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Jun 9, 2006 12:26 AM

NYChowhound in Paris

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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:
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.


    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

        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.
              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
                  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
                      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
                            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)
                              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
                                  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.