Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by winemike

  1. I have been to l'Arnsbourg two weeks ago and it's the first time I return in three years.

    I was blown away... It's back on more "classical" ground, with the few hints to molecular cuisine completely gone from the table. While it was never too much, it's a part that did not attract me much in his food.

    Now, while still very inventive, his cuisine is clearly on a more classical note. I do love it.

    Superb wine list that has seen serious improvement over the last few years too.

    A definite three stars experience. I will return without a doubt.

  2. Interestingly, a few years ago, I sat next to Mylene Farmer (the famous French singer) in a Japanese restaurant in Paris (cannot even remember the name) but what was funny is that I mentioned to my (back then) girlfriend that my "neighbour" was a really good looking girl... to which she replied "yeah... and she's famous too"... only then have I realised who she was. I'm not a fan of the singer but, wow, she's good looking!... Anyway, I remember the okonomi yaki better than the singer :smile:

  3. Thanks guys.

    I have little time so cannot go in lengthy detail (can answer questions though and will try to post more details later).

    We had couple of starters that do not deserve any particular attention, one was a scallop and oyster in a crustace sauce... all nice but somehow disjointed, no harmony in the dish... a letdown. And a potato cake with burgundy truffles which was pretty tasteless though wonderfully presented.

    We then had the famous poulette de bresse en vessie which is most definitely a delicious dish. Cooked to perfection, the poutlry was carved just as perfectly and the vegetables, cooked "a l'anglaise" were a perfect companion to the poulette... not to forget the great foie gras cream sauce that went with it all. Simple and delicious is the best description I can find and in that sense, fully agree with Julot. The wine service was very good and the wine list more "interesting" than fantastic.

    My global feeling is that Alain Chapel just "froze" at his death and that the place survives on his talent and aura. The setting is beautiful and certainly worth a detour. For once, and though I normally can't care less, I have to agree with the Michelin guide... worth a detour if you pass by but certainly not a trip.


    - Mike

  4. Julot... If there is stuffed pied de porc on the menu, I will not hesitate a millisecond.

    I've had an absolutely amazing one from here a couple of months ago... still on the search for the best on the surface of the planet...

  5. I will be driving to Lyon and then Roanne (going to Troisgros, of course :biggrin: ) and have booked Alain Chapel for the night before.

    I have never been there but know the wine list is amazing...

    Has anyone been recently? How was it? Any particular dish to choose?.. or avoid?

    Many thanks for your input in advance.


    - Michael

  6. [Jardin des Remparts]

    To each his own, but I thought that these concepts were way off...the menu too inconsistent...and overall, not a fabulous experience. They were less than half occupied so perhaps some others agree.

    You're not alone. I had one of the most mediocre Michelin starred meals there. Food appalling. Service appalling. Incompetent sommelier (!!)... Apart from the setting, a meal I will not forget... unfortunately.


    - Michael

  7. Good pick, Sharon. Both on the wine and the shop!

    If price is no issue, and only in that case, try Lavinia, boulevard de la Madeleine. Silly prices but you'll find what you're after.

    La Cave des papilles, rue Daguerre in the 14th had a very good Rhone section but I have not been in years... it might still be worth taking a look.


    - Michael

  8. So watch what you say folk.  Our voice is heard outside the club.

    They claim they care about customer feedback, indeed.

    I also happen to know that there are "preferred" customers whose comments they value higher than those from "simple" customers.

    As a "simple" customer, I have written quite a few dinner reviews and sent them to them and they actually read my comments with some attention. They noted what I liked and did not like and I had a personalised reply each time. Of course, they never argued any point...

    So, how much does this count in the printed guide? i'm not sure it does that much at all. There are still quite some inconsistencies. The star rewards remain mysterious and obviously inconsistsent. It is obvious to a lot of people that no, it is not ONLY what's in the plate that matters. The 3 star category pretty much a joke (not even half of them are actually worth the trip)... -of course, this is all only MVHO-

    It's been debated many times here and on other boards, so no need to go in details about the reasons why the guide somehow keeps having some influence... but I do believe that marketing still is the main guide to the guide...

    The rumours "game" is always fun, of course :wink:

    Don't know for Paris. But for Strasbourg, I've heard "La Casserole", "Le Pont Aux Chats" and Buerehiesel for one star. The one that clearly deserves it, IMHO, is "Le Pont Aux Chats".

  9. A general remark about high end restaurant wine lists is that rare are those which offer great QPRs. The lists are, as you say, predictable.

    Great names, great vintages and not so great prices.

    I don't live in Paris (and have not been in quite some time) but think it's worse there than "en province".

    When I really want to focus on wines, I eat at thome. Cook simple dishes to leave all the space for the wines.

    The only downside?... the bottle is not replaced for free if it faulty.

    Interesting would be, as you say as well, to get "good wines at the right age"... But have rarely seen such things in "top" places. Exceptions exist.

  10. VivreManger, I must admit that I find you're quite "motivated" if your train arrives at 2pm in Strasbourg and you have to be back at the same train station at 6pm, wanting to spend time at L'Auberge de l'Ill in between. You will be able to make it, but you'll be rushing.

    Without discussing the restaurant itself, it is quite a stretch from Strasbourg (60 km). A taxi will take you 45 minutes to get there...

    L'Arnsbourg is just as far in the other direction (even a bit further, I think). And the cuisine is in the opposite direction too. JG Klein is a soul mate of Ferran Adria, Haeberlin not quite...

    Buerehiesel has given back its stars because Antoine Westermann retired and his son Eric took the restaurant over. I have not had time to visit it since the takeover but it's clearly changed. More simple, less formal. Cheaper... but the dishes look good and the reviews too. I will have to drop by when I can.

    It depends on what food style you're after but Strasbourg does have quite some good places to offer. If the plate content is the most important to you, I suggest my favourite restaurant in Strasbourg: "Le Pont Aux Chats" rue de la Krutenau. It's Buerehiesel (when it had the 3 stars) without the price tag. Even the chef is the same (sous-chef at Buerehiesel for 13 years)...

    And stroll around in Strasbourg is indeed something to be done. It's a wonderful city...

  11. There are indeed some people in France who, while they wouldn't dream of affording two- or three-star restaurants on a monthly basis, will go to great lengths to be able to visit, say, Troisgros once in a lifetime or one or two-star places once in a year. This is part of the French respect for cuisine gastronomique. People who set their priorities this way do exist. But they are by no means a general case. Most of them see "haute cuisine" through a haze of legend, or through the image conveyed by the media and publishing. Many do not know what it tastes like (and I've known some of them not to like it once they taste it). Not everybody is impressed by it.

    I do completely agree with this.

    And also, quite some people I know, who do visit such "haute cuisine" restaurants (read: 2/3 Michelin stars) don't actually care/understand the cooking. It's the glassware, the service, the setting that impresses them...

    Nevertheless, there is more "interest" in haute cuisine in France in general than there is in other countries - in my experience. I've lived several years in North America where "haute cuisine" is to almost no-one's interest. People just don't care about it. In the UK, it's a trend/fashion but not something which will make the news... And in Germany (where I currently reside), no-one cares.

    I agree that it does not make the French more aware of what "haute cuisine" actually is - when in the plate. But the interest has been there for longer and splurging in restaurants more of an admitted "splurge" than elsewhere. So, comparatively, I think there's more awareness or interest. But as you rightly point out, the vast majority of people don't care/know much about it. Holding a French passport is certainly not giving any advantage in understanding cooking either.

  12. I couldn't agree more; I think that without "Oui Chef," Cyril Lignac would be one more fairly common guy and we all know examples of persons elevated by the media to star status when their cooking is pathetic.

    All the critics who've written books recently talk about the symbiotic need of chefs for critics and vv; without publicity one has no business, without chefs the other has no profession.

    Yes indeed. The media are playing a considerable role in promoting certain chefs vs others. And the "media" dimension of some chefs, have -undoubtedly- helped them to reach "star" status. I don't want to start any argument here, so won't name any chef, but I believe that the star system has also enabled/helped some chefs to get 2/3 Michelin stars when the cooking was not quite up there. But of course, that's just my opinion...

    Re. TV chefs, suffice to say that Maite (who does not remember her famous fish head chopping :wink: ) does have a background in marketing/communication. Not quite in cooking.

    Then again, does it matter that much in a TV show?!...


  13. Thanks for the link, John. Most interesting...

    May I just correct you as the article states that most French are actually interested in haute cuisine, not just a minority of privileged people...



    Thanks Mike, I clearly saw only one negative not two.

    I am wondering what "interested" means. And how different, in this case, it is of "being acquainted".

    You can be interested in cubist art and be able to view it physically after paying a few euros to a museum. This does not apply to haute cuisine. Most of the population has very little idea of what haute cuisine is, while being aware of its prestige.

    Well... not wanting to play the devil's advocate here but I know quite some people (family, friends, acquaintances) who have been indulging "haute cuisine". That would be a restaurant with 2 or 3 Michelin stars. It certainly does not mean they "know" haute cuisine well but would have experienced it. These people are not rich and have made a substantial effort to afford this food/restaurant.

    I think France is a country where a worker will have potentially eaten at, say Troisgros, once in his lifetime. At least, there'd have been more chances for this French worker than his British, German or American counterpart...

    But of course, I'm not discussing how this is evolving and what the future might be.



  14. Margaret, my american acquaintances, who visit France -and love food- are prepared to splurge on starred food and price, in these circumstances, is less of a concern.

    Most my French acquaintances put a price (incl. beverages) that is relative to what they'd normally pay in a restaurant. Say €30 to €40 per head. 3 times that price is what they're prepared to spend in a multi starred place. It's a high price, when looking at it this way.

    We know, though, that the pricing curve is exponential. And that's what these people don't factor in...

    This is how I read it, anyway...

    It's also interesting to realise that what people look at, is fame through media. Who the heck is Cyril Ligniac? We're in the star system, here. And France is no exception.

    I firmly believe that the people who have been surveyed know these guys simply because of the media coverage they get. Some chefs are obviously more media-friendly than others...

  15. Thanks for the update on "La Table du Gourmet".

    Whatever the food is (the one time I have been a few years ago, it was alright...), the service was so BAD that I'll never go there again. I can't even start to describe it... we did not get insulted, which was about the only positive thing...

  16. Interesting topic.

    I am passionate about wine. And I did visit quite some restaurants because of their wine lists. The 3 star places usually have a very prestigious wine list but not necessarily outstanding -read "world class"- wine advice.

    The problem being that "personal" interpretation of the sommeliers is not necessarily in line with your own taste in wine. I have had unfortunate experiences quite some times with sommeliers thinking "their" taste is universal.

    So, now, my rule is not to follow the sommelier's advices, in 3* places or anywhere else. I might miss some nice stuff but "in average", I'll win. I know this from experience.

    Now... the best sommelier would be the one who can analyse and help you choose a wine that fits your taste and match well with the food.

    This, unfortunately, is difficult to "measure". And titles/stars/medals don't help...

  17. Joan,

    thanks for your response.

    I do agree with your points. I do think that dressing up is required when going to a nice restaurant. But I think that people should not take this too seriously either. I eat less in restaurants (starred or not) today than I used to in the past (wine is the main reason) but I did much appreciate the change in attitude towards dress code. I go to a restaurant to have a relaxed time, enjoying food and wine. While I'll dress accordingly to the formality of the restaurant, I'm open towards other dressing code.

    I've been more shocked by people (customers) showing off, being loud, smoking (despite being asked to refrain from it) and giving the waiting staff attitude than someone else behaving appropriately and not wearing jacket+tie.

    Re. smoking, I think this is absolutely brilliant. I have been to L'Arnsbourg on saturday night and this restaurant is non-smoking. People just left the table to have a smoke in the lounge or even outside. They did not seem bothered whatsoever and needless to say I was extremely happy not having my food spoiled by this awful smell...


    - Mike

  18. Thanks for the report...

    But I have to ask... how good was the food at Senderens, other than "fine"??

    About wearing a jacket, I take your comment as tongue in the cheek... surely, you're not serious about wanting men to wear a jacket when they go to a restaurant (whatever the number of stars), are you?....

  19. I would not be aware of something special the French would expect...

    A bottle of wine is perfectly appropriate and the tradition (as I know it) is that the host keeps it to drink at another occasion with the guest who brought the wine. Indeed for the reason that the host is supposed to have chosen the wine to go with his food.

    Alternatively, as mentioned, a bottle of Champagne for the aperitif is a good idea.

    Chocolates are welcome, as are flowers (and...ermm.. yes, no chrysanthemums)...

    These would be the presents that I'd take to someone I do not know in France.

    Now, if I know them well, I try to take something they'd like. Usually food items, such as a truffle, premium olive oil, cured ham, cheese... chocolate of course... you name it.

  20. Given star inflation, I think Michelin has to create a new category of 4 star!

    Well, Francois Simon says in another article on the subject entitled “Tempest in a glass of water,” that 2007 is a warm-up for 2008 when they're going to get tougher. The rest of the piece really just tells of the reactions of the whinners and losers.

    I've heard, I don't know how many years, that *next* year the Michelin was going to get tougher...

    It's a long time I simply don't trust this guide anymore (for years). And giving a third start to Helene Darroze is so laughable it immediately clears any leftover doubt... (if ever I wanted to look at it again).

    It used to be interesting when I was travelling and wanted to eat out in a place where I knew I'd get "Michelin" stuff. Nowadays, it's not even in the car anymore... I use it as a phonebook from time to time.

  • Create New...