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Apr 19, 2012 04:04 PM

Frederic Simonin vs JF Piege vs Passage 53 vs Verjus vs Agape Substance

Hello Hounds,

For our last night in Paris, my wife and I would like to enjoy a special dinner. It would be nice to be in a somewhat "not too serious" environment since we will be doing "serious" dining the two preceding nights at restaurants that have not been revealed to me. Those two are being reserved by our relative from Luxembourg who has his own specific picks (think one night may be Le Meurice).

So....the questions becomes, for a Wed night in Paris, where should we go?

F. Simonin - I like the menu and the look of the room but it is a bit far from the 2nd where we will be afterward;

JF Piege - is intriguing me as I like the menu concept, room, pedigree of the chef, etc., but is tis place very dull and serious?

Passage 53 - one of the top contenders but the no choice menu seems a bit risky;

Verjus - looks upbeat and interesting menu but not a lot of reports

Agape Sub - I know this is very modern, which is not specifically what we are going for but could work

I appreciate any feedback - thanks!

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  1. I've done Passage 53 and Agapé Substance (both at lunch time)

    The setting at P53 is a lot more comfortable, real chairs and tables; at Agape, you are on high stools on a communal table (except 2, 3 tables (for 2), including one in the kitchen).

    IMO, P53's food is more "formal", while Agape et more "précieux" (precious), but it completely works with the wine pairing.

    For the fun factor, I'd go to Agapé.


    14 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Thanks Max. That makes sense from what I have read. The fun factor is a strong one so it does count for a lot!

      1. re: Searching4Dunny

        I've dined at Simonin and found it very retro,in a bad way, and very very expensive. I think its principal virtue was that it was open on the weekend. a disappointment. Passage 53-been there for dinner several times and liked it very much, but in my opinion you should go to Kei.You may not read lots about it because the seem to be about 12 restaurants that are reviewed and re-viewed over and over on this board and Ei isn't one of them. The dinner is perfectly prepared, the room is elegant,with tables set far apart, and I've always left there feeling fully satisfied . also, and on a slightly more casual note-Aux Fil des Saisons.

        1. re: pammi

          Thank you for the feedback and recommendation for Kei. I have seen it listed a few times but would definitely read up on it!

          I appreciate the honest opinion about FS - this is the impression I got but could not confirm anywhere. Thanks.

          1. re: Searching4Dunny

            Definitely second Kei. I also enjoyed Sola. Have you considered Septime?

            At the risk of repeating myself, I was disappointed with Agape Substance.

            1. re: PattyC

              Funnily enough, you and I have exactly the same taste and every time I read your comments and suggestions I always agree with them. yes, I have tried Sola and liked it very much. these Japanese chefs in Paris are cutting a very large path. I didn't try Septime since it is one of those 12 restaurants I mentioned above. I know if I go there I am going to see a sea of Americans and I see enough of them in New York. I understand that you have to sit on stools at Agape which doesn't appeal to me. Neva is another place the OP might enjoy-I went there with a French friend and we loved it. I repeat the suggestion of AuFil des Saisons-about the best food I've had for €35 .

              1. re: pammi

                I retread your post and Kei isn't much " fun" if by that you want somewhere lively and crowded-it's reasonably serious albeit not in a 3star way. Consider Bistro Volnay-dark,clubby with a €38 euro prix fixe menu-always lots of good choices there..also, it is in the 2 nd, which seems to be where you want to be

                1. re: pammi

                  We had a wonderful meal at Au Fil des Saisons a few years ago. It was recommended to us by a local we happened to meet and started talking to during dinner at another tiny, unknown place called Angela Caffe on rue des Ecouffes in the Marais. This guy also led us to Au Vieux Comptoir. None of these are really on the radar of the big food based websites, but they were some of the best meals we've had in Paris. Nothing fancy or really original, just good solid food.


                  1. re: pammi

                    Except Les Saisons ;)

                    Septime wasn't very American when we went. It's not like Frenchie. I don't think you should let that dissuade you. I personally don't care as long as the food is good.

                    The seating at Agape Substance was my only concern and ironically that turned out not to be an issue at all. We were surprisingly comfortable for 3 hours.

                    1. re: PattyC

                      Kei and Sola look great! Septime is also on the longer short list but I read some conflicting reviews on here that made me think the quality isn't up to the level of some of these other restaurants. I may have to investigate Septime a bit more. Is the food at all similar to Saturne (for some reason I combine the two in my head) with Nordic influences?

                      We are planning for Les Saisons for dinner on Sunday (I believe it is open then). This choice beat out Cafe Des Musees for our Sunday dinner. We are looking for simple, solid french fare for Sunday.

                      Thanks so much for these suggestions. I am glad I put up this post!

                      1. re: Searching4Dunny

                        I haven't been to Saturne but didn't find Septime Nordic. I thought the food was some of the best we've had in Paris. The setting is probably the least "serious" of the ones mentioned so it's somewhat deceiving (in a good way) when you first walk in.

                        I like Neva and Bistro Volnay very much too but would put them on a tier below.

                        Les Saisons isn't open on Sunday. You might try Les Jalles which is by the same people as Bistro Volnay and open 7 days.

                        1. re: PattyC

                          Thanks for the heads up on Les Saisons - that is a bummer. Will look into Les Jalles!

                          I like the decor/cuisine dichotomy you describe of Septime. Too many choices and so few meals!

                          1. re: Searching4Dunny

                            I think you are confusing Septime and Saturne.
                            Saturne has somewhat Nordic vibes. And is seriously wonderful.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Yup, l am still not a huge fan of Septime, love the room and service, but food is just
                              OK. Saturne OTOH l really like lots.

                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                Yeah, I recognize Saturne has Nordic influences and Septime is completely different.

                                Do you have an opinion on how Kei compares with those two restaurants in terms of quality, and overall experience (I know the styles of cuisine may greatly differ)?

        2. Had an excellent meal with great wine pairing at Verjus the week it opened in December. Report is somewhere on this site. Going again on Tuesday. Will report back.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jock

            Please do report back Jock. I think I read your previous post about Verjus, which made me want to inquire about it.

            1. re: Searching4Dunny

              Went to Verjus again last night. Food was superb. Last trip it was the best meal of the trip including lunch at Le Cinq. It will likely be the best meal of this trip also; certainly the best so far. The food is like going to a two or three star in the late 80s, early 90s before all the deconstructed this and that. Before foam and molecular lunacy. They only do two menus each night; a seven course chef's menu and a five course that omits two courses. the portions are just right; you can eat everything and not feel overstuffed or hungry. Flavors are clean and well balanced without being overly complicated. Very sophisticated. Excellent wines are reasonably priced.

              What is not two or three star is the room and the service. The room is small and bistro-like but quite charming. There is no army of sommeliers, bussers, servers and hovering maitre 'ds. Instead the service is very professionally handled by two charming young ladies.

              One seven course, one five course and five glasses of very good wine was 167 euros. Plan on spending 3 hours.

              1. re: jock

                Thanks so much for the detailed update. Sounds like superb food and a great value! Very attractive.

          2. So, here is the final list - I will be sure to report back!

            Sun (Dinner) - Terrior Parisien
            Mon (Dinner) - Marius et Jeannette (choice and treat of our relative from Luxembourg)
            Tues (L/D) - Unknown - meals will also be chosen and treated by our relative
            Wed (Lunch) - Kei
            Wed (Dinner) - Au Passage or a wine bar (Verjus is a top contender for this)

            I apparently changed everything from my original list but let's see how it turns out! Any opinions/suggestions are welcome.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Searching4Dunny

              For me the bar food at Verjus is more snack food rather than a meal. the upstairs restaurant does meals (need to book) but downstairs they take "small plate" food to its logical extreme.

              1. re: PhilD

                I actually have a dinner reservation for the upstairs restaurant at Verjus. I was planning on canceling because I figured it would be too much after lunch at Kei.

                I jostled back and forth b/w lunch at Kei or dinner at Verjus and settled on lunch b/c of intriguing looking dishes I have seen from Chef Kei. Plus, at 35E for the lunch menu when dinner would run at least 90E, I settled on Kei over Verjus.

                I have kept the Verjus reservation, however, just in case decisions change - but I will need to cancel soon since the date is only 2 weeks away.

                1. re: Searching4Dunny

                  ...and just to be clear to other readers, Verjus is a restaurant upstairs and a separate wine bar downstairs. The menus re quite different and to my knowledge not interchangable.