I have read all the reviews for this restaurant with great interest. They range from "wonderful" to "terrible", and that is to be expected. One can often tell from the things said that the reviewer has a skewed sense of experience.
First of all, I own an apartment in the same block just a 100 meters from Les Elles. It is not totally my apartment, but I own it along with 11 other families, so I get to go to Paris once month every year and have been going to this neighborhood yearly since 2007.
The first time I went to Les Elles, I met the owner, Christine. She is a French citizen of Vietnamese ancestry. She is an interesting character, very extroverted, and a bit quirky. One reviewer said there was never anybody in the place. It was obvious that the reviewer didn't understand that nobody in Paris eats dinner early and this place opens at 7 PM which is early for Paris. They usually don't have a crowd until around 8 PM and then they are very busy. One reviewer said it was small and crowded with the diners elbow to elbow. Duh, welcome to the precious little finds in the little neighborhoods of Paris. And another reviewer said there were no menus, and that the fare was featured on a chalk board that the waiter displayed for the diners. That is totally typical for France where the chef may not decide what will be offered until the chef goes to the farmers' market that morning. Although, Les Elles doesn't really change their menu daily. One reviewer said the prices were very high. Au contraire. The prices at this little place are very reasonable, even on the low side for what you get. And as for the quality of the food, this place is NOT Maxim's, but nobody, I mean nobody, can judge a restaurant on one dining experience, but the totality of all the reviews can be revealing. I have never had a bad meal at Les Elles. I don't think I've ever ordered a beer, as one reviewer complained there were none, but the wine selection is OK.
Christine, as I said, is a character. The second time I went there, a full year after my first visit, Christine, greeted me as I walked in. She was on her hands and knees on the floor writing out the evening's menu on the chalk board. It was too early, and she wasn't open for another half hour, but she looked up, saw me, and said "John, how are you?" This was a full year after I had met her for the first time, and she remembered my name. Amazing.
So in the end, I would say that the atmosphere is "charming" and "cozy". The food is very good, even using the Paris standard as a measuring stick. Remember, there are Michelin rated restaurants, and hole in the wall places. By any standard, this place is a good value. The prices are very modest for the quality. I've gotten spaghetti for twice the price at the Italian place down the street, and carry out that is higher at others.
So, remember, nothing will suit everybody, but this place, in my opinion is a good value and fun. I go every year for a month and eat there at least a couple of times every trip. And I don't get a kickback. Some other great values in the neighborhood are Pizza Momo (near Church of St Paul), Vin et Tartines on rue de Rivoli, Le Bucheron, Robert et Louise, So many more.
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