Report: Regalade, l'Agrume, Josephine, Comptoir du Relais...
Thanks for everyone’s input on my Paris dining itinerary. Below is a ranking in order of preference of the meals we had over eight days. Without a doubt, Paris is my favorite city for food. I’ll be back.
#1 La Régalade Saint-Honoré: First class all the way. Favorite meal the trip. We stumbled into the new Regalade outpost on a whim and never looked back. Lunch spot for a well dressed, beautiful crowd. Sat next to Icelandic food critic and his photographer. Would have been ecstatic if lunch consisted of only the terrine and cornichons. But then came the shrimp bisque, followed by the dorade (sea bream) with fennel, lardon and olives. My dining companion feasted on salmon crudo on a bed arugula, followed by braised veal shoulder with tomatoes. Dessert consisted of an outstanding (and generous portion of) riz au lait with caramel sauce and a chocolate pot de crème. At 33 Euros per person, can all this goodness be for real? Top it off with efficient but extremely personable service and you have a legendary meal.
#2 L’Agrume: Good things do come in small packages. No more than 8 tables and only 1 chef at this tiny gem. Could the female server have been more of a doll to us? Tasting menu was phenomenal. True to its name, our dining experience started with a pomelo tartar of bar (bass), followed by a medley of warm asparagus, zucchini, carrot, and potato, poached John Dory with leeks, and duck breast with raisins and olives. Top it off with the best dessert of the trip, cherry soup (really, compote) with a giant puff pastry and rich cream. What a find.
#3 Joséphine Chez Dumonet: “Ooo la la” said the waiters when they saw what we had ordered! “Ooo la la” we all said when we tasted it: decadent morels stuffed with veal, artichoke salad, white asparagus with béarnaise sauce, rich beef bourguignon with a side of egg noodles, perfectly roasted barbue (brill), and a grand marnier soufflé to share. Staff were very knowledgeable about wine pairing. This place doesn’t mess around. Congratulate the chef when he comes out to greet you at the end of the night.
#4 Comptoir du Relais: Fresh, clean, original. Get a table on the sidewalk for lunch. Outstanding people watching. Little gem salad, followed by smoked salmon with citrus cream and dill, delicious pavé of beef with tiny spring vegetables, roasted ½ chicken with crispy potatoes, giant raspberries with chantilly for dessert. Probably your best bet anywhere along Blvd. St. Germain.
#5 Benoit: Classic, formal, but unfortunately with laughable service. First night in Paris, a Sunday, and it generally didn’t disappoint. Rosé champagne, cassolette of peas, lardon, carrots and cream, escargot, “cookpot” of spring vegetables, sole with lobster sauce, salmon with béarnaise sauce, chocolate gâteau for dessert. Sipping an outstanding chablis throughout it all.
#6 Cristal de Sel: Hit and miss. Tandoori gambas were outstanding, the crab and apple “lasagna” touted by the server was not. Grilled bar with leeks and asparagus was terrific, the dorade on squid ink risotto was less so. Cheese plate for dessert was a home run.
#7 Cave Beauvau: No frills, but earnest food. Duck confit and steak au poivre were solid. Not a destination in its own right, but delivers an honest lunch if you’re nearby.
#8 Ze Kitchen Galerie: Average. Can find 12 versions of this restaurant in California. Outstanding service made up for limited menu and lackluster food: scallop sashimi, grilled squid, thai lemongrass broth, tempura of crab and langoustines. Artwork on the walls is circa 1998.
#9 Chez l’Ami Jean: Off-base food, with rushed, sarcastic service. I would have been all right if the meal had stopped after the fromage blanc, charcuterie basket, and the girolles (all exceptionally good). However, the meal went off the tracks. Inedible sardines inside a fried doughnut (highly touted by the server) followed by tough lamb (also highly rated by the staff). Did we just visit on a bad night?
#10 Rech: Unforgivable food at unjustifiable prices. Just about everything had been cooked in advance and reheated prior to serving (or, if cold, had sat in the refrigerator for 12 hours). Even the XL éclair was stale.
Very interesting report, thanx.
Am a big chez l'Ami Jean fan and liked Kitchen Galerie ok without feeling wowed. I also noticed that one seems to love or very much dislike CAJ. But as I can see how that can happen, I don't feel an urge to defend it or defend any restaurant although of course wish I could share my pleasure always. D&D, I therefore hope your comment about extracting the truth was so sophisticated a joke that of course I miss it. At least this is the truth that you are extracting from me. :-)
Speaking of l'Ami Jean, my last couple of meals were truly exceptional -- cote de boeuf was wonderful, as good as any in town, lobster was standard-bearing, dried waguy and poulet de bresse were all as they should be and as most starred restaurants don't do them any more. I can't talk about the prixfixe menu, as I haven't tried it in over a year, but ALC can be spectacularly good. For that, there is no competition in town that I am aware of.