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La Folie or Fleur De lys?

I've yet to try either of these two and am wondering which one you'd recommend I spend my time and money on. I have a feeling I'd enjoy either one, but just wondering if there's a consensus as to which is better.

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  1. We ate at Fleur De Lys about a month ago - while the food was good (not great) the service was dreadful.

    Hovering over us asking if we were done our amuse when I was clearly half way through it

    Bringing out Appetizers while I was still eating said amuse.

    Pouring tap water into our sparkling water

    Etc, etc....

    I would vote for Ame - not on your list, but absolutely fantastic (get the tuna tar tar/foie App)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sadistick

      Ame seems very interesting, and I've noticed many people on this site are fond of it

      1. re: rogerrabit

        If you go to Ame you should stick to the appetizers as they far outshine the mains.

    2. I've been to both and enjoyed both, but I think La Folie is better. Probably because Roland Passot is actually in the kitchen most every day (he even greets all the customers as they leave), while Hubert Keller might be spread a little thin (Vegas restaurants, PBS show, Top Chef, etc.)

      If you like foie gras, I've never had a more generous portion of seared foie gras than I've had at La Folie.

      1. Fleur de Lys is ideal for an old-school sedate romantic dinner, while La Folie is a more convivial, lively experience. Both offer very good food, but I would say that Passot offers upscale, refined bistro-type food, whereas Keller offers classical French fine dining cuisine. If you are looking for a "homier" experience, I would go with La Folie. If you are looking to be wowed by cooking technique, I would go with Fleur de Lys. But you won't go wrong with either.

        25 Replies
          1. re: steve h.

            I like the escargot and frog's legs there (although the frog legs at Quince are better, when on the menu). I love foie gras, and the one at La Folie is not bad but I've have significantly better elsewhere. For mains, I like the beef trio or lobster. Lamb's not bad either.

          2. re: Paris Dreamin

            I completely disagree with you here about calling Passot's cuisine "homey". The tasting menu I had in July which consisted of a perfectly poached and tempura duck egg, perfectly seared foie, veal stuffed with sweetbreads, among others, was not what I would describe as homey. My preference in dining out has always been classic French fine dining and everything from the execution, presentation of the dishes and the wine service was about as classic French fine dining could get. And the food superior to some 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants in Paris. It was the first time since visiting Paris 2 years ago that I had been wowed by technique.


            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              Just wanted to add a link to some pictures (as I don't ever take pictures while eating anywhere). This is from uhockey's experience there...so a link to his blog with pictures.



              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob


                Perhaps you and I simply have different ideas of what would be described as "homey." I consider "homey" to be what one might find at a Parisien bistro or brasserie (both food and ambience). I did qualify it by describing Passot's food as refined bistro cuisine, which I would still stand by. The reality is that you can find seared foie gras or sweetbreads at many bistros in Paris. The standard of comparison for me is that the menu at La Folie is much more similar to that at gastronomique bistros such as Chez l'Ami Jean, La Regalade, Le Comptoir, or Josephine Chez Dumonet in Paris than at haute cuisine restaurants L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, Le Cinq, Guy Savoy, etc. That being said, saying it's homey is not detracting from the food, since I actually quite like the food at La Folie, and I compare it to those specific "gastronomique bistros" in Paris because they are all wonderful. But then, I would note that I am certainly not an expert on La Folie, I've only been there 4 or 5 times.

                1. re: Paris Dreamin

                  This is so totally OT, but I think the issue you both are having is that the restaurant is not comparable to restaurants in Paris. This is more like what a ** Michelin in Avignon would be like.

                  1. re: whiner

                    This is what my response to both these comments is: ?

                    I guess I was in a fog when I visited these bistrots and fine dining establishments in Paris. I certainly did see seared foie and sweetbreads at bistrots in Paris, but not prepared in nearly as intricate a fashion. An ingredient of a dish does not classify the cuisine, but the preparation does.

                    Personally, IMO, I would not classify what I ate at La Folie as refined bistrot cuisine, because that's what I ate in Paris on several occasions and it was not similar at all. This was also 2 years ago, so perhaps things have changed, I don't know. I had Passot's tasting menu and did not order a la carte.

                    For the record, I never compared Passot's cuisine to anything I ate in Paris either. I compared the quality, not the cuisine.


                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob


                      I don't think that we are really in disagreement, I think that we simply have different definitions for the colloquial terms used. By "homey" I do not mean to demean or indicate that Passot's food is something that anyone could cook at home. I simply find that Passot's cooking is more like "gastronomic" bistro cooking than the pinnacle of fine dining. In other words, I find Passot's food to be more like Yves Camdeborde's or Stephane Jego's (two very impressive chefs) rather than Alain Passard's or Bernard Pacaud's. Then again, some of this has to do with the fact that Passot does not have access to or does not use some of the incredible ingredients that these latter chefs use (nor is dinner at La Folie $800 or more for two, though, either). He also couldn't possibly lavish as much time and attention to each and every detail as some of the Michelin 3 star chefs can, given the fact that Passot's kitchen probably serves 3 times as many covers per night. I do have to disagree, though, that, although I have not eaten at all the 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, I have never eaten at one (among Le Meurice, Le Cinq, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Astrance, L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, La Grand Cascade, La Table de Joel Robuchon, Les Ambassadeurs, Lasserre, Taillevent, Michel Rostang, Les Elysees du Vernet, Ducasse) that had quality of food and cooking technique that was exceeded by Passot, but then Passot's food again is nowhere near as expensive as any of those. The reality is that La Folie is still probably one of my 10 favorite restaurants in San Francisco. I hope that sheds some light on what I was trying to say.

                      1. re: Paris Dreamin

                        It does. Thanks.

                        Sometimes, fancy bits of this and that, put together in a mishappen, overly egotistical fashion (as has been the experience for me in some Michelin restaurants) just leave a bad taste in my mouth. I hope that sheds some light on where I'm coming from ; )


                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                          I've never been to La Folie, but I almost wonder if people think less of it because of its generous portion sizes that people don't expect for those types of restaurants

                      2. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        >>For the record, I never compared Passot's cuisine to anything I ate in Paris either. I compared the quality, not the cuisine.

                        Fair enough. My point is that food in France is regional and La Folie is a Provencal restaurant, not a Parisian one. For example, the menu is full of risottos and tapenades and artichokes snd all the red meat is game... these are things you would find in Aix-En-Provence, or Nimes or Avignon. As far as ambience, I don't think of it either like a bistro nor like an Haute Cuisine type place in Paris. The ambience, to me, is much more like what you would find at a * or ** in a hill town or at a Relais and Chateau type hotel. Actually, the restaurant whose ambience most closely matches it, to me, might be Vila Joya, a ** restaurant in a tiny hotel in Albufiera, Portugal -- of course, that come with the side benefit of overlooking the Algarve, so it is not quite the same ;-)

                        1. re: whiner

                          Whiner, good point, I would agree with your assessment, although the one caveat is that Provencal cuisine in Provence tends to be lighter, I would say, than the variety found at La Folie.

                    2. re: Paris Dreamin

                      For what it's worth, we just spent a week in Paris dining at places like Le Comptoir and Josephine Chez Dumonet, and we would definitely say their menu is much more casual than the one you find at La Folie. Then again, I wouldn't say the menu at La Folie is very comparable to what you find at places like Le Cinq or L'Arpege, either, since the latter is super complex and fancy.

                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                        HK Foodie,

                        I'd agree with what you say. I guess my point was simply that La Folie's cuisine is closer to upscale bistro cuisine than French haute cuisine.

                        1. re: Paris Dreamin

                          "... my point was simply that La Folie's cuisine is closer to upscale bistro cuisine than French haute cuisine."

                          To me, that's a misleading statement. Passot comes out of the haute cuisine tradition. His dishes are complex and composed rather than simple and rustic.

                          As someone who prefers the latter, I'd be disappointed if I went to La Folie expecting Provençal bistro food. I'll go there when I'm in the mood for turned vegetables, quenelles, and rich sauces.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That's your opinion that what I said is misleading. I've already been attacked on this forum for what is simply MY opinion on what La Folie is. I did NOT indicate that this is just "Provencal bistro cuisine." Rather I was simply making a distinction that Passot's cuisine to me resembles more what a gastronomic bistro serves (which is not what a traditional bistro serves). For example, I had drawn a comparison (not in region, but in preparatory style) to Stephane Jego or Yves Camdeborde, both of whom have a delicate, intricate touch in which they render classic fine French cuisine more "in touch with the masses" but still serve delicious food that is more complex than that served in a traditional bistro. I had by comparison indicated that Passot's cuisine would not be compared to that of Passard or Pacaud for example, but those two also serve MUCH more expensive cuisine. For comparison to Provencal cuisine, per se, I don't think that I would compare La Folie to La Palme d'Or, La Bastide Saint Antoine, Ousteau de Baumaniere, La Mirande, or Christian Etienne either, to name a few. There is no appropriate comparison of a "gastronomic bistro" in Provence that I am familiar with, however, which is why I used Parisian examples. I do realize that Passot was classically trained in Lyon, but I don't think that with La Folie he is trying to recreate a formal French haute cuisine establishment, which I don't think would do that well locally anyways, particularly because of price (I don't think that there would be a huge number of customers for $150 Bresse chicken or Breton lobster). That all being said, I think that La Folie is wonderful, one of my local favorites. But again, this is only MY humble opinion.

                            1. re: Paris Dreamin

                              You make some excellent points and I can definitely see what you mean. Hope you don't feel too attacked because you are clearly very knowledgeable in this area and provide a very important source of insights to all of us on the board! Thank you!

                              1. re: Paris Dreamin


                                I don't think anyone is "attacking" you, so I'm sorry if I made you feel that way. I just disagree with your description of Passot's cuisine, that's all. Its probably just a a matter of semantics. But I don't think I ever used "haute cuisine" to describe Passot either, and neither would I compare his style to Passard or Pacaud. I refrain from comparing chefs at all this way-it does all of them a diservice IMO. Nor does it matter where anyone has eaten in order to have a credible opinion and/or good palate. Passot's cuisine is Passot's cuisine and its great!


                                1. re: Paris Dreamin

                                  I'm not attacking you, just disagreeing.

                                  To me, "bistro food" means quite specifically the kind of dishes described in Patricia Wells's Bistro Cooking, the sort of food served at Cafe Claude, Chez Papa Bistro, and Passot's own not-so-great Left Bank.

                                  What Passot cooks at La Folie is to me much closer to the dishes in Wells's collaboration with Joël Robuchon, Simply French, the sort of food served at Fleur de Lys, Masa's, and the Dining Room at the Ritz.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    SWS, Robert,

                                    I think that perhaps my word "attacking" was missplaced, I apologize. I think we can just suffice it to say that La Folie is a very nice place that serves excellent food. The reality is that we probably shouldn't try to "label" restaurants into specific groups anyways, and I would admit to being guilty of that myself. I think that most great chefs each feel that he or she is trying to do something great and unique and does not want to be "categorized." I was actually unaware that Passot has highlighted the formal nature of his restaurant in comparison to other one-star places, although I would venture to say that his restaurant exhibits nowhere near the formality of the area's most formal place, The French Laundry. I agree, I would not compare his restaurant either to Cafe Claude (to which I have never been) or Chez Papa Bistro or the other Patricia Wells's selections such as one of my favorites Chez Georges, which are typically more traditional bistros rather than the newer "gastronomic bistros." In all honesty, I personally find the Dining Room at the Ritz, Masa's, and Fleur de Lys to be more formal than La Folie, but that might just be me. I don't think that his food is any less tasty than Ron Siegel's or Hubert Keller's, though. It is a good point that Passot's true attempt at a bistro is through Left Bank, though, I admit. As an aside, if anyone has not tried his new endeavor, the steakhouse at Santana Row in San Jose, LB Steak (formerly Tanglewood), don't. I went on opening night, and Passot was there personally greeting each table. Admittedly, it might have been first night kinks, but we were served undercooked chicken (wings) and some of the worst steaks I dare say I have ever had at a steakhouse. Anyways, using Joel Robuchon as a comparison, as was mentioned, I would reference his restaurants in Las Vegas (which I admit is not a mecca of dining for true gastronomes) as illustrating my opinion. I might compare La Folie to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (in Las Vegas or elsewhere) but not to The 3 star The Mansion by Joel Robuchon. At any rate, I am sorry for appearing defensive or confrontational on the subject, I don't think that there really is a substantial disagreement in opinion but rather intrepretation here. LOL.

                                    1. re: Paris Dreamin

                                      I agree -- the Dining Room at the Ritz, Masas, and Fleur de Lys are definitely more formal than La Folie.

                                      1. re: Paris Dreamin

                                        Good points PD. I did indeed try Left Bank in Santana Row and was also disappointed-while my rib eye was cooked to perfection, the bearnaise was thick and gluttinous, the asparagus side cut in half (!), the fraises de bois cocktail tasted awfully "chemically", and I had to correct and explain to my server the difference between macarons and macaroons. In fact, the macarons were listed as macaroons on the menu.

                                        Though I haven't been to Fleur de Lys, the formality "quotient" during my experience at La Folie was definitely up there with 2 star Michelin's in Paris. Not anal-but formal nonetheless.


                                        1. re: Paris Dreamin

                                          I think La Folie is intentionally less formal than other haute-French places, and in that sense more bistro-like, but that's about service and decor, not food.

                                          Passot's cooking is as complex and sophisticated as that of any other French chef in town.

                                      2. re: Paris Dreamin

                                        Passot's stated intentions to be awarded two Michelin stars would make me think that he is going for a formal haute cuisine establishment, and in the past, he's specifically highlighted the formal nature of the restaurant when comparing his restaurant to the one-star restaurants.

                          2. La Folie. This is my recent report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/639677

                            I have loved FdL as well, but wereas it otherwise would have been close, there are relatively consistent reports that it has declined since Hubert Keller expanded to several other ventures.

                            RE: Ame. It is a very very very good restaurant, but not remotely in the same league -- it is elegant sophisticated, VERY interesting, sleek and modern. But La Folie is a world class Provencal French restaurant that emphaszes fresh (often local) produce.

                            3 Replies
                              1. re: steve h.

                                Thanks! Bea is one of my favorite producers...

                                1. re: whiner

                                  i still have three bottles left from the 1999 vintage.

                                  i totally get your point about decanting in front of you: lots of twigs and branches in that bottle. watching the wine steward dealing with the flotsam and jetsam would have been a hoot.

                                  love the paolo bea.

                            1. No question: La Folie
                              ( the website menu gives you an idea, but is dated. For example instead of lamb loin, I just had rib lamb chops which were heavenly but it isn't even about the menu but rather the combination of service, ambience and of course the cuisine)

                              1. La Folie!

                                I have lived in SF since 1990 and have been to La Folie several times over the years. I always loved the place, but to my mind, something happened about two years ago (I had not been there for 2 years prior) -- and it's wonderful.

                                Roland Passot is at the top of his game these days. I like this restaurant more now than I ever did before. The dishes seem creative, complicated, and absolutely delicious.

                                The chef is always present, at least when I've been there, and he always comes out at lest to say hi and check how everything is.

                                Also, I love the menu format. You can choose 3, 4 or 5 courses, and if you pick fewer than 5 you're allowed to pull them from whatever sections of the menu you like. So if you go for 3, you can leave out dessert, have an app and a meat and a fish. Fantastic!


                                (As for Fleur de Lys, I was there once in the early 90s. It was a very special meal, but seemed a little more precious and less exuberant in its joy of food than I feel La Folie to be).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pauliface

                                  Your comments/observations are interesting Pauliface. When I ate there, I felt that I was indeed eating at an establishment with a chef at the top of his game. The tasting menu was incredibly cohesive and the execution tight and spot on for every course-a rarity in any restaurant-Michelin star or not. This may sound odd and not particularly qualitative, but I could also sense the passion this man has in every bite I ate-it was delicious, sensual, complicated, all without the ego that can accompany any chef with accolades. I loved how he used foie, eggs, veal and sweetbreads-all very rich and sensual ingredients, in contrasting textural representations. It was one of the best meals I have had at a restaurant in a very, very long time. The wine pairings were also wonderful. In fact, I can't wait to go back-asap. Your observation of the "joy of food" is quite apt-I felt it when I was there too! What's food without joy?