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Jun 5, 2012 08:22 AM

Comments on dining plans for family with chowpups

We are a family of four with two well-behaved chowpups. Okay, truth be told, one true chowpup and one somewhat picky eater who luckily will be satisfied by steak frites-type fare wherever we go.

We will be arriving in Paris on a July Saturday morning and departing on the following Tuesday afternoon. Staying in a flat near the St. Michel metro stop. This adds the twist of having to plan around Sunday and Monday restaurant closures, but here is my plan. It's been wonderful reading the many threads on this board, and the plan has changed many times as a result! Any comments are greatly appreciated!

* Saturday *

(Lunch) Market for picnic supplies in Maubert (Pierre Oteiza, Eric Kayser, Nicholas, Laurent Dubois). Find a bench near the Seine and picnic while gazing at Notre Dame.

(Dinner) Les Degres de Notre Dame or l'Ange 20 - we're going to be jet lagged and most likely cranky - need an easy, friendly, yummy place to crash and enjoy a simple meal. Any other suggestions close by St. Michel?

Ice cream after dinner at either Berthillon or Amorino. Do folks have feedback for either?

* Sunday *

(Lunch) Pho 67 - Both chowpups love pho and want to try Vietnamese food in Paris. Any better suggestions in the 5th arr.? Or would it be better to just make the schlep to the rue Choisy for Pho 14 or Song Hoang? If it's too hot to even think about pho, we might try banh mi and a sit down in the Jardin Anne Frank.

(Dinner) Dans Les Landes

* Monday *

(Lunch) Shop Rue Cler for picnic supplies and picnic in the Champs de Mars, or perhaps Cafe Breizh if weather dictates.

(Dinner) Les Papilles

* Tuesday *

(Lunch) Pick up market food at Marche St. Quentin, devour on train to London

Although Chez l'Ami Jean and Spring sound absolutely fabulous, we are trying to keep it simple. They will have to wait untl the chowpups are a little older and can both truly appreciate the artistry. Something for the next trip!

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  1. Les Papilles is closed on Mondays. Might it be a choice for your first night? It is a straight shot south on Blvd St. Michel past the Luxembourg, a couple of blocks down Gay Lussac. If your picky pup will eat "stew", he will be fine here.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mangeur

      Thanks, mangeur, for that heads up. I've checked the website and nowhere does it post their hours. Since Dans Les Landes is now open 7 nights a week, I'm leaning towards moving Les Papilles to Sunday. I'm considering your suggestion to move Les Papilles to Saturday, but I'm concerned that it's a bit of a ways from the flat. The chowpups normally have exemplary manners, can't count the number of times they've gotten compliments from complete strangers, but they've never been jet lagged before. I honestly don't know how things are going to go that first night - and I'd hate to miss out on Les Papilles! A restaurant choice where we can beat a hasty retreat if things go badly, or dump the reservation altogether and send a parent out for take-out, is probably the better plan...

    2. Probably in a minority here but IMO Berthillon is seriously overrated and I rather like Amorino.

      12 Replies
      1. re: jock

        You're not the first person to tell me that Berthillon is overrated. Is there another ice cream option near St. Michel, besides Amorino, that's worth trying?

        1. re: Bivalve88

          Don't know that area well enough to help beyond stating a preference for Amorino between those two.

          1. re: Bivalve88

            I am something of a ice cream freak and more or less gave up on French ice cream long ago figuring that if Berthillon was the "best" I would concentrate on all many other things the French do better than anyone.

            That said a couple of years ago I did have some fabulous ice cream. It came from a place I can't tell you exactly where. I believe it came from a Constant establishment in the 7th west of La Tour Maubourg and thus not close to St Michel.

            1. re: jock

              We tasted Constant ice cream and can totally vouch for its superiority.
              Another place with outstanding ice cream is A La Mère de Famille.
              The ice cream kitchen is visible from the street. You know you can trust the quality there, just like its jams and its chocolates and its pâtes de fruits.

              1. re: Parigi

                Wow. Thanks, Parigi and Jock for the excellent advice. The chowpups are self-proclaimed ice cream snobs (wonder where they get that from) so both Constant and A La Mère de Famille sound fabulous. The promise of a tasty treat just might keep their old mom climbing the Eiffel Tower.

                Parigi, I see on ALMdF's website that they have several boutiques in Paris. Would you recommend any one over the other?

                1. re: Bivalve88

                  "several boutiques in Paris. Would you recommend any one over the other?"

                  I go to the original store on rue Faubourg Montmartre, which is close to home and is also close to the fabled "passages couverts", which means the location is also convenient for sightseeing there.
                  I don't know if the other addresses also have a visible ice cream kitchen.
                  The location 107 Rue Jouffroy d'Abbans is somewhat out of the center, in the 17th arrondissement. If your hotel is next door, fine. Otherwise you need not cross town for it.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Thanks for this reminder, Parigi. While I am not a fan of much ice cream in Paris, I do remember good stuff at LMdF. I like their texture: firm and not over-churned or under-chilled. I hate the "Dairy Queen" softness of much of the product at the newer hip glace chains.

                    The original shop is worth a visit if only for the turn of the century beauty of the fixtures. It is also a jumping off point for visiting the (almost) adjacent passages.

                  2. re: Bivalve88

                    I also like Martine Lambert in the 7th. I do like Berthillion, not all flavors, but I think their vanilla and chocolate is superior to most. I'm also a fan of Amorino (so much so that it's my ice cream/gelato of choice here in NYC), but, on a technical level, the vanilla and chocolate at Berthillion is a better product -- more intense flavor and less sweet.

              2. re: Bivalve88

                When I'm in Paris, I go to Pozzoletto in the Marais (despite the tourist location)-- I find it superior to Amorino--they have amazing Nocciola di Piemonte, chocolate, and limited new flavors daily (melon, etc.). Looking over the responses here, though (Constant, and mmm licorice!), it sounds like there are many good options.

                1. re: mrouq

                  Pozzetto, 39, rue du Roi de Sicile

                  I found the caramel v e r y sweet,

                  1. re: mangeur

                    Yes, well as you see it's been a year since I've been there, but I'll try it again anyway, and all the other suggestions here too!

              3. re: jock

                Very small sample size: Tried one flavor at Berthillon, gianduja a l'orange (with candied orange peel) and it was completely luxurious. The kind of ice cream I dream about but rarely get.

              4. Also Papilles is no choice whatsoever. Your picky eater may like it and you'll be fine, otherwise your picky one may go hungry, become less picky or throw a fit.

                10 Replies
                1. re: jock

                  Thanks, jock. By "no choice whatsoever", do you mean that there's a set menu and there are no deviations at all? The menu online doesn't appear to show that but if that's the case, then we may have to adjust some expectations.

                  1. re: Bivalve88

                    The set menu starts with a soup-plate with minutely chopped veggies and a scoop of (usually) creme fraiche in the bottom over which you ladle the soup of the day, usually a vegetable puree, very good and little to dislike about it if the child will eat a puree.

                    Next is a braise of some kind: meat, potatoes and vegetables in a pot with sauce. Think the best stew you've eaten. You serve yourself to the parts you want.

                    Next an tiny portion of cheese or a green salad if you request it as an alternative.

                    Then a panna cotta with some kind of fruit at the bottom and usually caramel froth on top.

                    It is really an approachable meal unless someone eats only with their eyes.

                    BUT Les Papilles is also closed Sundays.

                    re the distance, if you jump the #27 bus that runs on St. Michel, you can get off at the St. Jacques stop which is maybe 50 yards from LP front door.

                    1. re: mangeur

                      Not sure why my post disappeared but Mangeur's description is accurate except that while usually good, for me at least, it is not even close to the best stew I have ever eaten.

                      Also they are either unable or completely unwilling to make any accommodation. For those who might not care the day's offering.

                      1. re: jock

                        Ah. This could be the breaking point. While the set menu sounds great, I have a dairy allergy and if all that is going to be offered is the set menu with no opportunity for accomodation, then I'm out. The website seems to indicate an a la carte menu as well as the set menu for the day. Can anyone confirm its availability?

                        1. re: Bivalve88

                          I did not know there was à la carte option. You need not fixate on it. Paris has other restos.

                          1. re: Bivalve88

                            I saw the ALC mentioned on their website. On my visit we wanted to have the set menu so looked no further - it would be good to hear from anyone who has tried it.

                            Paris restaurants that offer set menus will have choice, sometimes different prices for fewer courses, so you can drop the cheese course. What may be tricky is the amount of butter a good bistro will use in many dishes especially potatoes.

                            One thing I hadn't realized is that Pappilles website lists lots of their favourite restaurants in the area. Clearly a chef who enjoys the success of his peers as much as his own success. Bravo for such an altruistic approach.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        So, based on the feedback from everyone (thank you!) I'm thinking of moving Dans Les Landes to Monday's dinner, and perhaps inserting La Boucherie Rouliere to Saturday night's spot. Any other suggestions for a steak-frites type of experience near St. Michel?

                        That still leaves Sunday night available....

                        1. re: Bivalve88

                          For Saturday night steaks, have a look at Les Pipos on the rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique/ rue Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. Not really a Chowhounder destination but quite superior to your other choices in hyper-touristy Saint-Michel. And popular with locals. Saturday night can be a wee bit too, um, convivial but despite -- or maybe because of that-- kids seem to love it. And the walk there from Saint Michel through the backstreets is delightful.

                          If there's a heatwave, a better choice simply because of its courtyard (and superb artisanal Ardèche ice cream for dessert) might be Chantairelle on the rue Laplace around the corner from Pipos. Auvergnat specialties and only one or 2 steaks on the menu so I'm not sure if it will fulfill your steak-frites expectations.But a lovely 10 € kids menu.

                          l'Ecurie, also on the rue Laplace/ rue Montagne Sainte Geneviève is a carnivore's delight. OK food, fun atmosphere, and very cheap but I haven't been for years. And if you're too jet-lagged, the slow service typical of these sort of places will probably be torture.

                          Last resort if jetlag and convenience makes you desperate, Chez Clément on the place St-André side of the place St-Michel. A family restaurant chain. Will be heaving with tourists and suburbanites. But the steaks are ok. And quick in/ quick out. Temporary resignation from Chowhound will be required.

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            Thanks, Parnassien! Wonderful suggestions. I had l'Ecurie and Les Pipos on the radar screen as alternates for Saturday night. Nice to have confirmation. And I'll definitely keep your recommendation for Chez Clement in my back pocket if things go south. As a last last resort there's a pizza place below our flat. But *shudder* I reallly don't want to go there!

                    2. Throw in one more ice cream place, l am not a fan of Amorino but Grom. Located on Rue de Seine just riverside of Bd St-Germaine. Their liquirizia, licorice, is my go to. Berthillon also has great reglisse, licorice, note my pattern, and passionfruit.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Thanks, DCM! I hadn't heard of Grom. Until now. Their offerings look great - especially the extra dark chocolate sorbet. I only get that when I make it myself, so that'll be a fine treat.

                        As an aside, I'm only allergic to cow's milk so I'm hoping to gorge myself on goat's and sheep's milk cheese while we're in Europe. I've got Laurent Dubois firmly in my sights. If there's anywhere around where I can get some goat's milk butter, that would be an amazing find and will help me deal with my morning tartine as a substitute for the croissants that my family will be devouring.

                        1. re: Bivalve88

                          Bivalve88, you might check here for alternative-to-cow's-milk butter.
                          Note that this is an old site posting, so I would phone first.

                          Also rumored at Fromagerie Barthélémy, 51 rue de Grenelle 01 42 22 82 24

                          And I think I've seen both at Bon Marche.

                          Good luck!

                        2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Am aiming for your licorizia next visit. (I fondly remember anise glace served with pain d'epice at Eric Frechon's eponymous restaurant some years back.)

                          On my first and subsequently only visit to Grom, the fiordilatte was so sweet I had to toss it.


                        3. I think your kids would love the Luxembourg Gardens for their first day. Lotts of fun things going on in different parts of the park and a good place to bring picnic supplies and kick back. We also had a very good dinner in the 5th at Terroir Parisien. it's open every day, great space and I think you could find a variety of things to make everyone happy. You can also email them and make a reservation. Probably a better place to bring kids than Les Papilles. Good food, but no choices.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: macdog

                            Thanks, macdog. My "picky" chowpup is loving the look of the "chaud-chien" at Terroir Parisien but I haven't told her yet it's made with veal head cheese. Is it a strange consistency, do you know? I understand that it's not in a casing, so it won't have that satisfying snap to it. I'm tempted to try it, if only to offer her a bite and see how she does.

                            I have promised chowpup number one that we will climb the towers of Notre Dame on that first day. I know, what was I thinking, right? The Luxembourg Gardens would probably be a better choice, though. Thanks for the suggestion!

                            1. re: Bivalve88

                              <I have promised chowpup number one that we will climb the towers of Notre Dame on that first day. I know, what was I thinking, right? The Luxembourg Gardens would probably be a better choice, though. Thanks for the suggestion!>

                              The Gargoyles are worth the hike. You can do Lux Gardens picnic the next day. ;)

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                The line to ascend, though, is usually frighteningly long. Be prepared to queue for at least an hour.