Mid-October Paris Trip Report...warning, long
I want to thank the Paris Chowhound Team yet again. We had a fabulous 5-day trip and ate some fabulous food, ending with a fitting feast! Internet connection issues, jet lag and work obligations prevented me from writing while things were still fresh in my ageing mind, but here are the highlights of the Paris portion of our trip (I’ll get to Burgundy next, hopefully before I forget everything).
Oh, Vivant. My former newbie fave and the highlight of our trip last Jan. We had asked our kind friend to make us the reservations, which she did, and she even confirmed after some hassle. So, we were a bit put off by the not so welcoming greeting we received from the server, who seemed a bit put out most of the evening, insisting on speaking English to us despite my husband’s fluent (and as many people have commented, well-accented) French, among other things. OK, no big deal if the food’s good - I can tolerate many things if I’m happily eating wonderful food. (And the server must have realized that she hadn’t been real accommodating as she apologized after our meal, explaining that it was her partner’s first night serving. He, on the other hand, was charming!) As for said food, although our plats were really pretty darn good, this proved to be the most disappointing meal of the trip. Mr. Sister started with his favorite boudin noir…he LOVED, no adored, their boudin noir last Jan. But this version came encased in a barely cooked green pepper, whose flavor overpowered the boudin noir. I had the escargots avec oeuf…it was interesting but not earth shattering. We then had a fish dish that I can’t really remember; again it was good but not great. The only part of our meal that stood up to our previous experience was our main dish of “burned” quail, which was perfectly cooked and flavorful. Mr. had the tartiflette de pignons for dessert and I had a chocolate dessert, both were meh. We decided to go with the wine pairings, and while I thought the bio wines were ok, my husband found them, in his words “tangily acidic, suggesting unwanted fermentation in the bottle” At 198e I don’t think that our experience at Vivant was worth it…the prices have risen beyond the quality in our view. Will we go back? Sad to say probably not. Whaaaa.
Dans Les Landes
We headed here for lunch on our first day. We had no plans and no reservations and my husband called and they said come on over. They are open from lunch through dinner so they would be a good bet if you find your self hungry in the off hours. We were sorry we didn’t have a crowd, because we wanted every item on the menu. We settled on the salade de sucrines (oh my! Those white anchovies!) which I didn’t find overdressed at all, a sardine rillete with pimento and the duck hearts, which weren’t my most fave thing ever but which my husband LOVED. We had a pichet of both red and white Irouleguy and split the milassou, which was a deep fried ball of the most heavenly sweet creamy delicious custard, served with a compote of autumn fruits. Oh my, one of my most favorite desserts ever! All for some crazy 60e or something like that. We were there on a Tuesday (I read here that the weekend may not be as good as mid-week). Will I go back? Yes, definitely, next time with friends. You know who you are.
This place had been on my list for-ev-er, and we finally made it up over the hill. I am glad we did, as it was a really nice meal in a lovely space. I am kicking myself for not taking notes because between the two of us we just can’t remember our entrees, which is a shame because it’s not because they were unforgettable. Next time I will try to jot something down! I do remember the plats, thankfully: He had the duck, perfectly rosé, and I had a lovely turbot in a mushroom sauce, (terre et mer the server said) so we shared a bottle of red Chassagne Montrachet that paired nicely with both. We split the croustillant de chocolate for dessert and it was a perfect end to a lovely meal (despite my forgetting the entrees). Will we go back? I predict that we will make it back at some point.
Oh My. Many thanks to you John Talbott, this place is a winner/keeper. Everything was just picture perfect. We went for lunch, and the 15e menu looked amazing and sure has to be the steal of the century. We opted for the 36e menu as we were planning on a light dinner before heading to see the Headhunters (of Herbie Hancock fame) that night. I started with the pumpkin gnocchi and my husband had what was the most talked about dish of the trip: Sausage made from allouette, the deplumed bird from the song that all us little American children learned to sing (that and Frere Jaques). It was delicate and tender – just damn good he says. Then I had my first and only lamb dish of the trip: Canon d’agneau with a buttery pea puree and roasted carrots. Sublime. He the Iberica “pluma”, which we later discovered is the top part of the neck. Who knew? He was in heaven. My dessert of fresh figs with house made ice cream was to die for, while the Mr. went for the Ossauriaty, which at Pirouette comes as a cheesy-cheesecake creamy sour- sweet treat, topped with fresh black cherries. The service was pitch perfect too, and I enjoyed watching the rain through the large windows. Will we go back? I sure hope so!!! Mr. Sister wanted to sit there til dinner and do it again, it was that good.
I swore that I would never return after our experience last January, when I witnesses the owner treat some fellow tourists rather shabbily, But, the oysters were delicious, and one afternoon we were jonesing for some in the worst way. Since we figured it was too late to go to Pleine Mer, The Mr. Sister talked me into trying HR again. This time we had a much better experience. They only serve oysters from Marenne d’Oleron. The oysters, especially the speciale de clairs, were even more delicious than before, and the crevette rose were outstanding as well. Actually, the Mr. says that they were the best oysters he’s ever had, and we live near the Chesapeake Bay - believe me, he knows a thing or 2 about oysters. There was a female server who spoke several languages and who was nice to everyone. Perhaps this is a lesson to us all that sometimes it’s worth giving a place a second chance (although on the other hand, there are so many restaurants in Paris that I’m not sure that this applies across the board!). Will we go back? Likely, if we find ourselves needing an oyster fix and the timing is right.
Repaire de Cartouche
My husband LOVES game (yes I use the caps when talking about things the Mr. Sister LOVES) so we thought we’d try the standard bearer RdC. We’ve been to Café Cartouche several times and had very nice experiences there so we thought we’d give the original a shot. We’ve also been to A La Biche Au Bois several times and wanted to try a new place for game. All that said, we liked our meal, but agreed that the atmosphere was just a bit stuffy for our tastes. The food was quite good: I started with a mushroom soup and husband had the terrine de cerf. Both very basic but good. The game lover had the lievre and I had a pork and lentil dish, which again were very well-done versions of rustic bistro cooking. We shared a dessert of chocolate stuffed figs that were ok, a bit too much chocolate that overpowered the fresh figs. Will we go back? Probably not. I tend to agree with a respected Hound who wrote that prefer the café to the mothership. And I thought that A La Biche au Bois was a better value and Mr. reflected that he preferred their menu.
Chez L’Ami Jean
I admit it, I am a fan, and we usually have one meal here every trip. As I mentioned on another thread, we just like the whole CLJ deal: the food, the atmosphere, the chaos…it fits us. We have obviously enjoyed our meals enough to want to come back, but have had some misses mixed in with the hits over the years This time? Not one miss. We were fortunate to have been able to share in the bounty with a couple of other Hounds, at the back table that affords one a great view of Jego in all his glory (complete with the groping seat), which added to the atmosphere. But the food is what counts and from beginning to end we were treated with the chefs magic. We started off with the shared tub of pate, the traditional pate de compagne and a wonderful sanglier…mmm. Then it started: the soup with the crunchy bits, this time a silky creamy mushroom (I think cep, others can correct). Then came a perfectly barely cooked egg sitting atop a piece of quail, with some squid thrown in for good measure. Then came the infamous foie gras. I can not do this foie gras justice in my description so I will defer to my comrade’s poetry:
The best foie gras dish I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting…
Then came the biggest langoustines I have ever seen. Cooked PERFECTLY and served naked. No sauce needed. And then came the “main” a perfectly (under) cooked pigeon, head and foot attached, sitting atop ris de veau, which were so smooth and delicious. Just perfect. As were the creamy side of potatoes…I could eat them all day long and the comment was made that they just keep getting better. And oh my, the fruit that followed. Perfectly ripe and plump berries...where did they come from? Stuffed, we still managed some spoonfuls of the rice pudding. Sigh. Sigh. With several bottles of fizzy water and several bottles of red Irouleguy . Perfect. Feast. Period. We’ll go back, we have to…
Whew! Thanks as always Paris hounds!! Til next time…
Thanks for such a wonderful report. We visited several of the same places with similar opinions. One bit of clarification; the tasty entrée at Pirouette called "Alouette Sans Tete" was so unusual to me that I had to ask for a description, knowing it really wasn't a headless lark. I was told that it was minced veal wrapped in lard di colonnata in a spicy meat sauce with mushrooms...I inhaled it! Here is my photo.
"Many thanks to you John Talbott"
You are very welcome, this has been an extraordinary Fall, with Pirouette as well as Vivant, Pierre Sang Boyer, Clandestino, Abri, Marloe, Crom'Equis, Atelier Vivanda and L'Office opening or changing chefs.
As you know, my last meal with the new chefs at Vivant was better than before and rang in at 104.44 E a couple.
And we'e doing his Cave next door tmrw and Pic the next day; the beat truly does go on.
Oh my Laidback, that is hilarious! The Mr. is laughing,, and says that since he'd never had lark, for all he knows it actually tastes just like veal (the mushroom/meat sauce he got) Very clever, Pirouette! Too funny, I bet were weren't the only ones who were fooled.
John, looking forward to your review of Vivant Cave. I know that you had a better experience than we did at the revised mothership. Oh well, we'll be sure to try some of the others next time. Thanks for doing the recon for us. :)
re: Nancy S.
Great report, thanks for making the PPD that much worse, lol.
Dans les Landes has been on the list for a while, as has Vivant. DLL just moved up the list and Pirouette has replaced Vivant.
Ah, CLJ........that foie gras sounds absolutely orgasmic. Love your description of "food, atmosphere and chaos" ~ it's what it is and why we love it too.
Thanks for sharing and making me drool,