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Need help finding a restaurant for Parisians with specific requirements

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Hi everyone, I'm posting on behalf of a friend. Her Parisian Aunt and Uncle are in town this Friday and are looking for somewhere to go out to eat. I'm told that the aunt has requested something they can't easily get in Paris, that isn't too far from their hotel (they're staying at The Lenox Hotel on Exeter Street), and my friend doesn't want to eat hamburgers. I feel like a lot of the good restaurants in that area are French-inspired, but please tell me if I'm missing something! Also, I think that the most lenient requirement is that it be close to the hotel—this is what cabs are for, right? So let's say South End is fair game.

I suggested Estelle's, Sweet Cheeks, and ICOB, but please weigh in if you feel inspired! I feel like Mexican, American Southern, or seafood are probably the least Parisian/most Boston. Thanks everyone!

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  1. Send them to your favorite sushi place, there isn't much good in that category in Paris. Oishii South End is a 20 min walk or a 5 min cab ride.

    1. Sweet Cheeks was my first thought.

      1. I'd have to say BBQ is about as uniquely non-Parisian as it gets..

        1. I gorge on seafood when in Paris!!

          But maybe something more like fried clams or a lobster roll.

          I'm sure Paris has a Chinese presence that I have not explored but what about a high top at Little Q?

          13 Replies
          1. re: C. Hamster

            I'd imagine that franco-chinese is quite different from american-chinese, and probably to a decent extent even dealing with the authentic stuff

            1. re: jgg13

              why would french chinese be more "authentic"?

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I didn't say that

                1. re: jgg13

                  "probably to a decent extent even dealing with the authentic stuff"

                  ~~~~

                  not trying to be dense. what did you mean?

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Poorly phrased on my part. See my response to Slim

              2. re: jgg13

                If I hear you correctly, you're saying, "All traditional Chinese restaurants are alike; every locally-adapted Chinese restaurant (American-Chinese, Indian-Chinese, French-Chinese) is screwed up in its own way."

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Somewhat.

                  Yes, I was saying that Chinese food from different countries will vary due to differing regional tastes.

                  But I was also saying that I'd expect to also see some variance in supposedly authentic/traditional fare as well for similar reasons (just less so). This second point is just speculation on my part as the Chinese I've had in other countries I've intentionally ordered the local hybrid stuff

                  1. re: jgg13

                    I was just making a cheap Tolstoy joke.

                    But I do find the fact that hyphenate-Chinese cuisines are so different from traditional Chinese and each other kind of fascinating. The only version I recall trying overseas is French-Chinese cuisine, and while it wasn't bad, I expect it would draw the same reaction from a Chinese ex-pat as American-Chinese food might: "Whatever this is, it has very little to do with the food of my homeland, other than maybe the knife-work."

                    What I want to know is, how come Indian-Chinese food (or rather, the Indian-Chinese food I've had here in America) is so much better, more interesting than American-Chinese food?

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Apparently I need to brush up on my Tolstoy.

                      Many years ago a friend's boss told me his philosophy when traveling was to always have chinese food. I thought it was ludicrous at the time (why not eat the local fare?) until I realized that often chinese food *is* local fare.

                      As for indo-chinese, perhaps because they're closer geographically and have been melding flavors for millennia? Or more likely it's like mixing peanut butter and chocolate.

                      re indo-chinese, one thing I always wonder when having it here is to what extent I'm having american-indian-chinese vs indian-chinese.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        have you been to mission chinese in SF or NYC?

                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                          I have not, but I suspect there's a reason people are gaga over them, namely, that extraordinary American-Chinese food is such a unicorn.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                      For the record, the Chinese we had in Milan was horrible.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        interesting though i have had very good Chinese food in Paris.

                        The French had more colonies; I guess.

                2. We don't know how adventurous these people are (re sushi, Mexican) but my thoughts are to offer choices that are dependably excellent .ICOB would be my highest rec.The oyster/raw bar, signature lobster dish and biscuit are all memorable, the service welcoming and professional, the room design low key stunning.

                  I've not been to Sweet Cheeks but BBQ is certainly quintessential American.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    i eat oysters til i am sick while in paris, so shellfish is not likely novel to these people.

                    what about hungry mother?

                    yes, the other side of the river, but a quick cab ride.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Agreed- We took British friends to Hungry Mother and they loved it and thought it was so different and fun.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I also eat loads of oysters and great fin fish when in Paris. There is great seafood to be had all over the city.

                        Maybe a diner breakfast?

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Yes, there are plenty of oysters and shellfish in Paris. However, our Atlantic oysters are quite distinct from the Belons and other european flats which are more common (and locally fresh) to Paris. Also, Parisian shellfish platters are likely to include whelks, winkle, and prawns. Just as I appreciate the different varieties of oysters (and shellfish in general) when abroad, Parisians appreciate our best take on seafood varieties which are local and dayboat fresh to their plate when visiting.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            i know there are lots of oysters there, but they are very different from OUR No Amer.oysters(which are, in turn, all so different among themselves), and oyster lovers usually love to taste the local stuff when they travel. that was my line of thinking anyway.

                            edit-i hadn't seen Gab's post, but i am obviously thinking along her lines.
                            and ICOB has other things to recommend it.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              i lovelovelove icob, so no dis on the rec's for it.

                        2. With places like Bar Huitres in Paris, I don't think ICOB can hold a candle seafood-wise. I wasn't specifically looking for it, but during a recent trip to Paris, I didn't have any great Italian food. Maybe if they don't go to Italy much they'd get a kick out of the North End. Mamma Maria is very good or, very close to their hotel, Sorellina. Or, if what Gabatta says is true, I'd think O Ya would be the place to go.

                          Impressing Parisians with food is a tall order. The only thing I noticed they lack are great coffee and donuts, so maybe you can pick up a dozen at Verna's and meet them at Pavement on Newbury St. the next morning!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: pollystyrene

                            I love Bar Huitres, but I'd have to disagree with this statement. While there are plenty of places to get chilled seafood/oysters in Paris, other seafood shack favorites are harder to come by, as are really great cocktails.

                            Paris has come a long way in terms of serious coffee and cocktails in the past five years, but you still have to really seek those out. Lobster rolls have seemed all the rage recently but they are expensive, poorly executed (according to this Bostonian), and made with the Brittany Lobster which doesn't have the sweetness of Maine Lobster.

                            ICOB has top notch cocktails and they could get things like fried clams, chowder, etc there. While there lobster roll isn't my first choice, it could easily compete in Paris.

                            I'd also second recommendations for Hungry Mother, Sweet Cheeks, and great sushi like O Ya.

                            Not sure how adventerous they are but some spicy Sichuan is definitely hard to find in Paris.

                            1. re: Klunco

                              there is plenty of good sushi in paris; that is not a knock on o ya.

                          2. My French cousins loved two foods in the States more than I could have imagined... maple syrup especially when served with blueberry pancakes, locally grown berries, and corn on the cob. No blueberries in France natively, and corn there is nothing like the New England variety. Pizza was also a great favorite, but has become more commonplace in France since then.

                            Sorry not to have a restaurant recommendation, but perhaps this thought can trigger one from you.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: smtucker

                              If that's the case, maybe Friendly Toast or another similar place that's well known for breakfast/brunch food?

                            2. xx, did they find a place they liked, i hope?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                Sorry, I meant to update! Yes they went to Estelle's and I think they really enjoyed it, and it was definitely not something they had ever seen in Paris. They said the jumbalaya app was delicious but enormous, but the hush puppies were blah--anyone have similar experiences?

                                Thanks for your help, everyone!

                              2. Since Paris is IMO the food capital of the world, I think it would be very difficult to impress a Parisian with Boston food. However, that said, my go-to restaurant here for seafood is Atlantic Fish, which is about a block from the Lenox Hotel. Their shrimp cocktail rivals what you can get in Paris, and their fresh fish, prepared any way you like, may actually be better.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: jwexler99

                                  There's a t-shirt: "Boston: our steamed previously-frozen jumbo shrimp are even better than Paris's!"

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    "steamed previously-frozen indonesian jumbo shrimp". lol.

                                    funny...

                                    am remembering another thread from not long ago where a visitor was asking for seafood rec's and would not be dissuaded from atlantic fish, no matter how hard we lobbied against it.

                                    result? he thought it sucked.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Do you mean this poster?
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9086...

                                      Your characterization of his final impression seems a bit unfair. He though the craft beer selection sucked. He thought that the clams casino and fried oysters were "decent but not mind-blowing," and he thought that the clam chowder was, in fact, "mind-blowing."

                                      "Atlantic Fish - Friday afternoon

                                      Maybe I had expectations too high for this place, especially for eating at lunch, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the actual food. I had clams casino (long story short, the littlenecks at Legal's were tiny, so I figured I'd get clams casino at AF rather than on the half shell again, but these littlenecks were much bigger so I should have just had them on the half shell) and fried oysters... both decent but not mind-blowing. The chowder was mind-blowing though.

                                      And to resolve the debate we had earlier, craft beer selection at AF sucked. I would still like to try this place for dinner, but..."

                                      Disclaimer: I worked a block from Atlantic Fish many years ago, and occasionally lunched there. I think it's a decent enough mid-level seafood restaurant, blessedly not another Legal, and it's right in a convenient part of Boston. I know many people who love it. It may not be ICOB, but it's not Red Lobster either.

                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                        I've been, too, and didn't think it was terrible either. It just had that soulless, middlebrow, chain-y feel I always associated with BBRG restaurants. The question remains: will that shrimp cocktail bend the minds of seafood-loving Parisians?

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          "[T]hat soulless, chain-y feel I always associated with BBRG restaurants." Yep. Agree 100%, although it was a pleasant enough occasional splurge lunch back when I worked at Copy Cop.

                                          I admit I've been mildly startled since the Marathon bombing to learn that many people just ADORE the place, and I certainly agree that it's unlikely to impress a party of seafood-loving Parisians. I was mostly just pointing out that that recent visitor did not, in fact, think that the place sucked.

                                        2. re: Allstonian

                                          my apologies that my memory was clouded by personal perception. "underwhelmed" and "decent enough". ok.

                                          how it's better than legal's i don't know. now that the former bbrg places are under a MUCH bigger corporate umbrella purse strings are tighter and management is worse. they are under-staffing, under-ordering, and in some cases using lesser quality product.

                                          1. re: Allstonian

                                            I've worked just a few blocks away for 25 years and have likely been in your Copy Cop.

                                            That said...

                                            Atlantic Fish is just ok. Better than the 3 or 4 Legals in the nabe. Not much to write home about. Serviceable.

                                            I will lunch on shrimp cocktail soon and give you a report ! I cannot imagine anything served there would meet decent Parisian standards.

                                        3. re: MC Slim JB

                                          hey, you know that you find shrimp swimming in the tank in chinatown.

                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                            Yes, and I order them often there. I like unfrozen Gulf of Maine shrimp when I can get them, too. Your local outlet of the former Back Bay Restaurant Group isn't serving live or unfrozen shrimp.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        4. re: jwexler99

                                          I personally vote for Tokyo to be food capital of the world, but I digress.

                                          Maybe a Parisian just needs to have a good meal like everyone else, and one doesn't always have to have the "best". I understand the desire to impress, but I'm quite happy when I travel to have good renditions of local food or just a good meal. Ironically, I used to work for French company and we used to get visitors and ex-pats from the Paris HQ all the time. I've taken them to Bergamot, Russell Tavern and they really complimented the food. They may not be going back and raving about these places being the best to fellow Parisians, but they at least enjoyed themselves and the meals.

                                          1. re: jwexler99

                                            I mean, obviously Parisian food is better than Boston's, but that doesn't mean they have every type of food over there. I think American Southern was a good choice because they had never had anything like it, which was ultimately what they were looking for.

                                            1. re: xerxes_xerxes

                                              i agree! glad they had fun!

                                              1. re: xerxes_xerxes

                                                yes, absolutely a good choice. i'm just bummed that the hushpuppies were meh, because imo they can be a wonder(see Highland Kitchen.)

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  I've never gotten the hush puppies at Highland Kitchen! I always fill up on ricotta fritters. I'll just have to go back and try them.

                                            2. you can get excellent seafood in Paris so i would scratch seafood restaurants from the mix There is excellent Chinese in Paris, but I have not eaten at a place like Q or Golden Garden or Gene's - though i have not been to Gene's just to Xian's Famous Food in NYC. Maybe the clam shacks in Essex or even just a lobster roll would be ok; never saw those in paris.

                                              i grant you that Southern food - though not a strong suit here in Boston - would be interesting, but I would add Cambodian, Indian, and Thai to the mixture.