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Jun 9, 2010 05:48 AM

Weekend in Paris

Hello, I've read through all the very informative posts on Paris restaurants but many that I'd like to try are closed on the weekends. My husband and I are returning to Paris for a weekend trip in July so only have meals on Saturday & Sunday, which excludes La Regalade (both locations!), Le Quincy, & Josephine. Have had no luck whatsoever trying to get through to Frenchie and have given up as there are so many other options. Have also tried Le Chateaubriand but they are booked out for a group on Saturday evening - we have dinner booked for Pierre Gagnaire on Sunday evening which leaves us Sat lunch and Sat dinner. Sun lunch has been reserved for an oyster lunch either at Huitrerie Regis or La Cagouille depending on where we feel like rambling around.

We had really wanted a steak frites for lunch on Sat that we haven't been to before (have been to Le Relais D'Entrecote, L'Ami Louis, Chez Georges) - unfortunately Le Severo is closed that entire weekend (July 3 & 4) for "exceptional" circumstances. I did try calling Bistro Paul Bert, despite conflicting reviews, but I was told to call back a week before the trip. I have tentatively booked La Bourse ou la Vie but after an awful review on "", I'm worried. Has anyone been there recently to vouch for the food? Or have an alternative recommendation? I see some recommendations for La Rotunde but we've been there already.

As for Sat dinner, I have narrowed down to Le Gaigne or L'Ardoise Gourmande. We've been to Paris a few times before (have already been to few favs Chez L'Ami Jean, Les Papilles, Le Relais Comptoir, Le Cinq) and we're not looking for anything specific but great honest food & warm atmosphere. Price isn't an issue though we find we prefer the less stuffy establishments and my husband speaks French.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated!!

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  1. "La Bourse ou la Vie but after an awful review on "", I'm worried. Has anyone been there recently to vouch for the food?"
    Alexander Lobrano and Chrisoscope have reviews on Paris by Mouth - Lobrano calling it a great steak/frites place.
    I think Le Gaigne is much much better that l'AG but also like Repaire de Cartouche & Afaria.

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Thanks John! I read that same review of La Bourse which is why I picked it in the first place. I'll stick with it and report back on our meal. Will also give Le Gaigne a try this time - so many options and so little time.

      1. re: John Talbott

        " "La Bourse ou la Vie but after an awful review on "", I'm worried. Has anyone been there recently to vouch for the food?" "

        I used to like the bistro with its charismatic boss, but the last 2 meals have not been memorable, and the atmosphere has been slumping. That was 6 months ago at least.

      2. I haven't been to either of your choices for Saturday night, but Maceo is open Saturday nights, and is far from stuffy. Plus there is a lovely view of the Palais Royale and Grand Vefour below.

        1. A lot of chowhounds (John Talbott, Souphie and others) recently collaborated on a list of Five Great places for steak frites ( and named Le Severo (and Le Bis du Severo), Bistrot Paul Bert, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Relais de l’Entrecôte and Charbon Rouge as their favorites. Le Severo is indeed closed, but the Bis du Severo is open for Saturday lunch, as are all the others listed here. I personally like the steak at le Bistrot Paul Bert - it's served with a fat nugget of marrow on top and a generous platter of golden fries (photo attached).

          2 Replies
          1. re: megzimbeck

            Thank you for that link. I did call Le Bis du Severo but they are closed that Saturday for special circumstances, he did say that they are normally open but unfortunately this is an exception that falls the weekend I am there. I will try calling Bistro Paul Bert closer to the date as for some reason, the person who answered the phone wouldn't take my reservation and told me to call back a week before. Otherwise Charbon Rouge does look very promising and will try that if I can't get Paul Bert. Thanks again!

            1. re: ccinlondon

              My one and only meal at Charbon Rouge with an old Paris friend was a huge success for us both. I know others have not been so successful but I felt for prix/qualite it was pretty good. Paul Bert's plus and minus is that it's not just serving up steak/etc; for me a great plus is/are the oysters from next door's Ecailler du bistrot.

          2. Hello! I returned back from my weekend in Paris and thought I would report back. On Friday evening, we had dinner at Mon Vieil Ami. Had read all the mixed reviews but picked this restaurant purely for convenience as we arrived late on Friday evening and it was a 2min walk from our rented flat. Although I had no issues with the service or the mixed crowd (lovely French party on our LHS, an unfortunate screaming feuding N. American couple on our RHS), the food was totally mediocre. Starters were the house pate an croute and gazpacho with a stuffed tomato of chopped veggies (eggplant, zucchini, etc). Mains were the roast chicken leg with the mushroom risotto and the "mignon de porc" with pureed pumpkin. Finished with the Vacherin glace vanille-fraise recommended by the waiter. Nothing stood out particularly, it was just okay (which we sort of expected). Wouldn't go back, nor recommend it given so many other great options in Paris. I would however recommend getting a Berthillon ice cream which seems to be served from various places all around Ile St. Louis. No need to line-up at the actual store as the line-up is ridiculously long. We waited in a queue way shorter just 2 min away serving the same ice cream - sea salt caramel hands down was the agreed favourite, though hazelnut, normal caramel, coconut and grand marnier were all top notch!

            The next day, we went to Bistro Paul Bert (cancelled the rez at Bourse ou la Vie) as we finally got a correct rez at Paul Bert after 4 attempts. Turns out that for Sat lunch, rezzies prob aren't necessary as it was only 60% full. Starters were the ceviche d'espadon (swordfish?) and the gazpacho. Both were delicious, the gazpacho put the one we had at Mon Vieil Ami the night before to head-hanging shame, with bright fresh bursting tomato flavours with just a hint of garlic and coriander. The ceviche was perfectly balanced with lemon-lime juice countered with small bites of deliciously sweet mango. For the main, we shared the cote de boeuf for 2 persons - WOW! Perfectly saignant, the flavour of the beef was without a doubt one of the best we've had. I prefer a more seasoned piece of steak but this didn't matter as they provided a wonderful sea salt for you to sprinkle on to your own liking. Came with a heap of golden fries - they weren't crispy but they were defy home-made and were demolished. One of the best steaks we've had in Paris, which I would put over our meal at L'Ami Louis and Relais de Venise. We then had the cheese tray, love that they still bring you the whole board for you to help yourself - good choice of stinky options - and then finished with the Ile de Flottant which was thankfully super light in a frothy custard sauce. I had looked for the Paris Brest which I had heard about but this wasn't offered on the menu. A gentleman beside us ordered the Baba Rhum and we took bets as to whether he could finish this massive dessert that could have easily fed 4 people - I lost, he ate the whole thing, must have been good! Menu was €32 for 3 courses I think, with an extra €6 supplement for the cote de boeuf. Ranking 8.5/10

            We had dinner at Le Gaigne - lovely cosy restaurant. I'm glad we picked this place for dinner as it was quiet and romantic, and tiny - I counted only 20 seats in the restaurant. Started with the millefeuille de legumes and the sauteed seasonal mushrooms, onion marmalade and organic egg omelette. Mains were the roast "Noir de Bigorre" suckling pig with Basque black pudding and Filet of Brill stuffed with with champignons and shallots; broad beans and sauteed lotus root. Everything was beautifully presented. The starters were good, but didn't blow me away. I thought the mushrooms were wonderful, but didn't like the cubed omelette which was a bit heavy and tough for my liking. The suckling pig description was a bit misleading and perhaps lost in translation on the English menu - it was more a sliced pork loin with the middle part stuffed with cubes of liver and other internal goodies. The small amount of pork around this filling was amazingly moist and tasty though. The clear winner of the evening was my stuffed brill. Light, tender and flaky and the sliced crunchy lotus roots! I had never had lotus root served like this before. Coming from an Asian heritage, I've only had this in soups or are completely cooked in vegetable dishes but in this dish, they were finely sliced, and barely cooked, almost like a veggie chip. Dessert was a molten chocolate cake with blueberry - okay. Overall, we thought the meal was lovely - we'd give it a 7.5/10.

            Lunch on Sunday was at La Cagouille, a nice trek through Paris on a beautiful day. I thought it was a nice touch that they bring you a bowl of small clams to start the meal. Appies were the fines des claires oysters, razor clams in a buttery sauce, and salmon sashimi. Everything was super fresh and tasted of the sea - I'd prob give the salmon sashimi a pass, it was cut a bit too thick for sashimi. We shared the grilled John Dory fish served with a side of fettuccini and we ordered a side plate of potatoes. Again, the fish was undeniably fresh, grilled to perfection. Finished with a strawberry millefeuille. Highly recommend this place for a light seafood lunch, would recommend booking the terrace as it was a beautiful day outside. They wouldn't seat us outside as we didn't have a rez but we noted that many tables of 2 were available outside throughout our entire meal. It didn't matter - the seafood was well worth the hour walk to / from our flat!

            Our last meal in Paris was at Pierre Gagnaire. I don't have the menu in front of me, which they gave as a souvenir, but I did enjoy my meal here very much. It wasn't as molecular gastronomy as I expected - not a single foam in sight, thankfully - but the food was innovative, thought-provoking and often made our eyebrows rise in wonder. There are countless little bites to begin your meal, what stood out for me was the olive oil which had the most intense flavour. I was disappointed that they didn't leave it behind so I could soak it up with their house bread (3 types - milk bread, 3 wheat, and traditional). The teeny weeny tuna and jam macaroon was a surprisly tasty combination as well. We both had the tasting menu - I got the menu without the prices but my husband said that the starters were in the price range of €150. The tasting menu was €265 which seemed like a good deal considering the a la carte prices. It was 5-6 courses, the standouts for me was the blue swimmer crab claw on an "egg" of vegetables - it looked like a fried egg but was stuffed with julienned veggies and the milk lamb with cumin. I'll try to post the full menu when I get home. Before the parade of desserts, there was a 3 cheese course - my fav was the goat cheese served with a splash of German beer and honey. There were five desserts - one would have been plenty but yes, I ate all of them. I remembered the strawberry vacherin, the rice pudding, and the chocolate banana nut tower as particularly delish. I didn't love the sour cherry dessert and for the life of me, can't remember the 5th dessert. I enjoyed every single dish placed in front of me and was delighted that when I left the restaurant, although I was full, I didn't feel like it was over the top like how I've felt after leaving similar restaurants. Was it worth it? Yes, I do think so. Comparatively speaking, I'd rank it third out of the Michelin 3* restaurants I've been to after Le Bernadin and Fat Duck. Miles ahead of La Pergola in Rome. Price wise, I think it was similar to our engagement dinner at Le Cinq and Alinea in Chicago but I would say this meal would edge out both restaurants (though Alinea was much more experimental and had 26 plates!). The chef did come out and greet each table, if you want a picture, he's more than happy to take you to the kitchen for a quick tour and pic. A wonderful experience and thrilled that we went…

            18 Replies
            1. re: ccinlondon

              Thanks for the review.

              "...I got the menu without the prices but my husband said..."

              They still do that ?

              1. re: Maximilien

                Yes - totally old school. Though I believe they also did that at Le Cinq. In Rome, both Il Pagliaccio and La Pergola also did the same...

                1. re: ccinlondon

                  Thanks so much for the report back. It's always great to hear the results after someone does their reserach here on the board!

                  Did I read correctly that Le Gaigne has a menu in English? That surprised me!

                  1. re: plafield

                    Yes - they provided a separate English menu that was folded and slipped discreetly into the back of their regular menu.

                  2. re: ccinlondon

                    L'Ambroisie also did that a year or two ago, and we were two men dining together! My guess is that they give the priced menu to the person who calls and makes the reservation.

                2. re: ccinlondon

                  Greart, informative report, thank you.

                  I have been wondering how Le Gaigne has been doing, since it has generated no news, no buzz of late. Glad to know it is thriving.

                  The lotus root note got my attention too. A lady used to come to my home and make me homemade dumplings and also lotus root salad…

                  "our engagement dinner at Le Cinq and Alinea in Chicago"

                  Head-scratch. So how many engagement dinners did you have? And may I ask if it was to the same gentleman, I hope?
                  Congratulations to him.
                  And congratulations to him again.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Ha!! Oops, that doesn't sound right now that I re-read it! There was only one engagement dinner at Le Cinq. I was just lumping Alinea in as a comparison as the cost of the dinner was similar. :)

                  2. re: ccinlondon

                    Thanks for the report. They are really important.

                    "Mon Vieil Ami."
                    We warned you. Oh that's my nasty evil step-Mother talking.

                    "...I got the menu without the prices but my husband said..."
                    They still do that ?"
                    Indeed, and in the Loire where we just came back from, it was the rule not the exception, meaning that it doubled our time ordering. Patrons/chefs, hear us!

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      I HATE when they do that. It's like I don't deserve to know how much everything costs. 8-(

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        I'm just in the middle of an article on old school/old boy stuff here; we are not immune; you'll recall that our Rights are the Rights of Man. Ok it was 1789 but still the little women can't handle those prices Chefesse.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          I actually like that old way. There should be one host and the guests shouldn't have to worry about how much what they want cost. Of course, it's a pretty irrealistic expectation, but I still like it.

                          1. re: souphie

                            OTOH, what about when diners are sharing the cost?

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              It's a barbaric manner and I despise it. Why not bring your own food as well?

                              1. re: souphie

                                If you're a group that meets regularly, I can see it's reasonable to let the role of "host" rotate among the members, but what if you're a bunch of people who may never get together again?

                        2. re: John Talbott

                          The majority of the fine dining restaurants I have been to in Paris give me (female) the menu without prices even when I have made the reservation, and I am the host. I believe I saw prices at Guy Savoy, but think they were "secret" at Le Cinq, Le Meurice, and Le Pre Catalan. I don't necessarily choose what food I'm ordering based on on price, but I would prefer to know.

                          1. re: siki2

                            France is still a very backwards and macho country in some ways. German women (and many men) are often horrified ... but it can be shocking, even to Italians. A German friend who lives here, when confronted with bullsh*t like this, responds "Monsieur, BITTE SCHOEN, on est dans l'après-68 et je suis une adulte. Merci de faire attention."

                            We are in fact in the après-68, so a little reminder of such should result in a very quick change of attitude, and you'll be politely treated as an adult.

                            1. re: tmso

                              I have encountered this practice many times. It has always made my dining companions and me smile. I didn't know I was supposed to get huffy.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                don't know that you're supposed to get huffy, but I find it patronising and demeaning.

                      2. Spent another weekend in Paris so here is the report back:

                        Friday night – Josephine Chez Dumonet: lovely cosy ambience and our reserved table was the only left empty when we arrived. Half the menu was devoted to the truffle season so I ordered the hard boiled eggs with French baguette sliced into thin strips and smothered in truffle butter. The poached egg was impeccably cooked, yolk soft and creamy and the combination of dipping the bread into the egg was divine. Partner ordered the stuffed morels, which appeared to have a smooth ground pork stuffing similar to pate; they were the largest morels I had ever seen! Mains were the beef bourguignon and the steak tartare. Wish I had read the post about requesting half portions b/c although we saw many other items on the menu that offered half portions, these 2 items did not and we were utterly defeated. The beef bourguignon was everything I had hoped it would be, melt in the mouth chunks of tender beef with a rich gravy of mushrooms and bacon served with a side of simple pasta tossed in butter. The steak tartare was tossed together by our table, really liked the chopped pickles they added to it and was delicious. Shared the millefeuille for dessert but unfortunately, think we got the end piece as there was barely any cream filling unlike the other pieces we had seen being carried past us to other diners. This wasn’t such a bad thing since we were already so full…we did think this place had a really odd wine menu, with many having no prices, a huge selection of very old and expensive wines > €1000 and then a very small selection of wines with prices around €100. But the waiter recommended a bottle and we were pleased with it.

                        Saturday lunch – Bis du Severo Le: We had originally wanted to book le Severo but it was closed so off we went to its brother restaurant up the block. Started with a large green salad that was perfectly lightly dressed. Shared the cote de boeuf, saignant with frites. Wow! The meat was so flavourful and delicious, each chew elicited plenty of happy ooohs’s and mmmm’s. We’ve ordered this same cut from Paul Bert and L’Ami Louis and I almost have to say this was my favourite piece of meat. Finished the meal with the ultra fluffy crème brulee, great end to the meal.

                        Saturday dinner – Had wanted to go back to La Rotunde (we go every trip) but it was full due to a rugby game on so the concierge recommended one of Ducasse’s restaurants, Le Rech. I think this was probably overall my favourite meal of the trip, start to finish it was amazing. Started with 6 plates belon and 6 Normandy oysters. Mains were skate pan fried with capers and another white, thicker and much flakier steamed fish (the waiter wasn’t able to think of the English translation) with large fat white beans, side of mashed potatoes (not as buttery as at Robouchon but delish). The fish was so perfectly cooked and the combination of all the flavours really complimented each other. Next was their famous Camembert cheese, a whole small wheel was presented to us and then they wrapped up the remainder for us to take home. It reminded me of a Reblochon and was wonderfully stinky. We ate half the wheel and had to call it quits as dessert was still coming. Good call as it was hands down one of the best desserts I have ever had – the Pain Perdu. Forget the famous éclair on the menu, this was brioche dipped in milk and sugar cooked in brown sugar and served with sea salt caramel ice cream. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but we were fighting for every last crumb.

                        Sunday lunch – After the success of last night’s meal, we decided to try another Ducasse restaurant, Benoit. More casual brasserie, great for lunch and again an excellent meal. Started with fat juicy garlicky butter escargots and smoked salmon with warm potato salad. My main was the macaroni with truffles, which was really layered bucatini long tube pasta with béchamel sauce and covered in shavings of black truffle served sitting in a dark brown meat broth. Partner ordered the beef fillet which came with a huge jiggly portion of bone marrow and a side of macaroni gratinee (the trad’n version with cheddar cheese). Dessert was protiteroles which came with fondue sticks to dip into the melted chocolate sauce – thought the profiteroles were a bit hard but all was made well again when the waiter came around with fresh massive madeleines in their tray, still warm. Would definitely go back, good Sunday pick.

                        Sunday dinner – A bit fooded out now so wanted another seafood option and remembered discussion on the Boards about Les Fables des Fontaines. Decided to order 2 entrees each as wasn’t very hungry so started with 6 boiled langoustines mayonnaise (menu made a point that they were raw before cooking) and 6 “special” oysters. Both dishes were undeniably very fresh, simple and extremely tasty. No need to even dip into the mayo. Next set of entrees were sea urchin served with a citrusy gel and foam in a martini glass and a sea bass tartare with cream foam and caviar. I think there was an entire sea urchin in my glass, everything combined together worked but I couldn’t finish all of it as was a bit too rich near the end. The tartare’s first bite was promising but then for some bizarre reason, it was completely overwhelmed with chopped onion near the middle which ruined the delicate nature of the dish. Dessert somewhat redeemed the meal, the gateau Basque – warm almond filling cake, not too sweet, creamy – thumbs up.

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