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Review my itinerary, please?

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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 would I !!!

                      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?

                                  2. I'm guessing some of the similarities are intentional because you have a special interest in chef-driven fixed-menu places, and would see no big need to include more diversification simply in order to check the boxes.

                                    On Mary Celeste, I like it a lot myself for its nice assortment of fish/ veggie-based small plates instead of the pork and cheese products you might get at a more trad bar. But since you aren't eating a lot of heavier trad cuisine, you might enjoy a different a more typical bar à vins.

                                    In the immediate area around Mary Celeste, you have le Barav (good value on wine picked up at its next-door wine-shop and opened at the bar for a small fee), Adrien (generous cuts of good pork/ cheese), Aux Deux Amis (mod-ish mediterranean-themed small plates, occasionally a groovy crowd like Mary Celeste's except fewer Americans), Cave d'Isolite (a nice communal table, small menu of hot dishes) and Repaire de Cartouche, which has just added a new bar to an existing restaurant operation.

                                    Many of these feature natural wine, a very popular trend in France over the last few years, and relatively rare outside it, in case you have an interest in wine.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: shakti2

                                      Hi Shakti2,

                                      Yes, I do enjoy chef-driven restaurants, but after I pared down my list I started to wonder if maybe there were too many similarities. I just don't want to get bored or feel like I am eating in almost the same place every night. However, if the food is delicious, there is no way I will be unhappy. There are just too many places I want to try and it makes the decisions very difficult!

                                      Thank you for the suggestions for the bars a vins. I think these would be a great addition to my itinerary. I have made note of all of them.

                                      And yes, I'm definitely looking forward to trying some natural wine.

                                    2. There's a restaurant in Belleville, run by an Argentinean cook, that I have heard great things about -- the food is a real reflection of the cook and her background. Is it le Baratin? Raquel Carena is the cook. I'm sure someone who frequents these boards knows the place I'm describing. It sounds like exactly what you are seeking. Resto is in the 20th, so you can take metro.

                                      I also saw someone mention Le Barav as a fun wine bar. I've enjoyed eating there with my wife, and we actually found the food to be very good, but I think you're looking for something a little more chef-driven and unique.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bauskern

                                        Yes, it is Le Baratin.

                                        1. re: bauskern

                                          Oh yes, the bars a vin I've mentioned are by no means replacements for the more serious destinations where OP already has reservation, simply nice complements to a sequence of highly-choreographed sit-down meals.

                                        2. Another question for everyone...

                                          My hotel just emailed and unfortunately we were not able to secure Frenchie or Septime yet. I'm slightly disappointed but I figure I can always go to Frenchie-to-Go or try to get a last minute table.

                                          However, our hotel suggested the Chef's Table at Yamt'cha for 100 euro per person. I've read wonderful things about this restaurant and it was high on my list of desired reservations. They are fully booked for the week except for the chef's table. I think sitting in the kitchen and interacting with the chef would be an incredible experience. It's our last night in Paris so it would be special. What are your thoughts? Is it worth it or should I look into other ideas?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jordanhamons

                                            Yam t'cha: yes, grab it. Miles higher than Frenchie.

                                            Too bad about Septime, but I suggest you try Youpi et Voilà !!!

                                          2. Has anyone done any of the tours offered by Paris by Mouth, Context Travel, or The Paris Kitchen / Wendy Lyn? These look interesting but I wonder if they are worth the time and/or money.

                                            I've currently reserved a spot for this Context travel walking tour: https://www.contexttravel.com/city/pa...

                                            1. I quite agree with the lukewarm opinions of Coq Rico... expensive and not worth it. Verjus is great for meeting folks from Seattle and following the deeply rutted trail created by American food writers but there are hundreds of restaurants in Paris that are better. The same for Frenchie... I regularly recommend Caius in the 17th as an alternative for the hype-driven visitors who can't get a table at Frenchie. Also a big fan of Yam'tcha... never had the table d'hôte in the kitchen there but would love it. BTW, you can also have the same sort of interactive experience at Pierre Sang if you get seats at the counter... a no-rezzie place and the counter seats are highly prized but if you get there at, say, 6:45 for the 7pm opening, it might be possible. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon does "appear" to be interactive but it's all scripted and not that much fun.

                                              Bummer about Septime but you might also consider its newer fishy sibling Clamato... unfortunately for tourists, a no rezzie place but if you get there early (it opens at 7pm) or very late on a week night no problem... it's also open for lunch at weekends. Other new restaurants that remind me of Septime's cuisine: Les Déserteurs on the rue Trousseau in the 11th... just had an absolutely terrific meal there... and an excellent report by Mangeur on this board last week or so... closed on Sunday and Monday; and Will on the rue Crozatier in the 12th near the place d'Aligre... quite a revelation... and an excellent review by John Talbott on his blog.

                                              BTW, this part of Paris has been and is a hothouse of new exciting chefs and restaurants. You can wander from the rue de Charonne (Septime, Clamato) to the rue de Charenton for weeks without ever getting a bad meal. Some streets like the rue Paul Bert near métro Faidherbe-Chaligny and the rue de Cotte near the place d'Aligre are almost too good to be true for the excellence of the resturants. Important for me who craves variety, also a nice mix of modern, trad (like Au Vieux Chêne on the rue du Dahomey and Bistro Paul Bert on the rue Paul Bert), and ethnic (like Mansouria on the rue Faidherbe, Le Berbère on the rue Crozatier, and the superb modern Italian/ pan-Med cuisine at la Gazzetta on the rue de Cotte). The fab Marché d'Aligre is the neighbourhood's natural magnet and an unpolished sample of real-life Paris... excellent covered market open 9am to 1pm and 4 to 7:30 Tue to Sat and Sun mornings, boisterous mixed quality multi-purpose open-air market (Tue to Sun mornings), and permanent shops on the rue d'Aligre and adjacent streets.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                Agree to all, especially re Coco Rico and Atelier JR, but beg to differ re the "lower quality" description of Marché d'Aligre. It looks cheap, has cheap prices but actually has good quality.

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  Re Marché d'Aligre, I sorta agree and changed it to "mixed quality". :) But I'm only referring to the bazar/ souq characteristics of some parts of the open-air market, not to the covered market or the shops around it.

                                                  1. re: Parnassien

                                                    k

                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                      Aligre should be a must-visit for an up and coming cook. Absolutely wonderful.

                                                    2. re: Parnassien

                                                      To make things clearer, it might be more practical to refer to the open part of the market on place d'Aligre as marché d'Aligre (which it is) and to the covered market as marché Beauvau (which is its true name).

                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                        Well, if you avoid the "1 euro! 1 euro," and instead look for quality product it isn't quite as "cheap." There are times where you get perfectly ripe pineapples for next to nothing... because they're ripe. As long as you don't mind eating two whole pineapples for dinner!

                                                  2. Food is really good at Le Mary Celeste and might be a good midweek breather meal from your other nights multi course dinners. Seems like you are missing a traditional bistro place-maybe Bistro Paul Bert or Chez Denise would be a good change of pace.

                                                    If your are looking for interesting neighborhoods to explore we really like going over to Canal St Martin area and having lunch or dinner. Great neighborhood.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: macdog

                                                      Do you think Bistro Paul Bert would be a better choice than 6 Paul Bert?

                                                      1. re: jordanhamons

                                                        I haven't been to either, but my understanding is that Bistro Paul Bert is a traditional bistro and 6PB is more like some of your other picks (neo-bistro?). Chez Denise in the 1st gets a lot of love on CH and is also traditional bistro. Our first night, next Monday, we are going to Le Taxi Jaune. Excited to try something new.
                                                        http://lefooding.com/en/restaurants/r...

                                                        1. re: macdog

                                                          I have been to both many times and I agree with macdog's descriptors.
                                                          Meself, right now, I lean towards 6.

                                                    2. Can't go wrong with anything Paul Bert, loved him and his rustic cuisine. Also very much enjoyed Daniel Rose and Spring, a favorite on my visit. The Wine Cave downstairs is lovely. Definitely Frenchie & L'ami Jean are great choices as well. Try to get to the newly renovated L'Avant Comptoir too! Take a morning flight (yes I did this, it can be done if naysayers join in) to Venice for lunch and eat at Venissa, then visit the vineyard and fly back. You won't be sorry. Spring is the best time to go as the moeche crab is in season! I would spend 3-4 days in Paris and move on to Provence. Enjoy!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: GulfCoastRestaurants

                                                        I didn't think Paul Bert was still around as he died in 1886. It's good to hear he was also good chef as well as a renowned zoologist and politician. No wonder they named a road after him.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Now we're all waiting for a street to be named Daniel Rose.

                                                      2. There hasn't been much said about Bones... would anyone like to share their thoughts? At this point, here is where I stand:

                                                        Friday - Le 6 Paul Bert (considering changing to Bistrot Paul Bert based on feedback here)
                                                        Sat - Bones
                                                        Sun - Le Coq Rico (probably changing this... maybe David Toutain?)
                                                        Mon - L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (debating this... received mixed opinions here)
                                                        Tues - Verjus
                                                        Weds - Spring
                                                        Thurs - Le Jules Verne for lunch and Yam'tcha Chef's Table for dinner

                                                        24 Replies
                                                        1. re: jordanhamons

                                                          Bones is no choice. It is very good if you eat from a broad spectrum of foods. Last visit we were served duck heart, eel and sheep heart.

                                                           
                                                           
                                                           
                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                            I heart duck heart.

                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                              Ditto.
                                                              Had some amazing ones at Dans les Landes.

                                                              1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                Dans les Landes makes them marevelously.
                                                                Jgo too.

                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                  Agree as well as Afaria but then that's incestuous.

                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                    Yup. The duck hearts at J'Go are the best I've ever had. Too bad it's in Toulouse...

                                                                    1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                      But there are two in Paris.

                                                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                                                        Wow did not know this! Is it a chain???

                                                                        1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                          In Paris, ne in St Germain, one in the 9th.

                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                            J'Go Drouot for the winter and J'Go St Germain (fab terrace) for summer. And why oh why do we keep forgetting to recommend it ? Such good value !

                                                                          2. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                            I guess sort of; I like the one opposite Drouot better than the one on the Left Bank.

                                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                                              Me too. But always a mad crowd. ambiance.

                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                And those auctionistas are so scuzzy.

                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                  Pigs. Pigs who eat well.

                                                              2. re: jordanhamons

                                                                Bones is the hot table of the moment ... and not just hot but sizzling. The food is superb but the popularity(i.e. often loud rugby scrums in the bar) makes the dining experience somewhat unpleasant. I would never consider it for a weekend night. Can you move it to Tue, Wed, or Thu ? I see you have slotted in Verjus (one of the of the weaker links on your list) for Tues so maybe a switch. (But oops, Verjus is closed on Sat)

                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                  It's just as noisy midweek. We don't go there to hold a conversation. And remember that Tuesday night is "opening night" (after the weekend closure) for the locals who use the front room for combination lounge and light/wet dinner.

                                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                                    Saturday night when suburbanites and drunken Brits are in town is particularly unpleasant.

                                                                2. re: jordanhamons

                                                                  Be sure to walk to each a day in advance and personally check on your reservation because...things tend to go wrong with as much pressure as these places are under these weeks. Signed, "The Voice of Experience."

                                                                  1. re: hychka

                                                                    I wonder why you are having problems? I don't think I can recall a single reservation in a Paris that was messed up all seem to flow pretty well. Did you book by phone? Use a concierge? Use email? Or an internet app? It would be interesting to try and understand the cause of your travails.

                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                      One of ours was screwed up last visit. In fact two.

                                                                      Table d'Aki, who was very apologetic on the phone that his French wasn't great, took our reservation but when we walked by to confirm, it was not on the list. The hostess was appalled and took our cell number. It was a rainy day, and she called within an hour with a cancellation.

                                                                      And at Le Galopin, we were greeted warmly by the bartender, who then blanched when he realized that we weren't in the book. He called the waiter over and grilled him on taking the phone call. He even gave me the book and asked if I could have booked under any of those names. "No, no, no. Damn! That's my phone number!" The last 6 letters of our name were correct but the beginning got lost in the noise of exhaust fans, hard rock, clanging pots and an international connection,

                                                                      It can happen and it does.

                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                        But I think you would agree it is very very rare. These are two examples out of how many meals?

                                                                        And correct me if I am wrong but the last one looks like they had the booking but under the wrong name so you still had a table?

                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                          You're correct on all counts. Both bookings were messed up but we found excellent tables at each, albeit after some worrysome minutes.

                                                                    2. re: hychka

                                                                      "Be sure to walk to each a day in advance and personally check on your reservation"
                                                                      I have never had to do that with any of my reservations. Once made, the reservations were honored. No restaurnat has canceled my reservation after I have made one. I am very sorry you are having such glitch repeatedly. Please give us more details about what has gone wrong again and again.

                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                        "Be sure to walk to each a day in advance and personally check on your reservation"
                                                                        I have never had to do that with any of my reservations.
                                                                        The one exception is Aki where since he's a one man band he may "forget" to scribe the res.

                                                                  2. We are leaving in the morning and I can't wait! We arrive early Friday morning and will start off the trip with a "Bistro to Baguette: The Culinary Traditions of Paris" Walking Tour from Context Travel.

                                                                    I have a couple last questions...

                                                                    - Has anyone been to Restaurant Astier? David Lebovitz has a great chocolate cake with salted caramel recipe that he got from the restaurant. I was thinking about going there to try it in person and I wonder if it's worth it.

                                                                    - Is there anywhere notable worth eating near Versailles? Last time I went I simply went from the metro, to the palace, and back to the metro. I have a feeling we will spend the majority of a day there (my mom is very excited to see it) and I was wondering if there is anywhere worth eating nearby?

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                      Re Versailles
                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9093...

                                                                      Re Astier
                                                                      Great division on Chowhound as a result of serious decline in the quality a few years ago. I think it has recovered and is now once recommendable. But others persist in damning it without any recent experience to re-confirm their opinions.

                                                                      Just make sure that this keys-to-the-kingdom cake is being served when you want to go.

                                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                                        Has the staff changed?

                                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                                          yes... or at least I suppose so because the cooking and service have signficantly improved in the last year.

                                                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                                                            Super. I just remember unctuous, aka "let's oil the tourist" service that was a real turnoff.

                                                                      2. re: jordanhamons

                                                                        Ah, the great signature dish problem. Someone writes up a dish that they enjoyed, maybe it has in fact been on the carte for some time. Then people expect it to be there. If a restaurant has a preprinted and bound book, maybe they do offer the same dishes day after day. But especially with desserts, there may be variations or rather drastic changes due to season or market.

                                                                      3. We just got back from a wonderful week in Paris, full of sightseeing, walking, and of course, eating! I'm going to do my best to recap some of our favorite meals and eating experiences.

                                                                        Our flight arrived early last Friday morning and the first thing on the agenda was the 'Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris' walking tour with Context Travel. I'll do my best to recall our tour but I was very jet lagged and sleep deprived at this point so my memory is a little hazy and my notes are not as good as I thought.

                                                                        Our guide, Alisa Morov, is an American who moved to Paris 20 years ago and now works as a caterer (Sweet Pea Baking) and private chef, along with leading culinary walks and teaching cooking classes. Our group consisted of three, my mother and I and strangely enough another girl from Ohio who lives about an hour from us.

                                                                        Our walk was focused on Rue du Bac, the road that used to provide all of the food for the Louvre when it was still a palace. Our guide started by explaining a little bit about the 'typical' French diet, culinary traditions, dining trends, and eating philosophies.

                                                                        Our first stop was Maison Guyard, our guide's favorite place to buy foie gras. We went inside and talked about the different prepared foods offered, the importance of sourcing, and sampled some products, including (a huge piece of) foie gras, fresh sausage, and rabbit pate. We also tried a ham that was incredible - not too salty and very fresh tasting. It was all delicious but I more enjoyed meeting the shopkeeper and seeing customers come in and make their purchases. I found the selection of prepared foods to be fascinating, especially in comparison to what is offered in prepared food cases in the US.

                                                                        The next stop was Eric Kayser where we bought two baguettes, one traditional and one with seeds. Our guide explained how baguettes are price-fixed in France, a tradition dating back centuries, but some may also sell a higher quality, more expensive version. We also talked about how often a shop will have great bread or great pastries (both may be good, but one usually is the specialty) and in this case she said she preferred Eric Kayser's bread and that his pastries were just ok. She also talked about how if a sign says 'artisan' (or was it boulangerie?) then the bread was baked on site. (Correct me if I am wrong here... I am having trouble remembering the exact distinction and explanation.)

                                                                        We walked across the street to sample cheese at Androuet. She explained how since this shop is an 'afficher' they finish the cheese here, meaning putting their touch on it and perhaps leaving it more wet, dry, etc. They had a great selection here and it was fun to look at all of the options displayed. We tried a brie, sheep's milk, goat cheese, and a roquefort. The roquefort was from Monsieur Carl who owns one of the 9 roquefort caves. We were told that he actually molds his bread in the cave and then uses that mold in the cheese, as opposed to others who get their mold from an outside source. We stepped outside and had a small picnic with our baguettes, cheeses, pate, and ham. We also learned the correct way to cut each type of cheese.

                                                                        Tasting chocolates at Henri La Roux was next and the shopkeeper here was wonderful and very interactive. We sampled the signature ganache, salted caramel, orange and thyme, and saffron. All of these were delicious but my favorite was the white chocolate and coconut from the new summer collection of chocolates meant to eat chilled. We also cracked open a roasted cocoa bean and ate the cocoa nibs from inside.

                                                                        The next stop was an armagnac tasting Ryst Dupeyron. They have bottles of armagnac from nearly every year dating back to 1867 (I think). In France, it's a common tradition to give a bride and a groom each bottles of armagnac from their respective years of birth and our guide received her bottles from this shop. They were very friendly inside and it was interesting to look around. This shop has apparently been passed down for generations and I believe the owners are related to the owners of Maison Guyard, the foie gras shop we stopped at first.

                                                                        We also looked at a fish shop and a butcher and talked about the traditional offerings and common shopping practices. We noticed how clean and fresh smelling the fish shop was and talked about how the poultry in the butcher's window still had the heads, etc. to indicate freshness. It's so different than what we have in the US and I'm really quite jealous. I also noticed how the shrimp were sold cooked which I found interesting.

                                                                        Our final, and my favorite, stop was at La Parisserie des Reves. We tried the amazing Paris-Brest. Wow, so so good and one of the best things I ate the entire trip.

                                                                        Overall the tour was really fun and a great way to start a week in Paris. As a tourist, I don't know firsthand the reputation of these stores, but from what I've read they seem to be pretty good. Maybe those who read this can offer their opinions?

                                                                        While I enjoyed all of the sampling and tasting, the educational part of the tour actually meant more to me. Maybe it was because my jet lagged and sleep deprived body was a little overwhelmed by the food, but I really think talking to the shopkeepers, learning about the traditions and seasonality, and getting insight from locals was the best part of the tour. Also, I probably would not have made it into any of these shops had I not done the tour. Of course, it also benefits the shops because I went back later in the week and made a few purchases.

                                                                        It was a great way to spend 3 hours and I definitely came away having learned a great deal of new information about French gastronomy. I would definitely recommend Context Travel, not only for this tour but for some of their other walking tours as well.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                          A few photos from the tour...

                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                            Good report!
                                                                            Keep it coming....

                                                                          2. re: jordanhamons

                                                                            Thanks for this. All good addresses. We have often used Guyard, Kaiser, Androuet and Nicholas for picnic stuff. Especially convenient if you are heading to the river.

                                                                          3. Ou first reservation was at 6 Paul Bert, and this was a great welcome to Paris. I loved the atmosphere here and especially the casual, but thoughtful decor. The restaurant was quiet when we got there around 7:45 but was completely full within 20-30 minutes. Service was great and the serving team never stopped moving. The pace of the meal was overall nice, not rushed but not dragging. We waited about 5-10 minutes too long for dessert, which is one of my biggest restaurant pet peeves.

                                                                            For the first course, I had the artichoke and my mom had the tuna. Both were nice, but our least favorites of the meal.

                                                                            For the second course, I had the crispy pork and it was wonderful. Perfectly cooked with a crisp skin and a moist, tender inside. The apple, beet, and radish slices were beautiful complements. My mom had the asparagus with egg yolk which was incredibly delicious.

                                                                            I chose the beef and my mom had the chicken. The beef was great, relatively tender, and had great flavor from the chimichurri. The chicken was fantastic with a nice crisp skin and delicious mushrooms.

                                                                            I love all desserts and these were good, but not to the point of phenomenal. Each dessert was nice but just needed a small improvement to make it great. The strawberries were really flavorful and the goat cheese granita was interesting - I think it was dehydrated or dried, or something. I'd never really had anything like it. The apple dish was nice and every component was great except the apple itself, which lacked flavor. The ice cream and caramel were really good and if the apple had more flavor, this dish would have been a knockout.

                                                                            Overall, I loved the meal. This is the type of food I like to eat and it was a comfortable, nice environment. I would highly recommend this to anyone and if I definitely hope to go back some day, along with the original Bistrot Paul Bert.

                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                              Thank you so much for writing back. Your good time is infectious.

                                                                            2. For my next report... Le Jules Verne. Many on this board suggested I replace this reservation, as they felt this cooking was perhaps dated and, of course, overpriced. I went ahead and kept the reservation as I was more interested in the experience rather than the actual food, and I am glad I did.

                                                                              We arrived to the restaurant around 12 even though our reservation was at 12:30. We had hoped to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (I couldn't secure an advanced ticket reservations after trying for over a month) but after we saw the lines we decided it wasn't worth it. We killed some time walking around and then went over to Le Jules Verne entrance. A crowd of diners had gathered, it seemed like no one was quite sure where to go and was watching for someone to take lead. Right around Noon, the host came down and opened the gate and led us inside. It took nearly 30 minutes for us to get to the elevator and upstairs so we didn't end up being that early after all. Since they can only take 6-8 people up at a time, I recommend getting there at least 15-20 minutes early.

                                                                              We were one of the first parties in the restaurant for the day and it was really nice getting there when it was empty. We were shown to our seats and given hearty Bonjours by the 20-30 staff lined up along the way. The view really is amazing and it's just fun knowing you are eating in the Eiffel Tower.

                                                                              We sat in our seats on the side facing La Defense and ordered iced teas which ended up being very small glasses that were 10 euro each with no refills, so I recommend staying away from sodas and other beverages. We were then given menus which only listed the 5/6 course menu. I had specifically booked us for lunch because I wanted the smaller, cheaper 3 course menu. Not only did I want to avoid the price of the larger menu, but I also did not want to spend nearly 3 hours having lunch and I did not want all of that food. As I said, I was going for the experience and not for the best meal of my life. One of the servers came over and we asked about the three course menu. He stated that it was only available for weekday lunch and that they were only offering the 5-6 course menu today. It was a Thursday at 1230 which qualifies as weekday lunch to me, but I guess because it was the public holiday of Ascension Day they were only doing the larger menu. Zut! It was took late to turn back at this point so we embraced it and went ahead with our lunch. I was a bit annoyed because no where in the booking process did it state that both menus would not be offered. Several tables around us also were quite surprised when the lunch menu was not available. It's really not fair, especially if the lunch menu was a huge financial splurge to begin with. It could put people in a really horrible position.

                                                                              Minus the small miscommunication, the experience was wonderful. The service was nice (not overly friendly or warm but not pretentious or cold) and the pacing was good, not rushed nor dragging.

                                                                              The first course (Marinated sea bream with caviar and mimosa garnish) was my least favorite. The flavors were good but the components were not necessarily cohesive, no were the textures. The crunchy croutons were great but the red gellee was only okay, in my opinion.

                                                                              The second course (roasted langoustine, homemade pickles, cooking jus) was similar to the first in that I felt there were too many components. The langoustine's flavor was phenomenal but the other elements of the dish only distracted from it, instead of complementing.

                                                                              The tiny artichoke dish was phenomenal. The white wine, finely brunoised mirepoix, and parmesan cheese all worked harmoniously and it truly was a delicious dish.

                                                                              We both ordered the veal (sea bass and pigeon were the other options) and it was perfectly cooked, tender, and flavorful. The portion size was perfect. Very good.

                                                                              For me, the desserts were really the star of the show. The first course was a strawberry shortbread with a strawberry and cream cheese sorbet. The strawberries were absolutely amazing and bursting with flavor. The sorbet was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. The second course was an insanely rich and delicious chocolate cake with a hazelnut ice cream and praline. Also phenomenal. Of course we also got some macarons, marshmallows, truffles, etc. They were all wonderful but at this point in the meal, we were pretty overwhelmed with food. I loved the desserts but I think I might have served the chocolate before the strawberries. I would have preferred starting with the rich, extravagant dessert and finishing with the lighter, bursting with flavor, refreshing strawberry course.

                                                                              My mom and I are not big drinkers so we did not have any wine pairings. Had it been dinner, I probably would have but we had a busy day ahead of us and having wine and 5 courses of food would have put me out of commission. The tap water was quite nice though :)

                                                                              After our meal, the hostess showed us to the observation deck. We were able to walk around a little but the lines of people waiting to go to the top pretty much had the entire level blocked. If seeing all the way around the tower is important to you, I would not count on being able to do so based on this access. We really could only make it around one side. However, that was enough for us and we went back inside to head downstairs. We were given some madeleines as a parting gift that were a delicious snack on the flight home the next day.

                                                                              So, overall, I loved the experience at Le Jules Verne. Was I blown away by the service? No, but I have no complaints either. It was what it should have been. Was I blown away by the food? No all of it but I also have no complaints. I was blown away by the desserts and those artichokes! Was the experience and the view unlike anything I've ever done before? Absolutely. This is a special experience and will surely be a memory you will talk about for a long time. It's a bucket list sort of thing and something you can share with people back home. If I lived in Paris, it wouldn't be that special, but as a tourist and a girl who has had a long affection for Paris, it was wonderful. Also, the people watching is really fun... you really do see those of all sorts up there.

                                                                              If you want a special, memorable experience then I recommend it. There is nothing like looking out from your table and seeing all of Paris framed by the iron lattice of the tower. However, make sure you are fully aware of what menu they are offering that day (it really was not acceptable they did not share that info when I booked the reservation). Also, stay away from the iced tea and soft drinks and get there early so you are one of the first upstairs and can walk around and take pictures.

                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                                "overpriced."
                                                                                Could you please tell us the price per couple?
                                                                                Thanks. because my last meal at the Ciel de Paris where you can see the Tour Eiffel from was 101 E for 2.

                                                                                1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                                  Well I am glad you enjoyed it - as you say it's a special one off for visitors.

                                                                                  Regarding:

                                                                                  "...it was only available for weekday lunch and that they were only offering the 5-6 course menu today. It was a Thursday at 1230 which qualifies as weekday lunch to me, but I guess because it was the public holiday of Ascension Day they were only doing the larger menu."

                                                                                  This is standard practice and a standard term in most countries - weekdays are working days so they don't include Saturday Sundays and public holidays. So if you see the phrase "open weekdays" or "available weekdays" it won't include the public holiday that falls on a weekday. They do say very clearly on their website the lunch menu is weekdays only - so they did share the information - but you didn't realize what it meant.

                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                    I was aware of the terms of the menu, just unaware it was a public holiday. So, my fault for not doing my due diligence before making the reservation. However, when I completed the reservation via the online system there was nothing designating that this was more than a normal weekday. Given this restaurant is mainly frequented by foreigners and tourists, it would be considerate of them to spell this out.

                                                                                    1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                                      The experience really does not sound desirable, but I am glad you enjoyed it.

                                                                                      1. re: jordanhamons

                                                                                        Not certain I would expect any restaurant to point out to customers which days are holidays and which are not. Many close on public holidays and they would simply assume people would find this out. The same is true for shops and public buildings so tourists need to research holidays.

                                                                                    2. re: jordanhamons

                                                                                      Keep it coming. Love your reviews.