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H. Kitchen, Brasserie Mollard, Le 122, Bistro Landais, Carnet de Voyage, A l’Huitriere, La Cagouille, Les Philosophes, Le Dirigeable, Spring, Axuria, Semilla -- “and more”: Report

Jake Dear Feb 3, 2013 08:32 PM

Thanking all again for the useful information from the posters on this site, here’s a report from late Dec 2012-early Jan 2013. As suggested on some recent posts, I’ll mention costs, which in this case are generally for two -- usually including a bottled sparkling water and a full (at dinner) or half (at lunch) bottle or carafe of wine, one dessert to split, and 1 or two express cafes.

Lunches

Le Nemrod. http://www.lenemrod.com/ A casual neighborhood café/bistro/ bar a vins next door to our favorite apartment, it’s open all day and past midnight. We got to know the staff smokers who took their breaks in our doorway from 8:00-00:30 each day. Minutes after arriving from CDG we had a nice wild mushroom omelette and salad cruditee, with a carafe of darn good Brouilly from an extensive Beaujolais selection. €53. 51, rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th.

H. Kitchen. Not to be (or maybe designed to be?) confused with the (former) Hidden Kitchen. We were the first in the empty room for lunch, and were very lucky to be seated without a reservation. The small, spare & yet elegant neighborhood place filled up immediately with local families. The cooking shows clear Asian influence -- thanks to Dr. John for steering us here (http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/john_talbotts_paris/2012/11/h-kitchen-in-the-6th-yet-another-pair-of-japanese-chefs-cooking-french-food-when-will-it-end.html). We had to agree to vacate by 13:00, but we were happy just to get in, and for once we got l’addition quickly. We will be pleased to return for dinner. €73. 18, rue Mayet, 6th.

A l’Huitriere. http://www.huitriere.fr/Restaurant/La-cuisine.html We took the TGV to Lille and at DCM’s suggestion headed here, and really enjoyed it. The room is elegant (and we appreciated it more so after we asked to be moved to a better table pres de la fenetre, SVP), and although expensive, the quality was high, the service very fine, and it was a great way to spend a long rainy afternoon before visiting the last day of the Christmas market en route to the excellent Palais de Beaux Arts. €261. 3 rue de Chats Bossus, 59000 Lille.

Les Philosophes. http://www.cafeine.com/pdf/menu_philo.pdf So many of our first choices were “fermee exceptionnelle” between Christmas and until right after Jan 2 that we had to make quite a few adjustments en route, and this was a happy one, where we had among other things a fine confit de canard with a carafe of nice Crozes Hermitage. It was bursting busy -- I’d get there early, or reserve. Service was fast, maybe even too much so. The carte proclaims: “Le Vrai fait maison,” and our waiter enthused that the confit was as well. €82. Note: looks like a nice place to go for, as the carte proposes, “Petite restauration”/ late breakfast too. 28 rue Vielle du Temple, 4th.

Brasserie Mollard. http://www.mollard.fr/ On New Year’s day we headed for lunch at Garnier for a fruits de mer platter, but were turned off by its rather shockingly high prices and so we went next door. Lucky to get in without a res, we had to settle for the frontmost room/ reception area and sat next to a delightful couple who live around the corner and ended up chatting with them in Franglais. The platter was good, but not among the best we’ve had; the crab in particular seemed suspect. All of the front rooms (circa 1867) are incredible; but the back of the restaurant feels like 1975 -- avoid! €131, including a nice Muscadet. 115, rue Saint-Lazare, 8th.

Le 122. http://www.le122.fr . We had a nice table for four at this bright & cleanly stylish place, and would happily return for dinner next time. More details here: http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/john_talbotts_paris/2013/01/le-122-another-pleasant-albeit-not-blow-your-mind-out-meal.html . €109 for our share. 122, bien sur, rue de Grenelle, 7th.

Mamie Gateaux. There continues to be an odd web site here: www.mamie-gateaux.com . We returned a third time in recent years to one of my wife’s favorite simple lunch places, right around the corner from the Au Bon Marche. Nice soups, quiches and tartes. €20. 66, rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th.

Bistrot Landais. http://www.lebistrotlandais.fr/ Inspired by Ptipois’s rec (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875853 ), we went for confit de canard (€10 less than a pretty similar dish at Les Philosophes, and maybe as good). We really liked this simple corner/neighborhood bistro with a friendly feel. The langue de boeuf was pretty good too, tho not up to the version at Le Dirigeable (below). €55, with a 50 cl of nice Galliac. 104, rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th.

Dinners:

Le Reminet. http://www.lereminet.com/ We had a nice table by the front door on our somewhat jetlagged first night. We ordered from the carte at 40 percent off, thanks to a promotion from La Fourchette/ The Fork, which was honored on the bill, no prompting needed. Standing out was a pigeon farci, and a persille homard. Oh, and a buche de noel. €159, including a very nice lesser Burgogne. 3, rue de Grands Degres, 5th.

Carnet de Voyage. Our table for 6 was one of the few of non-Asian groups in this hopping place that takes no reservations, so be prepared to wait. This was Chinese (specifically, Yunnan) cooking, and unlike anything we’ve never experienced in San Francisco, with some notable presentations in hot woks left at the table. Maybe Ptipois will elaborate. €45, I forget? (Not expensive at all.) 4 rue de Budapest, 9th.

La Rotisserie d’en Face. http://www.larotisseriecagna.fr/ With somewhat slim pickings on New Year’s day for dinner we returned here after many years, and it was good, if not great. Most memorable: Pate de sanglier en croute, and cervelle de veau meuniere. My wife’s pigeonneau aux petits pois was too dry. €134. 2, rue Christine, 6th.

La Cagouille. http://www.la-cagouille.fr/ The seafood (that’s all they serve) seemed fresh and of highest quality. Here we had the impression that it’s all about the food -- and an incredible carte des vins et cognacs. The general area/setting and rather 1980s-feeling/nautical main room left us cold, which is a bit ironic because it also was far too bright. I was ready to confess to a crime that I did not commit under the halogen interrogation spot where we were first seated before we asked once again to move pres de la fenetre (actually a sliding door). They were a bit grumpy about that, but complied. And then I noticed that they sat nobody else there all night. Maybe it would be nicer to dine out on the terrace in good weather. €141, including a verre of cognac. 10, place Constantin Brancusi, 14th.

Le Dirigeable. We were in the mood for a simple place, and this is one – thanks to mangeur for the rec. Memorable: langue de boeff, and veau. My sanglier was a bit dry, as it often can be. We never saw the carte des vins but we were in simple mode and happy to order “natural” vins du moment in carafes and verres off the board. And it was nice chatting with the owner, Guy, who spent many years at restaurants in San Francisco (we agreed with him that Zuni is a favorite). €98. Can’t find a web site, but see a review here: http://notdrinkingpoison.blogspot.com/2010/09/some-other-better-paris-le-dirigeable.html 37, rue dAlleray, 15 th.

Spring. http://www.springparis.fr/ There were three of us for at the four-top facing the kitchen -- what an impressive scene, and fun to watch that team. My wife was back at apartment with the same nasty bug that had sidelined me days earlier, and so she missed the most memorable dish that I’ve had in a long time: Truffle sandwich, along with incredible bullion and more truffles atop. Once again, Spring delivered the best dining of the trip. €118 per person, with champagne given free to our table -- I think I was with the right companions. (Speaking of fellow diners, after the French couple next to us left at 22:00, in came Laura and Braden of Verjus/ and formerly Hidden Kitchen -- they were are closed for a few weeks of remodeling and were dining around town; and downstairs that Saturday night was the US Ambassador and his family.)

Axuria. http://www.axuria-restaurant.fr/ Because it’s open 7 days, this was a nice Sunday dinner option. Memorable: raviole truffes, and turbot. The soufflé grand marnier was OK, if a bit rubbery. Décor a bit oddly cold -- looked better on the web site than in person, but I suspect it’s more pleasant in daylight. €128. 4 Ave. Felix Faure, 15th.

Semilla. Accross the street from its cousin, Fish La Boissonerie (has it reopened yet, as they said it would by the end of Jan?). Nice, stylish room, open kitchen -- the ventilation is as not as good as Spring’s, tho, some strong fish smells kept wafting me. Memorable at our table for 3: entrees: “Raviolie” (1 huge, in billion -- very nice); pomelos. Plats: Daurade, Carre de couchon. My tete de veau was good, tho not among the best I’ve had. Like Fish, it’s associated with the wine shop La Dernier Goute, right around the corner, and we had some good & interesting wines by carafe. €159. 54 rue de Seine, 6th. -- Jake

  1. p
    plafield Feb 5, 2013 03:55 PM

    We also enjoyed our meals at Le Dirigable and Auxuria, although we were living in the area and I'm not sure either place is worth crossing town for. Thanks for the report!

    2 Replies
    1. re: plafield
      Jake Dear Feb 6, 2013 08:58 PM

      Hi Plafield, I agree with you -- maybe not "worth a journey," but dandy if nearby. And it certainly is rewarding to see and experience neighborhoods beyond the single-digit arrondissements; we enjoyed the long walks to both of these. -- Jake

      1. re: Jake Dear
        John Talbott Feb 7, 2013 06:41 AM

        I cross town almost every Sunday for Axuria.

    2. Jake Dear Feb 4, 2013 01:52 PM

      Salut Jo, oferl, mangeur, and Parnassien, thanks for the nice comments, all the more for coming from all of you.

      Mangeur, re “discerning comments,” I doubt I have half the culinary knowledge of many of you (that’s my wife’s dept, and she does not post), but as two of these little reviews suggest, I can fairly quickly discern basic things like when a table’s not optimal in terms of location or lighting! And so I’ve decided that it does not hurt to ask for an upgrade, and it’s much better than dining with a twinge of regret.

      Parnassien, Mamie Gateaux — yes, a simple little treat. And “le Petit Verdot” — it was on our list because of your rec, yet it was one of many places closed over the holidays and beyond. We walked by the little place often and sometimes there appeared a hand-written notice saying in essence that it was available for renting to private groups. Assuming it will be open to the public this coming mid-September, it’s still on our Cherche-Midi list for then . . . .

      Oh, and DCM: I’ll check our l’Huitriere bill for the Chateldon. — Jake

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jake Dear
        mangeur Feb 4, 2013 02:28 PM

        Indeed, Jake. In fact, I was startled when I read once that bad tables are not personal insults but facts of life. If they can get rid of one without complaint, it is to their advantage, just as having you happy with your placement is. They offered it to you and you said, "Thank you, no."

      2. Delucacheesemonger Feb 4, 2013 12:47 PM

        Glad it was fun, wish l had been in Paris to join you. L'Huitriere has the distinction of the most expensive bottle of Chateldun ever other than Tokyo, 14 euros IIRC.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger
          Jake Dear Feb 4, 2013 06:15 PM

          DCM, I just looked at our tab and they have either reformed or they took pity on us or they gouged you extra. Our charge was 9 Euros. Still high, it's often 6,50 at non-fancy places, but better than yours! -- Jake

        2. Parnassien Feb 4, 2013 12:27 PM

          Many thanks for your perfectly pitched reviews. I'm especially glad that you included a mention of the adorable Mamie la Gateau. And keeping with the Franco-Japanese, simplicity and rue Cherche-Midi themes, have you ever tried le Petit Verdot ? Another place that rarely gets a mention on Chowhound but should.

          1. mangeur Feb 4, 2013 10:04 AM

            This is an outstanding collection of meals taken during the difficult period between Christmas and the first weeks of January. Thanks for this good list and your discerning comments.

            1. o
              oferl Feb 4, 2013 06:42 AM

              Thank you for this great info, very helpful and highly appriciated :-)

              1. p
                parisjo Feb 4, 2013 04:31 AM

                Nice report, Jake. Sounds like you had some great meals and lots of variety. Thanks for the heads up on Les Philosophes ~ we are headed back in the fall and staying in the Marais again. Les Philosophes will be right around the corner from us, so may be a good place when we just want something dependable close by.

                Ah Spring ~ that one's a given for us, though I think we may do lunch again.

                Thanks for sharing!

                Jo

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