Restaurant Lilane in the 5th

With white tablecloths, a daily ardoise, friendly service, and terrific value, Lilane is a neighborhood bistro just off rue Monge. At lunch on a recent weekday, each item on a carte of updated French classics offered a pleasant surprise.

I chose from the day’s menu (3 courses 24€ at lunch, 35€ at dinner). The velouté d’aubergine—creamy, aromatic, and the soft color of a Degas pastel—was as beautiful as it was delicious. Swirls of chèvre frais, a scattering of watercress, and slivers of marinated onion balanced the sweet taste of eggplant. I soaked up the last of it with freshly sliced sourdough.

My filet de dorade turned out to be five layers of flavor: a smear of white wine sauce, topped with pureed potato, then wonderfully moist sea bream, sweet, roasted tomatoes, and finally a foam the color of cream that tasted like the sea. Each flavor and texture complemented the next, and I adored it.

Ken’s tournedo de canard wasn’t seared and pink in the middle, as we expected, but braised and served in its juice—welcome comfort food on a cool fall day, further elevated by the smoky Bordeaux that our server recommended.

Desserts at Lilane are generous, and for the most part seasonal. The figs, roasted and steaming beside ice cream maison were straight from the market. And the chocolate fondant a delight.

For great food, lovely ambiance, and excellent prices, go now, before word gets out. Reservations advised, especially for lunch. Closed weekends.

Have you been to Lilane? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think!

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