It's hard not to feel part of the café culture in Montparnasse. Along the broad boulevards you can find some of the city's classic brasseries. As storied as they are, many have been bought up by chains and drained of much of the true charm that once attracted artists, politicians, and intellectuals. Though authentic brasseries can still be found—like Le Dôme—some of the area's best food is found at small bistros on narrow side streets.
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Best known for the literary prizes awarded here since 1914, Drouant has shed its dusty image to become a forward-thinking restaurant. The man behind the transformation is Alsatian chef Antoine Westermann, who runs the hit bistro Mon Vieil Ami on Ile St-Louis. At Drouant the menu is more playful, revisiting the French hors d'oeuvres tradition with starters that come as a series of four plates. Diners can pick from themes such as French classics (like a deconstructed leek salad) or convincing mini-takes on Thai and Moroccan dishes. Main courses similarly encourage grazing, with accompaniments in little cast-iron pots and white porcelain dishes. Even desserts take the form of several tasting plates. Pace yourself, since portions are generous and the cost of a meal quickly adds up. This is the place to bring adventurous young eaters, thanks to the €15 children's menu. The revamped dining room is bright and cheery, though the designer has gone slightly overboard with the custard-yellow paint and fabrics.
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