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Want to avoid those pesky fellow Yankees?

Give a try to Roca, Le Pario, Bistro Bruyere, Muxu or Le Caillebotte at lunch.

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  1. Oh yes, I have been meaning to ask you just such a question: I want to see your recommendations, but I absolutely do not want to see or hear you in any of the places you recommend. Therefore, after recommending them to me, please stop going yourself.

    5 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        But I can go there.

        (But there will be other Yankees who will have followed John's advice, so what are we to do?)

        1. re: Ptipois

          Oh well, once the guidebooks come out (Le Fooding's this Wednesday I think) and the NYT weighs in - as we said on unfashionable Upper West Side faggedaboudid.

          1. re: John Talbott

            Yo. I'm FROM the Upper West Side....don't dis my homeland..LOL!I Actually I miss the OLD Upper West Side, the side streets close to 96th street with the SRO's. The pimp clothing store "Fowad"...The Middle Eastern restaurant "At Our Place" where I waited tables....the Thalia...don't get me started:)

        2. I think we're interested, if not in the idea of a bucket-list trip, in what would be an example of an "anti-chowhound" place serving "comfort food" slash "more simple and basic dishes".
          JT
          John: You wrote this in my thread about "Tuesday lunch...."
          While I am sure that your "gang of food thieves" around here can have fun with threads like this, there are many of us who do not have your "expat expertise" and could use some serious help for our first trip to your adopted country. I read your blog religiously and do much research from it...as well as the Paris by Mouth group and David Lebovitz...as I consider the two meals that I will have each day (not counting the multitude of croissants) to be a very important part of this "bucket list trip." In many ways, I consider my meal to be more important than seeing the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame...my sensory emotions can always override my visual ones.
          Having said that long monologue, perhaps we can develop an ongoing thread from you and your compatriots that can give us those, on the JT food scale, a solid 5.5 of comfort food that is both unique to Paris as well as comforting and accessible to those of us that do not have your expertise (and never will).
          One additional piece to be considered....as first-timers to Paris, most of us stay, obviously, in the arrondisements closer to the Seine and tourist locations....Analogy time:
          Let's say that you are in my home of NYC...first-timer..and staying in a hotel on Broadway and 45th street, the heart of Times Square. Now, you have a real desire to try great Greek food...well, I have to send you on the subway out to Queens, then walk from the subway station through the neighborhoods to the best Greek food in NYC outside of Athens. While as a native New Yawka, it's no big deal for me; but for you????....It's unfair. Perhaps on your second trip to the Big Apple; but not the first.
          So, please try and keep that in mind if you desire to attempt this "bucket list of anti-Chowhound restaurants."
          With respect,
          VG

          29 Replies
          1. re: VegasGourmet

            "you have a real desire to try great Greek food...well, I have to send you on the subway out to Queens, then walk from the subway station through the neighborhoods to the best Greek food in NYC outside of Athens. While as a native New Yawka, it's no big deal for me; but for you????....It's unfair. Perhaps on your second trip to the Big Apple; but not the first."
            Well since I served my time on Ward's Island, as part of my 25-year stay in NYC, I never considered going over the bridge to be out of my way for Greek or Triestian food.
            But OK I get your point. However, in NY or SF or Paris darn near any place is reachable for a first-timer or 20th timer.
            So your challenge is reasonable - 5.5 and up comfort food that's unique and accessible - I and my fellow "New Yawka"'s will attempt to comply.
            That's very difficult trifecta though.
            John

            1. re: John Talbott

              OK, I’m really looking forward to the continuation of this thread. I checked Wikipedia for a definition of comfort food and saw this phrase: “provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it”.

              Its not a bad starting point, is this what we are going to see?

              I quickly think of cassoulet and pot au feu, but would love to see what CH’ers think is comfort food in France and where it excels in Paris.

              1. re: BlueOx

                "I quickly think of cassoulet and pot au feu"
                Yes and choucroute, a country terrine with crusty bread, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin and the like but I'm stretched to think of places serving those that fit the "unique" part of VegasGourmet's equation.
                Maybe La Regalade St Honore, Chez Georges (rue Mail) or the Petit Marguery.

              2. re: John Talbott

                JT....then you did miss out on the best Santorini sauce that I've ever had...but, that's a story for another day.....Oh, and a great Italian "Sunday gravy"???...gotta send you to my aunt on Staten Island.....but, only if you're lucky. :-)
                Seriously, I greatly appreciate your knowledge....So, first-time comfort food restaurants that don't put me at a table downstairs next to the unisex bathroom and accept my "bonjour" as a starting point for Franco-American relations....Good luck, mon ami.

              3. re: VegasGourmet

                Actually I think 'old-style French comfort food for first-time/ infrequent/ bucket-list visitors' is raised and addressed quite regularly on this board.

                I'll try to link to 2 recent threads but in case it doesn't work, they can be retrieved by searching for "margaretsway non-trendy" and "enofile sick of bistronomic". There's a long list of recommendations in the latter post and also some good advice to head out of Paris if this type of cuisine is a big priority.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/915698
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/918430

                1. re: shakti2

                  Thank you Shakti....enofile's thread is one that I will spend much time with....and, I noticed, that I am not the only one to feel a little "sting" from Rio Yeti

                  1. re: VegasGourmet

                    You must have me mistaken for somebody else...

                    I bite, I don't sting. :)

                2. re: VegasGourmet

                  "you have a real desire to try great Greek food...well, I have to send you on the subway out to Queens, then walk from the subway station through the neighborhoods to the best Greek food in NYC outside of Athens. While as a native New Yawka, it's no big deal for me; but for you????....It's unfair. Perhaps on your second trip to the Big Apple; but not the first."

                  I've been to NYC only once... but I would totally have gone to Queens, had I been in search for great Greek food...
                  You're assumption works for websites like Tripadvisor, or other travel websites... but on Chowhound (and this is true on all the different boards) I don't think there is "touristic compromises" being made.

                  It's all about the food, not your feet.

                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                      "I've been to NYC only once... but I would totally have gone to Queens, had I been in search for great Greek food...
                      You're assumption works for websites like Tripadvisor, or other travel websites... but on Chowhound (and this is true on all the different boards) I don't think there is "touristic compromises" being made."

                      You are missing the point....I am asking for suggestions AS A TRIP ADVISOR PERSON, I am not asking that question on TA; but I am asking, theoretically, a more advanced group of posters to use their expertise for the "level" that I am comfortable with.

                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                        Nobody should waste time going to Queens for Greek food.
                        Even if you are already there.

                      2. re: VegasGourmet

                        Vegas,
                        Your post raises lots of problems for me and probably lots of other CH regulars. 1) I struggle with the notion that a first-time visitor can define his comfort level even before he comes. How do you know what you really like unless there is a little exploration and testing ? 2) Your intention to have two meals of trad cuisine/ comfort food a day seems not only a formula for food fatigue but also like a gastronomic ground-hog day. What exactly is so uncomforting about the variety and lightness of modern French cuisine ? Most of it is derived from tradition. (I'm not talking about cutting-edge cooking which is indeed often too cerebral to be comforting). 3) Your apparent insistence on confining your options to the tourist zones in general and in easy walking distance of the Cours du Commerce Saint-André in particular creates, foodwise, a very risky and perhaps unnecessarily limited geography. Paris is a very compact city and it just takes a short taxi, bus or métro ride to the real-life zones where the art of living is released from the artificiality and clichés of the deeply rutted tourist trail.

                        The Chowhound world as well as real life rarely concides with the Tripadvisor universe. Why such and such restaurant gets rave reviews on Tripadvisor, Yelp, etc often mystifies me. Maybe pre-prepared re-heated cassoulet or blanquettes de veau from plastic pouches or the freezer do satisfy the palates of unsuspecting tourists unfamiliar with French cuisine. Maybe their other meals were just so awful that a mediocre restaurant with merely decent cuisine and a smiling waiter seems excellent in comparison. Maybe the restaurant just offered all the right clichés and prices. In any case, the list of restos you posted on another thread has many places that I and probably most other CHers have never heard of. Even when there is a familiarity, there is great divergence of opinion i.e. Pouic-Pouic which John Talbott declares to be ordinary (a very generous assessment in my opinion) but gets rave reviews on TA.

                        The best I can do is refer you to previous posts from me and others in other similar trad-food threads. There's a huge list of good restos. Unfortunately, not all that many are in the tourist zones/St Germain des Prés.

                        1. re: Parnassien

                          The best post ever. Parn-sensei, from now on you are my guru. Courbette profonde.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            Cixi, tout miel et courbettes ?! somehow I hope there's a wicked smile too.

                          2. re: Parnassien

                            Let me ask you, then...I am going to be spending my days in the tourist areas, and have looked at nearby restos for quality and "Parisian experience":
                            d'Orsay/l'Orangerie: Le Souffle
                            Notre Dame/Sainte Chappelle: Le Tournebievre
                            Le Mariais: Café des Musees
                            Place Vendome/Place Madeleine: Brasserie Flottes
                            Eiffel Tower/Musee Rodin: Café Constant
                            Jardin Luxembourg/Pantheon: La Cuisine de Phillipe
                            Do you have concerns about this for lunches?

                            1. re: VegasGourmet

                              Taken individually, each of your lunch choices is fine. As a group, not much variety of style and tone. And even more monotone if your dinner choices are clustered in the same narrow band. It's sort like a sepia snapshot of yesterday's Paris rather than a vibrant hi-def colour culinary portrait of today's Paris... and I'm not sure if such "nostalgia" based on preconceptions rather than experience/ real memories really works. You should also consider a few alternatives if and when food fatigue sets in.

                              I would, for instance, delete Le Soufflé as a sorta has-been place almost entirely patronized by the older guide-book set. I like soufflés a lot but usually find the taste of those at Le Soufflé to be rather bland. Save your soufflé splurge for La Cigale-Récamier or La Cuisine de Philippe. For before or after the Orsay/ Orangerie, I'd actually keep to the 7th and maybe hit Chez Graff on the rue Bellechasse for a little change of mood and style (although still more or less in the comfort food mode) and for a sample of neo-bistro cuisine du marché... or Le 122 on the rue de Grenelle for a very successful mix of modern and traditional.

                              1. re: Parnassien

                                Parnassien: My thought about Le Souffle was to have lunch near l'Orangerie....the advice that I received about the 2 museums was to do d'Orsay first in the morning, then the smaller l'Orangerie in the afternoon. I do agree with your soufflé observation and was looking to La Cigale for a dinner.
                                I had also made notes on Pascade, Bistro Volnay, and Ferdi in the area of the Tuileries.....I find Pascade particularly interesting; more, as you say "vibrant hi-def colour"...thoughts?

                                1. re: VegasGourmet

                                  You've got the places Vendôme and Madeleine on your to-do list for another day... I see no sense in overdoing this somewhat grand but not exciting area by taking a 1 km detour to Les Jalles, Volnay, etc on your Orsay/ Orangerie day when there are perfectly fine and more convenient choices closer to your museum circuit.

                            2. re: Parnassien

                              Why the raves for awful businesses? People are rubes lacking standards, knowledge, taste, objectivity, sense, etc. I would say it more plainly but...

                              I just cannot understand why someone is asking the board to dumb it down. That world already exists with many recs and raves in other forums. Must we ruin everything? Eat like the in the knows of this board or eat like whomever from some other board. Is that unreasonable?

                              And as for comfort food, it might not work across cultures.
                              Many Americans consider anything beyond a chicken breast exotic. Crazy greens, game, offal, whatever which might be a part of some indigenous 'comfort food' will be anything but to the Wonder bread and Kraft singles crowd.
                              Paris is not the most extreme example but this problem might still occur.
                              You are going to Paris. Get over it. If you do not care for what is there, why go? But that can be said for most who make the trip, I suppose.

                              As has been discussed before, treatment of foreigners in Paris is mostly fine or better whether you are fluent in French or not. Is it perfect? No. Might you happen upon a rude Parisian? Yes. American service is mostly much worse.

                              Now, people are told 'if you act like a decent person you will be treated well' and those receiving this advice then respond that they were 'so polite' and were treated rudely.
                              Usually because their concept of proper behavior is completely ^&R#*R&@YYU&^. and they are not actually well behaved contrary to their beliefs and statements. So, in short, people are just delusional and not able to process information about themselves and their surroundings accurately. Combined with their ignorance== Yelp, TA, etc. insanity.

                              I do read Yelp reviews sometimes but never have been on TA(besides for hotels).
                              However, I did have an experience with TA restaurant rankings.
                              I was admonished by my friend for choosing a restaurant in Paris to fit some bill because it was the 3000th+ rated on TA. That restaurant, L'Ambroisie. We had a good laugh.

                                1. re: dietndesire

                                  Now that is what I call a sting ! ;)

                                  Where do I sign ?

                              1. re: VegasGourmet

                                ok . little bit serious here ... haha . in any case im all for - i just wanna go eat something nice, be it queens, NY, paris, asia blah blah ... any help i can get ill take it ...

                                theres just too much wrong in this world .. just do our best to make things a little bit better around us ... and on the way, have a little good foie (or something like that)

                                1. re: VegasGourmet

                                  "on the JT food scale, a solid 5.5 of comfort food that is both unique to Paris as well as comforting and accessible to those of us that do not have your expertise."
                                  I think I'm about to have Parigi send me anti-feng-shui waves, but another place to consider for an over 5.5/10 costing 20 E for three courses (5 E a glass of wine) "that is both unique to Paris as well as comforting and accessible" is La Table des Anges in the 9th.

                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                    Nah, the soup and the cauliflower toothpaste+smoked speck+spicy nut deconstruct would be too out there for Nevada Epicure. He can stick to the Crème Brûlée.

                                  2. re: VegasGourmet

                                    VegasGourmet: a question (sorry other folks but i couldn't find his or her website or email address):
                                    When you suggest I "develop an ongoing thread from you and your compatriots that can give us those, on the JT food scale, a solid 5.5 of comfort food that is both unique to Paris as well as comforting and accessible to those of us that do not have your expertise (and never will)" - what is your definition of French "comfort food?"
                                    I've been stewing (sorry for the pun) over this since November and don't know what your definition is; in the US, I think of meatloaf and spongecake; in France, of boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin.
                                    Are you aiming for that sort of food?
                                    As a for instance - today I rated Yard a 7.2 and think all the world would agree that rabbit liver, heart and gizzards constitute "comfort food" but do dishes like a ceviche of coques and bulots, slices of octopus & radishes and cooked bonito tuna with greens peas qualify?
                                    I've started a list and am willing to subject it to my pals' ridicule, but give me the parameters. Thanks
                                    John JT etc.

                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                      JT,
                                      Love the start, do you think cassolette and pot au feu qualify for your list?
                                      blue

                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                        Isn't the best definition of comfort food to state what it isn't?

                                        So in any country it's not fussy, delicate, overly worked, refined to an inch of its life, involve salad or anything remotely healthy, low fat, low carb or low calorie.

                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                          John Talbott: ' "I quickly think of cassoulet and pot au feu" /Yes and choucroute, a country terrine with crusty bread, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin and the like... '

                                          Wow, that's the sort of comfort food I've always made at home in the US, without any personal connection to France. Just because it all tasted good.

                                          (I think the basic answer to this thread's title question -- and I've always found it successful when in France, even Paris when I was obliged to go there -- some Frenchpeople, of course, consider Paris a foreign country -- was not to go to places recommended in sources pesky fellow Yankees read for advice. Such as...)

                                        2. re: VegasGourmet

                                          "perhaps we can develop an ongoing thread from you and your compatriots that can give us those, on the JT food scale, a solid 5.5 of comfort food that is both unique to Paris as well as comforting and accessible to those of us that do not have your expertise (and never will)."
                                          OK, I have begun such.

                                        3. Easy solution. Just go to parts of the country that Americans don't visit. Which, reading the board, pretty much means anywhere but Paris.

                                          Which is fine. I visit France most years and have never met an American. Although I do come across pesky fellow Britons quite regularly.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Lol. exactly what I was going to say.
                                            Most of the mishegoss about French Attitude
                                            comes from too much experience of Parisians.

                                          2. Is your thread title "Want to avoid those pesty fellow Yankees" or "Want to meet those pesty fellow Yankees" ?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              "Is your thread title "Want to avoid those pesty fellow Yankees" or "Want to meet those pesty fellow Yankees" ?"
                                              I intended it to address two themes here
                                              1. The requests for places where there is no English spoken nor visitors to the city (esp American) present.
                                              2. To give five examples of places that are pretty new and as yet "undiscovered" or at least untouted on CH.

                                            2. Do we really mean "pesky yankees" or do we actually mean fellow tourists who don't get the same from food that we, or those who have few cultural sensitivities (being loud, rude etc isn't an exclusive tag for just one country). They are either those ticking off the list from a paper, a hot list, or from a board - and this board could be accused of being as guilty as others given the relatively small and unchanging must try list (notable exceptions).

                                              I think when we talk about the "anglo-room" or avoiding tourists we are using code. We want to avoid the rude, the uncouth, the loud etc. So what we are looking for is a restaurant that represents a true mix of Paris culture, the hipsters, the Bobo's, the business lunchers, the refined well mannered tourist (just like us).

                                              There are lots and lots of them out there and I generally do pretty well myself. But equally there are a number to avoid. I for one, am put off Spring by its popularity with US visitors, a recent post highlighted this, and Daniel himself discussed it in a recent interview, its not his fault, and there's nothing much he can do about it. It is simply what success can do for a restaurant and there are many other examples of my much loved restaurants changing as they gain popularity in many cities across the world.

                                              Maybe the secret is to simply stop recommending the eel known places and stick to the off the beaten track finds, dare i say return to the ethos of the original Chowhound.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                On the subject of "pesky yankees" I give you an immortal contribution from Parnassien on consequences of helping confused tourists with a menu :

                                                'Suddenly I'm their best friend and they insist on telling me in great detail about their daughter's million dollar wedding (2000 pics on their iPhone to be looked at) in Dallas, etc. As much as I try to politely disengage, "the voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune of a broken violin on an August afternoon". '

                                                (This is an entirely familiar experience for me and only ever with travelling Americans.)

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/917437

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  I think the "small and unchanging must try list" is a feature of a number of Chowhound boards. Perhaps it's a feature of all forums. There's something of an inevitablity that (a) someone asks for a recommendation, (b) someone recommends a place, (c), first person goes there and enjoys so that (d) they join the ranks of those recommending the place.

                                                  I am not immune. Happened to us in Rome. Went to a place that had been recommended on Chowhound. Certainly had a decent enough meal. It was, however, somewhat weird to be in a packed room and to be at one of only two tables occupied by Europeans - from the voices I could hear, everyone else was north American. Can only have been the influence of American boards/guidebooks.

                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                    "Maybe the secret is to simply stop recommending the eel known places and stick to the off the beaten track finds...."
                                                    My point (made elsewhere ad nauseum) exactly. I wrote something recently entitled "Are there only 6 worthy restaurants in Paris?; how sad."

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      "Maybe the secret is to simply stop recommending the eel known places and stick to the off the beaten track finds, dare i say return to the ethos of the original Chowhound."

                                                      Since he's too modest to say so himself, I'll put a plug in for Parnassien's posts; he doesn't reflexly shoot off one recommendation but gives several paragraphs with many options and opportunities which I rarely can differ with or add to.
                                                      That's what I'd encourage more of.

                                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                                        Since JT is my fave dining companion, with whom I always, but always, laugh up a storm, these requests, especially made to JT specifically, always amuse me, because with our unbridled loud laughs, we are the requesters' worst nightmare. They really should ask: "please tell me where you eat, and please stop eating there for me."

                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                          If you're laughing in French, it doesn't come across so egregious.

                                                        2. re: John Talbott

                                                          Thanks for the compliment, Talbott le Vénérable. I think you and I try, often in vain, to show that there is no one correct answer to the question "where to eat". There is such an abundance of choice in Paris that no restaurant is really "incontournable" or unmissable. I also happen to think that using a restaurant not as a destination in itself but as the hook for exploring a quartier is a great way for any tourist to experience the parisien lifestyle.

                                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                                            Good thoughts, JT and P.

                                                            And I have learned the hard and sad way that personal taste and style are terribly hard to qualify and define. What is unmissable for some of us can be a train wreck for others. "Hot lists" really do no one a favor, making bookings scarce and mismatching diners and kitchens.

                                                            1. re: Parnassien

                                                              "I also happen to think that using a restaurant not as a destination in itself but as the hook for exploring a quartier is a great way for any tourist to experience the parisien lifestyle."

                                                              Even jaded old me comes across a street I swear I've never seen before, as was the case with the area in front of St Joseph across from Muxu (Deguerry & St Maur).

                                                        3. Went to Le Pario for lunch on Friday, and though we were disappointed that they had already sold out of the lunch formule, we had a lovely meal: perfectly cooked duck breast on a bed of port-soaked figs for Monsieur and a gratin of prawns and potatoes for me that was absolutely creamy and rich and divine. Split a lovely glass of Mâcon and a decent poached pear for dessert. Thanks for the great find, JT!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. No pfY's at En Vrac; place with a great buzz too, in a nabe that is exploding with gentrification (think the 11th 10 years ago). 6.4 in my book.

                                                            1. OK; I've got another rec for really really good food where there are no pesky Yankees (yet) - the relatively new Terroir Parisien Bourse; my second time today; new menu from Time #1; terrific food; terrific staff; for a New Year's Eve lunch with a full carte for 100 E a couple with wine, it cannot be beat.
                                                              Once the guidebooks come out who knows but right now, no English spoken (except by the waitstaff). http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...