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Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

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We just returned from an amazing week in Paris—great food and sublime weather. Thanks to the Chowhound folks who tried to expand our horizons beyond the 7th Arondissement. We were a group of four—my mom, 18 yo niece, husband, and myself. My husband is not a wine guy though will suffer through champagne if beer is not an option. I list the beer that was available in the restaurants in which we dined. I also list the cost, in American dollars (per my credit card). If euros are the preferred calculation, I could drum that information up. Not sure cost info is desired. Never have prepared a trip report...so

La Caisse Noix, 15th (dinner)
Our first night’s dinner, we made a wrong turn and got lost. We were seated in the back. Restaurant was warm. Waitress was surly and rude. Our point of view—she wrote it down wrong. Her point of view—we did not order correctly. Not sure why she thought my mother would have the ravioli for the first and the second course. We were scolded like school children. Needless to say this was our least favorite restaurant—stars were not aligned for us to like it. Favorite thing was a small dessert with strawberries, shortbread, pistachios and whipped cream (?)—delicious and fresh. Beer on tap was Wendelinus, tasty. Cost: $237.25 for four people.

Catherine Reed, 7th (dinner)
Loved this place. Very intimate, quiet, wonderful atmosphere. Lovingly prepared food. Catherine came out and spoke to us at the end. The food was of the moment—whatever was at its freshest. Favorite things were tomato tarte—gorgeous red and green tomatoes, the spring salad with fennel and radishes, beef cheek bourguignon. There was no beer on tap, I don’t recall there being beer in bottles either. Cost: $237.88 for four, included one bottle of champagne.

Café des Musées, 3rd (lunch)
We loved the atmosphere…sat at the table with door opening onto quiet side street. Gorgeous day. Waiter was sassy and fresh…we liked him. Delicious salmon, mushrooms stuffed with escargots, roast chicken. Husband did not love the entrecote—may be lost in translation, he is a fan of dry aged NY Strip. The Marais on a Sunday was a little too frenetic. CdM was lively but far enough from the hubbub to be relaxing. Cost: $130.71 (only one glass of wine)

Café Constant, 7th (dinner)
We loved the convivial atmosphere. The wait was 45 minutes—the bartender gave us a card so we could call and check on the wait time from a nearby café. The chocolate quenelles were a favorite of the chocolate lovers—my niece’s favorite dessert of the whole trip (and she tried a lot of desserts). Liked CC so much we went back for drinks each night after dinner elsewhere. Only four stools at the bar but the place was a block from our (incredible) apartment. The bar and wait staff could not have been friendlier. Beer on tap was Leffe Printemps and Leffe Blonde, tasty. Cost $199.84, included two beers and a bottle of wine (I think).

Dans Les Landes, 5th (dinner)
After a day in Normandy we went straight to Dans Les Landes. Loved sitting outside and watching the world going by. We ordered eight plates for four people—probably one and half plates too many, but we liked the tastes. The Salade Landaise was universally adored, as were the polenta croquettes with smoked duck, and the fried Camembert. We also loved the charcuterie plate. The fricassee of vegetables was dull (overcooked) and the pork bellies were one dish too much. We were served by one impatient waiter and one kind waiter. We liked the casualness and variety that this restaurant supplied to our dining list. The beer was an Oldarki on tap, tasty. Cost: Who knows? Their credit card machine was not working—only seemed to accept debit cards?

Au Fin Gourmets, 7th (lunch)
I got the recommendation for this restaurant off of Chowhound. We had visited the Musée d’Orsay and wanted a lunch option in the neighborhood. Perfect, loved the atmosphere—I would highly recommend as a place to eat when visiting the MdO. We sat outside, but the inside was equally as charming. The lunch menu is 19.90 euros for three courses. Delicious fish of the day, escargots and pickled herring. Loved the butter with the saucisson sec. We were too full for dessert. [Tourist tip for MdO—there is an excellent English language tour at 11:30. The museum was packed but there were only eleven people on our tour.] (Lunch) Cost: $109.62, four people

FL, 7th (dinner)
We were scheduled to go somewhere in the 5th but could not make the 7:30 reservation. FL was down the street from our apartment and an excellent last minute choice. Like Catherine Reed, it is a small and quiet restaurant, staffed by two—absolutely delightful. The waiter was charming. I cannot remember all of the food details but the steak was a huge hit with my niece and my husband. The only beer was Heineken—the sole unfortunate aspect. We had a lovely bottle of champagne. Cost: $251.63 for four people includes one bottle of champagne.

L’Ami Jean, 7th (dinner)
I had no idea what to expect—read all about the yelling and teasing, and was worried this would be a little too in your face. Thankfully I was wrong. We loved it. The casual atmosphere, sassy waiter, and outstanding food were real hits with us. I was positioned at a table where I could watch all of the kitchen action—professional, intense focus, and precise delivery of plates to tables. (I did not have views of the kitchens at Catherine Reed and FL—but think my table-mates with the view were equally rewarded.) Loved the spring vegetable with the vache qui rit foam; the veal was outstanding; my mom loved her fish. The rice pudding, as reported by many others, was terrific. Craig Allen Biere Blonde on tap was a huge hit with my husband. Cost $203.06 for three people, includes two glasses if wine and two beers.

Spring Restaurant
This was definitely the fanciest restaurant of our visit—and a great conclusion to a week in Paris. The sommelier helped pick a wine in our price range and something I had never had before—Saumer Blanc. The food was perfect—smoked river trout with crème fraiche, ravioli with foie gras and pigeon, fabulous cheese course, etc. When you reserve they ask you to let them know if you have any food aversions. The couple behind us had an extensive list of things they would not eat—wonder if they were served warm water in a bowl? We have aversions, but did not want to limit the chef or our experience. We were served things we would never order…and were rewarded with wonderful tastes. They served Craig Allen in bottles (excellent) and another French beer that was forgettable. Cost: $393.75 for four people, included a bottle of wine, two beers and the extra cheese course. (Strange because the restaurant receipt was 398, and I assume was in euros? Maybe they charged us in dollars?)

We were pleased with every restaurant…would even go back to Le Caisse Noix—there were extenuating factors (largely ours) which did not make it a stellar experience.

Shops:
Le Notre—gorgeous foods made a perfect first day lunch. Particularly fond of the quiche, the salmon wrapped vegetable terrine, the chocolate desserts.
Stéphane Secco(7th)—amazing pastries, gorgeous chocolate and lemon tartes. Wish we had a lunch or evening to dine in—would definitely have stocked up with foods from here.
That said, the boulangeries in the 7th were all delicious. I used the Boulangerie map someone posted on Chowhound to plot our breakfasts. http://tinyurl.com/3m32hmm
Michel Chaudun (7th)—I had read about his chocolate pavés—beyond delicious. Am kicking myself for not buying more for gifts.
Jacques Genin Chocolate (3rd)—great caramels, fruit pastes and chocolates
Carrette (3rd)—In our opinion they had the best salted caramel macaron. (near Place des Vosges
)Cheese—Marie Cantin and Le Fromagerie (Rue Cler) had wonderful selections

Embarrassing and regrettable choice:
I cannot believe I made this mistake and share it in the hopes that others may avoid it. I was trying to find an easy lunch option to bridge the gap between Musée L’Orangerie and the Louvre. We had previously eaten a lunch in the Tuileries and wanted something different. Went to Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli which was nasty, dirty, expensive, and awful. It was one of those hope springs eternal choices—maybe it will not be so bad. In the future I would go to the food court of the Louvre—the Paul option would have been just fine. We were going to Spring that night and did not need a large or fancy lunch. Having only one (truly) lamentable choice in a week is a pretty good in my opinion.

Things I discovered:
-Between my little bit of French and the restaurant staffs’ little bit of English, we could figure everything out. My iphone did not work in Paris, but I had downloaded a Larousse French English dictionary which worked offline and was somewhat helpful in translating menus.
-We seemed to have ordering problems that were not language based. Probably a good idea to review the order after everything is said and done.
-In the US I would never eat dinner at 8:30 or 9. In Paris we could barely get to dinner by 8:30 or 9. Do not fear the late dinner hour!
-I created a personal google map to plot pastry shops, chocolate shops and restaurants. Was very helpful in determining if we were near something delicious.
-Cannot wait to go back to Paris.

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  1. 1. Thanks for taking the time to write such an insightful report.
    2. Besides all the other usual suspect favorites, I have always loved Aux Fins Gourmets.
    3. What is FL?
    4. You really had beers at Spring?
    5. Cost info is always desired, and yes euro would be great, since the board has members from all over the world, not just from the US. But personally I am just grateful that you report back at all. :-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      1. Thank you. Reading about people's eating adventures and opinions was so helpful for our trip planning.
      2. The waitress was delightful at AFG. Very welcoming and warm.
      3. FL is a tiny restaurant, similar in size to Catherine Reed. I read about it on John Talbott's blog. It was also highly recommended as an option by the folks from whom we rented our apartment. The name is play on Eiffel. The address is 1 bis, rue Augereau in the 7th, 01.45.51.06.04. It is charming, I would recommend.
      4. Yes, my husband had beer, the rest of us had wine. He is a beer guy, mostly craft stuff--not the mainstream lagers. We live in the DC area where accommodating his beer tastes and my wine desires is relatively easy in restaurants. For the most part we were able to find (good) beer in Parisian restaurants. We resorted to champagne where beer was not an option. The Craig Allen option at Spring was delightful.
      5. Prices in euros:
      La Caisse Noix 189.50
      Catherine Reed 190.00
      Cafe Constant 162.00
      Dans Les Landes ?
      Au Fins Gourmets 88.00
      FL 202.00
      L'Ami Jean 164.00
      Spring 398.00 (but came through as $393.75 on my credit card)

      1. re: cathleenmarie

        I didn't mean to ask you to repost with euro prices. Thank you so much. You are so generous. First I was grateful that you report back at all. And I was even more grateful that you were so informative as to include prices.
        And I love the replacement-of-beer-by-champagne solution. Come back, come back to Paris soon. :-)

        1. re: Parigi

          No problem re the euro thing. I saved all receipts and cards in an envelope--they are always helpful for future trips (addresses, phone numbers, what did we eat, etc.). I was thinking I might scan them and add them to my Paris folder.
          Thankfully my husband will indulge in champagne. We have been good for each other--I have found out that I like hefeweizen and weiss beers...have not found the taste for the hoppy stuff yet.

          1. re: cathleenmarie

            On your next trip to Paris, remember Général Lafayette has lots and lots of types of beer, even the great Czech beer Pilsen Urquell.
            Don't eat there. The food is about Chartier level, which, according to your report, is way below your level. Nice place to go before dinner to, say, nearby Vivant or Saturne…

    2. Thanks, indeed for sharing a trip well planned, executed and analyzed.

      (and I can't decode FL, either. ;) )

      1 Reply
      1. re: mangeur

        I wrote about FL above...but will repeat:
        FL is a tiny restaurant, similar in size to Catherine Reed. I read about it on John Talbott's blog. It was also highly recommended as an option by the folks from whom we rented our apartment. The name is play on Eiffel. The address is 1 bis, rue Augereau in the 7th, 01.45.51.06.04. It is charming, I would recommend.

      2. I loved your report and wanted to say kudos to you for including the prices...I always mean to do that but end up being proud that I remember to write down what I had to eat, let alone what it cost! It is really helpful for others when planning. I feel you, I live for waiting to go back to Paris. :)

        1. We had a three great dishes from Angelina in the Louvre: the steak tartare, the risotto, and the braised veal. The tartare was a best ever for me. The menu changes regularly. Also a couple of duds in the croque monsieur and the quiche. I'd say the great stuff more than made up for the missteps.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            Cathleenmarie - thanks so much for your report. I enjoyed your descriptions and especially liked the fact that you posted prices. You mentioned you created a personal google map to plot pastry shops, chocolate shops and restaurants. Is there any chance you could post a link to it somewhere or somehow share it? Thanks.

            1. re: RCF

              I recreated a google map and made it public. It has places we visited (museums), pastry shops, chocolate shops, restaurants. I did not write all of the blurbs--often cribbed from elsewhere.
              http://goo.gl/maps/Tvys

              1. re: cathleenmarie

                Thank you so much. It is greatly appreciated.

            2. re: Steve

              I neglected to note that we had an passable lunch Angelina at the Petit Trianon the day before. I had the ham and cheese sandwich and my husband had a tasty slice of quiche--outside on a gorgeous day. The Rue de Rivoli place was a different experience. Dirty, dingy, in serious need of a cleaning. That would all be OK if the food were agreeable but the food matched the decor. The quiche was barely cooked. The mixed salad with the quiche had small slimy gone by pieces of lettuce throughout--that absolutely creeps me out. For four people the bill was 90 euro. Au Fins Gourmet was 88 and in another league. Perhaps the Louvre location is better...I am warning about the RdR outlet.

              1. re: cathleenmarie

                Wait. How did you have a 4-person meal Aux Fins Gourmets for 88 euro?
                Are we talking about the same Aux Fins Gourmet on 213 bld Saint Germain?

                1. re: Parigi

                  Oui, 88 euros, same place: 2 lunches at 19.90€, French onion soup, escargots, herring, 2 coca lights (husband's midday caffeine requirement), one glass of rose. Would love a decoding of the herring dish served with a large jar of pickled vegetable. Fish portion was huge--appeared to be a community plate idea--take what you like, not all meant for you. We were perplexed, but mom dug in. Has anyone had this before? We loved our lunch/ this place.

                  1. re: cathleenmarie

                    It is a communal dish.

              2. re: Steve

                The Toasted Ham Sandwich / Croque Monsieur at the Grand Cafe in the Louvre is very good, not sure how authentic it is but it is crispy cheesy and rich and was a great pick me up after walking through the museum all day - very good portion sizes for the price, could certainly have split it between my wife and i

              3. Echoing others, thanks for your complete report. Great to see new places not mentioned before.
                Glad you had a good time, weather was perfect this last week, which always helps.

                1. Re. Angelina - I did that too between Louvre and L'Orangerie but only had the Mont Blanc and hot chocolate. It was a tea break rather than lunch and by the sounds of it am glad I did that.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mikey8811

                    I also went to Angelina's for a chocolat chaud, never for lunch, and had a very nice experience, esp when knowing that its forelife, under the name Rumpelmayer, was prominently mentioned in Nabokov's Lolita.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      That's a juicy tidbit I didn't know. Thanks for that - Lolita is one of my fave novels. Immortal opening lines....

                      1. re: mikey8811

                        What do you mean one of your fave??? Should be your fave, and your second fave and your third fave. Do Re Mi my macaron.