Paris Trip Highlights
I just spent two weeks in rainy freezing snowy Paris. I like the cold, but it was too cold, and too wet too much. The snow was beautiful; the city was quiet, less populated, and ethereal (though I'm sure the commuters and workers would not agree with this assessment). Following are restaurant notes and thoughts:
La Regalade (original). Not as good as usual due to my not enjoying the fish dish at all; a bad mixture of fish, cheese and steamed potatoes..ill conceived and not enjoyable. Everything else was good, especially the squid ink risotto, which is a beautiful dish.
La Regalade St. Honore. For the first time, I enjoyed it more than the original. They have changed the risotto dish to include calamari instead of shrimp, and they have changed the pork belly, with a smaller, but more elegant portion, served now on a bed of fantastic herb mashed potatoes. great food, still an incredible value. (Their terrine is inferior to the original's, which is good, since overindulging in it can ruin the meal to come).
Sola. Fantastic in every way. Beautiful old space, creative french/japanese/modern cuisine. The most creative, complex and beautiful desert I might have ever had. Dinner prix fixe was fantastic.
Josephine Chez Dumonet. Great as always. To me, the quintessential french bistro that exists in my mind. Great food always. Wonderful smoked salmon, foie gras, duck confit, beef bourgignon, and a fantastic-amazing- perfect apple tarte fine. Half portions are great options.
Pierre Gagnaire (lunch). Great. Much better than my last visit, when I did not enjoy the food. In this case the food was great, and there were no big misses, other than the five dessert plates, of which I only liked one or two, but this is often the case with me and Gagnaire's desserts.
Le Cinq (lunch). Incredible. I have never had a less than fantastic meal here, but this time, the bar was raised by a foie gras starter that was one of the richest, most beautiful dishes I have ever tasted; this was followed by a beautifully light fish main course that was simple and complex and wonderful.
Pramil. Unfortunately, I was not feeling great this evening, so I rushed and didn't have a great time, but the food (and the value) was excellent. Foie gras ice cream in pumpkin soup was unique and fantastic and beyond rich. The main of scallops, potatoes, and mushrooms, was a beautiful, rich dish. Great, luxurious cooking happening here.
L'Agrume. Slightly disappointing. It is cool to see that one person puts out all of the food, and it was fun to watch from the counter seat. And the food was fine, but I did not love it, and was not blown away by anything. Five small dishes including dessert; the fish course was excellent, the other dishes were ok, but portions small, and I did not like the simple dessert at all. If I was staying in the neighborhood, I would try it, but I would not make a special trip.
Le Hide. Incredible value at this small neighborhood restaurant in the 16th. Very casual, very easy and comfortable, very good, somewhat homey food. Marinated salmon appetizer was wonderful and generous.
Hiramatsu. Wonderful, elegant lunch. Beautiful, sophisticated food in a refined atmosphere with excellent service.
La Table du Lancaster. I stayed at this hotel for a few days, and tried the newly renovated one-star restaurant. It was very good, sophisticated, beautiful, creative, elegant cuisine. I liked it, but did not love it.
L'Affriole. Loved this little place a few doors down from Chez L'Ami Jean. Great value, rich, modern, creative food, very comfortable and friendly neighborhood place. Main course of quail (?) and foie gras in puff pastry was beautifully executed.
The Epicerie at Bon Marche was amazing, as always. And, as with my last trip, I was struck with the unpleasant attitude of many of the staff.
My go-to for various treats, baguettes, and for amazing sandwiches was Gerard Mulot, near Luxembourg Gardens. The quality of everything is superb. Their little mini tarte tatin was particularly amazing.
A great trip, in spite of the weather. And great food. Sola was the great revelation of the trip; for me, this is really the kind of restaurant that I love.
Thanks a lot for all the useful information, Sola is on my list and i'm not sure yet if for lunch or dinner. Hiramatsu another candidate, a recent report from there in this forum really made me want to add it also to the next list. Maybe choosing it for lunch and Sola for dinner, as you did, might be a nice way to go..
May I make a small suggestion about the Epicerie? If you go there for the cheeses and for the Bordier butters, you should try the Marche d'Aligre instead. Went there yesterday and inside their permanent building there are several stands selling these products. Every type of Beurre Bordier including their yogurts plus a truffle butter that was to die for. And a smiling owner who has no attitude at all. Headed back there right now for an extra supply,since what I bought is going to be insufficient!
As a shopping tourist spending euros, I have dealt with mediocre to bad attitude on a few occasions. As a frequent visitor to Paris, who speaks some french, it does get a little old being pre-judged and often condescendingly categorized as a "tourist". As someone who staunchly defends the French, and Parisians specifically, against negative stereotyping, I am afraid that on my last few trips, I have become more sensitive to some Parisians living up to the stereotype. I now vote with my pocketbook when I feel I have been treated with unnecessarily haughty arrogance.
They have a great selection of varied products. From fresh to packaged, and in between. In particular, their cakes are beautiful, and their selection of very high end goods such as smoked salmon, foie gras, and Spanish ham, is superb.