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Sep 5, 2013 04:45 PM

Paris recs for older traveler

Thanks for all of the very informative posts on this board. We will be in Paris for one week in October. My partner and I have been many times before, but the first trip for my 75 year old mother-in-law. She enjoys French food, likes different flavors (including various Asian influences) and does not complain, however: she does not like seafood; she is uncomfortable with cutting-edge, haute, creative cuisine; she dresses nicely but is not comfortable with very formal or fashionable settings; and though she likes people and bustle, she has hearing trouble with excessive background noise. With those in mind, I have a few questions:

1. We usually enjoy at least one high-end lunch or dinner. For example, in the past, we loved Pierre Gagnaire (too haute for her) and enjoyed L'Astrance (though not special in comparison to what we frequently eat in California). Where would you recommend? I'm considering: Tallievent (too formal?), Yan’tcha (probably can only reserve lunch), Passage 53, La Fourchette du Printemps and Septime but open to other ideas.

2. We are renting an apartment in the 8th. Where would you recommend for a local, well-made but simpler meal? For a great salad?

3. What are good choices for autumn game?

3. So far, I have reserved:
Les Papilles
Spring (lunch)
Bistrot Paul Bert
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (5e)

We don't want to have too much heavy food. We love food and are amateur foodies, but we travel a lot and don't have to plan the "Best" itinerary. I'm considering: Chez L'Ami Jean, Itineraires, L'Agrume, Le Concert de Cuisine and a few others.

sorry for the long post, and many thanks in advance.

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  1. FYI, L'Atelier in the 5th is a "bar" where you sit on bar stools.

    I think you can go to the other location (Champs Élysées) for chairs and tables

    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      But the bar is great fun. You get to see into the kitchen and if it's not busy, you can carry on a running conversation with the staff about the food. When it I busy, you talk to your neighbor and what they have ordered. Personally, I prefer the bar.

      1. re: Mike C. Miller

        l heartily disagree, the staff are not trained servers and are even brusquer than l am. Due to the seating arrangement on high tops l might add, yes you can see the kitchen but to converse with anyone not immediately next to you is very difficult.
        When at Atelier last in May, with two others, felt l was eating alone as on outside and main conversationalist was on the other end.

    2. "She enjoys French food, likes different flavors (including various Asian influences) and does not complain"

      I wouldn't over-think this one too much. Seafood is rather easily avoided in any rounded dining room; except at the top, cutting edge is really dulled to appeal to a dining norm; and except for pretentious places, formality is infrequent. I would just cart her along to those places that sound good to you. You will find your own personal "bests" and she sounds like a rather game soul.

      Itineraires and L'Agrume are two chameleon rooms, one night turning out drop dead delicious plates, another delivering "who told us to come here?" ho-hums. But when they are on their games, they're good.

      L'Atelier is actually in 7e. You and your partner might enjoy it a lot; I think that mum might find it a bit contrived.

      5 Replies
      1. re: mangeur

        "Itineraires and L'Agrume are two chameleon rooms"
        I'm In total agreement.
        As for L'Ami Jean, it's pretty much everyone here's favorite.
        Concert de Cuisine is another of the places I keep referring to that was hot once and maintains its quality to this day and yet nobdy talks about anymore (nor its fine neighbor - Casse Noix.)

        1. re: John Talbott

          I am defiantly not a fan of L'Ami Jean, in fact it was our least enjoyable meal of our recent fourteen day trip.

          My wife has now said enough is enough and she has vetoed any further visits - she was not happy to have it on the itinerary in the first place but I persevered because of the rave reviews from those I trust here.

          Why is is so loved - is it nostalgia and loyalty from the regulars who are usually so reliable? it really puzzles me.

          1. re: PhilD

            We, none of us, visit the same restaurant. Even at a table for two, each person has his own experience.

            Add to that the (even when subtle) special attention any of us gets as a regular or familiar face and you have a different dimension of experience from the same restaurant.

            Further add how differently each of us orders, and the range of possible experience grows exponentially.

            We all talk about a restaurant and think we are in agreement but we are often feeling different parts of the elephant.

            FWIW, I have never experienced or even recognized the jolly-up atmosphere and generosity that is often described here, the extra tid-bits and attention that is adored by the Jego group. Nor probably have they at places where we have that kind of equity.

            1. re: mangeur

              Mangeur - so very true and I completely agree reputations are built on more than one review and individual experiences are tempered by many many different factors (and expectations).

              That said, we have eaten at CLJ quite a few times over the years so I am reasonably familiar with it. I used to love it, but thought on my second to last visit the prices were now too high compared to other comparable options, and then was very dispaointed on my last visit.

              Unfortunately for us it seems to have lost something - maybe Jego has outgrown it - he is a superb chef and I have fond memories of much of his food.

              1. re: mangeur

                "We, none of us, visit the same restaurant."
                Hear hear.

        2. For simple meals in the 8th, the very old-school Cave Beauvau on the rue Saussaies just off the rue du Faubourg St-Honoré near the Elysée Palace... very much a place for carnivores... much favoured by burly blokes (from the president's contingent of bodyguards)... lunch Mon to Sat but only Thu + Fri for dinner. John Talbott also recommends Le Griffonier on the same street... very classic cuisine... upper-grade civil servants rather than bodyguards... and a wee bit pricey... I haven't been in years but, with a few exceptions, Talbott recs are golden. Enjoyable because it so perfectly captures the character of the Triangle d'Or/ 8th, L'Avenue on the avenue Montaigne... my own 85-yr old grandmother likes it a lot for gathering with her clutch of ladies who lunch (on salads)... but she would agree that the salads and the fab terrace are the only reasons to consider it... less tolerable at night when it becomes a bit of a see-and-be-seen circus for mega-bucks Euro-trash, celeb chasers and wannabe celebs (especially the waitresses) and the dinner menu becomes more formulaic.

          Speaking of ladies who lunch, your mother-in-law might also enjoy La Cigale Récamier on the rue Récamier just off the rue de Sèvres in the 7th ... a soufflé specialist... lovely terrace... as good for dinner as for lunch... and a sweet little hidden park at the end of the short rue Récamier for a brief after-lunch or after-dinner stroll (and benches for 75-year olds) ... or, if in a more social mood, the art-deco bar of the Hotel Lutetia on the boulevard Raspail/ rue de Sèvres for an apéro or digestif with an unobstrusive piano after 7pm ... but jazz nights (Wed to Sat) after 10pm which you might like to avoid if mum-in-law is a bit deaf... just a short 6.40 € taxi ride from most parts of the 8th.

          More salads: Carette on the place du Trocadéro in the 16th (and another branch on the place des Vosges in the 4th)... a pâtisserie/ salon de thé open from 7:30am to midnight and so breakfast and light meals as well... really good salads.

          Back in the 8th, Les 110 du Taillevent (a more casual and less pricey-- but not cheap-- off-shoot of Taillevent) on the rue du Faubourg St-Honoré @ rue Balzac might be a solution for a less formal semi-splurge likely to be enjoyed by all 3 of you guys.

          For game, Le Repaire de Cartouche on the boulevard des Filles du Calvaire in the 11th.

          For Asian influence, certainly Yam'tcha in the 1st is a wow as is Sola in the 5th. For Japanese with French twists (a great combo), I'm a big fan of Toyo on the rue Jules Chaplain off the bd Raspail/ rue Bréa in the Montparnasse side of the 6th... it also gives you the excuse to stroll down (10 mins) to the Piano Bar at the historic Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard Montparnasse or to the legendary Rosebud on the rue Delambre (5 mins) for an apéro or digestif... both are sparkling examples of living history... both are once again very fashionable for us Parisiens but not oppressively so for a 75-yr old belle-mère hard of hearing.

          Not a big fan of the Atelier de Joël Robuchon (in the 7th or the 16th) ... kinda joyless and un-French. A formula perfected in Las Vegas. And maybe should stay there.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Parnassien

            "Cave Beauvau"
            Fully agree. I'm guilty of saying it's "[t]he “Perfect” wine bar with a full food menu."
            Also La Cigale Récamier, on a warm night in the alleyway it's dreamy.

            1. re: Parnassien

              'Not a big fan of the Atelier de Joël Robuchon (in the 7th or the 16th) ... kinda joyless and un-French. A formula perfected in Las Vegas. And maybe should stay there.'

              Oh so true, see above response.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                the "un-french" is all the fad in Paris these days (food-truck, US comfort food, burgers, lobster roll, ... )

                Paris (and France) needs variation in its food offering!

                1. re: Maximilien

                  Not for me, l need my French, l came to France for it. l get all the US comfort food, lobster rolls, etc. there.

            2. "What are good choices for autumn game?"
              Wait a minute, thinking about game, already, summer's not over yet.
              Gerard Besson
              Biche au Bois
              Chez Michel
              Repaire de Cartouche
              Le Petit Marguery
              all depends on what sort of setting and price you have in mind.

              5 Replies
              1. re: John Talbott

                "Wait a minute, thinking about game, already, summer's not over yet."
                The hunting season starts in lots of regions before summer is over too.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  Yah I know and furry things will soon be in my butcher's front. Moose season already began in Alaska. But I prefer for there to at least be one cold snap before eating in restos and last week doesn't count.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    It would be great news, if true. Please advise!

                2. Thanks to all for the very informative replies. I will change out L'Atelier and find another Sunday option. A few years ago, we had v nice Sunday meal at La Marcab - is that still a good option? Any v good options for Sunday?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: glengarry

                    You know, Marcab and Atao and Axuria were our gold standards for Sunday lunch. But I cannot attest to any now, except Atao no longer serves on Sundays. And my archives show the last visit to Marcab to be Mar 28, 2010.
                    Axuria remains standing though.