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Feb 12, 2010 09:21 AM

Allard - Good Risk Bad Risk ?

I have read some very uneven reviews of Allard - a good choice for dinner in the 6th E ?

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  1. Not by me; way over-priced - same menu as in 1968.
    I'd go next door to l'Epigramme.

    John Talbott

    9 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Thank you for the recommendation - we will be there in March and will try L'Epigramme

      1. re: Juan Berbatov

        John T is being too kind; if you must overpay for a special duck dish, try La Tour d'Argent. Voltaire has a similar classic menu, and locals actually dine there.

        1. re: Oakglen

          I will take a look at Voltaire - thanks for taking the time to give me some input. It is a little difficult trying to pick something worthwhile while sitting in Michigan

          1. re: Juan Berbatov

            Having just read mangeur's comments, I must say that Voltaire is very much a locals place (they don't have an Anglo room or section to my knowledge) and I have always been there with Paris residents. Voltaire's prices are on a par with Allard, and it might help if you use a local to make your reservation.

            1. re: Oakglen

              Looking for traditional Paris, I'd pick Le Voltaire in a heartbeat. It is certainly used to welcoming visiters as well as locals.

              1. re: Oakglen

                A local's place??? Are you kidding? It's full of New Yorkers paying through the nose for expensive french comfort food.

                1. re: adrian

                  You know Adrian, there's a reason I like you. You say what we all just think. Indeed when I lived in New York, I did go there. I cannot believe this thread is still going strong; amazing what a little controversy over a pathetic old dame will stir up.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    Are you speaking of Allard or Le Voltaire here, John?

                    1. re: mangeur

                      My apologies Mangeur, I was only looking at new posts and thought Adrian was referring back to the OP; sorry, I meant Allard was a place I went to when I lived in NY; as for Le Voltaire, I have not had Herve Cambron's food and with yours and Francois Simon's (a local for sure) recommendations (of of his ten restos of the moment as of January), I will.

      2. After first admitting that I have never been to Alard and have no plans to go, I need to give Allard its due. Friends who were traveling with us went there one night when we went our separate ways. They sat in "the Anglo room", enjoyed a waiter who spoke fluent English, enjoyed chatting with other English speaking guests at nearby tables and enjoyed the food, although admitting that it was more expensive than most other unstared places we had taken them to. They mentioned the classic decor and old fashioned food as contributing to the feeling that they were indeed in Paris. For them L'Epigramme would have been just another of the kinds of places we took them to. So it does boil down to what kind of experience you are looking for.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mangeur

          Mangeur, that is a very good point. Many visitors to Paris want the "postcard" experience, and thus they want good food and equally the "traditional" atmosphere. Although I find it a little ironic that this meant they "enjoyed a waiter who spoke fluent English, enjoyed chatting with other English speaking guests at nearby tables" ;-)

          Thus it does make recommendations a bit tricky even for those that value food above everything else, because if they are a first time visitor it is a shame not to also soak up the ambiance and experience some of the unique elements of Paris. We visited Bofinger more times than I care to remember in order to entertain visitors!

          I think it is possible to get the balance right in recommendations but that requires understanding the OP's desires (in a culinary sense) and experience. Juan are you a regular visitor to Paris, or is this your first trip? Do you like pushing boundaries or are you quite conservative in your tastes?

          1. re: PhilD

            Bravoi Phil; good questions that will help us help.

            1. re: John Talbott

              I had a very nice meal there in December, but it wasn't cheap. Wasn't super expensive either. The ris de veau with morilles was outstanding and copious. The duck with olives was fine, but a little silly. My woman loved her St Jacques. Escargots were fresh.

              I sat in the "Anglo room" but there were a lot of French speakers as well. I spoke French to the help who was friendly enough. Look were it's located. There's only going to be tourists anyway, French tourists and others. That's their business.

        2. Ordinary. Like a bad French mime of a good bistro. Over priced, over attitude. Sit next to Japanese, Americans and Australians all clutching their guide book for 'an authentic bistro experience' Trouble is they've all got a 1977 edition!

          3 Replies
          1. re: trixie007

            The existence of an Anglo room in certain restaurants has been pointed out from time to time in this forum.
            (1) What's this about, this aversion to seeing people like oneself?
            (2) In many restaurants, the simple explanation could be that not all the waiters speak good English, therefore foreigners may be put in the same area covered by the English-speaking staff.
            Travelling is about opening one's mind even more. Jumping to imagined conspiracies may not be helpful.

            1. re: Parigi

              The aversion is simple. It won't feel "Parisian/local" if you are surrounded by people speaking English, especially if they do so loudly. I don't think it is a conspiracy as such but as you say it may be pragmatic, firstly with English speaking staff, and secondly to keep a "quieter" room for local clients.

              It's not an aversion to seeing people like ourselves, but I don't want to have a conversation about home (or listen to two strangers compare notes about their homes towns or tourist experience).

              It used to be so much simpler before the smoking ban, I always sat in the smoking section, as far fewer tourists ventured in.

              1. re: Parigi

                Parigi - We've lived here five years in 6e, we speak fluent French. Our hypothesis of restaurants consistently full of English speaking tourists is that over time they cater to that target rather than stay true to their (if ever) original strengths and quality. It's business. Corners can be cut at the same time that prices can be raised. A relationship with a transient visitor is less authentic than with a regular. We wonder how many regulars remain at Allard or perhaps they have two totally different standards. We sat in the 'English' room because my non French speaking sister made the reservation whilst visiting us. I watched the waiter's approach with Japanese and Americans either side of us. It wasn't pretty. No imagined conspiracy. No need to have my mind opened on this occasion - except to realise I'll never set foot in Allard again. Great to know it has a glorious past, pity about its present.

            2. I've been holding off replying to this post ....... mostly because I have a history with Allard and cannot be objective. With entirely too many positive remembrances of dinners chez Allard., I am sorry to learn of its (reported) decline.

              I first dined chez Allard in the early 60s when I lived in Paris. Afterward, when I married, I brought my husband. I've brought family, friends and latest - my sons to visit a place their (deceased) father loved.

              I have not been in Allard since 1997 (??) but I have absolutely no memory of "The Anglo" room, perhaps because I speak Parisian french ........... but we've never been separated.

              My memories of so many wonderful meals are saddened by hearing that this old friend has fallen in stature. I would be very sorry to learn of this after so many wonderful meals. It's possible that I am working solely on nostalgia, which can be a wonderful mask. Indeed, is it time to write RIP Allard? I sincerely hope this is not the case.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sherri

                Nah, you could do much worse than Allard these days. It's the 6th. The whole neighborhood is full of tourists clutching their guide book.

                1. re: Sherri

                  Well, I agree with all you folks who remember it from 30-40 years ago; it was nifty then, one of Apple's favorites, indeed he introduced me to it. At my first meal there in 68 (ah that was fun on the Left Bank in 68 when the CRS outnumbered the manifestants) a suburbanite French solo eater turned to us and half angry, half curious said: So how did you English find "my" restaurant?

                2. THANK YOU EVERYBODY !

                  This will actually be our third visit to Paris, but on prior trips it has been with our children and very much driven by tourist needs. This trip is to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and I am trying to find some quiet restaurants, that would be appropriate to a very low key visit.

                  With regard to our cullinary tastes, they are conservative. Staying at Hotel D'Aubusson and looking for enjoyable and interesting bistros within the 6th. We have chosen Taillevent for the 25th anniversary (I know, but its once in a lifetime)

                  I am still not really sure if Allard is a good pick, and I am not offended by the English speaking room

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Juan Berbatov

                    If you want "quiet and low key", our friend Murielle Romand, an art dealer on rue du Seine, is a regular at Chez Fernand (9 rue Christine). We like it too, and it should be near your hotel.

                    1. re: Oakglen

                      Thank you very much, looks like a very nice choice for us. I really have been thinking of interesting restaurants and bistros in the immediate vicinity of Dauphine and this seems to fit very nicely

                      1. re: Juan Berbatov

                        And don't forget to have a drink, or two or three, at La Palette (rue du Seine); the glass enclosed Turkish toilet is gone, but the surly waiter (an owner, I am told) should still be there. When Gallerie Documents was unexpectedly closed, I could usually find M. Romand at his regular table at La Palette.

                        1. re: Oakglen

                          Galerie Documents is closed ? That was on our "to visit" list for antique prints

                          1. re: Juan Berbatov

                            Gallerie Documents is not closed; Murielle's father just had a flexible approach to store hours. Their expertise is mainly in posters, like those of Steinlen and TL. Feel free to mention my name, Jim Peterson; since she also wholesales to other galleries, pricing may be flexible for important works. Gallerie Breheret, at the foot of rue du Seine, is also a good source for contemporary prints. William Weston, in London, is another good source for Impressionist prints. All are honest and trustworthy.

                            1. re: Oakglen

                              will do and thanks for the other tip

                      2. re: Oakglen

                        While from his previous venues I love the idiosyncratic owner of Chez Fernand, our single meal there was quite unpleasant. I ordered rognons and asked for them to be cooked "very rosy, close to rare, svp". The waiter replied, "A point". I repeated "non, tres rose, svp". They came well done, with almost no pink in the middle. I brought this to his attention and he said something to the chef who shrugged. There is little more repugnant than overcooked kidney or liver.

                        (I dislike returning a dish because it ruins the evening. Others at the table are finished by the time your order is replaced. The kitchen is thrown off kilter. No one wins.)

                        1. re: mangeur

                          Mangeur - I've been recently asking for blu in the interior - black on the exterior with great success.

                          1. re: John Talbott

                            "I've been recently asking for blu in the interior - black on the exterior with great success."

                            Thanks, John. I've heard of this bold request and will use it next visit.