Reporting on 10 fabulous days of eating in Paris!
I’ve just returned from 10 nights in Paris and want to share some of my food related experiences here after receiving so much from reading this board. Forgive the length but 10 days of eating…
Here’s the summary of where/what we ate and some brief impressions. I’m happy to respond to any specific questions.
Guy Savoy: 100E internet special lunch. Lots of hoopla (including a dessert cart after the real dessert with a few hundred little things that they want you to try,) a couple of really spectacular dishes (“all peas,” a truffle brioche, and the strawberry dessert) and the rest was just very good food in a very cushy atmosphere with over the top service for a lot of money. We found equally if not more creative and delicious dishes at numerous less expensive places. With 2 glasses of wine, water, and coffee: 268E
Les Cocottes: Late dinner. Excellent for a light meal: White asparagus and wild mushrooms in a creamy broth with a poached egg on top. Special ham (similar to proscuitto) over greens and hearts of palm with a vinaigrette. Crusty wheat baguette. Dessert was gaufre (waffle) fresh made, topped with fresh whipped cream and a salted butter caramel sauce. With one glass of wine, no water or coffee, 38E
Le Hangar: Dinner. A tiny little place hidden behind the Pompidou. Outdoor seating, no credit cards. No menu, but the carte is very reasonably priced. We had one entrée (baby green bean salad) 2 plats (beef “stroganoff” with fried potato puffs and sautéed foie gras on a bed of olive oil mashed potatoes) 1 dessert (chocolate gateau) ½ bottle of wine, 2 coffees for 70E. Excellent meal.
Passiflore: Dinner. Very elegant, great service. The menu was a good value, 4 courses for 54E, all delicious and beautiful. Entrée: Royal de foie gras baignee d’un cappuccino de champions: Foie gras mousse over a creamy mushroom sauce topped with sautéed button mushrooms.
Plat: Caneton croise mi sauvage roti aux cinq parfum: Roasted leg and thigh of wild duck in 5 spice sauce (caramelized) with a tiny poached pear and celery root puree.
Cheese: Fromage fermier d’ Auvern: 2 pieces
Dessert: Chocolate gateau with pistachio filling and a quenelle of dark chocolate ice cream.
One of us ordered off the carte and had foie gras ravioli with a luscious pile of fresh morels (outrageously delicious) and cote de boeuf. The beef was the only real miss of the entire trip. It was tough and slightly over cooked. I suspect there was a bit of a language/culture issue when they asked how I wanted it cooked. I asked for rare and they brought it medium rare, I think perhaps assuming that as an American I didn’t really want it bloody rare. Perhaps I should have sent it back but I didn’t. 1 menu, 1 entrée and plat from the cart, 2 glasses of wine, water and 2 coffees: 179E
Breizh Café: Dinner. Great meal of real buckwheat gallettes with quality ingredients in the fillings and crepes for dessert. 1 beer, 2 coffees, 42E.
Astier: 44 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud - 75011 PARIS tél : 01.43.57.16.35 A lovely little bistro in the 11th serving a simple homey menu. Great service, amazing cheese course. 4 course menu, 31E. We had pigs ear croquettes and foie gras terrine (4E supplement) for entrees and rabbit stew and perfectly cooked salmon with haricot vertes for plats. Then cheese: a “help yourself” tray of about 25 different kinds. Yum. Desserts were chocolate crème brulee (the sugar topping was a bit burnt) and raspberry/rhubarb en croute, good but so tart, a scoop of glace or whipped cream would have helped it out. With 2 glasses of wine and 2 coffees:78.50E. An excellent value.
La Regalade 49 av. Jean-Moulin, 14e 01-45-45-68-58
This was the best restaurant of the trip, rivaling and even besting in many ways, Guy Savoy and Spring. At the end of this meal we immediately reserved for another dinner later in the week. The setting is classic bistro with tables very close together, packed with people, and harried but very professional service when busy, but the food is definitely Michelin star quality and an amazing value. When we returned for our second meal, they welcomed us like family and also comped our coffees. The basic 3 course menu is 32 E.
Shortly after being seated you are brought bread and a whole pan of pork and liver pate and a bucket of excellent cornichon and invited to help yourself. This pate is so good it’s hard to show restraint with the whole pan left on your table, but we held ourselves to a generous spread on one piece of good bread each, knowing that a great meal would be coming.
For entrées we had: terrine of layered pork, foie gras, and mixed vegetables served with a fig confit and a rich saffron fish stock, enriched with a bit of cream and Spanish spices, poured over chorizo and bits of white fish and something crispy that I couldn’t identify. Complex, spicy, rich, with varied textures. Delicious!
For plats: pan fried John Dory, with crispy skin served with fresh peas and white asparagus and Caramelized pork belly with mustard mashed potatoes. The pork belly has 2 distinct layers of meat, one moist, dark and rich, the other drier and lighter, and then there is a lovely layer of fat right under a crisp, caramelized skin. Eaten with the mustard mashed potatoes, it’s heaven. There are pork cracklings scattered all over the plate, adding crunch to every bite. Sinful! This is not a dish for cholesterol counters!
Dessert was rice pudding, served with a thick caramel sauce and a rich vanilla pot de crème with fresh raspberries. 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of water and 2 coffees: 92.50E. The deal of the century.
For our second meal, entrees were: boudin noir: blood sausage, served over a croquette of mashed potatoes surrounded with finely chopped apple, dark ham and a scattering of pork skin cracklings, topped with beautifully dressed baby greens. The other entrée was red tuna, just seared on the outside, served cold over a puree of deliciously seasoned eggplant, topped with lightly dressed baby greens.
For entrée we decided to splurge and for a 14E supplement, we ordered the foie gras for 2. WOW! This was an enormous portion of perfectly cooked foie, crisp on the outside, melting on the inside, served with mustard mashed potatoes, fresh peas and beans and a few mushroom all in a light, simple pan sauce. What a decadent meal and worth every bite.
Dessert was the rice pudding and caramel sauce again and a delicious quenelle of Guanjia chocolate mousse with a vanilla tea custard sauce and a chocolate tuille. Another totally outrageous meal. With wine, a bottle of water and they comped us our 2 coffees, 90.50E.
Au Gourmand: Great meal, lovely, elegant setting, very good service, fine value, 3 course menu of simple but very creative and delicious food for 36E.
Entrées: escargot in a pine nut pesto surrounded by pesto mashed potatoes and topped with fresh, lightly dressed salad of baby greens and herbs… and 3 large shrimp in a coconut milk broth with scallions and large red roe. Plats: Bresse chicken, served with the liver, with a rich macaroni and cheese, white asparagus and fresh peas… and pork in a rich pan sauce with broccoli puree. Desserts: chocolate mouse layered with chocolate wafer, enrobed in dark chocolate ganache with a quenelle of rich chocolate glace and a gorgeous vanilla soufflé with bits of citron served with fresh strawberries and yoghurt sorbet. A completely delicious, gorgeous and satisfying meal! 2 glasses of wine, 1 bottle of water, 2 coffees:105E.
Spring: This place has had a ton of hype and I called months ahead and could only get a lunch reservation so I must imagine that at times the meals are sublime but the day we were there, most of the food was really quite simple and straight ahead. It consisted of the freshest ingredients and was very well prepared, but based on this meal alone, I would say the reputation is over rated. Anyone who enjoys cooking a bit could make this exact meal at home.
The day we went for lunch, the menu consisted of:
entrée: A slice of roasted eggplant topped with a piece of perfectly grilled John Dory, topped with sautéed and lightly dressed squid (vinaigrette)
plat: A slab of perfectly cooked rare duck breast, sauce of carrot puree with ginger, tiny roasted yellow fleshed potatoes, a dribble of balsamic vinegar
dessert: fresh strawberries with a strawberry/raspberry/red wine puree and a browned butter sable.
With coffee: fresh pineapple and mixed nut butter brittle. With 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of water and 2 coffees, lunch was 97E.
Chez Jenny: We wanted one classic brassiere meal of onion soup and escargot and had planned to try La Rotund near Montparnasse which Souphie had recommended, but we discovered a free organ concert in a church near Place de Republique that started at 9:00 so it didn’t make sense to eat near Montparnasse. We were heading home the next day so wanted to eat before the concert and someone recommended Chez Jenny as a famous Alsation brassiere that was a 5 minute walk from the concert so we decided to try it.
I’m sure that La Rotund would have been better but this was fine for what it was. The atmosphere was great (slightly upscale, beautiful place,) the service excellent and the food average. The onion soup had a great piece of delicious, bubbly browned cheese over too much bread floating in a decent but not particularly rich broth with lots of onions. We found no fault with the escargot, which were fat and tender and came easily out of the shells where they were floating in parsley infused garlic butter. The bread was a decent, plain baguette, not the best, but not the worst and delicious to soak up the garlic butter. we also tried Flammenkuche, which is a cross between a pizza and a crepe, (served flat and round like pizza but too soft to be picked up) topped with excellent lardon, sautéed onion and crème fresh. For dessert we shared an order of profiteroles. They brought 4! The choux were not particularly crisp or special but the ice cream was good quality with flecks of vanilla and the chocolate sauce was excellent. 2 onion soups, 15 escargot, one flamenkuche, one order of profiteroles, one glass of wine, no water or coffee
For croissant, pain au chocolate, millefuelle, chocolate éclairs, sandwiches and miscellaneous pastries we tried:
Miss Manon, Au Levain du Marais,Gerard Mulot, Pierre Herme, Pain du sucre, Kayser, BE, and Secco.
Miss Manon was the clear loser and Secco was the overall winner but Kayser had the best croissants (plain and chocolate.)
Great report and very timely.. Since tonight is our last night in Paris... Thanks we are going to try one of your recommendations.
We had dinner last night at the Hidden Kitchen... it was a wonderful experience and would recommend to everyone.... not classic French but Brandon and Laura use the freshest produce available for each meal…. We had a wonderful time …
We will put La Regalade's address and phone # with our our "going to Paris" file.
You mentioned the beef being tough. I avoid beef altogether in Paris because it is not grain fed as I have come to expect. Maybe one could/should develop a taste for it, but with so much else in the City to eat I just don't try.
Anyway, it is a joy to read about your experiences as I wonder so many times how things worked out for folks who ask advice here...the couple who were eloping, the woman with her teenage sons in 7e, etc., all disappeared.
Thanks for reappearing with an excellent report!
>> La Regalade 49 av. Jean-Moulin, 14e 01-45-45-68-58
>> This was the best restaurant of the trip
Oh, I'm so glad to hear this! I stumbled across La Regalade many years ago (8 or so), when we were staying at a hotel down the street. I eternally bless the patronne for steering us to this wonderful place. Your description of your dinner made me drool into my keyboard - I must get back for another visit soon!
Good report. You make some good comments about Spring, it is important to recognise that the art of Daniel's cooking is to produce fresh, simple, interesting dishes. It is quite a contrast to a lot of the more complex cooking that is traditional across Paris (even in the newer restaurants) and I think this is why it gained its reputation so quickly.
Although it appears simple I suspect even competent home cooks may struggle to cook this well, across this range of ingredients, and add the subtle sauces and touches that elevate the dishes, as you say yourself the John Dory and the Duck were perfectly cooked.
Spring is over hyped, and as a result I guess many people don't have their expectations met, but it is still a good restaurant.