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Six nights in Paris - advice please!

annlouise Sep 1, 2012 01:03 PM

We will spend six nights in Paris in early October. I am thinking about canceling dinner at Spring and substituting a more traditional, less expensive bistro such as Cafe des Musees. I would also like something spicy, but have read that spicy food is hard to find in Paris. Any suggestions? We are staying in the 6th.

These are all dinner reservations.
Sunday - Le Comptoir du Relais
Monday - Verjus
Tuesday - going to Versailles so not sure if we should book anything
Wednesday - Frenchie
Thursday - Spring
Friday - L'Ami Jean

Thank you for any advice!

  1. Parnassien Sep 2, 2012 01:58 PM

    Two points.

    I'm not sure that Verjus (aka Seattle on the Seine) is all that satisfying. Admittedly I've only been there once but found it underwhelming, overpriced, and a wee bit precious. Not that I mind feeling like an outsider in my own country but I'm pretty sure that I was the only native parisien there. (Of course it's the same sense I get at the first sitting at Frenchie.) If you do a search on this board, you will find similar sentiments from a few other Chowhounders.

    Versailles is an amazingly pleasant and affluent town in its own right. Sure, you're not gonna get the best meal ever but there are enough good restaurants in case you want to linger rather than do the quick in-n-out tourist thing. Although a bit pricey, l'Angélique on the avenue Saint Cloud near the Carré Notre Dame is a gem. If you want to go downmarket, indulge in your spice vice, and add a little incongruity, the Lebanese restaurant Le Carré du Liban on the passage Saladin between the Carré Notre Dame and the ave St Cloud is great value and, if you ask for "toum" and "sauce piquante" or "harissa" as accompaniements, will bring a burning tingle to your taste buds. BTW, the market at the Carré Notre Dame is one of the best in the Paris region and deserves a browse. Les Halles (the covered section open every day except Mondays... mornings are best and then long lunch break before reopening at 4 or 5pm) + on Tue, Fri and Sun mornings an open air market. If you want to picnic in the Chateau's park, it's easier to buy your fixings here rather than haul them from Paris. Almost on your way to the Château if coming from the Versailles Rive Droite SNCF suburban line station (trains to and from St Lazare) or less than a 10-min walk from the Rive Gauche RER station.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Parnassien
      annlouise Sep 3, 2012 08:54 AM

      I have read quite a few recent reviewers that adored Verjus and just as many that were underwhelmed by it. Will have to think about it some more, I guess.

      Versailles sounds lovely and Lebanese food sounds great. I love harissa! The market idea sounds appealing too, esp since the open air market will be there on Tues. Thank you!

      1. re: annlouise
        jock Sep 3, 2012 11:08 AM

        I really like Verjus. Very creative and more like the great chefs of the French nouvelle movement of the late 80s, early 90s. Now it seems much of Paris has gone the somewhat "American" route of large portions of "comfort" food. Do not misunderstand I happen to love large portions of French "comfort food". Can't say the same about most of that in the US.

        1. re: jock
          annlouise Sep 5, 2012 05:01 PM

          Thank you for your feedback. I am keeping my reservation at Verjus; the menu really appeals to me and I prefer small portions!

    2. foodeditormargaux Sep 2, 2012 07:55 AM

      Thursday: Daniel Rose at Spring. Unique, one of a kind and a cool dude to boot.
      I believe if memory serves me correctly, Daniel is a native of Chicago. Very talented.

      Have fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodeditormargaux
        John Talbott Sep 2, 2012 08:29 AM

        Second that.

      2. John Talbott Sep 2, 2012 01:53 AM

        I would hold onto that Spring reservation or sell it on eBay, you'll be missing something special.
        Otherwise it's a nice list (BTW good luck in Versailles, I've never had any - and do reserve that night - it's just a hop, skip and jump by RER). You're worried about Spring's prices, look at l'Ami Jean's 90 E dinner price.

        23 Replies
        1. re: John Talbott
          annlouise Sep 2, 2012 06:35 AM

          Thank you for your feedback and advice! Have you been to L'Ami Jean since the menu changed? Is it worth it?

          1. re: annlouise
            Parigi Sep 2, 2012 06:42 AM

            The menu change starts in September.

            1. re: Parigi
              John Talbott Sep 2, 2012 06:53 AM

              Ah, beloved Parigi, I just looked at my calendar and it's September.
              "Have you been"
              No I have not been and do not intend to. But I suspect the big boys will be calling in their reports by Press Time.

              1. re: John Talbott
                annlouise Sep 2, 2012 07:52 AM

                Is there something else you recommend for our last night in place of L'Ami Jean? Maybe something less pricey and fairly casual.

                1. re: annlouise
                  Parigi Sep 2, 2012 08:48 AM

                  Spring's dinner menu is less expensive than the new chez l'Ami Jean dinner menu, but Spring's wines are considerably more expensive than Chez l'Ami Jean's offerings. Since Chez l'Ami Jean's new dinner system has not yet started (starting Tuesday), I can't say for certain, it a quick math seems to indicate that dinner at both places should come to about the same price.
                  If one is too expensive for you, the other should too.
                  Could you give us your budget instead of our playing the number guessing game? :-)

                  1. re: Parigi
                    annlouise Sep 2, 2012 09:35 AM

                    I am thinking of going to one of them, not both. I would prefer 75E pp or less (the majority of my selections are less than 60E +wine), but since I dont't know when we will get back to Paris, we are willing to splurge on the 90E pp if it is worth it. So, my question is which is the better food/experience?

                    1. re: annlouise
                      Parigi Sep 2, 2012 09:46 AM

                      I see.
                      For me they are par.
                      Jégo (CLAJ) has been on an inspiration roll and keeps his delightful surprises coming, but many people don't like the elbow jostling (no problem for us, and the 90 euro new menu may fix this lack-of-space problem) and Jégo's yelling (again, no problem for me, but problem for others). Spring has better selected (but such expensive) wines.
                      Why not go to Chez l'Ami Jean for lunch instead of dinner, which still has very good food and will be within your budget?
                      Ditto Spring for lunch instead.

                      1. re: Parigi
                        annlouise Sep 2, 2012 10:06 AM

                        I have thought about switching to lunch instead. I have been concerned about the elbow jostling aspect of CLAJ. My husband is 6'2" and prefers a bit of elbow room. But he will squeeze for the right place. :)

                        I should have mentioned that I am not a big wine drinker (prefer a good microbrew beer), so I don't plan to order expensive wine. I am hoping wine is available by the glass or carafe since my husband and I prefer different types of wine.

                        1. re: annlouise
                          John Talbott Sep 2, 2012 10:47 AM

                          "Spring's wines are considerably more expensive than Chez l'Ami Jean's"
                          Ah, that my good friend is not necessarily true; a useful trick is to go to the boutique 10 minutes before service and seduce the charming Josh into giving you some great but less pricey ones. There, I've revealed what should have been a secret. When they see me coming they immediately haul out the cheapo wine list and bottles hidden in the far reaches of the 3rd cellar.

                          1. re: John Talbott
                            mangeur Sep 2, 2012 11:30 PM

                            Interesting, John, but should these calesthenics be necessary to ferret out suitable wines? I seem to remember that the subject of wine list transparency came up well over a year ago. So nothing has changed?

                            1. re: mangeur
                              Parigi Sep 2, 2012 11:45 PM

                              I agree. Besides, it may or may ont work with diners who are not an old regular or named John Talbott. Even if it works, it is somewhat demeaning. The reasonable wine list should be made available to all and not just to insiders who beg the right person and say the right Open-Sesame code word.
                              As much as I love Spring, I think this should be pointed out.

                              1. re: mangeur
                                John Talbott Sep 3, 2012 12:28 AM

                                "So nothing has changed?"
                                I cannot answer that - they know I'm cheap.

                                1. re: John Talbott
                                  Parigi Sep 3, 2012 08:58 AM

                                  We're all cheap. It is a matter of getting our cheapness respected.

                              2. re: John Talbott
                                annlouise Sep 3, 2012 08:57 AM

                                What is a reasonable price for a bottle at Spring, do you think?

                                1. re: annlouise
                                  John Talbott Sep 3, 2012 09:51 AM

                                  I take the 5th.

                                  1. re: annlouise
                                    Parigi Sep 3, 2012 09:54 AM

                                    If your name is not John Talbott, the least expensive bottle on the list is around 60 euro, last I saw.

                                    1. re: Parigi
                                      John Talbott Sep 3, 2012 12:09 PM

                                      Come on, if you dig deep into the house carte you'll find it/them just like Waldo - I assume everyone knows that in France like in Hebrew you read from back to front, right to left, and you'll find the Divers stuff that no self-respecting suitor wanting to impress his betrothed would order, you know, from Corbieres, Languedoc, the Pays d'Oc, the Loire, Beaujolais's, of which Morgans and Saint-Amour's are particularly appeciated by the exigent Colette and of course Cotes du Rhone (of which there as many vineyards as De Gaulle's famous number of cheeses). Enuf; cheapskates rule!

                                      1. re: John Talbott
                                        mangeur Sep 3, 2012 12:46 PM

                                        If this is so, then the wine list is indeed transparent. (There was talk some time back about there being two lists; I'm glad to hear there is now just one comprehensive one.) What are the price points of Colette's appreciated Morgons and Saint-Amours?

                                        1. re: mangeur
                                          Parigi Sep 3, 2012 01:39 PM

                                          " (There was talk some time back about there being two lists; I'm glad to hear there is now just one comprehensive one.) "

                                          The two-list system was the case when I went last but am so happy to hear that there is now only one list.. Thank you, John, for the excellent news.

                                        2. re: John Talbott
                                          Parigi Sep 3, 2012 12:48 PM

                                          "nuf; cheapskates rule!"
                                          This I agree with.
                                          At a dinner with another hound, Parijo, the cheapest bottle we could collectively find was 60 euro. John, I know how to read and I know how to count, duh.

                                          1. re: Parigi
                                            Parnassien Sep 3, 2012 01:36 PM

                                            This pennypincher now only goes to Spring for lunch and does not order wine. I use my memories of how wonderfully affordable Spring used to be as a sort of wine substitute. But I have to fight back the growing feelings of resentment to enjoy the meal.

                                  2. re: annlouise
                                    John Talbott Sep 2, 2012 10:51 AM

                                    "I have been concerned about the elbow jostling aspect of CLAJ. My husband is 6'2" and prefers a bit of elbow room."
                                    I am or was 6'2" before decrepitude kicked in but this was a problem for my wonderful wife, however the latest pictures and promos show more spacy seating.

                                2. re: annlouise
                                  John Talbott Sep 2, 2012 10:57 AM

                                  "which is the better food/experience?"
                                  Oh, boy, here we are back to Sophie's point on another thread. We all have different opinions, most of us think that both places are great but very different.
                                  Someone once told me when we were travelling in China, if you miss the bus, don't worry, you'll have just as great an experience.
                                  The two are very different in very different ways. If I were facing a firing squad tmrw and a choice between then, the firing squad would get to me before I was able to choose. You cannot go wrong.

                    2. g
                      Gargle Sep 1, 2012 01:48 PM

                      This place will set you mouth on fire:


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