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GLOBAL : CORRESPONDENTS' COURSES : Times writers around the world reveal the names of their favoritelittle-known restaurants : PARIS

October 20, 1985|S tanley Meisler

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.

When we're in the mood for something other than fish, we try la cote de veau a la creme (creamed veal chop) or the magret de canard. The magret are slices of breast of duck so thickly cut that a newcomer often suspects that the waiter has brought slices of beef instead of the duck that was ordered.

The tempting desserts include tarte tatin (a kind of combination apple pie and upside-down cake from Normandy) and profiteroles (cream puffs soaked in chocolate sauce).

The menu has no English translation, but Boyer and her daughter speak enough English and have enough warmth to put any visiting American at ease.

Au Petit Tonneau is popular in our neighborhood, and it is a good idea to reserve a table in advance.

Au Petit Tonneau, 20, Rue Surcouf, 75007 Paris; telephone 705-09-01.

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