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May 26, 2013 05:01 AM

Trying to Choose Just One Paris Bistrot Lunch

For my upcoming food and drink tour of Paris, I plan to focus almost exclusively on places I can pop in and out of - bakeries, cheese shops, wine bars, charcuterie shops, etc. But, I'd like to dine at one real sit-down restaurant -- likely for lunch. I've researched this board, and am considering Chez L'Amis Jean, Bistrot Paul Bert, La Régalade Saint-Honoré, and Chez Michel. Thoughts?

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  1. Any one of these. They're all good. What is it exactly you want to know?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Ptipois

      I've been to CAJ twice or thrice and always had foie gras, cote de boeuf and riz au lait. Can someone recommend other dishes I should try? Next month I am going for dinner.

      1. re: theskyflyer

        Tell the waiter you will let the chef take care of you. Then you go blindly into your multiple orgasms. The price is usually 55 euro, although we never ask, and once it was 42 euro, and we didn't ask that time either.
        I personally have never opened the menu.

        1. re: Parigi

          See, that's an example of you not knowing that life is not the same for us who are not hotties out there.

          There is a menu. It has a big "let the chef decide" menu, which is 80€. There is a small ltcd menu, which is 45€ indeed. Regular people, when they say "let the chef decide" will be asked which one they want and will be billed accordingly. If the chef likes you, which has NOTHING to do with being a regular, you can order the 30+ business lunch menu or the regular 42 or just one course and receive a deluge of dishes.

          The chef likes me much better when I'm with my hottie wife, for example.

          To respond the original question: there is a list of specials everyday. It's on a little notepad they pass you around with your menu. You should get what tempts you there. Also, ask the chef if there's anything he recommends that day. Sometimes they have baby eels (pibales) and yummmm. In general, it's all about what's seasonally awesome.

          1. re: Parigi

            I love letting M Jego take care of us, but we will have to add the seared lobe of foie gras to the meal next time as I promised my dear hubby this reward for letting me sneak away from my grandson and hubby last year for lunch with some hotties where I also had multiple O's.

            1. re: parisjo

              "seared lobe of foie gras"
              Who o who says you can't have both heavens?
              We had that last year with Sistereurope and BILeurope and DCM. It was another one of those let-Jégo-take-care-of-us deals. But I know DCM needed to have sex with Jégo's foie gras. He had wistfully said that the problem with having Jégo take care of us was that he would not get his foie gras.
              Therefore, seated where I was, I whispiered Jégo to sneak it in the menu to surprise DCM.

              1. re: Parigi

                Ah, one can always trust you to take care of your friends! Tell DCM Den and I also need to have sex with Jego's foie gras, we can make it a threesome in the fall!

                BTW, just the pic gives me shivers ~ can't imagine once I actually have it in my mouth!


          2. re: theskyflyer

            If they have the morels or the asparagus with bacon, they were both amazing when we were there the first week of may. Also loved the steak with the foie gras in the middle

            1. re: tlubow

              <steak with the foie gras in the middle> ???

              Oh my!

        2. I vowed I'd never again answer one of these "best of" questions, but like all vows, this is meant to be broken - Chez L'Ami Jean,

          1. My fave would be Chez l'Ami Jean, hands down.

            1. I can't fault the quality of L'AJ, and it's certainly the pick of the suggested litter. At the same time, I worry that a first-timer will not have the same over-the-top experience that regulars do. It's my sense that a relationship with the house is a large part of that experience.

              18 Replies
              1. re: mangeur

                "I worry that a first-timer will not have the same over-the-top experience that regulars do."
                I disagree, I'm not a regular by any means; I've been the sum total of 4-6 times and only once with the Big Guy.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  "I disagree, I'm not a regular by any means; I've been the sum total of 4-6 times and only once with the Big Guy."

                  And? You are saying that your experiences have been over the top in comparison with other similarly priced bistrots?

                  We've been less than that, never with the Big Guy. Food was better than at the other places suggested above, but neither food nor dining experience mirrored that described by the regulars on this forum. i.e., good but no cigar.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    I have eaten with the Big Guy, and as a nobody, and as a less-nobody nobody. Always ate excelletly, starting from the first meal. Had heavenly meals with the Big Guy there, but my best meals there were actually without Him.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      "the Big Guy"
                      OK. Big Guy, aka the Dude, outa the closet, now that you're back on board weigh in.

                        1. re: John Galt

                          "Who is the Big Guy?"
                          Keep reading, everything will be illuminated.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Dudette, you're one of Jego's favorite. You're who I want to CAJ with. I'm with mangeur here: trying to be taken special care of by Jego reminds me of tales of Lacan's clients in the waiting room, trying to strike the right balance between interested and too interested so he chooses them next.

                        Now, CAJ is always good, but with Parigi or Pti, it's divine. And the rice pudding is just a shadow of its former self and of La Regalade's.

                        This brings us back on-topic. A/ the question is not about the restaurant, it's about the diner. What do you expect from your one bistrot experience? What do you like? Then we can discuss the best fit. For me, if I had a one restaurant only rule, I couldn't think of one reason why I would chose a bistrot. I'm in Paris and I want the best so I'd go for lunch at Ledoyen Or Gagnaire to make sure I'm experiencing something truly unique. But people love the bistros and the myth that food there can be as good as in a top kitchen. Anyway, they say its not about me.

                        B/ that said, CAJ is objectively the best on your list. But the list is a tad perplexing. Why no actual casual place like Denise? Why no traditional place like Josephine or l'Auberge Bressane (which, frankly, would be my choice of one bistrot - if l'Auberge du 15 doesn't count)?

                        1. re: souphie

                          "Now, CAJ is always good, but with Parigi or Pti, it's divine."

                          Not had the honour with Pti, but twice with Parigi and can't imagine that the meals would have been even close to the same without her (and the smooth as jazz Mr Parigi). Hoping to make it a triple play in October (maybe you will join us, Souphie?)


                          1. re: souphie

                            "Now, CAJ is always good, but with Parigi or Pti, it's divine."

                            Some excessive stress may be placed on our humble persons here. It is true that Stéphane sends us things "to try out" when he is experiencing with new stuff (he experiences constantly), but it would be unfair to discourage the potential user of Chez l'Ami Jean by saying that the experience will be radically different. It is always good, period.

                            I also have to mention that lately I had the riz au lait and I can testify that it is back on track again.

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              "t would be unfair to discourage the potential user of Chez l'Ami Jean by saying that the experience will be radically different. It is always good, period."
                              I said much of the same upthread.
                              The difference between my first times there and now is like B+ and A-.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                Sounds like a yes to me. 1 pm Friday?

                          2. re: Parigi

                            You up for lunch Friday at CAJ? Sources indicate that's the way to eat there.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              I have a reservation for one at 1 pm this Friday at CAJ. I am told that my meal will be even better if joined by Parigi. If that time is convenient for you, that would be great, and I will change the party size in my reservation. Happy to sort out by email. Cheers.

                              1. re: John Galt

                                I am sure Parigi will be delighted to discover how much she is appreciated for her own personal qualities :-)

                                1. re: Ptipois

                                  I gather the experience is enhanced by your presence as well. You in?

                                  1. re: John Galt

                                    Would love to but there's a practical problem. If there's two of us natural enhancers, Stéphane will feel obliged to cook three times as well, instead of twice as well if Parigi only is present.

                                    Since he usually works at 100% of his capacity when VIPs like us are not around, I am concerned about his health and I don't want him to blow a fuse. So thank you, but I have to decline.

                                    Add Souphie to the party and we can say goodbye to L'Ami Jean for sure.

                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                      OK. Let me know if you or Parigi change your mind.

                                    2. re: John Galt

                                      Let's put it in perspective. The guy is a great cook and buys excellent product. Everything he serves reflects integrity. Anyplace else, you'd consider the food fantastic regardless of who was at your table.

                                      His cheering squad here has built him into a kind of superhero, which he may well be. But consider that having all these uber-personalities around the table would deflect your attention from your plate. Just go hungry and let him feed you. Then come back and tell us your story.

                          3. Chez Michel is the very weak link in your list. IMO of course.

                            12 Replies
                              1. re: jock

                                That's exactly the type of input I seek. I want to avoid anything that food-lovers would consider a weak link. I appreciate it.

                                1. re: jock

                                  I wish there were something exactly I wanted to know. I suppose I am plagued by indecision, so was passing the buck! Chez L'Amis Jean seems to be in the lead.

                                  1. re: John Galt

                                    It is the pick of the litter. It's just a terrible responsibility to choose someone's one and only sit down meal in Paris. It would be close to impossible for me to choose mine!

                                    1. re: mangeur

                                      Yes, close to impossible is just how it feels.

                                  2. re: jock

                                    Chez Michel is weak, but La Regalade st-ho ain't too strong either (unlike the original).

                                      1. re: mangeur

                                        Thanks. Just the feedback I need.

                                        1. re: souphie

                                          Absolutely agree (bis) about La Régalade St-Honoré.