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Feb 7, 2011 04:02 PM

Paris: your advice re Frenchie and Spring

For a March visit to Paris, I've been very fortunate to score reservations at Frenchie and Spring. Would appreciate your advice: any items on the menus that are must haves?

Also, I'm unclear how dressy these two restaurants are. I live in Napa and pretty much wear jeans and a sweater or jacket anywhere (except the very rare visit to the French Laundry). But, I don't want to be a rube in the big city. Any fashion faux pas I should avoid?

Thanks very much.

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  1. I wear a jacket and Wildlife Federation tie (they sent me some neat ties a year or so ago and I wear them when my wife yells, "TIE!") but, I'm old.

    I also mostly order the special or what the waiter tells me is really good today, if my wife approves and it suits.

    I'd leave the jeans at the hotel. You'll be received better if you dress up a bit and acknowledge the staff in French.

    1. Seems to be pretty much a moot point. Frenchie has three courses with two options for each course. Spring has no options, at least for lunch, and l believe for dinner. If l am wrong, l am sure Parigi will weigh in with her knowledge

      1. You are very lucky with your reservations. Congratulations.

        "your advice: any items on the menus that are must haves?"

        Both restos change their menu so often I have never had the same thing twice there. However their ever-changing menu is a short one. -- I don't remember Spring even has a choice. Or may it's because every time I am there, I am in a cloud of bliss with reality receding fast...

        "Any fashion faux pas I should avoid? "

        I always appreciate that people care enough to ask...
        Both places have a well-designed - but no Vegas-opulent - interior and well-dressed diners - no oppressive chic either.
        Except once in Frenchie I saw a beautiful Italian lady with a décolleté down to - am not kidding - the waist. She looked great and deserved all the admiring attention she got.
        And once in the old Spring, a lady whose nationality I will not mention came in carrying the telltale mineral water bottle and promptly and prominently put it on the table. Sigh, is it so hard to ask people to try simply to look as nice as their décor and not be an eyesore?

        13 Replies
        1. re: Parigi

          Agree on all counts. The Frenchie menu changes daily. There is no choice at Spring. For dress, "business casual" is appropriate, although there will be a range at both places.

          1. re: Nancy S.

            Thanks very much for the advice. I'm happy to accept the chef's choice at both restaurants and will leave my jeans at home!

            Can't wait.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              Does anyone know if there is a difference in quality at Frenchie between the 730pm (American tourist) seating and 930pm (French) seating? The diplomatic answer is no. But my gut tells me that there is. I currently have reservations in May for 730pm but I'm considering switching to 930pm if someone can confirm a difference between the two seatings.


              1. re: Porthos

                They have only just changed to that format so far too early to say. That said I doubt there will be any difference in quality, but maybe a difference in the mix of diners, but given its popularity this may be insignificant if at all noticeable.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Our upcoming reservation is for 10 (this was the only time they couldoffer) -- are there 2 seatings at 730 and 930?

                    1. re: Parigi

                      do either of these places have a time restriction on how far out they will make their reservations?

                      Can i make them for June if i can get through?

                      1. re: Dapuma

                        "Can i make them for June if i can get through?"

                        I believe with Frenchie you can.
                        With Spring, now they are taking reservations a month in advance.

                        1. re: Dapuma

                          I have a reservation at Frenchie for July, but not yet at Spring (although I did get through to ask), since they're policy is in fact only one month in advance.

                          1. re: Nancy S.

                            I have a reservation at Spring for April - they have asked that we confirm this one month before.

                        2. re: Parigi

                          Why do you suppose they gave us 10:00?

                          1. re: EarlyDrive

                            I would guess they stagger the arrivals (as do nearly all restaurants) so the kitchen doesn't get slammed with all the orders at once. Thus the 9:30 sitting starts with bookings at 9:30, then maybe 9:45 and 10:00. The 7:00 is also probably staggered.

                            One restaurant that had all the guests arrive together was the old Spring, whilst an interesting concept it led to delays between courses as all tables were served before the next course was cooked, and thus a meal could last a long long time.

                            1. re: PhilD

                              Thanks PhilD -- that makes sense.

              2. Please don't go all casual. Those guys work very hard to create a nice place serving wonderful food. Please them and dress up.

                No choices in both. But if you are like me and don't eat certain foods, by all means let them know in advance so that they can prep something for you.

                21 Replies
                1. re: happytoo

                  I just got through, then the guy said he did not speak english...any advice - i speak zero french but i can use a translator but not sure how i can understand what he is saying to me

                  painful after so many tries - argh

                  1. re: Dapuma

                    try google translate - type out your request and and try your best at pronunciation. Generally if you keep it simple, I would think you should be able to figure out his end of it - if they have the time of not. Another idea would be to type up a sample conversation - with the possible replies that they might give you, that way you can see what he might say in french and it would be easier to to decipher. Or get a french friend to help! If you are staying in a decent hotel, I would also try asking the concierge to call- that's what they're there for, right?

                    1. re: nataliya.v

                      If you are staying in a decent hotel, I would also try asking the concierge to call- that's what they're there for, right?
                      You would think so but the concierge at the hotel I'm staying at (a pretty famous 5 star hotel) told me Frenchie and Spring only take reservations 1 month in advance. Obviously they probably got stymied by Spring and didn't even attempt Frenchie. I was back to square one and had to call myself and butcher some French along the way to book the reservations. I'm not sure how far out Frenchie gets booked but if I had waited for the concierge to book 1 month out, I may not have been able to go get into Frenchie.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        "told me Frenchie and Spring only take reservations 1 month in advance"

                        True re Spring, whether one is 5 star or no star.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Yes, but not true re Frenchie, whether one is 5 star or no star.

                        2. re: Porthos

                          I arrive in Paris on 4/6 and today the concierge at my hotel made reservations for Frenchie, Le Cinq and Chez L'Ami Jean; they said that they will keep calling Spring to also get a reservation there.

                          1. re: bakerboyz

                            I won't be there until 4/30 so I'll start harassing Spring again in a week. Secured Frenchie myself and got CLJ also. Also waiting on Gagnaire since they are also 1 month in advance. I could have sworn Gagnaire was 60 days in advance a few years ago...

                            1. re: Porthos

                              Since Talbott is not here to quote himself, I'll remind you that these uber-hard-to-book tables are usually quite good. But there are scores of scores of equally good dining rooms that are easier to get into. Buzz is only one part of the equation. Fabulous food also counts.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Porthos, may I ask how you managed to get the reservation at Frenchie?

                                1. re: eviemichael

                                  For both Spring and Frenchie I called in 20 minute intervals starting 4pm Paris time. They usually don't pick up until around 530-6pm Paris time even though the answering maching says to call between 330 and 5pm.

                                  To Mangeur, Mr. Talbott is "part of the problem" so to speak since he ranks Spring #2 on his 2006-2011 restaurant rankings. Not having the luxury of living in Paris, visitors follow trusted sources like Mr. Talbott's blog and trusted sources here on the France board to maximize each experience. Both Spring and Frenchie are repeatedly recommended by those sources.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    For what it's worth, neither are on my list for any of our visits this year. There are too many other worthwhile addresses in town.

                                    1. re: mangeur

                                      I would love to know what is on your list.

                                      1. re: Nancy S.

                                        ;) Then we'd get right back to the problem that Porthos attributes to Mr. Talbott.

                                    2. re: Porthos

                                      Thanks Porthos I am already planning my itinerary and I won't even be there for another 10 months! Can we say Type-A? ;)

                                      1. re: eviemichael

                                        Tip of the day:

                                        OP here: I got my reservation at Frenchie by signing up for the Les Halles food oriented walking tour hosted by Wendy Lyn. See her fun and informative blog with reviews, tips, interviews, etc. at Her Les Halles walking tour concludes with dinner at Frenchie. She makes the arrangements and charges a flat fee for tour, including the dinner with wine. She's a delight to work with setting things up.

                                        I've also signed up for her Left Bank walking tour featuring local markets and small food purveyors.. Taking both walks in late March. Can't wait!

                                      2. re: Porthos

                                        "Mr. Talbott is "part of the problem" "
                                        Gee it's fun to drop off a forum for a while and find out that you're either feared dead or dreaded.
                                        As my Mother would say to my sister and me when arguing - "You're both right."
                                        I do rate Spring and Frenchie highly, but both are nigh-impossible to get into, but it's not the end of the world if you don't. There are a ton of other great places out there - just recently - Dans Les Landes, Le Dauphin and l'Hedoniste (a view not universally shared, but that's why I'm a proud contrarian.)

                                        John Talbott's Paris

                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                          "Mr. Talbott is "part of the problem"

                                          I meant this in the most respectful terms. Obviously visitors, including myself, value your judgement. So when you recommend Frenchie and Spring for a great meal, we see that you know what you're talking about and get on the phone and start the dial and redial process. There are other sources/media that recommend other restaurants which I know are not as updated as your recs so I don't even bother with those even if they are much easier to get into.

                                          Obviously, there are also other great places out there and if I don't end up with a reservation for Spring, I'll go further down on your/other respected sources' list.

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            I agree that the "problem" is one that is only a problem because people like me - who love food and who don't visit Paris regularly - want to make sure that we eat well, don't get ripped off, and experience a little bit of the Paris that those who live there do. So we come to Chowhound and through CH, we get linked to food bloggers and from one FB to another FB, etc. And EVERYONE makes lists! Why wouldn't you? And when you are trying to plan a holiday from far away and this is a one off holiday and you might not get back to Paris for god knows how long - then you want to try and get it right and so this is where lists can come in handy.

                                            Frenchie and Spring are on my list because of other people's lists AND because what I have read about them resonates with me and how I like to eat and also how I like to occasionally push the boundaries when eating.

                                            Those who either live in Paris or who visit Paris regularly have more leeway in making choices. I am a 24 hour plane ride away and this means I have to put a lot of thought into my choices.

                                            Having said that, if I hadn't been able to get reservations for Frenchie or Spring, there are about 14 other restaurants on my current list which I am also super excited about - and most require bookings less than a week before!

                                            All I have to do now is plan my wardrobe - those Parisian women are very intimidating!

                                            1. re: PixieM

                                              Pack black, don't expect your boundaries to be pushed by either of these tables, and, above all, enjoy.