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Almost finished! Please help finalize my restaurants

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Hi everyone,

I will have 6 nights in Paris. Here's what I have reserved so far for dinners:

Night 1: La Regalade Saint-Honore
Night 2:
Night 3: Pierre Gagnaire
Night 4:
Night 5: Les Clos des Gourmets (reserved by friends who live in Paris with whom we will be dining)
Night 6: L' Arpege

For Nights 2 and 6, I still need some restaurants, and we were hoping for casual places with delicious food.

My short list currently includes: L'Epi Dupin, Le Gaigne, Aux Lyonnais, L'Absinthe, Wadja, Chez Michel, Josephine Dumonet, and KGB.

The only problem is I can't really tell how to tell all these apart. Any insight you could give me on what I could expect at each of these places and/or which 2 you think I should go to would be great. Night 2 is a Saturday, and Night 4 is a Monday, so I would need places that are open on those dates. We are staying in the 14th and will be arriving back in Paris on Day 2 after a day trip to Luxembourg, so it might be best to go somewhere near the 14th.

Thank you so much!

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  1. In my view you've got 4 mainstream French places with 1,3, 5 & 6. So I'd do something different.
    KGB is different (more Asiatic ingredients etc than you'll ever find at 1,3, 5 & 6; lighter and inspired.) It's open Saturday and would be right up there in my book.
    I think Le Gaigne is also softer and lighter than the 4 you've listed and quite imaginative but still mainstream French and would be my 2nd choice for Saturday, but if you wanted to do both William Ledeuil and Mickaël Gaignon, pop in Ze Kitchen Galerie for Monday night. But if you have your heart set on KGB, then for various reasons (I think l'Absinthe is mediocre and I'm being kind and Aux Lyonnais how shall we say - "popular". Chez Michel a bit long in the tooth and Wadja often tired, Josephine and l'Epi much like Le Clos) I'd go for a fish place - Rech (open Sat) or Les Debats (open 7/7), elegant, good chefs but different.
    Does this help?
    Now you've just got lunch to worry about.

    4 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Thank you, John! We had been leaning towards mainstream French places since they're better than we can find here in NYC. Plus in NYC lots of restaurants do Asian-fusion, but I know Ze Kitchen Galerie is highly regarded so I will reconsider.

      For lunches, we won't need lunch plans for the 2 days we are in Luxembourg and Reims/Epernay. The day we arrive we plan on cobbling together a picnic with cheese from Quatrehomme, bread from Poilane, and pastries from Herme for lunch. Another day I was thinking falaffel since we will be wandering the Marais.

      So that leaves 2 lunches. One seems to be particularly tricky since it is a Sunday so I don't think much will be open. That day we will probably be near the Musee d'Orsay and Eiffel Tower. If you have any recs for lunch near those locations, I'd be very appreciative. (Dinner that night is at Gagnaire so something on the lighter side would also be preferred since we will have stopped by the organic market on Raspail for breakfast.)

      Lunch on day 6 is wide open as we will be going to Versailles in the morning and don't have a set plan for the afternoon.

      1. re: ManhattanLawyer

        I ate at Ze Kitchen Galerie a few years ago, and though the food was delicious, we commented that it felt like something we could find in NYC, so your thinking may be correct.

        Cafe Constant is open for lunch on Sunday, and near the Eiffel Tower.

        1. re: ManhattanLawyer

          I always make a lunch of bread, cheese pastries as well -- since I can consume only 1 big meal a day, and my preference for that is dinner. For cheese, my favorite is the vieux comte at Laruent Dubois -- we cannot get anything close in NYC. Also, for bread, I happen to think Polaine is tired and would suggest looking at Meg Zimbeck's article on the best baguettes in Paris for alternatives.

          1. re: ManhattanLawyer

            I had two ideas for Sunday:
            1. For food but no view - Christian Constant's 3rd of 4 he's had a hand in on the Rue St Dominique, which is only closed Mondays as Olive says. A caution, however, my experience is that to be assured a table (as opposed to the bar) one must arrive for lunch at 12 sharp.
            2. A great view and .500 food (a spectacular first meal outside in summer and disappointing second meal inside in winter) Tokyo Eat which on a fine sunny, warm day (ah didn't we have one of these in March?) has the most wonderful view (pix at lesrestos.com) and light fare. For instance: gazpacho, salads, pastilla of pintade with summer veggies, arugula/rocket/rugula/etc with balsamic dressing, caramelized pork ribs, cod, tuna, etc. Located on the huge terrace between the Museum of Modern Art and Palais de Tokyo on Ave Wilson.
            I question whether you'll be able to "do" Versailles in a morning and still make it back in time for lunch. As we've discussed ad nauseum here, except for Gordon Ramsay's 2 places, the other Versailles restos are pleasant but fungible. A compromise might be a few minutes from V. on the RER - the Etangs de Corot's #2 resto the Cafe des artitistes walking distance from the RER in the Ville d'Avray. Or depending whether you arrive at St Lazare, Montparnasse or along the RER C, someplace near them.

        2. I also like Ze Kitchen Galerie but tend to agree with Olive75 that it's not the kind of cooking that you come from New York to eat in Paris.

          I personally love Chez Michel. It's true that the decor is traditional and grandmotherly, but the food on each of my five or six visits there has been outstanding. The three course menu for €32 is solid, but the real fun comes when you can splurge on rare and wonderful treats from the "supplements" menu. On my last visit I watched an older gentleman put away a tartine of foie gras topped with a mountain of shaved truffles that was almost the size of my forearm (supplement €26), followed by something I’d read about but never seen – a bowl full of tiny and rare baby eels called civelles (supplement €60). He then went on to eat a mountain of biche (female deer, supplement €25) for his main dish, to be followed by dessert. The supplements can add up , but you're paying for rare ingredients and not anything else. I think it could be a good complement to the other restaurants you're selected. You can read a collection of reviews about Chez Michel here: http://parisbymouth.com/chez-michel/

          My only word of warning about Chez Michel: the downstairs dining room is ugly and depressing and they sometimes try to stick foreigners down there. I always specify "not the basement" (pas le sous-sol) when I reserve.

          7 Replies
          1. re: megzimbeck

            Thanks to everyone so far (and Meg, I've enjoyed reading your blog!), but it appears that neither Chez Michel nor Josephine Chez Dumonet is open on Saturday. Is that information correct? If so, is Le Gaigne my best bet for Saturday dinner? We will be arriving into Gare L'Est so I had thought that Chez Michel would be perfect. Any other great bistros near the train station we should consider for Saturday dinner?

            Thanks!

            1. re: ManhattanLawyer

              I'd say le Gaigne; because around the Gare de l'est is not much Sat nite except the Terminus Nord and l'Ardoise Gourmande where I hit .500 - a bit north.

              1. re: ManhattanLawyer

                I like Chez Michel, and long in the tooth can be a good thing, e.g., some of the other places of Constant's lieutenants, La Regalade, Clos des Gourmets, l'Os à moelle but it is indeed closed on Saturday. One excellent seafood spot open all the time is Les Fables de la Fontaine between the Orsay and the Eiffel Tower. I like Le Gaigne, but after a meal last month at Claude Colliot, just around the corner, my allegiance is wavering...both good choices and in my opinion better than Absinthe, Aux Lyonnais, Wadja, and more pleasant than l'Epi Dupin. Thanks to my vade mecum, Dr. T. for mentioning Claude Colliot.

                1. re: Laidback

                  I was wondering about Les Fables de la Fontaine. When I did a google search for it, it led me to Constant's webpage saying that they are gradually taking over Les Fables. (http://www.leviolondingres.com/eng_fa...
                  )It looks like it's being replaced by Les Cocottes? Am I reading this wrong?!?

                  1. re: midorimonsta

                    What happened was that C. Constant gradually sold Les Fables to the chef and Maitre who had been long time associates of his. He still maintains an interest and he and Mme dine there frequently.

                    1. re: Laidback

                      Thanks for the information! So I'm assuming it is still operating then... Where might I be able to find a menu for Les Fables? Are they still doing the 35Euros b.i. for lunch menu??

                      1. re: midorimonsta

                        Laidback is, as always, quite correct; and I might say that I think this is a good model; to encourage loyal staff-members to cut off a piece of the pie and keep arms-length away but still involved; after all he has three other places on the street to pop in and out of.

            2. At Les Clos des Gourmets, please consider the supplement dishes; I know this will add significantly to the tab, but you will receive food comparable to the one star level. Trust me on this; I suspect your friends will agree.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Oakglen

                Thanks for this tip. LCdG was one of our favorite rooms some years back but we drifted away, probably falling into the trap of following the newest buzz. If it remains as good as it once was,, it certainly deserves continued consideration,

                1. re: mangeur

                  Based on our 2 meals there in May, I think that LCdG is still hittting on all cylinders. This was our first visit since Feb. 2008 and we had a lovely meal, great service and good wines. I was pleased to see Henri Belle's wines on the list and they were outstanding. I would also second a careful consideration of the supplement dishes they are usually worth the upcharge. We enjoyed our lunch as much as our dinner there las month.

              2. I would say that you should throw in a night of incredible Moroccan chic night at 404 (the Duck Tagine with pear or Chicken Tagine with Apple are insanely delicious, creative and well done). http://travel2.nytimes.com/2005/12/18... I've lived in France for the past 1.5 yrs and my sis and I eat at Yen multiple times a week it is that good. It's at 22, Rue Saint Benoît, 75006 Paris in the 6th. If you're into Japanese food and want to go somewhere creative, traditional and delicious try Yen in the 6th. It is a must to get the eggplant slow roasted in the oven, stuffed with miso paste, veggies and steamed shrimp. Also the tempura figs and fish dishes are out of this world and so fresh. The 68 euro tasting menu is a dream. It's not a typical sushi house and it's so traditional that miso is actually served on paste on a spoon. For an easy Paris night these two are the best! http://thetastysidetolife.blogspot.com/