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Apr 9, 2012 01:43 AM

Trip Report

We were with kids, so wasn't really a chowhound trip. We rented an apartment on the Avenue des Gobelins, just below the Rue Mouffetard, which is a great area full of restaurants, mostly ethnic, and not a lot of tourists. One recommendation is Au Vietnam, which has great food with reasonable prices and nice service.

We had a pleasant meal at Les Papilles, but to me it wasn't worth the high praise it gets on all the blogs. The main course was soupy beans with carrots and a generous portion of fatty pork breast along with it. It was tasty enough, but let's face it, it was pork and beans. I like pork and beans as much as the next guy, but I was somehow expecting something a little more ambitious, based on more than just the flavor of animal fat. I also found the wine selection limited and uninteresting. The fact that it was nothing but tourists probably has some bearing. I think one can do better in Paris.

Great middle eastern pastry at the atmospheric La Mosquee, but dinner was strictly mediocre, so stick to the afternoon tea.

And now, for the most important caveat. DO NOT go to Tan Dinh. I found this place in an out-of-date guidebook which described it as upscale, sophisticated Vietnamese. It was not. The food was out and out bad. Some of the dishes were no more than simple stir fries, and for this we paid 180 euros for four people. And to think we paid half this price for the infinitely better Au Vietnam. When we entered, the very ancient proprietor, dressed in an elegant suit, personally greeted us, which was nice, but then he proceeded to talk my ear off the entire evening, and this in spite of the fact that I barely speak French. It was thoroughly obnoxious, and it was all I could do not to tell him to piss off. To add insult to considerable injury, they don't take credit cards, so I had to pay all my cash, and barely had enough to pay for the taxi back.

I should have had my doubts when I was able to get a reservation for the same saturday night. Apart from us, there was a big table of Americans, and two wealthy, eccentric-looking French couples who were there for the expensive wine list and personalized brown-nosing from the proprietor (I know everything about them, because the old fool gave me a running commentary). Anyway, run, do not walk, from this obnoxious clip joint.

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  1. "I also found the wine selection limited and uninteresting.." can this really be correct? It is a wine shop that serves food. It has a very large selection of wines. I am perplexed by this comment. Note: it was 90% French speakers on my visit so not just a tourist haunt.

    6 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      The selection available to diners the night I was there was only two shelves. Didn't look like an entire wine shop to me.

      1. re: MarkC

        You mean the rest of the wine supply on the walls was only for retail and not available for dinner? That is very strange.

        1. re: Parigi

          When I see comments like this I wondered I went to the same place. Did they tell you you couldn't select from the other shelves? It does seem very odd.

          To echo Mangeurs comment it is hearty simple food for a good price. Nothing more, nothing less. I value it for that alone - good traditional French food - which in my book warrants praise. F2dat06 forgets to mention the small cheese course, I have a very big appetite and after conquering the bowl of soup and the main the dessert and cheese are a perfect size to satisfy.

          1. re: PhilD

            One could also note that rather than fruited yogurt, the dessert is always (usually) a panna cotta, aka Jello made with whipping cream.

            1. re: PhilD

              No cheese was served on my visit in December.

          2. re: MarkC

            Interestingly, in the Spring 2012 Forbes "Life", a supplement to Forbes magazine, that just arrived, Robert Parker lists his 10 favorite wine-oriented restaurants/bars in Paris, listing Les Papilles and commenting that "most remarkable is the quality of the wine list" from "every region of France..."

        2. Glad i am not the only one that says emperor has no clothes with regards to Papilles. It is OK, just not anything outstanding. You get a decent soup, always a braised meat of some kind, and a pathetic dessert, always some yogurt with fruit on it or maybe fruit with some sabayon on it, all of this is easily done by a semi skilled home cook. The wine choices are the best part, if they have locked that down so just a portion of the wine shop inventory can be had with dinner then move on, no reason to ever go back, just me though.

          Tan Dinh used to have a michelin star lost it probably 10 years ago, maybe longer.

          1. I'm really sorry for your (and others') disappointment with Les Papilles. It is precisely what it is: a wine shop that serves simple, honest and unpretentious food, like your grandmother might prepare were she French and a very good cook. FWIW, we always ask Bertrand to choose a wine for us and have been delighted with the new doors he has opened for us.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mangeur

              Also love Les Papilles for what it is Mangeur.