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Everything posted by Laidback

  1. Marianne don't underestimate the taste of "no experts". I find that many of the pros get so burned out that they start stretching for something interesting to write and in so doing fail to give us a basic report, to wit, François Simon's rather silly recent critique of Fontaine Fiacre which I have visited for a €15 lunch 3 times recently and found it quite imaginative, especially at the bargain basement price, whereas "Simple Simon"only concentrated on a tiny portion of the carte, which you must request by name, which is devoted to the health conscious among us...cute but not representative of a real life experience by someone like you.
  2. Exactly one year ago Ms. Laidback, Felice and I visited Chez Jean which had just won a Michelin star; you can read my review here. After this month's visit things seem more star worthy; the room is the same, very pleasant decor with high ceilings, a lovely bar and comfortable seating, the service very warm and personable directed by the patron, M.Guidoni (who speaks very good English) as you would expect from a 20 yr. Taillevent veteran, the wine list is extensive, with a few bargains and a wide selection available by the glass. The dishes still have cheeky names, e.g., Barbier de Seville(Blanc de barbue), Pigs in Space(Cochons de l'espace). In order to best compare we ordered the same 5 course menu surprise for €65. I am most happy to report that the chef has restricted his attempts at humour in the naming of the dishes as we saw no gratuitous, or otherwise, use of Rice Krispies, corn flakes, popcorn or catsup this visit. Dishes were inventive; ravioli of chevre and tapenade with seasonal veggies, argan oil and passion fruit. My photo fails to clearly show the ravioli, but they were delicious hiding under the veggies: Next was a tartar of rouget with verveine, chopped shallots, lime and a fried egg on top: A perfect little slice of lamb loin was next, don't blame the cook for the rareness as this was as I ordered it: The 2 desserts were simple but intensely delicious, coffee dacquoise, chocolate Ganache, praline and raspberries with sorbet: My esteem for the chef is up a notch from a year ago; he appears to have found the fine line between inventiveness and silliness. We didn't find a single misstep this trip.
  3. Some wise elder stated a long time ago: de gustibus est non disputandum. A good example is the bearded e-Gullet Johns two different takes on Ze Kitchen Galleries. Both are experienced gastronomes but one loves it the other hates it.
  4. Pharamond has been famous for its Normand Cuisine before Les Halles moved to Rungis. I could never quite force myself to try it until Fresh_a mentioned that there was a change in management and gave it a very good write up. The place does have one of those beautiful interiors that has been deemed historically significant, but wary we were of any place situated next to a Goth shop. I am happy though to report complete satisfaction with their enormous(1 kg.+) cote de boeuf of Normand origin. It was cooked just as I ordered, seared exterior and interior between saignant and bleue. Served with fried potatoes, this was a very satisfying, simple meal of well prepared quality ingredients . The new classic we returned to for the 7th time is Astrance. We went there the 1st week they opened thanks to a heads up from Catherine Constant and have been back repeatedly until reservations became so difficult about 2 years ago. This trip I walked over mid day with calendar in hand and collared Christophe Rohat. After an absence of more than 2 years he still greeted me by name and asked why it had been so long. I told him that the reservation difficulty level had surpassed my tolerance threshold, but here I was in person with an open calendar and he booked us for lunch 2 weeks later. There is a reason this spot set records for attaining its 1st and again its 3rd Michelin star; it is superb. We ordered the menu surprise for €150 with selected wines, and Christophe reminded us that originally you could get the lunch menu for €27. The decor is the same but the staffing is much improved in number and knowledge. There is now an excellent young sommelier who was with Lucas Carton for 8 yrs. and Pascal Barbot has gone from a brilliant young protege of Passard to a polished virtuoso in the kitchen. I am only going to touch on a few of the many dishes we were served, skipping the amuse bouches which were served with Deutz champagne, entremets, and several desserts. One highlight, served with glasses of Pettental(?) Reisling, was called Nage de Langoustine served with herbs et fleurs de printemps in a consomme of vegetables, ginger and garlic. Later came a dish of petit pois with a cappucino of chorizo and an intense cured ham: Somewhere about here we were switched to a Herault white wine and were served a rouget filet on top of a bed of cauliflower and broccoli that even the senior Geo. Bush may have liked, enhanced with an emulsion of curry and a side of mango/papaya: Another superb dish was called quasi de veau served with mushrooms and fevettes. Instead of the normal red wine I would have ordered, the sommelier paired it with an excellent Meursault. In a stab at brevity I will only show 2 of the dessert selections which don't require more than a picture: €150 may seem exorbitant, but this included at least 10 different little plates, copious servings of champagne, 3 different wines, coffee and unlimited Chateldon mineral water. My shaken faith in Michelin is partially restored.
  5. Joan, I don't have a problem with anything on your list. Since I know your proclivity for high-end type restaurants, be aware that Les Papilles has a very limited menu but I loved it the 2 times I went. I am sure you know, but if your friend doesn't care for seafood Les Fables is totally marine. I love Ginette Boyer and her Petit Tonneau but the decor has been described as shabby/chic for about the last 30 years, so don't expect Taillevent, Meurice type plush, just honest classics prepared with care from quality provender. If you can switch your meal at P'tit Troquet from dinner to lunch you will almost have the place to yourself. At dinner it is still very good, but is almost always packed, and you will not get nearly as much of the lovely Dominique's attention. I am glad to see you venture out to a few pedestrian or "routine" places instead of your usual exclusive gourmet line up. A very safe bet is to follow the "Talbott Trail". I know you will give us some excellent feed back upon your return.
  6. I seem to notice a lack of good provençal restaurants in Paris and would like to hear from some of the well-knowledged here at eGullet. The only 2 I can personally recommend are Les Olivades in the 7th and Bastide de l'Odeon in the 6th. Neither one is cheap but depending on your definition, perhaps reasonable.
  7. milkman, Thanks for what I hope is only the beginning of a nice series with beautiful pictures of an area (Lorraine) which I have very little experience...yet.
  8. I followed Dr. Talbott's smash review of the restaurant Rich on rue Cadet and was happy as usual in following his crumb trail. The place is very impressive, decor, service and cuisine. The decor is modern elegance, no expense spared. semi-privacy curtains between tables made from cut suede with matching lampshades and custom carpet made to resemble tiles both contribute to noise dampening which is something I wish more places would aim for. We started with chicken nems with precisely matched lettuce and mint leaves in which to wrap them and yet another superb beef and mushroom carpaccio with caper berries and shaved parmesan. Our main courses were croustillant de gambas with 2 dipping sauces and a rib steak cooked as ordered with Bearnaise sauce and some of the most unctious mashed potatos this side of Robuchon; probably about one third each of cream, butter and potato with a drizzle of good olive oil. Dessert was a pedestrian pineapple baba au rhum and an exemplary tarte fine aux pommes. For you high rollers there is a posh card room upstairs. Thanks again John for another good recommendation, and while we are thanking, here is a big one to Chocolat and Zucchini for a gem of a chocolate shop on rue de la Fontaine just south of the Pigalle tease/sleaze called l'Etoile d'Or. It has been in this location for many years, run by one of the real characters of the neighborhood, Denise Acabo. Even if you can't afford it or don't like candy you should stop and chat. She is the sole purveyor of Bernachon chocolate outside of Lyon and also carries LaRoush caramel beurre salé, which some feel is about as good as cbs gets. If you don't like it don't blame me; I even will eat a Kraft caramel if nothing else is available.
  9. Bravo Daniel, how refreshing it is to see someone who is the current darling of the media still be so responsive. Just keep on keeping on...the 8:45 idea sounds like a solution worth exploring.
  10. These two restaurants are far from new and are both repeats for me. I went to Chez l'Ami Jean a couple of years back, at the time of transition of owners and the decor hasn't changed to speak of, cramped for space, a swarm of customers elbow to elbow, but the menu seems to feature less Basque than before, still a few Irouleguy wines, but no Axoa and the encornet/chipirons/calamar dishes were devoid of espelette, although there remains a jar of espelette powder on the table. Undoubtedly it is me but I can't see what all the buzz is about this spot. We invited two Parisiennes and their St. Pierre entier was undercooked to the point that you could not remove the flesh from the bone without some effort, which they did not exert because they don't care for, nor did they order it bleue. The Ray was very nicely done but none of the three fish dishes came with the least bit of garniture. We ordered Boudin Noir(Camdeborde) but it was not available. My entrée of encornets was bland but my main of veal kidney was delicious and cooked pink just as I asked. The bread was a good, hearty pain de compagne and the coffee was O.K. Am I in a hurry to go back? Not while Au Bascou is available. La Fontaine de Mars has just reopened with considerably more space and still has the same smiling patronne, Christianne Boudon, same maitre d' and wait staff. The decor is fresher but the theme is unchanged...tile floors, varnished woodwork and huge red and white checkered napkins same as the tablecloths. This has never been a place for haute cuisine, but radiates a pleasant atmosphere and serves the same old classics; supréme de poulet fermier in cream sauce with morilles, a decent size Belle Sole Meuniere served with mashed potatos, boudin blanc with stewed apples, and my entrée today, blanc de poireaux, Pat's entrée was a fresh nougat de chevre There is jambon, thinly sliced before your eyes, with melon and always a special of the day. I like their version of Ile Flottante because of the caramel effect And their dessert special this day was those sweet little fraises de bois served plain with creme fraiche on the side
  11. Image Gullet and I seem to be friends again so here are the photos from Au Bascou. First the piquillos stuffed with brandade: The next entrée was a fricassé of escargots simmered with ham, peppers, onions, etc.: one main course was Axoa, a delicious Basque veal stew: and the other was a sauté of baby squid with copious espelette peppers, chorizo, etc.: then Basque cheese with black cherry confiture: and last, the house millefeuille:
  12. I do this quite often but omit the marathon part
  13. Sorry, no photos today as Image Gullet seems to be on the fritz this morning. Mosca Libre on rue Victor Massé is nice enough for the money, and you can get a very drinkable petit Bordeaux for €8/carafe. They take the combo epicerie/bistro approach, selling spices, teas, rices, etc., but on our Sat. lunch visit the epicerie part was not very evident. We had grilled in the shell gambas for an entrée and for mains, a confit of pork filet served with a spinach, mushroom, green bean medley that to my taste would have been better "un-medleyed", and a very good vegetarian lasagne. This place is never going to excite Michelin, but if you are looking for something casual and affordable(€56 for 2 with a carafe of wine) for a Sat. lunch while shopping on rue Martyrs you could do much worse. Chez Michel was just as good as ever, little apparent change, which means packed to capacity, excellent Breton style cooking at reasonable prices, if you stick to the €30 prix fixe. We had sardines, velouté of asparagus, brandade, scallops with celeriac purée(supplement€10), joue de boeuf all of which were good. Our wine was an affordable Domaine Cachau. Bistro Paul Bert is a fun place, packed to the gills with happy regulars, and the food was good for the price. White asparagus, a good marinated tete de seiche(cuttlefish, maybe?), and a salade de langue de veau for entrées, very good mains of tournedos de selle d'agneau, and tender, rosy pink magret de canard. Our wine was 2 bottles of Pic St. Loup. The total bill for 4 with desserts, cheese tray, coffees and Chateldon was €209. Au Bascou in the 3rd right by the Musée d'Arts et Metiers was one of our favorites of the trip. We get spice starved after several weeks and this Basque place can picque you right up. We started with piquillos stuffed with brandade and a fricassé of escargots with Basque ham, peppers, onions, tomatos and perhaps a touch of prunes? Mains were an excellent version of Basque veal stew called Axoa served with steamed potatos and a plate of sauté de chipirons with piment d'espelette and chorizo served over yellow rice. This was probably my favorite dish of the trip; so spicy it would require hospitalization for the average Parisian palate with around the clock medication of butter and cream. The restaurant is best described as shoddy/nondescript from the outside, but inside it is charmingly hokey as a regional restaurant should be and the service was good. Ms. Laidback had the good house millefeuille for dessert and I opted for a hard Basque sheep cheese called Ardi-Gasna which was moist and flavorful served with the traditional black cherry preserves. Hopefully The picture function will be back up soon, as you can almost see the piquancy of these dishes from the photos.
  14. As of yesterday the restaurant Champ de Mars on rue St. Dominique is open after their extensive renovation. The adjacent table d'hote Auvergne Gourmande has been jettisoned and its space used for expansion of the mother restaurant.
  15. Ms. Laidback and I finally made it to Spring Friday night. This not the place to go if you are looking for decor and starred service, but the owner/chef is friendly and lacking in pretense. He spent some time in starred restaurants, lastly with Yannick Alleno at Le Meurice, and has a creative flair of his own. As stated there are no choices, there are but 16 places and he(Daniel Rose) told us he is full every night, although there were only 15 people this night, because apparently he accommodated a party of 3 by not putting a single at their table. We chose the table immediately in front of the counter in order to see up close how things came together. The 1st course was a very generous slice of good foie gras with toasted brioche; next came a ceviche of daurade served with a version of aioli flavored with vanilla, which to my taste was a mis-step; aioli to me means a dominant flavor of garlic and the vanilla seemed a distraction. The daurade was sparkling fresh and well seasoned with minced red peppers, ciboulettes, lemon juice and grapefruit on the side. The main course was the tenderest, most flavorful pigeonneau I have put fork to with a roasted brown exterior and rare interior, served with a large portion of very fresh green asparagus; even the Ms. ate most of her bird which is a testament to this selection and preparation as she has little appreciation for most game/gamey birds. Dessert was a clone of a Constant classic; ripe strawberries over mascarpone flavored with lemon juice and a red coulis. I asked about the coffee and it is purchased from somewhere in the neighborhood where it is roasted and ground. Our wine was a mid-price Gigondas(€35), preceded by a couple of glasses of a white Mercurey,perhaps a tad pricey at €8.50 per, but the profit has to come from somewhere when you serve 4 courses, including generous portions of foie gras, fresh Daurade and pigeonneau for only €36. The only real negative I had was that no one gets served until the entire group has arrived and one couple showed up over 45 mins. late. I think that Daniel needs to address this problem up front. Would I go back? Repeatedly!
  16. No question. But to be able to both eat well and shop at Marie-Anne Cantin, Androuet, Millet, Poujauran, Bacchus, Chaudun, etc., was/is a treat. ← John, your points are inarguable from my perspective. I stayed seasonally in that neighborhood for several years and even with its American saturation quotient and apartment cost escalation I still find myself wandering back to the places you mention. We started going to Clos des Gourmets regularly a few years back and after our 1st visit when Mme. Pitrois explained a few finer points of restaurant etiquette,such as showing up on time, she gradually seemed to repress her dictatorial tendancies and actually smiled a few times and called me by name on subsequent visits. To me this restaurant is right at the top of the candidates for best rapport quality/price. As you know Arnaud Pitrois trained with Guy Savoy and is also one of the legions of young chefs with a Constant background. It has been about 2 years since we changed neighborhoods, but this thread has motivated me to call and reserve a table again; why should I let a bus or metro change get between me and and old favorite. Speaking of the Constant constellation of chefs, what has become of Didier Varnier of the now defunct Au C'Amelot?
  17. I think Chez Francis fits this category; it has a good view of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine with the Bateaux Mouches since it is right on the Place de l'Alma. They serve good platters of seafood and have a better than average plate of carpaccio. Another popular terrace is that of The Brasserie de l'Isle St. Louis overlooking Notre Dame. Feel free to check out my thread today on brasseries for more info.
  18. To follow up on the thread "A Bite Here a Bite There" using Dr. Talbott's suggestion to include restaurant names in the title, here are 3 more. Christian Constant's Le Violon d'Ingres changed direction last year and became a much more relaxed, affordable, modern bistro even though it still retains a Michelin star. You can dine here on 3 courses for €45, and choose very reasonable wines such as a good Languedoc-Roussillon "Cauchot" for well under €30. I am a fan of cassoulet and have had few that were more to my taste than Constant's Montauban version: You can see that the serving is more than generous and there is a nice golden gratin on top: the meats are of good quality and the beans are still intact, waiting to explode with flavor when you bite into them rather than the unrecognizable mush that is served sometimes. Another winner was this dish of beautiful Noix St. Jacques with caramelized endives in a citrus sauce; simple, top quality and delicious: If you are a caramel soufflé fan, let me recommend this version; the souffle itself is comme il faut but what puts it over the top is the little pot served alongside of caramel beurre salé sauce: Le Florimond, where I have eaten at least 3 times a year for 10 years, is in an entirely different category of restaurants; nobody famous in the kitchen, no pretention or fanciful decor, but a warmer, more sincere front man than Laurent Martin I have yet to find. This place's claim to fame is the chef's version of Chou Farci, which Emmanuel Rubin, among others, states is the best in Paris. I have not eaten every stuffed cabbage in Paris but this one, along with the good bread to sop up the gravy/sauce is as good as I will ever need. It is not a photogenic dish, but deserves to be shown: My dessert was a very simple Blanc Manger with a blood orange, pomegranite sauce. The next restaurant, "Romain", is new to us and is Italian...not quite another slick Manhattan Mori Venice Bar but not bad. I started with an asparagus appetizer which was generous enough for a main course, with the inclusion of the prosciutto rolled around bread sticks: My main was a standard, good quality veal with lemon sauce except for the addition of the veggie medley: The restaurant is a family affair; father at the stove, mother up front along with the son, Romain, for whom the restaurant is named.
  19. John I guess we will just let this thread die a natural death from lack of interest. I can PM you my thoughts on other restaurants if you wish.
  20. Bar des Artistes is on rue Saulnier just around the corner from the Folies Bergere and most of the cast( les artistes) of the good production, Cabaret, have a late dinner there after the show. It is small with negligible decor, mainly posters of the shows and artists from the Folies, but the chef/co-owner? is Denis Geoffroy who put in some years with Christian Constant and whose father was a charcutier. He is anxious to put out a good product, and was delighted that Petit LeBey mentioned him shortly after they opened. They also have some good value wines from the Languedoc Rousillon area that they are proud to tell you about. That's about all that I know; if you enjoy steak tartare, you may find his to your liking.
  21. Here is a sampling of a few meals we have enjoyed so far in Paris nearly 1/3rd of the way through our Spring visit. I have already mentioned Drouant for Easter and Les Fables de la Fontaine where the croustillant of Gambas was delicate and toothsome as were the langoustines with mayo. A small hole in the wall spot called Bar des Artistes has a good wine list and an excellent limited menu. We have been happy with steak tartare, entrecote, house paté, charcutier plates and desserts such as strawberries with mascarpone, honey and lime, and a simple roasted pear drowned in chocolate sauce: Another favorite is Carte Blanche with a €35 menu and an imaginative chef who comes up with things like roasted Patanegra pork loin: and Le Sot l'y Laisse with foie gras: as well as interesting entrées like carpaccio with bigorneau: I enjoy alternating between imaginative chefs and classic old traditional spots with good product such as Chez Georges where the term cutting edge refers only to your steak knife, but who can argue with simple dishes of fresh white asparagus with a good Hollandaise sauce or Sole Georges, with a creme fraiche, white wine and chopped shallot sauce. Desserts are traditional but good as you can see from my Vacherin aux fruit rouge: There are several more on my list; Violon d'Ingres, Romain, Dell Orto, Mollard, Terminus Nord, Le Florimond, P'tit Troquet, Bistro des Deux Theatres, Spring, etc. and it is growing every day. Because of the unwieldly nature of a post with photos, I will wait until some of you give me guidance on whether I should soldier on like this, or cut out or down on the photos. I await your suggestions.
  22. I haven't tried Del Montel in the 18th, but have been many times to his 1st place on Martyrs. To me they are usually acceptable to very good, but there is a bit of inconsistency from one batch to the next. I order his Renaissance, pas bien cuite. This is such a subjective thing and actually I prefer the baguettes at Moissan who have a Bourdalou branch by Notre Dame des Lorettes, however Del Montel's patisseries are usually excellent, not surprising since he trained at Gerard Mulot. It is nice to have so many choices close to hand, compared to the paucity of bakeries at home.
  23. A place that we visit about once per week because of the interesting dishes of Jean François Renard( and the amazing rapport qualité/prix...€35 for 3 courses) is Carte Blanche, on rue Lamartine in the 9th. John Talbott alerted us to this place right after it opened last year, and since then we have gotten to know it well as we stay in the area. It is a joint venture of Claude Dupont, who was a front man for Pierre Gagnaire since his days in St. Etienne and J. F. Renard, who was the chef for M. Carlier at Beavilliers during its' salad days, but he attributes his technique to the talented but slightly wacky M. Duquesnoy, who a few years ago had a very good restaurant in the 7th. Renard spends his free time traveling and loves to adapt the spices and serving pieces to his French cuisine. He also offers a very interesting, hands on cooking course on Saturday morning, limited to 6 people. I took my son who is an amateur, autodidacte chef, and he picked up several little tid-bits, like a toque-oeuf which necessitated one more trip to Dehillerin. If you are not a dyed in the wool traditionalist you may enjoy this place; it sort of reminds me the old Clos des Morillons when the De la Courcelles brothers worked out incorporating Asian spices into French cuisine. If you hate it, blame Dr. Talbott, if you like it thank me!
  24. I can't give a definitive answer, but we booked on Tues. for that Fri.(Good Friday) with no problem. It was full, but so are many small seafood places on Good Friday. My best guess, based on gossipy ex-employees, is that M. Constant still has partial ownership; he is still very much a presence. I think that he recognizes good opportunities to leverage himself and will continue to build his little St. Dominique kingdom. I personally don't like the 7:30/9:30 seating policy at Violon and Les Fables, but I usually eat at lunchtime so his nod to business savvy doesn't bother me that much.
  25. Laidback


    Since Ms.Laidback and I had such an enjoyable Easter dinner at Drouant last year, we decided to give it a try again this Easter and were pleased. Now that they have been open for over a year, the service has noticeably improved and the prices are still reasonable for such a beautiful place. The wine list is better than average, fairly priced with the blessing to me of offering many selections in half bottles. This worked well this trip; The Ms. had a ½ Pouilly Fumé with her sole and I had a nice ½ bottle of Margaux with my lamb selection. Anyone interested in the photos can visit my photo album on ImageGullet by clicking the link at the top of the page. I hesitate to post photos on the forum since it seems to slow down the download for some viewers. I opted for the Menu des Paques for €75, which included an amuse of foie gras, entrée of asparagus with tiny green beans and mushrooms, gigot d'agneau du lait served with a cassolette of white beans, and a chocolate ganache with fromage blanc ice cream; all generous servings. The Ms. ordered à la carte and had the same amuse, then an entrée of 4 coins du monde:today it was Japanese bouillon, sardine tarte, stuffed fajita and brochette of lamb with hummus. Her Main was Sole roti sur l'arete, nicely done(not overcooked). For dessert she chose the 4 glace/sorbets: mandarine, quava, vanilla with a berry sauce, and caramel beurre salé. A large bottle of Chateldon was €6 and good espresso was €4.
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