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Posts posted by hshiau

  1. $55 per day is really tough. I'd suggest something really light (under $10) for one of your daily meals. One option is to have a nice lunch and then head to Noodletown in Chinatown for a good $5 dinner. That leaves you with many prix fixe options for lunch like Jean Georges, and the Bar Room and the Modern.

    If you want a larger dinner one night, you can always do the Burger Joint at the Parker Meridian for lunch.

  2. for dinner the night you're in the Union Square area: Devi, Casa Mono, Fleur de Sel, or Gramercy Tavern are all good options.  A couple of more blocks will get you to Tabla and Eleven Madison Park.

    good call on Devi or Casa Mono.

    the Tavern Room at GT or the Bread Bar at Tabla are indeed options.

    FDS, GT proper, Tabla proper, and EMP are all outside of their price range.

    I suppose this depends on how much alcohol is consumed. Since I don't really drink, $70 pp is a lot easier. :laugh:

  3. for dinner the night you're in the Union Square area: Devi, Casa Mono, Fleur de Sel, or Gramercy Tavern are all good options. A couple of more blocks will get you to Tabla and Eleven Madison Park. The W Union Square would be good for drinks although you might run into some of those $300 shoes and $400 bags. But that can happen anywhere in the city.

    While you're staying at the Waldorf, you could always go to Brasserie which is right around the corner. Don't know the consensus here but we've enjoyed it.

  4. I've heard there's like art and like museums and like cultural stuff and this big metal tower.  Does that stuff actually exist?

    It does. I have seen the big metal tower with my own eyes.

    Is it worth seeking out in between otherwise perpetual eating?

    Nope. ("That stuff", I mean.) Though they're extremely nice when you pass them, and the tower's pretty magnificent. Many (many) years ago I gave up visiting these things in favor of what I really like to do when I'm in Europe: visit specialty stores that sell foods, ingredients, and the equipment what to cook them with. Cheese shops. Charcuteries. Bakeries. Patisseries. Open air food markets. And hypermarkets - yes, very especially much, hypermarkets! (Love to see what they're selling in theirs as opposed to what we're selling in ours.) I'd tell you to try fit in a visit to a mega 'Auchan' or 'Cora' if you can, unless this doesn't intruigue you. (The idea of the foie gras nibbles and portion-sized duck treats and "Stoufayr's" frozen Cassoulet really puts a smile on my face.) I plan my entire day around food-related shops, and if I happen to pass something else of interest, I admire it and look it up when I get back to the hotel - that's how I found out what that big metal tower was.

    I would disagree with that. As someone who just went to Paris for the first time, you need to experience more than the food. It's a completely different world from what we've got here in the US. The history, architecture, etc all needs to be experienced once just to really bring home the "Wow! I'm in Paris" idea. Food experiences are great but we're talking about a first trip to Paris.

  5. Day 2:

    Still not really hungry after day 1, we re-evaluated our dining plans and decided to cancel our lunches. This way, hopefully, we'd be in good shape for dinner. Also, skipping lunch allows us to see more of the city.

    We headed out early for Notre Dame and managed to climb all 400+ steps! Then a late breakfast across the river at Cafe Panis. After Notre Dame and St. Chapelle, we walked through Ile Saint Louis and "lunched" at Berthillon, if you can call ice cream lunch.

    Then we did some hardcore "museuming" at the Orsay and Rodin. By then, we were exhausted once again and headed back for a quick nap. This time, we did get up for dinner at Drouant.

    My wife started with the tarte a la truffe. While we both love truffles, it was a bit overwhelming after awhile. I started with the "4 coins du monde", which consisted of a japanese broth with ginger, citronelle and coriander, Sumac spits of lamb with crystallized lemon Hommos, stuffed shrimps, and italian style pie. The broth was definitely the best. The lamb and pie were both fine. The stuffed shrimp were tiny. Not sure how you stuff anything into shrimp that small. :)

    My wife then had the entrocote blonde d'aqui, basically a steak. Flavorful but a bit tough. I had the medallion de biche (doe), which was very good. The mains came with some vegetables on the side which didn't really do anything to add to the dishes. I'm not sure I saw the point. The concept might be something to reconsider.

    Desert came last and we shared "les grande classiques": millefeuille, a paris-brest, rice pudding and a baba with old rum. We enjoyed all but the baba. It was just too strong for either of us. Perhaps we should have realized that from the start. No more baba for me.

    But all in all, I would still consider this an excellent meal. Service was attentive but not overbearing. The decor was very inviting and the restaurant, mostly empty when we arrived, was full by the time we left.

  6. While it's usually safe to assume that upscale restaurants have one waiter who speaks English, in the case of Violin, it's Madame (Catherine) herself and perhaps the others are used to depending on her.  In any case carry a small dictionary like the "A-Z of French Food" Scribo Editions, available at Brentano or Editions Scribo, BP 467, Paris Cedex 11.  I'm not sure it's fair to expect anyone to translate every dish for you.  Although an amusing cultural difference is that on weekends it is not infrequent to see one member of an elderly (that means my age) couple read the entire menu aloud to her sighted spouse.

    John, you're absolutely right. Unfortunately, it was my fault that we didn't have a handy "food dictionary" on hand. Those couple of sick days right before our trip threw me for quite a loop and I forgot a bunch of things. Lesson learned.

  7. I'm finally getting around to writing a recap of our Paris trip. Unfortunately, it starts with both of us getting food poisoning 2 days before the trip. By the time we fly out, we can eat but it's not as appetizing as we had hoped.

    We had a layover at Dulles (Washington DC) and actually had a nice little meal at a wine bar called Vino Volo in the international terminal. We shared 2 appetizers: a chickpea and chorizo sausage chili and ziti and cheese gratin with black truffle oil. Both were very nice but I especially like the spice in the chili. My wife had a glass of the Vinum Cellars Slow Lane Cabernet Sauvignon. I didn't like it as much as she did. Not sure it went with our dishes particularly well.

    We got to Paris around 8am and our room at the Intercontinental wasn't ready so we went walking. Checked out Arc du Triomphe, then walked towards the Eiffel Tower. Grabbed breakfast at Fleurus Cafe at 39 Ave Kleber on the way. I had many croissants during the trip but I think I liked the one here the best. Also noticed the accompanying jam was not grape and strawberry but prune and groseilles. Cool!

    After we went up the Eiffel Tower, which btw feels like I'm a construction worker in a skyscraper that only has girders, we headed over to Violin D'Ingres for lunch. My wife, while not fluent, can converse reasonably well in french. However, we were at a loss for many of the items on the menu. Asking the maitre'd, who seemed to be the one taking the orders, didn't help. Even though it was obvious we were floundering, he would only answer questions about specific menu items rather than taking us through it. Anyway, for starters, I had the Millefeuille de langue et foie gras, facon Lucullus, betteraves a l'huile de noix (It looks like I didn't write down my wife's starter). The foie gras was delicious. My wife had the veritable cassoulet montalbanais for her main. It was huge but very good. Not too salty like many cassoulet's we've had. For my main, I had the andouillette de pieds de porcs panee, sauce a la lie de vin. I remember thinking it was good but I can't say too much else about it because both my wife and I were falling asleep at the table at this point from lack of sleep.

    Back to the hotel where our room was waiting. They brought up a piece of chocolate mousse cake for my wife's birthday, which was very nice. 4 hrs later, we woke up and figured out that we weren't going to be hungry for dinner. Unfortunately, we cancelled our dinner at Spring and just went walking. Headed down Rue Royale and Champs-Elysees. Grabbed a quick pastry and cafe creme around 11pm and we were done for the night.

    More tomorrow!

  8. So guess whose reservations are getting canceled today?

    Sorry to hear that. I think you will miss a very nice meal. Don't throw that away based on a bad phone call.

    We went back in December and had a great time. We both had the 4 course prix fixe and my wife also had wine pairings. Unfortunately, while I do have the menus and info on what we ate, my memory is kinda fuzzy on the details. Suffice to say, it was unexceptionable. :laugh:

    Amuse: Swiss chard, ricotta cheese pizza


    Roast Quail: duck and dried fruit sausage, autumn panzanella & dried-fruit vinaigrette

    Hen of woods mushrooms: poached egg, mustard & frisee paired with Tablas Creek Vineyard 2004 cotes de tablas blanc

    White shellbean puree on cristini


    Buttercup squash gnocchi: sage, wild mushrooms & pine nuts

    Lobster Bolognese: shallot-garlic-tomato broth & light herbs paired with Monte Fondo Casette Foscarin 2003 Soave

    Puree of Mushroom soup


    Seared Duck Breast: pomegranates, black & gold rice, duck confit & baby turnips

    Heritage Pork: house cured sauerkraut, potato pierogi, celery root & apple compote paired with La Posta 2005 Malbec


    Red wine pear & chestnut cream, crisp fillo cup & red wine sauce

    Brandy bread pudding, brandied cherry ice cream, brandy sauce

    While I don't remember the details of the meal all that well...and I'm actually guessing at what we had, the thing I do remember is that they didn't have the pineapple rice pudding dessert that we LOVED the previous time we went. We plan on being back.


  9. I am reviving this thread only to note the ridiculous frequency with which I get comped desserts, wine, after-dinner drinks, lots of stuff when I eat alone at bars in restaurants.  I'd honestly say it happens more often than not.  Not places where I'm a regular, either:  just as frequently at places I'm visiting for the first time. 

    Experiences of other habitual solo bar diners?

    I've been comped a couple of times when I'm with others but a lot more when I dine alone. If I'm eating at the bar, a glass of champagne or wine is pretty typical. I had a conversation with the chef of this one place when he walked through the dining room and I ended up getting 3 extra courses to my tasting menu! Stuffed myself silly. :raz:

  10. Also, the best dessert I think I've had there is not the molten chocolate cake (I'm not really a chocolate guy), thought that is indeed a classic.  It was a "Winter" dessert last year: butternut squash souffle, prune-armagnac ice cream, poire william gelee, pear and chocolate praline mousse cake.  Hot damn that was good.

    I had lunch of JG yesterday and had the "Winter" dessert. The sweet potato cake was really good but I wasn't thrilled with the other pieces...can't remember what they were off hand.

    I also had the foie gras brulee, which was amazing as usual. The squab while flavorful, I found difficult to cut. Don't know if it's the knife or the tendons. Or maybe I'm trying to eat too much off the bone! :biggrin:

  11. John,

    The index that you've put together is amazing! Kudos on the great work.

    As one of the new members that has requested information, these are the sites that I've been using:

    The Paris convention and business bureau - incomplete but some great links and a good place to start

    Heather's Secrets of Paris!

    Provence Beyond - Great info for travelling all around France, not just Paris. I use it mainly for the maps and dictionary.

    Paris Net - cheap apartments & hotels

    TripAdvisor - lots of information and reviews. Take all reviews with a grain of salt.

    Best Restaurants of Paris - again, incomplete but you can make reservations online

    Chic shopping blog



  12. Yes, Bloomie's may be uninteresting relative to the high-end boutiques you get in Nolita and Soho (if you know what streets to walk down, which is why I encourage a targeted crawl).  And yes, Broadway shows and MoMa are wonderful.  But we're talking a day trip and I'm talking from the point of view of a woman who recently left living in that 'hood for Boston, a city (in my bratty opinion) with crummy shopping, booze, and restauarants. I make it back to NY about once a month and I hit the place like a well oiled machine  :biggrin:  I've been planning my drink tomorrow at Death and Co since my trip was scheduled 10 days ago.

    I nearly broke my back with goodies from Astor and 'uninteresting' stores on Broadway during my last visit.  Maybe Philly is way better than Boston in shopping and eating, but sometimes, its all about efficiency  :wink:

    That's exactly why I suggested Barney's, Bergdorf & Saks. They carry higher end merchandise but are a one-stop shop. Saks is good if she likes to see all coats in one area, gowns in another, etc. Barney's and Bergdorf are better if she shops by designer.

    However, since Balthazar is in Soho, if you know which stores you want to hit, you CAN plan ahead. The other stores are uptown and worthwhile only if you're planning to stop that way as you head to Arthur Avenue.

    edited to correct spelling.

  13. Is there any way I can convince you to take in a Broadway show??  I'm a huge fan of NYC theatre.

    Here's a suggestion I think you'll love even if you're not a theatre lover:  Putnam County Spelling Bee.

    It's in a small theatre.  Very funny.  Before the show, they pick a few patrons to play small parts in the play, which adds to the spontaneity.  Highly recommended.

    Think about it.  If you want more suggestions, I've seen about half of what is currently playing.


    Re: theater, I highly recommend "Avenue Q", Sesame Street for adults as it were.


  14. Just experience Paris....don't try to cram everthing in 3 days...it can't be done. I

    That's always the challenge, isn't it? You want to do as much as you can in the short time you have but you want to make sure you enjoy it. We're already trying to figure out what specific sites we want to cut down on. Just walking around and seeing the architecture and people in an old European city would be entertaining enough.

    I'm planning on making lunch/dinner reservations this week if I can. Problem there is that while we want to be spontaneous and walk into places wherever we happen to be, we also want to make sure we're enjoying Paris at its best so reservations are necessary. We don't want to be those stupid Americans that stand up their reservations.

  15. Which would leave you with something like:


    Dominique Bouchet lunch

    Spring dinner


    Violin d’Ingres lunch

    le Meurice dinner


    Bofinger lunch

    Drouant dinner


    Ze lunch

    Cerisaie dinner

    This does look amazing. But since we won't be there Friday and may decide to skip the fine dining this time around, replacing le Meurice with Spring would give me:


    Violin d’Ingres lunch - 7eme

    Spring dinner - 9eme


    Bofinger lunch - 4eme

    Drouant dinner - 2eme


    Ze lunch - 6eme

    Cerisaie dinner - 6eme

    Now I need to organize our sightseeing/shopping with the meals. :)

    Musée du Louvre - 1er

    Notre Dame - 4eme

    Sainte Chapelle - 4eme

    Eiffel Tower - 7eme

    Musée d'Orsay - 7eme

    Arc de Triomphe - 8eme

    Galeries Lafayette - 1er

    Au Bon Marche - 7eme

    BTW, I did find Daniel Rose's blog which references your review.


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