It is easy enough to find a restaurant in Paris with star-studded cuisine; the guidebooks are crammed with them. But it is not as easy for a visitor to find that small neighborhood restaurant, the kind that Parisians favor for an uncomplicated and simple meal, where the atmosphere is warm and pleasant, the host is kind and cheerful and many of the diners are longtime customers.
Our own favorite, Au Petit Tonneau, is in our neighborhood on the Left Bank, just off Rue St. Dominique, between the Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. It is run by Ginette Boyer, who greets her customers at the door and then slips back into the kitchen to prepare meals for them.
The business cards of Mme. Boyer promise "a women's cuisine," which is fairly unusual in Paris, where the best-known chefs are men, and her menu, though limited, is consistently good.
We usually start with la salade au bleu (salad with blue cheese) and then go on to a fish course, either the souffle de poissons (fish souffle), la blanquette de lotte ( lotte in white sauce) or the special fish dish that she has listed for the day, especially if it is turbot.