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7 Days in Paris-5 Days in Euskadi-Tell me what you think-Be Brutal! Please

enofile Sep 12, 2013 11:56 AM

I have chosen the following restaurants after exhaustive research and manic decision making. I am almost embarrassed, but not quite. To lessen my agony, none of these establishments made my list as "destination dining." First, I decided what I wanted to do, museums, strolling, concerts, shopping, bars etc. and picked places based on activity. It made the process a bit less neurotic. Now, I would very much appreciate your candid input and output. Tear my itinerary apart if you will. Thanks.
FRIDAY - Dinner = Les Climats or Garance
SATURDAY - Lunch = Pirouette/ Dinner = Les Tablettes
SUNDAY - Lunch = Auxuria/ Dinner = Terroir Parisien
MONDAY - Dinner = Le Regelade St Honore
TUESDAY - Dinner = La Table des Anges
WEDNESDAY - Train to Lyon - Lunch = Takao Takano
THURSDAY - Lunch = Le Grand Ourse/ Dinner = Florimond
(On to Euskadi)
FRIDAY - Dinner = Arzak
SATURDAY - Lunch = Elkano
SUNDAY - Lunch = Etxebarri
MONDAY - Lunch = Boroa
TUESDAY - Dinner = Etxanobi
(Akelare is closed during our visit as is Mina)

Making me even more "wacked," is that I am also planning this trip for another couple who are avowed gourmands.
Okay-let me have it!

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    Ptipois Sep 12, 2013 03:06 PM

    If you are that manic about restaurants, I don't see how tearing your itinerary apart would improve your condition in any way. I'm concerned you might explode under the pressure. But I'll take a risk, and here goes.

    I don't have an opinion on every restaurant. But most of your Paris destinations are keepers, except for La Régalade Saint-Honoré which you can drop without regret.

    Are you still with me?

    If neighborhood matters, why don't you try Spring or Yam' Tcha instead of La Régalade Saint-Honoré?

    Lyon: I'll pull a joker.

    Now for Euskadi.
    I woulnd't mourn over Akelarre since I had one of the most pointless meals in my life there. I would go back only for the setting and view over the sea.
    Elkano and Etxebarri: yes, yes, yes.
    Arzak no longer what it used to be, but still an experience.
    Others I don't have any info about.

    It's only food, relax, there is really no reason to go neurotic about restaurants, as I've often recommended more or less openly. What would they be for if not enjoying oneself and relaxing?

    39 Replies
    1. re: Ptipois
      enofile Sep 12, 2013 03:16 PM

      Thanks. I appreciate the feedback and will plan on looking at Yam Tcha. Considering Spring is difficult since it is in that category of an American "hot" restaurant that is written up in every guide, magazine, and newspaper.

      1. re: enofile
        Ptipois Sep 12, 2013 04:36 PM

        Well, don't pay any attention to "every guide, magazine and newspaper" — pay attention to me.
        Spring is a wonderful restaurant, and it is NOT an American restaurant.
        In fact, Daniel Rose has understood the deeper structure and spirit of French cooking better than quite a few French chefs have done. And better than any American chef has done, for one thing. As a restaurant, Spring is its own category.
        Staying away from such a gem just because the press and guides choose to label it this or that way would be a real shame.

        Additionally, I would like to ask you what were your criteria for choosing restaurants through your 'exhaustive research and manic decision-making'. It would be interesting for us here to understand more about your logic. From where I stand, it looks like you are in search of moderately traditional restaurants or modern restaurants with more of an emphasis on taste and good cooking than on innovation or cutting-edge techniques. At least that is what most of your choices seem to indicate.

        1. re: Ptipois
          Nancy S. Sep 12, 2013 05:53 PM

          Indeed, regarding Spring -- the best classic French demi-glace-type sauce that I've ever had in Paris was prepared by Daniel Rose. His products and technique are perfection. However, living in NYC, i do feel that the room is a bit Upper West side.

          1. re: Nancy S.
            Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 02:10 AM

            That's because you live in NYC, I suppose. And New-Yorkers tend to believe that every modern and comfortable dining-room with an open kitchen in the world is New-York inspired.

            1. re: Ptipois
              Nancy S. Sep 13, 2013 06:33 AM

              I don't think it's New York inspired, just very "New York-ish" in atmosphere. And, it has nothing to do with the open kitchen. I'm a big fan of Daniel and love seeing him in and around Paris.

          2. re: Ptipois
            enofile Sep 12, 2013 06:12 PM

            Okay, this is the methodology I used choosing these restaurants:
            1. I tried to avoid restaurants touted in popular publications such as the NY Times, Conde Nast, Fodor's, Zagat etc. I prefer not dining with other Americans when I am in a foreign country.
            2. A few critics have similar taste and palette to my own. In the late eighties and early nineties Gault-Milleau was a wonderful source. These days, Alec Lobrano and Pudlowski have enjoyed restaurants that I loved and disliked restaurants that left me wanting.
            3. I attempted to vary my choices to include modern cooking, traditional cooking, and innovative cooking. I also tried to discover some of the newer restaurants that have opened up in the city.
            4. Restaurants that are a "good buy" were also part of the schematic plan.
            I hope that helps clarify a bit. Thanks

            1. re: enofile
              John Talbott Sep 12, 2013 06:41 PM

              As a scientist, I commend your having a methodology but if avoiding Americans (or Brits, or Russians) is your intent you're only halfway there.
              If you want the "newer" restaurants, I suggest you go to the blogs/bloggers, which I'm not allowed to refer you to, but as an example, I'd put out:
              Ô Divin
              Le Cafe Trama
              Monsieur Bleu with reservations
              Encore: Cuisine d'Amis: Ici et Maintenant
              Le Cette
              Au Bon Coin
              Le Petit Marché
              And the Beat Goes On and It's Been A Very Good Year, but you are to young to hear those tunes coming in.

              1. re: John Talbott
                enofile Sep 13, 2013 06:23 AM

                Too young! I remember slow dancing to "Earth Angel" while President Eisenhower was playing golf rather then keeping an eye on Southeast Asia.

          3. re: enofile
            mangeur Sep 12, 2013 05:00 PM

            ""hot" restaurant that is written up in every guide, magazine, and newspaper."

            Add the word "blog", and this is true of every Parisian restaurant on your list. I agree with Ptipois that La Régalade Saint-Honoré is not a dinner slot well spent. While I've not lunched at Pirouette, dinners have been both ordinary and touristy. I've not dined at Les Climats, but have read that its charm lies in the garden, which is only used at lunch service.

            Back to Spring, there is absolutely nothing American about the kitchen's sensibilities. It ranks high among its French peers (length of time open, goals and success in attaining them, quality of product and quality of finished plate) and would by now have two stars had Daniel been born 2000 miles east.

            (But if you have room for me in your luggage, I'll gladly tag along to Spain with you. If only to return to Etchebari.)


            1. re: mangeur
              John Talbott Sep 12, 2013 06:13 PM

              I wasn't going to answer because I'm getting a bit, what shall we say, fatigued by these laundry lists of 4 day jam-it-all-in gotta-do-it-all from the NYT places.
              But since all my dear friends (except P. and Deluca) have plunged in, I will as well.
              Les Climates (yes the jardin is best in nice weather at lunch but it's good even without the sun/etc. - check out Parnassien's comments on it) and Garance are top-top.
              Pirouette is superb, friendly and also on the parvis in good weather great (I eat at lunch and have never had an "ordinary and touristy" meal and Les Tablettes is equally impressive (but without the outdoor seating).
              Auxuria and Terroir Parisien - great Sunday choices
              Le Regalade St Honore - always done well as opposed to Pti and Mangeur.
              La Table des Anges - you mean Chez Les Anges? Don't know La Table des Anges, coordinates?
              As for Spring - it is not "an American "hot" restaurant that is written up in every guide, magazine, and newspaper. but "a "hot" restaurant that is written up in every guide, magazine, and newspaper in America and according to Le Figaro, the hardest place to get into there is.
              Yam' Tcha - good.
              Re: "Euskadi" - Colette and I will go back after a hiatus of 4 years, soon, but no comment at this point.

              1. re: John Talbott
                mangeur Sep 12, 2013 06:22 PM

                Good points, John. I am getting increasingly critical and selective in my dotage.

                However, the OP is doing everything right by correlating and appreciating the taste and palette of her gurus.

                1. re: mangeur
                  enofile Sep 12, 2013 06:36 PM

                  I am a male neurotic of the masculine gender. I assume I am the OP (Ocular Pesticide?)

                  1. re: enofile
                    mangeur Sep 12, 2013 06:42 PM

                    Ooops. It's a problem I have. Gender identity. Vis a vis my screen name. I'm female. =8-0

                    1. re: mangeur
                      lagatta Oct 7, 2013 05:54 PM

                      Why aren't you mangeuse?

                    2. re: enofile
                      Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 02:27 AM

                      Thanks for exposing your strategy, indeed things are clearer now.

                      I thought it was a good idea not to shatter your program entirely, considering 1. how anxiously you had set it up, and 2. that most of it was very sensible. I still do think there is nothing wrong about it except for a few small details.

                      I am renewing my caveat about La Régalade Saint-Honoré which is a pot-boiler among the Régalade mini-empire and suffers from chronically sloppy execution and poorly chosen products.

                      Yam' Tcha is not good, it is fantastic. One of the great, one-of-a-kind restaurants of Paris.

                      Garance is extremely good with some unexpected flaws in the execution, but a very decent place on the whole. Beware of the wine service, these days they tend to push undermatured chenins very strongly and it would be a good idea to resist that pressure for the sake of your dentition.

                      The "traditional bistrot" trend in your selection mostly springs from Pudlowski and Lobrano. A good thing on the whole, with some necessary caution, but I won't get into that since your choices are good.

                  2. re: John Talbott
                    enofile Sep 12, 2013 06:32 PM

                    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my restaurant choices Monsieur Talbott. It must get rather tiring reviewing all these lists after compiling your own on your excellent website.
                    I actually did mean La Table des Anges which is located at 66, rue des Martyrs in the 9th Arrondissement. I thought this would be a good choice after a concert at Le Cigale.

                    1. re: enofile
                      John Talbott Sep 12, 2013 06:49 PM

                      "I actually did mean La Table des Anges which is located at 66, rue des Martyrs in the 9th Arrondissement. I thought this would be a good choice after a concert at Le Cigale."
                      Ah ha, one more person at that concert, please see
                      But gosh, golly, gee wiz, tell me. us more about it.
                      And Parigi, you of the 9th's deepest secrets, what think you?

                      1. re: John Talbott
                        enofile Sep 12, 2013 06:56 PM

                        Well, we are seeing Richard Bona which is a completely different experience then Jimmy Buffet. I dare say we shall be in a "mellow-kind of blue" after the performance and thus, thought a traditional bistro might be apropos.

                        1. re: enofile
                          John Talbott Sep 12, 2013 07:06 PM

                          Ah ha, a traditional bistro near the Cigale - Help Parnassien and Parigi - OK they're not answering the phone.
                          Tough in that area "traditional bistro". OK
                          How about Le Pantruche, 3 Rue Victor Massé. 01 48 78 55 60
                          Very good food.

                          1. re: John Talbott
                            Parnassien Sep 13, 2013 12:12 AM

                            I've only been to La Table des Anges once... liked the food a lot... given that there are 100s of other restos with similarly dedicated, creative, and passionate young chefs in Paris, I wouldn't say that it's total standout though... and the night I was there, 80% of the clientèle seemed to be very loud hooray Henrys and plummy Letitias from the UK and our little table of Parigot(e)s was not happy at all with the very intrusive noise level... I presume it had gotten recent rave reviews in the Guardian or FT or Time Out... but dunno if my "English" experience was a fluke or a pattern... yet the cuisine was sufficiently good and the price/quality ratio so seductive to suggest a possible return visit mid-week for dinner when there aren't so many Eurostar trippers or for lunch (and bargain prices!!). And oh, the "cadre" seems traditional but the cooking has very creative flashes.

                            Although the quality can be quite inconsistent, my last meal at Le Petit Trianon at the Trianon cinema on the boulevard Rochechouart was stellar... and I love the very parisien vibe and very artsy/ cool clientele. So maybe qualifies for the short-list after La Cigale.

                            But for trad place that represents the (unsleazy) soul of Pigalle and popular with the after-theatre crowd, I recommend La Bougnate on the rue Germain Pilon off the boulevard de Clichy. And yes, for a more creative riff and a very trendy clientèle, Le Pantruche is indeed fab. If the OP is willing to huff and puff up the hill, there's also the locals-favourite Café Burq on the rue Burq off the rue des Abbesses and the very trad brasserie La Mascotte (with an excellent raw bar annexe) on the rue des Abbesses.

                            1. re: Parnassien
                              enofile Sep 13, 2013 05:43 AM

                              Your description of La Table des Anges has me breaking into a rash and perspiring in regions even National Geographic knows nothing about. Do you think I need to fear the "bus tour" on a Tuesday night?

                              As for the other suggestions, I will try to get into La Pantruche, Spring, Yam Tcha, and Jean Francois Piege for lunch. One of my problems is that my French is so bad, that after laughing with hilarity following my ludicrous attempt to make a reservation in French, the obviously perplexed person answering the phone hangs up. I, of course, am mortified and run to La Fourchette for protection. Although my mother has been gone for years, I hear her voice reminding me I should have done my French homework and attended class with more diligence. My youth attacks me in such interesting ways.

                              1. re: enofile
                                Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 06:07 AM

                                And if you have to drop one of these, drop Jean-François Piège.

                                Just reserve in English. Nearly everybody you will get on the phone can cope.

                              2. re: Parnassien
                                John Talbott Dec 6, 2013 08:03 AM

                                "I've only been to La Table des Anges once"
                                We ate there today and you are spot-on.
                                At lunch there were only two pesky Yankees, no Brits and lotsa French folk.
                                Interesting place.

                                1. re: John Talbott
                                  Parigi Dec 6, 2013 08:11 AM

                                  But the two Pesky Yankees had a good time and big laughs. Therefore avoid that restaurant like the plaque. In fact the best is to avoid all restaurants that we recommend. If we like a place, it's screwed.
                                  Café Burq is no longer that good, but it is frequented by local hipsters. If you like to dine amid loud music while the 20 diners smoking outside blow their smoke back into the restaurant, Café Burq is your place.

                            2. re: enofile
                              Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 02:30 AM

                              If I just got out of a Richard Bona concert in the 18th arrondissement, I'd keep fueling the mellow kind of blue by heading to a Cameroonian restaurant or any other good African restaurant in the neighborhood, since that is where most of them are. Le Bamboutos, rue Sauffroy; le Mono, rue Véron; Fifa, rue Joseph-Dijon.
                              But I'm only a Parisian and I'd understand that you'd insist on French food.

                              1. re: enofile
                                Parnassien Sep 14, 2013 06:01 PM

                                Just been reminded by a friend that Christian Etchebest who runs a trio of very good Basque restaurants (le Troquet in the 15th, La Cantine du Troquet in the 14th, and--my fave-- La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix) has taken over the previously unremarkable Café Cigale now renamed La Cantine Cigale next to La Cigale. So for an after-concert dinner, problem solved.

                                It just opened last week, no reviews so far, and I haven't been yet ... but just on the reputation of the chef and my great enjoyment of his other places, it's gotta be one of the better options in the neighbourhood.

                                1. re: Parnassien
                                  Delucacheesemonger Sep 14, 2013 07:06 PM

                                  And Le Grand Pan, my fav of his.

                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                    Ptipois Sep 18, 2013 08:53 AM

                                    Le Grand Pan is not an Etchebest place, it is run by someone who worked with him for a while.

                                    Good news about La Cantine Cigale. Tempting.

                                  2. re: Parnassien
                                    John Talbott Oct 7, 2013 07:42 AM

                                    Ate there today - fabulous; enough so I'll start another thread.

                                    1. re: John Talbott
                                      mangeur Oct 7, 2013 09:31 AM

                                      Here again, vis a vis DCM and JT, precise description is the key.

                                      We hit Grand Pan shortly after it opened, on the last day of three weeks of dining out. It was, hands down, the most disappointing/disastrous meal we've had in France. I can easily see its being nirvana for those who can make a meal of meat. But for us, and I emphasize that timing was much of our problem, it was a nightmare.

                                      Had we been aware that at that time there were no options other than enormous portions of meat/salad/fries, we would have saved it for another time when it might have worked for us. Or not.

                                      1. re: mangeur
                                        Delucacheesemonger Oct 7, 2013 10:23 AM

                                        Interestingly now, there are a lot of other items at Le Grand Pan other than the cote de boeuf, veau, porc. But that is what l get. Vive la difference.

                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                          mangeur Oct 7, 2013 11:48 AM

                                          Good input. Can you remember some examples of other options?

                                          I know LGP as a destination for cote. It's great that it now has a more rounded carte so that they can please a table of varied diners.

                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                            Delucacheesemonger Oct 7, 2013 12:35 PM

                                            At least two fish offerings, also remember marmites of interesting stuff. However, as it has been 18 months since back, who knows. Will try to go in next few weeks to see what is new and what remains of the old.

                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                              mangeur Oct 7, 2013 01:29 PM

                                              Thanks. Look forward to hearing about it.

                                          2. re: mangeur
                                            John Talbott Oct 7, 2013 11:52 AM

                                            "Here again, vis a vis DCM and JT,"
                                            Maybe I conveyed the wrong impression Margaret, today I ate at Etchebest's La Cantine de la Cigale not Le Grand Pan.
                                            I was referring to Parnassien's post that "Just been reminded by a friend that Christian Etchebest who runs a trio of very good Basque restaurants (le Troquet in the 15th, La Cantine du Troquet in the 14th, and--my fave-- La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix) has taken over the previously unremarkable Café Cigale now renamed La Cantine Cigale next to La Cigale."
                                            It was Ab Fab.

                              2. re: mangeur
                                PhilD Sep 13, 2013 07:05 AM

                                Odd about Pirouette - great food and all locals for us last week. I thought it great cooking representative of today's Paris.

                                1. re: PhilD
                                  mangeur Sep 13, 2013 07:38 AM

                                  Phil, if I reported solely on our experience in March, I would agree with you: interesting takes on classics, good use of seasonal products, local couples and groups.

                                  But our May visit brought "ordinary" (call it JT 5.0) plates, several disappointing over-reaches, few locals, most tables within earshot needing repeated help with the menu. I agree that there were "oohs" and "ahhhs" from other tables. But it didn't work for us.

                                2. re: mangeur
                                  John Talbott Sep 21, 2013 01:39 PM

                                  "While I've not lunched at Pirouette, dinners have been both ordinary and touristy."
                                  Mang/Marg, ask your buddies from SF what they thought of their meal today; it may turn you into a dejeuneriane.

                              3. re: Ptipois
                                Nancy S. Sep 12, 2013 05:55 PM

                                I thought Garance was excellent. The space, service, food and especially wines were excellent.

                              4. s
                                startsev Sep 12, 2013 07:27 PM

                                oh my. I am just as crazy as you are and am now concerned that most of your restaurants aren't on my radar! since you have done research am hoping to get more feedback here on my own list. (which I've already gotten some advice on this site.)
                                Friday- lunch: Les Papilles. dinner: Ze Kitchen Gallerie
                                Sat. lunch: Bread & Roses or Mini Palais.dinner: Le Chateaubriand (no res. yet) or maybe I should try Spring instead
                                Sun- lunch: food tour in Marais. dinner: Yayin (Need one kosher restaurant)
                                Mon- lunch: Le Comptoir du Relais (?) dinner: Septime (no res yet)

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: startsev
                                  John Talbott Sep 13, 2013 04:51 AM

                                  All OK by me except re "Bread & Roses or Mini Palais" the MiniPalais is a true restaurant and a fine one too in a great setting. (presuming M. Frechon is not distracted by his supervision of Lazare.)

                                  1. re: John Talbott
                                    enofile Sep 13, 2013 05:55 AM

                                    I also should clarify what I meant referring to Spring. I know it's a French restaurant with a Bear's fan at the helm. However, because it is a "darling of the foodie press" in the US, I'm concerned a meal there is like dining at an excellent French restaurant in Chicago rather then a restaurant in Paris. I fear the only diners will be fellow Americans, and since I suffer from self hatred when I travel to foreign locales, I would never want to dine with myself!

                                    1. re: enofile
                                      Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 06:09 AM

                                      It is true that many of the fellow diners will be Americans but that detail is often exaggerated. Plenty of French people go there too. It's a good place, that's all you need to know.

                                      1. re: enofile
                                        John Talbott Sep 13, 2013 06:23 AM

                                        "I fear the only diners will be fellow Americans"
                                        Well, it's true that a fair proportion of his guests are American. To avoid rubbing elbows with our fellow Yanks one must go to places as yet undiscovered by the NYT and unwritten up in the guidebooks.

                                        1. re: John Talbott
                                          Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 06:50 AM

                                          And untold about here, too.

                                  2. PhilD Sep 13, 2013 07:02 AM

                                    Are you going to post the questions about Basque food on the Spain board? I don't think we are meant to answer them here.

                                    1. ChefJune Sep 13, 2013 08:42 AM

                                      <WEDNESDAY - Train to Lyon - Lunch = Takao Takano
                                      THURSDAY - Lunch = Le Grand Ourse/ Dinner = Florimond>

                                      Okay, I'll "take on" Lyon, seeing as how it's my favorite city anywhere... Are the above restaurants in Lyon? I've never heard of any of them. Where are they located and who recommended them to you? Kinda curious...

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: ChefJune
                                        PhilD Sep 13, 2013 08:54 AM

                                        I was a bit perplexed by the route - Paris - Lyon by train then cross country to San Sebastián - that's a difficult journey unless you have a plane.

                                        1. re: ChefJune
                                          enofile Sep 13, 2013 09:50 AM

                                          Actually, we are just going to Lyon for the day on Wednesday, returning that evening. We are flying into Bilbao on Friday.

                                          Takao Takano was recommended by Alec Lobrano. Chef Takano spent eight years at Nicolas le Bec. This is his first solo venture. He should become a star judging by the accolades shooting across the satellites.

                                          1. re: enofile
                                            ChefJune Sep 13, 2013 10:07 AM

                                            Interesting since Nicolas LeBec was only there for 7 years. And quite an interesting chap he is... Takano no doubt is one to watch, but there's SO much good (mostly traditional) food in Lyon, I'd have thought you'd do something you can't really do in Paris.

                                            Have you been to Chez Hugon? Daniel et Denise?

                                            1. re: ChefJune
                                              enofile Sep 13, 2013 10:15 AM

                                              We have never been to Lyon before, but Alec's recommendations have always been "right on," for my palette. The information about Takano comes from Pudlowski. Thus, he needs to be corrected about Nicolas LeBec.

                                              1. re: enofile
                                                John Talbott Sep 13, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                Sad to say this is not the first "mistake" in Pudlo (or elsewhere); I fear it says more about the demise of fact-checkers than the sloppiness of the critics' staffs.
                                                Just last week A Nous Paris published a duplicate of a review they had published 2 months ago and a review with another restos coordinates.

                                                1. re: John Talbott
                                                  mangeur Sep 13, 2013 10:24 AM

                                                  Try reading the Wall Street Journal lifestyle sections. Or science sections, for that matter. =8-0

                                                  1. re: mangeur
                                                    ChefJune Sep 13, 2013 10:37 AM

                                                    consider who owns WSJ, and that they've let go most if not all of the prize winning columnists who used to write for them...

                                                    1. re: mangeur
                                                      John Talbott Sep 13, 2013 11:21 AM

                                                      All of us who publish in the USA know that once you push SEND that's what appears in print but I'd expect better of French publications.

                                                      1. re: John Talbott
                                                        Ptipois Sep 13, 2013 02:10 PM

                                                        Pudlowski does not write that Takano stayed eight years "at" Nicolas Le Bec but "with" Nicolas Le Bec, following him through the different restaurants he worked at.

                                                        Pudlo's blog is not a "French publication" but just Pudlo's personal blog, without the safety net offered by an editing/fact-checking team, and in that respect it is just like all other blogs, not necessarily strong on the editing skills.
                                                        Of course he does not go to all the restaurants himself and he
                                                        probably uses a ghostwriter or two, but his factual info is generally sound, while his appreciation of restaurants is much less so, for reasons I won't go into here. But I would trust him on the Takano information.

                                                  2. re: enofile
                                                    ChefJune Sep 13, 2013 10:39 AM

                                                    Not suggesting anything's wrong with Alec's palate, or yours. But fine dining is fine dining anywhere. and Lyon does have a unique style not found much anywhere else. And the food is fantastic. Seems a shame to miss it.

                                                2. re: enofile
                                                  estufarian Sep 14, 2013 06:53 AM

                                                  FYI we tried to get in when we were in Lyon in April. He was booked solid for the entire month - if you intend to go, then book VERY early. It's a more difficult reservation than anything else in Lyon.

                                              2. e
                                                enofile Sep 13, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                Well, what alternative do you suggest in Lyon? Thanks much.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: enofile
                                                  ChefJune Sep 13, 2013 01:06 PM

                                                  Daniel et Denise, Chez Hugon, Cafe des Federations

                                                2. jon Sep 22, 2013 06:21 AM

                                                  I'll just add that exteberri was without a doubt that best meal I've ever had anywhere. Make sure to get the chuleta de buey. It is remarkable.

                                                  We ended up not getting the price fix and i think that was the right call. The jamon iberico, chorizo, grilled clams, and amazing steak were more than enough.

                                                  Not sure where you are heading in the basque region, but we also really enjoyed our stay and meal at l'augerge basque.

                                                  40 Replies
                                                  1. re: jon
                                                    enofile Sep 22, 2013 07:26 AM

                                                    Thanks. We were totally taken by surprise by this segment of our holiday. At risk of being scorned by the Chowhound minions, originally we were just heading to Bilbao for a visit to the Guggenheim. However, when I discovered Basque Country was a culinary apex, I rented a car and now we are staying 3 nights in San Sebastián and two nights in Bilbao. If I was as smart as I try to come across, we would have planned to spend more time in Euskadi.

                                                    1. re: enofile
                                                      PhilD Sep 22, 2013 07:32 AM

                                                      I don't know why you don't post on the Spanish board then we can advise on Bilbao and San Sebastián.....lots of good advice available but it's Spain not France.

                                                      1. re: PhilD
                                                        enofile Sep 22, 2013 07:43 AM

                                                        I know I am going to Spain. I am dumb, but not stupid. However, too much information can sometimes be confusing and can detract from the wonder of discovery. I fill up with advice for places I've been to and have moved on beyond the world of the typical tourist. In Euskadi, I will be a Basque virgin and I relish still being "flowered" about anything at my ripe age.

                                                        1. re: enofile
                                                          PhilD Oct 8, 2013 05:14 AM

                                                          Let's hope your lack of research doesn't cause you to miss Azurmendi - it's the new super star of the region.

                                                          1. re: PhilD
                                                            enofile Oct 8, 2013 06:27 AM

                                                            These are my restaurant choices. Unfortunately, Azurmendi was closed during my visit.
                                                            SAN SEBASTIÁN
                                                            FRIDAY 18
                                                            Dinner - ARZAK****************

                                                            SATURDAY 19
                                                            Lunch - ELKANO ?

                                                            SUNDAY 20
                                                            Lunch - ETXEBARRI *****************

                                                            MONDAY 21
                                                            Lunch - BOROA *******************

                                                            TUESDAY 22
                                                            Dinner - ETXANOBI ********************

                                                            1. re: enofile
                                                              PhilD Oct 8, 2013 03:59 PM

                                                              Great choices - but do leave enough room for eating in the tapas bars in both cities as that is a real highlight of the area.

                                                              Also it's wise to leave plenty of time for car travel as the roads are not great, even the A8 whilst fast, twists and turns through the hills, and we saw an accident every time we travelled on it last month - and at 120kph we needed fast reactions to avoid one!

                                                              1. re: PhilD
                                                                enofile Oct 8, 2013 04:41 PM

                                                                Thanks for the warning! I will not drive 120 kph in a rental car. Hopefully, I will look like a perplexed foreigner and the drivers will take pity on me. It's one of the advantages of being in my sixties. Since we are fairly big eaters and most of our meals are lunches, we should have plenty of time for the pintxos bars.
                                                                A question for both Euskadi and Paris and this is ironic with the handle "Enofile:". In the past few years I have developed an allergy to wine. Yes I know, it's killing me. I always felt it was a faux pas not to order wine in a European restaurant. Is this a correct assumption? Is it more of a "slap in the face of culture" to leave most of the wine in the bottle at the end of a meal? My wife doesn't drink that much and I now am compelled to get my "buzz" from vodka before I eat out at restaurants with just a wine and beer license. Any suggestions my Chowhound experts?

                                                                1. re: enofile
                                                                  John Talbott Oct 9, 2013 12:46 AM

                                                                  "I always felt it was a faux pas not to order wine"
                                                                  I think since the Loi Evin things have changed.
                                                                  Especially at lunch I now see just water or Cokes or glasses of wine.
                                                                  I'd not worry.

                                                                  1. re: John Talbott
                                                                    enofile Oct 9, 2013 06:04 AM

                                                                    That is a relief, both physically and financially. Have several of you noticed a physical difference with your consumption of wine, especially rouge, as you get older? I am searching for a corellation between age and tolerance for red wine. Merci

                                                                    1. re: enofile
                                                                      John Talbott Oct 9, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                                      "Have several of you noticed a physical difference with your consumption of wine, especially rouge, as you get older?"
                                                                      Not personally but a lot of geezers around me seem to drink less, poor souls.

                                                                      1. re: John Talbott
                                                                        enofile Oct 9, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                                        I can still knock back alcohol, especially vodka, with no problem. In fact, my hangovers are minimal in this advanced physical stage. It's red wine, in particular, that cause me, and some contemporaries of mine, issues such as headaches, nausea, fatigue & sometimes flushing.

                                                                        1. re: enofile
                                                                          estufarian Oct 9, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                                          I'm NOT a doctor - but sounds like histamines. They are particularly prevalent in Californian red wines (no, I don't know the scientific reason why).
                                                                          Not that I encourage anyone to drink, but see if the same thing happens with a sip or two of European based red wines.
                                                                          If so, my commiserations.

                                                                          1. re: estufarian
                                                                            enofile Oct 9, 2013 11:42 AM

                                                                            I never drink "new world wines," since my palate likes musty, barnyard flavors. This adverse reaction to red wines began around the time I turned 60. I have tried organic, filtered, unfiltered etc. with no relief. My surprise is that I have heard this same complaint from other people in my age bracket. It is not only sad, but very odd indeed.

                                                                            1. re: estufarian
                                                                              John Talbott Oct 9, 2013 12:37 PM

                                                                              "I'm NOT a doctor"
                                                                              Unfortunately I am. And I've watched as MD colleagues have avoided red wines and had Scotch, Vodka and anything but.
                                                                              No problem.
                                                                              You do what you gotta do.

                                                                            2. re: enofile
                                                                              Parigi Oct 9, 2013 11:38 AM

                                                                              "issues such as headaches, nausea, fatigue & sometimes flushing."
                                                                              What is the distinction between these "issues" and the old way of calling them "feeling drunk"?
                                                                              I heart this new passe-partout term "issues".

                                                                              1. re: Parigi
                                                                                enofile Oct 9, 2013 11:47 AM

                                                                                Nah, this is not drunk. I am a wonderful and engaging drunk. This malaise crosses the border into the world of a medical malady. (I like those Ms) It's almost like sea sickness and that just isn't fun.

                                                                                1. re: enofile
                                                                                  Ptipois Oct 13, 2013 11:53 AM

                                                                                  I'm not a doctor (bis), but the difference between white wines and red wines are tannins and other flavonoids.

                                                                                  Might it be that you have an intolerance to tannins? Or to anthocyanins, the flavonoid pigment found in red wine.
                                                                                  These things are usually considered healthy and good for you, but maybe you do not process them well.

                                                                                  At any rate, this is the opportunity to try "natural wines" and see if they produce the same result.

                                                                                  1. re: Ptipois
                                                                                    John Talbott Oct 14, 2013 04:50 AM

                                                                                    As usual Pti is spot on.
                                                                                    Try both whites and naturals.

                                                                              2. re: enofile
                                                                                ChefJune Oct 9, 2013 12:26 PM

                                                                                Aaaah, but there is so much wonderful white wine! :D

                                                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                  mangeur Oct 9, 2013 02:58 PM

                                                                                  Indeed. We find that more and more of our really wine savvy friends are moving to whites, and moreover to the less dry whites.

                                                                        2. re: enofile
                                                                          Rio Yeti Oct 9, 2013 01:06 AM

                                                                          Although I occasionally will have a glass of wine, most of the time I will just go with "tap water" at restaurants. Especially the ones with lots of small plate food where I want my taste-buds to be alert from the first to the last dish.

                                                                          I've never felt like I was making a faux pas, I think you will be fine.

                                                                          1. re: enofile
                                                                            Delucacheesemonger Oct 9, 2013 03:20 AM

                                                                            Generally do not have alcohol at lunch, but yes for fussier and longer meals and for the same at dinner. Never had a off glance as a result.
                                                                            To make a meal more festive, l order sparkling water and drink from a wine glass.

                                                                  2. re: PhilD
                                                                    lagatta Oct 7, 2013 05:57 PM

                                                                    Part of Euskadi (Basque Country) is in Spain, part in France.

                                                                    1. re: lagatta
                                                                      enofile Oct 7, 2013 08:38 PM

                                                                      Yes I do know that. I was a history teacher before I retired. The area of Euskadi that lies across the border in France has been much less volatile then the area in Spain which had to endure the myopic insensitivity of the Franco regime. The history of the Basque people is one of enduring pain and hardship. Perhaps that is why their cooking is filled with such heart and soul.

                                                                      1. re: enofile
                                                                        Ptipois Oct 7, 2013 08:50 PM

                                                                        This is actually a case where it is not easy to separate one's posts into two different boards, since there is definitely cultural and culinary unity on either side of the border, Basques being reluctant to acknowledge that border as such as far as their culture is concerned. They never refer to themselves as "Spanish" or "French" Basques (and resent being described in these terms), preferring to use the terms "Southern" or "Northern", or sometimes "this side" and "the other side". It is a country in its own right, split in two by an invisible line. So it does make some sense to take the entire geographic entity as a whole.

                                                                        1. re: Ptipois
                                                                          PhilD Oct 8, 2013 05:11 AM

                                                                          It may be an invisible line but the cooking is quite different on either side. Whilst they may not like the term Spanish or French the cooking styles definitely have roots in those respective countries. And whilst the French (Biarritz) side has a tapas culture they feel so much more French than those in San Sebastián.

                                                                          1. re: PhilD
                                                                            Ptipois Oct 8, 2013 08:49 AM

                                                                            Try and tell what you just wrote to a Basque person (North or South), and then come back and tell us about it.

                                                                            I'm just saying that in this very case, it doesn't make a lot of sense to separate the posts on a France/Spain basis, and there are plenty of good reasons not to do so.
                                                                            The culinary differences in Euskadi have in fact very little to do with which side of the border you're on, and practically everything to do with the historic regions one is standing in, with so many valleys and terroirs.
                                                                            Once that is said, nag and split hairs as you will.

                                                                            1. re: Ptipois
                                                                              enofile Oct 8, 2013 09:57 AM

                                                                              I certainly should have a more erudite response once I visit and can discuss these issues with someone with a "living history" of the area. I can't wait for the discourse, the eating, and the drinking.

                                                                              1. re: enofile
                                                                                John Talbott Oct 8, 2013 11:56 AM

                                                                                " I can't wait for the discourse, the eating, and the drinking."
                                                                                Sounds like an excuse for a Basque-oriented party.

                                                                              2. re: Ptipois
                                                                                PhilD Oct 8, 2013 03:50 PM

                                                                                I think you are agreeing with me. You agree there are are culinary differences and they are based on the historic regions i.e the countries with the border going back to the 1600's.

                                                                                Clearly the terroir will drive the underlying food across the area, but even thought both sides of the border have coastal plains and mountain valleys the food still varies either side of it. We found it interesting how this changed on the recent from St Jean Pied du Port to Pamplona.

                                                                                I disagree about the sense of posting on different boards. Bilbao and San Sebastián are both in Spain - as Chowhound has a Spanish board that's where users expect to find the posts (and there are lots of them). And given the Spanish side is the culinary powerhouse (and the French side less so) it would be odd to post about San Sebastián or Bilbao on the French board.

                                                                                1. re: PhilD
                                                                                  enofile Oct 8, 2013 05:00 PM

                                                                                  If I was searching for information on Euskadi, I would be in the Spanish forum not the area that focuses on France. Certainly, the Basque people live in both France and Spain and have atavistic cultural lineage in both countries. However, it is my belief that the center of the Basque universe lies in Spain today. I may be proven wrong on this trip and that will be worthwhile in itself. I am convinced that due to the actions of the Franco regime and repressive rulers before him, the Basque people who reside in Spain have bonded in a tribal and insular manner. This is certainly a byproduct of being an oppressed minority, sadly in this case, on their ancestral lands. This bonding has produced a culinary (cultural) tradition isolated from the prevailing cultural climate. Forced to cling to their language and customs in protective secrecy, the Spanish Basques rallied behind a thousand year history and drew their creative and artistic energy from thus singular identity. The Basque people living in France, while certainly having suffered also, have more kinship with France and much of their culinary (cultural) tradition is an amalgam of both peoples. This is what I think now. Hopefully, I will be set straight in about ten days. Take care.

                                                                                  1. re: PhilD
                                                                                    Ptipois Oct 8, 2013 08:48 PM

                                                                                    >>I think you are agreeing with me.

                                                                                    Nice try, but I am not.

                                                                                    >> You agree there are are culinary differences and they are based on the historic regions i.e the countries with the border going back to the 1600's.

                                                                                    You are overinterpreting. I did not mean culinary differences from "Spanish" to "French". I meant culinary differences within Euskadi, period.

                                                                                    It is a tautology to say that since the country is split between two regions on either side of a border, each side will bear cultural marks of the respective nation. No one would be so absurd to deny that, especially since the South side enjoys more political and economic autonomy, plus far more economic prosperity, than the North side, which certainly shows in the food culture.

                                                                                    What I am saying is that, regarding the food traditions of Euskadi, the border is a red herring. Now travel there (for short periods) at your will and eat your heart out; going to a few restaurants, asadores and pintxos bars, as I see, does not suffice to grasp the exact nature of Euskadi and the interactions between the many regions that compose it.

                                                                                    1. re: Ptipois
                                                                                      lagatta Oct 9, 2013 08:58 AM

                                                                                      Though of course piment d'Espelette is from a town on the French (Northern) side of Euskadi! And Jambon de Bayonne is from the Northern side too...

                                                                                      1. re: Ptipois
                                                                                        PhilD Oct 9, 2013 03:57 PM

                                                                                        Well the food on the French side seems to be rooted in a French traditions, the food on the Spanish side seems rooted in Spanish traditions. It does reflect the terroir of the areas so has it's own regional characteristic. But it's still rooted in the traditions of the respective countries and thee is no doubt you are in Spain when south of the border or in France north of the border. We actually remarked on out last trip (far from our first) how quickly things changed as you cross the border.

                                                                                        Sit at a cafe in a square in St Jean de Luz versus San Sebastian and the contrast is obvious.

                                                                                        1. re: PhilD
                                                                                          Ptipois Oct 13, 2013 12:09 PM

                                                                                          Things are, indeed, different on either side of the border. I do not deny that. But I would be more careful about using the expression "rooted in Spanish (or French) traditions" since it is exactly the opposite: concerning food, the traditions are Basque, not Spanish or French. French or Spanish culture are more a superficial layer, perhaps more visible, but only when you study things more deeply you acknowledge the cultural unity I am referring to — without quite making me understood, as the post about piment d'Espelette and jambon de Bayonne seems to show...
                                                                                          Yes they make Bayonne ham in Bayonne, duh. And Espelette pepper in Espelette, re-duh. They make Basque ham on both sides, in the Pyrenean valleys. There is more foie gras on the North side than on the South side, but that is because the local breed of ducks resulted from the passage of the migrating wild ducks in one place and not another. They grow all varieties of Basque peppers all over the region, on either side. Fisheries at Saint-Jean-de-Luz are managed on an over-the-border basis, with offices on both sides. Etc. etc.

                                                                                          Just attend a food market with products from both sides of the inter-Basque border (there is one in Paris every Fall), watch the vendors interact, take a close look at what they sell, hear them talk to each other (in the same language that is neither French nor Spanish) and you'll understand what I mean. Very often you'll have to ask them what side they are from.

                                                                                          1. re: Ptipois
                                                                                            lagatta Oct 14, 2013 09:38 AM

                                                                                            Not only "neither Spanish nor French", but a language utterly foreign to either (despite inevitable Romance influences on both sides of the border). Unlike Catalan - I can understand quite a bit of that. Basque no more than Chinese.

                                                                                            1. re: lagatta
                                                                                              Ptipois Oct 14, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                                                              Yes, Basque. That is what I meant. A language unrelated to any other (except perhaps to one mysterious idiom in Siberia, say some).

                                                                        2. re: enofile
                                                                          mangeur Sep 22, 2013 07:35 AM

                                                                          It's actually more impressive that you changed horses mid-stream and are taking advantage of an unexpected find. Well done, indeed! Many would return home with tales of "woulda, coulda, shoulda".

                                                                          1. re: mangeur
                                                                            jon Sep 22, 2013 08:46 AM

                                                                            This may get moved to the Spain, but we loved bar ganbara in San Sebastián. Actually,we liked it so much, we went twice while we were there. The fried white asparagus are ethereal, as were the fresh croissants with jamon and the crazy different types of mushrooms.

                                                                            1. re: jon
                                                                              Ptipois Sep 22, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                              Good heavens... Croissants with Jamon! Heavenly food. Bouncing back to France, I should mention that Dans Les Landes makes these, and they are incredible.

                                                                      2. e
                                                                        enofile Oct 7, 2013 10:43 AM

                                                                        The final reckoning after a ludicrous amount of energy and time was spent, (I must admit I enjoyed it all immensely) is the following: (A follow up reaction and evaluation will follow on my return at the end of October, but of course it will be a byproduct of my unprofessional and "off key" taste and palate.)
                                                                        FRIDAY night - L'Auberge du 15
                                                                        Saturday night - Pirouette
                                                                        Sunday lunch - Auxuria
                                                                        Monday lunch - Jean-Francois Piege
                                                                        Monday dinner - Le Regalade St-Honore
                                                                        Tuesday dinner - Premices
                                                                        Wednesday lunch - Takao Takano in Lyon
                                                                        Wednesday dinner - La Rotonde
                                                                        Thursday dinner - Spring
                                                                        On return from Bilbao on Wednesday the 23rd, we are staying at the Hilton CDG, but plan to train into Gare du Nord and perhaps dine at Chez Michel.
                                                                        I want to thank the Chowhound Parisian Cartel for all their help.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: enofile
                                                                          PhilD Oct 7, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                                          Hadn't you booked Le22 for you meal after Lyon (another thread)?

                                                                          1. re: PhilD
                                                                            enofile Oct 7, 2013 03:04 PM

                                                                            I did, but they emailed me after my phone conversation and said they would only serve to 9:30. Thus, my reservation at La Rotonde. Take care.

                                                                          2. re: enofile
                                                                            John Talbott Oct 7, 2013 11:54 AM

                                                                            Dude - You have done very well indeed.

                                                                          3. John Talbott Dec 6, 2013 08:05 AM

                                                                            "TUESDAY - Dinner = La Table des Anges"
                                                                            We had a very fine meal there today.
                                                                            For the theater area, La Table des Anges and the Cantine de La Cigale offer good food at reasonable prices - at lunch La Table des Anges offered 3 courses for 20 E.

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