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Oct 21, 2008 09:04 PM

[Paris] My brain is fried...

Heading to Paris (yeah!!!) in 22 days, 5 hours, 37 minutes, but hey who's counting... I have done so much research that my brain is just about fried. I must stop. So please help. I will be in Paris for 6 nights. For lunch, we're just going to play it by ear. For dinner, I am thinking of the following:

Robert et Louise
Chez Janou
Aux Lyonnais
La Regalade

I will be staying in the Marais, but will go wherever the food is calling. I love fine dining but the dollar's so weak it makes me weep (although the euro has weakened recently too) and let's not even talk about my 401(k)... so I will be forced to leave the 3-starred restos for another trip. :(

With that said, I would like to keep my budget *on average* to 50 Euros per person per meal. I don't mind going over some meals while coming under on others. Of note, I don't drink much, a glass of wine for me and maybe two for the hubster. My questions are:

1. Will the restos I listed above fit my budget?
2. How would you prioritize my list above?
3. Are the food too similar at any of these places?
4. Would you recommend something else as a substitue?
5. Are there any 1 or 2 starred restos that are worth considering and not too jaw-dropping expensive?


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  1. Was at Le Regalade on Monday evening, good as always, check was 410€ for 7 people. Do not think you caqn do Bofinger for even close to that. Check on Robert and Louise, walked by about 2 weeks ago and they were closed for repairs, do not know if closed briefly or for a long time. l always recommend Chez Denise

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Robert and Louise is open, walked by it today, agree with Souphie, as always, going to Chez Denise Fri, and Chez L'Ami Jean Sat, was at Atelier du Robuchon on Sunday, 188/2 ate entree and plat, one bottle of inexpensive wine, no dessert. Excellent but not inexpensive.

    2. La Table de Joël Robuchon has a 55eur lunch menu, beverage included. Le Cinq has an 85eur lunch menu. Those are the most interesting deals in the starred restaurant business -- they're very, very interesting in comparison.

      La Régalade and Chez l'Ami Jean are by far the best food for money you can get, easily worth one star. But none of them offer fine dining experience -- they're rushed, tiny and noisy. Warm, some say.

      I don't see the point of Aux Lyonnais, but this was discussed in a recent thread, and the place sure is flawless. If you like traditional, I would much rather head to l'Auberge Bressane. For offals (lots of it aux Lyonnais), think Ribouldingue. Other good bistrots include Le Pré Verre.

      I am curious as to why you selected those five addresses. Except for la Régalade and Bofinger's setting, why would they draw your attention?

      3 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        I agree with Souphie regarding Aux Lyonnais, except that we didn't think it was anywhere near flawless. Insipid asparagus soup with grainy foie blond mousse. Tough lamb shoulder. Decent quenelles de brochet. Good souffle. Crappy ile flottante. Wouldn't go back.

        1. re: tupac17616

          souphie - There's no real basis for my choice of venues... As said, my brain is fried from researching hotels, apartments, sights, tours, markets, etc. I have done nothing else the past 6 weeks except work, eat and daydream Paris. I gotta move on... Normally I would do more research but since I have not been to Paris in 12 years... while food is important, I won't let it dictate my trip, as I did for recent trips to NYC, LA and the Bay Area, all of which I've been to numerous times and there's no need for me to sightsee. So like I said, no substantive basis except for this:

          Robert et Louise - consistently rave reviews on Chowhound and other articles
          Chez Janou - ditto above plus close to where I'll be staying (not a huge factor)
          Aux Lyonnais - very good recent review / thread
          La Regalade - consistently good reviews and good value (debated between this and Chez l'Ami but reviews seemed less consistent)
          Bofinger - again, proximity to where I'll be staying, plus also seems like good ambience and atmosphere

          So I am solicitng help from fellow hounds and will just take your word on the recs and based on your feedback so far, I will cross out Aux Lyonnais and will consider anything else that y'all would recommend. I would like some variety too. How much would Bofinger cost and is it worth? The lunch menus at Robuchon and Cinq sounds tantalizing, but I don't want to commit to lunch as I don't know where or what I'll be sightseeing...

          1. re: Moshi Moshi

            Bofinger's food and service were very solid when we visited 3 weeks ago. With your modest wine needs, you might be able to hold to 50 euros/pp especially if you take le menu.

            My two best budget finds came from Routard, and both in the 5e (where we were staying):

            Le Jardin d'Ivy, 75 rue Mouffetard. Perfectly cooked rouget, nicely done pave de boeuf, and a good scallop with saffron cream dish -- not haute cuisine but good honest cooking. Desserts were a little pedestrian, and the wine list is limited. Service is quite friendly.

            L'Epoque, 81 rue du Cardinal Lemoine. I had an absolutely amazing gesier salad and a quite servicable duck confit. Again, the wine list is pretty limited, but the house burgundy was drinkable and good value for money. Service was very friendly and attentive.

            I've had very good luck with Routard recommendations for budget to mid-range restaurants.

      2. My view:

        Robert et Louise - it is OK, reasonable food but I didn't want to rush back. I think it will work with your budget.

        Chez Janou - quite a young crowd, we found it good for meeting friends on a Saturday night for a boisterous meal, good value and the food is appropriate to the place. Should easily fit in the budget.

        Aux Lyonnaise - we never had a bad meal. But don't go if you don't like offal or are a conservative eater. To get the best from it you need to try these types of dishes. Also eat late rather than early, the early sittings have far to many tourists. It may push the budget a little depending on drinks.

        La Regalade - it has all been said before. Very good. It will probably just be in budget.

        Bofinger - if it didn't exist Disney would build it. Food is average, lots of tourists and pretty average service. Once was enough, our second visit was a mistake. It will be in budget.

        I would only have Le Regalade and Aux Lyonnaise on my list, the others are not great. I would add "Fables de la fontaine" for a good fish restaurant which is good value and starred. Lunch at Le Cinq or another top restaurant is worth stretching the budget for - it balances the choices. "Fish" is a good casual wine bar/restaurant for a cheaper meal (but it isn't a fish restaurant), and for history "Le Train Bleu" is fantastic, as it is one of the most spectacular/OTT restaurants I know (although the food is very average).

        6 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          Ok, so a resounding yes for La Regalade. I'll still keep Robert et Louise and Chez Janou on the short list since it's near where I'll be staying. The offal sounds very interesting and I may put it back on the list just for that! Definitely don't get much of that here in the States! Les Fables de la Fontaine sounds good based on other posts - do they have a website? Can you tell me more about this resto?

          For lunch, can anyone please suggest a few places in each of the arrondisement so that I have a few standby depending on where I find myself when my tummy starts growling and my feet starts aching?

          I plan to put everything on a grid by arrondisement and carry with whereever I go - cafes, sights, restos, all grid out by arrondisements with all the essentials - hours, prices, metro, etc!

          1. re: Moshi Moshi

            Can I make a suggestion? You aren't leaving yourself much room for discovery, and Paris is the perfect place for that. It makes me sad to think you would put it on a grid by arrondisement and carry it wherever you go. Why don't you plot out a couple of must-dine places, take a few notes, and then let your mood carry you?

            I enjoyed a raspberry tarte at Eric Kayser just as much as the Michelin starred meals that I ate, and nothing could top the dish of strawberries I ate at the cafe where my co-workers in Paris have lunch every day. You couldn't plot them on a map, it just happened. Leave yourself time and room for exploration. Otherwise you'll be too busy looking at your grid to see what's in front of you.

            1. re: brendastarlet

              Dear brendastarlet - Thanks for that. That is exactly why I said in my earlier post that I am not going to let dining dictate this trip, as in some of my previous trips. I do not want to be bound and constrained by reservations and dress codes; but rather I want to have a list of good recs from fellow hounds in my back pocket as I wander aimlessly and let the sights take me whereever they may. But just in case I end up some place where I don't see anything that strikes the mood, I will know I have my trusty list at the ready...

              1. re: brendastarlet

                I agree with brendastarlet. I have been reading this board and Pudlo Paris for a week now, and my husband wants me to put everything on Google Map and try to match the restaurant near the places we'll visit. I also created some grid on an Excel spreadsheet but it's too much work. Finally, I've booked 3 restaurants (Le Train bleu , Hier et aujourd'hui and Chez Janou). I have no clue which arrondissement I'll visit each day so I'll get up, look at the weather and then decide from there on. If I pass in front of a restaurant and there's lots of people in it, I'll go in and order. My brain is totally fried, all I think of is boarding the plane in a few days and finally eating a real croissant and baguette!

              2. re: PhilD

                I agree about Bofinger. The food is not very good at all. It's all atmosphere and not much else.

              3. Interesting to read what's been said about the offal at Aux Lyonnais. I would've loved to see what they can do with it (and I was craving tripes à la lyonnaise in particular that night), but I didn't see a single thing. Also would've loved some pig's trotters. But alas, didn't see that either. (And my food French is fluent, so that's not the problem! :) Maybe I picked a bad night / time of the year?

                9 Replies
                1. re: tupac17616

                  I don't think you did. The place is not for a ultimate foodie like you -- they have nothing to show you in terms of what they can do. Check my picasa for a pic of their very standard pig's trotter ( ). L'Auberge Bressane would be more interesting for you, as they have something to show you in terms of what they did say with poulet aux morilles or soufflé au fromage. You went to CAJ and Régalade, and it's unlikely that any Parisian bistrot beats those two from your (and my) foodie perspective.

                  Moshi moshi, if you can wait a few more days, I am finishing a Google map of food places I reviewed. Meanwhile, you can turn to the map of bistrots on -- they have all good bistrots in town with practical information.

                  1. re: souphie

                    souphie - I will anxiously wait for your Google map. Merci. Scanned your pics on picasaweb - the Mousse de foie gras at La Table de Joel Rubochon looks divine - again, something that is a rare find in the States, especially now with all the hoopla / foie gras ban in Chicago. In fact, all your pics from La Table looks delish. And the 55 euros lunch price tag is even more intriguing, so intriguing that I may have to break my rule and commit to lunch during one of my precious days. Is the 55 euros lunch available everyday?

                    On a side note, the tripe at Babbo (Batali - NYC) was excellent, but prob insignificant compared to the offerings of Paris.

                    1. re: Moshi Moshi

                      No, no, no. I love Paris as much as the next person, but we do have restaurants that compete -- and Babbo's is one of them. I'll bet the tripe there was just as good as anywhere in Paris. Sadly, I haven't been able to try it because I can't get a DAMNED reservation at the place. It's easier to go to Paris for my tripe.

                      1. re: ccferg

                        Babbo's tripe is just OK. Try Al Di La in Brooklyn. Their tripe is better. In Paris, I've never had the country style tripe, only the Andouillette at various places. I assume places like Chez Denise offer the country style preparation.

                        1. re: ccferg

                          l have had the tripe at Partis, Babbo, Lupa, and felt of those three Pastis was the best. Basic difference between what is served in US and Europe is not so much in the preparation but in the raw material. In states tripe is usually honeycomb, from the second stomach. In Europe it is gras double from the first stomach. Richer more texture, almost texture like a perfect veal breast. In US gras double goes directly to dog food l am told. The why l do not know, but that is the result. Had gras double at Chez Denise last Friday and was wonderful. Many walk-ins at Babbo at opening at the bar

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            I didn't know there was a difference in what passes for tripe here and abroad. I cook tripe at home, and, yes, it is the honeycomb. Now I'm dying to try the tripe in Paris, but, alas, I have only four days on my trip in November and have already planned about 30 meals. (You and the other regulars on the France board have been a huge help in narrowing it down a bit. I'll do a recap when I get back. I'm really looking forward to dinners at La Regalade and L'Auberge Bressane, which has what appears to be a nice fall hunter's menu.)

                            They did tell me at Babbo's that I could sit at the bar. My daughter lives just around the block and we'll do that next time I'm in town. Guess we need to try Pastis as well.

                            1. re: ccferg

                              Try Lupa next time you're in NYC, another Batali restaurant, much easier to get into. It has a simpler menu, but very good food. Crowded and maybe a little loud, but that is part of its charm.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Agreed! Lupa is great. Their baccala is delish! I never go back to the same restaurant twice while on vacation, but I made an exception for Lupa.

                    2. re: tupac17616

                      Tupac - strange the menu on the website has some offal, and from my numerous visits they always seem to have 3 or 4 specials of which a number will feature offal in some form. Their menu's often feature food terms I wasn't familiar with or hadn't seen that often in other restaurants and like you I feel my food French is quite good.

                      Unlike Souphie (who has a downer on Ducasse and his empire) I feel Aux Lyonaise stands up well to CAG and Regalade. To me it isn't "either/or" but simple another member of the stable of restaurants I enjoy.

                    3. One of my favorite Paris restaurants for both atmosphere and simple , traditional and delicious French food: Ma Bourgogne on Place des Vosges. They're famous for steak tartare and for a good reason.