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Jan 28, 2010 07:14 AM

Paris suggestions for dinner - special but not necessarily starred! Chateaubriand?


I'm looking for ideas for an anniversary dinner on a Wednesday evening. Would like somewhere warm and friendly rather than stylish or stuffy, market style cooking but perhaps taken to a higher, more creative level, where well-sourced ingredients are allowed to shine and sometimes there's an odd surprise to freshen the tastebuds.

Or just traditional stuff done very well time and again - somewhere reliable. Surroundings that are pleasing to the eye, not too crowded or noisy, with friendly, efficient service.

We particularly like fish and seafood (sustainably sourced, even better!), so suggestions leaning that way are welcome.

Price isn't so much an issue, but if we do splash out we want to feel like it's been worth it.

Previously we've enjoyed Spring, L'Ecailler du Bistrot, Le Baratin, Le Square Trousseau, La Cagouille, Pramil... I'm not saying these necessarily fit my description above, I just mention them to give you an idea of my 'restaurant personality profile' !

We're thinking of Chateaubriand, but I'm worried it may have suffered from the hype and have a 'you must be this cool to eat here' rule.

In return, here's a decent formule place if you're ever stuck for lunch near Port Clignancourt (sorry it's not more exciting but we haven't been in town long. Promise to post more soon!):
Le Point Bar, 99 rue Championnet (corner Rue Ruisseau)

http://www.dixhuitin....php?article170 - in French

plat 8,50e, 2 courses 10,50e. Simple but well cooked dishes like jarret de boeuf and lentils, starters such as pates and homemade soups. Had a fab apple crumble. Very friendly staff, always with a smile.

Thanks all

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  1. "In return, here's a decent formule place if you're ever stuck for lunch near Port Clignancourt (sorry it's not more exciting but we haven't been in town long. Promise to post more soon!):
    Le Point Bar, 99 rue Championnet (corner Rue Ruisseau)"

    Wait wait, you don't get off that easy. Tell us more please (I live a block away)

    As for places like Spring, L'Ecailler du Bistrot, Le Baratin, Le Square Trousseau, La Cagouille, Pramil, I swear you'll love L'Agrume, 15, rue des Fosses Saint-Marcel in the 5th,, closed Sunday and Monday night, So far only Yves Nespoulous at Le Fooding, Caroline Mignot and I have written it up (TMK), but the Figaroscope photog was there yesterday so there it goes. Or closer to you, the Table d'Eugene (Sue) is really fun and for the 18th, incredible.

    John Talbott

    5 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Hi John

      The link to the article and the couple of lines underneath relate to Le Point. Or do you mean that's not enough? There's not much more to say. I wouldn't say it was a destination place but a decent spot for lunch if you live nearby or are in the area. Reliable 'home cooking'. The jarret de boeuf had tender meat and the lentils were perfumed with cloves; the crumble was a good balance of chew and crunch and came with an over generous helping of fresh whipped cream. Portions are generally good and service is friendly. It's a real neighbourhood place, where they seem to care about the general experience of their customers and that's the sort of place I like to support. (They also claim to have the best ladies toilets in Paris - you have to ask for a key, that's one thing I don't like - but I haven't tried them yet!)

      1. re: lapengia

        Thanks for the info on the Point Bar; I'll go by on my limpies.

        I know you asked Phil for his reasons about Chateaubriand but I'll chime in with mine; I think Aizpitarte pushes the envelope to its breaking point and loves charging 10 Euros for some heirloom beets too much - I liked him the first month at La Famille but have become fatigued at his drive to challenge there, here and at the Transversal. But I'd love to hear your reaction to his pushing. I'm afraid my reason(s) reveals my peasant roots; give me a brown piece of meat with black sauce and simple veggies and I'm happy.

        1. re: John Talbott

          I've just (re)read your archival post on Ze Kitchen Galerie (I think from 2006) and it really sounds like just the thing - creative passionate cooking, carefully sourced ingredients and attentive service. I believe it's still one of your favourites. Is it?

          1. re: lapengia

            Indeed it is; Colette and I have been many times, as recently as Dec 28th; we also like his #2 down the street, KGB, but in the spirit of lively discussion, not everyone agrees with me, including the daughter of my closest friend, Paga, who said in essence she "didn't get it." The latest (with errors in spelling) is at

            1. re: John Talbott

              That's one of your major disagreements. I think that I totally "get it" and it's not very good -- ingredients are average, quality is OK, food is fun but expensive and not excellent. However, even I agree that it is different from most restaurants in town, and not toxic.

    2. We really enjoyed Chateaubriand but it doesn't sound right for you given your spec. It is fashionable and the food can push boundaries. Don't worry you don't need to be cool.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        Thanks PhilD. Why do you think Chateaubriand isn't right? Is it because the food doesn't just push the boundaries (I like to be challenged) but breaks through them into unpleasantness of some kind? Or do you think the fashionableness might put me off (it might) - but then you say we don't need to be cool, so maybe it's ok?

        1. re: lapengia

          I don't really understand John's comment as it is a set menu at €45 for five courses (IIRC). Decor is "designer distressed" in a big old room that may have been a big bar or shop; the waitstaff are all men and all look the same, tall, bearded and in long white aprons; service is good but pretty laid-back; clientele are mixed with a lot of the internationally fashionable, with lots of understated designer clothing i.e, black, but it isn't a "scene" with velvet rope and doormen. So nothing you wouldn't enjoy.

          Now the food, as I said it is a set 5 course meal, no choice at all. The food is similar to Mugaritz in Spain, which is a chefs restaurant i.e. it pushes the boundaries of techniques and some flavour combinations (and is number 40 in the 50 best restaurants of the world list). Here they deliver this for €45 which is a challenge, as you need to get raw ingredient costs in under the that price, and Aizpitarte is philosophically wedded to delivering the best value he can for this price. Some dishes work really well, others come out of left field and challenge. For example, tentacles in an octopus broth with very subtle flavour and a little dab of miso paste to season the dish; a raw prawn salad with roasted prawn legs (shells) as the crunchy garnish; some very rare duck, offset with very thin "carpaccio" of cauliflower. So dishes with subtle flavours and interesting textures, mixing raw and cooked ingredients.

          We loved it, but it is on the leading edge and thus risky i.e. some dishes do go over the edge especially if you don't appreciate "mouth feel" or texture in food. I thought from your intro it may be too risky because it is edgy (but IMO not hyped because the reputation reflects what you get).

          1. re: PhilD

            I too think that Chateaubriand is not overhyped and that Inaki Aitiparte is an exceptional chef. That said, I would recognize that he sometimes phones it in (ironically, especially when he's not in here, but not only). I think there are nights when it's wonderful (and still edgy) and night when the food doesn't really work. It's a follow-up of a recent discussion -- when it comes to tasting a talent, living an emotion, it doesn't work every time. It cannot.

            Phil, it's good that you clarified the reason why you thought the OP wouldn't appreciate it. I thought there would be no problem with the food but the ambiance is very casual and offers little to no intimacy.

          2. re: lapengia

            Re: Le Chateaubriand, I came across this today on Adrian Moore's blog. I like Adrian's blog, I find he has a good writing style and good BS meter:

            He has also got a pretty good set of '09 recommendations, a few that have not been mentioned here.

        2. Thanks everyone. I think we will try Chateaubriand at some point. It's been on the list for a while and I am prepared to risk disappointment in the cause of exploration, but wanted something more reliable for our occasion dinner. We went to La Table d'Eugene and loved it - thanks John! I'll post a more detailed review when I'm a little less sleep deprived, but basically it hit the spot in terms of balancing comfort and creativity food-wise and efficient, friendly service, where the waiters enthusiastically share childhood food memories. Not the cheapest but good value IMO - about 120 euros for 3 courses each for 2 people, 1 bottle of wine (one of their cheapest at about 25 euros) and a bottle of sparkling water. They even managed to break me out of my foam fatigue!

          3 Replies
          1. re: lapengia

            PhilD's description of Chateaubriand perfectly describes the décor, feel and ambiance of our experience there last night (Friday, 5 Feb.). We loved it, but it would not have been our choice for an intimate anniversary dinner.

            Notes: Although there is no choice, our slim bearded waiter -- who informally crouched down at each table to engage diners at eye level -- made sure to mention that allergies, etc., would be accommodated with an alternative dish. (We did not opt for that.)

            Last night’s menu was: Raw oyster (cut in half) in a small white bowl, with thinly sliced yellow radishes, micro-chopped green onion, with a golden broth poured over; five small raw scallops in a cucumber broth with a pureed garnish (seaweed?), under what appeared to be a large (4 by 7 inches) translucent thin slice of some sort of root vegetable; sea bass with razor thin cauliflower & puree of same, with herbs (very Japanese-like, served on a dark gray plate); extremely delicate blanquette de veau with three slices of black truffle (10 Euro supp, for one of us) in a light brothy cream sauce, served in a dark grey bowl; we then split a small plate of gruyere, chevre, and brie; finally we split a dessert of poached pear (retaining some nice firmness) in cream, with an ice-cream like side (what was that?!); and one cafe. All washed down with a large Badoit and two demis of bourgogne blanc and rouge (18 Euro each, ordered, not from the extensive carte des vins – presented as three separate photocopied pages – but from the chalk board above the bar).

            They needed our table for the twenty or so folks waiting at the bar when we finished at about 22:30, and so we did not linger, but we did not feel rushed.

            (PS: Thanks to John Talbot, we also enjoyed recently – totally different from Chateaubriand -- Chez Grenouille (9eme) and Café Cartouche (12eme). More about those later . . . .)


            1. re: Jake Dear

              Jake, was not the supplement for the shared cheese course? On our visit it was a choice of cheese or dessert, we had both and paid a modest supplement for the cheese.

              1. re: PhilD

                PhilD, I probably was not clear, the supplement was for the three shavings of black truffles with the blanquette de veau dish only -- I got that (supp) with mine -- and then we shared the three shavings. (After that, we each had the option of either fromage or dessert; we opted to share one plate each of those.)

          2. Just had another lunch at le Point (Le Point Bar, 99 rue Championnet (corner Rue Ruisseau) 75018, Plat 8.50 euros). Great pot au feu, with fine variety of perfectly cooked veg, and a richly stewed paleron de boeuf.

            Great bistro stuff as I see it - dishes that aren't complicated but need good handling to get the best out of the ingredients and that need a lot of time over the stove. Stuff you could do at home but don't have the time or attention span!

            5 Replies
            1. re: lapengia

              lapengia: do you know their opening/closing days? Thanks. Googling doesn't get them.

              1. re: John Talbott

                Sorry for the late reply! On their Facebook page ( they weirdly claim to be open Mon - Sat: 06:30 - 02:00 Sun: 07:00 - 02:00, which I know isn't true because I've seen their shutters down on Sundays. For your purposes you probably just need to know they're open for lunch every day, except I think Sunday. Mind you, the last lunch I had there was a real disappontment, .... sigh. Will probably try them again, though as they're so near and cheap!

                1. re: lapengia

                  Sorry if I'm getting boring on this, but Le Point pulled it back at lunch the other day. Sticky, juicy boeuf bourguignon, moist roast chicken leg, fabulous hand-cut chips. Plus they had great jazz on last Sat night. And warm welcome from owner. Sigh.

                  1. re: lapengia

                    You're giving me a mixed message. I've got Saturday night at Le Point or l'Aromatik (only been for lunch and dinner looks like a whole different deal and equipe) or ANP's enticingly sounding Les Routiers. Yes or No?

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      Not Le Point. Much as I love it I'm not sure it's more than a very good value 'we're in the neighbourhood and want something cheap, good and filling for lunch in a nice friendly atmosphere' place. And I've never eaten there at night - it might be just couscous for dinner? Anyway, I want to hear what you think of l'Aromatik for dinner.

            2. On some thread I cannot find is a discussion of the top 50 and Chateaubriand and today Francois Simon, the only critic who says whether to go or not to places had an article in Figaro summarizing this top resto business as a "gently idiotic exercise" I cannot find it on their website though (it's on p 27.)

              5 Replies
              1. re: John Talbott

                Here is a good summary of the reaction to the list from the French press, I assume the English are enjoying the furore enormously ;-)

                1. re: PhilD

                  The link above is broken. Can you re-post the link to the Guardian article?

                  1. re: stanshep

                    Go to the Guardian website and put in 50 top restaurants; it's hilarious

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Voila Phil, it helps to have expertise. Still think it's a cool article.