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May 7, 2014 04:37 AM

4 nights in Paris: a brief review

Friday night dinner @ Septime. Lovely little space, more informal than I expected. Young, very friendly service. Dinner was a 6-course tasting of "Printemps." All the dishes were prepared impeccably, and the ingredients were very fresh: Salad with grapefruit, dill and feta cheese; soup with fresh greens and duck heart/fois gras; monkfish with leeks; a veal dish; mint granita; and an ice cream w/ fresh strawberries. At the end of the meal I was underwhelmed. Each individual dish was excellently prepared (I don't care for monkfish, but it was perfectly cooked), but the whole was truly less than the sum of its parts. E 135 for two, with bottled water and a glass of wine. The meal was "precious," but I wouldn't rush to return.

Sat. morning: Eclalrs @ Genie d'Eclair. Delicious toppings and fillings, but we found the pastry to be a little mushy. But of course they had been sitting out for some time.

Sat. dinner @ Ober Sale, the hit of the trip. Fabulous waiter, and every dish was great. My wife had scallops; cod with a black pasta; and a layered chocolate mousse (with pears). I had a "soup" of coddled egg and fois gras; guinea hen; and a sort of salted creme caramel. This meal had "soul," and the level of cooking was great. E 80 with bottled water and a glass of wine. We were early (7:30) but by the time we left (9:30), there were only two other couples eating there on a Saturday night? This place should be packed. I would return here in a heartbeat.

Sunday we were still full. We had lunch @ Cafe de Musees, and just had entrees: smoked salmon for me, and a salade with mushrooms and warm chevre for my wife. Portions were enormous. I couldn't finish my dish. Food was very good, and it felt like an old-time bistro. Dinner was @ the apartment. We had shopped in the morning at Marche Richard Lenoir, and in retrospect we could have just noshed there for lunch.

Monday we had a picnic in the park de Gagnoires (I'm butchering the spelling), and then strolling through the city we came across Pierre Herme macarons. I'd never had macarons before. I'm sure there's whole threads as to who makes the best macarons in Paris. Well, as a macaron newbie, the bar was set pretty high. We tried the olive oil w/ vanilla; and the cassis. Both were winners! E2 per macaron.

We cancelled our reservations at Le 122, and went instead to Le Mary Celeste for Monday dinner. Great drinks; great food. Fun vibe; great music on the mix tape. My wife had tacos with pork shoulder in a sweet/spicy sauce); I had a ragout of poulet et canard. Absolutely delicious. Exceeded our expectations! We would return in a flash. E 33 for two plats and two drinks. Only downside? The two young American women who live in Paris who we were seated next to -- loud and inane. They lived up to every bad stereotype!
And then it was off to the airport where we found the Laduree [?] kiosk for, yes, two last macarons!!

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  1. Thanks for the report. We also love Le Mary Celeste, it's nice to be able to get some small plates after a couple nights (and days) of vacation food orgies. We plan to go there when we get to Paris in 2 weeks. Have also been to Cafe Des Musees and Ober Sale. Sorry to hear Ober Sale was so empty. This trip, we are hoping to get to Dans Les Landes for more of the small plates dining.

    1. Thank you so much for reporting back in such informative detail. Sounds as though you had a great time, for such a short trip.

      1. WOW! Exact opposite of my experience at Ober Sale. Had clearly the worst food of any meal in France in the past 30 years. Three of us and everything seemed like it had been prepared several days ago. More or less dull and flavorless. I took only a second small bite of my paleron de boeuf just to confirm how dry and flavorless the the first was. Wife's pintard was only marginally better. Server was nice. Room did not fill.

        Will post more on trip later.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jock

          You must have caught them on an off-night . . . we were blown away by the impeccable level of cooking. For what looked like on the outside as just a neighborhood restaurant, the whole experience was stellar. My wife commented on how pleasantly surprised she was by the deliciousness of the meal. And my first course, the cocette of egg w/ fois gras "soup" was one of the more memorable dishes in my life. But your post just proves the point that no restaurant is going to be spot on, night after night. So sorry you had a bad experience. Clearly you'll never go back again, whereas I would go back in a heartbeat. . . .

          1. re: jock

            I checked out Ober-Sale the first time it got all the love on CH and came away slightly scratching my head. It wasn't as bad as Jock's experience by any means but certainly a menu top-heavy with too many similar cream-sauced preparations and fish/ meat cooked a bit past done. I can see how it might go over well as comfort food though, and certainly the 2 Englishmen I had with me were delighted.

            But thank you for a lovely report, bauskern, and glad you and your wife had a such good trip. I see you had time to change your selections a few times more since you first posted in February :)

            1. re: shakti2

              Ober-Sale was a certainly a little more rich than we normally eat. The fois gras soup probably clogged my arteries for a good 48 hours (though it was worth it!) . . . My wife said that her fish dish was cooked perfectly. Actually, if I had one minor complaint, it was that the rutabaga cubes which accompanied my main dish (guinea hen) could have been cooked a tad longer. And yes, we did change things around - - - the ironic thing is that the one resto that I was looking forward to the most turned out to be the one "disappointing" meal, whereas Mary Celeste, which was a very last-minute add-on, turned out to be a delightful surprise!

          2. "Eclalrs @ Genie d'Eclair. Delicious toppings and fillings, but we found the pastry to be a little mushy. But of course they had been sitting out for some time."

            Absolutely agree. I can think of many other Paris treats that I prefer to spend a euro a bite on. (That's if you are taking dainty bites.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: mangeur

              Yes they were on the expensive side! I suppose I rationalized it by looking @ the cost in terms of the airfare, the apartment rental, eating out for dinner, so in that context, what's an extra E 6.50? But seriously, if I lived in Paris . . . . those eclairs would be priced out for me.

              1. re: bauskern

                That's the only way you can look at any expenditure on a trip. When I think about the airfare and hotels I pay in order to buy a bauble at an antique fair???