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Jun 8, 2012 10:56 AM

Dont hate me- Quick Frenchie question

I know, I know. Many of you have had it with Frenchie and the difficulty in making reservations. I also know there are many of you that feel that you can find other restaurants offering food at similar price points that are nearly as good or better than what is offered at Frenchie. I have read that Caius is an example of such a restaurant.
Having said all that, I still want to go. It was pointed out, in reference to Frenchie, in another thread that when you can't have something it only makes you want it more. There is a lot of truth to that. However, I have wanted to eat there for a few years now and feel like if I put in the time trying to make a reservation, I should be able to get in. The problem is that over the last few weeks I have literally called Frenchie over 500 times. (I wish I was joking.) I have only gotten through 1 time. When I got through to them, it was 12:30 EST, 30 minutes before the first seating. I spoke to a female who asked when I would like to make a reservation and I said in September. She said to call back in 2 weeks because they have yet to finalize their holiday plans and it may be during that time. Now I can't seem to get through. Is anybody else having the same problem? Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I try something else? Send an email, a love letter, a singing telegram? Will my hotel be able to secure the reservations? I am staying at the Relais St Germain. I feel like they might call once, get no answer, then give up, so I don't want to leave it up to them.
I am finally returning to Paris in September after a 4 year hiatus. I fear after this trip, it may well be another 4 years, (GASP) or longer!! I want to eat at ALL the places that I have chosen after years of careful research. Any help would be totally appreciated.

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  1. If you absolutely want to go, you have to continue to try. Or have your hotel try. Indeed hotel concierges tend to give up easily. Can't blame them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi

      Oh no. I absolutely would not blame them for giving up. This seems to be a job for a real obsessive compulsive personality.

    2. A recent review in Figaro called it a restaurant for masochists because of the painful reservation process. As Parigi said, the only way to get in is to keep trying by phone or through your hotel. BTW, they were closed for renovations the last few weeks so it might be a bit easier now that they have re-opened.

      Enjoy the pain!

      14 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        I would agree with those sentiments. If I am able to procure the reservation, my wife will never know the hardships that I have endured and will be able to rate the restaurant based solely on the food without the permanent bad taste the reservation process will surely leave in my mouth.

        1. re: naughtyb

          Don't know if I'm really helping but this is really sincere: it pains me to see so much effort for so little reality. If there really were a restaurant in the world worth all that pain and patience to book a table, it would be far better than Frenchie is. Given all the great food to be had in Paris in normal conditions, why obsess over this one which is coveted not just because it is good, but primarily because it is tiny? Pining over a faraway restaurant just because you can't get in seems like a strange priority to me.

            1. re: Ptipois

              Let me answer a couple questions. First, you aren't helping. It doesn't seem like a sincere gesture at all. I explained that I HAVE done my research on Frenchie. I have wanted to go to the restaurant for a few years now. I know, some people don't think it is all that it is cracked up to be. That is fine. If you are of that opinion, I would assume that you have been there and tried it. I have not and would like to do so.
              I know it is not the second coming of NOMA or Alinea or any blow your mind restaurant. However, it is a restaurant offering very good food for very reasonable prices. I wish that getting out of a restaurant in Paris for 100 euros having eaten 4 delicious courses and a bottle of wine for 2 people was the norm. But, as I am sure you are aware, it is quite the contrary. I will be in Paris for 8 nights and am trying to balance some very expensive meals and some affordable ones so that I don't break the bank.
              I really don't get the strange priority accusation really but if that is how you feel, no matter. I just want to go where I want to go and that's that. I guess it would be different if I was asking if you thought it was a worthy venture.

              1. re: naughtyb

                I like Frenchie - and if can't get a reservation don't forget their no reservation wine bar opposite. It is different food but in the same style and we enjoyed it as well.

                1. re: naughtyb

                  "I wish that getting out of a restaurant in Paris for 100 euros having eaten 4 delicious courses and a bottle of wine for 2 people was the norm."

                  It is not the norm at Frenchie in any case.
                  The days when you get out of Frenchie paying 100 euro for a couple, wine included, have been gone for a while.

                  I have always enjoyed dining at Frenchie. It is not a dump. But no, I have to agree nothing is worth the reservation process. The last few times I went have been (1) indulging out-of-town friends who think they must go, when I ended up (2) simply walking the 20-minute walk to the restaurant around dinner hour and reserving with Grégory, not a machine.
                  The reservation process is nothing less than humiliating, don't you think?
                  Is there a restaurant in this world that is worth the humiliation? There must be, but Frenchie is not it.

                  Starting with your title, you seem to be expect to be hated. Freedom of thought must be a human right. And so is the expression of diverse opinions on a forum.
                  Best of luck.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    "It is not the norm at Frenchie in any case.
                    The days when you get out of Frenchie paying 100 euro for a couple, wine included, have been gone for a while."

                    I just wanted to point out that your statement is false. I just did a quick google search on "cost of Frenchie dinner", went to the most recent posts from Trip advisor and saw that on May 11, 2012 a poster wrote:
                    "On the wine...we let them pick the wine and were served a bottle of some 2010 bill...almost 100 euros."

                    She did not seem to be a fan of the restaurant, however, I am certain I would not seek her advice on dining considering that she thought sweetbreads are exotic. Nonetheless, it seems that unless Frenchie has changed in the last 3 weeks, two diners can get out of there for under 100 euros with food and a bottle of wine.


                    I am honestly not trying to pick a fight with you or start an argument. This was not my intention. I asked a simple question in my initial post and just wanted some thoughts on whether what I am doing to get the reservation is right. I understand that many people find the reservation practices of Frenchie abhorrent and humiliating. If that applies to you, then so be it. I knew that many outspoken people on this board, including you, Parigi as well as Ptipois, think Frenchie should be avoided due to the plethora of restaurants in Paris with similar quality food at a similar price point, hence the title of my thread. I knew a few people would try to convince me that Frenchie isn't worth it and that's fine. The fact is that I have been researching the restaurant for years and have wanted to go but have not been fortunate enough to visit Paris for a few years.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Thanks. I just want to assure you that I do really respect your opinion. I just have a really desire to go to Frenchie. Good or bad. If it sucks or just doesn't live up to my expectations, I will be the first to say so.

                  2. re: naughtyb

                    >>> But, as I am sure you are aware, it is quite the contrary.

                    I am sure I'm not aware of that in any way and I do live in Paris, so I know a little about its restaurant bargains. But even if I were, I still don't understand the point. It sure is nice to eat 2 x 4 courses + wine for 100€ somewhere but that in itself is not enough to obsess over it. If the food were absolutely mindblowing, why not. But the bargain aspect is not enough to motivate the obsessive process to such a dimension. If it is really the bargain you want, go to Le Pré Verre, or Spring for lunch, or indeed the wonderful (and unhyped) Caïus, etc. I wasn't sure I was helping because I wasn't sure you were actually helpable, being visibly more interested in the symbol than in the food. But I was actually trying to.

                    As it turns out to be, well, without booking you may try the wine bar at exactly 6:59 PM (having tiptoed in the street for 15 minutes before) when everyone pounces onto the place like hungry tigers and the bartender, with a trifle of irony in his smile, signals they can now get in. I am sure that's an experience that one should have at least once in their lifetime.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      I popped into FWB at about 8:30, bought a glass of wine, asked for a table, and the barman gave me th next one that freed up about ten minutes later. It didn't seem that tricky. As I ate others arrived and were seated in a similar fashion as the tables turned. Had i stumbled on a secret trick, no not at all, It was so normal it was unremarkable. Good wine, and one very good food, what's not to like?

                      Clearly it isn't unique in Paris, many alternatives, and many options. But, I for one am happy I went and it was the best of the many wine bars we tried that trip.

                      Frenchie resturant is a hassle to book but so what. Many other places are a hassle. Remember the old Spring being a tricky reservation doesn't seem to have had Daniel fall from favour. I have managed to book many really difficult places, equally I have failed miserably to get into lots of others. I just take it as part and parcel of the fun of my weird obsession to eat out in lots of great places. My concierge booked my first trip to Frenchie, and I took pot luck on my second by arriving two thirds of the way through service as they turned the tables - IMO not particularly tricky.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        When you went to FWB, were you served the same dishes that were prepared for Frenchie that night or was it a different menu altogether?

                        1. re: naughtyb

                          FWB has a completely different menu.

                          1. re: PattyC

                            Different yes, but a similar ethos. Simple, but well done.

            2. You are staying in a high quality hotel which has an equally impossible to book restaurant (maybe worse) so use their concierge - Yves may even have Greg's cell phone number which will make it easier.

              I trust you already booked a mid-week dinner at Le Comptoir. The restaurant holds tables for the hotel guests, but book when you book the hotel. Le Comptoir's set mid week dinner a multi month reservation and is very different from the no booking lunch and weekend dinner.

              2 Replies
              1. re: PhilD

                I certainly did! The last time I was in Paris I stopped by and had a weekend dinner at Le Comptoir and left somewhat unimpressed. I did something I rarely do and that is I asked the waitress what she would recommend. She recommended some sort of liver dish that had the look of cat food and it didn't taste much better. My wife, however, rather enjoyed her main. I vowed to go back for the prix-fix dinner during the weeknight on my next visit because I think I just went on an off night.

                1. re: naughtyb

                  It will be interesting to hear your report back. A few years ago it was our regular spot, we lived around the corner and the staff would often find a table for us if we strolled by and asked - I suspect we picked up a table that had been held fr a hotel guest). It was good, but wise to remember it is Bistro food not haute cuisine. His cheese basket with different fruit compotes and honeys was usually worth saving space for.

              2. To answer your single/multiple question/s, Phil is on the money. Your best bet is to try for chef-to-chef contact through Relais St Germain. However, the simple truth about these small rooms is that there are a finite number of seats with no wiggle room for squeezing in the additional special client. We wish you well since, from what you tell us, you will always wonder what you missed if you don't eat at Frenchie.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mangeur

                  Thanks so much. I appreciate the response. I am hoping that Yves has some in that will help out but am certainly not counting on it since he doesn't know me from Adam. I do realize the place is very small but am hoping that since I am trying to book 3 months out that I am likely to get a date that I want. You are right though, if I dont get to go, I will always wonder what i missed out on. Thanks for the response.

                  1. re: naughtyb

                    I must have lucked out. Just got back from Paris and about two months before going, emailed the concierge at out hotel and got a reply the following day confirming a reservation on the day I requested a Wednesday. The reservation was for 8pm and I've heard all the blah blah about that time vs the later seating and yes there were alot of english speaking customers, more so than any other restaurant we visited but it was quite all right as the American family of 6 seated to our right was entertainment enough.
                    It was the best meal we had in Paris, especially given the price. We did not eat at any Michelin starred restaurants. Our total bill was 160 euro which included 1 fois gras supplement, two apertifs and a bottle of wine. Thought it a bit amusing, when we were walking down the alley street, Gregory Marchand was pulling a garbage can down the street and dumping it, enjoyed a brief conversation with him before heading in.

                2. I took the time to call many times to reach Frenchie for our honeymoon and I had luck around 7-9 Pacific Time US and the only person that would answer would be someone who spoke only French, so if you can speak French or know someone who can you should be in luck because normally they will answer once or twice during those hours - burnt alot of minutes on the answering machine and talking to someone who did not understand english - however it was part of the game and I wanted to win and was convinced the honeymoon would be incomplete if we didnt get reservations tehre - finally got a co worker who spoke french to help me out to get the reso

                  Secondly i would also recommend wasting your time and energy, this was one of our least favorite meals of our trip and we were kind of disappointed by it and it was expensive for what it was - I doubt that will persude you but I needed to say it - we did have Chez Dumonet and L Ami' Jean two of the three days prior to it - we thought the Christian Constant restaurants (everything but Violin because we didnt make it there) were better than Frenchie and we had more fun there / better food (only place we have ever been happy ordering chicken (the coccottles and base walk in place both - just amazing)

                  IMO it isn't worth the effort, however when i was trying to get reservations nothing could stop me from succeeding, so speak french and call early pacific time and good luck - I would have always wondered what i missed on as well, so i get it, i am wondering what i missed out on by not ordering the Foie Gras at L'Ami Jean - which i hope to rectify next year...with another dose of Rice pudding

                  unfortunatly my skills for fat duck were not nearly as good - only had one day to make it happen and repeated dialing was not successful

                  good luck and hope you enjoy the fruits of your dialing labor