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Reporting on some great eating in Paris

p
plafield May 28, 2009 05:45 PM

We had about 10 days of great meals in Paris. Here's my report:

CHRISTOPHE 8, rue Decartes (5th): Fabulous Sunday night choice. Entree of chunks of house smoked salmon served with blinis and chopped egg. Simple and delicious. I had the canard, rare tender breast and a crispy whole chunk of almost boneless confit served with a pear and parsnip compote. Very crisp skin, very moist meat. My husband Paul had echine du basque porc with polenta which was absolutely fabulous. For dessert we shared mousse au chocolate, extrememly dark and intense. With a bottle of water and one glass of wine the bill was 82E. Highly recommend, especially for a Sunday night when the choices are slim, but I'd go any night.

CHEZ DENISE 5, rue des Prouvaires (1st) For a very late lunch on a Monday (2:30 PM) the place was mostly empty but we were made most welcome. We went right to the plats and I had the foie de veau, a gigantic slab with a ridiculous amount of bacon, a buttery boiled potato and a little frisee in vinaigrette. Nothing delicate about this liver and the pile of bacon could have been crisper but the dish was quite tasty and and very satisfying. Paul had sole meuniere, a gigantic fish, crisp and delicately tender with the same sides. We finished by sharing a very passable millefuille. With water, 1 glass of wine and 2 coffees the bill was 76E. Not refined food, but good solid food and plenty of it.

LA REGALADE 49 Ave Jean Moulin (14th) We had dinner with Souphie and his wife and the place was bustling as always. We were seated right away but service was slow and getting drinks posed a bit of a challenge. But the food? Fine as ever. First, pan of house made pate with fresh bread and cornichon. It’s hard not to completely chow down on this delicious treat but I knew what was coming next so I controlled myself!
Paul and I had the special house foie gras for 2 as our entrée; 2 huge slabs of sautéed buttery foie, each with a scattering of lima beans and a delicious pan sauce (14E supplement for 2.) This foie ruins one for ever ordering it in the States where you pay $20 for a tiny sliver usually served with a pile of some kind of fruit compote and bread. Both Julot and wife had the morel special (4E supplement) floating in cream sauce with delicate herbs. Everyone shared bites so I can attest to this as being rich and delicious!

For plats we both ordered the porc belly, 2 thick slices of rich and fatty meat with a crisp layer of skin running along each piece topped with a fresh greens, lightly dressed and served creamy potatoes mashed with a bit of spicy, grainy mustard. To die for but so rich I could only eat one piece, especially after the foie gras. They had pigeon and dorade, both excellent choices.

For dessert, I had the vanilla rice pudding with an intense caramel sauce. Paul had a puree of rhubarb covered with vanilla mouse and topped with fresh strawberries and raspberries. This one didn't impress me. Julot had the Grand Marnier soufflé (excellent) and his wife the chocolate choice: a quenelle of intense dark chocolate mousse on a thin slice of even darker dense chocolate cake. Innse and yummy. With 2 bottles of water, 1 bottle of cote de Rhone and they comped us 4 coffees. the bill was 228E for the 4 of us. Great meal. Even though the service may leave something to be desired, I'll continue to recommend this restaurant for excellent quality food at a great value (32E menu)

AU BON ACCUEIL 14, r d Monttessuy (7th) Lovely little space, warm and inviting. The tables are close together but it feels cozy rather than crowded. Totally packed at 9:00 PM out table was ready in less than 5 minutes and they gave us each a glass of good white wine while we waited. Excellent service throughout the meal. 31E menu with many interesting choices as well as a very nice looking carte. We went with the menu and everything we ordered was excellent.

I started with a fresh salad of baby lettuces with parmesan cheese, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. Paul began with a cold cream of carrot soup with tiny buttery croutons. Plats were Bresse chicken with potato croquette and white tuna with eggplant with olive tapanade and a tomato and red pepper sauce. For dessert I had the best lemon tart I’ve ever had, served with white chocolate glace and Paul had an excellent apple tart with vanilla glace. With a bottle of water and one glass of wine and 2 coffees the bill came to 80 E. An incredible value.

I highly recommended this restaurant. It is not the place to go if you are looking for cutting edge, highly inventive cooking but if you enjoy extremely excellent quality ingredients prepared lovingly in a classic, straight-ahead French style at a ridiculously reasonable price, then this is the place.

Lunch at LE CINQ: I'll do a separate post with details but here I'll just say: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! 85E lunch menu is the deal of the century and while we did get special treatment and a few items off menu because we were lunching with Souphie, I'm confident that anyone looking for that Michelin starred, very special experience that won't totally break the bank will be thrilled with lunch at Le Cinq.

CHEZ L'AMI JEAN 27 R Malar (7th) Lunch with Souphie and Adam (A Life Worth Eating) and I'll start right of by saying I was not impressed with CLJ (although I was impressed with the dueling cameras going on between the food bloggers!)

They do have a 31 E menu and Paul ordered that and had the best of it I think as far as value is concerned. For entrée both Adam and I ordered what was billed as a cappuccino of crustaceans. We were expecting a frothy creamy sauce over mixed crustaceous seafood. What we got was broth made from the shells of crustaceans that had been thickend with cream. Not a piece of seafood to be found. They did bring it in a pitcher that contained enough soup for all 4 of us, but at 18E a serving, this was not up to standard in my opinion. Nice flavor of the sea but not cool for the price of ordering from the carte. JSouphie had an octopus entree thatwe all agreed tasted funky. He also tried a tasty but rather ordinary Lagoustine and macaroni and cheese entree. Adam also doubled up on entrees and orderd razor clams, tasty, but nothing really special. Paul's entree (first course from the menu) was a fairly ordinary but tasty cream of vegetable soup.

For plats Paul had a lamb dish that was quite good, I had lemon sole from the carte, (tasty but nothing particularly special for 34E) and Adam and Julot shared the cote de veau for two, which I must admit was impressive and apparently quite delicious. Paul ordered the rice pudding for dessert which was more than enough dessert for all four of us (and I must admit, even better than the same dish at La Regalade and that's saying a lot!) Adam couldn't resist ordering the baby strawberries with creme anglaise but the strawberries weren't quite ready in my opinion so lacked the sweetness of truly ripe ones.

This restaurant gets a lot of hype and people seem to love it but honestly, I really wasn’t all that impressed. If the place had been really packed and I had felt crowded and rushed as I understand is often the case here, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. I won’t say not to go because I do think the menu at 31E is a real value and the quality of the food and the cooking is generally high, (and Julot continues to rave about the cote de Veau!) but with the things we all ordered off the carte, the quality was spotty.

LA ROTUND 105 Blvd Montparnasse (6th) Mid afternoon lunch, on the sidewalk on a perfectly gorgeous, sunny day. The steak tartare was fantastic, fresh and flavorful, served with a nose tingling mustard, frites that easily rivaled those we had in Belgium, and a small salad. We also had an order of fat, succulent escargot, definitely the best I’ve had, served in the classic style with garlic butter and herbs. A basket of decent bread for mopping up the butter rounded out the meal and we finished with good coffee. This was one of my favorite meals in Paris! With a bottle of water the bill came to 41E.

JOSEPHINE CHEZ DUMONET 117 Rue Cherche-Midi (6th) This classic French Bistro was a lovely choice for our last dinner in Paris. We were treated like royalty, including an aperitif, compliments of the chef and a seemingly bottomless glass of good red wine for Paul. The carte was made of up of all the classics, many offered in half portions, which was a relief because we had heard the portions here were quite generous.

We started by sharing a half portion of pate campagne, a thick slab, rich and meaty and rimmed with nice layer of fat and gelee. Served with a small salad it was more than enough for both of us eaten with the excellent baguette. For entrees, I had confit de canard, the duck skin brown and caramelized to a perfect crisp, but the meat just a tad dry. It was served with fried potatoes and frisee in vinaigrette. Paul had the cassoulet: an enormous pot filled with sausages, pork belly, and confit of duck, lots of white beans and rich sauce, with a nice crust over the top.

Although we were pretty stuffed at this point, I couldn’t resist ordering the house special millefeuille. Last year, I was on a mission to find the best millefuille and ate one almost very day from numerous patisseries but nothing compared to this one from Chez Dumonet. The pastry was shatteringly crisp and really did seem to be made up of 1,000 layers. The pastry cream was fabulous and fresh as could be. Only a pastry constructed moments before serving could be this delicious and it was well worth the food OD I suffered from eating it after that rich meal. I ordered coffee as DH worked on finishing his wine which came with a lovely plate of petit fours with the coffee, 5 little treats that I just had to taste (5E for coffee!!) Even so, with a demi of bottled water the whole bill came to 88E and rolled out of there fat and happy. I definitely recommend this restaurant for elegant atmosphere and very classic, rich French cooking.

We also had a fantastic lunch in Chinatown at a totally nondescript place called Likafo (39, Avenue Choisy) and a great light dinner of crepes at Creperie Josselin (67 rue du Montparnasse.) Add in numerous fabulous sandwiches, pastries, and macarons from various wonderful places plus a couple of late night suppers on our terrace of some excellent cheese and sausage with fresh baquette and we ate very, very well this trip. I thank you all for your input and for sharing your experiences which helped me to choose where we'd eat and it all worked our deliciously!

  1. p
    plafield May 29, 2009 03:20 PM

    Here's a link to pics from the other meals too
    http://picasaweb.google.com/plafield/...

    2 Replies
    1. re: plafield
      l
      Leely2 May 29, 2009 03:37 PM

      Very nice photos, quite appetizing! I had lunch at Le Cinq today, agree with you 100%, Absolutely delicious, and I was initially a bit intimidated/stiff--still managed to have about the best afternoon of my life. So enjoyable, so delicious.

      1. re: Leely2
        p
        plafield May 29, 2009 06:17 PM

        so glad yo enjoyed it! How did CLJ work out?

    2. p
      plafield May 29, 2009 03:05 PM

      Here is a link to some pics from our lunch at Le cinq
      http://picasaweb.google.com/plafield/...

      1. ChefJune May 29, 2009 08:19 AM

        Yum! is all I can say. These are all places I have yet to dine, and you are making me really want to hurry back to Paris VERY hungry!

        1. s
          schtroumpfette May 29, 2009 07:43 AM

          Talk about food porn! This was such a delicious post, plafield. I'll be moving to Paris in a month and I seriously fear for my waistline!

          1. t
            Tony May 28, 2009 07:00 PM

            Thanks a lot for reporting back on your trip from Paris. I will be going in mid- June and many of the places that you went, were places that I was considering going to as well. I replied in a post started by cgenomics with the title of Paris Culinary Plans Thoughts / Advice.

            Did you have to secure reservations way ahead of time for La Regalade, Chez L'Ami Jean, La Rotund and Josephine Chez Dumonet? and how did you do it call or email?

            Your post is really getting me excited for many of the restaurants that we are planning on eating. Thanks again!!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Tony
              p
              plafield May 29, 2009 01:59 PM

              Tony, we didn't reserve for La Rotund as it was a mid afternoon spontaneous meal. I think if you want to eat there at prime lunch or dinner you might want to reserve but the same day or day before is probably fine. For the others, reservations are a must. How far in advance depends on what night you want if it's dinner. For weekend nights, at least a week ahead. For lunch I'd think a couple of days ahead would be fine. But if you know what/when you want, you might as well reserve all of these a couple of weeks ahead. The best bet is a phone call. The online reservation thing hasn't caught on in Paris like it has here in the States. Usually if you say "Bonjour, parlez vous Engles?" Someone speaks enough English to take your reservation. Or better yet, try it in French. And if all else fails, hire Souphie to help you out. He's a great guide to good eating in Paris and very helpful with making reservations. (Yes, I'm shamelessly promoting my friend!)

              1. re: Tony
                c
                CGengomics May 29, 2009 02:08 PM

                I believe Rotonde has a website that you can use to request a reservation, that is what I used. L'Ami Jean provides an email address, but I think the only way to Josephine is via phone.

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