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May 7, 2014 06:54 PM

Review my itinerary, please?

Hi Everyone,

Later this month my mom and I will be spending a week in Paris and I'm hoping to get some feedback on my reservations. For a bit of background, I am a young chef and looking forward to some great dining experiences. However, the more I read, the more places I want to go to, and the more overwhelmed I get! I'm worried maybe I am trying to accomplish too much here and that possibly these restaurants are similar in style and cuisine. Perhaps I should cut back or maybe I should try to diversify? We are staying in the 1st on the corner of Rue St Honore and Rue L'Arbre Sec, but comfortable walking, taking taxi, using metro, etc.

Here is what we have reserved for dinner:

Friday - Le 6 Paul Bert
Saturday - Bones
Sunday - Le Coq Rico
Monday - L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Saint Germain
Tuesday - Verjus
Wednesday - Spring
Thursday - Le Jules Verne for lunch and Frenchie or Septime (awaiting confirmation)

Others I have considered at Yamtcha (on waiting list), L'ami Jean, Chez Georges, and Le Mary Celeste.

Anything missing? Too repetitive? Too much?

Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. You're missing David Toutain for one of the best lunches (and lunch deals) ever.

    You can always pop into Le Mary C. For a cocktail before or after dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mitchleeny

      I will look more into David Toutain. This was on my initial list but somehow got lost in the paring down process. Thank you!

      Good idea about the cocktail! I will make note of that.

    2. I need to ask what kind of food you like to cook? To eat?

      3 Replies
      1. re: mangeur

        Mangeur, I like to cook and eat everything! I'm the kind of person that enjoys a plate of fried chicken at a hole-in-the-wall but also loves white tablecloth fine dining. What I enjoy is good ingredients and good cooking complemented by good service.

        I love different cuisines and eat a lot of ethnic food at home, but since I am going to be in in Paris, I am looking to enjoy food that is unique to Paris, not meals I could have in any city across the globe.

        To be honest, my favorite course is normally dessert (rivaled by the bread course)!

        1. re: jordanhamons

          Take a look at Dessance, which has a dessert/ sweet-driven concept, relatively new on rue des Archives in the 3rd, looked very intriguing when I peeped in recently. The concept may seem gimmicky on paper but the young team and the plates they were ferrying out of the kitchen looked pretty serious, even to this non-sweet eater.

          1. re: shakti2

            The best non-sweet dessert menu I've had was at Pierre Gagnaire. There was an unforgettable dish entirely composed of carrots: ice cream, cake, crisps, etc. Impeccable. The other desserts were quite good as well.

      2. When I see both Spring and Verjus on a list it shows a touching loyalty to American chefs in Paris.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          PhilD, this was not exactly intentional. I've read a great deal about both restaurants and they happened to make it on my list. However, seeing how successful these chefs has been in Paris is quite inspirational to me.

          What are your thoughts on these restaurants? Is it worth going to both or do you think I would be better off choosing one?

          1. re: jordanhamons

            Just be careful about the perspective of the writers who riot for their home team.

            I ate at the first Spring and it was very good. Not got to the new version as I have been out off by reports it is firmly on the NYT must do in Paris list and the associated reports of it being swamped by picky diners. That said Daniel us very talented and I am certain the food is still as good, if not better than it was.

            I have eaten at the Verjus wine bar and it was solid international "dude" food - chicken wings etc. The menu in the main restaurant seems to follow the same trend....a little bit of NYC in a Paris.

            If I had to choose between the two it would be a Spring. But if I only had seven days neither are on my list.

        2. Le Jules Verne is mostly view and VERY expensive. As a young chef I suspect there would be little to learn there. I'm a big fan of Verjus, Frenchie and CAJ. IMHO L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is a cliché, not worth your time and money.

          I think your list is missing start ups, niche food providers and the markets...where the chef gets the stuff to create magic.

          Others here know much more than I do.

          13 Replies
          1. re: hychka

            Totally agree with that.

            As for Le Coq Rico, I only went there soon after the opening so things may have changed, but at the time it was a good example of what not to do when you have a restaurant.

            Septime, Spring, Bones, Atelier Vivanda, Yam t'cha, Pierre-Sang Boyer, are excellent examples of recipes for success based on following your own inspiration. They take a little decrypting, but that's what chefs do when they visit other restaurants.

            1. re: Ptipois

              Ptipois, what happened at Le Coq Rico? This is a reservation I am not set on and considering switching out for something else. (I just love the name of the place!)

              I will look more into Atelier Vivanda and Pierre-Sang Boyer. I have not read much about these. Thanks for the suggestions!

              1. re: jordanhamons

                The roasted chicken I had, though good-looking, was tasteless.
                Then I was served a fantastic cream of chicken soup and I had a hunch. I asked them how exactly they had roasted their chicken.

                I discovered that, in their search for the Holy Grail of roasted chicken, they had done the stupidest thing possible. Simmering the whole chicken in water at low-temperature for hours, then roasting it.
                In the meantime, all the flavor from the chicken had gone into the broth. No wonder the soup was so good.
                I told them about low-temperature simmering drawing out the maximum taste from meat and birds. A well-known fact in Chinese cooking for instance. They said they had eventually come up with that way of roasting chicken and they were not about to change it. Fine.

                Go there if you like chicken soup.

              2. re: Ptipois

                "As for Le Coq Rico, I only went there soon after the opening so things may have changed, but at the time it was a good example of what not to do when you have a restaurant."
                My reaction exactly the week it opened.

              3. re: hychka

                Hi Hychka, thanks for the feedback!

                Yes, I agree with your thoughts on Le Jules Verne, however, this is more for my mom than for myself. We think it will be fun to have the view and have lunch in the Eiffel Tower. So this is more for the experience than for the food itself. I think it will be fun and sometimes I like doing really touristy things :)

                Can you expand on your thoughts of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon as a cliche? I seem to find both very positive and very negative reviews of this place.

                I just heard back and we were not able to get into Frenchie, but we are on the waiting list. If all else fails, I am going to do my best to get to Frenchie-to-Go. I'm sorry but my mind is failing to put together what CAJ is...?

                Do you have any recommendations on any must visit start ups and niche providers? I definitely plan to visit the markets.

                Again, thanks so much!!

                1. re: jordanhamons

                  Ducasse is a world renowned chef and as Jules Verne is one of his restaurants I would say it is sensible for any young chef to try it (although better to get to one of his 3 stars if you can).

                  L'Atelier Robuchon is unfortunately patchy, some things are really good, but it can seem like a sterile production line. On my last visit I had dishes arriving before I finished the last dish and the pacing was fast.

                  CAJ = Chez l'Ami Jean - definitely a good counterpoint to some of the other places on your list.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    ditto for the most part. I do agree that touristy things are good experiences and if Mom wants to go...; but, for my money, I'd spent it on other things. We can argue all day about how good the food is; but, I think PhilD and I would totally agree that the place has a monopoly on a fantastic physical experience. IE Once there was a place called "Windows on the World" in NYC. The food was better than average by far, but the physical experience of riding the elevator and looking down on the Statue of Liberty with a glass of whiskey in your hand...nobody else in the world had that!! They could charge any amount and the place would be full. Not much to learn from that, except, if you have the view and can turn out food better than average, you make money. But, sadly for you, they don't give those sites to kids. They recruit guys like Ducasse. What you need to think about on this trip is how do you get the creds that Ducasse has and pay your bills. Look at niches. Look at markets. Look at people bootstrapping themselves forward.

                    1. re: hychka

                      Agree on the monopolistic pricing of restaurants with good views. But, I generally find these places have very poor restaurants run by operators with little interest in serving great food.

                      Its actually quite refreshing to see that Paris has Ducasse in such a landmark. Quite a classy decision compared to the restaurants in other cities iconic landmarks.

                      I would guess he pays a significant portion of his takings in rent for the space so you are literally paying for the view rather than lining the pockets of Ducasse.

                      In Sydney we had a fantastic iconic restaurant in one of the Opera House sails Guillaume at Bennelong (run by a great french chef Guillaume Brahimi - Aux Charpentiers, Tour d'Argent, and Jamin). The Opera House decided to tender the contract and he lost it to a more mass market group prepared to pay more. They then pulled out of the contract. Result, the loss of a great restaurant, and I think this illustrates the machinations of operating good restaurants in these types of spaces....its all about the rent and profit share they can extract so definitely no place for young up and coming chefs.

                      That said these places are often cyclic. The economics drive the quality of the restaurants down to a point they are no longer attractions and the owners of the space do a radical shake up bringing in a quality operator (sometimes even a young chef). I seem to remember Ducasse took over Jules Verne for similar reasons as it had a really dire reputation before he did and was on its last legs.

                  2. re: jordanhamons

                    Jules Verne /lunch in the Eiffel Tower may be "fun," but it's a lot of money to spend for "fun." There are so many better - more exemplary - restaurants to dine at for that amount of money. How about the special lunch at Guy Savoy, instead? Actually, IIWY, I'd be lunching at Pierre Gagnaire.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        So Gagnaire is €115 and Savoy is €110 and Jules Verne is €98 for their set lunch menus. Both Savoy and Gagnaire have modernish, comfortable rooms, but no views. Jules Verne is halfway up the iconic Tour Eiffel with a view across the whole of Paris.

                        If I were taking my parents to Paris for a grand lunch I think the view/ambiance may be more important than what is on the plate. And Ducasse is hardly a shabby chef. Agree you are paying for the view but if that is what you want why not?

                        1. re: PhilD

                          OP wrote < I am a young chef and looking forward to some great dining experiences.>

                          Not discounting the view @ Jules Verne, but M. Ducasse is NOT cooking there, and seems to me those others might be of more interest to OP culinarily. Clearly he will make his own choice, just thought it appropriate to make the suggestion, chef to chef.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            And you think Savoy and Gagnaire are going to be in their kitchens most days?

                            The OP had clearly stated that JV was for her Mom so why try to dissuade her. It's expensive, but much of that is driven by location (probably the rent for the space rather than the restaurants fault) and it is run by one of France's top chefs.

                            I know Ducasse, Robuchon, Gagnaire etc have their detractors as they all run multiple starred restaurants and are often not in the kitchens. But they all train and develop top talent in their kitchens.

                  3. Missing?
                    IMO 4-5 days in the countryside.

                    22 Replies
                    1. re: collioure

                      I AGREE! If only vacation time allowed for it...

                      I spent some time living in Toulouse in SW France and I am dying to go back and also explore more of the country. However, my mom has never been to Paris so that is our focus for this trip. Can't complain!

                      1. re: jordanhamons

                        Three days is plenty enough time in Paris on a first visit.

                        Get on the TGV right away and go to Normandy or Burgundy or Alsace or the Loire Valley even Provence for 2-3 days.

                        1. re: collioure

                          Even a month is too short for a first visit to Paris. Of course, those who are intimidated by style, culture, amazing art and architecture, fab food, layers of history, etc might like to to reduce their stay to a week or two.

                          1. re: Parnassien

                            One of the principles by which I live - - -
                            "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St Augustine

                            Paris is but one page in France.

                            1. re: collioure

                              For tourists with their sightseeing checklists from Rick Steves, their pages are stuck.

                              1. re: collioure

                                Far better to explore one place in some depth than superficially breeze through a number of places. It is far better to read a book carefully and learn, rather than skim through it in order to boast that you are well read.

                                I agree there is far more to France than Paris, but if you only have a week then it's best spent enjoying the depth and breadth it has to offer - 7 lunches and 7 dinners only gives you a taste of the food scene and it's hard to span a range of restaurants in this short time. If the OP has two weeks I would agree that getting out of town would be great but she doesn't.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  Attn: Parisphiles

                                  Three days in Paris, three days somewhere else. Two hotels. It's not hard and the trip will be much richer.

                                  Mom may never get to France again.

                                  1. re: collioure

                                    But you wrote "on a first visit".

                                    1. re: collioure

                                      Since the OP is a young chef, his mother must also be young, and will enjoy many more trips to Paris and elsewhere, contrary to your well wishes.

                                      1. re: collioure

                                        How horribly macabre. Unfortunately, one can spend years upon years in a city and still be cracking the surface. New York, Paris, London, Tokyo...

                                        1. re: yakionigiri

                                          I also find some macabre things here, but adding a little variety and breadth to a trip of France would surely not be one of them.

                                    2. re: collioure

                                      Quite agree that one must see the world...but whoa, "Paris is but one page in France" !!? I think you need a new book if you are equating Paris with any other place in France. I'll lend you mine... 5 chapters on Paris and 5 on the rest of France.

                                      Although Samuel Johnson was talking about London, it's easy to borrow his quotation to say "when a man is tired of Paris, he is tired of life".

                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                        I spent some time living and studying in Toulouse so I know there is more to France than Paris. My mom visited me when I was in Toulouse but we spent time there and did not visit Paris, so for this trip, we just wanted to keep in simple and spend the week in one place rather than spend time on commuting between destinations.

                                        I've been fortunate enough to do a great deal of traveling and while I enjoy seeing many places, I also enjoy staying in one place and getting an in-depth look at a city.

                                        I would spend the entire summer in France if I could as I missing living there deeply, but a week was all we could swing for this trip. Trust me, I have plans to explore the rest of France in the (hopefully!) near future and my mom does too.

                                        1. re: jordanhamons

                                          You know best what you want to do. Have a great time with mom.

                                          1. re: jordanhamons

                                            I hope you're renting an apartment rather than overspending on a hotel. Bringing in some of the food we found in the markets was even better than most of the restaurants!

                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                              Last time I did the maths (September) a decent hotel for four of us was cheaper than a good sized apartment for four. So I am not certain you are over spending if only there for a week.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                We're doing a hotel for this trip. While I've enjoyed apartment rentals in the past, we wanted a full service hotel this time. It's been a great decision so far as the concierge staff has been absolutely wonderful in helping secure reservations.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  IDK, we're spending about 295E a night for a big 2bd/2ba in the 3rd with modern kitchen and outdoor terrace with great views. Pretty good deal for 4 people.

                                                  1. re: macdog

                                                    All visitors who care about food should get an apartment in order to enjoy the market and the kitchen. Otherwise the food experience is grossly lacking.

                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                      ... but what if you can't cook and that MacDo on the Champs is just calling for you, drawing you in... Big Mac... Big Mac... Big Mac...

                                                  2. re: PhilD

                                                    There is also the sheer luxury of calling downstairs like Eloise at the Plaza and "letting Georges" take care of your problems. We are very self-sufficient, but first timers especially find comfort in having someone to parce situations for you when you've run out of steam.

                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                      I want to be reincarnated as Eloise. Where does one apply?