REPORT BACK - 3 NIGHTS/4 DAYS IN PARIS
Thank you to everyone that responded to my original post requesting feedback on my proposed itinerary. We just returned yesterday from Paris, and as promised I'm reporting back....
FRIDAY LUNCH - Breizh Cafe (3 arr)
Operating on slight jet lag, we grabbed a late lunch (approx. 3pm) at Breizh Cafe. This is a tiny place with approximately 12 tables. The kitchen is open and you can see them making the crepes/gallette once you walk into the restaurant. We made no reservations since we were coming after lunch hours. We had no problems getting a table. Crowd was mostly tourists. I had a savory galette - "champagnarde galette" with fromage, mushrooms, creme, sunchokes and magret de canard. It was delicious - a little "earthy" probably from the mushrooms. I loved the sunchokes! My husband had a sweet crepe - with pears, caramel and vanilla ice cream. I think it was a little too sweet for him. And we had a small pitcher of the cider. Total = 33,60 euro
FRIDAY DINNER - Les Papilles (5 arr)
This was probably our one of our favorite dinners. Not as touristy as I thought it would be even though we had a 7:30pm reservation. I love the idea of picking your own wine bottle, but I have to admit, it was a little difficult since we did not want to disturb the other diners located right near the wine shelves. Bertrand the owner was friendly. We sat right in the front, and we saw everyone coming in. Bertrand did his best to accomodate the walk-ins allowing them to sit at the bar. We selected a great bottle of Bordeaux and started with an entree a pumpkin and chestnut soup w/olive oil, croutons, bacon, chestnuts, pumpkin and creme fraiche. It was so flavorful. Our plat was braised pork belly over white lentils, carrots, snowpeas. This was simply amazing comfort food. Our cheese course was blue chees with plums and honey. And for desert a pineapple panna cotta. The entire meal was simple, filling, comforting and most of all delicious. We definitely plan on going back during our next visit. It's also a great first meal to have once you arrive in Paris. Total = 107,50 euro.
SATURDAY LUNCH - Au Vieux Comptoir (1 arr)
The restaurant is unasuming but when you walk in, you can hear the buzz. Anne the owner was efficiently running around taking orders and carrying the "specials" board around to all the tables which her husband was cooking in the tiny kitchen. Out of all the places we ate, this restaurant had the most local diners. The place is tiny with a great selection of wines. We had lunch reservations for 1:30pm but arrived early at 1pm. They were able to seat us right away. We started with the foie gras de canard "maison" - large portion! It was delicious with a little kick to it. I had Poelle St. Jacques (4 large scallops) with a lemony fumee and my husband had the poulet avec champignons. Both of us had a mashed potatoes on the side with tons of butter! The food was delicious. The chicken was a little dry but overall tasty. We also ordered a carafe of the house red. For desert I had a mousse chocolat and my husband had a millefeuille with berries and cream. Everything was delicious, and I loved everything about the place - service, the decor, the food, etc. Total = 98,50 euro
SATURDAY DINNER - Le Galopin (10arr)
This was our second favorite dinner. The cuisine was definitely different from our other meals (more traditional). We had 9pm reservation. The restaurant was a bit of a trek for us. We took the Metro, and when we got out, it was pouring rain! We were lost for awhile, but eventually found our way to the restaurant 45 minutes late! The restaurant's on a quiet street (a few doors down from La Tete Dans). Tiny restaurant with an open kitchen. We had a 7 course meal (2 amuse bouche, 1 entree, 2 plats, and 2 desserts (or 1 cheese course). I can't remember all the dishes - except for the main course which was a seabass and a pork. Everything was delicious. The food was so light, refreshing, and clean with a little bit of an asian twist with enoki vegetables, soy, etc.. We walked out satiated but not overly stuffed. We ordered a bottle of red, and I had an eau de vie. Total = 130,00.
SUNDAY DINNER - Les Cocottes (7arr)
This meal was a little bit of a disappointment for us. It was a Sunday night and what we had going for us was this restaurant was open on Sundays and no reservations needed. A few tourists (japanese) and some locals. You can either eat at a long bar or communal style. It was a little bit loud and difficult to hear. My husband started with a ravioli langoustines and the bouef bourgignon over macaroni. I had started with parsnip soup (very rich) and ordered the potatoes stuffed with pigs feet. I was really looking forward to this meal, but the server came back and told me they ran out but would I like the chicken special instead. I opted for that - and probably should have gone with my gut and ordered the duck confit instead. Needless to say the chicken special was basically breaded chicken fingers over potato gratin! What a let for my last meal in Paris! For dessert we had a belgian waffle with whipped cream and caramel sauce and I had the clafoutis. We also ordered a bottle of red wine. The place seems too much of a scene - and a little "gimmicky" with the cocottes. Overall, I found the food to be average. Total = 96,00 euro.
Overall, we had an amazing dining experience during our visit. I think I over researched and over-read the boards about the french dining etiquette and dress code, and this made me extremely nervous which was completely unnecessary. My husband wore jeans and a button down shirt and sweater to dinner every night, while I wore some combination of black and we were completely fine. I attempted to speak french at every restaurant and all the servers were very accomodating.
Regarding the questions I read on the board about dining without reservations - there were french locals that tried to walk-in without reservations (it's not just the tourists), and they were turned away as well. Like any city you're visiting, your best bet, is to book a few restaurants to guarantee a good meal without having to eat a tourist trap.
Lastly, What I loved about most of the places we went to (Breizh Cafe, Les Papilles, Au Vieux Comptoir and Le Galopin) was that they were all run by the owners. You could see the attention to detail in the food and that they truly enjoyed what they were doing. My husband and I are looking forward to our next visit to Paris next year.
Thanks so much for your feedback. We have eaten at Les Papilles and Breizh cafe on our last 2 trips to Paris and will probably return again on our trip in May. especially love that you can email to reserve at Les Papilles.
I definitely have Le Galopin on our list for our upcoming trip. Did you reserve far in advance? We are staying in a Marais apartment and need to find restaurants that are not too far for dinner. My husband and one of my sons will be at a conference all week so need to eat and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Au Passage, Les Reglades St Honore, Metropolitan and Au Vieux Comptoir all sound like interesting possibilities.
I reserved approximately a week prior and had no problems for a dinner reservation at 9pm.
We too rented an apartment in the Marais (near the Bastille and St. Paul metro stations). It took us approximately 30 minutes via metro (with transfers) and another 20 minutes on foot (we lost our bearing and got lost) to finally arrive at Le Galopin, so you may want to consider somewhere closer (unless you of course take the early seating rez to get you home earlier.
I had a reservation at Au Passage for the same night, but opted to try Le Galopin. They serve tapas style and the decor is bare, and we decided that were looking for something else. It was easy to get this reservation as well (we had a reservation for 9:30pm).
Au Vieux Comptoir may be your best bet if you're looking for something closer - it's right outside the Chatelet metro and easy walking distance from the Marais as well. (I secured these rez via email).
I can't speak for the other restaurants, but I think it all depends on what you're in the mood for. If you're concerned about getting home at a decent hour, just pick the restaurant you really want to go to, and take a reservation for the first seating.
Thanks so much i3prosecco. Love that I can reserve by email to Au Vieux Comptoir. I think we are going to check out Metropolitan one night which is in the 4th near St. Paul. I can reserve online and it was mentioned in another thread as being good without all the buzz that other places get on these boards. I did check Le Galopin location from our apartment and it is a 35 minute walk- not too bad.