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May 18, 2011 03:56 AM

'Zombie' restaurants in Paris

Anyone who's heading to Paris soon should read the great post that Alex Lobrano did on
his blog on what he calls 'Zombie' restaurants.

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    1. Why use the term 'zombie' for mediocre to average chain brasseries? The problem is there, not in the landmark status.
      The last time Procope was good, patrons were still wearing white wigs and everybody knows that.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Ptipois

        The Bar St Germain was good more recently, but I think they've wrecked that too.

        1. re: Ptipois

          yeah, i don't like the use of the word "zombie" in this context either -- "zombie" makes me think of horror movies like "28 Days Later" and "Night of the Living Dead", both of which are more fun than my first-and-last meal at Procope a few years ago, which was vile...

          1. re: Simon

            I don't agree with Pitpois. Thousands of tourists still eat at Le Procope every year, and other dreadful Paris restaurants like Brasserie Lipp, Le Boeuf sur La Toit, etc. Food professionals often forget that the general public is not as clued in as they are, which is why Chowhound is so helpful. And Zombie restaurants is, I think, a useful shorthand term for restaurants that soldier on inspite of their flagrantly mediocre cooking.

            1. re: andaba

              Well it's just the term "zombie". I do not see what justifies it in that context. There's nothing zombie-like about very ordinary more-or-less mediocre touristy places. And then people get so excited with what sounds like a brilliant idea (see the comments) that they start adding their own picks and you end up with Paris being all studded with zombie restaurants, making it look like a B-rated movie. The pattern seems to be all restaurants with a historic decor, so that gets to be a bit ridiculous. And actually some of them are not mediocre.

              La Pérouse would fit the bill perfectly though, but I think many other places require a less superficial treatment.

          2. re: Ptipois

            The term "Zombie" doesn't seem to be the right word here. I think of a Zombie as a character from a horror movie, and I think most Americans do, no? Restaurants like Procope (and La Grande Colbert) I'd call "Tourist Traps."

            1. re: ChefJune

              June - there is a fundamental difference. Tourist Traps are targeted at the tourist $, located next to tourist sites and serve menu's with "France’s" greatest food hits, for me these would be lots of the places in the Latin Quarter which can tempt the unwary. The look cute, traditional and French but they have very poor standards.

              A Zombie restaurant on the other hand has "brand equity" based on a strong reputation in the past. They are restaurants that were once great, with great chefs, chefs that were innovative etc. But now all that is really left from the past is the name. The restaurant still trades but the food, service etc bears no relation to the glories of the past. However, "regular" consumers (often tourists) has a vague recollection of the past, the name is somehow embedded in the mind, so when the visit Paris the name resonates and they head there.

              Often these places still look grand and don't have the tacky feel of a tourist trap, but underneath the gloss of the brand there is little of culinary interest. "Maxim's" would be my nomination the name lives on but it is very different restaurant from its heyday which is the memory the brand is based on.

              Paris doesn’t have a monopoly on these restaurants, but it does have a significant proportion of restaurants with historic names/reputations which no longer deliver food that reflects their former glories.