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I hate to be this unimaginative, but post-research, pre-trip, might you celebrate or lampoon our choices?

unclefishbits Apr 26, 2012 08:40 AM

Hi All! I know you are self aware, but I don't know if you realize how many people you reach, and help. I think it's like 90% of people who use social media don't type a word, and just consume *your* content.... *we* all really appreciate it.

I am a half-hearted lurker... I always end up posting when I can't help it and get giddy. So I thought I would run by our very simple couple days in Paris, and heed your advice, while omitting the more prosaic destinations like markets, bakeries, etc. Point - we are masters at queuing, and are happily patient people. We will cook in our apartment at some point, and our days are less planned... more La Flâneur, than anything. Lots of picnics and gardens, but that's about it. Thoughts?

Sun 6th - a fun Brunch http://emperornorton.com/en/about/ put on my some friends of mine. I only drop it in here because some of you might enjoy the pop up experience at Coutume Café.

Sun 6th night: Bofinger. Is it too rigid and tired? Is it still a quaint & worthwhile slice of old Paris? We have a proper rez here. A friend mentioned this may be "chain-y" at this point, and recommended Bistrot du Dôme? Thoughts?

Mon 7th - 7p on the dot, slide into the Frenchie Wine Bar, and hope for a cancellation. If not, my friend says you can eat the menu at the wine bar --> http://twitter.com/#!/tavallai/status...

Is there a local back up rez I should consider? In your experience is the Wine Bar a viable option?

Tues 8th - 2nd seating at Le Chateaubriand. We are going to arrive quite early and enjoy their bar.

Wed 9th - Spring for Lunch.

I will *promise* to write up the entire thing... but any red flags? Any thing we should miss, or anything we should be aware of in ordering? I saw that La Cinq offered champagne at the beginning of the meal (I would think that to be complimentary), but it was 33E a glass? We have saved up, I like to think money isn't at issue (and it's not I guess), but that would sour my experience a bit. My wife is fluent... so I doubt we will get caught off guard?

edit: I am going to update the below as you all help me. =)

Backup restaurants that we also, likely, can't get into...... =
)L'Ami Jean
Chez Georges
La Fontaine de Mars

new: Le Cinq
Terroir Parisien

Now I move on to the daunting task of Luberon. I also feel nervous that I am about a week or two off securing proper reservations! Eeek!

Picture related: it's how excited I feel.

 
  1. unclefishbits Jun 11, 2012 11:49 PM

    One of my favorite meals - a gem and surprise. Bonnieux, nearer Buoux, in the Lourmarin presented this out of the way and wonderful Auberge's talented chef.....

    Auberge de L'Aiguebrun
    -------------------

    This was the quaint and classical Provencal date - ancient countryside, adorable Auberge, & dining room in an understated old enclosed patio. It was elegantly set up, and the service people provided classic, exceptional service... friendly and curiously familiar while allowing for our own dalliances and private moments. They answered every question we had, engaged our senses completely, and made our night. I am not sure about the rating, but I am fairly confident it was rated a one star michelin restaurant. If that's not indication enough, i think it might be interesting that I am waffling between whether it's a one or two star.... I think they were operating at that level of service. The floor staff was slightly familiar and direct, but it was completely charming and enjoyable.

    The menu included additions presented on a chalk board sitting along the far wall. We had some translation difficulties, but my wife ordered the entire chef's coursed suggestions for the day, and I ordered each item that made me vibrate with anticipation as I read them on the menu.

    They started us with a small tomato amuse bouche - a simple ripe cherry tomato from their garden, with a slight amount of honey, and some other herb. It was unexpected, dazzling, and somewhat explosive.... as you bit the tomato off a skewer, all the flavor immediately mingled. That doesn't always happen, and it takes a smart chef to know how to force a guest into the flavor combo they are going for. So often you end up with a diner with travels along familiar lines, and eats food in the unimaginative and uniform patterns they are used to. I find it exceptional when a chef forces people out of their comfort zones or habits. This was a perfect start to the meal. This unassuming, prosaic looking start to the meal set the tone, and it didn't let up until the shocking conclusion at dessert.

    I usually like to report what both my wife and I got, but I admit... i didn't get the menu from them tonight (I actually asked, and they have, literally, so few they couldn't set one free. I am fine with that), but I know that my meal, for the first time in a LONG time, was so enthralling that I don't really remember clearly what she had.

    I started with a seafood risotto, which was superb. The grain was cooked perfectly, it was silky and rich, and the perfect portion - I was left wanting more, but happily full, knowing a few more bites would have derailed my appetite. It was one of the more delicious risottos that has entered my personal space. I make a mean one, i have worked in settings that delivered exceptional risotto.... but this beat them all. I am fairly confident my wife had a tomato gazpacho, and enjoyed it, as I wallowed in self interest in my own meal.

    My main plat was a Veal with Foie Gras. Fresh isn't the word, and well prepared wouldn't do it justice. This was from out the back door, and the entire dish seemed to melt into a butter as I ate it. I have never had a better cut of veal, or one that was better prepared. The foie on top was a powerful addition.... and the rich and powerfully delicious combo just floored my stomach and body. I was entering an area that was very clearly transcendent.

    My wife had the Pave de Maigre Roti et sa fondue de poivron... she thought it was a cut of steak, but the definition she had in mind was off, and it turned out to be a white fish like a trout, with a roasted pepper fondue. it basically means a lean filet. It was good, but she was thrown off, and was hoping for red meat, her eyes longingly draping my disappearing dish. Don't worry I shared...I did think twice tho. It was unbelievable.

    We shared a plate of Chevre fromage... all from down the street. If I ever think of it, I will upload a pic of goats to this review.... they were cute, and they made our cheese that sat in front of us. Wonderful! We moved on to a dessert that melted, literally, my heart. Huzzah for stupid words!

    I got this hot and cold, dark and white chocolate dessert. It was basically a chocolate ganache pudding inside a chocolate, hollow, orb. Then the chocolate top of the chocolate orb was placed to conceal the pudding, and was delivered to the table. From there, they pour a hot white milk chocolate mixture over the pudding in the orb, and without knowing what was happening, the hot chocolate slowly melted away the roof of the chocolate orb and revealed the ganache inside. I am sorry to be such a simpleton, but the way it melted reminded me of the acid burning the metal in the alien films. It was just so cool to watch... a delightful moment from left field. It is not easy to surprise me, or find me giddily clapping like a silly boy (you can catch this, and yes it embarasses my wife), but this was so much of a treat..... it ended the meal perfectly.

    We closed with digestif (cognac) and espresso. We had a Domaine de la Begude Bandol La Brulade 2001 for the meal. UNBELIEVABLE Huzzah BANDOL!

    4 Replies
    1. re: unclefishbits
      p
      parisjo Jun 12, 2012 10:56 AM

      I have bookmarked this thread in anticipation of our trip next fall. Your reviews have made my mouth water and my mind delirious with the possibilities of the meals that are ahead of us (a full 15 months ahead, but tant pis).
      Could you please share the price of your meal at Auberge de L'Aiguebrun ~ not that it matters, since you've completely sold me on making this one of our "must" places to eat.
      Thank you again for your wonderfully descriptive and witty reviews.
      Jo

      1. re: parisjo
        unclefishbits Aug 9, 2012 11:48 AM

        Here's a few more... I still have a couple after this too. Ridiculous!

        Emperor Norton brunch at Coutume cafe:

        Brunch? In Paris? WAIT WAAaaait.... diversity in selection, for *BRUNCH*, in PARIS? Served in a coffee house that has depth, consistency, and stellar coffee.

        But what Emperor Norton is doing would be precarious if it wasn't so well executed. Paris is not known for Brunch, but one must start somewhere, and while many look at purveyors of new concepts as daring or risky, sometimes someone is just prescient, and dialed into trends. I think Emperor Norton saw a need, and beat the curve on a new trend. It will give them the time needed to improve upon their excellent skills and menu. I imagine they will only end up more in demand, and likely move to a bigger spot in the future. As I understand, the kitchen is not the most expansive or efficient. Any other reviewers problems might be due, in large part, to their restrictions with the setup. Coutume cafe should be happy to have them as long as possible.

        Emperor Norton evolves traditional breakfast fare, by adding subtle touches to some egg dishes, while creating absolutely foreign concepts for the city - like a breakfast burrito, or scrambled eggs and salsa on chips, etc. It's wonderful to enter a place and be completely surprised by the menu - it was unexpected, and completely refreshing. It was a welcome change from the traditional fare... and a marked departure from the carboloaded breakfast we are used to.

        This is by no means a pretentious fine dining experience - this is a modern take on CA Fresh Mexican diner morning food. They are producing tastes that are not uncommon to some of the best breakfast joints throughout the west coast of the US.

        The food is exceptional, the coffee is EPIC (see previous Coutume review), and it's something we can't wait to return to... not just to eat again, but to see how they grow and evolve.

        This is the start of something very rare, fun, exceptional in Paris, and I can't wait to see how these innovators lead the way.

        1. re: parisjo
          unclefishbits Aug 9, 2012 11:48 AM

          Coutume Cafe:

          Is this from an American viewpoint? Yes.

          I love France. It's epic. The only thing I couldn't get the hang of was ordering "café". I usually got an espresso, etc. I don't know what I was doing wrong, but I was with french speakers the whole time. An iced coffee ended up espresso on ice. It's all good... I dig that I am a cultural immigrant. I was patient. Then I came to Coutume.

          Stellar service - kind, patient, and professional. They suffered my Americanism with grace and class. They also excel at coffee in a way few places in Paris understand. Multiple types of brewing, shockingly good foaming.... I don't need to ramble on to make the point:

          This is 5 star coffee in a city with 2 star options for hot caffeine. The post dinner espresso is ubiquitous, but anything else is trouble to find. Coutume produces such quality coffee, I greedily had so much I was vibrating my surroundings for about 6 hours.

          Expertly brewed, expertly served, and delicious. It's a demur, unpretentious place.... but an exceptional treat nonetheless. We wouldn't have found it if it weren't for Emperor Norton, so I would consider their brunch team a big help in getting the word out about this exceptional coffee house.

          THANK YOU!

          1. re: parisjo
            unclefishbits Aug 9, 2012 11:55 AM

            Here's a review of our inn / B&B in Eze.....
            -----------------
            It's rare to find yourself at a loss - I haven't even been able to write this review because I am still a bit despondent about not still being at Domaine Pins Paul. Philippe and his wife are wondrous hoteliers - they create a warm, stunning environment that caters to your every need. Modern and updated bathroom in the suite, the views are unparalleled anywhere in the world. I took a time lapse from the suite's bedroom window.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llEAck...

            Make sure to choose 720p, and make it is full screen.

            Quite simply, that is your view.

            We were in the upper room, however, I am sure the other rooms have stunning views as well. The bed was a king size.. I am 6'5" and my wife went out of her way to find one. It was SO comfortable. The gardens and property were wonderful, and the drive there was a thrill.... it is a painfully beautiful place. Philippe will act as your guide. =)

            The suite is far and away worth the added cost - the space in the suite, the views, etc should make it a fairly easy decision.

            Breakfast was wonderful, and the patio was a perfect way to start the day. They go out of their way to provide the most delicious and charming breakfast you could imagine. The living room was cute, and they even started a large fire the one morning it got misty and chilly. Philippe's gracious and caring service made him transcend the typical inkeeper, and truly made it feel like your were friend or family, and he & his wife were hosting you. His delightful pooch, Fiona, became a fast friend.

            It's as wonderful an experience I have ever had in my 20 years of hospitality. We will undoubtedly be back to visit, and sooner than later. You must hike the Nietzsche trail down to the pebble beach - if you are there to walk around and hike, don't miss it.

            We feel incomplete without Domaine Pins Paul in our lives - it affected us *that* deeply.

            Thank you for what you do!! We hope to see you soon!

        2. unclefishbits Jun 11, 2012 11:07 PM

          Le Fournil in Bonnieux for Luberon / Provence Michelin restaurant seekers:
          -----------

          Le Fournil was a delight. It was a welcome return to a more classic tradition of French cooking, and balanced out our recent meals at places like Frenchie and Chateaubriand, in Paris. We were looking for a more accurate, traditional portrayal of French cooking, and this restaurant was simply perfect for that special meal out in the Luberon. We were stationed in Buoux, our new favorite place in the world, and ventured throughout the plateau routes to find Bonnieux's charming cliffside village, and this smart establishment, engineered into the ancient caves at the base of the city. A romantic, intimate setting, it still offered a slightly modern panache with their tables and design. It was a wonderful juxtaposition to the interiors. Our server was adorable, a welcoming, genuine, and warm gentleman. Obviously empathetic and in tune with our experience, he enhanced an already enjoyable meal - his recommendations and advice were honest, refreshing, and welcome. We started with an apertif, and moved into the menu.... It was 44.50euro w/o a cheese course, and 49euro w/ cheese. My wife got the former, and ordered the latter, so we just shared the course, and enjoyed the longer meal.

          We chatted with the owner about appropriate wines for our meal, and we had a lively discussion about my choice vs. a couple others, what each meant, how he knew the wineries, etc. It was appreciated, and he led us to a more appropriate bottle at a lesser price. Truly a restaurateur, who simply wants the meal to be perfect, regardless of potential upselling.

          3 courses:

          I had roule de lapin (rabbit medallions) with peppered artichoke heart and beet vinaigrette, my wife had warm asparagus with morel with pearls and chicken stock reduction

          I had the wok roasted porc bigorre with the pea "sauce" (like a flavorful gazpacho - this meal was insane), wife had young goat fired two ways with the arab quinoa & stewed fruits.

          The cheese plate is a blur. It was brilliant layed out in a spiral, each cheese meant to be eaten prior to the following cheese. It worked your palette up, paired with the wine, and led us to our digestif and dessert.

          I got the creme brulee a la menthe fraiche, which was superb. My wife got the chocolat du moment... it was simply divine. In fact, switch that, but we shared both, so it doesn't matter. Both desserts were exceptional. We finished with a Sauternes and port, and the coffee simply made the meal. I wish life relegated us into this position more often... to eat like this, to be taken care of like this... is a rare and exceptional gift.

          Whether you are in Bonnieux and have time for lunch, or want to make a special night out in Provence, Le Fournil will provide a satiated palette and memories for decades. I love writing reviews for this precise reason...I am taken back to the moment. I remember walking out thinking they did food better than some of the best in Paris. I still stand by it... and can't wait to go back.

          1. unclefishbits Jun 11, 2012 11:07 PM

            Chez Christine in Saignon for Luberon day travelers:
            ---------
            We couldn't have been happier! A simple "stand" with outside seating (you order and pay inside, if you are eating there they will bring your food)... a bakery with simple selections, but everything on the menu is outstanding. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a 5 star michelin experience - this is a quick bite and simple fare in the middle of touring the city and the greater Luberon. We arrived late in the afternoon parched and hungry, but knowing there would be likely zero options. We actually walked by the little door opening at first, while exploring the adorable city. Upon realizing that "this was it", and the only open option on a slow Spring weekday, we happily perused the menu... all fresh, delicious, and seemingly mostly salads (a refreshing departure from the heavier foods and options are other spots).

            I had, as ridiculous as this sounds, what quickly became the best omelette I have ever eaten out at a restaurant. Obviously I was hungry, but it was masterful, to be sure. My wife had the quiche of the day. Both came on rectangular plates and were exceptional well presented considering the atmosphere. They came with light salads, and a tomato remoulade. I ordered a schweppes, we got a 50cl Rose (approx), and we got cappucino's at the end. The total for both of us was 31 Euro, a total of $40 USD or so. So impressive! It was an unexpected treat to receive one of the most fresh and delicious meals from an unassuming boulangerie-patisserie!

            For what this spot is, and for what the kind owner and staff are doing here as a service to the town and tourists... it should really be more than 5 stars. THANK YOU THANK YOU!

            1. unclefishbits May 28, 2012 07:59 PM

              Not the most useful report, but Here's La Recreation in Lourmarin. We chose not to stay around the village on Friday, the day of the market... we took our goods and headed home to cook. I am sure eating there the day of the market would have been an exceptionally different experience? Not sure if something this low key needs a report like this... I am also getting insecure not knowing how to properly use ASCII "E" with accents on it. I assume this is par for the course.....
              -------

              This review is about as wonderfully lazy as our lunch. It may not help you, but it was surely incredible for me. =)

              The experience here is precisely this: You were never looking for a restaurant, but we're invited by an old friend into their home in Provence, cooking for you the most traditional, simple, and fresh recipes using ingredients from the neighboring farmers. It isn't the meal for the most important day of the year - but just another in the long line of wonderfully delicious days of cooking traditional family recipes. This meal ranks as one of the best while being the most low key.

              In the slow paced and quaint town of Lourmarin, this restaurant offers an exceptionally paced (ie perfectly leisurely) lunch, without some of the elements you might find at restaurants littered with menus in English. No pat or played out dishes pandering to a tourist crowd - just real delicious food. From the homemade menus on colored paper, wrapped in quilted menu covers, to the hand written cursive.... everything screams authentic and simple, so much so that I believe it drives off the less curious or adventurous Americans. There will be no English menus here. This is where the husband is in the kitchen, and the wife is managing the floor... locals and regulars scatter about their porch for a quick dessert, or an afternoon chat. It is precisely a Provencal meal, including a happily self-aware, slight lack of precision.

              The carafe of rosé was phenomenal, and probably the best house wine we had while visiting France. The sun was hot, however, so it went down perfectly. My wife had a wonderful Nicoise Salad, littered with every fresh veggie one could muster, and covered in a chunk light tuna (likely from a friend's canned tuna in the cupboard, but no fresh Ahi steak here) - it was ample enough that she wasn't able to finish, while be raucously happy with it. I had, yet again, a steak tartare - it was as fresh and delicious as I had in all of France. What's disappointing is that this was the only place aware that I might want to continue seasoning it, and they gave me the Worcestershire, Dijon, & Tabasco (for the first and only time in the country), and I had no reason to use it... it was perfectly seasoned, robust, ready to tackle even the most vacuous of palettes - flavor, spices, and freshness all stood out, roundly. The fries were incredible as well... heavily seasoned but without a fried taste. They may, in fact, have been pan baked.

              We followed through on this warm day with a Poire Belle Helene (sp?), basically a tasty pear and chocolate sundae. It's my wife's favorite, and although quite distant from the fanciest or best presented, it was just purely delicious. I got a couple scoops of chocolate gelato, a big problem for me now that I remember I love European non cream based ice cream SO much more... and the gelato consumption back in the states is going to be a problem. =) We ended with coffee to help us March back into a sunny day of exploration and hiking of the Luberon.... fueled and calmed, relaxed after the satiating lunch.

              La Recrée, or La Récréation, depending on what guide or site you are looking at, is perfect for that "we don't know where to lunch or go to dinner" type of experience. It's as authentic as it gets, and that includes a very non-tourist attracting presentation. Not to say we weren't tourists, and not to say they weren't the most friendly and accommodating people.... but it's not a Michelin restaurant, by all means. If you are looking for pomp and circumstance, it's not here. It was a genuine treat.... forsaking the experience of an over the top production, we just had a delightful, even meal with a very homey feel, with lovely, quaint, and friendly service. C'est la France!

              2 Replies
              1. re: unclefishbits
                mangeur May 29, 2012 12:07 PM

                Our first dinner in Provence, some 20 years ago, was at La Récréation. It was, essentially, exactly as you described it. It is heartening to see that some things don't change. Thanks for the memory.

                1. re: unclefishbits
                  p
                  parisjo May 29, 2012 03:22 PM

                  Bravo, Bravo, Bravo.....You have shamed me into finally writing up my little report from our trip with our grandson and also given me some names for our first trip to Provence next year (probably in the fall)

                  Can't wait to read the rest. Have a feeling we would get along just fine..........

                  Jo

                2. unclefishbits May 27, 2012 03:27 PM

                  Le 7eme Vin, Le Numero 7, Le Numero Sept.... it was the rare chance the Yelp beat out Tripadvisor for helpful reviewing..... Small Bistro convenient to Eiffel for a night of wine in the park. =)
                  -----------

                  An example of when Yelp works - we checked for a proper bistro after our disaster of our brasserie experience at Bofinger. This made up for it in spades. A charming, unassuming little bistro near the Eiffel Tower, it was perfectly timed for our last night's march throughout the city, coming from Sacre Couer and a bottle of champagne during sunset, and on the way to an evening of wine, a park, and the Eiffel all blinky and what not.

                  The meal was just insane. So simple, so affordable, but endlessly delicious. One pointer for newbies: ALWAYS get the carafe of house wine. It's all delicious, and it's much more affordable than bottles. There is every opportunity to enjoy fine wine throughout your entire French experience, but in a bistro such as this go for the 1/2 or full carafe. Your palette will not know, and your pocketbook will thank you. It will be rare for a restaurant to *not* have carafes, so don't hesitate to ask prior to forking over a bit too much on a decent wine in a bottle. The demi-carafe of wine was $14 Euro.

                  My wife started with a warm goat cheese salad. I had two poached eggs in a merlot sauce. This was one of the best entree (app) dishes I had the entire trip in France. It felt like I was in the middle of my grandmother's house in 1950's Provence. I cannot explain how giddy it made me... the wine sauce and egg yolk mixed into a problematic sauce to help enable my bread addiction.... I cleaned my plate aggressively with the help of the delicious baguette (do *NOT* get me started on US dense sourdough based baguettes vs these airy and delightful loaves....)

                  We each had Steak Tartare, a theme you will see throughout our reviews for our France trip. I am a rabid fan, and it's disappointing that EVERY SINGLE time we ordered it, they had to ask "You know it's raw?". I wonder how many stupid Americans they have had to suffer prior to us. We may be stupid too... but that's just depressing. The Tartare was as expected - delicious.

                  My wife ordered the house made Creme Brulee (of course it's all house made...), I had a cafe express (espresso), and finished with a bite of her brulee and an incredible montbazilla at $6 Euros in lieu of a pricier Sauternes. The whole experience was the perfect leisurely pace - we didn't leave until nearly midnight - and fueled us for wine under the Eiffel. It was wonderful, and I hope this review, if not lengthy, will help the owner, who was charming, professional, and completely on point all night.

                  Le 7eme Vin is on our receipt, but we knew it as Le Numero 7, or Numero Sept. It is listed as different things on different sites. We sat down incredibly late (for us Americans), approximately 10.15p without any hesitation from the proprietor. He was a friendly, affable gent that held no presumptions or judgement about his obviously foreign clientele. Offering the menu on a chalkboard in both English and French, we opted for French. I am relearning my high school foreign language years quickly, and my wife speaks French very well. I am not sure if this softens the attitude towards the tourist, but we rarely experienced anything but warmth and grace from the Parisians, as well as people throughout all of France. It was delightful, and it just made us angry how Americans get frustrated about French hostility, when it is our entitled, loud, classless, slobbery that begets their fallacious reputation. It's disappointing, because the French culture is something America could learn a LOT from.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: unclefishbits
                    t
                    travelluver May 28, 2012 01:48 PM

                    Wonderful report - loved reading it! We'll be eating at Frenchie in July at the 9:30 seating. Booked two months ago and that was all that was available which was fine with us (even though we have a flight home the next morning). This will be our third time dining there. I know there are some naysayers for this place, but we have always had enjoyable meals there, and everyone is lovely. I booked our second visit while we were there on our first, even though it was months away.

                    1. re: travelluver
                      unclefishbits May 28, 2012 07:55 PM

                      I think people are looking for a bit more pomp and circumstance, right? To be adored and chatted about this much, I think people are used to it being a bit more grandiose than a little eatery with a few seats and familiar service. It's what we look for, over the crispness of table cloths. Dollar for dollar, too... I doubt you can get that fine of food at that price in many cities.

                  2. unclefishbits May 27, 2012 03:04 PM

                    Cafe De La Fontaine in La Turbie, Cote D'azur:

                    Having arrived later in the evening at our stunning B&B, Philippe the proprietor of Domaine Pins-Paul, suggested La Turbie as a simple, closer than Eze and less of a headache, alternative to getting a late meal. His suggestion of Cafe de la Fontaine was so offhanded, there is no way we could have been in store for this ultimately Provencal, charming, and simple restaurant producing unparalleled food at the price point. The menu is written nowhere else besides a few chalk boards, and the rotating selections are fantastic. Do not miss your opportunity to dine here while exploring the Cote D'azur. Whether in Eze, Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes.... it's worth the drive to the unassuming and decidedly simpler lifestyle of La Turbie.

                    My wife wasn't incredibly hungry, so she got a simple salad for her meal, and moved on to the shortbread with strawberries for dessert. I had one of the most simple and delicious starter salads I have had in my entire life: Une Salade avec du monde! =) Salade avec snowpeas, proscuitto, onion/tomate basil remoulade, riccota, teeny melted brie, & champagne vinaigrette. There may have been a bit of spinach, but I think it was just so simple i am adding to it in my head, and it surely needed nothing else. It was superb. This salad was precisely why we were in France, and why we often dodged the Michelin stars for a simpler, more accessible meal.

                    We shared an "entrecôte" steak (a really good cut of beef) - it was grilled to perfection. Perfect salting, and precisely at the correct time prior to cooking it. It was en pointe, cooked MR, and just perfect... the salt became the perfect crust glaze, while all the juices and flavor was perfectly trapped inside. This is not some perfect cut in a perfect restaurant... it's just like if the local master griller was using cow from his backyard. I often don't order steak or salmon out, as I am sure I could do it better.... this is one of those times you learn lessons to trust and live a little. The meat was slaughtered perfectly, it was prepped and stored perfectly, it was cooked perfectly, etc. Fantastic. The fries were obviously homemade, seasoned and cooked perfectly.

                    *This* restaurant *is* Provence. If you are tied up at 1 and 2 stars your whole trip, and haven't had the chance to experience what a real, salt of the earth, Provencal meal is all about, I suggest you do it here. If you are in Lourmarin, La Recreation is a good choice too.... but I suggest the drive out of Luberon and head to the Cote D'azur!

                    We followed through with coffee and digestif. It wasn't only fabulous, it was a delightful enough experience that we rolled onward towards the evening... energy renewed, and minds alert and curious.

                    Now the more lyrical, unrelated part of the review......

                    We ended with a quick jaunt to Monte Carlo, rolling down the hill and speeding around the Grand Prix course that had just been laid out. We sauntered among billions of dollars of mega-super-luxury-ohwow yachts.

                    After a surreal journey, and an evening looking at dashing dresses split up to the labia & high heeled shoes twisting violently on cobblestone, I realized it can be difficult telling when the the digestif ends and aperitif begins... the night turns to morning, romance flowing. We're still not part of the 1%, and happily nowhere near the 50% - but wherever we are, we will play along for the time being.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: unclefishbits
                      p
                      parisjo May 27, 2012 03:26 PM

                      Love this post! Having just decided last night to finally get out of Paris and go to Provence next year, you've given us a reason to go a little further east than we planned. Your last paragraph is a masterpiece of descriptive writing!
                      Jo

                      1. re: parisjo
                        unclefishbits May 27, 2012 03:42 PM

                        My wife did not enjoy the near-crass description of the dresses as much as most, however. I remain accountable to those physically near me... but I will let it stand. =) Thanks. That made me feel less insecure about posting.

                        Still to come:

                        Chateaubriand, more Frenchie, Le Chateau Eza (Eze Village), Le Fournil (Bonnieux), Cave Turbiasque (La Turbie), Auberge de L'Aiguebrun (Buoux / Bonnieux)

                        This is fun. Reliving the moments as I tap away. =)

                      2. re: unclefishbits
                        sistereurope May 27, 2012 03:41 PM

                        Really great reporting...you should post more rather than lurk :) I just wanted to chime in that we also had a nice lunch at Cafe de la Fontaine in La Turbie...took the bus from Nice. It was a year and a half ago so I don't remember what we had, but I do remember enjoying it and La Turbie too. I know that I drank too much wine because I let my husband convince me that it was a good idea to WALK from La Turbie to Monaco...down the mountain! It was a memorable day all around so thanks for evoking the memory...

                         
                        1. re: sistereurope
                          unclefishbits May 28, 2012 07:57 PM

                          We did the Nietzsche trail from Eze Village to the beach, but I cannot imagine walking La Turbie to Monaco. That's HILARIOUS... i love it. And you have nothing but wonderful memories, in the end, after a blister or two heal. That's a delight to hear... we overextend ourselves at certain moments on our trips, knowing the worst case scenario is a fun story. I loved your story.... I can't believe you walked down. Well done.

                      3. unclefishbits May 27, 2012 02:40 PM

                        UPDATES COMING.. I already did a frenchie, but didn't talk about food. I will write out the menu shortly. I will, however, share the bad one first: Bofinger..... 99% of the time, I never ever ever spend the energy on writing negative reviews. Never, unless a warning is necessary... this is that warning:

                        Stay away if you consider yourself a food oriented person. If you are a tourist that is not at all concerned with food, but want to experience a traditional brassiere, feel free... but the traditional brassiere is quite dead. As an example, it is important to understand this is tantamount to a Cheescake Factory, owned by a chain, with low quality food that is overpriced, without service to match, well, anything at all. Our meal was a disaster from start to finish.

                        We arrived 30 min early for an 8.30p reservation. We wanted an aperitif at the bar, and arrived at 8p for that sole reason. The maitre d' insisted our table was ready, and we explained we were quite early, on our own accord, and would like to wait until our reservation time, adding that we would be happy to wait beyond 8.30p to sit in the main room under the glass dome. He said that they were fully committed, and came short of demanding we take our table 30 minutes earlier than our reservation. We were sat in a side room, upstairs, which I quite enjoyed because it was intimate and quiet, while my wife found herself feeling sequestered and second fiddle, hidden from any "experience" at all.

                        We controlled the wine.. which seems the singular thing we could control, and were actually forced to pour our own champagne, half white, and half red bottles throughout the night. Our wines were not poured by the staff once.

                        We got 3 courses... a) seafood plate b) onion soup c) steak tartare & traditional sausage & kraut plate

                        a) The 6 oysters on the seafood plate were *unshucked*. This is not the way they are meant to be served, and we didn't have the tools to do it properly, ourselves. They were a bit gamey to boot... smokey in the bad way, not the good way. The escargot were cooked beyond overdone - they were like pencil erasers. Precisely horrid.

                        b) my wife enjoyed her french onion soup, but I found it to be flavorless, as if made by americans - it was neither nuanced and subtle, nor bold and rich. It was like sock water, a tepid, flavorless, unseasoned almost clear broth with an absurd amount of cheese.

                        c) the server recommended the sausage & kraut plate for my wife, which was obviously a dish that could feed 3 or 4 people. This was ridiculous for US portions... the idea that my wife could have eaten 25% of it was just dumb. It was either ignorance or a cynical upsell, but we didn't see enough of our disengaged and forgetful server to be able to make assumptions as to her service style. The sheepish smile we got with the singular disinterested check in wasn't enough to understand why it was just so bad. Chipped and broken glassware, no water refills, utterly perfunctory service in every way from door to door. My tartare was the worst I had in France, or anywhere else - it was old, warm, gummy, and flavorless. I am not sure they were meant to bring seasonings for me to do it myself, but it just was slop on a plate. The fries were rubber, as well.

                        If it was one thing, I wouldn't have written a review at all. But after a dismissive host, forgetful service, just every single thing.... there's a certain point where people concerned with a good experience need a warning, and that's precisely what this is. I typically never write a 1 star review, and if I choose to do so it's because I want to reach the management, not other onlookers. But this isn't to management... this is to people who want a great meal and not to waste precious time while in France, or simply living life. This is a bad chain, stay away, find something more authentic and delicious. If you need a proper brassiere style meal, try Le Numero Sept (7) at 81 Avenue Bosquet. It's small, intimate, delicious, gracious, and wonderful. Everything Bofinger is not. You have been warned.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: unclefishbits
                          mangeur May 28, 2012 08:03 AM

                          This (Bofinger report) should be required reading for all those who "need" a brasserie meal in their Paris stay. If not a warning to avoid, it is certainly armor with which to parry such wrong service.

                          1. re: mangeur
                            unclefishbits May 29, 2012 09:26 AM

                            I was astonished by the lack of shucking and pouring. It almost seemed like a trick, some "candid camera" settling in on my confused but patient gazing at unavailable staff. ha. My wife will abide reviews and reports for now on. Remember the days of trusting nothing but one guide, and ending up in the restaurant you were standing in front of when hunger set in.... my distant relatives still just go, without research, then complain about their food the whole trip. I can't fathom not using a site like this as a resource....thank you all, again.

                            1. re: unclefishbits
                              PhilD May 29, 2012 02:17 PM

                              Do you really mean unshucked i.e the oysters were not opened? Or had they not separated them from the shell.....surely you had a fork for this? Re the escargot, as it was a seafood platter are you certain these were overcooked snails rather than bulots (i.e. whelks) which are a bit more chewy than an escargot? The Choucroute is also a very traditional brasserie dish and I wonder if your server recommended it because of that I.e. your other choices went with the tradition of a brasserie. I don't think you can get Choucroute is small portions and I am not certain you can up-sell it as it I usually on the cheaper end of the menu.

                              But overall I agree about Bofinger - not the best place - the seating issue is common - you need to be persistent to get a seat under the Dome - it also isn't a bar really set up for drinking ( I tried) so I understand why they seated you.

                              1. re: PhilD
                                unclefishbits Jun 1, 2012 11:00 AM

                                You outed some wonderful ignorance on my part.... wrong word. It wasn't seperated, it was ABSOLUTELY shucked. stupid proper terminology! That's a major difference.... yes, we had a fork. Yes it was shucked. Yes they were Whelks, but they were destroyed.

                                All you comments are well placed and humbling. Well done and thank you so much!

                        2. unclefishbits May 7, 2012 04:14 AM

                          I knew this... but so as not to be the passive aggressive and manipulative husband, I deferred to my lovely wife's pleas... finally. I gave many accounts, with 4 stern warnings over 4 weeks, that Bofinger should not be approached in any form. I do not like being controlling, so I finally deferred to her. =) Good for me.

                          What a complete and unmitigated disaster it was. The only thing we could control was the wine. But wow. Just wow. I will give a full report upon return.

                          However, the election party in the Bastille was rousing, and the street food would have been delicious. Sorry to have missed it. But the atmosphere, madness, and jovial, jocular spirit was too much to deny. We had a lovely walk along the Seine for 3 miles back to our apartment..... so I will chalk up the experience to paying for being in the right place at the right time, of course that doesn't include the restaurant.

                          Question:

                          what is best for a report on our experiences? Just a new thread?

                           
                          7 Replies
                          1. re: unclefishbits
                            Parigi May 7, 2012 05:49 AM

                            Bofinger on any of the other 364 days would indeed be unforgivable. But last night it did put you in the middle of history, and that's not something one can say everyday of ond's life.
                            You can reply here too, which completes the circle nicely and simplifies other hounds' future search.
                            Thanks so much for remembering to report back.

                            1. re: unclefishbits
                              Delucacheesemonger May 7, 2012 06:00 AM

                              Was at Bastille last night as well, and it was indeed a zoo, but a very pleasant one. So busy actually had freshly made churros.

                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                unclefishbits May 8, 2012 10:47 AM

                                I will finish up here.

                                To report:

                                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:
                                https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23fren...

                                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!

                                =)

                                1. re: unclefishbits
                                  mangeur May 8, 2012 10:57 AM

                                  Nice report and really nice job!

                                  1. re: unclefishbits
                                    Parigi May 8, 2012 11:20 AM

                                    Wonderful report although I didn't understand the last paragraph. Very happy you enjoyed a restaurant that I have also enjoyed many times.

                                    1. re: unclefishbits
                                      PhilD May 8, 2012 02:36 PM

                                      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.

                                      1. re: unclefishbits
                                        unclefishbits May 8, 2012 06:51 PM

                                        Wow when I wrote that I may have been suffering lack of sleep? pardon the spelling and grammatical errors. Sheesh. =)

                                  2. mangeur Apr 26, 2012 10:50 AM

                                    Champagne, if listed or quoted as such, is not inexpensive in France and the price is usually not mentioned when one is asked if they would like to start with a glass. (In fact, which I am dithering over whether or not to buy some bauble or tidbit, my husband often pipes up, "It's only the price of a glass of champagne at dinner!")

                                    If you want the same glass and same festive feeling, look for a "cremant" or sparkling wine. Named by department, you'll find Cremant de Bourgogne or Loire or Alsace or Jura or... All should be quite decent in a good restaurant and will cost way less than half the price of Champagne.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: mangeur
                                      ChefJune Apr 27, 2012 07:45 AM

                                      <If you want the same glass and same festive feeling, look for a "cremant" or sparkling wine. Named by department, you'll find Cremant de Bourgogne or Loire or Alsace or Jura or... All should be quite decent in a good restaurant and will cost way less than half the price of Champagne.>

                                      Absolutely, mangeur! and the same is true in US restaurants.

                                      1. re: ChefJune
                                        unclefishbits Apr 27, 2012 12:07 PM

                                        Cava, Prosecco... ? Or would they giggle?

                                        1. re: unclefishbits
                                          mangeur Apr 27, 2012 01:34 PM

                                          Not as hard as they do when they gaff you for the unpriced Champagne! =8-0

                                          1. re: unclefishbits
                                            PhilD Apr 27, 2012 03:56 PM

                                            The Champagne trolley is quite common in a lot of places and the high cost of a glass is not confined to the top end. My tip is to ask for the wine list and scope it out first, if you want Champagne by the glass it will be listed. If they have Cremant by the glass it will also be listed although this is less common. Cava and Prosecco? Of course, but only if they are on the list and more likely in Spanish or Italian places.

                                            If you go for a matched wine/ food pairing then it is reasonable to assume the Champagne is part of the price BUT only if delivered after you order. If you order it as you peruse the menu, from the trolly that trundles over as the menus arrive, then expect to pay for it as an extra...! However, it can sometimes get confusing as many places deliver a complimentary house aperitif when you arrive.

                                            1. re: PhilD
                                              unclefishbits May 1, 2012 05:24 PM

                                              I assume the aperitif is more of a bistro, neighborly occurence? That's the norm here, but it's a place we might be recognized. (I hope I'm not over-posting in the thread?)

                                              1. re: unclefishbits
                                                PhilD May 2, 2012 04:06 AM

                                                Terminology. In France an aperitif is simply a drink before the meal, so when you are seated the waiter will generally ask if you want an aperitif and that can often as not be a glass of champagne, or a mixed drink. After this has been served you get the menu and the wine list - and this is generally true across most places except the very low end or very casual. I think you can see from that the challenge of getting the price of a glass of champagne pre wine list - hence the reason for the sticker shock.

                                                I understand in the US the aperitif is often taken at the bar before a meal, and the menu and wine list is presented when you are seated - thus you order the champagne with a list in hand.

                                                1. re: PhilD
                                                  mangeur May 2, 2012 06:38 PM

                                                  I remember that one of the first restaurant phrases taught on French language tapes was "Voulez-vous boire quelque chose?" And, sure enough, this question in one form or another is the first thing you hear after you are seated.

                                                  At that time, we usually ask for the "carte des boissons" which will bring us the aperitif list, if there is one, or the wine list. We usually order a bottle or carafe of water at that time also.

                                                  1. re: mangeur
                                                    unclefishbits May 3, 2012 06:15 PM

                                                    All this is fantastic. Thank you! This has been so informative and fun! Viva la Chowhound!

                                        2. re: mangeur
                                          v
                                          vielleanglaise May 2, 2012 06:11 AM

                                          There are also "blanquettes". Then there are other spakrling wines which have there own appellations - St Louis, Vouvray, Saumur..

                                        3. unclefishbits Apr 26, 2012 10:25 AM

                                          What about Au Petit Sud Ouest, or Le relais de l'isle? And is Les Ambassadeurs just ridiculously overpriced, or a fun brunch?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: unclefishbits
                                            p
                                            PattyC Apr 26, 2012 10:33 AM

                                            I would also say no to Au Petit Sud Ouest. Haven't been to the 2 others.

                                            Now that you've amended your list, I very much enjoyed our lunch at Le Cinq but have to say the food isn't what I remember most.

                                            1. re: PattyC
                                              unclefishbits Apr 27, 2012 12:05 PM

                                              Well said and great advice! =)

                                          2. biondanonima Apr 26, 2012 09:14 AM

                                            I was the one who reported the 33EU glass of champagne at Le Cinq. I knew it wouldn't be complementary, but I didn't think it would be 33EU a glass either. My mother chose a different champagne than I did and her glass was only 24EU - we had no way of knowing, though, what the prices would be. Then again, it's the kind of place where they probably assume that if you're eating there, you don't need to ask.

                                            19 Replies
                                            1. re: biondanonima
                                              unclefishbits Apr 26, 2012 09:41 AM

                                              Absolutely. I thought they just brought it to you... didn't understand it was a service. I am not too concerned about paying for a great glass of champagne, but forwarned is forearmed. =) Thank you for your report biondanonima!

                                              1. re: unclefishbits
                                                ChefJune Apr 27, 2012 07:44 AM

                                                I guess I'm curious why no one asks how much each of the selections they're considering would be. I'm sure I would.... ;)

                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                  unclefishbits Apr 27, 2012 12:05 PM

                                                  If it's a tasting menu with a wine pairing selection, I might just go for it... but knowing what I am going to pay is typically a high priority. If you get to the restaurant and there aren't prices on the menus, well... you just enjoy the night, then (and pay for it later)

                                                  1. re: unclefishbits
                                                    ChefJune Apr 27, 2012 02:03 PM

                                                    I disagree. I always ask when specials are recited by a server without prices. I've been in the business too long to put up with shenanigans like that. Tell your customers what the prices are. Be open and above-board. And customers should not feel sheepish about asking when the prices aren't noted up front. Anywhere.

                                                    Unless you're in a restaurant where the host is given the menu with the prices and is paying for it all, then the guests should sit back and choose whatever they desire.

                                                    1. re: ChefJune
                                                      unclefishbits May 1, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                      Well said. I agree, and didn't want to be uppity by saying I don't go in for that kind of stuff. I am an industry guy too... I am a simpleton from the Bay Area. I think the notion that healthy, fresh food made well in a nice environment is good enough for me... but I am also into transparency. I think it's the future for all systems, whether gov. or communities, and certainly for something like a restaurant, where you want your clients to feel at ease, and comfortable. Surprises are never comfortable, and you never want to taint an exceptional meal with sticker shock.

                                                      Reading what I wrote, honestly, i would be surprised to find a place like that anymore. I do know that France food is evolving, and the stuff like Terroir Parisien is not getting recognized for the food so much as the lack of traditional formality, etc. I find that very interesting... the less formal, food focused style has been blossoming here in SF, and I am surprised the traditionalism in the Paris culinary world is so entrenched that the gastropub concept could be controversial....

                                                      1. re: unclefishbits
                                                        PhilD May 1, 2012 04:19 PM

                                                        Dear uncle - Paris does have its own Gastropub movement but as they don't have pubs in France (they are British) it was called the Bistronomique movement with places like Le Regalade, L'ami Jean, and Le Comptoir were in the vanguard. Good food in a more casual, relaxed, environment have become common and thus not controversial in Paris - in fact Le Computer is an impossible reservation it is so entrenched. This "movement" is now followed by places like Saturne and Agape Substance more casual, on-trend, places serving innovative food in a more relaxed surrounding. Paris also now has a flourishing wine bar and small plater scene with Frenchie, Au Passage etc offering very casual food in minimalist surroundings...and good food that is recognised.

                                                        But France also values tradition in food and thus whilst the food scene changes around the edges the core stays with tradition in terms of food as well as service.

                                                        For me the beauty of France is that all types of food and styles of revive are available at reasonable prices. You can eat in top French restaurants with very formal service outside of Paris for a reasonable price. In Paris you can often do this at lunchtimes with the set meals at places like Le Cinq - it isn't elitist at those prices it is simply a different set of standards.

                                                        1. re: PhilD
                                                          unclefishbits May 1, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                          Wonderful statement. It's true much of the US food "scene" is quite polarized, but as long as people are excited about the diversity, I imagine there's room for everyone. =) Great thoughts.

                                                      2. re: ChefJune
                                                        Parigi May 1, 2012 03:37 PM

                                                        Ah, chère June,
                                                        An omission of prices may not always be shenanigans.
                                                        I have noticed on this board and every other board how people often would ask for recs for a restaurant or a hotel room that is moderately priced, but would not give a figure. One person with an obviously misplaced sense of gentility even became sarcastic with me.
                                                        And the figure that people consider "moderately priced" turns out to range from 20 euro to 100 euro. Why are people so reluctant to just say a price? Maybe the same reason for Le Cinq. Maybe Le Cinq is not out to nickle and dime us to death after all. :-)

                                                        1. re: Parigi
                                                          unclefishbits May 1, 2012 05:23 PM

                                                          I would love to see a survey. That's like Milton. One man's heaven is another's hell? One man's bargain on a glass of bubbly is one man's frantic panic. haha

                                                          1. re: Parigi
                                                            l
                                                            Leely2 May 2, 2012 09:51 PM

                                                            Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I seem to remember that I asked the price of the champagne I selected at Le Cinq. Or somehow I seemed to order a relatively reasonable glass, and I don't know champagne at all so I can't see how how that could have happened without some help. In any case, it was no big deal and I'm uptight and self-conscious, so I know I'd remember vividly if I'd committed an obvious gaffe.

                                                            I say ask.

                                                            1. re: Leely2
                                                              Parigi May 3, 2012 12:10 AM

                                                              I agree: When in doubt, ask, always ask.

                                                              1. re: Parigi
                                                                m
                                                                ManInTransit May 3, 2012 05:35 AM

                                                                This is of course the answer, only the very worst service restaurant would take offence.

                                                                I made the mistake when agreeing to champagne at Pierre Gagnaire shortly after proposing. The fact it was Eur35 a glass was only mildly annoying but the really bad form part was that they brought that rather than the house Champagne at c20.

                                                                1. re: ManInTransit
                                                                  PhilD May 3, 2012 05:38 AM

                                                                  Of course the logical answer is to ask - we sometimes do. But, there are many times th moment gets the better of you and you don't. Why are we never surprised by what a bargain it is?

                                                                  1. re: PhilD
                                                                    Parigi May 3, 2012 06:23 AM

                                                                    True. And right after a proposal (positively replied)? Of course one would forget to ask. One would forget one's own name !

                                                                    1. re: Parigi
                                                                      m
                                                                      ManInTransit May 3, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                                      Yes exactly, I am usually more than happy to ask for prices/a full wine list but post-proposal was not that time.

                                                                      We are returning in four weeks for the start of our honeymoon, very exciting but I will be asking for prices (hopefully not a sign of the romance dying!)

                                                                      1. re: ManInTransit
                                                                        mangeur May 3, 2012 07:47 AM

                                                                        Only a sign that she picked a prudent and sophisticated husband.

                                                                      2. re: Parigi
                                                                        PhilD May 3, 2012 03:24 PM

                                                                        My problem is I get so excited about going to new restaurants that I also have the same sort of moment....!

                                                                        But a serious point: I think diners often get overwhelmed by the situation and logic does fly our of the window, or they don't wish to appear cheap in front of their date or even their partner, especially at a special meal. This is when the restaurant "tricks" come into play, the apero before the menu, the special recited table side with no prices, and the "market price" for the fish or shellfish (odd it is only for expensive things).

                                                                        I just got stung for a lobster dish in HK - we asked for estimates on other market priced dishes at the start but in he flow of the meal we order lobster....only US$120! And this was not a great place (for another board but Lobster in Kraft cheese sauce is never going to be great despite the fact it is an authentic Cantonese dish - a waste of good lobster!).

                                                                        So despite best intentions it is easy to fall into the common restaurant traps - good to be wary - but no reason to feel guilty if you do, as we all do at one time or another,

                                                                        1. re: PhilD
                                                                          unclefishbits May 3, 2012 06:13 PM

                                                                          Well put.... it's the deer in the headlights thing. Jim Gaffigan has a funny joke about calling for take out, and how it's some elaborate trick... as soon as you call and they ask, "What would you like?"... & you immediately go just completely blank. It's an interesting part of the human condition. Just blind panic. Ahaha... it happens to all of us. =)

                                                                        2. re: Parigi
                                                                          unclefishbits May 3, 2012 05:59 PM

                                                                          I am sure there is a marketing message in their for the scoundrels.... target people immediately after the question is popped. ha.... I proposed to my wife in a suit, soaking wet, while holding two plungers. I promise it was far more romantic than that. =) Whenever I think of marketing, however, I think of Bill Hicks, who quipped, "If anyone here is in marketing, kill yourselves." =)

                                                                          Well done, and the story is worth the extra euro. Cheers to that!

                                                    2. p
                                                      PattyC Apr 26, 2012 08:59 AM

                                                      We weren't offered the restaurant menu at Frenchie wine bar but didn't ask. In any case, the wine bar menu would be fine for a meal. I only tried one dish because we had dinner reservations elsewhere but was very pleased with it (burrata with boudin noir). I would get there just before 7pm. We arrived just before and the wine bar was already open. We took the last 2 seats at a communal table for 4. Almost all of the wines on the list are also available by the glass.

                                                      The champagne cart at Le Cinq is not complimentary. There are many choices and it depends on what you choose. I think our glass was around 25.

                                                      You still have 2 weeks to go right? You should be able to get a reservation at Chez L'Ami Jean then.

                                                      L'Ardoise in the 1st? I wouldn't bother.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: PattyC
                                                        Parigi Apr 26, 2012 09:23 AM

                                                        "I hate to be this unimaginative, but post-research, pre-trip, might you celebrate or lampoon our choices?"

                                                        If you put it this way… :-)

                                                        Agree abpit Chez l'Ami Jean and l'Ardpose and would also add Les Cocotte Constant on don't-bother list.

                                                        Sunday night, yes to Bofinger if you care for setting and not food. And are sure to have a table downstairs under the dome. Terroir Parisien is open Sunday night.

                                                        1. re: Parigi
                                                          unclefishbits Apr 26, 2012 09:47 AM

                                                          ha.. thanks. I choose deference over triumphant ignorance. =)

                                                          I will add Terroir Parisien.... that sounds incredible. I like the idea of these guys doing a more informal, food focused style. In SF, it's interesting to see the polarization of Michelin guys like Corey's Benu, & Joseph Humphrey from Meadowood & Murray Circle with his new "Dixie". Foam vs farm, you know? I like this more casual approach a lot. I will still dress properly. =)

                                                          I think my wife felt put off by the gastropub concept of L'ami Jean, but I was fired up to try it. Thank you all for this advice... it will truly help. Like I said, whatever happens I will have a specific write up. Thank you for your advice and making our trip! =)

                                                          I am not sure if I should edit as I go along, or put new posts? I guess it might be hard to follow along if I edit...

                                                          1. re: Parigi
                                                            unclefishbits Apr 27, 2012 12:57 PM

                                                            For L'Ami Jean, I assume reservations are a must? Same for Terroir Parisien?

                                                            1. re: unclefishbits
                                                              Parigi Apr 27, 2012 01:27 PM

                                                              1. Yes. 2. Preferably, unless you feel ok to be turned away at the last minute. Many do. Many don't.

                                                              1. re: Parigi
                                                                unclefishbits May 1, 2012 05:20 PM

                                                                Thank you! =)

                                                          2. re: PattyC
                                                            unclefishbits Apr 26, 2012 09:37 AM

                                                            Brilliant... thank you. Ardoise was the same person who rec'd Bofinger, so it makes sense. I now understand Frenchie is a wine bar menu, but I am just as happy with a casual dining option. I know that there is always somewhere better... I know there are places quite overhyped. But we are fairly happy to just poke around and see what the fuss is about in relation to the currently trending spots. I know, for a fact, there are 20 hidden gems that are up and coming and better than any of the "name" restaurants....

                                                            Everyone reading this is more of an expert than me, and I just proud we aren't at tourist traps, commentary on Bofinger pending, of course. =)

                                                            If anyone would like to share the name of their secret find they are too nervous to share, you could do that too... haha

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