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May 28, 2012 02:34 AM

Septime v Saturne

Down to our final choice for the last Parisian night of our honeymoon next week.

I have read every thread and review and it seems as though both are excellent but I had a couple of very quick questions. They are to be paired with Le Chateaubriand, Guy Savoy and Albion.

Do the natural wines come by the glass? Given that natural wine can be a shot in the dark I'm always nervous ordering bottles.
How Parisian is Saturne? Does it differ from Texture/North Road etc and have a French quality or is it simply a Scandanavian transplant that happens to have landed in Paris?
The menu prices for dinner?

Reports do conflict of the prices, can anyone tell me what the current (various?) menu prices are?

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  1. Albion. The first time we went, it was very good. The second time we went, it was definitely below average, with long waits between the dishes. Luckily our company was fun enough for us to sit a few hours longer and not notice. Have not dared gone back.

    I don't remember the exact prices, but thought Saturne was a little more expensive than Septîme.

    I don't remember if Saturne serves wine by the glass but I won't be surprised since it is such a wine-focused place.

    How Scandinavian is Saturne? Others say it has a Scandinavian influence. I dunno. I have not tried enough Scandinavian cuisine to comment in a useful way. In my very limited experience in the French dining scene, the more inventive a cuisine becomes, the less one can say it's French or not French. And Saturne is very inventive.
    In general I prefer Saturne to Septîme, food-wise. And unlike Albion, its gets a little better all the time.
    Septîme has a warmer atmosphere though. Some honeymooners think this is important. Others think being in Paris is romanticism itself, and besides, nothing is more romantic than excellent food...

    9 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      "nothing is more romantic than excellent food..."

      A lovely notion and how true for us and many others, not for everyone mind - I can think of some friends who will spend a fortune eating in the right places for the atmosphere and venue and forget everything they ate.

      That is very useful advice Parigi, grateful for your help. Albion is currently booked after Guy Savoy so we may not make it at all and instead pop into a wine bar for some snacks. Your report is a little disconcerting so I may reconsider.

      1. re: ManInTransit

        If you do go to Saturne, try to specify in your reservation the two seats at the bar counter ("au comptoir, devant la cuisine"). Not only will you two be alone and separated from the main room with iffy acoustics, but you will also look into the kitchen action. -- You are well separated from the waiters' paths and won't be jostled, don't worry. Those two are our must-reserve seats there.

        Ideally for a food-focused trip, one should go crescendo, but after Guy Savoy and Châteaubriand, it's hard to keep on crescendo-ing. And definitely Albion ain't crescendo.
        Since there are so much good restauran dining for your short stay, and if you are coming in the summer, why not a pull-all-stop picnic by the Seine with foie gras, bubblies, what-have-you,, in lieu of another restaurant dinner?
        The Charcuerie Oteiza on Place St Michel which is near your hotel and near the Seine should be a convenient one-stop picnic shopping for you.

        1. re: Parigi

          That is a very lovely idea and were this not an anonymous internet message board I'd proably allege that my wife-to-be had been prodding you to say that as a picnic of sorts is definitely on her list of dreamy things to go in Paris. I loved the look of Albion surrounded by wine but you have made my mind up.

          Thank you very much.

          I presume that will also be an excellent place to stock up for our TGV ride to Montpellier.

          Edit: counter dining at Saturne was very much in mind when I made the reservation but thank you for the prompt.

        2. re: ManInTransit

          My take on Saturne is it definitely has a modern French vibe, what is on the plate has nordic leanings. Yes, they do wine by the glass, we couldn't (wouldn't) finish the challenging white and I think I then went onto wine by the glass. From memory the sommelier was very engaging and happy to offer tastes.

          I quite liked Albion, but when we went before Christmas it was still a work in progress. I really hope it develops and Parigi's experience was a once off. Matt Ong's cooking can be very good. Hayden is a great FOH and a good guide to interesting wine. An alternative is Frenchie Wine Bar - good interesting plates that are quite light.

          1. re: PhilD

            Thanks Phil, I was thinking of Frenchie WB/Verjus and others but the non-booking thing is a bit of a pain, more than happy to wait an hour at Polpo on a random Thursday but first nights of honeymoon and I'm rebelling against no reservations!

            Is Albion a set three-course menu or can one pick and choose and have say just two courses?

            1. re: ManInTransit

              Albion is ALC, I know what you mean about the no reservation bit, that said after a big lunch I tend not to want to be pinned down, so we tend to wander the streets. Starting at Verjus you could wander down Petit Champs past a nice range of wine bars to Frenchie and see how the evening progresses. I actually think Albion is a bit out of the way esp after a good lunch.

              1. re: PhilD

                Yes Verjus wine bar was on the list but I read your slightly lukewarm (and overpriced?) review and thought there might be better options which led me to Albion. You're right about schlepping out of the way. Although with a 12:00 reservation at Guy Savoy and 9pm there there is a pretty substantial gap.

                Wine bars or Parigi's suggestion both work fairly beautifully I think. 'Can't go wrong so see how we feel on the day' territory!

                1. re: ManInTransit

                  "Wine bars or Parigi's suggestion both work fairly beautifully I think. 'Can't go wrong so see how we feel on the day' territory!"
                  If the weather is crappy, - and it won't, just won't be on your honeymoon, - a good backup just a block away from Albion but much better, - is Vivant. Even the romantic but funky décor cooperates. Next to Jancou are two very hip bars, not posh like l'Hôtel, but very funky.

                  1. re: ManInTransit

                    Between Verjus WB and Frenchie WB, I'd be more inclined to return to the latter.

                    I too hope that Parigi's second Albion experience was just an off day.

        3. Agree with all that has been said. Saturne does indeed serve wine by the glass. On our last visit, our very 0n-the-case server prodded us to order an esoteric offering and had that single order split into two glasses so we could both have a civilized tasting.

          For us, Saturne is the quintessential modern French restaurant. It certainly makes us aware that we are in Paris because it is typical of most of the places that we visit. It does not have dusty wine bottles or old (or repro) posters on the walls or surly waiters.

          We loved our first meal at Septime, not so much our second. We haven't had time to include it since that last meal (December) because of all of the exciting new young places seemingly popping up monthly.

          1. Was at Saturene and Septime last in December. At that point prices were 75 euros/Saturne; 55 euros Septime. Wine pairings are 75 euros at Saturne and more wine than anyone could drink, all oddball in a very nice way. l am sure you can get any of the pairing wines by the glass. IIRC Septime does not have much by the glass. Septime is 2 blocks from my flat. Saturne is 10 metro stops, l will always take Saturne and do not return to Septime as Saturne for me is far better in most respects. As stated on other posts, the comte and their bread makes it worth it alone.

            1. Septime is Bertrand Grébaut, a unique talent. Can't see anything "Scandinavian" about that. Stylish, delicate cooking based on French products and a sublimated Passard influence. (A much underestimated element of style in modern cuisine which I believe was also instrumental in shaping what is now known as "Scandinavian" style).

              But there is certainly a Nordic streak in Saturne's cooking. The chef is partly Swedish. But there again I believe the Passard influence is not to be overlooked.