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Le Comptoir du Relais Paris

bfk Aug 9, 2009 02:16 PM

Hi. Does anyone have any suggestion about how far in advance one should reserve for dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais? I know one can try at the last minutes, but I'd rather have a reserved place. My husband and I are renting an apartment in Paris for about 10 days in early March. Also, any advice about how best to contact the restaurant to make the reservation?

Finally, any other great restaurants to recommend in the same price range as Le Comptoir du Relais that also should be booked far in advance?

Many thanks in advance for any help.

  1. e
    edwardspk Sep 29, 2009 12:59 PM

    We just ate there a couple weeks ago on Friday night. The weeknights are the only time the restaurant does their 5-course prix fixe for 50 euros. Quite a bargain for the quality of the food. We were told ahead of time that the ONLY reservations they took were from hotel quests - which is why we stayed at the hotel, and it was well worth it! We reserved months in advance for a 9PM reservation.

    While we were at our table, someone walked in without a reservation hoping for a table -- and they were told the restaurant was completely booked for the night.

    On a different note, we had one of the best meals ever at Le Pre Catalan. I know, it's definitely not a bistro -- and definitely costs a lot more. But it's also definitely a place I would go back to as often as possible.

    2 Replies
    1. re: edwardspk
      plufmud Sep 30, 2009 06:46 PM

      We booked 2 nights for last week of June 2010 and were told that would be the last week for the gastronomique dinners~going buffet. I am a bit concerned if Yves Camdeborde will maintain the integrity for the dinners that week. Would you keep the dinner reservation or book elsewhere?

      1. re: plufmud
        PhilD Oct 1, 2009 01:21 AM

        Keep them - they may be worth a fortune closer to the date.

        But seriously who knows what will happen. He does have a lot of regulars and good friends who eat there, my guess is that he may pull out all the stops to please them: a semi farewell party....!

    2. rjkaneda Sep 27, 2009 04:42 AM

      My wife and I ate there last night (Saturday, Sep 26, 2009). We were in the neighborhood and walked in at about 6:30, no reservations. Only a few tables were occupied. We were seated immediately. The service was a bit hectic and the place was quite full by 7:30. The food was good -- my wife had sauteed mushrooms to start and I had "pot au feu en terrine." Onglet for my wife and duckling for me followed. All were quite good. No dessert. Bottle of the wine of the week (cote roannaise). It all came out to 93 euros, which wasn't bad. The people-watching aspect of the place can be either very entertaining or very distracting, depending on your mood. We were quite entertained.

      4 Replies
      1. re: rjkaneda
        PhilD Sep 27, 2009 02:19 PM

        They don't take reservations for the Saturday "brasserie" format. It is the monday to Friday "bistro" format where you need to reserve, and this is what the wait list is for.

        1. re: PhilD
          rjkaneda Sep 27, 2009 04:00 PM

          That's good to know. Is the food substantially different during the week, as compared to what's served on Saturday?

          1. re: rjkaneda
            PhilD Sep 27, 2009 04:26 PM

            Yes the weekday evenings are different. Half the covers (so lots more space) and linen table clothes for example. IIRC the menu is a set 5 courses rather than ALC. I believe some of the dishes from the evening can make it onto the specials board for the "no-booking" lunch. The food is similar, but the evening experience is a little more formal, and a little more structured, and includes a pretty good cheese course.

            1. re: PhilD
              rjkaneda Sep 28, 2009 02:57 PM

              OK, thanks.

      2. John Talbott Aug 26, 2009 01:49 PM

        I don't know how to say this in a diplomatic way, but why bother?
        As Souphie has pointed out many times, we're moving on and new places beckon.
        Yves was and is great but like Pascal (Barbot) the world has changed.

        2 Replies
        1. re: John Talbott
          PhilD Aug 26, 2009 11:04 PM

          On our last trip to Paris we tried a number of new places, some new openings and some that were new to us (all highly praised on this and other boards). But we also returned to our old "local" (Le Comptoir) for lunch and it was very good. OK it may be over hyped, there are too many tourists, and the prices have crept up so that it isn't great value. But the food is good (relative to both the price and style of place) and we always enjoy our meals.

          I have had one or two poor dishes there and one or two less than perfect meals, but the same can be said about many of the Parisian restaurants I have visited over the years. Compared to all the new places we tried Le Comptoir delivered satisfaction, many others left us frustrated.

          1. re: PhilD
            souphie Aug 27, 2009 06:27 AM

            That's a good point. Especially in Paris, people (I certainly) tend to look for the exception, even in bistrot, the very high, special moment. It's impossible for places who deliver that to do is as constantly as the smoother experience delivered by great pros like Camdeborde or Constant (or even Savoy), where you're basically pretty sure that the experience will be good and very unlikely to live something execeptional.

        2. a
          Aleta Aug 23, 2009 05:01 PM

          We usually rent an apartment and ask the owner to call Le Comptoir for us. This year, the reservation at Le Comptoir was made 7 months in advance, at the same time as our apt. booking. Last year, we called too late and were given the same advice about last-minute cancellations. We didn't do that but instead went twice for lunch. Go a few minutes before 12pm, when people start to line up and you will be able to choose a nice table.

          1. p
            ParisKat Aug 11, 2009 12:24 PM

            If you are willing to forgo dinner, and try lunch instead, you should have pretty good luck. We've stayed at the hotel, partly in order to eat at the restaurant (totally worth it by the way), but you can usually get a table at lunch if you go early, meaning about 12:00. Another restaurant that I think has stellar food is Chez l'Ami Jean. The chef is Stephane Jego, and though I don't know if it's true, I read somewhere that he and Yves Camdebord (Le Comptoir owner/chef) worked together in the past.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ParisKat
              souphie Aug 12, 2009 07:23 AM

              It's true. Actually, most of the new generation of bistrot chefs have been trained with Christian Constant when he was at Le Crillon. Camdeborde is chief among them, but then so are Etchebest (Le Troquet), Jégo (CAJ), Fréchon (Le Bristol, not a bistrot), etc.

            2. souphie Aug 10, 2009 01:12 AM

              Asap. By phone. Good luck.

              No place in Paris is as hard to get as le Comptoir because tables are automatically reserved for hotel guests, so the number of seats you can actually reserve is pretty limited. Le Chateaubriand is probably one of the other really hard to get, but there's no need to call more than three months ahead.

              3 Replies
              1. re: souphie
                bfk Aug 10, 2009 06:50 AM

                Wow! That's unbelievable! Thanks for the advice, Souphie. I'll get right on it.

                1. re: bfk
                  PBSF Aug 10, 2009 09:10 AM

                  Don't take it personal if Le Comptoir's reply is that they are full regardless how far in advance you try to make a reservation. Aside from saving tables for their hotel guests, other aspects of their reservation system is always a "mystery" to me. As it has been mentioned often on this board, frequently tables open up at the last minute.

                  1. re: PBSF
                    bfk Aug 10, 2009 11:36 AM

                    Thanks, PBSF. I'll give it a try once, and then play it by ear once we're there.

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