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Paris dining options - Feedback appreciated.

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  • sgp Mar 3, 2010 11:58 AM
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Hello evryone. Having discovered this board recently, I have spent hours “digesting” the available information. I thank you for contributing generously and hope to do so myself.
I have been researching my dining options for a 12-night stay in Paris later this spring. I am searching for metro-accessible french restaurants open for lunch offering a ~35 euro 3-course menu.
On my last visit (2007), I enjoyed Chez L’Ami Jean, Le Florimond and Au Bon Accueil.
My current list includes Le Gaigne, Les Papilles, Frenchie, Chez L’Ami Jean, L’Epigramme, Jadis, Table 28, Josephine-Chez Dumonet, Astier, Les Cotelettes, Chez Grenouille, Chez Denise. I would greatly appreciate your input into this list - restaurants to avoid or others to consider. Thank you, in advance, for your help.

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  1. This is one fine list; you've done your homework (as some have not), my compliments:
    Le Gaigne wonderful
    Les Papilles fun
    Frenchie great, tough to get into
    Chez L’Ami Jean the perfect bistro
    L’Epigramme love it
    Jadis - I've taken a vacation from it
    Table 28 should be closed by then
    Josephine-Chez Dumonet more fun
    Astier even more fun
    Les Cotelettes I like
    Chez Grenouille so you're gong to go with the new wave, good on you!
    Chez Denise pleasant

    John Talbott's Paris

    11 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Thank you for the feedback. Much appreciated. Any recommendations to replace Jadis and Table 28?
      Greg

      1. re: sgp

        I wouldn't necessarily take Jadis off your list; if you've never been, the guy has a nifty spin on food, Colette and I just decided to give it a rest.
        As for replacing Table 28; my top ten as 2010 approached were: Ze Kitchen Galerie/KGB, Le Marcab, Le 122, Rech, Le Gaigne, Frenchie, Table 28/Spring/, Repaire & Cafe Cartouche, Afaria, Lao Lane Xang II (not French tho), The Constant Empire, and I'll soon be doing a Spring newcomers' summary.

        1. re: John Talbott

          Thank you once again. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.
          Greg

          1. re: John Talbott

            How do Repaire & Cafe Cartouche compare. Are they similar restaurants in different locations?

            1. re: sgp

              No they're different. Repaire being the mothership is big with lots of choices and despite the nastiness that everyone complains about with the lady server, still v good chow and has other-than-French-folk. The Cafe, run by his ex-front-room man has a more compact menu and is smaller but only locals have found it to date.

              1. re: John Talbott

                I think I would prefer the Cafe and its smaller menu. I have now added it to my list. My ideal restaurant would have no choices - just a 3-course menu that the chef liked. I enjoy being at the mercy of a good chef.

            2. re: John Talbott

              Thank you for all your input. I wanted to pick either Ze Kitchen Galerie or KGB as another option. How do they differ? Menus, service or just location?

              1. re: sgp

                Well, since Ledeuil designed both menus there's certainly much similarity but KGB is a bit less expensive and has a 3-starter small plate thing as well as some more 'traditional" mains.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  Does either one offer a prix fix menu? or are they A La Carte only? Thank you ,in advance, once more.

                  1. re: sgp

                    Ze has complicated ways you can combine items but at lunch prix-fixe menus (from 24-35, some with wine and a la plancha item(s)) and KGB has 27 E for two courses, 34 E for three at lunch.

                    1. re: sgp

                      Only at lunch, in the evenings ZKG is ALC and v.expensive.

          2. We are big fans of Hidden Kitchen in 2e. Braden and Laura prepare and serve very good food and wine and they attract the most interesting people from everywhere to dine with you. If you are interested, write immediately for a reservation. If you can't get one, agree to the wait list. You won't be sorry...E80 each includes wine. And, we like Chez L'Ami Jean. We also wait in line for lunch at at Le Comptoire du Relais. We were lucky to get the E100 special lunch reservations at Guy Savoy. I'd write more, but you are in good hands here at chowhound.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hychka

              Are the lunch and dinner menus significantly different at the "Le Comptoire du Relais"? Bistro vs. gastronomic menu. Has someone tried both?

              1. re: sgp

                Yes very different, and I have eaten both many times.

                The lunch and Saturday/Sunday dinner menu (walk in, no reservation) is from quite a broad based menu with snacks, small plates and full dishes. The weekday dinner menu (the tricky one to reserve - book 6 months ahead or stay a the hotel) is a set 5 course menu (IIRC) with full cheese board, amuse bouches etc. The room is also set up differently with half the number of seats and good linen (table clothes etc), it is much more spacious and relaxed, as you get the table for the evening. Unlike the no reservation format which turns tables as quickly as possible. You also may get some of the dishes from the set menu appearing on the specials board during the day.

                Both are good, but they are quite different. I understand Yves is dropping the weekday dinner service to go 100% single format brasserie style soon (as they do in the summer).

                1. re: PhilD

                  Thank you for the information. I am not staying at the hotel. I will probably wait for a lunch table with everyone else.

            2. I don't know why it gets so little recognition on this board (probably because few Americans have heard of it?), but a wonderful, reasonably priced spot is Monsieur Lapin. See my report from last fall:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/656893

              8 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                rrems, thank you for this rec...i went there today for a long solo lunch and it was stellar...will review in detail when i do a roundup of a several places soon...cheers...

                1. re: rrems

                  I have been trying to pick one of 3 restaurants in this general area (14th). Monsieur Lapin, La Cantine du Troquet and Entetee. Any further input and recommendation will be greatly appreciated.

                  1. re: sgp

                    Well, with a gun to my head (because they're very different) I'd go to:
                    l'Entetee for a very nice meal
                    Cantine for a funky fun Basque meal
                    M. Lapin in game season for an elegant meal.

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      Would you consider La Cantine du Troquet an experience similar to Chez l'ami Jean (which was my favorite meal on my 2007 trip to Paris)?

                      1. re: sgp

                        Well, no.
                        CAJ is "the" bistro experience, esp for we Americans, whereas the Cantine is - how can I be more specific?, funky, fun, good but simple food, no reservations, no telephone, therefor, designed to drop-by and eat casually. I happen to love it esp when Le Troquet is closed and M. Etchebest is at the long table with his brood, neither cooking nor inattentive to what's up.

                        1. re: John Talbott

                          Thank you once again for all your help.

                          1. re: John Talbott

                            I am now falling behind at work since too much of my time is spent browsing "John Talbott's Paris". I have added Le Marcab and Le 122 to my list based on your fine reviews.

                            1. re: sgp

                              That's most kind, but all of us posting from and about P. - Souphie, Parigi, Meg, Alexander L, Felice, PhilD, Mangeur, Oakglen, Laidback, Jake Dear, ChefJune, shortstop (forgive me, if like Mort Sahl, I've omitted offending anyone) - this is Mother's Milk to us. Enjoy!

                              In fact, we found two more places this week - RINO and l'Aromatik ("discovered" by the aforementioned AL).

                  2. We’ve been going to l’Ami Jean since 2002, when we lived in Paris, and have made a point of going for the last couple of years while on short trips to the city. On our trip in January 2010 we ate there, Jadis, Josephine Chez Dumonet and L'Arpege. Sadly, our meal at l'Ami Jean was the let-down whereas all the other meals were great. We’d previously enjoyed the informality of the service at l'Ami Jean, but this time the atmosphere felt more like a theme park (waiters loudly barking out English explanations to visiting tourists), not convivial. Ordering there is never easy, even a little infuriating: all the options of the prix fixe, plus the other dishes in the bound menu, along with daily specials on blackboards. Our waiter wanted us to decide within about a minute, and kept returning grumpily to our table. We ordered lievre à la royale from the blackboard, much too small for two people to share we were told, but we persisted. Did we want truffle grated on top for a supplement? Truffle should either already be in the dish or isn't at all required, depending on the preparation. (We declined.)

                    The divided hare portion arrived in two tiny heaped portions (no bigger than a small clementine) with a little piece of cooked foie gras on top. Certainly this was small! In fact, the waiter had neglected to bring us the rest of the dish, comprised of a covered pan with more hare in it and a bowl of mashed potato. This arrived minutes later, at which point the waiter seemed surprised we’d already started. The hare was delicious and could definitely have served two people — the hefty terrine we had deliberately ordered to start, because of the waiter’s warning about the hare, was unnecessarily heavy as a starter. (Another "celerisotto" starter was not at all tasty.)

                    What with the attempt to get us to order truffle, the filtered water that they now insist on you having and charge you for, the deceptive information about portion sizes — we had the impression that l’Ami Jean has become quite rapacious. Despite the hare being very good, the service was off-putting and the other food disappointed us.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: johannabanana

                      I am hoping that a late dinner or lunch would be less crowded and , perhaps, provide better service. During my last visit to Paris (2007), I had my best meal at L'Ami Jean and want to try it once again. I hope your experience was an aberration and not the current standard.

                    2. The ones on your list l frequent often are CLAJ, Chez Denise; been to and are ok Frenchie, yes a tough reservation, the one l would avoid after two poor food and poor service was Astier. Great wine list but food and esp cheese not up to par. Also perhaps try Quincy near Ledru-Rollin. If l could only eat 4 meals in Paris that would be one, frog's legs and oxtail that were marvelous.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Thank you for the input. I just completed reading many positive reviews of Le Quincy. I am not sure how I missed it in my original research, but it is in my list now.

                      2. If you want to get in at Le Comptoire du Relais for lunch, be there at 11:15 to 11:30 AM and you'll be fine. After that you could be disappointed or frustrated. We walk around in the Jardin du Luxembourg after breakfast and head on over about 11/11:15am and haven't missed yet. Tell us what you think!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hychka

                          Or go a little later at 1:30pm. However, I generally turn-up at anytime and rarely had a long wait at lunchtime. They now have the bar next door to wait in so it shouldn't be an ordeal even if there is a short wait.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            How late does the lunch service extend? My wife and I always enjoy a leisurely lunch. Would we be rushed if we start at 1:30?

                            1. re: sgp

                              I think it runs to about 5 or 6:00pm during the week, they then close the set up for the dinner. On Saturday and Sunday (and summer) it runs all so non-stop to last orders at 10:00 or 1100. He is changing the format soon so could be non-stop all days in the near future.

                        2. I hope to spend a few days walking around Montmartre (which I have never visited before). I have found La Table d’Eugene and Le Cafe qui parle mentioned in the boards. Any other suggestions for lunch?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sgp

                            Wally le saharien, Le petit Budapest, also that Japanese on rue Rodier -- on the south side, as opposed to the ones you mentioned. Apatam café, on rue Thimonnier, is a lovely place to hang out to read or write. Food is good, as long as you're not in a hurry.

                            1. re: sgp

                              Living there/here I do caution you not to plotz down fatigued around the Pl du Tertre; awful stuff. My order of preference would be:
                              La Table d’Eugene
                              Miroir
                              and Le Cafe qui parle

                            2. I have now tried to call for a "Frenchie" lunch reservation at the recommended time (7:30 PM to 8:00 PM in Paris Tuesday to Saturday ) half a dozen times with no success. Always an answering machine. Am I missing something? Any input would be geartly appreciated.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sgp

                                Yup, drop buy.

                                1. re: sgp

                                  It isn't easy because it is so small with so few staff. Maybe try a little later say 8:00 to 8:30, or if you can just after 12:00 at lunchtime.

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    Your suggestion worked. I called a little later and was able to make a reservation with my limited, almost comical french. At least I think I made a reservation for lunch!

                                    1. re: sgp

                                      Good, I suspect this time works best because the customers are starting to arrive so there is someone in the dining room (where the phone is). Before then the staff are often outside restocking the wine etc and so can't get to the phone.

                                2. I wanted to thank everyone on this board for your advice. My wife and I had a wonderful stay in Paris. We had excellent mid-day meals at 10 different restaurants.

                                  They were - in order of our preference:
                                  Chez L’Ami Jean
                                  L’Agrume
                                  Le Marcab
                                  Chez Grenouille
                                  Frenchie
                                  Regalade Saint-Honore
                                  Ze Kitchen Galerie
                                  Les Papilles
                                  Le Comptoire du Relais
                                  Le Gaigne

                                  My Favorites for:
                                  Entree - L’Agrume (artichoke soup with hazelnut oil, sliced chicken with grapes apples and arugula, thinly sliced scallops with lemon confit)
                                  Plat - Frenchie (Pork with carrots, chickpeas and mustard grains)
                                  Dessert - L’Ami Jean (Le Ri Zo Lait)
                                  Service - Le Marcab
                                  Fun - Chez L’Ami Jean
                                  Value - L’Agrume

                                  Overall our favorite was Chez L’Ami Jean where we returned for a second meal. The food was outstanding, the menu and wine list were a good value, Sevice was friendly, Environment was fun and my wife got a hug and a kiss from Chef Jago.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: sgp

                                    Thanks so much for reporting back. It would be great to know some more details if you have the time.

                                    1. re: Nancy S.

                                      Chez L’Ami Jean - The perfect bistro. I liked the noise, the crowd, the chef and the staff. The food was perfectly executed. A selection of house terrines, veal kdneys and rice pudding with a bottle of Irouleguy red. All superb.

                                      L’Agrume - Incredible value. The above mentioned entree, roasted veal, gorgonzolla with pears and arugula, wine and coffee for a total of 60 euros (for 2 people).

                                      Le Marcab - Open on Sundays but has much to offer any day. Started with foie gras with smoked duck and prune confit followed by beef filet with a pepper emulsion and a selection of cheeses.

                                      Chez Grenouille - A great neighborhood bistro. I had a wrapped sausage appetizer, veal liver and chocolate souffle. Good service and lots of local friendly diners.

                                      Frenchie - We had a great quality, good value meal but with lackluster service. Beet salad, Pork with carrots chickpeas and mustard grains, pot au chocolate with strawberries. All were great but we had to wait 30 minutes to order coffee!?

                                      Regalade Saint-Honore - I had foie gras with mixed greens, crispy pork belly on a bed of lentils and grand marnier souffle with a bottle of Cahors. Food was great but a bit heavy. Service was acceptable.

                                      Ze Kitchen Galerie - Polenta with asparagus ham and a citrus condiment, grilled lamb with chili chorizo condiment and and a chocolate pepper ice cream dessert. Great cooking that was not French food to my palate.

                                      Les Paplles - I like the lack of choice here. The food was well prepared and simple. Everyone had sweet potato soup, Magret de Canard, Blue cheese with prunes and a dessert of strawberry panacotta. Our only decisions were wine and coffee.

                                      Le Comptoire du Relais - We had the lunch time bistro meal not the gastronomic dinner. Artichoke soup, Pig Trotter and Apple Tart. Everything fine. Nothing outstanding.

                                      Le Gaigne - I had Vichyssoise, Chicken with sherry and swiss chard and Riz au lait with mint. Once again everything fine but nothing outstanding.

                                      1. re: sgp

                                        Excellent -- thanks!

                                    2. re: sgp

                                      sgp -

                                      I am considering these two places for lunch when we are in paris. Would you say that you could have a leisurly lunch at Chez L'Ami Jean and Regalade St. Honore? Or is it more of a rushed lunch service?

                                      Thanks

                                      1. re: parisdreamer

                                        I think for lunch you will be rushed at neither but I like RStH because it seems more leisurely and you have more space.

                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                          Great thanks John appreciate the feedback. This is probably the only sit down longer lunch we will have in Paris so I think we will do quite well there.

                                          1. re: parisdreamer

                                            Mind you I also like the rush-rush bistro-bistro быстро-быстро of Cl'AJ and the original Regalade but for leisurely I think you'll do fine at the new one. Plus he's been there every time I have.

                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                              Of course my dream would be lunch at Ledoyen - but out of the budget even with the prix fixe menu...Unless we eat uber cheap in Normandy and come into Paris with more money in the food budget...you never know!

                                        2. re: parisdreamer

                                          I was never rushed at lunch in any of the restaurants I visited. Regalade St. Honore is much quieter and feels more leisurely. My reservation at L'Ami Jean was at 1:00 PM and I had the table to myself for the rest of the lunch service. It may be more rushed if you have an early lunch reservation. rushed or leisurely, CAJ is wonderful. A great chef, friendly helpful staff and an energetic atmosphere. It was the only restaurants I visited twice during my stay.