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Jul 2, 2014 03:48 PM

Frenchie is making changes

Per the Paris Kitchen site:

Frenchie last night of service July 11 - reopen Sept. 1.

Interior designer is redoing the space.

After reopening, Dinner (M-F) will begin at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 and seatings will be staggered through 9:30p.m.

Menu changes: prix fixe replaced by a la carte; 5-7 course carte blanche will be added.

Chef Marchand has some interesting comments in the interview about why he's making the changes.

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  1. I was surprised to see its five years old - how the new become the mainstream so quickly.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      Now, imagine Paris as Brooklyn, and cue the snickers.

      1. I must confess that I've been amused and bemused by the tourist popularity of Frenchie over the last few years. Obviously the menu changes, especially the replacement of prix fixe by à la carte, herald a significant increase in prices to take advantage of that popularity. Personally, I don't care... as a local, it's no longer part of my world... I was elbowed out of the way long ago by the frantic tourists who have somehow been persuaded that Frenchie's has a magic that other Paris restaurants don't have. Newsflash: there are hundreds of other restaurants that are just as good or better.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Parnassien

          I've never been to Frenchie, as it never caught my interest. I also don't like to play the long-term reservations game if I can avoid it, though I did like Frenchie To Go for a picnic. But it definitely still holds interest among some tourists, and people who know about my Paris visits have often asked if I've visited Frenchie or Spring/Septime (no, though I would like to go to Goust, I think).

          1. re: GetLucky

            Never been to Frenchie due to the process. Only been to Spring and Septime when I was able to get day of reservations. Too many good places to stress about reservations...

            1. re: Busk

              Gregory is indeed charming and I won't argue talented. In the beginning, he was living the life he now covets, was able to hang out the kitchen window and chat with diners, receive feed-back and kudos. But there was a disconnect between what he wanted to do and the demands of success. He desperately needed to increase both kitchen and FOH staff almost immediately, costly and maybe unprofitable at first, but it would have made his and others' experiences infinitely better.

              And, yes, we would book while dining for the next visit or wander by and beat on the door when in the neighborhood.

              The short of it is that as he said, he created a monster.

          2. re: Parnassien

            I like Frenchie to Go though. Nice job done on the "made on the premises".

            1. re: Ptipois

              Uh-uh. We don't do SRO no matter how good the product.

              1. re: mangeur

                Skip L'Avant-Comptoir and zillions of tapas places in Spain for the same reason.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  There is a difference between a place where you expect to eat while standing up and a place where you stand for 15 minutes in line to place an order for take-out that is then prepared to order.

                  But then, I don't do Starbucks, either.

          3. Ever the contrarian, I want to stick up for Frenchie and Gregory; I have always been treated and fed well; I stopped going only because he shifted to PM's only (except "to-go.") Granted, like Aki and Spring, the only way I could reliably reserve was to drop by, but I considered that a small price to pay for interesting food.

            10 Replies
            1. re: John Talbott

              John, John, John: You and I can drop by to reserve, (especially I, living a 20-minute walk away). Mangeur in Richmond, San Francisco can't drop by.
              No one here is saying the service is bad. Many are saying they don't want to put up with the reservation rigamarole, a system that can be improved but that the restaurant chooses not to.

              1. re: Parigi

                I cannot keep up with people's various screen names and don't have Snowden's resources but my friend once yclept Randy of Paris I think, said here
                And another such upthread was dismissive of the service.
                But in just 48 hours I will be released from my Tuscan torture and back home in the 18th,

              2. re: John Talbott

                Agree with you John. My visits were in the early days when I walked in for lunch. Good simple food at a decent price - it was a fantastic local with a good chef. I also found the wine bar pretty easy to navigate and get seated etc.

                It's good to hear he is trying to evolve and respond to the needs of his diners - ALC and more flexible dining will address some of the criticism. And isn't the unanswered phone a thing of the past as reservations are now on-line? And he has opened the wine bar and the take-away to open access for far more people.

                I am not certain it's fair to criticize Greg for his success - I think it's more valid to criticize the diners who will only be happy if they eat there and whine if they can't get in

                1. re: PhilD

                  "I am not certain it's fair to criticize Greg for his success".

                  It's actually very valid as he's clearly playing on the premise that the more difficult Frenchie is to get into, the longer and more fully he'll be booked. He knew how difficult it was to call and get a reservation. He seemingly didn't care, until recently. Very cynical. He even found time to write a cookbook, to mixed reviews (Amazon, 3 and a half stars).

                  And it seems he found that the people he was booking and the meals he was preparing were not of his liking, which is why he - the chef of Frenchie - claims he prefers spending his time at his wine bar nearby. That's a problem.

                  I find it amusing that mangeur is recommending this post about whiny diners because her (now completely rewritten/edited) post above initially mentioned that she tried Frenchie FOUR times and was disappointed at both the chef and the wait service each time. Yet it was only at the fifth reservation that she decided to cancel.

                  I'm sure Marchand is talented and hires talented people (our Frenchie To Go meals were wonderful); but sometimes the emperor doesn't have that many clothes.

                  "And he has opened the wine bar and the take-away to open access for far more people. "

                  The vast majority of those people want to eat at the original - Frenchie.

                  Happy 4th of July in America! Offline soon to eat my weight in corn on the cob over the next two days...And probably a pound of brisket...

                  1. re: GetLucky

                    Poor Greg sure is "all dressed-up for Winter", as the French saying goes. Impressive how informed some people are.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      Being informed these days is as easy as possessing a touchpad and Google (along with emails/texts from those met in Paris on previous trips).

                      Mmmm... watermelon....

                    2. re: GetLucky

                      Okay, let's take it from the top.

                      "It's actually very valid as he's clearly playing on the premise that the more difficult Frenchie is to get into, the longer and more fully he'll be booked."

                      I think he was gobsmacked by his NYT and blog generated success. He was, at the time, turning out well cooked , even inspired low cost ingredient meals at an amazingly low price. The media, and it doesn't take many reports, made him a "must visit". i am not at all sure that this was his intent. But there he was, bombarded with requests. Jumping into his shoes, it is quite reasonable to think that if you make reservations difficult, people will move on the the next great thing and leave you in a sensible place. Didn't happen.

                      re your next paragraph, chefs often find that for one reason or another, they are drifting away from their original plan. Costs, shifts in menu price, trends they prefer not to follow?

                      Next paragraph: We visited Frenchie several times before it became hotter than a bandit's pistol. It was service issues that bothered us during these visits. Then it became such a household name that we returned when joined with several visiting friends who were infected with the NYT fever, or is that fervor. I cancelled the last time because my son was so taken with his dinner at Table d'Eugene that he begged for us to return. I looked at tha schedule and plucked Frenchie as the fall guy. i called a friend who was in Paris and gave her the res.

                      What I have been preaching since time eternal is that there is no one restaurant that is the be all to everyone. Frenchie is quite alright. He is a well clothed king if not emperor. We have just moved on. Not a big deal for us or him.

                      When I have written negatively about him, it has been to dampen the unbridled and unwarranted hysteria to get a table.

                      Joyous corn and brisket, indeed. Enjoy!

                      1. re: GetLucky

                        GetLucky - couple of points. Your conclusion about his cynical response to reservation seems rather harsh and probably completely unfounded.

                        Frenchie is a tiny restaurant and it started with a very small staff, the economics of restaurants in France (and very high and regulated employment costs) probably means it would have been economic suicide to employ someone to answer the phone. I bet he cared but simply couldn't justify the cost of handling the avalanche of calls. Unfortunately like a real avalanche scarcity creates more demand rather than less so a no win situation.

                        Where does he say that: "...meals he was preparing were not of his liking, which is why he....he prefers spending his time at his wine bar nearby"? My read of the article has him saying he likes the wine bar because he can spend time with customers and not be stuck in the kitchen. He says hue is having more fun doing that and the new layout and menu allows him to do it.

                        Finally, I don't get your point that it seems t be a bad thing he opened the wine bar etc because people really want to eat at the restaurant. Is it better to miss out entirely or is it better to have a alternative? He categorically states he doesn't want to open a 200 cover food hall "as it would feel like a horse trough". Whats wrong with that.

                        Did you read the linked article?

                        1. re: PhilD

                          " I don't get your point that it seems t be a bad thing he opened the wine bar etc because people really want to eat at the restaurant. "

                          What if impossible to book restaurants incliuded in their reservation request the question "Why do you want to dine here?" Please answer in 100 words or less.

                    3. re: John Talbott

                      I'm a fan of the wine bar, and always receive a lovely greeting from Greg, even though I'm not a real "regular" and we've never been properly introduced. (Also, I go there primarily to drink, pre- dinner somewhere else.) I also love rue de Nil. Thanks to Greg, I imagine, the fabulous Terroir d'Avenir is a thriving and accessible venue.

                    4. Good for them!!

                      I hope they will survive the transition from what they were to what they want to be.

                        1. re: vielleanglaise

                          Are you kidding? I's the Council of Trent, at the very least.