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Nov 4, 2013 06:09 AM

Trip report, Oct 21-Nov 1, 2013, Spring, Goust, Guy Savoy, Villaret

This was the first time we rented an apartment in Paris, so had fewer meals in restaurants. I doubt we will stay in a hotel again, as apartment life really suited us. Lunches out, dinner in the apartment with something from the market or picnic fare was often our day.
Our most enjoyable meal was our first restaurant: dinner at Spring. This is not a new discovery for many of you, but it was our first time, and we'd return again. Our table was right by the "kitchen" or assembly station and it was fun to watch the ballet of preparations. Three great amuse tastings, followed by a single langoustine, sole, duck served in two courses and four little desserts including four perfect blackberries topped with a thyme ice that was a revelation. Sorry I can't tell you the exact price, but the receipt has gone missing. Maybe 200 euros, with a bottle of wine for 40 or so euros.
Our next experiences were less successful, but I think this is mainly due to our mistakes in ordering. We had the 99 euro "tasting menu" at Goust for lunch, including a wine pairing.
Amuse of foie gras covered by "Cuba libre" jelly.
One oyster from . Gillardeau garnished with beets and lemon foam
St Pierre filet with tiny carrots in a consomme of carrot and calamari
Veal sweetbread, crispy with soy sauce and gyoza filled with chevre
Dessert: coconut pastry topped with mango sorbet and garnished with passionfruit coulis.
Petit fours
We mistakenly added a cheese course (16 euro pp) of Mont D'Or with a glass of wine from Jura.
Our mistake was to go with the top menu. Next time it would be great to have the simple 32 (?) menu or go a la carte, as many tables were doing. If you like edible flowers and foam, you'd like Goust.

Sunday lunch at Cafe des Musees. You definitely must reserve for this, as they turn away many people who try to just walk in. Definitely a lively place and great for a Sunday. But, we fell for the steak/frites. Never again. There has much debate here about steaks in France, and we're on the side that it's better to enjoy anything else in France, saving steak for elsewhere. But we're often tempted by seeing those seared entrecotes coming from the kitchen and this was no exception. In fairness, they prepare some of the best frites I've eaten in Paris. If you don't mind a chewy steak, it's the place for you. They offer a "formula" for 25 euro (not featured on the menu but only on a little blackboard that we didn't notice until later-- and they don't feature it) that I'd go for next time. Or anything but steak. With a modest bottle of wine and one appetizer (sliced salami), the check was about 100 euro for two. Before going, I read some reviews that criticized the service as rude, etc., but we found it most welcoming. Our server was American or Canadian and we have no criticism at all about service.

Birthday lunch at Guy Savoy, where we ordered the "autumnal special menu with wine pairings." We were undecided about Le Cinq vs. Guy Savoy. DH wanted to go with the wine pairings at Guy Savoy. This was our first time here, too. Chef Savoy was definitely in charge in the dining room greeting and mingling with guests. There were almost as many service staff as patrons, so service was impeccable and friendly.
The price for this menu/wine was about 160 euro per person. The menu seems to change with the market, and I believe it is available on the restaurant website. It was a splurge for us and I'm glad we did it.
We were the only Americans in the dining room.
Le Villaret was our favorite spot last May. Since then, the dining room has undergone renovation and is now more contemporary but still charming. Last time, we ordered from the a la carte menu and wished we had tried the fixed "tasting menu" at about 55 euro per person for dinner. This time we tried the tasting menu and wished we'd stayed with a la carte. There is also a 32 euro fixed menu of 3 (?) courses. One strange thing was that the wonderful veloute of cepes with bits of foie gras was served to us both as an amuse and as a larger portion for the first starter. The soup was divine, but this was certainly an oversight.

The lesson we learned, at least for our preferences, is to go with the smaller menus or order from the carte. Next time, we'll skip the big tasting menus, though it was fun for birthday week.
Thanks to all of you who helped us with recommendations and information to make this a wonderful trip. This Board is an invaluable resource and one that I always turn to. Next trip: Two weeks in the Dordogne in May, renting a house.

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  1. Wonderful.
    Yes, for anyone who cares about food, renting is definitely the way to go. Missing the pleasures of markets in France is missing a big big part of what France has to offer.

    1. Interesting take on Goust which shows one persons great is not always another's and it's wise to read reviews carefully. I like "flowers and foam" (when done well) so a place like Goust floats my boat, luckily I love traditional as well so am happy in a variety of places.

      But there are many who like the safe middle ground and I can see why certain places don't appeal or disappoint. It's worth noting that Goust has a Spanish chef and Spain is a leading light in the innovative food world.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        To clarify my earlier comment, we enjoyed Goust, but I wouldn't order the big tasting menu again....I'd be happy with the a la carte or the smaller menu. My remark about flowers and foam was simply to characterize the presentation.

        1. re: ScottnZelda

          Thanks Fitzgeralds, I've been mulling over an essay on foam; I've gone from hating it to mildly liking it.
          When it's not a truc or distraction, it can work; when it's just frou-frou fluff, I deteste it.
          I had a foamy artichoke soup recently that was not bad.

          1. re: John Talbott

            An essay on foam? Great! It just seems to me that it never has enough flavor to add to a dish. Even lemon foam on an oyster at Goust lacked the freshness I prefer. It's just MHO. But the tiny little ice crystals flavored with thyme on the simple blackberries at Spring? Another matter altogether. I have to figure out how to duplicate that wonderful ice.

            1. re: ScottnZelda

              I'm a texture junkie. Foam - or tasty toothpaste - must have its place, but 2 foams in one meal just make me want to mainline crunchy anything.

      2. Funny, the only steak I had in Paris on our trip in July was at Cafe des Musees also. Similar experience, thin, chewy steak, can make much better at home. Was scolded for being late, showed them on my phone I was exactly one minute late and had to laugh.
        We also found Spring to be our best meal there, amazing service. Was worried about being seated in the cellar (late to make reservations), but the experience was stellar.

        3 Replies
        1. re: saeyedoc

          I had some pretty lousy service at CdM last week, but the andouilette was one of the best. Also, they have Floreffe on tap which is probably better than any of their desserts.

          1. re: saeyedoc

            "thin, chewy steak"
            See prior threads.
            There are many confounding issues here.

            1. re: John Talbott

              My DH, a true carnivore, is frequently tempted by steak in Paris, leading me to remind him that the definition of insanity is....well you know the rest. Sooo many other goodies to select among in Paris, I'll skip the steak, thank you.