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Apr 23, 2014 06:55 PM

Seeking Paris Restaurant Advice

My wife and I are returning to Paris in September and I'm starting to plan our optimal dining experiences. I'm fairly open minded about what I'll eat as I love most food with few exceptions. However, my wife's food willingness is much more limited as she won't eat anything uncooked or undercooked and won't try dishes including cavier, runny yoke eggs, organ meats, foie gras, pate, tripe, head cheese, etc. If left to me, I'd rush to most anything from L’Ami Jean to Guy Savoy and enjoy whatever comes my way. But to keep our dining enjoyable for us both, I'm seeking great restaurants that offer a good Paris experience but also offer interesting to old school French food a la carte or from a menu with significant variety of choices for each course.

Last time in Paris, we both enjoyed dinners at Josephine Chez Dumonet, Aux Lyonnais, Violon d’Ingres and Le Cinq. All of those restaurants offered food we enjoyed but from menus with some significant choices and any would likely work again for this trip. But with 1,000s of great restaurants in Paris, we'd like to experience new places.

Ideally, I'd like to find bistros and/or fine restaurants where we can get great food made with farm fresh ingredients that the locals highly respect but where my wife would have choices to order from some variety. Just FYI, my wife does enjoy traditional dishes like bœuf bourguignon and coq au vin.

We aren't looking to spend money needlessly but finding the right place with the food we want is far more important than worries about budget dining. And we both love wine so also seeking venues with good quality wines.

Restaurants I've been considering are Chez Denise and Allard. I'd welcome advice about those ideas and/or any other suggestions CH can offer.

Thanks to all for any advice!

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  1. I offer simple advice, just make certain you choose places with ALC and avoid those with set menus. You and your wife will be able to pick and choose the dishes you like. Whilst set menu only places are around they are really the minority. Lots of great places already on the board: Semilla, Pirouette, Goust etc etc. al meet that specification.

    Interestingly she enjoyed Aux Lyonnaise as they generally manage to get offal and all sorts of wonderful things into their dishes without be too explicit about it on the menu - I always thought they did it as a joke on picky eaters... :-))

    1. Le Bat, where we had a great lunch with the venerable one, offers some excellent, not-too-challenging plats.

      Cafe des Abattoirs if you're up for some excellent meat.

      1. fYou're a saint.
        The problem with the the good bistros is that the menus are deliberated kept short so as to serve only in-season stuff.
        Dans Les Landes is quite meat-focused and has a lot of great duck stuff, - is duck too weird for the saint's spouse, - besides baby squid and quail and duck heart. Am asking Chowhound to expel all hounds who go to Das Les Landes and not get the Milassol dessert.
        Chez L'Ami Jean too has great charcuteries (cold cuts) and paté (is paté too weird too ?), and very good steak. She can eat stuff that her ancestors recognize while you get a transcendental tasting menu.
        So sad. The only thing I can think of is not any recommendation, but good places where you should NOT go: like all the wonderful new bistros where Japanese chefs do a creative French cuisine at reasonable prices. It's just sad.
        There are challenge-less good meat&potato places, but it would be asking you the saint to dumb down, and that would just make me hate myself.
        Lastly, you're a saint.

        1. I really like Terroir Parisien for this kind of diner. There's plenty on the (largish) menu that a conservative eater or a classicist can recognise as 'good old bistro classics' (potage du Barry, leeks sauce gribiche, poulard au creme etc), together with a contemporary focus on local ingredients and everything is cooked and plated with in a lighter more modern style.

          1. Parigi,
            Thanks for the nomination for sainthood but I'm afraid my wife might not concur. My open attitudes toward food were formed growing up in New Orleans en Louisiane where the cuisine was formed centuries ago by mostly French immigrants who believed eating parts of an animal or eating unusual animals was a better plan than starvation and they learned to do so deliciously. My wife, on the other hand, grew up in the heartland of America loving well cooked meat and potatoes.

            My one saving grace is that the wife can sustain almost exclusively on pain, fromage et vin rouge and that she is typically a good sport about skipping courses in favor of those when nothing on the menu suits her tastes. In fact, if it were legal in this country to wed a hunk of stinky cheese, I'd likely be a single man today.

            But I do have a specific question for you about Chez L'Ami Jean as I'm trying to convince myself it's safe to add to my list and I know it's one of your favorites. Is there ALC or at least a limited menu with a few reasonable choices per course at CAJ or are all diners typically served the same items based on what the chef is cooking that day? And are there "safe" items at CAJ that are regularly on the menu? For example, my wife loves charcuteries and she loves boeuf, poulet et porc provided that it's not served rare. Are those predictable choices most evenings a L'Ami Jean? While she's never tried, I think she'd eat duck too provded it was well cooked as in confit. Our last visit to Le Cinq I even coaxed her to try grilled octopus and she admited she liked it very much.

            Thanks again for your sympathy and more importantly your guidance!!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

              "the wife can sustain almost exclusively on pain,"
              Hold it right there. TMI on your conjugal life !

              1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

                "s there ALC or at least a limited menu with a few reasonable choices per course at CAJ or are all diners typically served the same items based on what the chef is cooking that day? "

                There is a ALC section that looks sort of extensive, but I never read it. I know of at least a côte de boeuf that others rave about.

                You can see on the restaurant website the dishes that Jégo creates. Keep Madame from the computer, don't let her see the grilled bird tongue.

                The charcuteries seem to come with the restuaurant furniture. It is always there. If not, ask for it.

                1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

                  "French immigrants who believed eating parts of an animal or eating unusual animals was a better plan than starvation and they learned to do so deliciously. "
                  You sure there were French and not Chinese ? :)

                  1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

                    Yes CLJ has a decent ALC and it's got lots of normal things on it. The shorter set menus may also work, it's only the more extensive free form menu where things may get into dangerous territory for her, or some of the specials. One thing Jego does really well is soup - not often mentioned - but they are really good.

                    CLJ has a large International/American client base so I am certain they are more than adept at looking after sensitive eaters.

                    My caution (shared by few others) is that I think it's quite expensive for what it is unless you let the chef cook for you and he chooses not to charge the full menu carte blance price.