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Apr 18, 2010 11:37 AM

Please critique my Paris eating itinerary

Going to Paris for a week in May and want to have a well-rounded dining experience. Tend to like traditional, non-fussy bistro faire, rather than tasting menu cuisine. Ambiance also counts a lot in my book. I'd rather it be loud and crowded, than formal and staid. I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, but I draw the line at ears, feet, and cock's combs. Here's what I'm thinking for dinners:

Sun: l'Auberge Bressane
Mon: La Regalade
Tues: Chez Dumonet
Wed: Aux Lyonnais
Thurs: Chez l'Ami Jean
Fri: Chez Denise
Sat: Chez Janou

Any first impressions? What am I missing? After Paris, I'm heading to the Basque Country (both in France and Spain). So, if I were to switch out any of these meals I'm thinking Chez l'Ami Jean. Also, I'm on the fence about Chez Dumonet because I don't want to get stuck in the "tourist room" I've heard about.

Other contenders are L'Agrume, L’Epigramme, Jadis, Papilles, Rech, La Gazzetta.

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  1. Well I'd replace La Regalade & Aux Lyonnais with any of your contenders. You have no seafood place so I'd go for Rech and you have no wine-y place so I'd do Papilles.

    1. "I'm on the fence about Chez Dumonet because I don't want to get stuck in the "tourist room" I've heard about" - it isn't the biggest restaurant in the world, the main back room is where most patrons are seated (apart from the few tables by the bar) I was never aware there was a "tourist room". In fact if anything the very back tables where traditionally the favoured ones by media folks because they were discrete.

      Are you considering switching CLJ because it is Basque? I always think that is a misnomer, it was originally a Basque bar, but Jego's cooking isn't really Basque, especially when compared to the food coming out of that area these days.

      I like Lyonnais and Rgalade but I think your schedule is a bit samey and Rech would be a good seafood choice, and the others may offer a bit more variety.

      Chez Janou is a weak choice, I like it for a boistrous meal with friends and lots of wine, but for me it isn't a memorable last night in Paris.

      22 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        I agree with my fellow hounds and would agree with eliminating Chez Janou.
        I also agree that your choice tends to be a little similar, toward the hearty (read: heavy). I would consider putting in a lighter fare in between two hearty meals, a place like Frenchie or Ze Kitchen Galerie.

        Lastly, why this excessive worry about being put in a language-specific room? Like Phil I have not noticed any tourist room. I think the legend of such a room is just perception (read: paranoia). Besides, why write to an English-language website for recs on how to avoid people like… well, like us?

        1. re: Parigi

          I always wondered if the "tourist room" was more a coincidence than a design. Many English speakers were non-smokers and so sat in the non-smoking section, whilst the French smoked. I wonder if the smoking ban has resulted in changes. Also in some restaurants they made certain English speaking staff were available in certain sections. Plus many restaurants are small so if there are a reasonable proportion of English speakers in an area then it seems like a tourist section.

          And of course all restaurants, the world over, give their prime tables to their regulars. So English speaking tourists will be down the back of Brasserie Lipp in tourist Siberia, whilst the grand dames of the 7eme will be sitting in splendour at the front. As we were residents of the 7eme Lipp, Josephine Chez Dumonet, etc became quite regular haunts and once we were known we got better tables.

          On the whole Dumonet will be no better or worse than all of the ones on your list. Regalade for example seems to be a popular restaurant on the Japanese gourmet tourist trail, Lyonnaise with US folks, CLJ with a broad range including young budget conscious folks. And I am certain that with the NYT article the stand-bys on your list will also experience tourist booms (if they can get a seat).

          1. re: Parigi

            Thanks for all the input. With an eye to moderating how substantial the food on my original list was, I propose the following instead:

            Sun: l'Auberge Bressane
            Mon: ZKG
            Tues: Chez Dumonet
            Wed: Rech
            Thurs: Papilles
            Fri: Yam'tcha
            Sat: CAJ

            1. re: stanshep

              Whoops, on the first pass I missed l'Auberge Bressane; how wedded are you to it?; does anyone but me think it's a bit tired?
              I guess I'd advise newer, fresher places like L'Agrume & L’Epigramme even tho' l'Epi is now a couple of years old.

              1. re: John Talbott

                I don't think l'Auberge is more tired than it was ten years ago. In fact, I don't know many places when you can have volaille aux morilles, crèpes suzettes, soufflé au fromage etc. Even the so-called traditional restaurants don't cook as traditional as l'Auberge does. Makes Le Quincy look avantgarde. But it sure is different from the modern places. It probably never was one. To me it could be Besson's bistrot. I'll probably still be going to l'Auberge when the guy at l'Agrume will have move to a place where they'll get one star. But those who think cream and butter are unhealthy should not set foot in that place. Or talk to me.

                1. re: souphie

                  I thought you were M. Diet King? But I agree it's no more tired than 10 years ago, nor is Bouclard, but I am.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    I am M. Diet King. With cream and butter.

                    Is Bouclard good?

                    1. re: souphie

                      If you like Granma's cooking - see her pix at
                      My grand-daughter thinks their chocolate mousse and salami are the best., gratin of ecrevisses heart vessel clogging - up your alley my friend.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        So your granddaughter's likes Granma's cooking? Interesting.

                        1. re: souphie

                          Logical now that one thinks of it, non?

          2. re: PhilD

            Thanks for the clarification on CLJ. I have seen it described as Basque cousine many times. Not like Au Bascou or Afaria is what you're saying?

            1. re: stanshep

              I can't comment on the other two, but I do find it different to the food I have had in the Basque region, I see CLJ as a bistrnomique taking influences from lots of regions rather than being rooted in Basque cuisine. And when on form, and you choose well it is very good.

              1. re: stanshep

                Chez L'Ami Jean does serve a mean chorizo as a pre-first course - great thing to share among friends before the 1st course arrives - as well as very good Irouléguy wines, both unmistaken Basque touches.

                1. re: stanshep

                  I would differentiate them as follows:
                  Chez has a Basque chef who puts a Basque spin on bistro things
                  Bascou has a Basque menu, that is, carte
                  Afaria is more tapas/border food and you didn't ask but
                  Cantine de Troquet has many Basque products/dishes quite simpler, pix at
                  l'Avant Comptoir has Basque charcuterie/etc

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    Guess we're pretty unsophisticated, but other than a couple of specific meals we like to look around and ask around once we get there. And we don't think it's fun to have to travel (convenient as it is) on the Metro every day and night to reach some appointed place.
                    Really, if you're discerning and inquisitive, you can find delightful meals most anywhere in Paris (or any other city) by striking up a conversation, no matter how halting, with locals. If you stay close to home you also don't feel guilty about lingering or taking a slow stroll back to your lodging. Now that's living!

                    1. re: Likelivingthere

                      "Really, if you're discerning and inquisitive, you can find delightful meals most anywhere in Paris (or any other city) by striking up a conversation, no matter how halting, with locals."

                      Isn't that what happens on this board? Lots of the regulars on the board live in Paris. At least by using the board you get to understand how authoritative a persons opinion is, often opinions from random locals can result in mis-steps.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Well, sort of. I've been on only a short time but see many of the same names come up again and again - often the same ones you find in guide books - and seldom some of the little places we've stumbled upon or been directed to. Also, to be fair, our tastes run less to the exotic than to well-prepared and seasoned classics, or variations thereof. And we can both cook, making a really special meal much less expensive at home than out. The budget still matters.

                        1. re: Likelivingthere

                          I feel your pain.

                          On our annual (trying to become semi-annual) visits to Paris we rent an apartment so as to be able to cook using the fine stocks readily available. And, we eat out mostly in places near our apartment plus a few "tried and true" places. Looking forward, we try one or two "let's see about that place" ideas folks give us.

                          Maybe if you said where you are staying, someone knowledgeable would offer suggestions nearby that you'd otherwise trip over and overlook anyway in your quest.

                          1. re: Likelivingthere

                            "many of the same names come up again and again - often the same ones you find in guide books"

                            First of all one can cite a zillion bad restos NOT in guidebooks, but that would entail the cruel task of patronizing them. I seriously seriously doubt that a resto NOT cited ind a guidebook means it's good.

                            But actually I consider this forum an anti-guide. The problem with guidebook recs of restos is that by the time they are published, often the info is no longer uptodate, especially for a city whose dining scene evolves a great deal, like Paris, like Barcelona, like Beijing.

                            For established restos like Le Cinq, Spring (past and future, but presently regrettably closed), Frenchie, they are in every guidebook because they have been around for a few years and are just … good.

                            In fact, this local looks for addresses on this site that are not in guidebooks, not yet. Examples: Chez Grenouille, L'Aromatik in its new life. And it was from this forum that I learned that my fave 'hood bistro - La Grille - has changed hands.

                            Lastly it is not about budget. The restos recommended here come in all forms, some expensive, some not. I fail to see any class struggle.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              "You're both right" - that's something my mother would say that infuriated my sister and I/me, but it's true; the same names come up time and time again (Grande Cascade, l'Astrance, le Cinq) and yet we do find not only the three new places Parigi cites but Marcab, Concert de Cuisine, P'tit Caillou and Petits Plats that the New York Times & guidebooks don't dwell on. Vvive la difference!

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                I was recently in Paris and my husband and I ate at Chez Dumonet - I also visited in November with my daughter - I was wondering which area is considered the "tourist" area. The bar area or the back.

                                1. re: claudco

                                  "I was wondering which area is considered the "tourist" area. The bar area or the back."

                                  As a local, I have no idea ! This tourist room rhetoric mystifies me.