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Apr 17, 2012 07:04 AM

frenchie reservation: mission impossible??

Hi everyone, so I have been trying to get hold of Frenchie reservation phone line , which seems to be open only 2 hours a day, and I have been getting voicemail or ringtone+ voicemail for the last hour. Already called 14 times.. Is this normal??
Anyone has a tip to get them to pickup?
I am calling between 3pm and 5pm French time like mentionned on the website...

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  1. I believe you are supposed to call between 7p and 7:30pm (Paris time) for best results. I don't believe the restaurant is open before 7pm and no one will pick up before. Good luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Searching4Dunny

      thanks ! I will try that. their website states to call between 3pm and 5pm. But sounds like it is no go! so i will later tonight.,

    2. Any news on this? What did you eventually do? I know they don't book more than 2 weeks out, but I have been calling every day since Monday.... I finally got through to Le Chateaubriand this AM, and they were delightfully helpful.... of course at this point they are booked, and said it wouldn't be a problem to do the second seating. My wife and I are thrilled to arrive at their bar early and simply, patiently relax....

      But Frenchie is identical to what you said:

      Site says 3-5p, I call at 6am PST, 6.30a, 7am, 7.30a, 7.45a - ie I call every day between those hours, and NADA.

      So was Searching4Dunny correct... is it that I should call later? I would love to nail this down... there's so many restaurants, it's not a big concern... but this one is way way way high up on our list. HALP!

      There's an internet award attached for anyone that can help! ;^)

      10 Replies
      1. re: unclefishbits

        Frenchie accepts reservations much farther out than 2 weeks.

        1. re: PattyC

          Point well received... pardon that. I know that the scene in Paris is very splintered... not much online booking, and some general inconsistencies between how people book. It's not as simple as opentable, by all means. We've been spoiled, a bit, for better or worse.

          But many restaurants only do a month out, or, as I understand, many popular restaurants will only do 2 weeks out.

          That's what I thought about Frenchie. You are absolutely correct... in fact.... I literally just spoke with my friend who mentioned it's 2 months out, now.

          So, for those looking to book... apparently Frenchie needs to be booked more than two months out. ouch.

          1. re: unclefishbits

            I wonder where the advice about calling between 3 and 5 comes from. My advice is to call minutes before service as the place is usually empty (it is tiny) until then with only the chef in the kitchen - so no one ansers the phone. And yes they take reservations far further out than two weeks. Note: this is Frenchie the restaurant, on the opposite side of the road there is Frenchie the wine bar. Very different menu and no reservation, but still very good.

            1. re: PhilD

              "I wonder where the advice about calling between 3 and 5 comes from. "
              From the resto's own outgoing message on its answering machine.
              But calling shortly before service seems to work better in many people's experience indeed.

              1. re: Parigi

                If your staying at a hotel, why not have them call. I did and there was no problem getting a reservation granted it was made 2 months prior.

                1. re: mick

                  I'm not staying in a hotel, mick. :-)

                  1. re: Parigi

                    I know that silly, I meant the OP.

              2. re: PhilD


                "Pour les réservations, merci d'appeler pendant les jours d'ouverture entre 15h et 17h / For all enquiries, please call during opening days from 3pm to 5pm"

                1. re: unclefishbits

                  Interesting - been twice and didn't follow this guidance. When you see the place you will understand the reason for my advice - it is difficult to get to the phone from the kitchen and it appears the FOH team (it was on my visits one person) don't arrive until close to the service time.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    French websites, in general, are behind... it's just fine. There's some room for growth, of course. I have no problem with it at all, but I found the attached amusing...

        2. To report on how to get a rez (from other thread on this board):

          Walked up to Frenchie after ambling Flaneur style for about an hour, aka completely lost looking for the right alley. It was a hilarious adventure. No reservations, thought we might try the wine bar. In fact, we got to a point of it being a slight joke, and simply wanted to find the damn restaurant.

          Well... we arrived around 8.45p. We asked if there had been any cancellations, and FULLY expected them to laugh at us. The lovely somm said for us to come back at 9.30p. Completely confused, we ambled some more, arrived back at Frenchie around 9.20p, and stood by the door, confusedly, wondering what we were waiting for, other than low blood sugar, and a silly argument prior to a lousy meal after getting turned away. When we walked up to the alley at 9.20p, it was COMPLETELY full outside.... at least 20 people.

          We smiled and crouched, and acted quiet and kind and stayed out of the way of the service path from the wine bar. At 9.35p, the server looked at the crowd, then looked at us, and some... come in. I may post the below in the Frenchie thread, just fyi.. hope that is ok.

          We got the last table in the 2nd seating, without reservation. We had a divine experience, and it was... I can't .... we were seriously filled with endorphins and adrenalin and confused and elated. It was a surreal moment. So until now, it apparently has been reported NOWHERE ELSE:

          By the end of the meal, we had made friends with the somm. We chatted for a bit. Here's the scoop:

          1) 1st seating is American. 2nd seating are French. This is no orchestrated thing... it is simply the different between the two cultures. The US books the early shift, the French book the late. If you are looking for a less annoying experience, book the 2nd meal. I am a 6'6" American... but my voice in France is about 1/4 of what it would be back home. =) Listening to "our people" in the wine bar, from outside, was just depressing. I really hope we don't all sound like we are trying to be noticed in lieu of how utterly unimportant we are. Ha. 2nd seating is the way to go.

          As for mission impossible, here's the 2 scoops with a cherry on top (or like last night, Stilton w/ stewed cherries for dessert):

          Because Frenchie is such a "thing", this adorable and unpretentious little hole in the wall with approx 25 seats (if you are imagining a huge restaurant, and frustrated at not getting through, this may clear that up a bit... it's teeny, of course), people are booking reservations about 3 months out. That is wholly untenable, and the somm mentioned that they are getting, approximately 2 cancelled reservations a night at the 7.30p seating, and much rarer to get any 2nd seating cancellation (likely as it more local people). That being said, it's obvious the strategy for those without reservations is to show up quite early, and just make it known you will hang out in hopes of a cancellation. Early shift is likely, if you show up REAL early, 2nd shift not so much. But it's good to know the success of the place has actually opened up the possibility of a table. Just be patient, kind, deferential, and all that.

          They handled themselves with the utmost of professionalism... there was no list, but they remembered we were the first to check before all others, and when they sat us, they turned all 20 people away. They didn't laugh, there was zero pretention, when we asked.... it was a superb experience.

          Some chef & wine friends here in Paris and in SF area couldn't wait, so when I got home I tweeted the courses:

          that should be up for a few days with all the courses. It should start at the foie gras torchon. I will of course right the review later.....

          All I can say is that I was impressed with their professionalism, and lack of pretention. there is ZERO, in any way. What they do is superb.

          Also... if someone can correct me, but when did the San Francisco and Napa valley michelin culture start influencing Paris? It is quite obvious that what is happening here is born from what we have been doing in Northern California? Am I wrong? Whatever the case.... divine. now to 2nd seating of Chateaubriand! We are vagabonds, I tell you!

          31 Replies
          1. re: unclefishbits

            "when did the San Francisco and Napa valley michelin culture start influencing Paris? It is quite obvious that what is happening here is born from what we have been doing in Northern California? Am I wrong?"
            Can't tell you whether you're wrong until you share with us which aspects of "an Francisco and Napa valley michelin culture" have influenced Paris, according to your perception. What is the michelin culture of San Francisco and Napa Valley? Is the interior Fengshui-approved? Are there masseurs in the Yurt-shaped restroom? Does every dish have a vegan equivalent?

            1. re: Parigi

              Remember the chef (Greg) at Frenchie has worked for Jamie Oliver in the UK and at the Gramacy Tavern (sp) in NYC so he brings to Frenchie lots of international influences. when we ate there I thought it was good food in a very modern international style - mainly ingredient based rather than technique. Which I suppose is the ethos you see in Californian restaurants with the locivore movement and it's ilk.

              (repeated post as it replies to the above post)

              1. re: PhilD

                Greg is also buddies with Chris Cosentino (of Incanto, San Francisco), ergo a definite California connection.

                1. re: mangeur

                  Phil & Mangeur... wonderful points.

                  Being from SF, I love Incanto - shaved cured sardinian tuna heart over pasta, so much offal... even tuna spine that we ate like ribs, only to crack it open to suck the spinal fluid like an oyster. Yay. That man is a wonderful wonderful man. You know that after David Chang called out SF for it's plates of figs, Cosentino actually named a plate on his menu "Plate of figs"

                  I adore irreverence when skillfully done.

              2. re: Parigi

                Dear person, you need to get out more, rather than being boxed in by boring stereotypes. It's unbecoming.

                I mean to say - Celebrating food prepared unpretentiously, with ingredients that celebrate an old world culture of connected systems that benefit the restaurant, the guest, the local purveyors, and overall community. This is a tradition of rural areas, such as Provence, etc... but far too informal and low key for a more traditional level of fine Parisian cuisine, which may go to the ends of the earth, literally, to celebrate something as foreign as possible. What's more, it is more about relationships than pomp and circumstance... between farm, restaurant, and guest.

                However, always one for a joke... the Portlandia skit "Is it Local?" is not to far off.

                So if you need a current stereotype to lazily disseminate, I might suggest you enjoy this link:
       (apparently in US only)

                1. re: unclefishbits

                  The first restaurant of that sort I ate in was in Paris, near métro Pernety, in the late 70s.
                  Attached to the Olympic Entrepôt movie theatre, it was called L'Entrepôt and was run by Leni, who is originally from Savoie and Lyonnais. The place could be described as a large bouchon lyonnais run by a cheerful and able hippie crowd, with the very first open kitchen I ever saw.

                  L'Entrepôt was the precursor of the modern Paris bistrot. Now Leni spent a lot of time in California and it may very well be that her project was triggered by some influence from the Chez Panisse movement, but really there is quite enough in the French popular tradition (not just Southern, it's from all over France including Paris) to explain the evolution that led to L'Entrepôt and what came next.

                  The old-world culture of connected systems is simply the old-world culture of food, and it is no more Provençal than it is Parisian. All Parisians did not eat formally in the old days. There were workers, tavernes, bougnats, crèmeries, bistrots, and the usual two belts of local agriculture: the vegetable and fruit belt just outside Paris, and the cereal belt around that. French food is not only about formal cuisine, far from it. I'm afraid Michelin sometimes creates a misshapen view of French eating. So, to answer your question, no, that's not quite obvious. Especially considering that the Michelin culture in the Bay Area is quite a recent one.

                  As for Frenchie, the food is very international, not particularly Californian I would say.

                  1. re: unclefishbits

                    Uncle, you have mentioned that you are in the restaurant business. Care to share any details here? Just so we can calibrate your comments? (and maybe drop in sometime?)

                    1. re: mangeur

                      Ptipois - wonderful education. Well said, and enlightening. It's true.... these things are synchronous, to some extent... and it is the nuances of random friends, peers, random meals in random places... that influence the entire worldwide culture of food.

                      Really good info! Thank you!

                      Mangeur -
                      In the SF boards, I get in trouble for mentioning anything I am connected to? But I am happy to share. MY F&B days started in Boulder, CO at a Zagat #1 called "q's" with a WONDERFUL chef named John Platt. Happy to run his restaurant, build a giant garden, and just serve good food, he was the first person that broke down the mentality of local food.... which is such a buzzword it's so pejorative and annoying now.

                      Simply put, a carrot out your back door is going to taste better than a carrot shipped across the world. It's fairly obvious, and a testament of how the industrial revolution tainted us, you know? But it was the first chef's garden I saw that went straight into the kitchen. Now we do chef's gardens at some restaurants, but it certainly is for flavor and quality, rather than savings... it becomes more of a liability or drag on the bottom line than anything. Call it a marketing expense.... =) I joke I joke.

                      From there I did some F&B in LA... a 1000 room hotel of no real concern. IT was a fine experience for invoicing and budgeting, etc. Nothing of merit, really.

                      Ended up in the rooms side of things in Monterey/Carmel for years, and that is when I moved up north and started a little more interesting stuff. I helped open a spot in the Marin Headlands under the Golden Gate Bridge's North Side. I project managed Cavallo Point, from 2005-2008 did design and development, and helped open Murray Circle, Joseph Humphrey's spot. He came from Meadowood where he got 2 stars out of the gate (surprising), and maintained a 1-star at Murray immediately after opening (also surprising). I love Joe's food, the service was a bit green when the food was it it's best though. Then I helped project manage the opening of Willamette Valley's The Allison Inn & Spa, and opened the restaurant "JORY", named after one of the pinot soils in the area. It's definitely provencal, working with all the hard working families, farmers, wineries.. etc. It's lovely, but not at any star quality at this time.

                      I am quite happy with them, although there are always better spots. Joe is opening a new spot called "Dixie" in SF, at the old Pres a Vis in the Presidio. We miss him at Murray Circle.

                      If any of you, who have been so kind and helpful and rollicking good fun, ever find yourself in the Napa/Sonoma or Bay Area - or Willamette Valley, don't hesitate to let me know. You are more than welcome to make fun of me if you have a terrible time, as well. I like what I do, and have no qualms taking a beating from any experience just so we can grow. 99% of the time all is well.... but I am more responsible for the design, atmosphere, etc and hotel side of stuff than accountable to the actual food or service. Also have a lot of friends throughout the area with wineries and other restaurants. I will try to hang around the SF board more and give back all the help you kindly people have given me. =)

                      1. re: unclefishbits

                        Uncle: How can I contact you? I will be in San Francisco/ Sonoma in August.

                        1. re: unclefishbits

                          Ah, thanks for this. If you had a hand in the Murray Circle design, let me say that you did well. It is always a thrill and relief to see these century old buildings reclaimed with sensitivity and restraint. A job to be tremendously proud of.

                          1. re: mangeur

                            Thanks much. The story of the lead painted tin ceilings is tremendously interesting.... I will buy you a glass of wine and chat about it someday. =)

                      2. re: unclefishbits

                        "Dear person, you need to get out more"

                        How true. Nothing more "boxing" than my growing up in self-congratulatory San Francisco. And believe me I do not confine my dining to my neighborhood restaurants like your aforementioned Frenchie.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          It's telling that we who live in Paris and have a greater frame of reference are never as wowed by Frenchies as tourists seem to be.

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            Are you sure? ok, I'll cancel my reservation. Might I be able to sell it?

                            1. re: mick

                              Look, Frenchie has charmed legions of tourists and not a few locals. Is it worth the current hype? Dunno. Unclefishbits just posted an extraordinarily positive review (please read it). I gave away our last reservation to a friend who called me later to say that she didn't get all of the over-the-top publicity.

                              Best advise: go, expecting to enjoy. Then make up your own mind.

                              1. re: mangeur

                                I understand, definately going and looking forward to it. For my own taste will it "live up to the hype"...will see. Maybe Greg has too much outside France (Paris) experience for locals, I dont know havent tried his food yet, have eaten at Jamie Olivers once and Gramercy Tavern many times and love Gramecy but dont know when he was cooking thee exactly. So what restaurants charm, wow and excite Pariseans, can it not have a tourist/traveler following?

                                1. re: mick

                                  "Maybe Greg has too much outside France (Paris) experience for locals,"

                                  Parisians eat when they travel too, I believe.

                                  "So what restaurants charm, wow and excite Pariseans, can it not have a tourist/traveler following?""

                                  I think it has less to do with the food than with the advance reservation time required.

                                  When a restaurant reaches a certain reservation time-length, it loses the local clientele, in a way that has nothing to do with its food.

                                  All my French friends say they refuse to make a reservation months in advance. There is something about it that rubs them the wrong way, as though it already killed their pleasure.

                                  On the other hand, many visitors may have fallen into the rarity-breeds-desire psychology. Famous luxury stores use this and (dis)organizes the stores so that a queue appears at the door, which creates an impression that the label is hopelessly sought after, and more people join the queue…
                                  Similarly with restaurants.

                                  I have enjoyed Frenchie when I went. I heart Grégory. But if I lived elsewhere, god forbid, I would never call day and night for months to try to get a table there (or anywhere).

                                  The last 4, 5 times I dined chez Frenchie, it was because my out-of-town friends wanted to go. And I have made even more reservations on behalf of strangers who wrote me for help. Once with a few local food-blogger friends, we even once had a competition on how many times strangers have written to ask us to help wit a reservation there.
                                  And of all the reservations I have made at Frenchie, only once did I call. I always just walked the 15 or 20-minute walk to talk to a human being. Was in and out of there in 30 seconds.

                                  Maybe this has started to turn us off about the restaurant, and we have not reserved there purely for ourselves for I don't even remember how long.

                                  So there you have it. More and more visitors want to go, and more and more locals stay away, all for reasons that are nt food-related. Increasingly Septîme and Pantruche too, - just to name two, - which are not bad but by no means unique, also fall into the category of building visitor fanaticism and turning off locals.

                                  1. re: mick

                                    My point is that, while Frenchie is good (and, even better, great value), there are scores of other Paris restaurants that are as good or better. Just not yet canonized by the NY Times. When you have sampled some of the others, like my fave Caius in the 17th, Frenchie doesn't seem so outstanding anymore and certainly not worth the masochistic reservation hassle.

                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                      Totally agree about Caïus. I find that place far superior to Frenchie.

                                2. re: mick

                                  It's great if you have a reservation, you have, so go, and enjoy it. It will deliver good food at a good price.

                                  But others are equally correct. If you have not reserved don't sweat lots of other great choices. Some tricky to get into, others easy, as they are not above th radar and thus not international.

                                  Like Le Comptoir, Frenchie delivers great food at a great price. But equally it is far too popular and the popularity make the hassle of getting in not worth the payback. That doesn't mean it isn't good or the hype means it ain't good food. There is a lot worse in Paris.

                                  But if you planned, have a table, and the reservation hassle is history, go ahead and eat there. You will enjoy it.

                                  Check out the video on their website and decide if it looks good - if you choose not to go the people who take your booking will be very, very happy. If I was still in Paris I would happily swop.

                                3. re: Parnassien

                                  Nice as Frenchie is, I think the wait for a reservation has become way disproportionate with the actual quality of the restaurant. These things are not uncommon. If it were, say, available after a two-or-three-day wait, I'd find it reasonable. Not the way it is.

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    To the 3 Parisian P's.. very well put by all, gives me a much better perspective on Frenchies- the food and the whole reservation hassle.. I live in SF and Napa Valley and see "throngs" of tourist/travelers lined up at particular places that although the food may be quality, i have quit going to such places and allmost makes me ill at times to see this herd of people waiting to get in. I often ask, are you kidding, why? For me persoanaly, I want to try Frenchies like so many others and perhaps I lucked out because got a res without any problem at all albiet made 2 months in advance. Maybe only downside is that its the early res, but I'm not to much of whatever to believe I'm the only person visitng Paris, so I can handle a table of Americans next to me so long as there not IMO loud, obnoxious or ugly.

                                    1. re: mick

                                      "To the 3 Parisian P's"
                                      I like the ring of this.
                                      I don't mind eating next to Americans. I have lived in 3 continents. If I must exclude the people from the countries where I have lived, I'll have to go to empty restaurants !
                                      In fact I am baffled by why people would write to this board to request names of restaurants where they would especially NOT meet the people they are asking the recommendations from. "Give me the names of your favorite restaurants, and please don't go there while I'm around."

                                      1. re: Parigi

                                        My point was I find it funny that people (americans) write in and want to go to restaurants where there are none of them. I guess they believe they are the chosen ones. In a city visited by millions, i never know who's going to be near my table, I dont really care so long as they dont shove food or there conversation down my mouth. However, I can completely understand how someone visiting France might find it more comfortable, charming, authentic if the surrounding tables or those sitting there are speaking french. But as some exclaim on here. "we were the only americans in the restaurant, oh how special" that makes me want to lose my food in a hurry! I doubt you were the only Chosen ones.

                                        1. re: mick

                                          They go to Tibet and they ask where they won't find other Americans ! Do they think they themselves perfectly blend in with the local yaks ?

                                      2. re: mick

                                        I have just come back from SF and probably ate in many places locals rolled their eyes at - but I enjoyed Zuni, Nopa, and Chez Pannisse. As an intro to California they were great - perfect fo a entree into the local scene. Frenchie is similar - worth it if it isn't a hassle - it is good.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          Maybe not for this board, but, the 3 restaurants you listed, not many "locals" would roll their eyes, 3 of the best choices, of course you can get thousands of opinions but hopefully you thoroughly enjoyed all 3.

                                      3. re: Ptipois

                                        Yes. I agree. Which is why walking in made it worthwhile, and a lucky treat. It's wildly affordable, simple, fun, cute... but not some world class affair I would defend to the death. Of course, some others might like to read into my comments such that I am about to duel....

                                        1. re: unclefishbits

                                          not sure where it went, but Mick commented on my overstatement about chefs not caring about ranking... and Mick is right. I was overstating it. we all know about the chefs who freak out when losing a star etc... it was good to call me out on that. I think I just meant whether they are ranked or not, they aren't going to stop what they are doing, you know? The rankings are more akin to recognition, which is lovely.... but they are cooks, craftsmen. A lot of the chefs in the SF scene don't consider themselves artists so much as laborers. they do what they do... pretty simple.

                                          I think it's the newer influx of chefs who are trying to become celebrities or brands that are looking for recognition, or a TV show.

                                          But I was wrong... and would be a total idiot (that is still being decided)... to say the rankings didn't mean *something*. It's just that they will do what they do, regardless.

                                          1. re: unclefishbits


                                            wasn't trying to be rude or disrepctful, i just believe there are a number of chefs who are very ego, status driven, where gathering media attention, high rankings, michelin stars, whatever etc are extemely important to them. That may or may not be many and there are certainly chefs that are clearly not concerned with those things. Could name a number of chefs who I think those rankings etc are very near and dear to them but I'm not sure were supposed to be doing that sort of stuff on CH. I'll try and stick to food and what this original thread or others are about in the future.

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