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Sep 30, 2011 09:03 AM

so much food, so little time- your thoughts

Hi all,

Have been posting a bunch the past few weeks and reading even more. Your insights are indispensable as we plan our 3rd trip to france. We will be spening 4 nights in the Loire valley, which i am pretty sure we have figured out. its paris that we never seem to have enough time in. Here is our proposed schedule. your thoughts are MUCH appreciated. we have tried not to schedule 2 set meals a day, as we love the experience of pastries for lunch and wine in the middle of the day. that said, here goes.

first night- chez l'ami jean. our favorite place on earth. non-negotiable.

second day 4pm- Spring restaurant wine tasting. apparently wines are paired with tastes from the kitchen/cheese. has anyone been?
second night- EITHER Agape Substance or Septime. we are having a very hard time deciding.

Third day- MAYBE lunch at Pierre Gagnaire (we wanted to do this the next day, saturday, but they are closed. ate in his restaurant in vegas and were floored by the food and service)
third night- EITHER Jadis, Le Quincy or Spring. We had wanted Frenchie but depsite a ridiculous amount of calls, no one answered the phone. we were told to just go there when we get to paris. Thoughts?

Fourth day- MAYBE lunch at le Cinq (this depends on whether we go to Gaganire. 2/3 of us have already had the le cinq lunch and loved it. worth it to skip gagnaire and do it again??)
Fourth Night- First is the Ballet. then because of our limited options (saturday night at 11pm) we are deciding between Alcazar (recomended by Alec Lobrando) and Allard (which we have always enjoyed).

Please let us know what you think of our options. We appreciate it and promise to report back!

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  1. Second night I'd go to Septime and the third night I'd go to Agape Substance (or vise versa) -- both are excellent with charming chefs.

    1. "second day 4pm- Spring restaurant wine tasting. apparently wines are paired with tastes from the kitchen/cheese. has anyone been?"

      Not to the wine-tasting but to the wine-tasting class. The tapas the Daniel Rose personally brought to the basement were great. It is an excellent choice of an excellent chillout snack after your Chez l'Ami Jean orgy.

      However, unless the wine class, the wine-tasting is right before dinner. Scheduling another major meal right after meal may not give you enough pause to absorb and appreciate the experience of either properly. That's just my take. As much as I love Spring, I would give up the wine-tasting there and have a real dinner at Septîme. And do a real Spring meal on your 3rd night.

      3rd night. Spring. Le Quincy is a time-machine I am very fond of. But one goes there to get hugs from Bobosse and get adopted by him and watch him do that blue flame digestif performance. Throw me to the wolves. I don't find the food as wowey as the experience.

      Fourth day. Don't go to a middling dinner like Allard or Alcazar after Le Cinq. Your week's experience should be like the composition of a meal. It should go crescendo. Up and up. Not up then down. Right? :-)

      5 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        SO you would think a repeat of le cinq lunch over a first time at gagnaire lunch?

        totally agree re: the last nights dinner but we have the ballet until about 1030. Given that its a saturday night we are extremely limited. any other suggestions on where we could possibly go?

        1. re: alyssabrooke

          If the only places available that late on Saturday night are "meh," why not collect some "goodies" and a great bottle of wine and have a midnght picnic in your room?

          1. re: ChefJune

            That's what I was thinking. Pack a chunk of foie gas and a bottle of bubblies. After the ballet (at the Garnier, no?), take a nice walk down to Concorde and picnic by the fountain. The entire Paris is toasting you.

            1. re: Parigi

              I agree about not doing a meh dinner. Either a picnic from goodies bought earlier in the day or crepes would be my choice for late night dining after a show and great lunch earlier in the day.

              I'm also curious as to recs whether to repeat Le Cinq or lunch at Gagnaire. Anyone?

          2. re: alyssabrooke

            Mini-Palais at the Grand Palais is open late ... not bad grub, impressive setting... and then a hand-in-hand walk over the Pont Alexandre III... a perfect ending

            Other possibilities: Le Grand Colbert on the rue Vivienne near the Palais Royal and Brasserie Zimmer on the place Chatelet. Both are very popular with after-theatre Parisiens and, even though the food is not exactly brilliant, the buzz and sparkle make them quite enjoyable anyway. It will simply be a parisien experience but not a foodie adventure.

        2. Agree with Parigi on Le Quincy, lots of love, sometimes as dusty as Bobosse's wife, as an aside bill for 7 of us was very wine inflated last time, we just did not argue. Having lunch at Le Cinq next Monday, it is my non-negotiable. Had dinner at Gagnaire this past May, and while very interesting, does not have the glory or the fun of the room at Le Cinq. OTOH the duck, OMG the duck. Read my report on Les Ambassadeurs . It was an awesome lunch. Septime is lovely, Saturne is also and Saturne has the most interesting wine list l have seen in years. See these reviews

          8 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Re Le Q: "[A]s an aside bill for 7 of us was very wine inflated last time, we just did not argue": I didn't see the wine bill, but from what I know (and I do know well the wine we had, and what it costs in other Paris restaurants), that leaves us with little desire to return to Le Quincy. -- Jake

            1. re: Jake Dear

              Could you two explain how the wine bill was inflated? Were the wines you had listed on the wine list, and their prices were unreasonably high? Or were they suggested to you, with no price mentioned, and you were surprised when the bill came?

              I am typing the same message a third time. Chowhound keeps disappearing (verb transitive) them. If a few of them reappear on this thread and I can't delete them, I am sure Chowhound means to apologize to all of you and to me.

              1. re: Parigi

                I saw neither the wine carte (and so I don’t know what they said the price would be), nor the final bill. But we had at most four bottles of 2009 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly, a wine I know very well; and I was told that we were charged 200 Euros for wine, which works out to 50 Euros per bottle. We saw the same wine on the carte at L'Auberge Bressane two nights later for 25 Euros per bottle, and I've bought this wine for many years at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley -- I think the most recent US retail price, for the 2009, was $22-24. And so on this basis we think were were overcharged. -- Jake

                1. re: Jake Dear

                  That'd be a real turn-off.
                  Wait, I want to go back to the most important part of your message.
                  You frequent Kermit Lynch? Did you ever run into Boz Scaggs? Please please please tell him Parigi hearts him big time.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Re BS: Not that I know, but he's mentioned in Kermit's May newsletter:

                    1. re: Jake Dear

                      Doesn't BS co-own a vineyard near Le Beausset with K.L? That's it. am going to Provence to stalk him next summer.

                2. re: Parigi

                  We don't see any other posts on this thread from you. Please email us at if you continue to have this problem, and let us know when it is happening.

                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    "When it is happening"?
                    Of course you realize you answered me 2 days after my post.

            2. I think OP's recs sound good. My wife and kids went to Paris and dined with a native. They loved five-course French dining, but it was $300/person, not including wine.

              I think you can do amazing dishes at home for a lot less. I don't know how to amortize the costs, because to do things awesomely at home requires a lot of equipment investment, learning experiments and prep time (you have to enlist assistants too). Are you as good as a French chef and his team? I don't know, but for me, I think it's possible. Get some good equipment. try recipes and tune them, and then serve the end products.

              19 Replies
              1. re: MarkKS

                "Are you as good as a French chef and his team? "
                Not if the chef is Jégo or Daniel Rose, but probably better than the average café steak-frites cook.
                And not every meal requires the expertise of a chef. Sometimes between two major restaurant meals, one wants to eat light and have a salad and cold cuts. Having a kitchen eliminates the oppressive feel of having to, having to take all the meals out.
                And what about a seafood platter? We order one from our poissonnerie, composed according to our desires, with oysters, crab, shrimp, bulots. It costs about 13 to 15 euro per person. It requires no chef intervention. I make my own dip, my own mayonnaise.
                After all, cooking in Paris is not a chore. Making use of the wonderful markets is not a chore. It is a delight all the way.

                1. re: Parigi

                  "what about a seafood platter? We order one from our poissonnerie,"

                  What a fabulous idea!
                  I will be travelling to Paris 12/1-8 and we have rented an apartment. Would you be willing to share what poissonnerie you use?
                  Do most offer his kind of take-out service?

                  1. re: mizhil

                    I am lucky to have a good poissonnerie practically downstairs from me. Or 30 seconds from chez moi.
                    But you don't need to schlep across town to get a seafood platter to lug home. Where is your rental? Every arrondissement's markets have at least one poissonnerie.
                    You can look up the market(s) nearest you in this webpage:

                    And you are sooo in luck. Bundle up and check out the
                    Marché des Producteurs de Pays, in Village St Paul the 4th (Marais), on 2-3-4 December. We went last year with a few hounds and had a blast although we froze.
                    Producteurs is the French word for farmers. This means the Country Farmers' Market.
                    But watch out: Village St Paul is a zigzaggy network of very beautiful courtyards. An old Paris hand on this board actually missed most of the courtyards and ended up finding the market quite small, when it is not small at all.
                    A few weeks ago I took a couple of hounds to the Village St Paul. They did not want to leave. Ever.
                    See this thread on the markets and on Village St Paul:

                    1. re: Parigi

                      We are renting 65 Quai de la Tournell. Across from Notre Dame. Actually there is a restaurant right below us...Le Tournebievre??? Good???
                      Thank you kindly for the information re: Marché des Producteurs de Pays.
                      That sounds wonderful. We will be traveling with our 10 year old daughter for her first trip to Paris, and we all love to wander Farmer's Markets! Hopefully we will not encounter a blizzard! Although it is a good reason to duck ino a cozy bistro or wine bar!!
                      I love the info re: "aiguillettes" "my kid eats them like popcorn"
                      We must try these with my daughter! Perhaps she can tell her friends back home that she had "Duck Nuggets" in Paris :-)

                      Do any of the foodie tour groups offer a Guided walking trip of the Marche, I wonder?

                      I have emailed to "zejulot" or "Souphie" regarding availing him of his Concierge/Tour services while we are in Paris (based on the excellent recommendations on this sight) however I have not heard back from him yet...

                      Any other tips, related to Paris in December would be greatly appreciated...
                      Thank you kindly again!

                      1. re: mizhil

                        "65Quai de la TournellE
                        You've got it made. You will be very near two excellent weekly markets: the Maubert market (Tuesday morning, Thursday morning, Saturday morning) and the Baudoyer market (Wedn afternoon, Sat morning).
                        You are also near the great Basque charcuterie Oteiza (18 boulevard Saint-Michel).
                        I don't know the restaurant downstairs from you. But I would be very careful and do research before choosing a resto in that area which has a huge amount of tourists.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Yes, I neglected the final e...the first in many mistakes I'm sure to make on this journey!
                          Thank you again for the wonderful tips about the markets!
                          Oteiza sounds wonderful as well, all good places for picking up some delicious things to eat back at our apartment! I still love the idea of taking home a fish platter of some sort, although I've never opened oysters myself...I wonder if I can pick up a cheap oyster knife at Monoprix???
                          We plan to do most of our main dining out at lunch, since we are traveling with a 10 year old, and frankly we prefer it.... To me there is nothing more indulgent than a long lunch with wine etc. but then I am usually ready for something lighter in the evening and we will do take out, crepes, omelettes, and more casual fare. I have been to Paris several times, (without my daughter ) but always with good friends who lived in Paris and spoke fluent french, so we are a bit spoiled. We will be on our own this time, which is exciting, and daunting!

                          1. re: mizhil

                            " I still love the idea of taking home a fish platter of some sort, although I've never opened oysters myself...I wonder if I can pick up a cheap oyster knife at Monoprix???"

                            You can order ahead of time. For example, go early-ish in the morning to the Maubert market and ask them to prepare a seafood platter for you for noon.
                            You can ask them to open the oysters for you, for which you pay a very small extra fee.
                            You can choose the size of oysters. Usually the fishmongers have n°2 or 3. 2 is the bigger kind and is very good.
                            You can choose the origin: fines de claire, spéciales, gillardeau (my fave but can't be found everywher), etc.
                            Tell them how many you want (usually in units of 6).
                            And pick whatever else you like that is on display there: crab, shrimp, bulot (I love butlot).
                            We usually order per person: 6 oysters, half a crab, 3 or 4 giant shrimp, 100 gram bulot.
                            Specify a time to pick it up.
                            O, the fishmonger may also charge you for a deposit for the nondescript platter. He reimburses you when you return it.

                            I am afraid we have hijacked Alissa's thread. Perhaps you should start your own thread and move all this info there.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Would love to but I'm not sure how to move the info. I did post a request entitled, "Dining with my 10 year old in Paris" on September 26 that sadly received no responses...
                              If you would kindly reply to that post, we could continue the discussion there?
                              I hate to be rude and hi jack!!! Incidently, I am so excited that I just heard back from Julot!

                        2. re: mizhil

                          About one block from you towards St Michel is Riboldingue, a restaurant that specializes in strange parts. They make them non-threatening and it is a warm and friendly place.

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            Ooh la la! The strange bits! How exotic! My 10 year old daughter actually loves sweatbreads! We are always up for an adventure! Thank you for your suggestion!

                          2. re: mizhil

                            No, no, they're not nuggets -- far, far from it. Chicken nuggets are (if you're lucky) just pieces of breast meat...if you're not so lucky, they're lumps of chicken-like paste.

                            Aiguilles is the French word for needle -- so "aiguillette" is a "little needle" -- it's the narrow little strip of tender, tasty meat that lies right against the breastbone of a bird.

                            They're tender and juicy and very, very tasty...and an entirely different level than lowly nuggets.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Just bought some from the Aveyron farmers' market in Paris (and forced DCM to get some). Very bloody, very fresh looking.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                Ooh, that sounds good. The last really good ones I bought were from the market in Sarlat, and I'm pretty sure that they were from ducks butchered the day before (we were there pretty early, and everything was all laid out) -- they're so good when they're fresh.

                                I just saute them in a little butter with S&P, or give them a quick dredge in some flour (shake off all the excess) so you get a little bit of a crust.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Sunshine, I certainly meant the 'nugget ' reference with a wink and a nudge!
                                  I understand what part of the bird it really is from the great description on the original thread. I just thought my daughter would enjoy the reference to "nuggets" as we find the real ones most unpleasant...when they serve them in the school cafeteria, I definitely get the request to pack her lunch that day! :)

                                  1. re: mizhil

                                    "Aiguilles is the French word for needle"
                                    I didn't know this fun tid-bit though! Thank you!:)

                                    1. re: mizhil

                                      sorry...I've had one too many people on various forums say things like that, and they WERE serious!

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        No worries! I just hope I actually get to try them now, after the big build up!

                      2. re: MarkKS

                        $300 a head is the very, very top of Paris dining - 99% are far, far less.

                        OK you can do that at three stars in Paris but even these have far lower cost options. Were you "sponsoring" your Paris native's $300 meal - if so I think that could explain a lot.

                        Obviously you can try and do it yourself - not quite the same though.

                        1. re: MarkKS

                          l have had two meals without wine charges in years of coming to Paris that were over 230 Euros/pp, @ $ 300/pp. both were Michelin *** and both were recently; 99% below sounds about correct.

                        2. Hi, Alyssa

                          Just jumping in on this thread...I will be in the Loire in a couple of weeks, and would love to know where you've decided to stay/eat....thanks for any recommendations!