wrote a blog about her experiences); she suggested Cave la Bourgogne in her old neighborhood in the 5th arrondissement.

In an area full of restaurants, Cave la Bourgogne sits facing a fountain and a church, so you can get a view with your meal. This local hotspot is packed every night, so either get here early or call ahead for a reservation. I loved the casual atmosphere and the friendly greeting in this bistro and when I tasted the food, I made it a point to come back on another night. For my first meal here I chose the Salade Aveyronnaise, a hearty salad made with sausage, duck, gizzards, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese, and mushrooms. This is the perfect meal for anyone who wants a meaty salad as much as that may sound like an oxymoron. It was delicious and huge by French standards (normal by American). Priced at only 13 Euros (about $17), this salad is a meal in and of itself.

The daily fish special of loup de mer (monkfish) with capers and tomatoes was also a hearty portion, but unfortunately, the fish was a bit overcooked and the green beans were bland, for 16 Euros (about $20), this is a disappointment.

I forgot to take a picture of my last meal of steak tartare, but it was a huge portion of ground meat (not chopped) served with a raw egg yolk and condiments on the side so that I could add as much or little of the cornichons (pickles), onions, worcestershire sauce, ketchup (eek!), mustard, salt and pepper, that I wished to add. Somehow I managed to eat the entire portion of about 8 ounces, served with a side salad.

Excellent wines are served by the glass, 1/4, 1/2 or full carafe for very fair prices, and good bottles are offered for those who want to upgrade their wine choices. It is easy to see why this place is packed every night with a range of clientele from the neighborhood including couples on dates, friends out on the town, and single diners getting a bite before heading home from work. Their forte seems to be meat rather than fish, as evidenced by both my experience and from seeing the plates delivered to my dining neighbors, so definitely skip the fish (even if it is on special) and go for the red meat here and you will leave happy and very full.

Thanks Elaine for sharing your old neighborhood find with another Elaine!