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Feb 10, 2014 11:02 AM

Michelin restaurant for Saturday lunch?

Any recommendations for a Michelin lunch spot on a Saturday? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Many of the starred places in Paris(if you are interested about Paris) are closed on weekends.

    Some remaining open that come to my mind are, Le cinq which regurarly gets the best reviews at 110 euros I think.

    Then there is L'epicure, Eric Frechon 3 stars at 135 euros.

    1 starred restaurants. Firstly the Le jules verne, of Alain Ducasse which has a lunch menu at 98 euros(maybe it is only on week days). Great view from the Eiffel Tower, but thats it. It is not bad by any means. It is just too expensive for what it is. I still regret how I chose that for my only lunch in paris on that trip, and didnt go for Frechon, Passard etc.

    Then there is Benoit, 1 star again of Alain Ducasse with a lunch option available on weekends too at 38 euros. 50 with water and a good glass of wine. I dont know what do you think about it, but I really liked it :)

    My review,

    When I visited it, they had run out of tartes so we could choose anything we liked from the regular desserts menu.

    1. Could I be so bold as to ask why a starred resto on a weekend?
      My implication, if not apparent, is that stars may not mean much of a much, if one reads between the lines in prior threads.
      But perhaps that's just the geezer, hipster-envious, 99 percenter in me.

      24 Replies
      1. re: John Talbott

        Indeed, why this unnecessary constraint ? It has been discussed before how in France a starred restaurant does not always mean a better restaurant. Many of us have eaten in non-starred restaurants that food-wise are comparable to one- or two-starred places, or, on certain level, three-starred joints.

        1. re: John Talbott

          I think for a tourist that has 2 or 3 meals in Paris the starred places would be the safest choice, as I did myself. Food was my major reason to go back to paris for 3rd time. I had in my mind that I wanted to eat at Gagnaire, Ledoyen, Arpege, Ambroisie etc. I managed to eat at the first two. I dont disagree that you can find better non starred places with maybe better food for a fraction of the cost. Although some places,are more expensive than many 1 starred restaurants.

          For me finding good or excellent food is the next step. You have to know the place well and have lived there for some time. I did this to my city. I have found places with better food than in the fancy ones.

          Just to make a comparison. When I started being interested in cinema, movies etc I watched so many classical films, many of them boring, some of them great, just cause I had to know about them. You cant be a cinema lover if you havent seen Bergman, Bunuel, Fellini etc. Did I like Dolce Vita? No .. Do I regret spending 3 hours for this film? No way ..

          1. re: Giannis

            I like your comparison. A good laugh.
            I can understand that the Michelin can be kind of dependable short-list. But since we are on this board, with active members who are locals who need not rely on a short-list, asking us to share advice on such a short list (which gets radically shorter for Saturday), which for us is not a guide-line, is like - comparison coming up - looking for a Paris rental apartment with aircon. Such a thing exists, but one is bypassing a lot of great options, all for a feature that does not make much difference in the end.
            Back to the OP's request:
            Your list is a good one. Except Ducasse. Dependable he is. Top food? Let me hem and haw a bit.

            1. re: Parigi

              Good point.

              May I ask you if you generally dont like any of Ducasse's restaurants? I had my best meal at Le Louis XV, I just have some doubts, if I was so impressed because it was my first time at that calibre. I expected again from other restaurants the same feeling, but neither Ledoyen nor PG did it for me.

            2. re: Giannis

              While I agree that a film appreciation class is more likely to show The Seventh Seal than Les Gauloises Blondes, I am not sure that starting off with Ledoyen is the right approach either.

              I am not going to admit which I own on DVD, however.

              1. re: Giannis

                If I may intrude on your cinema comparison, because it tickled my mustache ;)

                You are absolutely right, however... The OP wanting to go to starred places is not like him wanting to see the classics first, it is more like him wanting to see the Academy Award winners first. While there are some great films that won Academy Awards, there are also some pretty shitty ones... Advising someone to watch a Bunuel film is similar to recommending a great "unstarred" place, rather than a starred one. (well actually it depends of the particular film, he did receive a bunch of awards of course, including an Oscar I think...)

                I love comparisons and metaphors. :)

                1. re: Rio Yeti

                  La Belle de Jour would be a good restaurant name.

              2. re: John Talbott

                Why not ?

                Not all of use have access to Michelin starred restaurant at home, and for us when going to Paris means going to more luxurious restaurants (for the service, the settings and the food) instead of something that can be easily found at home.

                1. re: Maximilien

                  "Why not ?"
                  Because, as Rio Yeti put it aptly, it is like choosing to watch only those movies that have been an Oscar best picture. Like the Oscar, a star does reflect a kind of distinction but not necessarily the best food experience.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    There is also a simple logical/practical aspect to that matter.

                    Michelin is a guide and functions as such. Meaning that if you want to find a Michelin restaurant, duh - search the Michelin guide. That's what it's for, and there's even a mention of which ones are open on weekends. So if one trusts Michelin, let one trust Michelin completely.

                    This place here is also a guide of sorts, though it functions in a completely different way. What you get here is the result of every poster's experience. So it should be understood that not all of that experience is Michelin-compatible. The criteria are different (whatever the Michelin criteria are).

                    So if you come here to Chowhound and ask questions, you get Chowhound answers. The place to look for Michelin places is Michelin itself, and it should prove satisfactory since your trusted criteria is... Michelin.

                    If Michelin were an Internet forum, should anyone go there and ask "do you know of any Chowhound restaurant that's open on weekends", what would be the logical answer?

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      Hummm... the logical answer would be : "What are those pesky hounds you're talking about ? The only hounds I know are my faithful dogs that hunt with me on sunday, oh and of course Lexter, my Basset to whom I bring "doggybags" (excuse my french) of foie gras and morsels of sole meunière..."

                      Cliché ? ;)

                  2. re: Maximilien

                    I agree. France has 596 Michelin starred restaurants are they all less good than the non-starred places?

                    I find the anti-Michelin position quite odd after all it's only a guide and whilst it has its faults it also has its merits. I have probably had as many great meals in restaurants with Michelin stars as I have had in non-Michelin stars.

                    Paris has 80+ Michelin starred restaurants and amongst these a few are often recommended by posters on this tread who are being very negative abound Michelin - Le Cinq, Passage 53, Le Sergent Recruteur, Itineraires, ZLGLe Divellec, Akrame, Les Tablettes de JL Nomicos, 114 Faubourg and no doubt David Toutain will regain his once the new guide comes out.

                    As with the "Best of the best" discussions I wonder what percentage of the 80 starred restaurants in Paris have been sampled by fellow chow hounds. I can only lay claim to 14 of them and would be intrigued to try more.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      That many of us here do not take the Michelin 100% seriously and question the reliability of its classification system does not mean that they claim Michelin is wrong all the time. Nobody ever is.

                      The problem is more the seriously flawed, political and opaque macaron system than the existence of the guide as a convenient help.

                      1. re: PhilD


                        "I find the anti-Michelin position quite odd after all it's only a guide and whilst it has its faults it also has its merits."

                        I think the Oscar analogy is apt because you can be anti-Oscar for all the right reasons when you understand the overall impact it has on not only people's understanding of movies and but also movie production.

                        It's possible for a good film or performance to win an Oscar but more likely it won't and a bad one will.

                        Cannot say anything about whether Michelin stars in France are given to restaurants that live up the classic French standards, so maybe going to Michelin-starred restaurants in France will give somebody a grounding in classic French restaurant cooking. But I do know that Michelin starred restaurants in Italy and Spain will leave with entirely the wrong understanding of the heights of these cuisines with possibly some exceptions in those parts of Spain where the classic tradition just happens to be a tradition of constant invention. But otherwise, Michelin doesn't have a clue when it comes to Visconti and Bunuel.

                        1. re: kmzed

                          Being French and having been brought-up with a Michelin guide always at hand in the car (and I still carry one of whichever country I am in...), I don't understand the pros and antis... If you are French and stuck somewhere whether it's near Vezoul or Mende or Lucca or Caceres it is the safe way to find somewhere decent to eat and sleep. That's the role of a Michelin guide.
                          The stars are a bonus and the acknowledment of a certain consistancy in quality, not automatically following the fashion and teh buzz but the taste of the people who buy the guide... who are not automatically interested in the Visconti or Bunuel food equivalent. I guess you could place Bocuse in the George Cukor section... still a favourite.

                          1. re: monchique

                            Yes, good if you're stuck, but in theory folks making queries on Chowhound are not stuck. It's a bulletin board, and one can take advantage of asking specific questions and probing deeper than a pre-printed guide could possibly answer.

                            1. re: Steve

                              Agreed, but this particular thread was a long way from the original query and diverted to a sort of Michelin bashing... Glad to see it has gone back on track now.

                              1. re: monchique

                                "diverted to a sort of Michelin bashing"
                                I assume you live in France or read the French press, we Yankees pale compared to folks like Pudlo et al for Michelin bashing - See for instance
                                For folks who like me, have a comprehension of a 3 year old, boussole translates literally as having lost its/your compass, my translation is "off its/your rocker."

                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                    A rival guide (Pudlo) being critical of another guide (Michelin) - did you expect praise?

                                    And interestingly the sub-text of the criticism seems to be the old established restaurant in Reims was overlooked in favour of the newer, more modern chef, which seems to be the opposite of some of the anti-Michelin arguments in this thread.

                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                      Actually I live in Portugal, but visit my family in France regularly, and read the French and British press daily (and enjoy following you on CH and your own blog)
                                      Perdu La boussole actually means "lost his marbles" but perdu Sa boussole means "lost his compass" (hint of a joke from Pudlowski making his own publicity on the back of Michelin). We also have a Chowhounder promoting the Gault & Millau (where Pudlo started, I seem to remember). Chacun ses gouts!

                                  2. re: Steve

                                    Steve, that works for places that Chowhounds are able to cover in depth--Paris, mostly. Coverage of the rest of France is spotty.

                                    When we visit France, most of our destinations turn out to be way off the beaten path. I assume it would do me no good to ask here about where to eat in places like Bernay, Souday, and Luneray.

                                    If I lived and worked in Paris, by asking around I might find somebody whose Mamie had a weekend house in Souday and who therefore knows the good places to eat, if there are any.

                                    For us, occasional visitors to France, Michelin fills a need that Chowhound France can't.

                                    1. re: Crumbs

                                      Not certain the coverage of Paris on Chowhound is in as much depth as you imply. It's definitely better than much if France (and many other sources), and whilst good, the few locals and one or two more adventurous visitors are never going to be able to cover everything or have the spectrum of tastes to enjoy the range and diversity that is on offer.

                                      So triangulation with different sources including Michelin is sensible. I really can't understand the intense dislike of the guide, it has its place, and if you want a certain style of restaurant it's useful....a Chowhound recommendation, good write up on Le Fooding, a newly minted star from Michelin, sounds to me like a good way to pick somewhere classy for a meal.

                                      And outside Paris as Monchique says it can be very useful to find a decent place to eat - after all it is a home grown French guide. I would also argue that the "starched tablecloth" comments are no longer totally reflective of one star places. The guide covers a fairly diverse range of options these days.

                                      I would even go as far to argue that the style of dining in many places is more reflective of French diners expected standards than those imposed by a guide. France is a bastion of tradition and thus many restaurants reflect's something that I really like every now and then: bare tables, craning my neck to read a blackboard menu, and decent wine ruined by drinking it from chunky water glasses is fun some of the time but not all of the time.

                                  3. re: monchique

                                    "are French and stuck somewhere"
                                    Even if not French (well, not for 200 years) we carry the Red Michelin, G/M and Pudlo and sometimes Le Fooding in our car.
                                    I think what some of us Paris-based folks are saying (well, I'll speak for myself) is that I use the Red Michelin as a Directory not a guide where to go in Paris itself.
                                    By the way, the back room at L'Ebauchoir in the 12th has a complete set and they are most fascinating to go through.

                          2. IMHO there is so much wonderful food in Paris that has no star whatsoever attached to it. I think you do yourself a disservice to require a star, expecially on weekends. Unless you have a lot of money you can't wait to spend...

                            This board is just loaded with tried and true GREAT places to dine or to assemble a picnic, it's a shame to get exclusive.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: ChefJune

                              "Unless you have a lot of money you can't wait to spend"
                              For me it is not even a matter of money.
                              Purely in terms of the food experience, when money is no object, I would not use Michelin as my short-list.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                People go to Michelin restaurants because they are "tire-d".

                                    1. re: bcc

                                      ...or they are "re-tire-ing." (sorry x 2!)

                                      In regards to cost and choices related to dining, Mangeur summed this well with her definition of what value is:

                                      "Value should always be the goal. It has nothing to do with cost but everything to do with total enjoyment, fulfillment, not least joy. It's about time and opportunity well spent."

                                    2. re: Parigi

                                      <For me it is not even a matter of money.>

                                      Me, neither. But some friends seem to think they should look for the Michelin stars as a guarantee of quality. I don't know about that....

                                    3. re: ChefJune

                                      I agree that there is a lot of wonderful non-starred food in Paris that is very good. But, in my experience much of it is just as expensive as the food in many one starred Michelin places - its a fallacy that Michelin starred places are automatically more expensive than other places.

                                    4. Can you tell us about the kind of experience you are looking for? Traditional or forward food? Room? Service?

                                      And taking JT's "why on a weekend" question a step further, not least why the Michelin requirement?

                                      I understand Maxmillian's point ("Not all of use have access to Michelin starred restaurant at home, and for us when going to Paris means going to more luxurious restaurants (for the service, the settings and the food) instead of something that can be easily found at home.") but would add that the food that I search out in France is not Michelin but definitely that which I can't access at home. Young guys with knives and fire. Most of these way ahead of the Michelin inspectors.

                                      1. Even though I have lots of Michelin-starred experience (obliged by expense-account entertainment), I -- like my fellow locals-- am usually not a fan of these temples of gastronomy. Whenever the topic is raised on Chowhound, my eyes glaze over, I usually retreat to a-talk-amongst-yourselves attitude, and indulge in some very unfair wondering how so many of these very un-French, often joyless, usually stratospherically priced restos full of Russian oligarchs and foreign plutocratic old farts have somehow come to represent the epitome of Frenchness.

                                        Mais chacun son truc. If the OP wants a Saturday lunch from the Michelin guide, the 2-star Le Cinq in the 8th is probably the most worthy and most fun (and open for lunch)... but the cheapest Sat lunch "formule" is 180 € without wine (cheaper on weekdays). Depending on when the OP is in Paris, the 3-star Guy Savoy might also be a possibility after the long-delayed move to the historic Hôtel de La Monnaie (old mint) on the quai de Conti in the 6th in (supposedly but don't hold your breath) mid-2014... rumour has it that it might then be open for Sat lunch (or the gossips may be just confusing the restaurant with the new brasserie that Guy Savoy is opening at a later date in the same venue... just not sure). At the one-star level, more options: Yam'tcha in the 1st for a 100 € lunch dégustation of "transgenre" (the latest French foodie term for fusion) Asian-French; the Japanese-French "transgenre" and my personal fave Kei in the 1st; the newish and very modern Sergent Recruteur on the Ile Saint-Louis... open on Sat but no bargain "formule" as on weekdays... and a caveat that the quality could suffer because two key members of the team are taking over Rino in the 12th and the head chef as well as the owner are very involved in a huge new restaurant + shop rehab project ("la jeune rue") in the 3rd. And l'Instant d'Or in the 8th... some very good feedback from Chowhounders (i.e. )

                                        20 Replies
                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                          " the newish and very modern Sergent Recruteur on the Ile Saint-Louis... open on Sat but no bargain "formule" as on weekdays... and a caveat that the quality could suffer because two key members of the team are taking over Rino in the 12th and the head chef as well as the owner are very involved in a huge new restaurant + shop rehab project ("la jeune rue") in the 3rd."

                                          Oh, great harbinger of Spring, please elaborate on these several head jerking revelations!

                                          1. re: mangeur

                                            Giovanni Passerini, chef of Rino is searching for a bigger place, and is leaving his restaurant to the "second" and "sommelier" of Sergent Recruteur. The change will take place on March 22nd.

                                            The owner of Sergent Recruteur just bought 35 (!) little shops on rue du Vertbois and the streets nearby. He wants to create a bistro, a fish restaurant, a tapas bar, a covered marché, a boulangerie, a cheese-shop, amongst other things...

                                            News translated from Le Fooding (

                                            1. re: mangeur

                                              O Mme Mangeur and guinguette-goer,
                                              As I wrote the word Rino, I suddenly realized that you above all would snap to attention. (Background for others... Mangeur and I share a great admiration for resto Rino whose brilliant Italian-born chef is now moving on to a bigger and better Paris restaurant whose location and style are not yet decided). All I know from lefooding, a few other blogs, and gossip is that the sous-chef and sommelier at Sergent Recruter are taking over Rino at the end of March. And on a related note, the excellent Swedish chef at la Gazetta is moving back to Sweden and chef Luigi Nastri from my favourite restaurant in Rome, Settembrini, and a pal of Rino's soon-to-be ex-chef Giovanni Passerini, has been imported to take over the kitchen... Nastri has very similar cuisine and style to Passerini so I expect good things at la Gazzetta. Passerini also worked at la Gazetta before he started Rino. So swirls of tangents, no ? I wouldn't be surprised to find Passerini at one of the new centerpiece restos on "la jeune rue".

                                              As for the Serg-Rec owner's "la jeune rue" project, it's centered on the rues Vertbois, Volta and Notre-Dame de Nazareth... 30+ businesses have been taken over, the buildings will be rehabbed, and a new foodie/ lifestyle zone with restaurants and shops will be created... I'm not sure if Pramil, Le Vernissoir and Le Vertbois will be affected but a revamped Anahi is part of the deal... l'Ami Louis looks like it will be unaffected and marooned in its own little world... all seems pretty fab but, sigh, the Théàtre du Marais where young actors (some now quite big stars) from the very good drama school Cours Florent honed their craft, is being turned into a cinéma... I'll have to look elsewhere for my starlets now.

                                              Post-post edit: Oups, I was writing my reply while Rio Yeti was posting his... so sorry for being redundant.

                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                So much for the secret I was supposed to keep.
                                                As I think Mangeur implied elsewhere "There are no secrets on the internet."
                                                My rule is that I'll keep my mouth shut until I hear it from two more independent sources - well Rio & Parnassien have unsealed my lips.

                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                  I didn't know it was supposed to be a secret... at least not when Le Fooding posted it online...

                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                    I was just asked by a friend who's involved to keep mum until it was announced.

                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                      You should tell your friend it's been all over the Internet for a few weeks now. There's even been discussions on Facebook about the project.

                                                2. re: Parnassien

                                                  Being a foodie (sorry, Parigi!) and in the real estate business, I find this fascinating! I'm not sure what to think, to be honest, but who can argue with "produce better, eat better and live better?" March 2014 for some of the stores seems awfully ambitious considering it has been somewhat secretive. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out. I expect reports from local CHers, of course.

                                                  1. re: VaPaula

                                                    I'd say you two are unabashed food-lovers, Paula. I will never forget how the two of you suddenly stopped all dinner conversation and CHOWed down on the seafood platter, in a long religious silence.

                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                      I will gladly take the title of "unabashed food lover" over "foodie." And you're right, those seafood platters totally send me into that zone. Religious experience indeed.

                                                  2. re: Parnassien

                                                    Interesting and sad about Rino. It was (is?) a wonderful little authentic place. I really did not feel like a tourist when I was there (even though, technically, I am one, reluctantly). The first time I went, I had a great five-course dinner for, I think, 40 euros. After my late dinner, I somehow ended up sharing glasses of various wines with Passerini and his cohorts. Of course, this was all compliments of the chef. He shared interesting stories about the derivation of the restaurant's name and other (Italian) adventures. Wherever he lands, I look forward to trying it.

                                                    Interesting regarding Rue Vertbois. I never hear much about Pramil, but I had some wonderful food there at an almost ridiculously low price for the quality offered (unfortunately, I was not feeling well that night and couldn't fully enjoy it); it is also a nicely simple, casual, comfortable room.

                                                    1. re: Parnassien


                                                      "Whenever the topic is raised on Chowhound, my eyes glaze over, I usually retreat to a-talk-amongst-yourselves attitude, and indulge in some very unfair wondering how so many of these very un-French, often joyless, usually stratospherically priced restos full of Russian oligarchs and foreign plutocratic old farts have somehow come to represent the epitome of Frenchness."

                                                      Wow. Thanks for posting that. I was reading the Chowhound France board because, on my way to Germany, I stopped over in Mlilan just the other night and had one of the most joyless and stupid meals I have eaten recently in Italy at a Michelin-star restaurant, and I have had ditto experience in Michelin-star restaurants in Greece and Spain, UK and USA -- and alas, a few other Michelin restaurants in Italy too .

                                                      But I can't recall now if I have ever eaten in a Michelin restaurant in France, so I was reading the France board to see if maybe Michelin might actually be an indication of something good in Paris or anywhere in France. But your words nailed my experiences when it comes to Michelin starred places thus far.

                                                      After I got past my anger about the meal I paid for in Milan, I also mainly felt like "go talk among yourselves". I get it some people actually like this kind of dining experience. I don't want to get in their way. Like you, there are times I cannot avoid joining others at a Michelin starred restaurant. But when the choice is my own, I am walking the other way from now on. I fell entitled, based on enough experience, to conclude at this point that for the rare good dining experience I'll never have following this no-Michelin-stars policy I am dodging a lot more forgettable or even ugly food at unforgettable prices.

                                                      (The restaurant in Mllan was Joia.)

                                                      1. re: kmzed

                                                        We should form a go-talk-amongst-yourselves club. :)

                                                        Like you, I am usually very disappointed by the Michelin-starred places in Italy. Sometimes I yearn to escape the clichés of Italian cooking but then usually end up in just another internationalized fine-dining cliché at heart-attack prices. Sigh. But in France there are some Michelin-starred places that do give value, quality, and most importantly, represent the spirit of French cooking and joie de vivre. But not that many.

                                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                                          "Like you, I am usually very disappointed by the Michelin-starred places in Italy."
                                                          Cher P. and kmetc et al;
                                                          We all agree the Michelin is a good source for addresses and days open but little else but in Italy (well we've wandered a bit off track/off topic, haven't we?) the Slow Food Guide aka Osterie d'Italia beats out the big M., Gambera Roso and L'Espresso by a long shot.

                                                          1. re: Parnassien


                                                            I'll join the club, in the spirit of Groucho's definition!

                                                            I'll take your word for it that there are restaurants in France with Michelin stars that are enjoyable.

                                                          2. re: kmzed

                                                            kmzed, you forced me to jump on my hobby horse one more tedious time. We tend to agree with you about blanket trust in Michelin recs. But it isn't just Michelin. You just have to read and read and read and read, then listen and, well, you get it. At some point you become mature enough (maybe at 19 if you get an early enough start) to realize that you are your best guide. Know your palate and the kind of room that supports the evening you enjoy. There are no right or wrong answers, just right and wrong booking decisions.

                                                            FWIW and FYI, DH has told me to check with him and be ready to support my opinion before booking in another white tablecloth room. I know that he really doesn't mean this, but at the same time I get his drift. :)

                                                            1. re: mangeur

                                                              @ John Talbott, Parnassien and kmzed

                                                              I think the generalizations made by you ("the Michelin is a good source for addresses and days open but little else in Italy”), Parnessien, and kmzed, are just that, broad generalizations that have very little real meaning. I’m no fan of the Michelin in Italy, but it is often “right” with its stars (e.g. in Piemonte, Da Renzo or Il Centro in Priocca; in Tuscany, La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona, Lorenzo in Forte dei Marmi and I could go on) or the lack of stars. So I disagree with your statement 'address only' but little else; it depends.

                                                              The Osterie is an entirely different guide, looking at an entirely different group of places and really has little to do with the Michelin and the other two, and shouldn’t be compared with those three. The other two, the Gambero Rosso (n.b.) and L'Espresso and are very different from each other and very different from the Michelin. Here in Italy, my wife and I laugh about many of the entries in all the guides, including the Osterie d’Italia.

                                                              What has puzzled me for a number of years, is that many regular posters on this board, when they post on the Italian board or in their blogs, go to places that are mostly tourist trap trattorias and/or Michelin starred places where you could be eating in Rome… or Singapore or New York and not know the difference i.e. totally international fusion food. Why is it that some people who post here (I can think of at least two), who know Paris restaurants so well (and whom I use for some guidance for Paris; thank you!), who criticize many restaurants for their lack of well prepared food (and are amused (?) that people, mostly Americans are going to them), fall into the same trap when they go to Italy, particularly in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan.

                                                              I live in Italy most of the year and have written extensively on Italian restaurants on the Italy board and before it "went under” on eGullet. Parnessien, if you "yearn to escape the clichés of Italian cooking”, you can’t (or very rarely can) eat in those cities and hope to escape. In Italy, it is all about the countryside and “ regionalism”, whether that is Piemonte, Emilia Romagna, Liguria, Toscana, Lombardia or the Alta Badia, places I know extremely well with regard to restaurants, trattorias and osterias. Fortunately or unfortunately, that is the way it is.

                                                              Again, I’ve written extensively on the Chowhound Italy board (and here to a certain extent), that Italian chefs can be good, if they stick to the basics of Italian cooking and don’t try to go beyond their sphere of competence. Once they try (and almost always they try to emulate French chefs), they fail. They do not have the training or knowledge that the French chefs have regarding more than basic dishes. Don’t get me wrong… those dishes, at least to me, can be simply fantastic in the use of great local ingredients, method of cooking those ingredients and the various textures on the plate. However, once they try to go beyond that, all hell breaks loose.

                                                              And yet, there are regulars here who go to places where all hell breaks loose. Not too long ago, someone who posts here, posted on the Italian board. Went to many Michelin stars. Raved about them. He didn’t even have the knowledge, for example, that the “best” risotto that he ever had, was mostly made ahead of time, as is the case with many well known restaurants. Yeh, believe it or not most risotto is partially cooked way ahead of time. The person was so enamored of the place (and a number of other starred places) that he couldn’t tell the difference. Had the person gone into the countryside and gone to a number of other restaurants and trattorias, he would have seen the difference with a risotto made from scratch. It’s a minor point, but I think it illustrates the fact that too many visitors have never tasted very good basic Italian food prepared by people in small out of the way trattorie. They are enamored of stars in Rome and Milan or well known (second rate) trattorias in Florence.

                                                              Try the four I mentioned, all starred John, and you’ll see that they have stuck to what they know best. But better yet, try the no stars, they are all in the Gambero Rosso (see, it has some very good points) or in The Osterie. This is where the food of Italy really resides. For example, try: Da Bardon in San Marzano Oliveto; Conchiglia D’Oro in Varigotti; Da Ivan in Roccabianca; La Buca in Zibello; Veglio in La Morra, Osteria della Villetta in Palazzolo d’Oglio. These are only a very few that are great and Parnessien, you’ll have escaped the clichés of Italian cooking. Not only great dishes, but wonderful, reasonably priced wine lists (very different from a comparable place in France).

                                                              For those of you who are old enough and were fortunate enough to eat at Edith Remoissenet’s Le Petit Truc, outside of Beaune, these places are like that (but have kindly owners). Forget about the trattorie in Florence (actually there are only one or two that are really good) and eat in the countryside.

                                                              1. re: allende


                                                                Sorry, but I've actually eaten at some of the often quite pricey Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy you're touting, and I think Parnassien has it much more right than wrong. In a country so full of wonderful things to eat, the MIchelin list in Italy is the least rewarding one to follow, if one really needs to cling to any list, guidebook or internet.

                                                                Nobody is saying there is anything "bad" about the fundamental food many Michelin starred places in Italy serve (even the food at Joia isn't bad) but the Michelin reality over and over again is that the food is dead on arrival at the table, more often than not. (I've found this is also true in Spain, Greece and the UK, which is why I came to the France board to find out if it was true for France, home of Michelin).

                                                                Sure its unfair that some still honest Italian cooks will get painted with the wrong brush when the generalization is made that Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy are to be avoided. I sometimes wonder if some of the hard-working Italians who run the better of these establishments would just as soon give back those Michelin stars for the distortions it has created in their businesses. But it is still good advice to in general avoid the Michelin stars in Italy, especially for people who finally are just fed up to be throwing away thousands of dollars on lousy experiences of Italian dining -- all in an effort to winnow out the two or three Italian restaurants with Michelin stars that aren't delivering an infuriatingly stupid experience of eating in Italy. Why even bother with the Michelin list in Italy when there are so many more pleasurable choices right under one's nose?

                                                                But what inspired this sub-thread was my celebration of Parnassien's attitude of you-go.your-way and I'll go mine. By all means, keep eating at the Michelin-starred restaurants if you enjoy them. Buon appetito! Obviously nice people run many of these places, and understandable they've won customer loyalty and friendships. Some are more hit and miss then you are making them out to be, and some have the same tense staff and funereal ambience that seems to be the curse of the Michelin everywhere (and the same clientele of international oligarchs). But it's a conversation I'm bowing out of forever and a restaurant door I'm no longer opening. I've found so many other venues in Italy where it is a delight to eat. I enjoy an entirely different approach to dining, and the Michelin dining culture is really inimical to that.

                                                                1. re: kmzed

                                                                  kmzed, I think you misread allende, because everything you write seems to be agreeing with his post, so I don't understand the defensive tone...

                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                    Thank you Rio Yeti. I read kmzed's post and thought we were agreeing, rather than disagreeing. I'm getting old, but didn't think I was losing it that quickly.

                                                                    kmzed, you said :"quite pricey Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy you're touting." Which one of the four that I've mentioned, have you eaten in? Which of the four were quite pricey? Which one of the four is not primarily regional in nature? Which one is over the top? Which ones have a tense staff and funereal ambience? My point with the Michelin is there is good and bad. To exclude a place just because it is in the Michelin, is foolishness. To go to a place just because it gets a good write-up in the Osterie ,is equally as foolish. You have to be able to read between the lines in the Osterie or Gambero Rosso, and you have to read Italian. And to choose a place to eat because it looks good when peeking in (so many people chose a restaurant based on this) is foolish.

                                                                    What I was trying to get across, and it seems as if I failed in your case, but not in Rio Yeti's and hopefully others, is that the wonderful Italian cooking is regional and basic and away from the Michelin, although there are places in the Michelin that stick to regionalism (e.g. La Pineta, Il Centro, Da Renzo) and their roots. The wonderful Italian cooking is in the small trattorie, a few of which I mentioned, which are not in the Michelin. Hope this clarifies it for you.

                                                                    By the way John Talbott, if there were only one source to use in choosing restaurants, trattorie etc., it would be "the Gamberi" section of Gambero Rosso, Each guide has its place as a starting point; you just have to know how to use them. It can't be done blindly and the fact that a place is in the Michelin or the Gambero Rosso or the Osterie, doesn't mean that it is either good or bad. It's just a starting point.