September Trip Report
I've posted this in response to my original question re: my itinerary, but wanted to add it here as well. Sorry if this is against the common etiquette.
Thanks to all who responded to this and other posts and for the general information and reviews you provide.
A quick post-trip report below, but about us first (this might be relevant). Wife and I are in late 20s/early 30s respectively. From NY. We have spent many summers abroad in Europe but speak no french. We try to respect local sensibilities as much as possible (say hello and good day/evening in french when we walk in, ask in french if the host happens to speak english, etc). We also know some key french phrases and I can read a bit of french (and definitely can read a menu fairly well). Bottom line, although this may be somewhat self serving: we defintely try very hard not to come off as "obnoxious Americans" or anything close.
Friday night - Spring: Truly an excellent meal. Main course was pigeon (is this a game-season special or regularly on the menu?). Also mushrooms and oysters were predominantly featured in the meal, as were figs in dessert. Found a bottle of 44eur beujoulais (sp?) that was really quite nice. Only mild complaint was somewhat to do with the service -- the french staff was extremely polite, attentive and kind, but the main waiter (who sounded english) really seemed to want nothing to do with us (and was audibly much nicer to others around us) -- didn't explain the plates to us in the same manner as others, etc. Not a reason to not go back, but always find it curious as to why this would happen.
Saturday lunch - just had some oysters in St. Germain. Can't remember name of the place (not Hugeterie Regis). A brasserie... Oysters were very good but expensive. It was fine.
Saturday Dinner -- CLAJ. Had the tasting menu. Couple of thoughts overall: If they reduced the number of covers at one time, it certainly was a marginal reduction at best. Maybe 6-8 total? Still very crammed (not a complaint, we like the atmosphere). Dinner was very good across the board. Terrine, vegetable soup, a dish of innards (I thought they were cooked well, my wife wasn't too happy with this one (she's not the biggest fan of offal, so to be expected), roasted cod, a beef consumme, a veal dish (slightly overcooked for my liking, although still very juicy), rice pudding and a dessert featuring meringue and berries I think. Still a very filling meal, although in retrospect, I think we should have just ordered off the menu (which they still offer). They had some wonderful looking quail, cockles and other dishes that we would have very much enjoyed. We also love their pomme puree and were slightly disappointed in not getting any. Next time...
Sunday lunch - got charcuterrie, cheese and bread and had a picnic in the park. Beautiful day - must have been 28' in the sun.
Sunday dinner - only disappointing meal of the trip. We had wanted to go to Christope, but after a day in the sun, were just exhausted, so we ended up at Le Petit Cler. Entree of gazapacho soup and ham board were good enough, but the Cote De Bouef simply lacked flavor and was rather tough. Potatoes were OK. Service was nice enough and prices weren't awful (as has been well documented) but simply not worth the time.
Salvaged sunday night -- put off by dinner at Petit Cler, we skipped dessert, not wanting to be further disappointed. Instead, at around 10:30pm, we went to Violon D'ingres (after the restaurant had died down) and asked if they would seat us for dessert alone. They were nice enough to accomodate us and we had the wonderful millefuele and grand marnier souffle. Great way to end the night. Staff was extremely courteous. Side note- - we had been to Violon about 18 months ago for the dinner tasting menu and left somewhat unfulfilled. There was nothing per se wrong with the food (other than the poached chicken dish, which was cooked fine and had a very nice sauce, but was just somewhat bland (try to figure that one out -good sauce but still bland overall)), but the service was similar to what I described above for Spring but on a broader scale (rude and inattentive to a degree -- definitely made us feel unwelcome). The dessert though was excellent, so we tried it again and with much better results -- even the manager, who completely ignored us last year, was very courteous. Maybe we were dressed more stylishly this year...
Monday Lunch - Ze Kitchen Galerie. Thanks to JT for advising that we keep this. Wonderful meal. My wifes langoustine ravioli soup was probably the best thing we tasted all weekend. I had the foie gras consumme and the special of wild boar. She had the duck, which I thought was very good but she thought was ever so slightly tough (i blame it on the lackluster edge of her knife) but overall still very good. Dessert was also very good.
Tuesday lunch - Le Casse Noix. We really do love this place. We had a 12noon reservation and the taxi would be waiting for us at our hotel at 1:45 to take us to the airport, so we asked nicely if they could accommodate our quickish timing (which they did happily without a problem). My entree of a mushroom salad with an emulsion and poached egg on top was among my favorite dishes of the trip. Truly wonderful. Also had the special of veal livers with mushroom risotto -- quite excellent. The chef managed to cook the livers so perfectly such that they had a wonderful sweetness to them. My wife also loved her cold melon soup entree and main course of entrecote and roasted potatoes (which I must have had half of). Dessert of rice pudding and grilled mirabelles with caramel ice cream also delicious.
Other thoughts: really loved Stephane Secco bakery in the 7th for quiche and viennoise. Gosselin on Boul St Germain also very good. As expected, coffee was generally terrible (was very happy to be back at Joe in NYC this morning) -- never made it to Coutume -- simply too far to walk in the morning for caffeine.
Thanks again to all Chowhounders. This board and the work of others who write about Paris food in English has now twice made our trips to Paris amongst the most rewarding vacations abroad, since we don't need to worry about wasting good meals.