Vetting Paris concierge recs with the CHOW community...
Hey there! Atlanta Chowhound here taking a family trip to Paris next week. The concierge at our hotel gave some restaurant rec's, but thought I'd run them by the boards. I'm a foodie through and through, but will have to be cognizant of the fact that we've got four very different tastes in the family. Basically, we're just looking for FANTASTIC food (one night definitely looking for a 2 or 3-star, too). So, what do you guys think? Any of these worthwhile (SUCH a long list!)?:
L'Atelier de Maitre Albert
Philippe & Jean-Pierre
Le Petit Marius
Au Bon Accueil
La Cigale Récamier
Le Clos des Gourmets
Les Fables de la Fontaine
La Fermette Marbeuf
La Fontaine de Mars
Georges (Pompidou Centre)
Le Grand Colbert
Josephine - Chez Dumonet
Le Restaurant du Palais Royal
Mon Vieil Ami
Le Carré des Feuillants
Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos
Well, I promised I'd come back with reviews... as someone who peruses these boards a lot and uses the rec's, I think it's important to report back. Thanks to all of you for your help and your opinions. So, here we go:
Goumard: our first night in Paris. My Dad chose this one, mostly because he wanted fish and heard it was good. We went early and were the first people in the restaurant. I had a flaky white fish (honestly, it was a few weeks ago and I don't remember what fish it was. Apologies...) on a bed of peppers and onions. The fish was good (not great), veggies provided nice taste and textural difference to the crispy fish skin, but honestly the proportion of fish to veggies was off. By the time I finished my fish, I was still left with a plate-full of squishy, soft, caramelized peppers and onions with nothing to cut through the mushy texture, which wasn't so appetizing. Brother had a steak, which was fine. Parents shared the cold seafood platter, which was the highlight. Shrimp, langostine, crab, oysters, and clams. Everything was very good. Honestly, though, for the price, I'm sure there was a better restaurant. While the platter was delicious, it wasn't anything you couldn't get at a steakhouse or fish place in the states.
Josephine Chez Dumonet: Now to my choices (thanks to the boards) haha. Wow. This was a pretty fantastic meal. Complete 180-degree change in décor and feel compared to Goumard, homely and friendly instead of big and corporate. We weren’t placed next to the bathroom in the back, as I’ve heard some foreigners tend to be. The service could not have been kinder. I had the fried shrimp appetizer (deliciously crisp) and the duck confit. The duck meat absolutely fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. I don’t often eat duck, mostly because I’m a steak and fish guy when eating out, but this was a ridiculously good experience. If ANY chef in my hometown of Atlanta could pull this off, I’d be at their restaurant every week. Beyond the duck, the potatoes (cooked in duck fat) were out of control. Simple preparation with sprinkled sea salt, and everyone at the table was trying to get at them. I could’ve eaten a tub of them. My mom had steak tartare, prepared tableside. It was, honestly, a bit heavy on the mustard, but the quality of meat was undeniable. My dad had sea bass which looked perfectly cooked, although I did not try it. My brother enjoyed his beef bourguinon. The servings were HUGE and dessert was a struggle, but we agreed we had to try. I had raspberry crème brulee which was delicious, but admittedly not a very adventurous choice. My brother had millefeuille which was literally the size of a large brick, but he gave a thumbs up. Dad had the Grand Marnier soufflé and did say it tasted almost too “egg-y”, and had a stronger egg flavor than any other soufflé he’d had. I did not try it, but can say that our entire table did smell a bit of cooked egg… All in all, I have to say I think my dish was an absolute winner. That duck might have been one of the top dishes I’ve ever had.
Paris Gourmet Tour in the Marais: Let me first preface by saying that it was 35 degrees F (about 2 degrees C) and raining, so walking around was pretty miserable. The tour was also a combination of tasting food and some history mixed in… our guide was not with a “food tour” company, per se, but simply was a Paris tour guide who really enjoys food. She received no kick-backs from any place we visited and just took us to her favorite spots. In the end, my mother actually ended up not feeling well and my brother was already sick, so our tour wasn’t everything it could have been. Regardless, here are some highlights:
Market on Rue St. Germain- we went to a corner market here to start our tour with artisan cheese, pastries, and meat. From what we were told, a lot of the market has been commercialized but the booths we went to had a decorated cheese artisan and baker, as well as some award-winning sausages
Olive oil and vinegar tasting- the local shop we were supposed to go to was closed, but our #2 option was still delicious
Crepes: both savory and sweet. I don’t remember the name of the shop, but apparently they were known for using whole wheat crepes, providing a nice salty/sweet contrast when paired with sweet fillings. I’ll admit, though, nothing TOO special here…
La Cafeotheque- Our guide was pretty set in her belief that Paris coffee is generally pretty bad, although she swore by this place. I must say, the coffee was delicious. A very “hipster” vibe here.
Dominique Bouchet: Our last night in Paris and we certainly picked well. I’m glad we decided not to splurge for a 3-star feast, as my brother was under the weather and my Mom was still not feeling well and had to skip. My brother and dad shared a crispy shrimp appetizer (much like the one I had at Chez Dumonet), and I had an AMAZING scallop carpaccio, complete with tiny little cubes of beet, fresh mango, and dill. The unbelievably fresh taste of the scallops was only surpassed by the sensation of it literally melting away before you could chew. It was sliced that thin. A fantastic dish. For main courses, my brother had a filet of beef that also met expectations (you’ll notice that’s 3 nights of red meat in a row. He took a break after Paris haha)… the beef in Europe, I find, tastes markedly different from the beef in the US. Not better or worse, by any means, but it’s always cool to taste different notes in a filet mignon dish, which we’ve had numerous times around the world. My Dad had a lobster pasta dish… 3 large noodles stuffed with lobster in a cream sauce. I did not get a chance to try, but it smelled and looked great. Lastly, I had the “7-hour lamb you eat with a spoon” (directly translated), cooked low and slow with cocoa and wine. It’s true, I could’ve used a spoon. Tender, delicious flavor, and VERY rich. It came with beautifully fluffy potato puree. Dessert was light for me, with housemade sorbets. My dad had millefeuille, and my brother, I believe, had an apple tart. All delicious… everything in this meal tasted so FRESH, from the slight gamey taste to the beef to the rich but delicate lobster cream sauce to the in-your-face flavor of the lamb to the well-prepared desserts.
So, I’d say for three nights we were pretty successful. Goumard is not a must-visit (but you probably knew that already), but for a fantastic bistro I don’t know if we could’ve done much better than the food/service combo at Chez Dumonet. Our Michelin experience was also top-notch at Dominique Bouchet. One last note, for those with food allergies: I suffer from a sever allergy to nuts AND peanuts. I was pleased to find that, once I knew exactly how to explain this in French, each restaurant we went to took it VERY seriously and seemed to understand exactly what they needed to help me with in terms of meal choices. I’ve found that in my other world travels, restaurants tend not to “get” the issue as much as they would in the US. I think a lot has to do with culture in the USA and the fact that everyone is quite scared of being sued if something goes wrong, but nonetheless it was nice that I experienced this.
Thanks Parigi... I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel with my family quite a bit throughout my life, and a bit more with friends in college, so I've been spoiled with great experiences (and great food). The allergies, frankly, force me to take initiative wherever I go and really be involved in dining choices, but I felt I just couldn't go wrong in Paris!
Thank you all for the good conversation on this thread! I always make it a point to update these, since you all take the time to give your suggestions. My family arrived in Paris this morning and we've got our schedule...
Monday: Josephine - Chez Dumonet
Tuesday: Private gourmet walking tour during the day, then Dominique Bouchet for dinner
Sadly, we'll be off to Switzerland after Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday dinners are still changeable... so last-second thoughts on either restaurant are always appreciated. Either way, I'll be sure to post back here with my thoughts on our meals!
@Parigi- thanks for your list... will begin the process of searching for each restaurant after work, but my thinking is that just looking through the boards here (as it is in the other boards) will give me better suggestions than these
@mangeur- yeah, no kidding. The hotel is nice, but I still wouldn't expect great recs... hence, why I turned to all of you!
@souvenir- it's more just that I'm a foodie through and through, and would be willing to try amazing food at 2 and 3-stars (and small bistros, for that matter) for the experience. My brother is not adventurous, and prefers to stick to the basics. My mother has an even more adventurous palette than I do, and even has more leeway as she doesn't have the food allergies (nuts and peanuts) I'm unfortunately stricken with. Lastly, my father cares more for big plates with big flavor (fan of steaks, basic meat & fish, pastas) and less about the pomp and presentation... for example, he'd pick a porterhouse or swordfish steak over a deconstructed fancy molecular gastronomy dish any day haha! In fact, he said a friend mentioned Le Grand Venise to him for this trip... anyone know anything? Not much luck with search.
L'Ardoise: ok, lots of Americans, if you do not mind.
L'Avenue: very good 15 years ago.
L'Atelier de Maitre Albert: dire.
L'Auberge Bressanne: good
Benoît: use search function to see recent reviews. In fact you can search reviews on all the restaurant names;
Les Bouquinistes: Is your concierge Jurassic?
Café Marly: A Costes clone. Nice view into the Louvre though.
La Cigale Récamier: see 2 lines above.
Les Fables de la Fontaine: the best so far.
La Fermette Marbeuf: Beautiful ceiling. Torture food. You have a concierge problem.
Le Florimond: good.
La Fontaine de Mars: good.
Georges (Pompidou Centre): Same problem as Café Marly.
Le Grand Colbert: generic brasserie with ok food, nice setting.
Josephine - Chez Dumonet: Very good. Search reviews here.
Kong: Your concierge is pulling your jambe.
Aux Lyonnais: Pretty brasserie. Take a pic at the door and do not go in.
Le Réminet: used to be good as of 2 years ago.
Le Restaurant du Palais Royal: sigh.
Maison Blanche: sigh.
La Truffière: see reviews on this board.