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Aug 9, 2009 02:16 PM

Le Comptoir du Relais Paris

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.

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: bfk

        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

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

    2. 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

        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. 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. 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

            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

              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. 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

              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

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

                1. re: rjkaneda

                  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.