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Le Cornichon, L’Ilot, L’Auberge du 15, Terroir Parisien, Caïus, Pierre-Sang Boyer, Vivant, La Rotonde, Café de la Paix, Restaurant du Palais Royal (Sept 2012)

I’ve used up much of my vocabulary and even more of my pixels posting about our visit to the Languedoc, etc., in mid September 2012 (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/873368). But as Parigi reminds us, we must report back, and so here’s a briefish recap of the Paris days of our stay, early and late September 2012. As recommended on some recent posts, I’ll mention costs. (And looking at these figures, we are reminded what a relative deal countryside dining can be.)

Le Cornichon, 34 rue Gassendi, http://www.lecornichon.fr/ . This was a great first night place, and remains one of the most enjoyable meals of the three weeks. Small, convivial room. Two memorable entrées: Tête de veau snackée minute, cervelle frite et girolles aigre douce; Sauté de champignons minute, escargots, échalotes et jus de viande. Plats: Cabillaud poché, au thé torréfié, petits poireaux grillés, aubergine et sesame (quite light, maybe a bit too so); jous de veau braisées tomatées, cocos de Paimpol cuisinés. Two cheese courses, one dessert, pommes et poires confites carmelisees, sorbet fromage blanc. Plus a bottle of water and a nice bourgogne, and 2 apperos. 131€.

Restaurant L’Ilot, 4, rue de la Corderie. We liked this seafood and fish specialist. Especially memorable dishes: Anguille fume, Harengs matjes, and for dessert, Kouign Amann. We also enjoyed the conversation with our lunch companion, see pics and our elbows at http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/... . With two bottles of muscadet, the bill for three: 105€.

L’Auberge du 15, 15 rue de la Sante. www.laubergedu15.com/index.html : It was an anniversary evening, and we sprang for coupes de champagne, two menus gourmet (68€ each), with a 76€ Savigny les Beaunes. It was a warm Saturday, and three tables in the small room remained unoccupied all evening. The food, including aligot, was really not that memorable, and the wine was far too warm — we had to use an ice bucket to bring it down to, and then keep it at, pleasant drinking temperature. It could have been an off night, but we were not very impressed, and looking back the cost was quite high compared to our other much more enjoyable dining. 254€.

Terroir Parisien, 20 rue Saint Victor, http://www.yannick-alleno.com/carnet/... Memorable dishes on a Sunday night along with a NYTimes-referred crowd: Museau a la vinaigrette (very nice); poulet au vinaigre; boudin noir (large hockey puck size, broiled — seemingly on all sides — very good) served in the middle of pureed potatoes; a fine and generous “assortiment de fromages”; plus mousse au chocolat to share, a bottle of 2010 Cairanne, 52€. Total 153€. Note, the simple wine list is nicely organized by price, three choices at 17€, 5-6 choices at 24€, more at 36€ and at 52€, etc. American restaurants could learn from this and dare to offer low-cost wines.

Caïus, 6, rue d’Armaillé, www.caius-restaurant.fr . We had a lovely dinner here at a table for four with two frequent posters, one of whom knows the chef well. We did not order; food and wine just came, I took no notes, and now it’s just a pleasant blur. We remember a pronounced Asian influence, especially in the opening courses. Share for 2: 160€.

Pierre-Sang Boyer, 55, rue Oberkampf, www.pierresangboyer.com Three of us had a very fine dinner at the counter, watching and talking with the hip chef and his team. This was another pleasant blur. We arrived at 7:00 (no res accepted). The wine service (30€ per person for matches with each course, plus another 5€ glass each) was especially memorable: Not only were the offerings distinctive (Portugal and Spain represented) and fun, but they were served and poured with confidence and aplomb we’ve rarely seen. 184€ for 3.

Vivant, 43, rue des Petites-Ecuries. Another dinner for four, again with two other regular posters, one of whom knows the chef well. We had a 21:15 reservation. The atmosphere is cramped and lively in this former bird shop with great tiled murals. The food was very good — at this time only a week or so under the new chef. There were two or three choices for each of the 5 courses, and they allowed one at our table to select two from the meat course to avoid fish offerings that did not appeal to him. The matching wines with each course were very distinctive and “oxidative” (most very enjoyably, and couple less so, as observed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/872153 ). Share for 2: 192€.

La Rotonde, 105 Boulvd. du Montparnasse. For lunch on a warm day just off the terrace we had a medium sized assiette fruits de mer plus 6 extra fine oysters, a grand badoit, a bottle of aligote, and for dessert, a shared soup melon and two express. 75,50€.

Café de la Paix, 2 rue du Scribe, in Le Grand Hotel. We found ourselves nearby at lunch, and so popped into the “restaurant” (contrasted with the brasserie). As we expected it’s an elegant place, and we are glad we went, but can’t see returning soon. We had a salad of poulpe (octopus); roget; a demi of chablis; melon and flan, and one express, served with macarons. 114€.

Restaurant du Palais Royal, 110 Galerie de Valois, www.restaurantdupalaisroyal.com . We were aiming for the Verjus wine bar at lunch, when, on arriving, we realized that they are not open at lunch, at least on Wednesday. And so we ambled to the Restaurant du Palais Royal, where we knew it would be rather costy, but it was our last day, we were tired, and we felt spurgy. Entrée, to split, ceviche de cabillaud, lait de coco et moutarde à l’ancienne, very nice. My wife’s bar Breton with half a fennel was among the best lunch fish of our trip (and for three weeks she specialized in fish at lunch). My espadon (swordfish) sauce tomatée with leeks was firm and nice. With a bottle of chablis, a 9€ Chateldon (ouch!), and 2 express with mignarise/ petit-fours. 141€. Quite enyoyable, but can’t see going back soon. — Jake

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  1. First of all; thanks Jake for the fine report: brief enough to digest, comprehensive enough to savour.
    As for "the Verjus wine bar at lunch, when, on arriving, we realized that they are not open at lunch, at least on Wednesday." I too await their opening at lunch.

    1. Thanks Jake - some additions to my list.

      1. Thanks for a good read. I'm glad you went to places other than the usual suspects.

        10 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          "I'm glad you went to places other than the usual suspects."

          Yah Jake, wher'd you get those ideas?

          1. re: John Talbott

            Hmmm, seems to me that three of these places are already -- or are fast becoming -- “usual suspects” (Vivant, Terroir P, and Pierre-Sang Boyer). But to answer the question, after cross-checking with other reviewers, we got the first 7 on our list from the same source that I linked in par. 3 of the OP. Try it some time, he’s pas mal.

            I’ll add: We’d never focused on Caïus or Pierre-SB until our dining companions proposed them. After they did and I researched (here, PbM, and that other blog) I realized that once again we’d been completely unaware of both “happening” and established places.

            Also: The last 3 of our listed places are of course all established and rather cliché (Rotonde, Palais Royal, and Café de la Paix), but all were fun for an impromptu lunch when we happened to be flâneuring nearby at that time.

            1. re: Jake Dear

              I think it's important Jake to point out that there are a number of bloggers in French and English who keep up with new openings and they don't "round up the usual suspects." And certainly the weekly print media gals/guys at Figaroscope, L'Express, A Nous Paris, etc are turning up new places continually.

              1. re: John Talbott

                Re Figaroscope, L'Express -- I’m aware of those sources (and I do triangulate with Le Fooding sometimes), but my poor French generally pushes me to English language sources. PbM has been promising as an aggregator/ central clearing house for useful reviews (in English and French), but tho it remains a good site, it seems not as current or updated as it once was.

                And honestly, I often rely on your site to tell us what, as you’d say, the (other) “big boys” are saying. Our other great source, of course, is our Paris-based and Paris-loving friends – many of whom we’ve met via CH, who share and suggest places directly to us.

                When we are in the countryside, where we love to spend about half of our time in France, it’s a different thing. Unless we have recs from CHers, we rely on the red guide (internet version) and recs from the proprietors of where we happen to be. Are there any other reliable/useful internet sources for outside Paris?

                1. re: John Talbott

                  And equally important to read deeply as well as broadly, i.e., to read between the lines to ascertain the writers' tastes and preferences. How often we've walked out of a restaurant only to have my husband ask, "Why did we book here? Where did you get the name? Don't use them again unless you read more carefully." Definitely "Ooops evenings".

                  1. re: mangeur

                    Which is exactly why the Zagat guide (and many a blog/forum post) is less than meaniful for me -- just as consider your audience is often a helpful admonition when recounting a tale, consider the source is often a practical reference when evaluating another's dining experience.

                    1. re: mangeur

                      "the writers' tastes and preferences."
                      It's also important to know who's "on the take." Because of libel-defamation-slander laws, even in France, few of us call a spade a spade - Pti being the wonderful exception.
                      The other thing a young old-hand told me was watch for out of town reviews centered on one area, it's usually where the critic-writer has a secondary home.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        "few of us call a spade a spade"

                        Really ? Is it because of the laws or because critics become friends with chefs which makes everything more complicated ?

                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                          The "little guys and gals" don't know the chefs or they us, the first time we go.
                          I doubt if the "big boy" critics who call chefs and say they're giving them an award, how about dinner for 20, give a damn about laws or friendships.

                        2. re: John Talbott

                          "The other thing a young old-hand told me was watch for out of town reviews centered on one area, it's usually where the critic-writer has a secondary home".

                          John - I suspect that is very true, and even residents may tend to favour their regular (local) haunts. In any city the "blogger" or individual writer has more limited resources than a guide or newspaper. But each source of information has some bias, often unintended.

                          I suspect one of the most pernicious is the reviewers budget. The twitterati are often young and have understandably limited budgets, add the pressure of having to visit lots of new places, and the it skews the reviews to cheaper simpler places. Twitter and Facebook are trend drivers, with new openings (in my city at least) dispensing with dedicated web sites and instead launching with (far less expensive) Facebook pages and twitter feeds.

                          Is the trend for (or drift to) cheaper restaurants; or the so called democratisation of dining; the pop-ups, cheap street food like burgers, hot dogs and fried chicken, etc etc. a result of the dire state of the economy, or is it because the "influencers" on social media, the trend setters and followers only have limited budgets and lots of time to tweet?