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Nov 9, 2012 10:47 AM

Woah - Can't believe how hard it is to get a dinner reso at Septime

Hi Everyone - a few weeks back I did tons of research for our trip and with the help of you all I got a great list of restaurants for my time in Paris. I decided on Septime for a Friday night dinner and was told my the restaurant to call 3 weeks in advance which I did, and they were already completely booked! Pretty surprised. Has anyone dined there for lunch?thoughts on that idea? otherwise, is Saturne comparable to Septime? Recommended?

I was able to get a reservation at Frenchie that night but it's for the early seating.. I've been reading wishy washy reviews these days about it so if we decide to go somewhere else that night, I'm happy to offer the reservation to someone here.. Given all this info, where else do you suggest for a Friday evening meal? It will be the day we arrive. Thanks so much.

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  1. Saturne is better than Septime. Frenchie is about Saturne level.

    If you have a perfectly good resa at Frenchie, a perfectly good resto, why cancel and reserve somewhere else? Are you enamored with the whole reservation process?

    26 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Yes, how'd you guess? Deeply enamored. Well, Frenchie has a very limited menu and a very early seating.. we're used to eating dinner at 9:30/10:00 in NYC. So between the menu and seating time, I thought maybe I should go with Saturne since they have availability.... have you ever done Septime for lunch?

      1. re: jessicablock

        I personally think Saturne is better than Frenchie -- food, wine, bread and especially atmosphere.

      2. re: Parigi

        Sorry to disagree, I think Septime is miles above Saturne and Frenchie. But indeed it is so difficult to get a reservation at Septime that I'd also suggest sticking with the Frenchie resa.

        1. re: Ptipois

          Interesting. Why do people compare Septime and Saturne? Just out of curiosity.

          Septime has plenty of lunch reservations available so should I just snag one of those?

          1. re: jessicablock

            Snag it. Septime is the best choice of the 3 whether for lunch or dinner. And won't leave you too full to enjoy dinner.

            1. re: Parnassien

              I agree that Septime is better than Saturne and both are better than Frenchie, but Frenchie is cheaper.

              1. re: Parnassien

                Thanks Parnassien (you've been SO helpful in helping me sort out all the restaurants). Septime had an opening on the early side for lunch (12:15) but we're glad we got it. Now, where to for dinner?

                1. re: Parnassien

                  Or too full for lunch.
                  Also,I cannot imagine it has improved since I went in the popular but hardly impossible days.
                  I have mentioned it before but it is a certain demographic that is completely love struck with this restaurant. Undeserved if I have to say in case that was not obvious.That does not refer to you, Parnassien(since I am replying to your post).
                  Jessica might be part of that crowd so it would work out well for her.
                  Nice room, great bread, though.
                  And I cannot compare it to the other two so I am sure that disqualifies me from the discussion.

                  1. re: dietndesire

                    Hardly "love struck" but certainly did enjoy it. I did a report on our meal and you can find it below, if you are interested. We had lunch there two weeks ago.

                    1. re: dietndesire

                      Well, Septime has been constantly full at dinner with a minimum 2 or 3-weeks wait for an evening reservation, so there must be something to it beside the "demographic", right?

                      A few months ago, I took an ageing starred chef to Septime for dinner because he was curious about the new Parisian cooking, and he was silent during the two first courses. Then he told me: "I can think of a few of my starry colleagues who honestly would be ashamed of themselves if they tasted this." Then he said: "Turn around discreetly." There was one of his aforementioned acquaintances dining a few tables away. "He is taking notes in his mind", he said.

                      1. re: Ptipois

                        One could use the 'off meal' argument but someone else at the table was equally underwhelmed in exactly the same way as myself.
                        And when a meal is far below the usual accolades, I will allow that it was about 20% below their standard. If it was 50% that is just not acceptable. So, if I assumed the next meal would be back up to 100%, it would still not be worth my time.
                        As for the room being full, that logic is just........folly, to be kind.
                        There are probably restaurants that are full that you, yourself, do not care for(I'm quite sure) but even if not, the argument stands.
                        Being full is not some accurate indication. Sometimes it is, sometimes not.
                        As for your chef friends, that means nothing to me. Drop names if you must.
                        And just as a note, the other of my table mates who was less than wowed would bolster my argument and standing if I named names. Are we both wrong? Perhaps.
                        But again, the demographic that fawns over this place has overrated and caused a huge fuss about some other restaurants that do not quite warrant that much exuberance in my view. That goes for around the world, not just Paris though there are variations between the exact relationship between group and restaurant style between cities.
                        But jessica may love it and I am not saying it is bad or average, just that I don't get the uber hype. If she is coming from the US, it might be the best she has experienced or very close and more likely if it limits it to the upscale food/casual/hip joints.
                        I get it, most people here love it to the extreme. That is fine and just a bit too much, not so off a judgment to me that I consider these views 'wrong', per se.
                        The other issue with a redo is that I fear I would have to eat two meals to do so.
                        And I mean at the same time to fully be sated.
                        Only time that has ever happened to me in Paris. Certainly did not help my feelings towards Septime.

                        1. re: dietndesire

                          I understand that you don't get why people love it, but I find it slightly ironic that you seem to hate it in equal measure. In fact, I am still looking for anyone who "loves it to the extreme" and where the "uber hype" is. Certainly, Frenchie and CLAJ have a much more enthusiastic following.

                          1. re: shanemio

                            Actually, I completely understand why they love it.
                            I just am not one who is enchanted by certain qualities and then projects that euphoria onto what I had put in my mouth. Did that come off a wee bit dirty? That's alright.

                            As for Grebaut's talent, there are many talented chefs whose peak is not reflected in all of the food coming out of the kitchen.

                            It was not a bad experience, but it was nowhere near the level of 'pack the space, pray for an opening' at least for the food which is mostly what I care about.
                            Yes, I fancy the room and people feel like they are in the young and hip spot(we.. they are) and that raises their opinion of the place regardless of what they are eating.
                            If the exact same dishes were served in some sleepy, older, less interesting area, the demographic that I speak of would not be nearly as enthused.
                            Does that mean that pure food people would not find it and maybe fill it? No, but it would be a different set, that is all. And the filling would not be to the 3 weeks no vacancy level.

                            In short, overrated, not that I think it is terrible or anything. And if you are a certain type of person, you will definitely love it.

                            Stating that a restaurant is packed and thus good was the argument stated, no? Or at least a weaker version that one demographic is not enough to fill it up the way it is. Both are patently false. I'm sure anyone here can think of counter examples. Perhaps that was not what you meant but it was obviously the implication of what was written.As for the weakness in my arguments, that is another matter but anytime one cares to check logic versus mine, we can find a neutral, objective, qualified party to decide. I'll give you heavy odds to sweeten the pot.
                            And upon any loss on my end,I realize I will be treating at Septime but someone else will have to secure the reservation. I am not hooked with the chef or the visiting chefs or the circle though I wish I were. I am pure jealousy and envy.

                          2. re: dietndesire

                            Well, I was merely discussing the weakness of your arguments and doubting that your "demographic" explanation was enough to explain why this place is successful.

                            And your opinion of your bad experience is perfectly justified but shrugging off sincere professional opinions confirmed my impression. As for names, you'll admit that I did not drop any.

                            After all, what we are really discussing here is a chef's value and unicity. And frankly, all "demographics" and other irrelevant stuff set aside, I think it would be very foolish to express any doubts about Bertrand Grebaut's personal talent.

                    2. re: jessicablock

                      "Why do people compare Septime and Saturne?"
                      You know, people seem obsessed with these things. IMHO they are all three (Frenchie in the mix) very different places. Go to all three; What's better - Spring or CL'AL or Vivant? My Lord. Enjoy, stop obsessing (and I say that as a professional.) You are not going to eat badly unless you bailout to Flunch or McDo's.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        As usual, you are the voice of reason. For those that are obsessed in trip planning, it is not a matter of eating well but must be an optimal experience or maybe just unable to make a simple decision. It turn into a game of ping pong balls ricocheting inside their brain. Who would have thought that picking a restaurant is such an ordeal.

                        1. re: PBSF

                          All - not really asking for any other advice at this point.. was just conveying that for anyone who thought you needed 2 weeks to secure a booking at Septime, it's not the case - You're permitted to book 3 weeks at most in advance, not a day earlier, and on that day, they were already fully committed.

                          1. re: jessicablock

                            interesting since they told a concierge I asked to call (who speaks perfect french that they would only accept a call 2 weeks before. Clearly I need to have another place in mind (not a problem for me), just the inconsistency is annoying!

                            1. re: estnet

                              Ok, here come the cynic in me. Is it possible that some restaurants give kickbacks to concierges and some (including Septime) do not? In that case, it would have been in your concierge's interest find some reason to book you elsewhere.

                              1. re: RandyB

                                No, I'm shocked, shocked that you would raise that.
                                In most cases, according to my sources, it's not so much a kick-back as free meals and booze.
                                Small places, vide Spring, Septime, Abri, Pierre Sang Boyer, Galopin, Frenchie (I could go on) that may be "hot" here operate on such a tight margain they can't indulge in such nonsense. Plus they don't need it - they've got the world's best megaphone, the New York Times.

                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  and very rarely restaurants give "free meals and booze" to concierges. What have you got to back that up?

                                2. re: RandyB

                                  No reputable concierge in Paris gets restaurants kickbacks. In fact, I've never even heard of that in my 15 years in the hospitality biz. Why would you say that?

                            2. re: PBSF

                              I guess I'm just frustrated that folks think that one, especially those who eat out a lot in Paris, can divine which of two or three very good but different places the poster might like best.
                              And I'm concerned that what the NYT's thinks is "the" place to go to today, is stale bread in 3 months.
                              Is L'Astrance no longer good because it's not "hot"; is Gagnaire bad if it doesn't get mentioned for a while; are Le Troquet, Casse Noix, Fables de la F, Le Violin d’Ingres, Ze Kitchen Galerie, La Regalade St. Honore and the original, MBC, Le Versance, yam'Tcha, and l’Agassin off everybody's lists because they were on them in prior years?
                              I don't know.
                              Sure I eat at new places, that's my mission but I also go back to the ones that my precious wife likes when she's in town.

                            3. re: John Talbott

                              John - stop being the voice or reason!

                              1. re: mitchleeny

                                On the other hand, those of us with nothing better to do, can pretend to take the high moral road while those coming once a year or once a decade want to hit the "hot ones." Understood. But there will be a life after Septime fades.
                                John's rule #42a: always have a back up.

                      2. First time I went to dinner at Septime was with Jonathan Meades who splashed my white shirt with wine. Fun memories.

                        1. The most frustrating thing about dining in Paris nowadays is trying to get into the small places. Didn't Wendy Lyn do a great piece on that somewhere? (can't find it..) . I'm lucky to have chef contacts , but I can imagine someone who's never been to Paris wanting to go to Frenchie, Septime, Spring etc might get peeved. But remember, they're tiny places not staffed or equipped to handle the vast demand that the constantly twitting, face booking, blogging digital food press has fostered upon them. Pisses me off that many of the diners there want to go just because they're hard to get into and want to see what all the fuss is about an don't give a toss about the chefs or their concepts and styles ... just saying..

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: adrian

                            Agree, but I don't thin Spring is tiny just small :) there are so many interesting to great places to eat I just don't get the panic about not getting "THE'' reservation :(

                            1. re: adrian

                              Adrian - so true. I am now very disappointed when I get a reservation. The place obviously isn't any good if it isn't already fully booked out - so why bother going?

                              1. re: PhilD

                                "I am now very disappointed when I get a reservation."
                                Oh you guys are so jaded (gals aren't).
                                In Milano yesterday I waited in line (in NYese it's on line) before noon and the place was jam packed, good, small, not tiny, and terrific.
                                You can be both - packed and terrific.

                            2. I was able to get reservations for next week - this week.

                              As a matter of fact, Septime had a dinner reservation or three open, but we're going for lunch.

                              So far, every place I've wanted to dine at (except Abri - help!) I've been able to score reservations for.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mitchleeny

                                That's good. I was able to get everything else on the list. Perhaps it was because we wanted to go on a Friday night which tends to be busier.. It worked out fine though because we're going for lunch and then we can keep the reservation for dinner at Frenchie. Have a good trip!

                              2. Plus look out on the Fooding website. They're renting out places like Septime (tomorrow), Les Deux Amis, Chateaubriand, etc. A few days before you can book and pay for the meal and be assured of getting in last minute.