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Ledoyen lunch – or not to be?

Jake Dear Dec 26, 2009 04:30 PM

We don’t often frequent superlux places, but reading this forum regularly for the past half year has prompted me to talk my wife into adding one of these institutions to our diverse list for our next trip. We are thinking of a winter lunch at Ledoyen. (This choice is based partly on recommendations by, among others, Sophie, here and also on the blog, http://www.julotlespinceaux.com/2009_01_01_archive.html .) And so I planned to click onto the Ledoyen web site and send an email requesting a reservation . . . .

But the restaurant’s site -- http://www.ledoyen.com/ --seems to be one bare (and barely readable) page showing only the address and phone number, without even identifying any fax number, let alone providing a handy on-line reservation form or email address. (And I assume this is not a malfunction; it’s been this way for a few weeks at least.)

Hmmm. Yes, I could just call. But now I’m thinking: Maybe this is a small sign that this place is just too exclusive (or precious) for our comfort? (To be candid, I’m also concerned that we’d be subjected to loud and garish American businessmen, on phones or blackberrys, who, unlike us, will not even be opening their own wallets; I don’t particularly enjoy the feeling of being one of the few tables in a room paying our own way . . . . But maybe this is impossible in any such “***/**” Paris establishment?
)
Should we be thinking of another place for our little luxlunch adventure?

Jake
http://parisandbeyondinfrance.blogspo...

  1. Jake Dear Feb 18, 2010 08:53 AM

    Thanks to all for your comments. Now a quick report: The 85 Euro lunch menu was indeed great. We started with a tray of four amuses (the most amazing of which was a translucent bubble of ginger in water that you down in one gulp); then a single amuse (fantastic poached egg). For the entrée, one of us had poached (and removed from shells) bulots; the other had pâté de ris de veau. For the plat, one of us had succulent pork with a bodin sauce; the other a small vertical round of “macaroni” (wow!) surrounded by seafood. Then, of course, came four pre-dessert tastes; and finally, dessert (one of us had poached pear; the other an elegant ice-cream-like log) -- followed by coffee and yet more dessert bites . . . . It was too much. (We did manage to split a late dinner that night at the bar at Fish, however . . . .)
    Jake

    1. souphie Dec 26, 2009 10:48 PM

      I'm with Phil and John. The lack of a proper website indicates mostly that, like many many French restaurants, they just don't care about it and don't want to spend the money. If anything, the absence of a proper website is an indication that the restaurant does not rely on international and touristic clientele. Le Cinq, l'Ami Louis, l'Ambroisie and many other excellent restaurants don't have a proper Internet presence either.

      Now as to whether the place is the right one for your foray into luxury dining, I'm with DCM --- the food is the reason to go, and also the lunch deal (at 88€ for lunch, vs easily 300€ for dinner ALC, but be careful with the water, those bastard charge you every half bottle at 8€ and renew them without asking -- I always order tap). The setting and location is quite exceptional, but not brand new. So it boils down to what's most attractive for you -- and since you took the time to browse my website, I suppose you also found the pictures on my Picasa gallery (http://picasaweb.google.fr/ZeJulot/Le...) to help you make your own mind.

      What you will find here is truly exceptional ingredients and cooking, inside the park of the Champs-Elysées. What you won't find is a sense of party and being taken special care of.

      4 Replies
      1. re: souphie
        Jake Dear Dec 27, 2009 11:12 AM

        (1) Sincere thanks for all of these responses. If forced, we’ll (marginally) take loud Russians over loud fellow Americans -- at least I won’t be forced to eavesdrop and be embarrassed for them at the same time. And yes, Souphie, your “Picasa gallery” was part of our research -- wow. So, okay: We’re attracted by the rich history of this vaunted place, and the various recommendations of the food, and we’ll be heading for Ledoyen . . . .

        (2) Regarding the sub-issue of proprietary web sites for Paris restaurants:

        (a) I’ve been aware that many Paris restaurants don’t bother with much of a web presence. But I’m also thinking: If one does put forth a web site -- even a “bare bones” version -- why do it (like Ledoyen’s) in a way that omits basic standard information like opening days/hours and a fax number?

        (b) I suppose one is expected to consult the Red Guide for such mundane matters – alright, I’ve now done so now, and I’ll share Ledoyen’s secret fax number: 01.47.42.55.01 And as a bonus (I share this information with some reservation), viaMichelin.com even provides the elusive Ledoyen email address – see http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/web/Restaurants#description@poi=6104_41102

        (c) More thoughts & observations: At least Le Cinq’s basic web site, for example, shows its opening hours, and a fax number (along with some nice photos). L’Arbroise has what appears to be a half-finished web site with great photos and a hopeful option for “Réservation en ligne” -- but when you click on that you are told to telephone (“Afin d'effectuer une réservation, merci de prendre contact avec l'Ambroisie au 01 42 78 51 45”) – giving a rather retro meaning to the phrase “on line” – and there is no fax option. http://www.ambroisie-placedesvosges.c...

        (d) I compare all of this with many countryside places we’ve enjoyed throughout la belle France, most of which have fairly sophisticated web sites. (Granted, many of these tend to be combined hotel/restaurant establishments, and I assume that there is more commercial / business need for a real web site in that context.)

        (e) I can well understand that stand-alone restaurants may not want to invest loads of euros in a fancy web site. But does the absence of even a rudimentary web presence for some (many?) high-end Paris restaurants suggest a seller’s market that’s doing so well they do not need or want to attract additional business? (Has the economic downturn skipped these places?) Or, as I suspect, does it suggest something else?

        Jake

        1. re: Jake Dear
          PhilD Dec 27, 2009 11:31 AM

          Jake, my read of it is "form over function". Fashionable design results in a minimalist approach; very simple presentation with very basic information. I would guess this is going to be more of the standard in Paris where it fits in with other things. In the countryside restaurants generally need to attract people to the location as much as the restaurant thus more information is required. In contrast to the lots of people in Paris.

          It is interesting how this affects people differently. I like the simplicity, and tend to be put off by sites that are overly complex or too cluttered, although I think the Ledoyen one is next to useless i.e. a simple white shirt is a timeless classic, but if it lacks any buttons it is pointless.

          1. re: PhilD
            Jake Dear Dec 27, 2009 02:23 PM

            Phil D, Re “Form over substance": I can appreciate a minimalist approach, but as you note that can be taken too far when the minimum is not included.

            This reminds me: We also considered, as another “***” lunch option, Pierre Gagnaire. (We put that possibility aside after reading the posts on http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599213 and also realizing that the lunch set menu there was about three times that of Ledoyen.)

            Anyway, at Pierre Gagnaire’s web site -- http://www.pierre-gagnaire.com/index-... -- once I managed to get past the whimsical New Year’s greeting/ cartoon (that took some doing), I got totally lost. There was not enough structure (form) to keep my computer from getting all tied up and me from going cross-eyed . . . .

            Jake

          2. re: Jake Dear
            souphie Dec 27, 2009 12:53 PM

            I think you're reading too much into it. Top restaurants are short on staff and on cash, with profit margins that are often slim and a business modell that often does not involve much conscious marketing.

            A contrario, some restaurants with free cash-flow do have wonderful websites that give you fair ideas of the restaurant -- Lasserre, La Grande Cascade for instance.

        2. PhilD Dec 26, 2009 08:08 PM

          I wouldn't be concerned about the quality of the web site, I find very little correlation between to quality of a restaurant and it's online presence, and often feel those who invest too much in the website have their eye off the ball. I would also have thought "loud and garish American businessmen, on phones or blackberrys" are more likely to favour the restaurants that are easy to book, or at least there assistants who make the booking will.

          2 Replies
          1. re: PhilD
            o
            olivierb Dec 27, 2009 01:29 AM

            Anyway, even if they don't have a real website, they send the menu by e-mail on request, which is always a good thing to do before going.

            When I went, there were (not so much) loud speaking Russians and (very much so) languorously kissing Americans (or maybe that's how they share their food). But this was dinner.

            1. re: olivierb
              souphie Dec 27, 2009 12:49 PM

              When we went, there was a woman in a traditional Japanese costume dining alone and leaving most of her food (why did I not ask if I could finish her plate?).

          2. Delucacheesemonger Dec 26, 2009 07:05 PM

            Had lunch there with the esteemed Souphie at Ledoyen about 2 months ago, and while the room was tired, the service less than ***, the food was wonderful, great sweetbreads. eel with beets,a truly memorable piece of liver, and an excellent cheese carte courtesy of Monsieur Antony.

            1. John Talbott Dec 26, 2009 04:43 PM

              Re "Yes, I could just call"
              Yes, do. Between Soph and Soup you've got an impecable rec, Not mine, but hey..................

              I never rely on the internet for Paris rez's, I telephone, but then I'm a trog.

              1 Reply
              1. re: John Talbott
                Jake Dear Dec 26, 2009 06:02 PM

                Indeed. And lest there be any question, I quite trust Souphie's assessment about the food, etc. (I also usually call for reserations, once we are in the city. But for this, I've assumed I need a reservation farther in advance. No fax number, even -- seems odd?)

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