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Nov 11, 2011 01:24 AM

Paris without reservations

On the last leg of our honeymoon in Paris and having a difficult time with the dining scene. I realize that we'd have been better off researching and booking in advance, but wedding plans took priority. Now we're here with two days left and haven't had a good meal yet! We've eaten in busy restaurants full of locals off the tourist drags, but still have had zero success, minus the fantastic bakeries.

We're staying in the Madeleine district and will be seeking the Louvre today. Any recommendations for nearby places that will seat us without reservations would be appreciated. Budget is up to 50 Euro pp not including wine for the right place.

Suggestions to search the board aren't needed, as I have and am on limited web access.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Try Le Comptoir around the back of Odeon on Saturday night - Yu may need to wait but they on't take reservations on Saturday for dinner. Or try Frenchies wine bar (opposite the restaurant) or the Le Chareaubriand (can't remember the name) Wine bar neither take reservations - but get there earlyish - all three are far better than random choices and all do decent food.

    Other stand-bys are two Christian Contant places in rue St Dominique - cafe Constan and cocottes (spelling I off on the last one).

    You do need to get away from the Louvre and Madeleine areas though as there I little around there and what I there book solid.

    5 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      Le Dauphin (in the 11th) is the name of the wine bar associated with Le Chateaubriand. I would also check out Verjus, also in the 1st. A nice restaurant with great owners is Au Gourmand on rue Moliere in the 1st as well. Les Cocottes is fine, if you order correctly -- I like the crab first, the langoustine ravioli with artichokes and the chocolate tart for dessert.

      1. re: Nancy S.

        the dumplings at Verjus are the best things I put in my mouth in the last 3 months!!

      2. re: PhilD

        I also wonder what people plan to do between museum's closings and the 8 to 8:30 beginning dinner hour. You can cover a lot of Paris in the intervening time.

        1. re: mangeur

          The Louvre is open until 10:00 tonight.

          1. re: coasts

            Frenchie Bar a Vin is also quite good for small plates and wines, especially if you can get there by 7:30pm so that you can snag a seat.

      3. Maceo at 15 rue des Petits Champs in the 1er (behind the Palais Royale) may also be able to seat you (or at Willi's next door). Price fits your budget, and the ambiance is that of fine dining.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ChefJune

          You can walk to Le Garde Robe from the Louvre, a natural wine bar with a great atmosphere and excellent charcuterie. For less casual dining, Racines 2 just opened right next door, this just makes it into your budget and should be an exciting meal. As they opened a few weeks ago, you may still be able to get in without a reservation (tell them it's your honeymoon!). Both on rue de l'arbre sec, by the Louvre Rivoli metro.

          1. re: clemx

            Another bar a vins worth a visit is Crus which is on the rue du plat d'etain, a small street that runs behind the McDonalds on the rue du Rivoli, metro chatelet. They do tastings from Thursday though to Saturday and have some ridiculously well-priced burgundy wines (Nuit St Georges from the 70's at 40 euros a pop) plus platters of cheese and ham/charcuterie to mop up the booze!

        2. thank you all for your comments. we did walk over to Le Comptoir and spoke with the hostess. while they could have seated us, we opted out as the menu didn't look appealing for the evening. we then tried Maceo, which i was able to see the menu for online. it sounded great, but they couldn't seat us.

          ultimately, we surrendered and ate very nearby to the hotel at a place recommended to us by the concierge - Chez Papa. by the time we ordered our entrees, the line was literally out the door. we thought surely this place had to be good. it wasn't. it was far worse than not good. again, i accept that the failure is our own and not the paris restaurant scene. i'm back in three weeks and will use the time to book now.

          13 Replies
          1. re: coasts

            Sorry to hear all this. Yes, you do need to reserve if you want to eat well.
            Someone on the Spain forum insisted on not reserving and came home from Spain to announce that the only way to eat well in Spain was to eat in Chinese restaurants. Spain !
            Hope you eat well next time. And congratulations on your honeymoon.

            1. re: coasts

              When considering folks for restaurant recommendations, it's good to remember that concierges are often paid by restaurants to direct customers to them. While concierges are very useful for making reservations for you at places of YOUR choice, their recs are often suspect. I have heard SO many stories like yours.

              1. re: ChefJune

                I was thinking the same. Often a concierge does not even know the neighborhood and is not from the given city. If one askshim for a last-minute recommendation for a resto with no reserfvation, one can't blame him for picking up one of many restaurant cards in his possession, where he has never dined and of which he knows nothing.

              2. re: coasts

                "while they could have seated us, we opted out as the menu didn't look appealing for the evening" - what were you looking for? Le Comptoir is good safe classic Bistro food with quite a broad range of food on both the menu and on the species bard (mirror) inside. Maceo is a little more upmarket but in the same vein, and Chez Papa is a chain that does South Western food - which is where the chef from Le Comptoir hails from.

                1. re: PhilD

                  could i have been at the wrong Le Comptoir? the menu was heavy on burgers and the hostess described the restaurant as being "oriental"! coming from NYC, where we have plenty of great authentic asian food, we opted for something more "french". i should have specified this in my original post. regardless, the suggestion was appreciated.

                  1. re: coasts

                    Omg, Phild probably meant Le Comptoir du Relais. To which Comptoir did you go? Your Comptoir does not sound like the "right" one at all. Yves Camdeborde and his food are no more Oriental than Yao Ming is Basque (but YC is).

                    On the other hand, there are indeed so many eateries named comptoir this and that, atelier this and that. It would not kill us to specify.
                    Imagine going to Shanghai and looking for a place called Tea House.

                      1. re: coasts

                        But PhilD did specify "Try Le Comptoir around the back of Odeon on Saturday night", while your Comptoir is near Les Halles, and is not anywhere near Odéon, no?

                          1. re: coasts

                            And you will eat better next time. :-)
                            And reserve, right?

                        1. re: coasts

                          That is a high-end burger joint over by Chatelet metro, good thing you skipped it!

                          1. re: Oakglen

                            And in a forelife that Comptoir was a branché tapas place where Roman Polanski would drop by with two, - count em, - two young things.

                        2. re: Parigi

                          My fault I usually write the full name but yes Parigi is correct that is the one I meant - sorry you missed it.

                  2. just to say that my return trip to paris was very much more successful. i had an absolutely fantastic dinner at Cafe Constant, starting with the artichoke and mushroom salad, followed by the duck and potato pie, and ending with the profiteroles. finally this was the food i anticipated in paris.

                    i did try to get into the correct Le Comptoir, but it was completely full. we ended up across the street, which had seats available and could get us out of the rain. the meal was fine - not great, but still better than anything i had on my previous trip.

                    thank you all for your advice. it's clear that there is plenty of good food in paris.