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Anyone have an opinion on Patricia Wells' "Food Lovers' Guide to Paris" now available in an iOS 7 appS

  • hychka Mar 26, 2014 12:02 PM
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My S-I-L wrote suggesting I look into this app for my iPhone http://www.foodloversparis.com/.

Any opinions?

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  1. I just read it while standing up in a bookstore. No much new; just the usual regurgitation of the most popular restaurants, pastry shops, tea salons that is common knowledge. Her first edition back in 1984 was useful then but now with all the blogs, numerous other guides, boards such as this, it is just ho hum, unless you are big fan of hers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PBSF

      Complete agree. No particular contribution of info there.

    2. The French-English food Glossary is worth the price alone.
      And theer are some interesting recipes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: UPDoc

        Hope the mistakes were corrected in the meantime.

      2. The lady has impeccable taste;
        Her books are a godsend.

        1. Not sure about this edition but when I browsed a previous one I thought "wow, so many has-beens !" (a less vulgar rough translation). In a restaurant scene as dynamic and ever changing as Paris, not a good thing. But her glossary of food terms is probably indispensable for most tourists.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Parnassien

            "when I browsed a previous one I thought "wow, so many has-beens !" "
            Well put. She always seems to be 18 months late to a new restaurant or a new food trend. In another city, it may not be so important. For a city like Paris or Barcelona, sort of self-defeating.
            Yes, the glossary can be useful for visitors.
            The recipes are not particularly imaginative or good.

          2. I think your perception of this - and her previous work - depends on how well you know Paris before opening the book. I certainly found her earlier works very valuable for my every-few-years visits. Have the new one, print, not in an e-book, a format I don't find really useful for guidebooks. maybe that's just because I haven't completely mastered my reader but I'd rather throw a book (or part of one) in my bag and pull it out when needed. YMMV, of course, but I think she still knows her stuff.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lemons

              "I think your perception of this - and her previous work - depends on how well you know Paris before opening the book."

              Precisely.

              1. re: Ptipois

                And I agree as well, I don't use her restaurant guide anymore at all, but I do think that the glossary is useful for people who don't speak French (or even for those who do), as smaller, pocket dictionaries often don't have translations for obscure ingredients, etc. And I liked a few of the recipes in Bistro Cooking.

            2. I prepare a number of recipes from Bistro Cooking and from her Food Lovers guides. Timeless recipes.
              Well, I now make the Boyer recipe for St Pierre over onion confit with tomato butter using store bought coulis of tomato. So much easier than straining those fresh tomatoes and just as good.
              Yes, I like Patty Wells. Years ago she sent us to two hardly known restaurants in the southwest. The meal at Michel Trama (before he was famous) was one of the best five in my life.
              I still don't know how he puts his chocolate larme together - or how he makes that terrine of leeks and truffle so that you can cut it crosswise without the leeks slipping every which way. His true genius shines in those two marvelous dishes. Never would have landed there without Patty.

              1. The new app is fantastic for the glossary, the offline map and the list of various shops by arrondissement and listed alphabetically. Oh, then there are the restaurants..... It updates frequently which I think is a good thing? Mary

                1. I haven't seen the new FLG, but I found her earlier books very useful. And I have always had good meals at restaurants she recommended.

                  I'm not sure which recipes you say are not good, but my experience is that her recipes are very well written, easy to follow and produce good results. I'm especially fond of the book she wrote with Joel Robuchon, "Simply French."

                  1. I have a conflict of interest here, which is that Ms. Wells is a colleague of mine at Paris by Mouth; that said, her two books on Paris and France and her many other books - the Bistro one in particular, have been a great inspiration to me.
                    When I first moved here some decades ago, I found her finds in the IHT (esp. le Bistro du Dome) to be spot-on. She was also spot-off but there we go.
                    For visitors to France who want to explore markets in la France Profonde, out of the way places, etc., she's done what no one else has - guys - compare her pubs to stuff like the Michelin (a year late and a dollar short), G/M (quirky), Pudlo (inconsistent) and the rest.
                    The Internet is where young folks get their info from but let's not trash class.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: John Talbott

                      I don't own her books so I cannot comment on her recipes. I was responding to the OP's request for info on her app. I find it to be intuitive and fluid. But alas, no recipes

                    2. I'm beginning to suspect that there is a generational or style divide when it comes to Patricia Wells. I hope I don't sound unfair or seem to be denigrating but I think that Mme Wells appeals more to the older foodies in the Julia Child mould (i.e. tending towards the classic/ trad end of the cuisine spectrum) rather than younger and/ or more adventurous foodies with tastes leaning towards the modern style of cooking. I'm not talking about hard and fast conclusions because obviously there are lots of very adventurous eaters in the oldies category (with a nod in the direction of John Talbott and Mangeur) but I am pointing out what might be a tendency that explains the differences of opinion about this particular guide. There might also be a sentimental or nostalgic allegiance to Mme Wells from those who have been visiting Paris for decades. I'm too young to know but by all accounts her guide was the most comprehensive and perhaps best introduction to the French food scene for a generation of Anglophone visitors 20 to 30 years ago. I'm not prepared to say that the explosion of information and the post-Robuchon evolution of the Paris scene has undermined her relevance since then but I can declare that any visitor who relies on any single guide is doing him/herself a disservice.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Parnassien

                        I don't know if it is a generational thAng, especially when, with diners like many regulars who contribute here, - I won't name names, - I just can't put an age to taste or dining style or adventurous palate. There's no them and us.

                        Indeed I think Patricia Wells was a pioneer of a type of message or angle of appreciation, and is now less "relevant", to use Parn's word.

                        As for not trashing class, I do not see anyone of us doing that here. Some of us are critical, as some of us can be critical on other threads. That happens to every restaurant ever reviewed here, even the most popular.
                        I would not agree that certain establishments or persons - like Wells - are beyond criticism, while others are "trash"-able. Having - and expressing - an opinion means that it will be positive sometimes, and not so positive other times.

                        1. re: Parnassien

                          I took a sample from the many (I'd guess 100+) resto reviews on the App. Along with the usual Spring, etc here's a sampling:
                          Bones
                          Dans Les Landes
                          Fish
                          Goust
                          Kiku
                          Liza
                          Saturne
                          Septime
                          for the curious I could check for a specific one upon request!

                          1. re: MarySteveChicago

                            As has been suggested upthread, Wells provided a tremendous service with her first book. It was a worthwhile guide that went beyond the expected and usual tourist haunts. It taught many of us how to shop neighborhoods, indeed to even venture into them!

                            I have a totally off-the-wall and completely unfounded reaction to Wells' updates. I consider Wells' dining style to be what DH and I call "grown-up". Even when she ventures into scruffily hip dining rooms, I picture her demeanor and reactions to be "grown-up", a happy square peg in a round hole.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              Probably my demeanor as well

                              1. re: MarySteveChicago

                                Should be mine except that I haven't grown up yet. :(

                        2. I've just gone through the new Food-lover's Guide (book) and find that it's a peculiar--and oddly brief--selection of restaurants. She includes places like La Societe in St.Germain-des-Pres, where I'd never dream of wasting a good meal, and a lot of other old-line sort of stuffy places.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: andaba

                            It has been my sense that over time Wells has shifted her preferences to what I keep calling "grown up" restaurants, old-line sort of stuffy if you prefer.

                            1. re: andaba

                              Although MarySteveChigago's sample list upthread from the actual app seems to contradict this premise.

                            2. Thanks to all for your observations. I did load the app into my iPhone and iPad and plan to use it while on holiday. The map and glossary help. I'll report more after we kick the tires.

                              1. We used PW's advice five times and struck gold with each. The app was worth the investment plus some.