Paris Trip Review
My husband and I just returned from a week in Paris and had wonderful dining experiences thanks to the recommendations on this board, so I hope to return the favor by posting our notes.
Our first night (Monday), we dined at Le Souffle (1st arr.). We ordered a la carte, since three full courses of souffles seemed a bit much. We both started with escargots, which were simply prepared and were really excellent. My husband had the ham and cheese souffle, followed by a chocolate souffle, and I had the fresh chevre souffle followed by the Grand Marnier souffle. All were excellent, and the presentation of the towering souffles was undeniably impressive. We also had a bottle of very enjoyable Cotes du Rhone and espresso, for a total of 108 euro.
Tuesday, we had lunch at the original Cosi (6th arr.), which was terrific. We both had flatbread sandwiches of grilled salmon and ricotta mixed with lemon, fresh herbs, and walnuts. With two sodas and slabs of carrot cake for dessert, our total was 23 Euro. I would highly recommend for a casual lunch if you're in the St. Germain neighborhood.
Tuesday evening, we had dinner at Chez L'Ami Jean (7th). It was every bit as good as everyone on this board had promised. Certainly not fancy as far as location or decor, but the food was perfectly prepared and served in very generous portions. We both started with the lobster bisque, which arrived in an enormous pitcher that we didn't even come close to finishing. It was served atop fresh English peas, bacon, and croutons, and was marvelously light and flavorful. My husband had the roasted duck, which he said was excellent, and I had a delicious whole roasted sea bass stuffed with garlic and herbs. Two small bowls of mashed potatoes and (I think?) pureed parsnips arrived, followed by a third bowl of the mashed potatoes when we exclaimed over how good they were. I have to agree with another previous poster on this board that the mashed potatoes were even better than Joel Robuchon's. For dessert, my husband had fresh raspberries, whipped cream and pistachios sandwiched between two vanilla meringues, which was unbelievably good. I had the rice pudding, which was served with a dish of salted caramel (swoon) and homemade marshmallows. Although I am not normally a fan of rice pudding, it was every bit as amazing as everyone says. With a bottle of wine and espresso, our bill came to 102 Euro.
Wednesday, we had dinner at Chez Denise (1st arr.), which was the most disappointing meal of our trip, sadly. The food was not terrible, but it was certainly not exceptional, and it was fairly expensive for what we got. We both had escargots for starters, my husband had steak with caramelized shallots and pommes frites (not good), and I had salmon braised in mustard sauce with new potatoes (boring and extremely underseasoned). For dessert, we ordered a creme caramel to share that neither of us liked enough to eat more than one bite of. We had a bottle of the house Beaujolais (enjoyable) and espresso, for a total bill of 112 Euro. Also, I should note that although every recommendation we saw for Chez Denise talked about the fun and boisterous late-night atmosphere, we had a 10 p.m. reservation, left around midnight, and there were only two other (rather subdued) tables filled the entire time we were there.
Thursday, we had a light lunch at Les Cocottes (7th arr.), which was terrific. My husband had a salad with citrus vinaigrette, cured ham, and baby banana peppers, and I had seasonable baby vegetables in cocotte. Bill was 24 Euro.
Thursday evening was Frenchie (2nd arr.), which was our favorite dinner of the trip, hands down. Our only complaint was that it was quite hot in the tiny, un-airconditioned space, but it was absolutely packed with people for very good reason. The menu offered two options for each of the three courses, and we both started with an absolutely outstanding gazpacho poured over a composed salad of squid, black cherries, tomatoes, and diced plums. My husband had a wonderfully rich shoulder of lamb with white beans and broccoli, and I had a smoked mackerel served over thinly sliced golden beets and topped with balsamic vinegar and creme fraiche. I didn't share. We both chose an almond tart with tiny wild strawberries for dessert, and with espresso and a bottle of wine, our bill came to a (shockingly inexpensive) 98 Euro.
On Friday, we had reserved a table at L'Ardoise (1st arr.), but after being seated and placing our orders, our waitress came back a few minutes later and told us that they needed our table in the front room for another party, and we would need to get up and wait until a different table came available in the basement (which, judging by how hot it was in the main dining room, would have been miserably warm). No explanation was given for this, and we were so put off that we simply asked them to cancel our orders and went back to our hotel. So, although I cannot comment on the quality of the food at L'Ardoise, I would certainly not recommend it based upon the service we received.
Instead, on the recommendation of our concierge, we ended up at Goumard (1st arr.), which admittedly felt far more American than French but had outstanding food. We both started with escargots (the best we ate all week), which we followed up with lobster en cocottes with pasta, basil, and crushed tomatoes (wonderful). We shared a raspberry St. Honore for dessert with homemade rasberry ice cream. With espresso and a great bottle of wine to boost our mood, our bill was 132 Euro. (Although this ended up being the priciest meal of our trip, we also ordered a la carte and both chose the most expensive entree on the menu, so I can't complain too much.)
Saturday was by far our favorite meal of the entire week. For the 4th of July, we did the "fast food" lunch at Spring (9th arr.), where the American chef, Daniel Rose, served the most outrageously indulgent lobster sandwiches, with french fries fried in duck fat and dusted with orange zest, fresh juicy slices of watermelon, and generous glasses of champagne. Dessert was a bowl of raspberries with dollops of citrus and vanilla bean cremes, and chocolate chip cookies still warm from the oven. Not only was the food spectacular, but Daniel and his staff are completely charming, and the entire experience was a delight. There are only 16 seats, and there was constantly a line of people on the sidewalk outside waiting to get in, so call ahead to reserve your lobsters if you go. Thank goodness we don't live in Paris, because we would have to make it a weekly event! Total bill was 87 Euro.
Our last meal was on Saturday evening at Itineraires (5th arr.). Very contemporary both in decor and food presentation. Some dishes were more successful than others (neither of us were wild about our starters: my husband had a chilled cucumber soup over avocado puree, and I had mackerel tartare with passionfruit coulis). He declared that his entree was the best roast chicken he had ever had, though, and I had a very lovely, delicate cod poached in a citrus broth. For desert, he had a large pistachio macaroon, and I cannot actually remember what I had. Hmmm. Must have been in a food coma by that point in the trip. Regardless, it was a great meal, and with espresso and a bottle of wine, the bill was 111 Euro.
So, to sum it up, don't miss the lobster sandwiches at Spring, L'Ami Jean is every bit as good as everyone says, and get a reservation at Frenchie now while you still can.
Not to gush, but Daniel Rose really has something great with Spring. While my wife and I did not reserve our lobster, Daniel gladly installed us for a healthy serving of the fries (I think they were fried in goose fat; and we had two orders, one with lime zest/juice and the other with orange zest/juice). He (and his front-of-house campanion) was very gracious and delighted we were there. I love eating in a restaurant in which you can tell the chef/owner is having the time of his life.
Wow, I am SO excited to try the lobster sandwiches and duck fat fries at Spring. I have one question though: one member of my party is allergic to lobster - would he be able to order something else, or should we (unfortunately) go our separate ways for that one meal? Thanks in advance.
Thanks for your post. Sorry about Chez Denise, not apologizing for them but perhaps as explanation. While you can reserve for whenever you wish. They tend to go by seatings. First is 8:30, then midnight, the @ 2 am.
Perhaps it was not bustling due to the hour you were there, sort of in the middle of the seatings. l have been there innumerable times, love the salmon, by the way and yes the potatoes with it are underseasoned, but the place without fail at night has been a party, sorry again you missed that. You certainly made Spring sound wonderful tho'