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Help: a week in Paris, bistro and seafood

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I will be in Paris for a week in the mid-October. I have been to Paris in the past, but the last time was 5 years ago. This time my wife will not travel with me. Instead my college aged daughter will join me in Paris. She is taking a semester in Spain, and will have a 1-week break in October.

We plan to dine mostly in informal bistros, and my daughter expressed an interest in tasting food from different regions of France. I have been browsing the board for a few days, and compiled a list to choose from:

Basque: Au Bascou, Chez L'Ami Jean
Alsace: one of those big brasseries (?)
Auvergne: L’Ambassade A’Auvergne
Lyon: Aux Lyonnais, Moissonnier
Provence: La Bastide Odeon, Casa Olympe
Brittany: Chez Michel
Gascony: Au Trou Gascon
Southwest: Josephine, L’Oulette
Other “famous” bistro: La Regalade, Chez Georges, Au Bon Accueil
Seafood: La Cagouille, Le Dome, Les Fables de la Fontaine

I have been to some in the list, but ut has been a while. We prefer fish and vegetable to meat, although I do not mind an occasional duck or veal (they do it better in France). We do not eat is pork, though. With these parameters in mind, can you comment on the restaurants to help me narrow down? I know almost every restaurant in Paris will have at least one fish dish on their menu, but I imagine some are stronger in the fish department.

In addition, we would like to have one meal at a fine dining establishment. The highest on my wish list is L’Arpege. I understand their lunch more reasonably priced (150 euro?). Does it offer a tasting menu experience for lunch? Thanks.

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  1. I like your approach, my own list would pare down to:
    Basque: Au Bascou,
    Alsace: none or if you insist Jenny
    Auvergne: L’Ambassade A’Auvergne
    Lyon: none
    Provence: La Bastide Odeon,
    Brittany: Chez Michel
    Gascony: none
    Southwest: Josephine,
    Other “famous” bistro: La Regalade, (at night only)
    Seafood: Le (Bistro du) Dome, Les Fables de la Fontaine

    John Talbott
    http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Does Les Fables de la Fontaine have 2 seatings? I seem to recall Constant lowered the price because of 2 seatings.

      1. re: foggy_town

        Yes it does, but this like many restaurants that will turn the tables with an earlier and later booking. IIRC the other Constant places are the same. I believe the "lower the price" comment refers to Le Violin d'Ingres which was higher priced once, Fables was always quite cheap (although it is creeping up).

        1. re: PhilD

          If it was I you were referencing, indeed Violin lowered its prices two years ago. Except for the Cafe (where one must arrive early) I've always gotten a rez at a time I asked for.

          John Talbott
          http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/

    2. I love La Cagouille, and do not like to miss dining there... ;)

      3 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        l'Uitr is related to La Cagouille? We just had a very good dinner there. They were so generous with everything, we felt like they weren't charging us enough. Now, how often does that happen in Paris?

        1. re: kikisakura

          L'uitr is the cheap bistrot of la Cagouille. Same owner, same ingredients, both open every day.

          1. re: souphie

            We started with a plate of oysters, a bottle of wine, then we both had the 3 course menu. They even substituted the dessert choice when one of their menu items more or less "died." And our bill was 70 euros!

            Food was delicious and plentiful. We'll certainly go back.

      2. My husband and I went to three of the places on your list last year. Loved Aux Lyonnais (our favorite place the whole trip), loved L'Oulette (a close second), and thought La Bastide Odeon was just ok.

        For big brasseries, we did go to Bofinger one night. My expectations were pretty low for the food, but we found it pretty enjoyable. The room is so beautiful that I think it is worth going to for that alone. We went pretty late at night on a Sunday, when many other things were closed. If you find yourself searching for a place to eat on Sunday, or late, I'd recommend it!

        Aux Lyonnais, I must say again, is really wonderful...I hope you make it there! Their signature dish is actually fish--it is called the quenelle something or other. I've never had anything like it. It is like a fishy custardy cloud. Exquisite. I obviously am not doing it justice in my description. Everything we had there was amazing.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ginafly

          Gina - I agree about Aux Lyonnaise, we have eaten there a few times and never left disappointed. I know Alain Ducasse has his detractors but I also like the place. His restaurants may not push the boundaries but as the advert goes "it does what it says on the tin". However, I wouldn't suggest it as a really "fishy" place it is best for meat especially "insides".

          1. re: PhilD

            Since we're discussing seafood and Ducasse, I'm not totally negative about him, his efforts to "save" old places worked best I think at Rech, Benoit is overpriced (I know as it always has) and Aux Lyonnais a shadow of its 1960's/1970's self. I much prefer Rech to Cagouille, except for the finger-burning mussels.
            As for Bofinger we took our 10 year olds there this Spring and while still pretty the meal was pathetic, the room full of Anglos.
            Dollar for dollar or euro for euro though, the Bistro du Dome and Fables still deliver consistently good seafood.

            John Talbott
            http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/

            1. re: John Talbott

              We had dinner at Rech last night. The service was top notch. But the food was meh. Very bland and uninspiring. Nothing we couldn't have prepared far better at home for 1/8 the price.

              Total bill was 175 Euros...poor value for money. It was the most I ever spent on dinner for two. I expected to experience at least a little "Wow!" factor, but it was not to be.

          2. re: ginafly

            not surprised they have quenelles as a specialty. (was it "sauce Nantua?") They are a great specialty of Lyon!

          3. Thanks for the replies. I now have some more specific questions on food that we are searching for:

            1) Cheese: What restaurant offers a good cheese plate? Astier is mentioned, but I also heard it is more for quantity that quality. Is it worthwhile to seek out just for the cheese plate?
            2) Turbot: While a fish lover, I never had Turbot before. I know it’s expensive. Where would I be able to find it on the menu?
            3) Escargot: What addresses are good for a traditional escargot?

            6 Replies
            1. re: foggy_town

              1) Astier is OK. Villaret is good. In general, cheese is better and cheaper in cheese shops.
              2). La Grille
              3) L'Ami Louis

              1. re: foggy_town

                Agree, La Grille is unbeatable for turbot (and scallops) with beurre blanc.

                1. re: rswatkins

                  If you plan on paying by credit card make sure you bring cash or a check (French) along since their machine didn't work last time I went.

                  John Talbott

                2. re: foggy_town

                  Wow, La Grille is exactly I am after: an old-school bistrot that we can enjoy without ordering a large chunk of meat. Thanks for the tip, and I will bring enough cach just in case.

                  1. re: foggy_town

                    Pics from la Grille: http://picasaweb.google.fr/ZeJulot/La...

                    1. re: souphie

                      La Grille indeed sounds good and I might give it a try when I return later this month.

                      BTW, I wasn't all that thrilled with L’Ecailler du Bistrot when we visited last January but this time around, we had fabulous oysters with white wine. We were quite pleased with the service too which made the room feel calmer and more enjoyable. I still wouldn't go back for their lunch menu but next time around, I might order the seafood platter (34 euro for one) and splurge on a good bottle of white wine.