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My Paris Restaurant Itinerary & Shopping List - Please review

Hello:

I've spent the last couple of months on CH putting together a list of restaurants, made a few reservations, and compiled of list of goodies to bring home with me to Seattle. I would love your input and expertise on what I have so far.

* as a note, in a perfect world I would have reservations for every dinner or lunch in Paris, but it wouldn't fly with my travel companion. She's not a planner and would have a problem revolving her day around a specific time to eat.

With that being said, here's the list:

Things to buy in Paris:

1. Salted caramels from Jacques Genin

2. Speculaas cream

3. Mustard "on tap" from the Maille Boutique at 6 Place de la Madeleine

4. Hédiard's 3 peppers mustard and Herbes de Provence - around the corner from Maille.

5. Savora, a spiced mustard-based spread

6. A chunk of aged comté

7. Christine Ferber jam - the best selection is at La Grand Épicerie, however Da Rosa sells them as well, although they’re a few more euros per jar.

8. Champagne vinegar from Huilerie LeBlanc and from G Detou I get dried mushrooms like cepes and morels as well as fabulous almond paste.

9. Big bag of course grey sea salt and fleur de sel de Guérande

10. Gerard Mulot pastries

11. Dehillerin, whether it's a commercial grade saute or sauce pan, or something easier to carry, such as a specialty knife, whisk, chinois.

12. Bon Maman Madeleines

13. Pierre Hermé Pates de Fruits

Restaurant Reservations: I have 7 nights before leaving for Avignon - we won't eat out for all of them.

Thursday - David Toutain

Friday- Franck Enee

Saturday -Atelier de Joel Robuchon Saint-Germain

Sunday - Le Coq Rico

We're staying in the 6th. Here's my list of Cafe's:

Colorova

Le Flore

La Palette

Breizh Café - buckwheat crepes In Marias - stick with the classic complète with ham, cheese, and a sunny-side egg

Mangetout

Cafe Trama

Gerard Mulot - Wonderful pastries.

Breakfast in the 6th:

Eggs&Co, Un Dimanche à Paris, Ralph's (whose courtyard is paradise in summer), Colorova, Cafe Cassette, Le Bel Ami, etc. Bread & Roses

Drinks in the 6th: need a little help here

La Closerie des Lilas - the Hemingway bar

Restaurants I want to try but have not reserved. Major edit please!!

Frenchie

Chez Jenny for good choucroute

6Paul Bert

Chez Dumonet

**Chez L'Ami Jean - haven't been able to get a hold of them to reserve.

Le Stella

Les Papilles

Le Pont de Yunnan - Chinese

Pirouette

Cafe Les Deux Magots

Youpi et Voila

Le Verre Vole

Ze Kitchen Galerie - cuz John Talbot said so!

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  1. First, you should be lauded for doing such extensive homework. It is really a help in offering suggestions.

    Secondly, I will help lightening your luggage on your return flight, or rather give you more packing space by scratching #2 and #12 from your shopping list. Of course, this is strictly my humble opinion, buy having tossed a jar of Lotus Speculoos spread, I can't recommend that you bring some home. IMHO, it is rather vile stuff. Kind of like ground up cookies in vegetable oil.

    I also think you will find better madeleines in your travels.
    what a nice opportunity for multiple tastings.

    Keep us posted.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mangeur

      Thanks for the tip. I hear so much about this Speculoos, and quite frankly it sounds horrible. I'm have more room in my bag for mustard. lol

    2. You have obviously done excellent homework. I wish all visiting hounds were like you. Can we keep you ? :)

      "Saturday -Atelier de Joel Robuchon Saint-Germain
      Sunday - Le Coq Rico"

      You can do better
      Atelielr JR. I used to love this pioneer of sorts. It is no longer unique. If you want to go to the nearby vicnity in a similar calibre retaurant, I'd go to Zie Kitchen Galerie.
      And instead of Coco Rico, I'd go to Jeanne B rue Lepic, its roast Challan chicken is a good standby.

      Drinks in the 6th
      La Palette is actually a much nicer apéritif spot than a coffee café. Very Parisian moment, full of nearby gallery people.

      "La Closerie des Lilas - the Hemingway bar"
      ?
      The only Hemingway Bar I know is the Ritz now closed for renovation.

      "Frenchie"
      If you get a reservation, great. If not, don't kill yourself.
      There are many good alternatives nearby : Saturne, Le Bat, A.Noste.
      I noticed you seem to focus on mustard. A great mustard source, much better than Hédiard, is the mustard made by monks sold at the Comptoir des Abbayes on rue des Petits Champs. The monks make many other things, what with sublimating their libido and all.

      "Chez Jenny for good choucroute"
      Not choucroute season for me mais bon…

      "6Paul Bert
      Chez Dumonet"

      Not really worth crossing town for.

      "**Chez L'Ami Jean - haven't been able to get a hold of them to reserve."
      The restaurant was closed all of August. You can call now. The staff is back.

      "Le Stella"
      Stella-Maris ?

      "Les Papilles"
      Not worth crossing town for.

      "Le Pont de Yunnan - Chinese"
      Decent, but full all the time, I mean all the time, even Sunday night in the middle of August.

      "Pirouette"
      Good choice.

      "Cafe Les Deux Magots"

      You can do better. I'd choose the Flores 1st floor or La Palette or Café de la Mairie
      on place St Sulpice over Deux Magots.
      Youpi et Voila

      "Le Verre Volé"

      Very nice. Other similar good bistros with wine focus are Juvéniles
      and Autour d'un verre.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        Parigi - La Closerie des Lilas was one of Hemingway's favourite bars - I think I read he frequented more than the bar named after him at the Ritz.

        1. re: PhilD

          Quite possibly. But the term "the Hemingway Bar" confused me. I was wondering if Ritz's bar had moved across town while the hotel was under renovation.

          1. re: PhilD

            "La Closerie des Lilas was one of Hemingway's favourite bars" as those of us who tried to learn French from French in Action (esp. lecon 20) know.

          2. re: Parigi

            Wow, this is really great advice. Thank you!!! I'll re-work my reservations and shorten up the list. I'll post my final for your review.

            Yes, please keep me!!! I know I'll hate coming home...

            Cheers!!

          3. #13--Yes, the pate de fruit was INCREDIBLE.

            Also, if you drink tea--at all--then please go to Mariage Freres! I also ate there a lot and loved it, but really even if you just got tea-leaves to go, I promise... it is so much better than the US.

            And it's not a hot-spot, but in case you need a cafe with great customer service, attention to detail, good wine (although I have limited knowledge), and just all around great ambiance... Comme Chai Toi (near Notre Dame).

            10 Replies
            1. re: GraceW

              Also to note, the Mariage Freres on r. Bourg-Tibourg is truly something to see.

              Go see the Dome inside Galleries Lafayette, and while you are there visit the food area and score some Bordier butter for your hotel room. Nothing better than fresh baguettes and Bordier butter anytime you like.

              1. re: Steve

                Consider it done. I have rented an apartment and we'll have plenty of butter on hand. I've heard that some people have attempted to pack it in dry ice to take home on the plane. It is that good??

              2. re: GraceW

                AND AMORINO. I don't even really care for ice cream or gelato.. and I know it is Italian.. but it is INCREDIBLE. I actually liked it better than Berthillon.

                (Not to mention: are you avoiding Laduree for any particular reason? Even if you get just one vanilla macaron, I promise it will be great.)

                1. re: GraceW

                  Grace - I'm obsessed with Macarons. I'll didn't include any on this list as I plan to check out all of the hot spots, and often. Outside of Laduree, Pierre Hermé, Sadaharu Aoki, Fauchon and Grégory Renard, am I missing any???

                  1. re: tastebudseattle

                    Oh goodie! (Pardon my childish delight.) I didn't get to try Angelina, but I heard theirs were good too.

                    I bought Laduree inside of Galleries Lafayette or Printemps (whichever one has it towards the top)... and there was no line whatsoever. Versus, when I passed the Laduree stores I saw people waiting in very long lines. And if you are flying out of CDG, you can get some last-minute Laduree at the airport.. but I would still have some while you are out in Paris. I just bought two there as a final taste but also watched the couple next me devour about 20 on the plane. Personally I preferred Laduree because I thought PH's flavors were trying to hard. Laduree's read as deeper, richer pure flavors.

                    I stayed near Odette and people seemed to love their creme puffs... but alas, I didn't try them because I just don't care for that kind of thing.

                    As much as I thought macs would be my favorite, the pate de fruit was actually hands down my favorite sweet-thing to eat in Paris--at PH get the box that has the teal colored cover because that is the assorted variety. It made up for never making it to whatever bakery I had wanted to go to (maybe Genin) to try a Paris Brest.

                    Also my general trick was if I was buying a pastry for breakfast, I would buy two. And even though the other got quite smashed, I would carry it in my bag and when I got stuck in line for something, I would eat it. Then you always have energy.

                    1. re: tastebudseattle

                      You need to add Gregory Renard to your list of Macaron sources. His are all about the filling, like blackberry, or chocolate filled with bitter orange. Or insanely rich caramel or pralene. Chocolate with sea salt if good. Located on the west end of St. Dominique.

                      http://www.chocoparis.com/gregory-ren...

                      1. re: mangeur

                        For some mysterious reason, the location on Saint-Dominique is great, but not one on rue Daubenton. Haven't tried the Vaugirard one.

                      2. re: tastebudseattle

                        If you like chocolate and/or mocha macarons, my favorites in those flavors are at Maison du Chocolat.

                        And the best "chunk of Comte" you will find at Laurence Dubois' stand in the Place Maubert.

                        Also, if you like foie gras and great duck and ham products, you might like to check out Oteiza on Blvd St Michel near Blvd St. Germain.

                        1. re: tastebudseattle

                          Having tasted a million macarons in Paris, I still have no firm favourite. But I can say that no place does a full array of flavours that is decidedly superior to all others. Chocolate macarons, for instance, I like Hugo et Victor in the 7th, Jean-Paul Hévin in the 1st, 6th, 7th and 9th, and Carette in the 4th and 16th.... for pistachio macarons, I adore Dalloyau's version.

                          And yes, you have missed about 2 dozen places that do macarons well. The big names are well known but the less hyped local pâtisseries like Art Macaron on the boulevard Montparnasse in the 6th (just a short walk from where I live) can be a delightful revelation.

                          Sampling/ trial and error/ unexpected discoveries are what makes living in Paris such a joy.

                    2. This list makes me dizzy - good work.
                      I'd agre with Parigi on Coq Rico vs Jeanne B.
                      Have fun.

                      1. Re Bordier butter. Living in France where even ordinary butter is so much better than the equivalent you get in the USA, maybe I'm a little jaded but I don't get the Bordier frenzy. I'm not a fan of Bordier's beurres parfumées (algae, yuzu, and, yuck, lemony olive oil) that some Chowhounders extol to the heavens but for just the taste of plain butter I don't see how Bordier is any better than other (and usually much cheaper) artisanal butters from Brittany, Normandy and Poitou-Charentes and, looking at the prices, certainly not 3 or 4 or 5 times better than the premium versions of Noisy, Grand Fermage and Vrai that you can pick up at a supermarket. I do like the hand-churned raw milk butters from, inter alia, Finistère that you can sometimes find at crèmerie stalls at outdoor and covered markets in Paris... but no pretty wrapping.

                        Gérard Mulot. Hmmmmm. With all the excellent pâtisseries in Paris, I wouldn't rate Mulot as unmissable. He gets good press and tourists (who usually have no basis for comparison) seem to like him but there are lots of others that are better. I fear that if you get caught in the tourist rut leading to Mulot, you will miss out on Pâtisserie des Rêves, Carl Marletti, Des Gateau et Du Pain, Blé Sucré, Pierre Hermé, Bread & Roses, Laurent Duchêne, etc etc.

                        Christine Ferber jam. Pierre Hermé and Lafayette Gourmet also stock her confitures. For me, there are better but not so widely known other jam-makers. There's a fab confiture shop on the lower part of the rue des Martyrs (whose name I can't remember but I'm sure Parigi knows it). And the Restaurant Cristal de Sel on the rue Mademoiselle in the 15th has their own "fait maison" line of jams that I'd across town for.

                        Speculoos. Agree with Mangeur that it's nasty stuff. But there are much more easily likeable "pâte à tartiner" (the generic name in French for these types of spreads) ... the best (and quite expensive) of these usually nutella-like versions are Fabrice Gillot available at Mococho on the rue Mouffetard in the 5th, Sébastien Dégardin/ Pâtisserie du Panthéon on the rue St Jacques in the 5th, and Jean-Charles Rouchoux on the rue d'Assas @ rue de Rennes in the 6th.

                        Breakfasts in the 6th. Eggs&Co doesn't open until 11am. Ralph's is more for brunch and doesn't open til noon... horrendously expensive and at a weekends a bit of a scene... yet I like it a lot but I'm French and so the American dimension is kinda exotic for me and the garden setting is dreamy. I would also add Boulangerie Paul on the rue de Seine @ rue de Buci. There's also some very pleasant breakfasting opportunities to the east of Le Luco (familiar name for Luxembourg park)... Au Petit Suisse on the rue Vaugirard @ rue Médicis, Le Rostand on the rue Médicis @ place Edmond Rostand, and the pâtisserie-salon de thé Dalloyau on the place Edmond Rostand @ bd St Michel.

                        Drinks in Saint Germain des Prés. There's about a zillion places but very few are one-size-fits-all so it depends on your style, age, drink preferences etc. The Piano Bar at the Closerie des Lilas is indeed fab, has lots of Hemingway associations, and, for me at least, is the prefect place for drinks.... but on the Montparnasse side of the 6th. In the same area, Rosebud on rue Delambre in the 14th is another landmark bar that, after mixed fortunes over the last few decades, has been re-polished and returned to its former glory. More decidedly "germanopratin" (= the word to describe the inhabitants or lifestyle of Saint Germain des Prés), La Rhumerie on the boulevard Saint Germain is often described as a "veritable institution"... and it is... Brigitte Bardot hung out (literally and figuratively) there in the '50s, my parents in the '60s and '70s, and now me... and one of the few places in St G des P where locals often outnumber tourists and suburbanites. .. but you better like rum. For the best cocktails, maybe Prescription Cocktail Club on the rue Mazarine and its sibling Curio Parlor on the rue des Bernadins in the 5th. If you're into whisky and can pass for slick bond traders, the bar at Le Steaking on the rue Sabot has an enjoyable clubby feel but can occasionally be patronized by types that bring a curl to my upper lip. And speaking of clubby, the gorgeous bar at Lapérouse on the quai des Grands Augustins is quite impressive... but a caveat, it's been recently taken over by the team from the ultra-fashionable oh-so-huitième Le Baron night club and I'm not sure what if any changes have been made. For a sense of chic and sophisticated, the bar at L'Hotel on the rue des Beaux Arts. I also enjoy a glass or two of bubbly at Point Bulles on the rue Clément... usually live jazz on Sunday evening... also a restaurant so best not to go at meal times if you just want drinks

                        Restaurants. I like your unbooked list better than your reserved one. David Toutain and Franck Enée are indeed very recommendable. But I have been deeply disappointed by the Ateliers Joel Robuchon... food is indeed good value but the scripted spiel that goes with it, the general air of joylessness, and rather Las Vegasy clientele are quite off-putting. Coq Rico, I find that the food is ok but a bit unsurprising and not good value (an understatement) ... there are just hundreds of other restos I'd rather go to. As for the others on your wish list, I agree with Parigi that the over-hyped Frenchie is a missable... again hundreds of other places that are as good or better and require less hassle.... have a look at Caius in the 17th as an alternative.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Parnassien

                          That jam store on the lower end of the rue des martyrs is indeed out of sight! Is is a mere sliver, on the same side of the street as as Arnaud Delmontel and has a dizzying assortment of sweet and savory jams ( you can use these as accompaniments for meat or other main courses) . They are beautifully packaged and make a most unusual gift for your friends. If you go at the lunch hour,you might enjoy Premices,a restaurant just 5 minutes walk away. As far as pates a tartiner, Monoprix makes a confiture du Lait, a sort of a milk jam, that is smooth and slightly caramelized. Under their label Reflets de France.

                          1. re: pammi

                            Due to this thread l went to Chambre de Confiture on the lower end of Rue Martyr this morning. l tasted about 10 confitures and left buying none. Even the ones that were 80% fruit tasted too sweet for me and the flavors were not intense in the way l like them. As at the metro 12 line, went to C Constant on Rue Fleurus and bought a few of his, very happy and Constant as a bonus are bigger and less expensive.

                          2. re: Parnassien

                            Indeed. I was somewhat unprepared for the somewhat high cost of Coq Rico. I was really expecting so much more when we went. But it seems like so much of Paris is closed on Sundays that we felt forced into it.

                            Ah well...live and learn.

                            1. re: Eudoxus

                              Is the whole chicken still90 E or something like that?

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                Yes.

                                I'm not sure I am totally qualified to talk about French food, but it stands out as both one of the most expensive, and least satisfying meals in my memory. I think the guinea fowl was good, but remember it felt like a strangely small portion for 29 E.

                                1. re: Eudoxus

                                  As I've explained a few weeks ago, their method for roasting fowls (poaching them low-temp in water then browning them in oven) results in extremely tasty broth and not so tasty birds.

                                  Which explains why the chicken velouté is fantastic and the chicken is a bit meh.

                                  For 90€ a beast, that's a little rich.

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    I actually remembered a little incorrectly. We didn't get the 29 E fowl, but rather the 92 E fowl. That is why it stands out to me as the most overpriced thing I have ever purchased. I was assuming it was a full bird that would easily feed at least 2. It was closer to a portion that would satisfy 1 (I've actually had portions of guinea fowl meant for 1 that were the same size before). It was truly bizarre.

                                    Part of me wonders if they charged us for the full guinea fowl, and delivered the 29 E version, because it truly made no sense. I think we ended up spending about 279 E for dinner and left not too much fuller than when we went into the place.

                                    It is true that the sauce the bird was in was probably the tastiest thing we ate though.

                          3. As all have said, great planning.
                            Here is my 2 cents.
                            3-While the 'new' black jar is elegant, the two mustards required to be able to buy that jar, the truffle and the sauterne are IMVHO not up to the task, The white wine, hottest, and the traditional, the whole seed, are my faves and always have a jar of them in the fridge.
                            You might want to get some E Fallot from Detou to compare as well, different and a bit thicker but also wonderful.
                            6-While M Antony has my fave Comte, not available for purchase in Paris, and Dubois gets all the love for his on the board, great but seemingly a little past prime for the 48 month the last few years, the Marcel Petite 40 month at Ferme St. Hubert on Rue Rochechouart is devastingly perfect and far less expensive. Their own aged Maroilles defines the cheese also.
                            7-Ferber is wonderful but there are a few others that are great as well. My two picks are the house brand of Christian Constant at his shop on Rue Fleurus in the 6th. l brought home 6 of his apricot and almond in the spring. Also his ice cream and sorbet trumps many competitors, learned from Souphie, should he have his strawberry sorbet, run do not walk. The second is the brand La Cour d'Orgeres, available at L B Marche in small jars and in larger jars at a better price at Au Grenier du Pain on Rue Abbesses. His maracuya, french for passionfruit, ananas french for pineapple, and rhubarbe are exemplary.
                            If not familiar try the liquorice sorbet at Grom on Rue de Seine, it is my single fave flavor of glace anywhere.
                            8-For vinegar try to find M Pouret, he is the only Orleans method of manufacture left. His white vinegar is the bomb. Also try the banyuls vinegar of Le Guinelle. It is so perfect.
                            Available at Le Dernier Goutte in the 6th and the small provisions store at the covered marche at Place Aligre.
                            9-When you are at G Detou for their selection of Fallot mustard, the have the best prices in town for fleur de sel Guerande in 500 gm packets as well as grey sel in bags as well, my thanks to Mangeur for this.
                            12-My fave for Madelaines are at Ble Sucre a block or so from Place Aligre, also has chairs outside by beautiful park to consume them.
                            13-When at Genin for caramels, do get the mango passionfruit ones as well, try their pate des fruits also when you are having their excellent chocolate chaud.

                            A few more restaurants to add to your maybe list-
                            L'Assiette for cassoulet, pork belly, verveine souffle and creme caramel.
                            Pramil- in the 3rd, open every day, and wonderful cooking.
                            Bistro Belhara-Their pigeon and baby lamb are perfect
                            Saotica-had two great meals in the spring, priced well also.

                            Lastly while Dumonet has become different, with uppricing your wine selection, their boeuf bourgignon is still my bomb, will be there in a week or so.
                            Also Atelier is, l agree, a miss, and Closerie des Lilas is, l agree, a must

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Agree with much of what DCM and Parn say.

                              While it is true that there are many choices, and Gérard Mulot for example may not be the be all and end all, certain food genres are not done well everywhere.
                              Exhibit A : Pâte de fruits.
                              I find that most of the pâtisseries and candy stores use too much sugar and also produce a hardened chewy texture.
                              this aficionada of pâte de fruits loves most those from A La Mère de Famille, which also makes a very mean ice cream.
                              That's it. I can't stand it any more. Must run out to get some.

                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                Why people heap praise on Pramil is a mystery to me. Following Zagat's absurdly high 28 rating, I went there two years ago (I was then living in the Marais for three weeks) and found it quite ordinary. A plate of pasta with truffles -- probably Chinese -- was absolutely tasteless, as was virtually everything else we ate. This is my first comment on this site, and I'm offering it because I think there are far better restaurants than Pramil nearby, for example Au Bascou, which I hope to return to in October.

                                1. re: zeimar

                                  Been twice, both with different guests both times and all total of 7 people loved it, the menu, the wine the et all. YMMV

                                  1. re: zeimar

                                    I'm with you zeimar.
                                    Nothing bad but.....

                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                      JT, read your blog and only saw a decent but non enthusiastic review from 2006, with a note to return.
                                      Was there a more recent visit and if not perhaps you might try it again.
                                      Perhaps there was a newer visit and my shoddy computer skills missed it.

                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                        You are corect: 2006 and I've never returned.
                                        I rated it a "5.0 N** = a place that if one lived nearby in the neighborhood (N) would be a great place to go to but gets a lower grade due to the schlep (perhaps unfairly).
                                        Update: Since I went, I've read numerous more enthusiastic reports and keep meaning to return." The fact that I intended to return but didn't in 8 years tells me my wish was not that strong.

                                      2. re: John Talbott

                                        Thanks John. I've followed your wonderful blog for years but unfortunately missed your restaurant tour through Western Massachusetts this summer. Had I been aware of it, I would have urged you to eat at what I think is the best bistro within 150 miles of Northampton and Williamstown -- and probably better than 90% of those in Paris -- located in the small hilltown of Shelburne Falls, the Gypsy Apple. It has a limited, well edited menu, about twelve or so tables, a tiny, two or three person kitchen, but a chef/owner, Michaelangelo Westcott, a native of St. Martins, who has an extraordinary talent for turning out consistently fine French oriented food with an inventive touch.

                                        By the way, I'll be in Paris the first week in October visiting my sister -- she's a highly regarded painter who has lived there since 1949 -- and we aim to take her out for her 91st birthday. I've been thinking of lunch at La Grand Vefour, which we enjoyed last time we dined there. Do you have any other suggestions? Perhaps Guy Savoy for lunch? I know you feel as one gets up there in age that such places put too great a strain on one's constitution, but I'll be there with one of my daughters who wants a starred experience (so do I, I admit) so what do you recommend?

                                        A neighbor, a retired neurosurgeon, foodie and wine aficionado, claims he had one of the best meals of his many trips to France at Carre de Feuillants. But the room seems a little cold to me. And some critics, notably Alexander Lobrano, assert that despite its two stars they can't imagine why anyone would want to eat there. What say you?

                                        1. re: zeimar

                                          Thanks for the bistro rec; I'll keep it on file for next year.
                                          As for a 91st birthday celebration, I'm not the person to ask. I almost never go to starred or blow-out places anymore; I haven't been to the three places you mention in 15-20 years. The last celebratory meal at an expensive place (which I didn't pay but chose) was the Grande Cascade on a nice day. Just being able to eat at 91 seems reward enough. Have a good meal.
                                          John

                                      3. re: zeimar

                                        Here is what I wrote after our August visit:
                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9857...

                                        Note that I described our dinner without heaping praise. Everything that we ordered was correct, servings large. Most memorable was the very sweet service. I had the feeling that the kitchen and every server cared very much that we enjoyed our experience.

                                        Would I return? No. There are other styles of meal that we prefer. At the same time, I would recommend it to visitors who have trepidation about ordering in a "French restaurant", those looking for approachable food, those who like to feel appreciated. I found the cooking at least on a par with what others have deemed 6.0 or 7.0, while the service far exceeded most places.

                                        This begs the question that I posed the other day: When is good enough good enough? Does a place have to be a personal favorite in order to warrant recommendation or positive mention?

                                        1. re: mangeur

                                          That's a good question, one I've contemplated for a long time. I gather, though I might be wrong, that comforting, what you call "sweet service" plays an important part in your evaluation of restaurants, as well it should. But many people, including yours truly, value the level of the food, its quality, presentation, flavors, character, etc. above how pleasant the servers are. But that's a highly personal, very subjective factor on how we view restaurants. And I'm always amazed by how different my opinion of a restaurant's food is from other people, even people whose opinions I respect. For example, in Patricia Wells recently revised "The Food Lover's Guide to Paris," she highlights two bistros I've visited in the past two years, Chez Rene in the 5th, and L'Ambassade D'Auvergne in the 3rd. In my opinion the food they offer is mediocre at best, and I can only wonder whether she's eaten there in a decade or more. The Coq au Vin in Chez Rene, supposedly a specialty, was so dry and flavorless that I would have been ashamed of serving it to dinner guests at home. And when I informed the waiter of this he countered that I should have ordered the thigh portion of the chicken not the breast, a response that was pure nonsense. As for L'Ambassade, the less said the better. Wells calls it "folkloric, dependable," but aside from its aligot, everything else is blah and forgettable, even the indifferent service. How do these restaurants manage to be recommended by Wells as well as Lobrano? Is there something wrong with my palate or theirs? Or is there something else going on, such as friendship, etc., that determines what restaurants they recommend to readers, or is it a feeling on their part -- as it is on yours -- that they are "approachable" to those who don't know much about French cuisine. If so, then they are not doing their readers a service.

                                          1. re: zeimar

                                            By describing the food as approachable, I have hoped to reach the kind of diner for whom it would be a perfect destination. If I only mentioned places where our socks are knocked off, you would only need one hand to count them. We are very, very judgmental, but try to share experiences that others might enjoy.

                                            ETA, and, yes, you are right. There are many recommendations in print that are highly personal and far from universally valid. It's a crap shoot and a mine field. I get my vibes from looking at the food and trying to parse the ambiance, asking myself, "Is this food you want to eat, is this a room you want to spend an evening in."

                                            1. re: mangeur

                                              A good point, and I didn't mean to criticize your use of the term "approachable." When I go to restaurants I don't expect to have my head explode; I only want a well-cooked, flavorful meal with quality ingredients, whether it be a three-star establishment or a traditional bistro. Yes, when I spend a fortune, I do expect something exceptional but it doesn't have to make me swoon in order to enjoy it. Le Grand Vefour, for example, isn't at the cutting edge of "modernist" cuisine but I had as much pleasure there at lunch last year as I had at L'Astrance the year before, though the latter falls into the "modernist," molecular category, I assume, and does amaze with its combinations and technique. As for bistros, places like Au Bascou, where the food is mainly traditional also gives me pleasure because it is well-cooked and well-presented. And since we're offering our advice on how people should spend their money, shouldn't we be judgmental?

                                            2. re: zeimar

                                              Places like Chez Rene (and I agree about the dry chicken) and L'Ambassade D'Auvergne were terrific 30 years ago; I think now, both locals and hip visitors have moved on.
                                              I cannot read minds, despite my training, but I think all writers, myself included, write for a specific audience, our specific audience, and our demographics are different.
                                              Me, I like to go to new places, running one 100-120 E a couple with wine, but others point to the under 20 E a meal places (oh yes) or starred places.
                                              I'm sure there are other considerations in reading between the lines in guide-books or blogs; for instance several food guides have reviews that have been recycled year after year.
                                              Try Le Fooding, A Nous Paris or Alain Fusion's site, or Caroline Mignot, Paris by Mouth and restoaparis.

                                      4. Your list worries me. With so many specific goals, I hope that you pack a healthy dose of realism. Not every well reviewed product or dining room pleases everyone. Be prepared for a few "ho-hums" and outright "I don't get it"s. (DH frequently asks, after being dragged across town for some morsel, "So, who'd you get this address from?")

                                        And of course at the same time, leave room for those little personal finds that add soul to your visit.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: mangeur

                                          Don't worry... this was a list of everything I had gathered. I want a few good reservations, and to also have a back up list if we're out and about.

                                          Last week I was completely overwhelmed and stated out loud that I didn't even care what or where I ate. LOL

                                          I can go with the flow, so a baguette, pate and some great cheese will make me happy.

                                          I agree with being realistic. It's all about the experience. I came home from Spain last year with wine, spices and 10 pound of cheese, but not one memorable meal to speak of. I wanted to put a little more work into this years trip.

                                          1. re: tastebudseattle

                                            You did great home work. And I see you are continuing to short-list your short lists of your short lists.
                                            And indeed you can see that your vision of your trip isin sharper and sharper focus.

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              tastebudseattle
                                              Is this your first trip?
                                              Even if not, don't over-plan, as a person once told me in China, "it's no big deal if you miss the bus, you'll get to walk around and find things others have not."
                                              Paris is for walking (flanneuring) and looking and eating; not that you can drop in anywhere and have the most fabulous meal ever.
                                              After 50 years here, the one thing I do do is have back-ups to plans and restaurants so if the power blows, or the basement is flooded, I have Plan B. Maybe your iPhone can do it but I don't think so.
                                              The main thing is to have fun not hit all the buttons.

                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                Hi John,

                                                Yes, it's my first trip to Paris. I'll heed your advice and not over-plan. I just like to have all of my options out there. :-)

                                                Quick question: I was reading your review of A. Noste and just went to the website. Did it close for the summer?

                                                "Julien Duboué will be happy to welcome you soon reentry into his new restaurant". Maybe it was the english translation??

                                                At any rate, Frenchie is off the list and I would love to reserve here.

                                                Cheers,
                                                Paula

                                                1. re: tastebudseattle

                                                  It just opened a week ago, so if you call now it's in full flower.

                                        2. Hello T-buds,

                                          I just got back from a trip to Europe spending 7 out of 14 days in Paris. My list was very much shaped by August closures but with the help of CH, I found some great finds and found a few when I got there.

                                          I stayed in the Bastille, so the 10th, 11th, 3rd and 4th were my primary focus points but instead of waxing on and on about my trip, I'll offer a few new things to add to your list...

                                          For lunch in the 6th (it's a bit busy and a little touristy but if you walk up at 12:30, you'll get in) I would highly recommend...

                                          Le Comptoir du Relais-had a delicious, fun people watching lunch

                                          For "A chunk of aged comté"-I highly recommend...

                                          Fromagerie Laurent Dubois in the 4th across the river from you. They will cryovac cheese/butter to carry home. FYI- US customs has relaxed it's stance on carrying back unpasteurized, raw-milk cheese, aged less than 60 days...I declared everything. So, you can go nuts in there. All they really cares about is whether it's for personal consumption or for resell. So, the 4 pounds I brought back seemed okay to them...I must have looked hungry.

                                          And if you are in the Marais...around the corner from Dubois you'll find a great wine shop named Les Caprices de l'Instant. They offer hard time find...easy to hide in your luggage wines that you won't find at home.

                                          And what the heck...carry your wine and cheese into Sherry Butt and have a pretty decent hipster cocktail. It's a hip cocktail bar on a small, one way street around the corner.

                                          And why not...there's nothing like walking back to your hotel with a buzz and a treasure trove of delicacies under your arm.

                                          Speaking of drinks...I had some fun and a few tasty cocktails in the basement of The Beef Club in the 1st. The bar is run by a group dubbed the Experimental Cocktail Club Crew. They have an outpost in the 6th called the Prescription Cocktail Club. It will likely be more hipster than buttoned up but most likely good for a drink or 3.

                                          If you are looking for a restaurant away from your side of the Seine...2 restaurants from my stay that I thoroughly enjoyed are:

                                          Les Déserteurs (dinner)
                                          Clown Bar (lunch)

                                          Both in the 11th and both delicious. Side note, Francois Hadji-Lazaro sat next to me at Clown Bar. So, I had a great story and a great meal.

                                          Good luck and have fun!

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: jacksonkev

                                            Wow!!! This is great. I've read all about the guys from the experimental cocktail club.... It's right up my ally!!

                                            Thank you!!!

                                            1. re: jacksonkev

                                              Jackson, thanks for your report back. Just out of curiosity, where did you end up for your group meal ?

                                              Upthread, I recommended Prescription Cocktail Club as well as its sister bar Curio Parlor. Maybe we can entice tastebuds to make a full tour of all the Experimental Cocktail empire while she's in Paris. (Cue William Walton's Façade with Sitwell poem Scotch Rhapsody in your best Highlands accent "another little drink wouldn't do us any harm").

                                              Just FYI for some who might be confused, there are 3 Laurent Dubois cheese shops... Place Maubert in the 5th, rue Saint Antoine near St Paul in the lower Marais, and rue Lourmel in the 15th.

                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                Agreed, the best prescription to aid with the effects of a transatlantic flight would be a full dosage of Prescription Cocktail Club. In fact, I think I saw William Walton sitting at the piano...or at least I thought i did.

                                                Hopefully, tastebuds heeds our advise.

                                                For our group dinner, we ended up at Allard. I left it to the last moment to book and inflated prices aside, it really fit the bill. We took the chunnel from London earlier that afternoon and the group was tired and we had a cranky tired 7 year old in tow. So an easy, comforting french bistro was what we needed and what we got.

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  Would not have had the same experiences without all of the great advice here. Oui, je vous remercie!

                                                2. re: jacksonkev

                                                  TasteBuds doesn't have to corss the river to find Dubois cheese. They have a shop in the Place Maubert in the 5me. they will also pack for shipping.

                                                3. Of course! I live in San Francisco and the cocktail revolution or evolution depending on how you look at crept it's way across the US from NYC to us about 5 years ago. Paris is in it's early stages...so, it feels a bit like getting into a time machine and seeing, hearing and tasting the excitement again for the first time. It was a bit funny as well...a mixologist below The Beef Club singed all the hair on my arm trying to impress with his flaming whatever he was making. Was hilarious.

                                                  On another note...there's a great movement in France centered around unfiltered, funky, "orange wine". My recommendation is jump in feet first...it's weird and can be quite fun and you won't find any in the sates.

                                                  Le Verre Vole
                                                  Clown Bar
                                                  Le Chateaubriand (and Le Dauphin)

                                                  all had great ones.

                                                  1. PS. I didn't use it because I did not have an international phone-plan--but you might want to check-out David Lebovitz's pastry-app.

                                                    1. For caramels, I would also suggest Henri Le Roux....his "CBS" are heaven and travel very well; and since you prefer the galette to the crepe, you should try his buckwheat caramel..very special. Un Dimanche was in our courtyard, just steps from the apartment, after one breakfast, we opted for croissants from Kayser and confiture from Ferber picked up at Herme in the apartment. As an alternative to Briezh, if you are down near the Orsay, look at the Galette Café..we liked it a lot, felt that the sourcing of product was superb, as was the service. Also, last week Maille was still undergoing renovations and was closed, don't remember if I saw a sign about reopening.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: VegasGourmet

                                                        I second Henri Le Roux - I searched for the ‘best caramels’ back in 2013.
                                                        Here was my thread
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890155
                                                        But, in summary, here were my findings (and please add l’éclair du genie to your list – there’s a thread on it elsewhere):

                                                        1. Reporting back on the taste test!
                                                        Tried several different caramels and 'most' were just too sweet with no levels of flavour.
                                                        Meert stood out for their buttery flavour, although it seemed almost 'too far' verging on coconut.
                                                        Henri Le Roux won overall (again) - also a high butter % but modified by a hint of burned sugar at the end (think creme brulee). Easily the most complex set of flavours.
                                                        Sadly, no tarts, but they do serve ice cream. The salted caramel was disappointing - 1-dimensional. But the Diablo Rose sorbet was magnificent, with complex flavour and superb mouth feel. A mixture of banana (mouth feel), raspberry and passion fruit, giving both sweet and sour sensations.
                                                        And a final discovery (just round the corner from Meert); the eclairs from 'l'eclair de genie' were astounding - best I've ever had. Taste as good as they look - maybe better!

                                                        1. re: estufarian

                                                          L'éclair de Génie is quite good, though some flavours are a bit wonky if you're not into rose water or white chocolate. The frozen éclairs are bizarre, though I enjoyed them (caveat: it was quite hot).

                                                          1. re: yakionigiri

                                                            Rose water is indeed an example of the singularity of personal taste. I can't handle it while others adore it, vis a vis Hermé's Ispihan series.

                                                        2. re: VegasGourmet

                                                          You can mail order Henri LeRoux caramels anytime you like from their website. They are not outrageously expensive to ship. Personally, I wouldn't cross Paris for them, but YMMV.

                                                        3. Rereading your list of products to try, I will add our MO. Often we intend to buy a quantity of something and have learned the sad way that buying a single piece is often smart. I have abandoned in a trashcan more than a few sachets of expensive mistakes.

                                                          I just ask to buy one piece to taste. Then if it passes muster, I buy the intended quantity. We all have different tastes and food experiences. There is no reason to think that you will love something just because it is a current food-press favorite.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                            1. re: mangeur

                                                              Such sensible advice, mangeur. My own sad lesson is throwing out the world's best (... fill in the blank - lime pickles, dashi flakes, sugar biscuits ...) because the said object turns out to have no place in my regular cooking or eating after having been triumphantly acquired and carried back from somewhere exotic. At least these days I give away as soon as I realize I am hoarding, not consuming.

                                                              For tastebud, sorry to keep piling on, but rillettes, country pates and confit are a big favourite in my household as drink-time nibbles, late-night snacks, and very successful gifts for greedy friends and family. Highly portable in cans, just heavy if you've been over-enthusiastic.

                                                              Get a couple for your train rides and figure whether you want more for home after. Oteiza carries a huge line but even the supermarket stuff can be fine.

                                                            2. My shopping list for our trip next week has many of the same items on it.
                                                              We schlep our Maille jars with us every time we go. Just checked their site and their Paris store just re-opened after renovations. I also plan on bringing back caramels from Henri le Roux or Jacques Genin, aged Comte cheese, chocolate from Patrick Roger,Brittany Butter and Ruinart Champagne.

                                                              Parnassien, I was interested in your comments about Bordier Butter. We brought some back this past December and I didn't like it as well as the sea salt butter we had purchased at a Carefour in the previous trip! Just my two cents.

                                                              We will only be in Paris for three nights (rest of trip will be Normandy and Brittany. We are staying near rue Montorgueil. Restaurants:
                                                              Pirouette
                                                              Bistro Bellet or Bistro Paul Bert
                                                              Saotico

                                                              I also plan on going to Simrane in the 6th for their beautiful quilts. I hope it's still in business.

                                                              I will report back, hopefully while on the trip.

                                                              1. UPDATE:

                                                                Thanks for the lovely responses. I appreciate all of your feedback!!! Any thoughts on the revised list below??

                                                                Reservations:

                                                                Franck Enee
                                                                Chez L'Ami Jean
                                                                Jeanne B rue Lepic
                                                                David Toutain

                                                                Purchase list:

                                                                1. Caramels from Jacques Genin - try 1 each of flavors and purchase fav's (mango passionfruit). Also, Henri Le Roux....for his "CBS" caramels.

                                                                2. Mustard made by monks sold at the Comptoir des Abbayes

                                                                3. M Pouret white vinegar and banyuls vinegar of Le Guinelle available at Le Dernier Goutte in the 6th and the small provisions store at the covered marche at Place Aligre. I swear I've seen this brand in the US? Maybe lighten my load here...

                                                                4. The best "chunk of Comte" I can find at Laurence Dubois' Place Maubert in the 5me.stand in the Place Maubert, AND Maroilles as well as Marcel Petite 40 month at Ferme St. Hubert on Rue Rochechouart. - This will never make it home... I'll eat it on the train to Avignon.

                                                                5. Jam - 1 from Christine Ferber at La Grand Épicerie; 1 from the fab confiture shop on the lower part of the rue des Martyrs - same side of the street as as Arnaud Delmontel- (Parigi, do you know the name?); 1 from Restaurant Cristal de Sel on the rue Mademoiselle in the 15th - the "fait maison" line of jams, AND Christian Constant apricot - Rue Fleurus in the 6th ( try the strawberry sorbet if they have it)

                                                                6. Fleur de sel de Guérande and grey sel from G Detou

                                                                7. Foie gras and great duck and ham products - Oteiza on Blvd St Michel near Blvd St. Germain.

                                                                8. Pates a tartiner from Monoprix (confiture du Lait, a sort of a milk jam, that is smooth and slightly caramelized. Under their label Reflets de France).

                                                                9. Pierre Hermé Pates de Fruits - get the box that has the teal colored cover because that is the assorted variety.

                                                                10. Ble Sucre for Madelaines

                                                                11. Macarons - try them all

                                                                Apparently I'll need to bring an additional bag for all this, as I have not even made it to Avignon and surrounding areas for wine and whatever else I fancy. I think I'm in big trouble! :-) Need to regroup.

                                                                Backup Restaurant List:

                                                                L'Assiette -cassoulet, pork belly, verveine souffle and creme caramel.
                                                                Bistro Belhara-their pigeon and baby lamb are perfect
                                                                Saotica-had two great meals in the spring, priced well also.
                                                                Le Comptoir du Relais - people watching and lunch
                                                                Pirouette
                                                                Le Flore
                                                                Ze Kitchen Galerie
                                                                Youpi et Voila or Le Verre Vole
                                                                A. Noste
                                                                Le Petit Celestin

                                                                I'm in Paris for 1 week and Avignon for 1. I've cut back so I can find my own hidden treasures. Also doing a private tour with Wendy Lyn - I'm sure she'll share her fav's as well.

                                                                As always, I'm open to constructive criticism...

                                                                See you next week!!!

                                                                Merci,
                                                                Paula

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: tastebudseattle

                                                                  I would put a vote in for A Moste and Petit Celestin and a new one - Nina on the Rue du Chateau, guy trained with Ledeuil and spent time in Peru so he does very interesting combinations.

                                                                  1. re: tastebudseattle

                                                                    #1 a requirement is to try Genin pate de fruit, not as sweet as others
                                                                    #3 M Pouret available at most supermarkets and again wonderful
                                                                    A different brand of Banyuls vinegar is more easily available in states and their muscat vinegar is not available in states.
                                                                    #7 Very decent foie gras available at Maubert-Mutualite market.
                                                                    #8 At Dubois for a bit more money is a servicable confiture de lait if you are short on time.

                                                                    Lastly if you want company on anything, give me a yell, my email on info page.

                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                      "Lastly if you want company on anything, give me a yell, my email on info page."

                                                                      Take him up on it. This guy is very knowledgeable and besides is a real hoot. You won't regret it.

                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                        Fantastic!!! I'll look you up.

                                                                        -Paula

                                                                    2. re: tastebudseattle

                                                                      tastebuds,

                                                                      Your trip sounds amazing!

                                                                      One thing I really enjoyed during my recent trip was checking out the small, neighborhood wine bars.

                                                                      Living in San Francisco where we don't do this genre very well, I was quite pleased with what I found. If you're up for it, I'd try a wine bar in the edgier 11th on one of your nights off for a casual, lively, local scene. Most of these can be booked when you get there (that is if they take reservations). If so, just call the day before around 4:30-5 before service starts (almost everyone speaks English or just learn a few sentences to get by). If not, go a little early. We Americans like eating earlier anyway, no?

                                                                      I'd recommend one of these in the 11th...

                                                                      Au Passage (had a great people watching night filled with lots of fun wine and really simple, well executed dishes)

                                                                      Au Deux Amis (a little harder to book but kind of perfect)

                                                                      Le Dauphin (sister and next door to Le Chateaubriand...some like it more than Le Chateaubriand. I only drank but the food looked great)

                                                                      Additionally, in the 2nd there's the Frenchie offshoot-
                                                                      Frenchie Bar à Vins. (I did not make it here as it was closed but I bet it's fun)

                                                                      One other thing from beyond left field...if you are a fan at all of Gummy Bears buy some while you're there. Even better...if you connect in Frankfurt or Munich even better...buy them in the airport. A few years ago I had a 2 hour layover in Frankfurt and I stumbled upon Gummy Bear nirvana. I'm not sure what they do to the Gummy Bears before they ship them to the US but it's wrong. They are so squishy and beautiful in a sick and habit forming way when foraged in their native continent and I don't 'really' like sweets.

                                                                      1. re: tastebudseattle

                                                                        You seem to have dropped Jacques Genin... just visiting is an experience. Also, cheese is seasonal, and you seem to have made up your mind on what you'll get before asking. You might want to ask what's best at the moment given your preference for taste, texture, and when you are going to serve it. Perhaps it will be something you've never heard of... for my part, I can't imagine a transatlantic trip without asking for something 'liquide' that will definitely not make it back to the States.

                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                          Hi Steve- I'm most definitely hitting up Genin, and I'll bring home all the cheese I can, although I'm sure it will be eaten along the way.

                                                                          Thanks so much for the great tips!!!!

                                                                          1. re: tastebudseattle

                                                                            Actually aged comte or other hard cheese (beaufort, older brebis etc) is good stuff to plan on bringing home, since it survives quite happily in a vacuum-sealed bag.

                                                                            Don't get a huge chunk - get moderate-sized pieces say 250 g in separate vacuum-sealed baggies which can be opened and consumed quickly.

                                                                      2. Amazing list of places! I am actually from Paris and living in NYc. I've been missing France so much especially for food and just wanted to share this subscription box service I found called Try The World. They have a Paris Box and many other from different countries but the Paris one is definitely worth trying (salted caramels, fleur de sel, nougat ;) ) http://www.trytheworld.com

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: anaelleazoulay

                                                                          I saw this... Looks interesting!!!! Waiting until I see a few more countries on their list before I sign up. :-)