BOOK: "Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City's 102 Best Restaurants," by Alexander Lobrano (Random House, $16)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Anyone planning a trip to Paris, especially those who've been before and have a sense of the pleasures to come.
"If only every cafe in Paris served food this good and reasonably priced," Lobrano writes of a spot near the Bastille. From the gilded salons near the Champs-Elysees to the best falafel stand in the city, "Hungry for Paris" covers a full range but concentrates on the bistro, that little place on the corner that, in the aggregate, forms the spine of Parisian dining.
Lobrano steers old Paris hands to restaurants they know, ones they've never heard of and, tantalizingly, ones they've walked past and wish they'd gone into. He concludes detailed menu descriptions with little pep talks: "Your wallet will take a beating here," he says of a pricey establishment, "but it's worth every euro." That's the kind of encouragement needed by a hungry gourmand with a fistful of weak dollars.
The European correspondent for Gourmet magazine for the past eight years, Lobrano is a master of gastroporn, and he fleshes out his luscious prose with tempting photos. "Hungry for Paris" is like a cozy bistro on a chilly day: It makes you feel welcome.
-- David Kirby