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My food diary of two weeks in Paris...

I've just started a two week trip to Paris with many fine restaurant experiences organised thanks largely to this site. So to say thanks, I will be writing about my thoughts about each place, though an accomplished food writer I am not.

My current schedule includes l'Astrance, Le Cinq, Jules Verne, Septime, Spring, Les Papilles, Huitrerie Regis, Au Petit Sud Oest and maybe Le Meurice. I will also add thoughts about the various patisseries and other food stores I will visit. 

Yesterday I ate at Septime with a dear friend who recommended it. It is a set menu, and they take your allergies and food preferences as part of the order. We left the choice of wine up to our waiter, who did know what we were eating :). We had five courses of mostly fish, which were presented well, with an emphasis on very fresh and clean tastes. I had already noticed that tomato water seems to be a 'thing' these days (it hasn't hit my hometown yet) and it was present in the first dish with white tuna and cucumber. The freshness continued throughout the courses. The meal was light yet quite filling and I couldn't finish the chocolate dessert (though the icecream with basil was excellent). 

We had a light Pinot d'au nIs with the meal, which is a new variety for me. it was the perfect accompaniment. 

What impressed me most about the meal was the fresh light natural tastes, something I don't generally associate with Paris. Their garnishes (particularly the olive reduction and artichoke mousse) were excellent. 

My friend particularly enjoyed the dish with guinea hen. 

The meal came to €171.00 - comparable to a similar meal in Australia.

Also yesterday I visited the épicerie at Le Bon Marché. I usually go to the food hall at La Galleries Lafayette, and after further consideration I still prefer it. Both from a visual /aesthetic perspective and I believe it is better (I recognise this is purely a personal preference). My view was unfortunately reinforced by the millefeuille I bought from the patisserie there - it just wasn't worth finishing. It is true that I was comparing it to an amazing millefeuille that I had last year which I have to find again. But it wasn't nice enough to finish, and it was not just about the calories. 

I have just lunched at Au Petit Sud Oest as I am a big foie gras fan, and tried the goose foie gras with fig. It was very fine, in both taste and texture. A more elegant foie gras than I'm used to. I need to remember to wait till the dish warms up, it was served too cold to appreciate the full flavours. A lovely melt in the mouth experience and I will return.  

This afternoon I am headed to Fauchon. Also on my list is Jacques Genin (tarte au citron) and the Boulanger that won best baguette this year, on rue ordener in the 18th.

Would appreciate any thoughts, comments, advice.... I have more gaps in the diary to fill. :)

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  1. After your Genin stop, head across the street to 134 rue de Turenne and try one of Benjamin's baguettes. I think they're pretty good. He placed second a few years ago.

    Have you been to Cafe Pouchkine or La Patisserie des Reves yet?

    4 Replies
    1. re: PattyC

      I ran out of data so missed this tip! :(

      Haven't heard of Cafe Pouchkine - what's their specialty? And the patisserie Is on my maybe list.... What do you recommend there PattyC?

      1. re: AussieJude

        Here's a thread on Cafe Pouchkine http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/850220 I liked their charlotka but everything looked good. I was very sorry I didn't have any room for their viennoserie.

        I like the Paris brest at La Patisserie des Reves but again I think it's hard to go wrong here :)

        1. re: PattyC

          Thank you, Pouchkine seems a perfect stopover when my sister and I go shopping at Printemps next week. :)

      2. re: PattyC

        Genin's millefeuille is filled to order, no soggies here.

      3. Jaques Genin's tarte au citron was not ready. I spent 20 minutes queueing for the salon du thé, (because I couldn't have bought a take away tarte anyway) and it came to me still quite liquid, which they had explained. I wonder what the consistency would have otherwise been. It was still delicious, not too sweet. The pastry was excellent. Not as good as the one I had last visit to Paris.

        And because it was not perfect (i'm guessing) they also gave me two chocolates. :) I picked up some caramels as well.

        I'm on an iPad, it's a shame Chowhound isn't iPad friendly so I could upload some photos.

        5 Replies
        1. re: AussieJude

          They give everybody "free" chocolates :)

          1. re: AussieJude

            Jacques Genin is where you should have tried the millefeuille. it's made to order!

            1. re: ChefJune

              Sounds like it's worth going back if I feel millefeuille deprived again this trip!

              1. re: AussieJude

                I always confuse Jacques Genin and Jean Paul Hevin... I must be kind of dyslexic...
                Lovely chocolates too!

          2. Unless you're in the neighborhood anyway, I wouldn't go out of my way to go to the boulangerie on rue ordener. It's a great baguette, but slightly underwhelming for what you'd expect to be "the best".

            1 Reply
            1. re: Rio Yeti

              This morning for breakfast I shared a very good baguette, croissants and other pastries from Nelly Julien with my airbnb hosts.

              I agree with you, Rio Yeti - there are plenty of great boulangeries in Paris and I'm sure normal daily fluctuations would cancel out differences between the best boulangeries anyway.

            2. Sounds like you are having a good time AussieJude. If you want some respite from the generally awful coffee in Paris head to Coutume, 47 rue Babylone in the 7th. A Barista from Melbourne will make you a sensational espresso.
              Best Regards
              Jeremy

              1. l think H Regis is closed for the season.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Thanks, will be sure to call before we go..

                2. Today my friend Kory and I met for a terrific taco lunch at Rice and Beans (we know each other from living in Texas) and I recommend it to others looking for good, real mexican food. Though those tacos were better than anything I can remember eating in Austin!
                  http://riceandbeansparis.fr/

                  And then icecream at Cafe Pozzetto in the Marais - the pistachio was excellent.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AussieJude

                    A nice patisserie to visit in the 5 th is Carl Marletti on the rue Censier. delicious and it is quite close to the rue Mouffetard, great shopping street for food. It's also quite close to the Palais des Bonbons on the rue Monge. definitely a nice way to spend an hour looking/eating Parisien specialties

                    1. re: pammi

                      Thanks, that's just around the corner from where I'm staying with my sister from Saturday. :)

                    2. re: AussieJude

                      AussieJude - two of my all time favorite Paris restaurants are on your list, l'Astrance and Les Papilles.I am anxiously waiting your posts on them.

                      1. re: AussieJude

                        For another Mexican option, there is Candelaria.
                        http://www.candelariaparis.com/

                        Ate there once and being not expert on Mexican food, can't really say. Lots of veggie option.

                        But the real reason to go there is the "secret" speakeasy bar. At the back of the restaurant, there's a door with no sign. Just push it and you'll find a real classy bar. Same idea as the "Please Don't Tell" bar in New York! Small and cosy, good atmosphere. Homemade cocktail aged in oak barrels!
                        So hip!

                      2. Lunch today at Jean-François Piège' brasserie at Hotel Thoumieux, which I found out about today as it happens to be my local this week. I tried to get into his Michelin restaurant upstairs sometime today or tomorrow, but no availability. However during my 1.5 hours in the brasserie I only saw one couple leave from upstairs, and I'm the last one in the Brasserie at 15:30.

                        I had the foie gras with herbed salad, followed by a millefeuille, accompanied by a reasonable Chardonnay. The foie gras was very good, the salad was crisp and tasty and dressed very well. The surprise standout was the butter; I'd forgotten this glory of France. The service was OK, but no flair or character. I like to see some personality in a place. The meal was €54.00.

                        As for the millefeuille, I'd thought that 'minute' meant small but it was not. :) It was terrific and has sated my need for a good millefeuille allowing me to go and try some other desserts now!

                        Don't know if I'm as willing to move away from foie gras just yet, I adore it so...

                        Would love to upload some photos but no can do!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: AussieJude

                          We stayed in a lovely apt next door to Thoumieux in '04 and ate there the last day. It was quite good. You are very, very close to L'Ami Jean, just around the corner. We had lunch there twice during our trip which comes to an end this weekend. Also, FL is wonderful, also closeby. Best service of the whole trip.

                          1. re: janbo19

                            "We stayed in a lovely apt next door to Thoumieux in '04"

                            2004? That was back when Thoumieux was a charming brasserie with decent food and a big fat tabby on the counter.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              So True. The replacement is spotty at best.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                ......and in terminal decline. I suspect if the Cotes Bros had not bought the place it woud now be another Zara or similar.

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  The old Thoumieux was famous for cassoulet but now the new thing is actually a very decent brasserie. The Costes do fare differently depending on who's in charge of the kitchen. Likewise, the Hotel Amour is not bad. At any rate I like the Thoumieux brasserie far better than the gastro upstairs.

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    It is good to hear - It may feature on my list on our next visit.

                                2. re: janbo19

                                  Thanks for the tips! I have time tomorrow, may check them out. :)

                              2. Tomorrow's research: a top notch tarte tatin to bring to a friends place for dessert. Any tips?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: AussieJude

                                  Moulin a La Vierge on Rue Vercingetorix in the 14th are charred beautifully. they always have individual ones and large can be pre-ordered. Get a kick-ass creme fraiche to dabble on it.

                                    1. re: AussieJude

                                      And it was a big hit; dabbled divinely. Thank you.

                                2. Tonight my sister and I ate at Les Papilles. At this restaurant there is a set menu.We started with a carrot soup with cumin cream, followed by slow cooked pork, beans and vegetables, then blue cheese and an apricot pannacotta with passionfruit.

                                  The carrot soup was delicious, very creamy, and tasty. The pork had a nice healthy strip of fat but that's not our favourite part of the animal so I fear some good crackling has gone to waste. The pork itself was quite dry, but the beans and vegies were well prepared.

                                  I think what surprised me most is how wintry the meal was. As a set menu, I would have expected a meal that more closely reflected the season. It is warm outside and we are in summer clothing but that was definitely a heavy winter meal. While I do think Parisian fare is heavier than Australian meals, at this time of year I would have expected some kind of acknowledgement of the season. Such as the meal we had at Septime.

                                  A lovely blue cheese (I forgot which one) before the pannacotta, which was the nicest I've ever had. It's not my favourite dessert (something about the texture) but this was divine. Apricots in France are prepared better then apricots anywhere else I've been, and the strength and tartness (mixed with passionfruit) were impressive.

                                  As for wine, although we recognise the restaurant's reputation of excellent bottled wines, we simply took a red wine by the glass, which did not disappoint.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: AussieJude

                                    "I think what surprised me most is how wintry the meal was."
                                    You are so right I wish Les Papilles kept a better pace with the seasons.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      As they always serve a soup, a long cooked meat dish, a cheese something, and a small not too flour based dessert, l would doubt a change. This style of menu has three light courses and a somewhat heavy meat protein dish. His wines are also geared to that style of menu thus another reason for one menu that spans all seasons.

                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                        Ah. I knew it was a set menu with soup, but not necessarily always a long cooked meat dish. It was delicious, absolutely, just felt incongruous.

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            One of my husband's favorite fish presentations was beautifully cooked cabillaud fillet served with herbed butter on a sizzling hot July night at Papilles. We've never seen it since, a pity since it was such a welcome hot weather variation on the usual format.

                                  2. Lunch today at Les Délices d'Aphrodite, honouring some friends currently traveling through Greece. I had the moussaka with eggplant, zucchini (courgette) and lamb. I am guessing it is the same fare sold by the delicatessen Mavrommatis? It was a lovely dish, with a tasy fresh tomato sauce and lots of fresh parsley. A great local restaurant if you're staying close to rue Censier in the 5th.

                                    Dessert by patisserie Carl Marletti (thanks pammi), also in the neighbourhood - a tarte citron and a chantilly choux. Long queue. Both were good. I'm not really into chocolate or berries so I tend to choose these types of pastries instead.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: AussieJude

                                      I live in that neighborhood, and I remember when the Mavrommatis brothers came over in the late 70s and opened their catering shop where Aux Délices d'Aphrodite is now located.

                                      Since then both the catering and the restaurant have been going through ups and downs, but basically they're good cooks, I only wish they were more careful (Aux Délices d'Aphrodite still goes through many ups and downs: good pikilia, but I've known the plat du jour at times to be truly horrid).

                                      Better plan safe and order pikilia or mousaka (not for me since I make better mousaka) with a bottle of their delicious asirtiko white wine from Santorini.

                                      Carl Marletti is an awesome pâtissier. If you're in my neighborhood, I also recommend:

                                      - Les Cinq, a little-known restaurant facing the Saint-Médard church;
                                      - Nonna Inès, a lovely Italian trattoria;
                                      - Le Pot' O Lait, IMO the best crêperie in Paris;
                                      - Dans les Landes, naturally;
                                      - La Taverne, rue Daubenton, an unpretentious Cap-verdian restaurant tucked in a narrow street;
                                      - Boca Mexa, a not-too-bad taco joint at the Mouffetard-Daubenton corner,
                                      - Caves La Bourgogne, really not the worst place to have an entrecôte.

                                      Some of these places have opened relatively recently, making the neighborhood's food fengshui (which never was spectacular really) rise by several notches.

                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                        A good local crêperie? Magic! Thank you. :)
                                        And thanks for the other recommendations too!

                                        1. re: AussieJude

                                          Your reports make me drool! I am not sure how much time you have left in Paris but please, don't stop eating and reporting!

                                        2. re: Ptipois

                                          I had a lovely crêpe at Le Pot O Lait yesterday, thanks Ptipois.

                                          1. re: AussieJude

                                            Thanks for reporting, I'm glad you like it!

                                            My favorite crêperie in Paris, leaving far behind the overhyped Breizh Café.

                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                              I'm eager to have crepes here. Would you happen to know if it's open in August?

                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                I also went to Le Pot O Lait last time I was in Paris, and loved it. I will definitely be going back next month. Hopefully by then, the horrible, fresh paint smell will have been long gone.

                                                Do you have any favorites that you order there?

                                        3. We had dinner tonight at Huitrerie Regis, known for its fantastic oysters. And they were fantastic. A dozen large oysters each was sufficient (given the size of lunch). The place is lovely, fresh white paint and bright happy staff. And tiny - only 7 tables inside and out - no wonder they don't take reservations. With a 25cl sancerre pichet the meal was €63.

                                          Followed by a lovely walk through St Germain des Pres and Ile St Louis. Paris is so beautiful.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: AussieJude

                                            Have been greatly enjoying your pointillist reports. Keep them coming.

                                            1. re: AussieJude

                                              Guess he closes later now than a few years ago.

                                            2. Lunch today at Le Cinq.

                                              I feel like it should be enough to leave it at that sentence, that you'll know what I mean! It was so wonderful and simply delicious. We had the prix file menu, three courses for €95. The restaurant was predominantly business types, interestingly, for a fashion/shopping district.

                                              The Blanc de Blanc brut champagne was sublime, and for €33 per glass it should be. :) I think that's the most expensive glass of champagne I've ever had. I didn't even take note of the winery.

                                              The amuse bouche was a gazpacho with a pepper creme and sides of octopus and vegetables.
                                              The entrée was ravioli of duck foie gras in ginger broth and baby vegetables.
                                              Main was pork with vegetables and mashed potato.
                                              And dessert was a rhubarb dish.

                                              The foie gras ravioli was superb. Melt in the mouth. And I love how the French respect and honour the vegetables - they are not simply used as garnishing as still occurs so often in Australia. The baby carrots and radish and peas were very true to taste.

                                              For mains (which I already couldn't finish despite a tiny breakfast), they provided a mushroom free pork dish which meant a plain (unseasoned) but well prepared lean piece of pork, with more tasty vegetable accompaniments.

                                              A lovely apple and lemongrass sorbet on strawberry jam. Then dessert. The rhubarb was beautiful, not as tart as that in Australia (for good or ill), with a lovely whipped cream and a rich rum and vanilla icecream, adorned with raspberries and gold leaf.

                                              We didn't have coffee, and they brought a still pure water from Germany 'Black Forest' (we were told it was the most pure in Europe) apparently an excellent digestive aid. We will see. :)

                                              The service was lovely. I have known some Michelin restaurants to be very restrained, professional but colorless. Today the young men were charming and lovely (are all young men plucking their eyebrows these days?), with excellent timing and good English.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: AussieJude

                                                I too had lunch at le Cinq as reported in another topic. We ate at 5 three stars during our trip to London and Paris. Although le Cinq is only a two star, my level of enjoyment of our lunch there was greater than that at of the dinners at each of the five three stars.

                                                1. re: porkpa

                                                  Porkpa, Le Cinq was also my favourite of the three Michelin restaurants of the trip.

                                                  1. re: AussieJude

                                                    ... and Le Cinq is my favorite meal I've ever had in Paris, regardless of the number of stars!

                                              2. So glad you liked Carl Marletti. While you're in the neighborhood,go over to the Carrefour store in the Place de l' Italie nearby. They have great food oriented gifts to bring home to foodie friends. nothing too fancy or expensive but very useful . I brought home caramel sauce,a mix for making almond flavored filling for fruit tarts,sugars parfumed with different flavors like citron and vanilla. Alsi, I recommend a patisserie in the 11th- La Patisserie de Cyril Lignac on the rue Paul Bert. Very inventive and delicious-really something different..

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. Today's lunch was at L'Astrance. There are only ten tables, I can see why making a reservation is so difficult.

                                                  Even though I had said in the reservation that my sister was gluten free, the amusee bouche included brioche. They remedied this when requested but I was disappointed that they hadn't accounted for it. (Just as an aside, we have found it easy to find gluten free meals.)

                                                  First course was a fantastic lobster soup with vegetables and edible flowers in a ginger and garlic consommé, which was poured over the dish at the table. It was delicious, and this was my favourite dish. The right blend of lightness and colour and fat.

                                                  The next course was a caramelised cod with shrimp paste and pineapple foam, a stronger tasting seafood side dish, which was .. good.

                                                  Next course was pigeon ("from the Eiffel tower", ha ha, actually from Bretagne) with cherry accompaniments (filled with prune and almond) and carrot, with some more edible flowers (which I think add much to a dish; beauty and that 'something different'). We were also given a pigeon liver which was tasty and well prepared on a small cracker.

                                                  The German wine served with the meal was excellent (I chose just one glass instead of having the recommended wines accompanying each course). And the butter was good too.

                                                  Our dessert course (surprising: a fourth course while we only asked for the three course dejeuner) was very pretty. Three dishes: peach with elderflower foam, an apricot pannacotta, and an apricot meringue. The meringue was my favourite. I am reminded to buy some apricot jam for my trip home.

                                                  And then a final platter of chestnut madeleines, berries and a jasmine egg nog, which had a very strong jasmine and no egg nog taste. It was interesting and a standout dish, taste wise. I also thought the fruit was beautiful.

                                                  The service was a bit clumsy (literally hitting both the chair and my sister on two separate occasions, plus some rough placement of dishes on the table) and most of the staff were dismissive and curt. We both preferred the atmosphere and service at Le Cinq.

                                                  All that said, I thought for €150, it was excellent value.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: AussieJude

                                                    I would suggest Christine Ferber's apricot confiture.

                                                  2. Tonight's dinner: Jules Verne at the Eiffel tower.

                                                    My entree was a duck foie gras with fruit chutney. It was ... competent.

                                                    My main meal was veal with potato gratin. The initial taste was hopeful but the salt in the sauce quickly became overwhelming - it was actually unpleasant. No bread was used to mop up any sauce tonight. In fact I avoided the sauce, scraping it off the meat. My sister's lamb was also 'extremely' oversalted. It actually ruined our taste buds for dessert, and my palate still feels 'burnt' over two hours later.

                                                    To finish, we were given a plate of cherry macaroons, marshmallow, chocolate truffles and a lemon ganache. They were nice, and probably the best 'course' of the meal.

                                                    The champagne and wine were only average - just good table wines.

                                                    The service was okay, though we were kept waiting for quite a while between main and desert. Fortunately the view is so beautiful we didn't really notice. :)

                                                    Two courses with champagne and one glass of wine each = €370. The most expensive Michelin meal (admittedly with an amazing view and it was dinner time, not lunch) and the worst experience we've had yet.

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: AussieJude

                                                      Sorry your meal was disappointing. I haven't been to Jules Verne, but I don't know anyone who recommends it for the food. the view, of course, is A++

                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                        Surely a one star Michelin restaurant should lose it's star if the food is not good. While we knew the restaurant wasn't the best Michelin in Paris, we did expect the meal to be good, befitting the star.

                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                          If a waiter had asked us how the meal was, we would have mentioned the over salting, but I didn't proactively get up to find a waiter in order to complain.

                                                          1. re: AussieJude

                                                            I am a little puzzled; why didn't you send the dishes back if they were that flawed? You don't need to be asked or get up, simply signal for a waiter. I assume you chose the wine - if it were average isn't tht down to your selection?

                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                              Yes, PhilD, I should have. And I would have said something if I'd been asked as it would likely have been handled quietly.

                                                              I don't like to send food back. It can put a dampener on the mood of the evening, and my sister and I wanted to have a pleasant and special evening. So we just scraped the sauce off. My reading was that it would be a more pleasant evening if we scraped the sauce off rather than go out of my way to call attention to the dish, particularly if we had received an unpleasant response (dismissive, patronizing etc). Yes that concern is not fair on the restaurant, it could have been handled wonderfully well, but I didn't want to risk it. Not all staff were pleasant.

                                                              Also where we were sitting, the waiters were not easy to signal, and I didn't want to spend time waiting to catch someone's eye.

                                                              As for the wine, we only drank wine by the glass, one each (plus a champagne). They had two reds and two whites available - not a lot of choice. As we don't live in France, and are unfamiliar with the labels, we were guided by the waiter as to the wine choice. I think wines by the glass should all be excellent in a high end restaurant. They can afford the odd unfinished bottle.

                                                              1. re: AussieJude

                                                                I understand why you didn't say anything. I probably would have left without a word and would have said it was not good if I had been asked.

                                                                But I notice that you weren't asked, which says a lot about the restaurant. Normally (especially when there are stars involved) you get asked if everything OK, sometimes more than once throughout the meal. Not getting asked is a surefire way to tell that everybody knows that the food is bad. They know it. They get away with it. Why should they ask?

                                                                If the food (starred restaurant or not) is clearly flawed because there is a problem, the kitchen is having an off day, etc., you can sense that. That's when you can say there's a problem and the service is attentive, apologizes, replaces the dishes, comps for the inconvenience, etc.

                                                                But if you feel that the dysfunction is normal and that the level of the food is below average, telling about it will only trigger hostile and snotty reactions, and result in a ruined moment, perhaps a very unpleasant one. You don't always want that. Unless you are ready to fight back and feel the energy for it.

                                                                Don't try to understand the logic behind bad food and 2 stars. There isn't any. Sometimes, and particularly of late, Michelin does not make any sense, while still being coherent on other occurrences — which only means that its macaron system has lost its reliability as a guide for good eating. It has priorities other than food, which explain awarding stars to just-opened restaurants (sometimes yet unopened restaurants), coaxing the big hotel chains, giving stars to non-cooking media figures while demoting excellent chefs, and showering stars on countries that have a big tire industry.

                                                                A similar experience happened to me at the Paris Mandarin Oriental, Thierry Marx's restaurant Le Sur Mesure, where I was served the dreariest, most tasteless, textureless and most depressing meal in years. Nobody asked me if everything was OK. Only Le Chef en personne who, as he ran across the room, turned to me and asked me if I had been thrown away by my companion (because I was dining alone). I didn't even have any time to answer. The place has two stars.

                                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                                  That is really disappointing to read, but also not surprising. It seems to be the way the world is turning these days. It is however the unfortunate degradation of a brand that relies on its credibility. Michelin stars 'for sale' might be a future public scandal.

                                                                  At L'Astrance, I had my iPad out to take down the ingredients so I could write my blog post later. On one occasion we were asked if we were 'watching television' (hello?). As my sister started to respond the waiter walked away, which we both thought was very rude. I'm sure the waiter thought we were rude, that the iPad didn't belong on the table, but I am also sure he wouldn't have objected to a notepad. Same thing. I was not making phone calls or watching videos.

                                                                  1. re: AussieJude

                                                                    I take notes on my iPhone: waiters think I'm only a silly girl who texts, that is the most discrete method I've used so far.
                                                                    Some restaurants use iPads on tables for menus and wine lists, why in the world should the waiter at l'Astrance bug you for taking out your iPad? No business of his.

                                                                  2. re: Ptipois

                                                                    Good points all, Pti. There is a style of restaurant that has found its way into the star system that routinely serves pretentious pedestrian plates with obstinate pride, tired presentations, clumsy cooking. To complain simply brings confusion on the part of the staff. In many of these situations, diners around us are happily lapping up their plates, so who's to argue?

                                                                    Herein lies the value of using Chowhound France as a screen before booking.

                                                                  3. re: AussieJude

                                                                    I feel it is a little unfair on a restaurant to accept a faulty dish, not complain, then criticise them in print for the fault. It is fair to do so if bring it to their attention and they din't correct it, or they make you feel bad for complaining. But to stay silent and not give them the chance to rectify the fault, then compain, seems odd.

                                                                    Interested to understand what the wines were?

                                                            2. re: AussieJude

                                                              Not sure what you guys expected from the most touristy restaurant in the most touristy monument in the world .....

                                                            3. Lunch today was at Spring, fixed price, three people (including a cheese plate and coffee for two) for €186. I was surprised to have received over four confirmation emails prior to arriving today, plus some duplicates, plus two confirming phone calls, and while we did change our booking once I am not sure what warranted that many contacts. I responded to them all just in case but thought it was unnecessary.

                                                              The venue was lovely, with an open kitchen and attractive wooden seating. The kitchen staff were efficient and quiet, and a pleasure to watch. I like the simplicity and care of a prix fixe menu that caters to allergies and dislikes - I wonder if we'll see more of it in Australia. A diner can be assured that the best possible ingredients were chosen, and I like the choice to be surprised by the dishes (though that does make it hard to order wine :).

                                                              The appetisers were tasty and worth mentioning; oysters with a lovely vinaigrette, whitebait, radish, and pickled eggplant.

                                                              The entrée was a delicate trout with almond, honey and olive oil, a lovely sauce.

                                                              The main meal was a very tender veal with capers and lemon, with a side of grilled courgette. My American friend who has lived here for 13 years said to his wife at lunch today that it was time he took eggplant and zucchini off his "do not eat" list - as well prepared as they both were today, and at other places he has eaten - he is ready to embrace the full goodness of courgettes and aubergines. :)

                                                              Apricot clafoutis for dessert with a cinnamon pistachio yoghurt, cherry in red wine and chocolate, and a coffee/chocolate mousse. Delicious.

                                                              I notice how seriously dessert is taken in France, in Australia it can still be treated as a bit of an afterthought in some good restaurants.

                                                              The service was terrific, bright and warm, with a mix of English, French and speakers of other nations. I had wanted to come to this restaurant last year but missed out on a reservation, I am very glad to have made it this time.

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: AussieJude

                                                                Too funny. I too never eat eggplant except at Spring. And I tried it there only because it was on the no-choice menu. And I loved it.

                                                                Therefore I recommend that everyone take a walk on the wild side. In a place like Spring, go for the no-choice menu. There aren't a lot of chefs in the world whom I trust to make me try foods that I think I hate. Daniel Rose and Stéphane Jégo, that's about it. It's actually a great experience to love something you were prepared to hate.

                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                  Here here about walking on the wild side for a no choice menu. I let myself go if I feel that I am in the hands of experts (the above mentioned chefs come first to mind) and I have never been disappointed. Surprised in a pleasant way, yes, but never disappointed. Usually delighted by the surprise.

                                                                  It always amazes me when I hear people go on and on about how they could never go for a no choice menu because they don't like such and such food, only to have them reply no when I ask if they've ever tasted such and such food. I am game to try anything once...even something twice or three times if it's being prepared by someone who I know loves and respects food. I can't imagine someone like that serving me something vile and disgusting (because really, that's the meaning behind that response). And this is from a former vegetarian!

                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                    I never thought I liked fennel, until I tasted it at la Table d'Eugène. Same goes for celery which I'm usually not a big fan of, and was wonderful at LTE...

                                                                    That was a while ago, but it did make me realize that
                                                                    1- there really isn't such a thing as bad food, and I'm willing to stretch it and say there isn't such a thing as "dislikes", it's all in the way of preparing it and of how one person is used to eating a particular food (I just had a conversation with a friend yesterday who told me he always used to dislike fish, until he tasted some in Norway... after a little bit of investigating it turns out that he liked it mostly because it was properly cooked and hadn't really experienced properly cooked fish before...).
                                                                    2- The palate develops, and improves, and "working at your palate" (just like an art amateur will study artists even if he doesn't necessarily likes them at first) is an important part of being passionate about food and trying to understand it.

                                                                    I used to not understand Velasquez's paintings. I could see the guy could paint, but it seemed boring to me. Little by little, I got it... Now when I look at one of his paintings, it's so powerful, it touches me, his technique, his use of colors and the way the brush strokes move freely on the canvas...
                                                                    People think art should be about "immediately getting it or being touched by it" or else it's probably "pretentious for the Art snobs". Same goes with food... "it's just food, you like it or you don't !".

                                                                    I don't agree, the goal is not to become an art snob or a food snob, the goal is to broaden your spectrum and make life more enjoyable.

                                                                  2. re: AussieJude

                                                                    Am onboard now, Jude, and insanely jealous. Some wonderful experiences. Am compiling a list for when we head over in October

                                                                    1. re: ttimbo

                                                                      This is a great site to help you do just that. And book early! Many of these places are quite small.

                                                                      1. re: AussieJude

                                                                        Nice post and pretty elaborate dining. Where in Oz are you from?

                                                                          1. re: AussieJude

                                                                            Just wondering about a point of reference because of some of your comments that desserts are an afterthought there. Have had some pretty good desserts over time both in Sydney and Melbourne - that's all.

                                                                            1. re: mikey8811

                                                                              Ah, yes. There are definitely many good desserts available across Oz - a recent meal at Quay was sublime - but not as regularly at the mid level places, where Paris prepares desserts so well. Maybe I was just lucky. I appreciate the frequent offering of several small tastes, and the effort that goes into presentation.

                                                                              1. re: AussieJude

                                                                                Yes, I was thinking of the custard apple snow globe and diff textures of chocolate at Quay (if they still do them) , some of the desserts at Pier, the Gaytime souffle at Vue de Monde or even the date tart at Rockpool for something simple which is very good.

                                                                  3. Final stop: Pain de Sucre (my favourite bakery) for dessert after lunch (chocolate marshmallow covered in coconut). I also picked up a raisin scone to snack on and a bread roll replacement for the airplane dinner. Some macarons, confitures and rillete to take home as well, naturellement.

                                                                    Merci, everyone, for your ideas and tips. Happy eating. :)