Paris Trip Report: including Pierre Gagnaire, Chez Josephine Dumonet, Spring, Le Baron Rouge, Rubis, Huitrerie Regis, Les Coccottes, Le Tastevin and others
I promise to write a detailed report over the weekend.
I just wanted to stress, because it was brought up some on the board in the weeks before I left, that I ate incredibly well and I did not experience one iota of "attitude" that people discuss. So many people seem so concerned about it and really I am here to tell everyone to relax and just enjoy their trip. For the record I don't speak French at all. I can "get through" a menu but that is it.
I've never had a problem in Paris and I continue to not have any problems in Paris. I hope travelers to Paris will enjoy the wonderful city without so much apprehension before they go.
If you want to eat with the "locals" try to eat at 9pm or later; for most of our meals we were surrounded by the sound of French being spoken. Another idea is to hit the residential neighborhoods for lunch, it is very very easy to pick out the cafe that is the "real deal" so to speak.
I will say that we were involved in at least 4 different conversations, in english, started by various Parisians sitting next to us. People couldn't have been friendlier, and if you do want to have a chat be prepared to brush up on your politics.
I promise to write in detail about the food. I'm pretty picky but I'd say in general we were happy with our meals. I will say that the "ambiance" factored into the equation more than I would have anticipated. I didn't think our meals were crazy expensive either, but that could be because I live in NY.
More tomorrow as I'm wiped out! Please excuse any typos/grammatical errors.
We, also, have never had a "problem" and find the people in Paris generally very friendly and helpful. Perhaps more polite than Americans, which can seem less friendly but it's not. I'm looking forward to your report about htese restaurants.
I am up reasonably early thanks to jet lag and will try to get started on a report. Just so you have an idea of who we are and interpret our recommendations and comments. In our 40s, boyfriend and girlfriend, on vacation for romance and relaxation and a little culture - we had both been to Paris before but not in years and never had been to Europe together. I have family in the restaurant business, and am a moderate foodie (my kids would disagree and say I am really serious foodie as we were nearly car-jacked in Naples trying to find some pizza restaurant that I had eaten at when I was 18). Let's just say I know what "good is" but every meal does not have to be exquisite. I won't eat at a bad restaurant if I am hungry, as I'd rather just run into a bakery and eat a loaf of bread plain than suffer a really mediocre meal.
We arrived in Paris at 8am on sunday morning, our room was not ready so we changed headed out for the day. We were tired but the weather was spectacular.
We went to the markets around the Bastille and the Marche d'Aligre for which I have attached the website: http://marchedaligre.free.fr/legume.htm
A great early morning foodie activity if the weather is good.
Le Baron Rouge: Our first official stop was Le Baron Rouge a wine bar right near the marche d'Aligre. For those looking for an authentic feeling experience I highly recommend this wine bar. I had a lovely demi-sec vouvray and my other half had some red. Casual, quaint, friendly it is worth a trip but I believe it is a day or morning place only so check. The selection of wines by the glass was tremendous and they were all only a couple or Euros each. An older Parisian woman struck up a conversation with us, wanting to discuss Obama and various other topics.
Le Bar a Huitres: We walked around a lot considering we had only slept for a couple of hours. At around 1:30 we were hungry and after hours on our feet we found ourselves in front of the above restaurant on the left bank not far from Notre Dame. It is a "chain". I had read about it before we left and knew it wasn't necessarily the best but would be decent as long as we ate the cold shellfish platters. A note: I love shellfish - To me we don't have the opportunity to eat it in the states the way you can in europe, especially France and Spain. If you don't like cold shellfish platters don't go here as the "regular" food did not look special from what I could tell. Everybody was having the oysters and LES PLATEAUX DE FRUITS DE MER. We were the only Americans. There were a couple of British tables, one table of Russians and the rest of the restaurant was filled with people speaking French. They sat us at a table for 4 even though we were only 2 people and gave us French menus. Waiter couldn't have been nicer. We were having some issues trying to figure out what some of the items were and so he brought out English menus. I still don't know what "dog cockles" are. Our Plateaux was delicious - the quality was good and most of the platters come with a crab or lobster which we also love. They had a number of wines by the half bottle so we ordered a chablis. The sliced brown bread was from Poilane. They were very attentive to things such as giving us more water which we were drinking like crazy to rehydrate after the plane ride. Later in the report I will talk about Huitrerie Regis which is better in terms of quality but a very different type of restaurant. I wouldn't make a special trip here like I would for Regis but if you are in the mood for a platter and find yourself in front of one of the 4 restaurants it is absolutely a nice experience.
We wandered back to the hotel around 3:30pm for a nap.
Le Tastevin: On the Ile St. Louis -This was an interesting experience. My boyfriend insisted that we go here as he had gone many times years ago when he used to be in Paris on business. I was not convinced that we were going to have a good meal in such a touristy spot. We had walked by in the morning popped our head in and made a reservation in person. The woman who runs the restaurant is charming and graciously said whatever time we wanted for the evening would be fine. We chose 7:30 (and then later called and moved it to 8:30 which was not a problem). She saved us a table by an open window with a small lamp on the table. Very romantic. Very charming. In terms of all of our meals this was in some ways the most surprising to me because of how much I enjoyed it. Was it because of the service and the atmosphere? To be honest I can't quite tease out how good the food was or was not. We had escargot to start and then he had sole and I had the house langoustine. (I wasn't kidding about how much I love shellfish and you never/rarely see langoustine in the USA) His meal was part of a set menu and mine was not. For 60ish Euros his meal came with starter, meal, cheese and desert and she always brought an extra set of plates and silverware so that we could share. Although the owner is probably in her 60s she was the main hostess and waitress of the restaurant with her son helping her out. She cares, it is her livelihood and while it had a "homey" feel to it she was incredibly attentive making sure we had enough wine and water. The escargot were terrific, my langoustine were great - steamed in a very light sauce of some kind which added just a hint of flavor without masking the taste of the shellfish - cheeses were good and ripe (a reblochon, a goat and a hard cheese) and the profiteroles for desert were truly delicious. They were better done than most with the pastry being exactly the correct texture and the chocolate sauce was divine. Very romantic meal - so while I don't think the food was necessarily the "best" we ate it was good and we had such a lovely experience. Also it was EXPENSIVE but we didn't care. They have several set menus as well as the carte so if you order carefully you don't have to spend as much as we did :) The other tables consisted of Americans, French and an Italian couple. The restaurant is tiny so you do notice your fellow diners. I'd say this is ideal for romance with good food, it was perfect for our first night in Paris.
re: Rio Yeti
I hear you, but compared to so many on this board I really don't qualify even a little. I went to at least a museum a day, sometimes two, but I think you aren't really supposed to talk about that stuff on this board and I'm not a big shopper.
Also, I was traveling with a new companion and didn't want him standing on a street corner furious with me because he was hungry and I wanted to walk another 3 miles to get to the perfect spot which may or may not be open. :0 My children will vouch that this experience is not fun!
Really compared to so many people my knowledge is not that deep. I also really used this board to pick my restaurants and I wanted to share back because we ate incredibly well AND had a very good "mix" of traditional, modern, casual, fancy, no-name, well-known etc and that was a key to us enjoying our experiences.
As a "tourist" the mix is what made our time so special. We had meals in many different parts of the city even though we were staying in the 1rst arr. and the walks home after those meals were really nice.
The wine bars we stumbled upon, Rubis at least, I had read about Baron Rouge and was standing at the Bastille market googling it to see if that was the market it was near.
Also, there are certain cities like Paris (and New York) where I think it can really make a difference to have some of your eating planned out ahead of time - otherwise restaurants can be completely booked. There is nothing worse to be standing on a busy block where 3 of the restaurants are packed with no tables available and the other 5 are vacant. You don't have to be a world traveler to understand where you should be eating!
There are other cities like Venice, that I know very very well and can go to with no reservations and no plans and not have problems or a bad meal.
I only had 4 reservations before I left, everything else was left up to chance. 1 dinner and 3 lunches - I've been working really hard all year and we literally slept in everyday until 10:45, got up, had coffee and went to lunch. I didn't have a single croissant the entire time I was there - that fact alone disqualifies me from true "foodie-hood"
I actually liked that schedule - we would lunch 12:30, museum, rest, museum, dinner 9:30pm, walk the streets of Paris until 1:00am and do it all again.
It was a really nice evening.
I'd say what I was trying to express is that if you compared it to some of my other meals -- for example did a pure taste test in sterile environment with no "atmosphere" - the food wasn't as "good" all on its own.
The vegetables that accompanied my boyfriends fish were really pedestrian/cafeteria pedestrian. They weren't however part of my meal, and he didn't seem bothered by it.
So depending on who you are and what you are looking for - a beautiful evening vs. truly stellar food where every morsel is perfect the restaurant may or may not be for you.
Would I have enjoyed it as much if I had been with my mother vs. my boyfriend? Maybe not! Since romance was on our list the evening was influenced in a positive way because of the general ambience.
<So depending on who you are and what you are looking for - a beautiful evening vs. truly stellar food where every morsel is perfect the restaurant may or may not be for you.>
Gowest, I think everyone on this board would classify me as a "really serious foodie," but I will take that beautiful evening over "truly stellar food" at least 98% of the time. It's the total experience.
And I am LOVING your running commentary, and getting really antsy for my october trip!
Monday the only reservation I had made was for dinner.
Chez Josephine Dumonet:
First things first, we were not seated by the kitchen :)
We ate at 9:30pm - no rush - etc
Seriously, it was beautiful in Paris and they had tables outside and we chose to eat there next to two other tables of "regulars". I knew they were regulars because of the way they interacted with the waiters and the kitchen staff as they left towards the end of the evening. Also, the young couple next to us engaged us in conversation for a while, it was very interesting, they definitely eat there regularly.
Second: the service was perfectly acceptable but not "fine dining" service don't expect that here and you won't be disappointed. I would describe it as very haphazard but extremely accommodating. They came to take our order and we weren't ready so they came back. Our wine and water glasses were always filled, our courses came out to the table in appropriate spacing/timing.
Third: the food was delicious. Had a demi-portion of the foie gras to share to start, a canard confit and a demi-portion of the boeuf bourguignon as mains. I have to say that the sauce for the boeuf was phenomenal - really the best I've ever had. The confit was really good but not "the best" per se. I thought the potatoes with the duck were yummy but don't see why everyone raves about them specifically. French man next to us ordered the cepes filled with foie and the pigeon which also looked fantastic. I did think the meal over all was delicious and I would go back in a heartbeat.
Only cons: we didn't get desert it was late and they didn't really take our desert order before the meal. They were perfectly willing to stay to cook us a desert (20 minutes) but we were full and tired as it was after midnight so we didn't really care.
A note about the wine - this is for Ptipois as per your advice on the other thread, I tried to order a demi-bottle of an old Barzac !983, but they were "out". They gave me a 1983 Sauternes priced at a higher price point for the same price as a substitute. The only issue I had is that the bottle was already open when they brought it to the table, the label "fell off" in the bucket of ice water pretty quickly, and it made me suspicious. If it is undeserved I apologize to the restaurant. I grew up in a household where my father was always soaking bottles of wine in the bathroom sinks to remove the labels and paste them in a book with his comments. I've never seen a label fall off so quickly in cold water, even on an old bottle. I am truly not knowledgeable enough to compare the taste to other Sauternes I've had before but as I said I decided not to let it bother me.
I know others would be up in arms. It just didn't bother me other than for tasting purposes as I was curious. The meal with great food, great atmosphere, and the demi-bottle of whatever it was plus 2 or 3 glasses of red for my boyfriend cost under 120 Euros for the two of us.
If you go please go with realistic expectations. This is not "3 star fine dining" experience but a completely different type of meal. If you need "perfection" this restaurant is not for you. If you are willing to be surprised and stay relaxed despite minor "bumps" it is a unique experience. We had a wonderful evening and would absolutely go back.
One funny aside, I did use the bathroom just as the two Amreicans at the "bathroom table" were asking the waiters what cheeses were on their cheese plate. Just as discussed in the the other thread the waiters had no clue. It was funny and made me giggle. It just isn't that kind of restaurant. My family member sits down with his staff before service and explains all the nuances of the day's menu, this is NOT that kind of place. Doesn't mean it isn't good, just it is what it is.
And if you don't want to be rushed and don't want to eat with Americans don't go at 7:30pm.
"The only issue I had is that the bottle was already open when they brought it to the table, the label "fell off" in the bucket of ice water pretty quickly, and it made me suspicious. "
The label coming off is not unusual. Back then the glues used were less tenacious.
Bringing the bottle already opened is inexcusable!
Other eating on Monday:
lunch: "take away" sandwich from http://www.mavrommatis.fr/
DELICIOUS quick bite to eat in a high tourist area.
I of course was dragging my boyfriend to another museum with out lunch. He was starving and getting cranky but we were not in a great area (near madeleine) and he was eyeing some yucky looking sandwich at another spot.
They made the most delicious sandwich with "greek salad" and chicken on a very thin wrap (not the kind we get here in the states more "flaky") which they heated up for a second in a panini maker. YUM. On a side street right off the madeleine - real restaurant upstairs with a small counter downstairs.
Eric Kayser: Tip if you are near Place Vendome outpost at the end of the day, they put out all of their "little pastries" the bite size ones, I'm sorry I don't know what they are called, as "free samples" when you buy a baguette. They encouraged us to have a lot of them - we tried a many for "free" with our baguette :)
Le Rubis: wine bar near the Louvre 10 Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré
We stopped in for a drink or two around 7:30 before our dinner at Dumonet.
Again classic style wine bar with barrels outside, a ton of different wines by the glass all for just under or just over 2 euros. They will give you plates of cheese or meat on bread for snacking.
Charming, fun, they spoke no English and we spoke no French, they didn't care - we were the only tourists in the place.
If you want a more hip local vibe all the "younger" after work set seemed to be having drinks at the cafes that circle the square with the glass building in it right up the block a little from Rubis. A parisian will know what I'm talking about it or look for it on your map. Great outdoor seating, hidden from tourists, right in the thick of things with no real traffic on the square at all.
Great report. I wish all travellers have your standard of palette, your open-mind and your capacity for enjoyment.
"If you want a more hip local vibe all the "younger" after work set seemed to be having drinks at the cafes that circle the square with the glass building in it right up the block a little from Rubis. A parisian will know what I'm talking about it"
You mean the Place du Marché Saint-Honoré, a very hip area indeed.
In fact the restaurant "l'Absinthe" on the square was one of my faves once. Then it went downhill. But recently hounds and friends report that it is back en forme...
About the label falling off from the bottle: no worry, I have seen that happen a few times with aged sauternes at Chez Dumonet. Labels age very badly in that cellar for some reason and the glue under the sauternes labels seems to age badly too. Your bottle got to your table already opened probably because they wanted to check whether the cork was all right. Sauternes bottles at Chez Dumonet stay in the cellar for decades and are never moved, let alone recorked, so when you get a real old one (they really have some serious oldies down there) it is like an archaeological excavation and sometimes they want to check what state the bottle is in.
Some cellar that must be. I have never been there.
But that was happening in a "maison de confiance". They don't expect you'll get suspicious when they bring the open bottle and assume that you'll know they have a good reason for that.
In most other cases the situation would be dubious and as a rule the bottle should be opened before the diner. When I write that I don't mind that kind of thing, I mean I don't mind when it happens at Chez Dumonet; it's an exception. I could think of more exceptions but at a Costes brasserie, for instance, I would send back the bottle.
Tuesday: Pierre Gagnaire
This is going to be a weird report. We ate lunch there as I was just not willing to spend more money than the "lunch deal". First, it was a "deal" in terms of price and second I really felt that we got a real sense of the restaurant's food. No need really to spend the extra money if you are going to be tense about it. I agree with all the recommendations of the regulars on the board to go for the 2 and 3 star bargain lunches for a splurge without totally breaking the bank. Food was phenomenal.
Let me get the negative out of the way first. Remember this is just my opinion and how I felt given the day. It was stunning in Paris; over 70 degrees and sunny, with everyone desperate to be outside as spring had finally arrived. I really hated the atmosphere of the restaurant. Given the weather and the time of day it was depressing, too dark and it made me wish for a minute or two when we first sat down that I had picked another place to eat. I didn't like the music either. Not their fault!! Go for dinner! Go in winter, go on a rainy day, but do not go on the first sunny day you have seen in 6 months :)
Interior is rather dark and sedate and it didn't go with my mood. Also there were only two other tables (both for two with one with French speakers and one with one French one American all men). I know this is hard to avoid at a restaurant where you have to reserve in advance but I wish I had picked somewhere more suited to "spring in paris" Lasserre maybe? Others where you can eat outside or the interior is very "light"? JMHO
Pros: Most of the food was extraordinary - truly it was - and so was the service. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
I have the menu in front of me.
First they put us at a large table for two with a lamp and a purse stand in between us. As this was supposed to be a romantic trip I asked if we could be moved to a smaller table and have my purse off to the side. I think they though I was crazy but happily obliged. It definitely made their job more difficult when they had to squeeze all the different plates on the table.
Sommelier: couldn't have been nicer, steered us to a really interesting white that was not expensive - under 50 euros. Chatted with us about his favorite wine regions in California - oregon for reds and I can't remember what her said about the whites
All waiters: lovely, lovely, lovely -- friendly and explained our food to us.
Food: What stood out for me about the food was the "layers of the flavors". I can't describe it any other way than with an analogy to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I mean this as the highest compliment. If you've read the book or seen the movie, there is a section where he made a bubble gum which tastes like a meal; each flavor presented itself as the girl kept on chewing until she blew up like a blueberry. This is what each bite of food was like at PG.
I've never had a meal where so many flavors reveal themselves as you keep on chewing.
Unique. I finally understand the menus he puts out.
general amuse bouche were fine -- not that memorable -- so I'm not writing about them.
our menu: a whole bunch of starters - 5 to be exact
1- cold - crab (and dog cockles still can't figure out what they are) with a cucumber wasabi sorbet - wonderful and so refreshing given the hot weather
2- a type of gougere-ish thing (that they called soufleed bread) stuffed with nettle mousseline
3 - some sort of jelly of fennel/bonito/sardines - didn't love this one and i love the flavors of sardines and fennel. maybe it was a texture issue.
4 - AMAZING: beyond delicious - a standout ! I will write what they call it in the menu, but it was a soup that as far as I could tell bore no resemblance of any kind to the description :). "grenailles potatoes flavored with Sezchuan pepper, coarsely chopped Coeur de pigeon, tomatoes, and Paris mushrooms with miso" Really I couldn't relate the description to the dish even remotely but it was superb. I wanted another :)
5 - this last dish made me laugh. My father used to "make" an hors d'oeuvres for christmas of oscar meyer baloney layered with cream cheese - multiple layers cut into little squares and served with tooth picks. We always made fun of him. I wish he was alive to hear about this dish from PG.
Cremeux of Burrata cheese, shredded mortadella and red arach. I almost wept when I ate it. It was the most "high end" version of my father's "low end" pedestrian dish. Delicious but more than that for me it brought back so many memories of my childhood. Really a high end version of what many americans grow up on a baloney and cheese sandwich (minus the wonder and mayo)
1- cold - bream and tuna carpaccio with white asparagus, black olive juice, rhubarb and corn bread croutons. Delicious. Maybe black olive a tad strong but just barely.
2 - hot - Fricassee of rabbit with carrots, turnips, leeks in a sweet and sour sauce; red-leaf salad fondue and a second little dish with snails, liver, gnocchis in a béarnaise garlic cream. (I'm using his descriptions and spellings) - all outstanding.
A word about desert. I don't usually like fancy deserts. I never have. I tend to lean to an ice cream sundae or a chocolate cookie or a plain bowl of berries with whipped cream or creme fraiche. I loved the deserts at PG. They were delicious. I notice on other threads people have skipped desert. For me, where I would normally pass on the sweet to have room for more savory I wouldn't do that at PG. They were really worth eating.
not on the menu so I am describing best as I can by memory, please take with a grain of salt.
1 - regular strawberries in a little "soup" with creme fraiche type dollop
2- frais de bois on a little piece of yellow cake with prune/plum base
both were spectacular
3- chocolate cake - you know special french kind with lots of layers :)
4 - granita of sparkling wine with a purple fruit - sorry i can't remember - I thought that they didn't need the fruit part as the granita was sweet enough and interesting enough on its own
a piece of chocolate
all really great except the decoration of the restaurant for the day
didn't let it spoil my meal :)
Another great. I have had that initial "buyer's remorse" feeling in restaurants as well. I applaud your approach. Now that I too am in my 40's (and a New Yorker like you), I also try to be a bit more easy-going in terms of expectations and openness to experience, at least compared to my the somewhat uncompromising disposition of my youth. (Nevertheless, like you, again, I will easily forgo a "proper" inferior meal and be more than happy with a tasty hunk of fresh bread.)
Great report. I'm glad the food made up for the room at Gagnaire, and appreciate learning what you thought the room was like. I guess that's the catch of eating a major meal at lunch time when there's the chance of it being beautifully sunny out. Loved and moved by your description of the baloney.
The room at Gagnaire is definitely dark - but then again, of all the 3-Stars I find his lunch menu to be the most "dumbed down" from the real deal so I cannot imagine going for just lunch (unless ordering ALC) anyhow.
Places like L'Arpege, La Bigarrade, LeDoyen, and Le Pre Catalan definitely shine at lunch with the large windows.
I didn't order ALC so I can't compare but I didn't notice that the meal was dumbed down at all. I think the most important part of any lunch special is that you don't "feel" as if you've "cheated" and I really didn't on any level - in fact quite the opposite. Some of the dishes were unbelievably good and the staff certainly treated us as if we had ordered a $1000 bottle of wine!
I'm glad I was able to experience the meal without breaking my bank account.
If you feel like taking me to PG for dinner ALC I'd be happy to do a taste test :)
What I meant is that I feel his lunch tasting is far less impressive than the dinner tasting whereas at L'Arpege, L'Astrance, Le Pre Catalan, Ledoyen, and others that isn't really the case.
As I've never had a remotely bad dish at a PG restaurant I don't imagine the lunch tasting is bad - but if I had one meal to splurge on in Paris it would be there - his food speaks to my sensibilities more than any other chef I've found.
i can see what you are driving at because some of what was going on in the dishes served was so subtle and nuanced and plain old "cool" that I didn't even bother to write about it. It is the "bubble gum" effect I referred to in the original post.
I'm looking forward to hearing about your meal when you do the report.
I see -- wanted to know if your rationale was from experience or not. I've never been to Pierre Gagnaire but have read on this board that ordering ALC at dinner is recommended too, in which case if you wanted the tasting for whichever reasons, doing it much more cheaply at lunch wouldn't be so nonsensical. Excuse the date mix-up.
Tuesday night: Hadn't made any type of reservation because I wasn't sure that we'd be hungry after PG.
We came home after lunch and took a nap :)
Headed back out around 7:30pm. Beautiful evening for a stroll from our hotel near the Louvre towards the eiffel tower.
Walked and walked and then sat on a bench with a view of the tower. My boyfriend was getting hungry around 9:30-45.
We walked by the group of Christian Constant restaurants and settled on Les Cocottes. It seemed a good place because I wasn't hungry but he was and I saw people sharing dishes.
Very local crowd. Food was adequate. Atmosphere was great. Waitress was super charming and lovely despite the fact that I only ate an appetizer and a glass of wine.
My boyfriend had a salad and the scallops and I had white asparagus special. I thought mine was better than his.
If you are in the neighborhood fine, but don't make a special trip.
There are many charming looking restaurants all along Rue St dominique and near La Fontaine de Mars - I can't vouch for the food at any of these places but they had outdoor tables and great atmosphere. Just more of a meal than we were willing to eat that night.
Lunch at Spring in a word PERFECT.
If I had to pick I'd say it was my favorite. Remember the menu below is just what you are given there are no choices. Pretty extraordinary for 32 Euros. (cheese was extra but worth it - all perfectly ripe and they could tell you what each one was)
First of all my boyfriend really enjoyed watching the open kitchen. It was a new experience for him. If you get there early you get to pick your seat and not all seats have a great view of the kitchen which really added to the meal.
We were graciously attended to from the moment we walked in to the moment we left. No formality just a professional but casual attitude.
white wine - nice and dry for my other half - he wrote it down so I don't remember what it was.
bread: a brown crusty roll (I ate 2!)
foie gras with citron marmalade and toast. Best I've ever had. Period.
first course: langoustine in white gazpacho with a piece of prosciutto or Iberian ham.
main course: duck breast (a whole breast deboned but with the skin still on and crispy) in jus with white asparagus, carrots, radishes and morelles. divine - really simple and perfect
cheese: we tried all the cheeses on the board. 2 blues - one english - goat - reblochon - brillat savarin - some other more aged goat in herbs - and at least 5 others which are escaping me. Sorry if I butchered the spelling of the cheeses.
desert: strawberries in "jus" with creme fraiche and a second of chocolate gelato
Truly a wonderful meal and a bargain
Lots of tourists for a small restaurant but not all Americans; a mix of nationalities and a table of "regulars" in the back.
I would say that if I lived in Paris it would be somewhere I would go (or at least want to go) frequently.
The flavors did not have the layers that exist in the food at Pierre Gagnaire but I did not feel that was what he was trying to accomplish - two very different styles of restaurants.
What I liked most about all the restaurants we ate ate was the sheer diversity of styles we experienced while still having excellent meals.
I have a couple more write ups to do but have to start my day. Sadly no excellent food on the agenda for me today just whatever I have lying around in my nyc refrigerator. And it is pouring and cold here :(
Loved the atmosphere in part because it was light and bright and cool inside. It was unseasonably warm while we were in Paris.
Also I had our hotel make the reservation. I gave up making so many phone calls :)
The concierge even said that they have a hard time getting through too.
just got a reservation at spring on my first attempt:) we are being seated at 7:30 - with the other americanos i presume - we're canadian, but whatever - - the gentleman that took the reservation said we'd be seated downstairs - does that mean we are on the same floor as the kitchen, or in the lower level? Any light you could shed on this would be great - hopeful that we are on the same level as the kitchen - - am also hoping for the same first attempt success when i call frenchie monday am....
re: luisa dos
My experience was that the kitchen is "upstairs" .
I did not go "downstairs" so I don't know what the restaurant is like on that level or if it will change your experience dramatically.
If you are desperate for a view of the kitchen I can only offer up our experience, the reservation was for 12:30 at lunch and we were the first to arrive so we were able to pick any two top.
I don't think that the atmosphere of this restaurant is ruined by sitting next to other Americans. :)
re: luisa dos
If Spring told you you are seated at the lower level, it must mean that the main level (ground level) , where the kitchen is, is full.
The building is narrow and the main level really quite small - with 20 seats total.
I still remember a conversation with Daniel in the old Spring. He told me he was moving to a larger restaurant, but not too large.
I joked: you mean 18 seats instead of the 16 now?
He: no, 20.
The lower levels has an histoire - in the French sense of being both a story and an history.
During the 2 years when Daniel was renovating the floors for the new Spring, the works literally dug up a 16th century level. All works ground to a halt AGAIN. The city of Paris had to be involved to ensure he was not demolishing some archeological treasure. That's where you will be seated. It is a very nice atmosphere, in a way warmer and more romantic than the upstairs main level.
This is how I would rank the seats there:
- My fave: the 2 counter seats in front of the kitchen,
- My 2nd fave: the few tables near the kitchen, where it is visible,
- the downstairs, where you are,
- the other seats on the main floor.
Conclusion: we are talking about a highly personal preference. I love to see Daniel in action. Ceci dit, the downstairs atmosphere is cozier.
re: Rio Yeti
Wonderful report, I really like how you describe both the food and your moods while eating at the different restaurants. I really enjoyed your description of your meal at Gagnaire and just told Den that we are going back to Spring after reading your review. M Rose is so talented at serving us fresh, inventive, delicious fare each and every time we go.
Hoping there is more to come.........Jo
re: Rio Yeti
The lunch menu has no choices. They will make accommodations for food allergies. It chances every month. The formula has been the same for a number of years:
couple of small nibbles to start
5 small savory dishes served together as a single course
first main plate is usually cold or room temperature
second main plate is hot
5 small desserts served together
petit fours and chocolates
Of the two main plates: one is usually seafood, the other meat or poultry.
Wednesday dinner: We ate at a charming Parisian apartment for one of those "supper club" dinners, (not hidden kitchen) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I'm unsure if I am supposed to put the web-site up here so I will contact them first.
All I can say is that we had a truly unique evening and that I would do it again in a heartbeat. The people we met were an interesting group of British, French and Americans. It was really neat to be in a "real" apartment and a nice change not to head out to a restaurant for dinner.
Food was delicious but not all of it was "super gourmet". A casual style of dinner party rather than a showcase for gourmet cooking. I'm not sure what it is about the chicken but really it is so different in France. I asked the hostess and she said it was "free-range" but really it is more than that as I've had plenty of "free-range" chickens here and they don't taste anything like the one I had that night for dinner.
I found it on the internet, no reviews, no nothing and gave it a whirl. All I can say to others is that hidden kitchen is not the only game out there and I don't think it necessarily has to be the most "exciting meal" ever to have an experience that you will never forget.
It was a really a special evening. I encourage others to investigate and see what happens. There are a couple of lunch versions of this type of event too. Just google it :)
Thursday was our last full day in Paris.
Honestly we were stuffed.
I was not sure I could eat any more.
I had wanted to eat a special "cheese meal" but really just ended up way to full to eat another "real" meal again. Next trip :)
We headed to the 8th arrondissement, which seemed like the upper east side of Paris to me.
There are two really wonderful "house museums" there for anyone who is interested the museum jacquemart andre which has a great Caillebotte exhibit on right now (you should book a ticket on line) it is worth skipping the long line and also the Musée Nissim de Camondo.
We "winged it" food wise and ended up at Le Grand Cafe de la Poste. It is on bd Malesherbes
It was busy, very busy and as far as I could tell with locals. It is just one of the gazillions of cafes that you see every where in Paris. I had duck confit and my partner had salmon tartare and salad. We shared a small carafe of white - there were actually a fair amount to chose from on the list. The french father and son next to us both had hamburger and french fries with cokes. We had a to laugh at that scene - they were having an "American" meal and we ere having the "French" one. The restaurant was situated on a really lovely corner and was completely open, the perfect spot to sit given the great weather we had all week. Again friendly service and a nice meal was enjoyed. Honestly I really can't tell you how the food compared to other cafes as we didn't eat in any on this trip. It was good. We had fun. Everybody all around us seemed to be members of the "clean plate club"
Huitrerie Regis: we went here at about 9:45 for dinner - no reservation
Really some of the best oysters I've ever had anywhere. We also ordered a dozen shrimp, the only kind on the menu, and they were cooked and chilled perfectly.
We had a carafe of white (can't remember if it was a muscadet or chablis) and enjoyed our meal.
A perfect place to go when you have eaten too much for days but still want to head out for the evening. Our waitress was charming and really tried hard to explain the different choices of oysters to us.
A little place with adorable decor in a very busy section of St. Germain.
If you like oysters this is really a place that is worth a special trip. Quality was obviously better than the place we ate on Sunday for lunch. It was also a more limited menu and not the place for anyone who doesn't like oysters. It is really the only option.
So I think that is it.
I believe I've described everything we ate and drank on our trip.
We had a wonderful time. There were so many things I didn't get to eat and museums I didn't go into but hopefully I will be back again some day.
A big thanks to all who helped me to initially narrow my choices before I left.
Feel free to post any questions, I will try to answer them as honestly as possible.
We stay at a hotel near the Huitrerie Regis but have never seen it open. We have passed by during the hours which the sign says they will be open but they never are. It has become an obsession to eat there because we have never been able to. I wonder if it has to do with the time of year we usually visit Paris which is mid to late March.