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NYChowhound in Paris

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  • villeny Jun 9, 2006 12:26 AM

I posted a message a few months ago -- my husband and I are going to Paris next month and looking for 3 outstanding restaurants for our gastronomic stay before heading off to bike in Burgundy. Here's what I've narrowed down... please give your opinion:
Taillevent
Ambroisie
Le Atelier du Joel Rubicon
Le Comptoir
L' Epi Dupin

also we have a night in Dijon -- restaurant suggestions there would be appreciated as well!

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  1. Unless you’ve already obtained reservations at L’Ambrosie, Taillevent or Le Comptoir, I would probably do that as soon as possible. That might help narrow down your choices. L’Ambrosie and Le Comptoir are two of the most difficult restaurants in Paris to obtain a table for dinner. Taillevent is not far behind.
    On the assumption that you can get reservations and if cost is not an issue, I would definitely choose L’Ambrosie over Taillevent. As much as I love Taillevent’s wonderful service and the great wines, the food at L’Ambrosie is on a higher level. I wrote an earlier post on L’Ambrosie and couple of other three star restaurants. The link is below.
    I've had two meals at L’Atelier de Robuchon and I was not impressed on either occasion. The food was good and there was a nice buzz to the totally counter seating restaurant. I just thought it was not worth the cost and the effort of waiting for a seat because of their no reservation policy.
    I’ve eaten at L’Epi Dupin several times because the food is good and creative for its price. I also like the lively dining room. As with many of the new style bistros, some have complained about the service and the crowded tables. I’ve always chosen the late seating when the staff is more relaxed and I am not rushed. But I would be just as happy with a dozen of other similar bistros: La Regalade, Le Pamphlet, L’Avant Gout, La Bastide d’Odeon, L'Ardoise, or Le Troquet.
    Because of their crazy reservation policy, I have not even tried to get into Le Comptoir. I ate twice at La Regalade when it was owned by Chef Yves Camdeborde and the food was hearty and excellent. Definitely worth it.

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    5 Replies
    1. re: PB

      See my review in December for Taillevent, but I basically agree with PB. Save your money or go to Lucas Carton.

      1. re: Busk

        Sorry that Alain Senderens has given up his 3 star restaurant for a simpler concept. The restaurant is now call Senderens. Though I have never been a great fan of his cooking at L'Archestrate or Lucas Carton, I really love the art nouveau decor of Lucas Carton. Too bad that he has transformed the dining room to something more modern.

        1. re: Busk

          Busk..for some reason I cannot find your review. Would you mind posting the link so we can read it? Thanks very much. erica

          1. re: erica

            http://www.chowhound.com/boards/intl/...

            I posted it in December 2005.

        2. re: PB

          You won't be able to get a table for diner at Le Comptoir for months. I had lunch there last Sunday and asked about diner.

          For lunch, they now have a much larger menu compared to when they opened last year. You can choose from different starters, main courses and desserts. The choices is pretty wide now compared to the size of the bistrot and the kitchen. The dishes are nicely done and of superb quality.
          During the week or even on weekends, you'll be able to snag a table, especially now, that the terrace is open. Try either early or late, i.e. around noon or then as from 2:30 PM.

        3. You can go for dinner at Le Comptoir if you stay in the hotel (which is wonderful and includes a delicious breakfast) about 300 Euros a night for a beautifully appointed room. We dined at Le Comptoir in May and the meal was very good. The food is more elevated than Regalade and the menu is fixed. The restaurant is casual. The cheese presentation was similar to the terrine at Regalade. They bring you the cheese board and leave it on your table to enjoy at your leisure. They have 24 seats inside and about 14 outside (under heaters). The suggestion of having lunch there is a good one. It is much less popular and the menu is relatively broad.

          I also dined at Atelier de Joel Robuchon on the same trip. The food was outstanding down to every detail. The service was slightly rushed. The prices are high. The menu was 94 Euros and our tab for lunch was $350 US. If you go for lunch, you will not have to wait long. There were empty seats throughout the time that we dined there in May. You might also consider L'Atelier de Maitre Albert--an excellent restaurant that is casual and much more reasonably priced featuring small plates. Bon Appetit,

          1. In Dijon, Stephane Derbord is a fantastic experience. The room itself is a little sterile, but the food and presentations are fantastic. We chose the menu gourmand and had a great time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jason

              Jason, I was posting just as you were. Looks like great minds think alike.

            2. Proving that everyone has a different opinion, here are some different opinions:
              Taillevant--I've not eaten there myself but our son (which is a definite feinschmecker) says it's the most outstanding restaurant experience he's ever had.
              Ambroisie--Has its fervent supporters but I've become disenchanted. Just not fabulous enough for the price.
              Atelier de Joel Robuchon--A new favorite. Go early when they open for lunch and you should be fine. Food is interesting and fantasticly tasty. Decor is snazzy.
              Le Comptoir--I haven't eaten here either but I intend to during August. Lunch is definitely the time to try to get in. I hope you make it.
              Le
              L'Epi Dupon--Another place with lots of supporters but I'm not one. Just too hot and tables too close. Seating policy can mean you'll be waiting outside for quite a while before you're served with reservations.

              So, I'd opt for Robuchon definitely, Le Comptoir if you can get in, and Taillevant--given the list you've settled on.

              In Dijon, I recommend Stephane Derboud, a Michelin one star on Place Wilson. Quite lovely. Fairly modern decor with table decorations of pepper, pods and seeds, etc. rather than flowers. We had a 52 euro menu with two plates of amuses, an entree, main, wonderful breads, cheese course and desserts. Excellent value. Lovely modern servings (tray of three shot glasses--cucumber cream beneat gazpacho, green bean soup and one other I admit I don't recall. Pretty and tasty and not overdone.

              12 Replies
              1. re: JmVikmanis

                I'm totally with you Jim. Especially for the first 3-star experience I'd choose Taillevent over Ambroisie. The latter can be a bit hushed and stiff for some tastes, and while there are particular dishes that do indeed soar, the food at Taillevent is quite superb and the overall experience unparalleled IMHO.

                Atelier is also quite good, and I would add D'Chez Eux in the 7th as another joyful and high quality bistro experience.

                1. re: JmVikmanis
                  f
                  fai jay (fai jackson)

                  Well, I am on the same track as you two and second and third your comments. I actually, had a delicious meal at l'Amboisie and the room is lovely but somehow cold as is the service. For me, Taillevant is the 3 star experience. Although it is three star, it is somehow friendly and not snooty. That comes from the delightful owner M. Vrnat. The food is wonderful and the service beyond compare to any other place and the wine cellar is in a word amazing. They have just revamped their web site. I think one of the great bargains is their 70 euro Lunch! Take a look on the web. Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit.

                  1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                    I'd forgotten about the 70 euro lunch. Thanks for reminding me. I'd like to do that while we're in Paris in august. It's a long trip, however, and my husband refuses to pack a suit jacket. Would he be admitted without one say wearing a nice dress shirt, sans tie with maybe a sweater depending upon the weather? Thanks

                    1. re: JmVikmanis
                      f
                      fai jay (fai jackson)

                      You know I am not sure. I know years ago men needed the full regalia. I now see many without ties so that is okay. I will check with my friends who eat there several times a year and get back to you. I think M. Vrnat will not object to the shirt and sweater route, but better safe than sorry. Of course, you can email the restaurant and make inquiry when you make your reservation. Anyway, I'll see what my friends have to say.

                      1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                        Thank you so much. I don't know how reliable the e-mail route might be. When we ate at Marc Meneau last summer I e-mailed ahead and asked if jacket and tie was required. They responded something like "we are pleased to inform you that jacket and tie are required." So I was doubly annoyed when we saw several other tables where the gentlemen were not so attired but were plainly welcomed without prejudice. Some actual intelligence from diners would appear to be far more reliable. After that experience I promised my husband I'd never require him to unnecessarily pack a jacket and tie again. I'll appreciate your info on this.

                        1. re: JmVikmanis

                          I saw several people without a jacket and tie at Taillevant in December. Two American dudes were wearing jeans at one table. I wore a jacket and vest, but no tie.

                          1. re: JmVikmanis
                            f
                            fai jay (fai jackson)

                            Okay, I will now make things complicated. I just spoke to my friend who goes to Taillevant several times a year and is friendly with M. Vrnat. He says coat and tie are required and that they will give you one of each if you are not wearing one. Busk says he saw people without. So, I don't know. Maybe, that was the rule and it no longer is, but my friend started going there many years ago, and has just always assumed that it is still the rule. I know he always wears both to fine restaurants. He does a lot of business in Europe and Europeans would wear dressy attire for sure. So I guess, we have no definitive answer. Sorry, I thought it would be straight forward. I guess he could go in his shirt and trousers, and if they don't accept it, he will have to put on the ugly jacket and tie, they will not turn you away.

                            1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)
                              f
                              fai jay (fai jackson)

                              I just thought that if you ask they will say they have a dress code, but if you show up reasonably dressed they will let it pass. They and the other place you went to, probably prefer gentlemen in tie and jacket. Hope I have been of some help.

                              1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                                I really appreciate the work you put into trying to find the answer to this. We plan to do exactly as you suggest. He'll go sans tie and jacket (probably wrap a light weight sweater over his shoulders over a long sleeve shirt) and if he's busted, he'll graciously accept their offer of jacket and tie--ick! Of course, they'll be sorry. He'll undoubtedly spill on it, just like he would his own--if it isn't already covered with spills from previous ill-attired guests.

                                1. re: JmVikmanis
                                  f
                                  fai jay (fai jackson)

                                  Have fun with or without the jacket.

                        2. re: JmVikmanis

                          I think Taillevent is closed most of August.

                          1. re: PB

                            You are right. They are closed from 29 July to 28 Aug. according to the 2006 Michelin Red Guide. Means we need a reservation for lunch on 29 or 30. I'm on it right now. Thanks.

                    2. I've eaten in both Taillevent (a number of years ago) and L'Ambroisie last October. Do not miss a dinner at L'Ambroisie. Expensive beyond belief but an unforgettable experience. The bresse chicken for two would be a good choice and the chocolate tart redefines the confection. Civilized, gracious dining in an elegant space. Just beyond compare. And I love that I don't even know the chef's name.

                      1. b
                        Bill Strzempek

                        I agree with others who have posted below that Stephane Derbord is a wonderful experience. If you want to read my "novella" on it posted awhile ago, I've attached the link.

                        Re: Paris, however, I feel a little obligated to comment on the staff of Le Comptoir, stating upfront that I have not eaten there. I emailed and phoned the hotel both from the US and while in Paris to try and find a reservation, and was told to "walk by and see the staff." I did so. And when I did so the staff could not have been snottier or more condescending to me. I swear this is the first time I have ever been treated or spoken to in such a rude manner in six years of visiting Paris regularly. I went in during the afternoon and I spoke french and was very polite in asking for a table for that night. "Why on earth would we have a table for tonight," snarled the man at the cash register, "don't you know we are closed tonight?" I apologized for not knowing and for disturbing his work, and asked how I might find a table free any evening over the following two weeks. He sighed as if I was a moron asking for something for the hundredth time. "We don't take reservations in this restaurant!!, for that you have to go to the hotel!!!" So I went next door to the hotel, looked in the window to see a woman doing absolute nothing behind her greeting desk. I went in. She looked me up and down and then pretended to be immersed in paperwork. I waited about 40 seconds, moved closer, waited more, and finally said "excuse me." "Yes??????!!" I had distubed her brain surgery apparently. I asked about the chance of finding a free table, and she moaned "no no no no no we never have tables free, never never never, don't even try"!

                        Easy enough. I won't. Plenty of other fish in the sea. I checked my reflection in a nearby shop window to see if my clothes were a mess or anything else that might have generated such reactions, but no, I was in fine form.

                        Not sure what Camdeborde is telling his staff re: guest treatment, but they sure don't act like the staff did at Regalade, which, not incidentally, remains wonderful and a real great bistro experience.

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Bill Strzempek
                          f
                          fai jay (fai jackson)

                          I hate this attitude. It is afterall (sacrilege I know) only a meal and I am sure one just as good, can be found elsewhere in Paris, without the hassle and discourtesy. I don't mind making an effort to get into a good restaurant, but that effort does not include humiliation or being sneered at by an staff member.

                          If this is the way the staff at this Hotel and restaurant treat people I will certainly eliminate the hotel from my lists of possibles for my next trip.

                          Since this is the chowhound board, I know someone is going to post that they were treated like royalty and it is the best place in Paris. Perception is realty.

                          1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)
                            b
                            Bill Strzempek

                            I hope someone does post they were treated like royalty so I can put it back on my "try" list! Camdeborde's cooking is too great to be diminished by a few crumbs working the staff. Maybe they're overwhelmed by the popularity and constant struggle of folks trying to wheedle their way in, but that's part of their job in working there. When I think of similar hard to obtain tables in New York, the Batali restaurants, the Danny Meyer places, one always finds the staff welcoming and truly apologetic even when they can't fit you in, that keeps you redialing to try some other time. But I guess if you have people paying astronomical prices to stay in the hotel, they do deserve cossetting and a sense of privilege in the dining room. I know I would if I was shelling out big bucks to sleep there.

                            1. re: Bill Strzempek

                              We stayed at the Relais St Germain in March. We have stayed there before and it is a great hotel for us (yes it costs a fortune and we aren't millionaires. We just do without on other things to save some money for it).
                              We reserved for dinner the night we were to arrive for 8:30pm. Our plane was to land at 5:10pm so we figured the timing worked. Well, we didn't get there until 9PM. The reception desk was nice and told us not to worry that our table was still open. It was packed in that little dining room and even in March people were sitting outside. Just as we were sitting down Camdeborde was going out to say hi to friends and stopped and shook our hands.
                              The food was fabulous! I can still taste the lentil soup with foie gras and until that point I didn't like lentils. The cheese tray is all it is cracked up to be. The food was so exceptional that we broke a long standing habit and tried to reserve for another dinner but there was no room, even though we were staying at the hotel. We did have two great lunches there though. If you are interested in Cambeborde's food this is the way to go. The first courses at dinner come off the lunch menu. They don't take reservations for lunch at all but they also don't just do the 12-2 gig. Plan to go later and you should be able to get in.
                              We found the staff to be very nice but we are old restaurant hands so more forgiving than most. There were four working the floor that night not counting the poor guy who had to carry all the plates up and down the stairs from the kitchen. Camdeborde was very nice and shook our hands every time he saw us. Once at breakfast my husband saw them bring in a gorgeous piece of tuna and asked the chef if it was on the menu. We were told yes and that if we wanted to eat lunch in the restaurant and they were full that they would set up a table for us in one of the reception rooms in the hotel. It was necessary because we waited until they had room for us.
                              I know that all the people who eat at Le Comptoir don't stay at the hotel. I just don't know how they dole out the seats that aren't reserved by hotel guests. One idea is to have your hotel concierge call in the afternoon and ask to put your name in for any cancellations.

                              1. re: AGM/Cape Cod
                                f
                                fai jay (fai jackson)

                                Okay, now you've got my chowhounding persona in full flight. It goes back on the list and I will try all the tricks I know to get a reservation on my next trip. Put it back on your list Busk.

                                1. re: AGM/Cape Cod
                                  b
                                  Bill Strzempek

                                  The concierge option isn't possible for me as I stay in an apartment. Thanks for posting your glowing comments and keeping the hope alive that I'll eat there some day!

                          2. I didn’t mean to set off a war between L’Ambrosie and Taillevent when I prefer the food at the former. It must be a moment of insanity or a whiff of Chef Pacaud’s Truffled Scallops up my nostril. I definitely do not want to infer that Taillevent is not a 3 star experience. For many years, I thought it was the best restaurant that I’ve eaten at. The last couple of meals (last one 2004) left me the impression that the kitchen was too timid and the food was not quite up to what the best of the 3 stars were serving. The service was still the best I’ve ever encountered, the wine list was spectacular and more than fairly priced and the overall generosity was still there. The price was the least expensive of all the 3 stars while others can be numbing. I frequently recommend it to friends who are looking for an overall wonderful experience. But if someone else were paying, I would choose L’Ambrosie