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Dec 2, 2009 07:25 AM

Paris in January, critique my options and profer reccs

Hy husband and I will be in Paris for a week starting January 1st. I've done a lot of research, but found conflicting information. I trust the CHOWs, so please have a look at the restaurants I'm considering for L/Ds and give me your opinions and suggestions.

Breizh Cafe (lunch)
L'As du Falafel (lunch)
Les Fables de la Fantaine
Le Petrelle
La Grille (on Faubourg-Poissonniere)
L'Ambassade d'Auvergne (having trouble finding choices for Sunday)
Le Balzar (would this be a waste?)
Fish, la Boissonnerie
Le Comptoir du Relais (lunch)

The list is in no particular order, but highlights our budget and tastes. There is room for a splurge, too, but not sure what to pick. Our favorite meal from the past was at Taillevent (lunch), so we were considering L'Angle du Foubourg, perhaps.

We'd also like to stop for tea/hot chocolate some afternoon(s) and would like your suggestions. We've been told to go to Angelina, but wonder if that's just hype.

We'd greatly appreciate any advise. Thanks, CHOWs!

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  1. Ok, one man's opine:

    Breizh Cafe (lunch), yup
    L'As du Falafel (lunch) nah
    L'AOC nah, not in Paris, the one in LA yes.
    Les Fables de la Fantaine, yes Fontaine tho'
    Le Petrelle, sure
    La Grille (on Faubourg-Poissonniere), OK only for the turbot and check that their credit card machine is working if you intend to pay that way.
    L'Ambassade d'Auvergne (having trouble finding choices for Sunday), oh my goodness, no, lots of choices:

    Le Reminet
    3, rue des Grands-Degres, 5th (Metro : St Michel, Maubert-Mutualite)
    T :
    Open 7/7
    Lunch menu 13.50 €, dinner a la carte 40-60 €.

    Fables of Fontaine
    131, rue Saint-Dominique, 7th (Metro : Ecole Militaire)
    T : 01 44 18 37 55
    Open 7/7
    A la carte about 40 €.

    Le Marcab
    225, rue de Vaugirard, 15th, (Metro: Volontaires)
    Open 7/7
    Menus for 16, 25 and 35 €

    Mon Vieil Ami (despite some flak here about crowding and all-Anglo)
    69 St Louis en l'Ile, 4th (Metro : Pont Marie)
    T :
    Closed Monday and Tuesday lunch
    Menu 38 €.

    Shan Gout
    22, rue Hector Malo, 12th (Metro: Gare de Lyon)
    Closed Mondays
    A la carte about 30 €

    Lao Lane Xang 2
    102, Ave d’Ivry, 13th (Metro: Tolbiac)
    T: 01 58 89 00 00
    Closed Wednesdays
    Lunch menu 10,80 €, 20–25 € à la carte

    44, rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, 11th
    T :
    Open 7/7
    Lunch menus 19.50-29.50 €, a la carte 30-35

    16-18, place Gaillon, 2nd (Metro: Quatre-Septembre)
    Open everyday
    Plat de jour 20 €, Lunch Menu 45 €, Menu-carte 67 €.

    Le Balzar (would this be a waste?) yes
    Fish, la Boissonnerie, terrific
    Le Comptoir du Relais (lunch), don't know, gotta go soon, you've got noting to lose.

    The list is in no particular order, but highlights our budget and tastes. There is room for a splurge, too, but not sure what to pick. Our favorite meal from the past was at Taillevent (lunch), so we were considering L'Angle du Foubourg, perhaps. Yah I suppose.

    We'd also like to stop for tea/hot chocolate some afternoon(s) and would like your suggestions. We've been told to go to Angelina, but wonder if that's just hype. Why not, you'll meet some nice Americans.

    John Talbott

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      John, what's your objection to L'Ambassade d'Auvergne? It seemed good for traditional food and reasonably priced.

      1. re: kfoster21

        My psychoanalyst would say it's due to Colette's and my last meal when a poor American guy cut his hand on a glass and ate for an hour afterwards with a napkin wrapped around his hand, refusing an offer of a SAMU, because he had waited so long for the aligot; but it's really because of what I said above: one has so many other choices. One of my issues/problems is that despite the New York Times Magazine article saying Spain (read Adria) was passing France in food there are still astonishing meals to be had - vide our meal at Claude Colliot's new place today. I didn't mean to put Amb d'Auv down, just that there are a lot of choices on Sundays, not just Amb d'Auv.

        John Talbott

        1. re: kfoster21

          I'm with John on this one. L'Ambassade d'Auvergne serves crap, which would be my main objection to it.

      2. If you want pastries to go with your hot chocolate and tea, go to Génin, rue de Turenne.

        Splurge: now I've had such a wonderful meal at Le Cinq, and that this experience has been shared by others trustworthy chowhounders, I'd say go for it!

        I would also have tried to put L'Ami Jean or La Régalade in your list (maybe instead of Le Comptoir du Relais).

        Disclosure: I haven't eaten at any of the restaurants of your list.

        1. falafel is a must eat it on the street is much cheaper remember it is closed for shabbat
          a good jewish bakery is a couple of store fronts away
          chez jean and regarlade are off the charts great
          go to il vino for a mystery wine paring and meal expensive tho
          if spring is open also a must do
          laduree for brunch on a weekend is special in any case do not pass up their tea and macaroons
          tea is a great souvenir
          go to monoprix for grocery items and toothpaste email diament is my fav
          the extra strong mustard is a cheap special souvenir
          le comptoir is fine for lunch but different than dinner
          tastevin is a lovely spot
          bon chance

          1. 1. Please don't go to Balzar.
            2. Your list is a good one but. I notice that for your week you have more than 7 eateries that tend toward the hearty. I would eliminate a few from the list and add chez l'Ami Jean. 4 to 5 hearty meals in a week would be my ur-limit. But that's just me.
            3. Angelina. Go to the one on rue de Rivoli. And before you go, reread "Lolita", where Nabokov wrote about Rumpelmeyer, which is the forelife of Angelina...
            4. Please don't go to Balzar.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Parigi

              "1. & 4. Please don't go to Balzar."
              If you haven't gotten the message "Please don't go to Balzar."

              1. re: John Talbott

                We've repeatedly been warned to go to these now syndicated brasseries only for the decor. In August, when so much was closed, we did just this and booked at Brasserie Julien.. Not even the ghost of former ambiance and the still magnificent art nouveau could make up for the disgusting meal we had. Ii's my hunch Balzar wouldn't be measurably better.

                1. re: mangeur

                  It's a tragedy, even Bofinger (while decor-splendid) is awful and Le Tain Bleu, ahhhhgrh.
                  We did eat at an independant place this week (well, owned I'm sure by the banks and syndicates) that was splendid - Les Debats in the world's worst circle - the Place Victor Hugo kin the 16th - and it was quite fine.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    Damn, I can remember when these places were good, must have been only 15 years ago: Bofinger, Balzar, Vaudeville, Boeuf sur la Toit. Now, they all suck....

              2. re: Parigi

                After my visit to Balzar I felt the need for decent food so had a second lunch at Le Comptoir du Relais...!

                I always like Le Comptoir, and would love to go and try it's new "tapas" bar which, if I understand correctly, is now the area you wait for a table in. Although reports also suggest it is a destination in itself. I used to love ordering the enormous basket of charcuterie and a bottle of Côte du Py (Morgon) and sitting back to pig out. Heaven.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Thanks Parigi. Which of the hearty places from my list would you dump (aside from Balzar which is now waaaay off the list)? Any suggestions to replace?

                2. Thanks for all the feedback. Very valuable and confirmed some of my hunches. Another question: Are any good places going to be open on January 1st for lunch or dinner? We're not interested in a disappointing 'Happy New Year' meal, though. Any suggestions?

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: labkfoodie

                    Like my fellow hounds, I too would take out Ambassade d'O and AOC.
                    Maybe La Grille too.
                    And maybe eliminate one more in order to fit in L'Ami Jean.
                    - Or maybe you are a true CH and have CH stamina and can "do" 6 good meals on your week.
                    I like L'as du Falafel ok, not enough to queue up for it in the dead of winter. The Jewish delicatessen across the street - Finkelstajn - has very good nosh. It is worth it to put up with the head waitress's barking.
                    If one must have a meal out on Jan 1st, one of the brasseries may fit the bill, but please don't go to Balzar. -- I wonder if one of those on rue Guisarde is open: Au Machon d'Henri or Brasserie Fernand. Serves good hangover comfort food.
                    I hate to admit: my fave hangover meal is a wonton soup in Miramar (the best outside HK). Go either very early or very late. The queue there is getting more ridiculous than the queue for L'As du F.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      Another vote against Balzar.

                      Another vote for Brasserie Fernand. If the one on Rue Guisarde is closed, the one and larger at 127, Blvd. Montparnasse, close to Vavin métro, might be open. They belong together along with the one on Rue Christine, 6th arr. as well.

                      BTW, the one on Blvd. Montparnasse has a lunch menu for 16€50. Starter-Main or Main-Dessert with a glass of wine, mineral or a draught beer. It's an extremely popular place and while the food is not haute cuisine, but rather comfort food, it's pretty much ok, especially given the price.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        I wouldn't take out l'AOC. Their bone marrow is wonderful, so are their patés and their stews, their pied de cochon... And it's a pleasant place with room between the tables. It's just that you shouldn't be fooled by their pretense to be a steak place, they're not. Le Sévero is ( ), but it is pretty cramped and tiny.

                        I certainly wouldn't take out la Grille. Their potato galette is as good as l'Ami Louis', their bourguignon is demonstration of the validity of that dish. And that's not to mention the Turbot.

                        I would agree that if the cramped seating is OK, then CAJ must be on one's list. It really should not if you like your personal place or even the ability to cut your meat without contact with your neighbour. Today at Sévero I discovered new limits to my physical flexibility.

                        For sunday, I would add l'Auberge Bressane, Christophe, la Fontaine de Mars to John's list and still resist MVA. And point out that Fish, le Comptoir and les Fables are open sundays.

                        Let me add that I'm a food centered guy, so that's always the first characteristic I comment in restaurants.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Interesting you mentioned Miramar, the only good Chinese place I've found in the center of Paris. You are stretching a bit, but their wonton soup is really good especially with some roast duck on top; also their chow fun, lots of wok hay. The rest of the menu is so so.

                          1. re: PBSF

                            I agree, which is why I only recommended the wonton soup (for hangover, remember?). Yes there are about 4, 5 more dishes on the long menu that are good. Two dishes that few people order and are surprisingly good are ginger white chicken and the stuffed tofu, both typically hakka dishes. What's that about?...
                            But that is true of all the Chinese restaurants in Paris. Every restaurant has a menu the length of War & Peace. But only about 5, 6 dishes maximum are any good. You go to Miramar for the soup and the duck plus some fried noodles. You go to Au Mandarin on rue de Berri for a different set of 6 dishes. You go to the old Nioulaville for dimsum (although I wouldn't), etc. I have even been to restaurants where the waiter said to me: "don't order that! it's for tourists." LOL.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Likafo av de Choisy has much much more than five good dishes and is way better than Miramar today, Wonton soup included (veterans tell me Miramar was once the best Cantonese in town and I believe them). Same for Yong. Same for Délices du Szechuan. Same for Asia Palace -- though it's mostly rotisserie and dimsums that are interesting at that last one.

                              There is also a very unfair bias against high end Chinese like Vong, Chen, Tong Yen, Passy Mandarin, Tse Yang to name but a few. Yet they're among my favourite restaurants in town especially when it comes to having an excellent value festive meal.

                              1. re: souphie

                                Are any of these typically open on New Year's Day? Some cities really close down that day -- is Paris one of them?

                                1. re: labkfoodie

                                  I think they're all open on New Year day. Paris is pretty closed that day -- like a sunday, somewhat worse. It's actually one of these days when everybody rushes to Chinatown.

                        2. re: labkfoodie

                          All my fellow hounds' recs are better than mine, always.
                          Maybe with your ever lengthening list, you should make two lists: a first-choice list, and a second-string list. You make your final choice depending on which ones are open and whether one hearty meal has blown your fuse for your subsequent meal, etc.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            Thank you all for the great reccs. I'll let you know how it goes!