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Some grand French meals, some disappointments

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Paris did not disappoint. We always return at least once to our favorite bistro, Le Scheffer, and then try something new. This trip we had a delightful meal at L'Ami Jean, excellent in value and in fun. We also enjoyed the "new" scene at Ze Kitchen Gallerie, which included eating the best gaspacho we had anywhere in the world.

We had a marvelous lunch at Le Chapon Fin in Bordeaux which is one of the weirdest looking places with its elegance set against fake old walls, but which serves an amazingly generous lunch menu, a great value at 30 euros.

Our disappointment was in Brittany, where we had looked forward to the Maison de Bricourt. With the exception of truly magnificent oysters, we found this the least interesting of the Michelin starred beauties we have tried. We were 8 friends for lunch, one of whom has celiac, and they managed, with all the staff and flourishes and in spite of careful explanations in French, to put cookies on her desert and then seemed annoyed when we explained they needed to remove the whole desert, not merely the cookie, and start it over. Last year, our Michelin delight was Cordeillon Bages and frankly it far out-performed Maison de Bricourt both in food and in service.

Nonetheless, every where in Brittany we ate mussels and oysters and fish and scallops that were simply superb, whether simply presented or tarted up. And in the Aquitaine, we sighed over the simple pleasures like lettuce from the market and strawberries that were like perfume.

So, as ever, our pleasures were great and our quibbles were few.

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  1. I agree completely about L'Ami Jean. We ate there as a family a couple of weeks ago - seven people ranging in age between 5 and 72. Warm, friendly, service. Huge portions of wonderful food. Reasonable price.

    1. Unlike some others on this board, I agree completely with teezeetoo, having just returned from Brittany and eaten in both Cordeillon Bages and Maison de Bricourt. The dinner at Cordeillon Bages was the best meal by a long shot that we had in France--truly takes your breath away. The Maison de Bricourt, on the other hand, while very complex and interesting, was in the end a bit of a let down, not living up to what you expect from a 3-star, and being too experimental, almost Indian/asian in nature and not typical French cuisine.

      1. I just learned today that La Maison de Bricourt is closing on 15 December. I don't know whether it is the bad economy or what, but it will be missed.

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        1. re: henri cat

          It's actually quite the opposite -- Roellinger is tired, physically, and does not want to put up with the physical demands of a three-star restraurant anymore. He says he'll keep cooking "otherwise" in that same house, and I am very much looking forward to what this will be -- maybe something more b&b like, like Arnaud Daguin.

        2. Shame about Roellinger .Was there twice both when 2 star, and once very good, once one of the days/nights of my life. The old house where we stayed and the meal at the haut, is the one story l first tell people who ask why l love France so deeply. Cuisine was very simple with perfect ingredients. There was no attempting anything strange, again a shame. Olivier gave me a very detailed lecture on how he makes his confitures, as l do also, super time.