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London and Paris March Trip Report

hkger Apr 20, 2011 10:20 PM

St John - Cool warehouse-like space and ambience, not so great food. Squirrel (!) was dry stringy and not particularly nicely presented or seasoned. Lop loin was also very tough and dry. Both were just kind of placed on a bed of soft-cooked pale looking cabbage. Rabbit stew was the best of the three, but wasn't anything particularly special. Delicious madeleines with the cheque. Booked online.
Dean St Townhouse - Very nice interiors and atmosphere: warm, dark and rich. We had a lot to drink that night so the specifics of the food are hazy but it was very good "traditional" English dishes. Highly recommended. Booked a couple of weeks in advance.
Wolseley - Eggs Benedict, fish cakes, and blueberry pancakes, all washed down with Einspanner. Such a beautiful place for breakfast.
La Petite Maison - A friend brought us here, nothing exciting but it was fresh, simple and clean French food. Didn't see the bill but I imagine it was one of the more expensive meals we had.

Le Chauteaubriand - Absolutely amazing. The €50 set menu included ceviche, mushroom broth, blood sausage and beet, asparagus salad, fish heaped with fresh herbs, lamb (substituted with pork for my wife which ended up being the best dish of the night), cheese, and dessert (blood orange sorbet first, followed by some chocolate creation). All with a fantastic wine pairing for an extra €50 that was really well presented by our very friendly waitress. One of the best meals I've ever had. Booked exactly 2 weeks in advance (although after they nudged into the "top 10" it will likely be super difficult).
Saturne - Enjoyable, but a bit pale after LC, particularly considering the similarities in the menu choices. The 4 course menu included an asparagus salad and lamb (again) which were both very good. It's a strange, minimalist space: comfortable, but for some reason it didn't feel like somewhere to linger.
Josephine Chez Dumonet - Although the staff are all very friendly, they put all the tourists in the back, and we had the worst table, between the kitchen door and toilette. Regardless, the food was great, with a perfectly crispy duck confit and silky foie gras. Some of the portions are enormous (the woman behind us looked terrified of the hunk of meat in front of her). They were trying to subtly rush us at the end to turn over the table, but the food made up for the disappointment of the seating arrangement and timing (it wasn't all their fault, as our hotel had failed to postpone the reservation as requested).
La Petite Cour - A friend sent us here, and I failed to look it up in advance. Super avoid. It feels like a tourist trap with very average food and isn't cheap. Everything was just doused in various cream sauces.
minipalais - Great, hip design and a really gorgeous terrace. We only had salads and a nice burrata dish so not really in a position to judge but it seems to be good light fare, nothing special. It's in a very convenient location for lunch if sightseeing, and we didn't need to book (although one probably should, it was full just after we arrived).
Bistro Volnay - A power lunch place (everyone else was in a suit). A full, three course lunch sitting at the bar. Starters were mushrooms and snails (fantastic) and a velvety green pea soup. Really nice wines by the glass. Highly recommended. Booked in the morning.
Artcurial - Again, just had light salads for lunch in the plant filled winter-garden-type room. Filled with fashiony types all eating salad and drinking coke zero.

Also, rotated through Poilane, Gerard Mulot, and Pierre Herme pastries in the mornings (and in the afternoon, in the case of the unbelievable Herme mille feuille). Pierre Herme was the clear winner in all categories, except for macarons which I would still award to Laduree...

  1. twodales Apr 20, 2011 10:41 PM

    Thanks for the report!

    1. f
      fishskis Apr 20, 2011 11:47 PM

      Does Chez Josephine Dumonet only have one table in the entire restaurant, located in the back next to the bathroom? I am amazed at the percentage of people who post about CJD that find themselves seated at this table.

      After reading all of the mixed things recently about CJD, a place I have never tried, I am considering canceling my reservation in a few weeks. Yes, I am a "tourist", but I am not fond of being relegated to a tourist-only section surrounded by englsh speakers (I realize there was a recent topic on this subject). Or maybe I should just change my reservation from the early seating to the later one.

      4 Replies
      1. re: fishskis
        Dapuma Apr 21, 2011 10:25 AM

        my thoughts exactly...only thing i can think of is maybe i can move Spring into that slot IF i can get reso's

        I dont really want to set the dinner at 930 at night....

        has anyone objected to that table and then gotten a different table?

        1. re: Dapuma
          Parigi Apr 21, 2011 10:41 AM

          Why not specify that you don't want that table when you reserve?

          1. re: Parigi
            Dapuma Apr 21, 2011 10:52 AM

            i have to call back to confirm a couple weeks ahead of time so i can probably ask at that point - so many bad reports coming in making me second guess it, but asking to be put in front and ordering the terrine and sauternes right away should set the meal up pretty nice and if we order that right away that probably will make sure we wont be getting hurried out the door

          2. re: Dapuma
            Nancy S. Apr 21, 2011 10:59 AM

            Personally, I would take 9:30pm over any time before 9. It's so much more festive (and local) dining later in Paris.

        2. Rio Yeti Apr 21, 2011 02:40 AM

          I understand this is the France board, but I just thought I'd comment on your St John experience which was very close to mine. Either this restaurant is a "hit or miss" as they say, and I certainly got a miss, or it is wildly overrated (probably due to Anthony Bourdain's passionate admiration of the chef). Not that is was bad, just nothing THAT special...

          As for your Chateaubriand review... well, just another piece of writing which makes me want to go there... FAST !

          1. n
            Nancy S. Apr 21, 2011 05:37 AM

            Agree about St. John and Wolseley. We stay at the Dean Street Townhouse, which has excellent rooms. I'm curious about your experience at Saturne, since this is on my list for Paris. How soon did you reserve in advance, and did you sit at a table or the counter, and, in retrospect, which would you recommend. Many thanks in advance.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Nancy S.
              hkger Apr 21, 2011 03:46 PM

              Hi Nancy,
              Saturne was actually very nice, despite my semi-enthusiastic sounding words above. It was lively, the dishes were tasty and well presented, and the service was efficient and friendly (easily made some changes to the set for dietary preferences). The counter appeared to be good if you were going to be trying a few wines as there seemed to be quite personal service. There's a line of banquettes on the wall in the back room which seemed more leisurely than the tables. We booked everything around the same time, about 2 weeks in advance, mainly because of requirements of Chateaubriand and Thoumieux (which we didn't end up going to).

              1. re: hkger
                Nancy S. Apr 21, 2011 03:52 PM

                Many thanks.

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