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Everything posted by plafield

  1. I've been to Firebox 3 times and was disappointed every time. This is a restaurant I really WANT to be good. I love the idea of fresh, local sources and I like the space, but the food underwhelms every time. Friends of ours who have also tried the restaurant repeatedly have had a similar experience. It's certainly not bad, but not great either. Max Downtown, on the other hand, serves up consistently fabulous meals (not cheap but not much more than Firebox.) We dine there about every 6 weeks or so and it's always great. Trumbull Kitchen is as good as ever for eclectic, very reasonably priced food. Steer clear of DISH, which looks shiny and has a groovy menu but the kitchen takes way too many shortcuts (microwaved bread, frozen lobster, etc) and way too many things are "deconstructed." It's fun for drinks and snacks, but not for a serious dinner. West Hartford center has some of the most consistently good dining in Bricco, Max's Oyster house and Grants. All three rarely miss the mark. 2 Hopewell in South Glastonbury is the newest real winner (in the old Main and Hopewell space) in the Hartford area, a clean, elegant restaurant upstairs and a bistro-like pub downstairs with the full upstairs menu plus pub fare. It's owned by the same brothers who own a small, all natural butcher shop in Glastonbury center. The food is excellent, all natural, lots of local products, and great service. There's live music downstairs on the weekends too.
  2. I would not miss La Regalade. Amazing food for the unbelievable price of 32E for the 3 course menu. Definitely Michelin star quality food but in a typical elbow to elbow bistro setting. We also loved Au Gourmand, as I mentioned above. An elegant setting, fabulous service and great food (including bresse chicken) for very reasonable prices.
  3. A couple of years ago I took my daughters (at the time 18 and 21) to Le Violin Ingres and they ordered Bresse chicken for 2 for 84E. They brought out the whole raw chicken to show us (which my girls thought was hysterical..."it's a chicken for god's sake!") and while it was delicious, we all agreed that it wasn't worth the price. They served it with truffled macaroni and cheese and white asparagus. Last month I had marvelous Bresse chicken as my plat at Au Gourmand (rue Moliere in the 1st,, closed Sundays and Mondays) as part of a totally delicious 3 course menu for 36E. It was also served with rich macaroni and cheese (OK- no truffles but the truffle flavor wasn't really distinct at Le Violin) and white asparagus as well as few amazing, fresh spring morel mushrooms. It was on the carte (for 35E)and not included in the menu but they happily substituted for me. I expected to pay extra for that but they charged the same 36E for my 3 courses.
  4. Holly- Gorgeous pictures. I'm drooling! Were any of those meals lunch "specials" that have been discussed so much here? Which was your favorite?
  5. Here's a report on our pastry/bread/sandwich tastings during our 11 days in Paris. For croissant, pain au chocolate, millefuelle , chocolate éclairs, sandwiches and miscellaneous pastries we tried: Miss Manon, Au Levain du Marais, Pierre Herme, Gerard Mulot, Pain du sucre, Julien, Kayser, BE, Secco, Dallyou, and one whose name I forgot, around the corner from Spring, where I bought a great looking millefuelle that was disgusting and thrown away after one bite. Soggy pastry and gloppy cream. It was really hard to find that perfect millefuelle. Gerard Mulot had the best cream, very eggy, creamy and just the right sweetness with no frosting, but the pastry wasn't very crisp. Secco also had great cream but the pastry, while crisp, had a burnt butter flavor. Au Levain's pastry was excellent but the cream was not sweet enough! Julien had the best balance of sweet frosting and not too sweet eggy cream but the pastry wasn't crisp enough. Miss Mannon's millefuelle was terrible, a gloppy gelatinous filling like the horrible on in the 9th. I think if we had gotten one right after being assembled, Gerard Mulot would have been the best of the places we tried. Kayser had the best croissants (plain and chocolate)very flaky, buttery and crisp. I was disappointed by the sandwiches there, however. I remembered from my last trip many really special choices, but this time, the two days we traveled to there to buy sandwiches, they only had a few choices of very ordinary ingredients. The sandwiches and the ham and cheese croissants from Secco were killer. As were the chocolate eclairs. In fact, I would say that Secco was the best overall for selection, price and quality of the places we tried. Au Levain du Marias had excellent pain au chocolate and great sandwiches too. They also had a killer almond/chocolate croissant. Herme had a glazed croissant that was to die for, reminiscent of a Dunkin' Donut to the enth degree. We hit BE one day after the lunch rush (2:00PM) and were disappointed by the almost empty display cases. We bought a chicken and pesto open face sandwich which they heated for us and took it to Parc Monceau and enjoyed it but wish we could have had more choices. We did have a delicious chocolate finacier from BE for dessert. Unfortunately, they were out of the passion fruit tart that Julot raves about. I'm sad to say we didn't try any macarons (other than the ones on the dessert cart at Guy Savoy's) but we ate enough other pastry to more than make up for it, including a fabulous vanilla eclair called a Lili at Pain du sucre. Here are some pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26819563@N02/sets/721
  6. Chez Jenny: We wanted one classic brassiere meal of onion soup and escargot and had planned to try La Rotund near Montparnasse which Julot had recommended, but we discovered a free organ concert in a church near Place de Republique that started at 9:00 so it didn’t make sense to eat near Montparnasse. We were heading home the next day so wanted to eat before the concert and someone recommended Chez Jenny as a famous Alsation brassiere that was a 5 minute walk from the concert so we decided to try it. I’m sure that La Rotund would have been better but this was fine for what it was. The atmosphere was great (slightly upscale, beautiful place,) the service excellent and the food average. The onion soup had a great piece of delicious, bubbly browned cheese over too much bread floating in a decent but not particularly rich broth with lots of onions. We found no fault with the escargot, which were fat and tender and came easily out of the shells where they were floating in parsley infused garlic butter. The bread was a decent, plain baguette, not the best, but not the worst and delicious to soak up the garlic butter. we also tried Flammenkuche, which is a cross between a pizza and a crepe, (served flat and round like pizza but too soft to be picked up) topped with excellent lardon, sautéed onion and crème fresh. For dessert we shared an order of profiteroles. They brought 4! The choux were not particularly crisp or special but the ice cream was good quality with flecks of vanilla and the chocolate sauce was excellent. 2 onion soups, 15 escargot, one flamenkuche, one order of profiteroles, one glass of wine, no water or coffee 53E
  7. Please don't read my review to mean I did not think Spring was an excellent meal. And a fine value as well. Just that given all the hype and the difficulties getting reservations, I was expecting more of a WOW factor. The food was delicious and yes, subtle. The carrot/ginger puree served with the duck was very special, as was the dressing on the squid. And the concentration and effort of the chef were quite apparent. It is always difficult to fairly judge any place by just one meal and with all the great reviews of Spring, I have to believe in the place. I'd definitely go again (assuming I could ever get a reservation!) Julot, if you're out there, I'd love to hear what you thought of this particular meal.
  8. Next came lunch at Spring. This place has had a ton of hype and I called months ahead and could only get a lunch reservation. I must imagine that at times the meals must be sublime but the day we were there, most of the food was really quite simple and straight ahead. It consisted of the freshest ingredients and was very well prepared, but based on this meal alone, I would say the reputation is over rated. Anyone who enjoys cooking a bit could make this exact meal at home. By coincidence, we happened to reserve the same day Julot was was having lunch at Spring for the first time, so we joined them and made a party of it. I'm sure he'll write much more eloquently of the meal and I don't know if he'll agree with my assessments but but here it is in a nut shell. The day we went for lunch, the menu consisted of: entrée: A slice of roasted eggplant topped with a piece of perfectly grilled John Dory, topped with sautéed and lightly dressed squid (vinaigrette) plat: A slab of perfectly cooked rare duck breast, sauce of carrot puree with ginger, tiny roasted yellow fleshed potatoes, white asparagus and a dribble of balsamic dessert: fresh strawberries with a strawberry/raspberry/red wine puree and a browned butter sable. With coffee: fresh pineapple and mixed nut butter brittle. The place itself is quite stark, the tables and chairs much like you'd find in an American diner or even an office. There are a few whimsical wall hangings but other than that it's totally plain, which I suppose lets the food take center stage. It's also nice that the kitchen is open so you can see Daniel Rose at work. His concentration is amazing. With 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of water and 2 coffees, lunch was 97E for 2 of us.
  9. Check out the link above...I think it'll work.
  10. Au Gourmand: Great meal, lovely, elegant setting, very good service, fine value, 3 course menu of simple but very creative and delicious food for 36E. Entrées: escargot in a pine nut pesto surrounded by pesto mashed potatoes and topped with fresh, lightly dressed salad of baby greens and herbs… and 3 large shrimp in a coconut milk broth with scallions and large red roe. Plats: Bresse chicken, served with the liver, with a rich macaroni and cheese, white asparagus and fresh peas… and pork in a rich pan sauce with broccoli puree. Desserts: chocolate mouse layered with chocolate wafer, enrobed in dark chocolate ganache with a quenelle of rich chocolate glace and a gorgeous vanilla soufflé with bits of citron served with fresh strawberries and yoghurt sorbet. A completely delicious, gorgeous and satisfying meal! 2 glasses of wine, 1 bottle of water, 2 coffees:105E. more to come... Here's alink to some pictures from some of these meals: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26819563@N02/?saved=1 Hope it works!
  11. I definitely said saignant but apparently should have said bleu. When I said saignant the waiter responded by chuckling a bit and saying what sounded like "regulair!" and I thought he meant that's how "regular" people eat it so I said "oui." Then the beef came out medium rare, definitely too well done for me, but I then I wonderd if the "regulair" had something to do with that. Any ideas? One evening at La Regalade we met a guy from Isreal who spends a lot of time in Paris and he swears by Zagat. As for how I chose, I did a lot of cross-referencing but relied heavily on this board as a starting point. Whenever I read about a restaurant here that looked interesting, I'd search for it in multiple venues and see where there seemed to be agreement. I read a lot of food blogs and looked for people writing about food in a way that sounded like they had similar sensibilities to mine and then, serendipity stepped in and I connected with Julot, whose wife's home town is where I live! I had read his blog and his posts here and knew his opinions would be similar to mine. He made a number of great recommendations, including Astier (for a Monday evening when it was a holiday and many places were closed.)
  12. I think, but am not sure, that in France when you want a rare steak, you're supposed to order it "bleu". I could be wrong, though, as it was not a French person who told me that. Your meals sound wonderful. The dinner at La Regalade has be drooling--do they leave the pork and liver pate on your table during the entire meal? I could see myself eating it all at once, if I thought they might take it away eventually... At Astier, was the cheese table "all you can eat"? Or did you only go up once to choose your cheeses, but never again? I can't imagine being able to eat much, anyway, but just the thought of all that delicious cheese...it's hard not to imagine myself being greedy! ← The pate at La Ragalade is left on your table until you stop eating it or until your entree comes, whichever comes first. But not through the whole meal. The cheese at Astier is a huge flat basket that they bring to your table and leave there for you to help yourself! You really can be as greeedy as you like, but it's very rich and you've already had 2 courses! But we managed to try 5 or 6 kinds of cheese and saw others sampling much more when the tray came to them.
  13. Actually, the meal at Le Hangar was wonderful! Not on par with Regalade, but nothing really was. The entree we chose was composed of the freshest hericot vertes, cooked al dente in a delicious viniagrette topped with a perfectly poached egg, served with a generous shavings of top quality parmesan cheese. Light and perfect. The "beef stroganoff" was a mound of very tender bite size pieces of beef with an assortment of mushrooms all in a very rich sour cream based sauce surrounded by deep fried "tots" of mashed potatoes, crunchy on the outside, smooth as butter within. Excellent! And while the foie cannot be compared to what we were served at La Regalade, it was also less expensive and still an impressive slab, perfectly cooked and served over very creamy potatoes, mashed with very good quality olive oil, which lent a special flavor to the dish that was excellent. They also served a very nice before dinner snack of good baguette and a spread of mashed sardine, olives and a bit of mustard. Very tasty.
  14. La Regalade This was the best restaurant of the trip, rivaling and even besting in many ways, Guy Savoy and Spring. At the end of this meal we immediately reserved for another dinner later in the week. The setting is classic bistro with tables very close together, packed with people, and harried but very professional service when busy, but the food is definitely Michelin star quality and an amazing value. When we returned for our second meal, they welcomed us like family and also comped our coffees. The basic 3 course menu is 32 E. Shortly after being seated you are brought excellent bread and a whole pan of pork and liver pate and a bucket of excellent cornichon and invited to help yourself. This pate is so good it’s hard to show restraint with the whole pan left on your table, but we held ourselves to a generous spread on one piece of bread each, knowing that a great meal would be coming. For entrées we had: terrine of layered pork, foie gras, mixed vegetables served with a fig confit and a rich saffron fish stock, enriched with a bit of cream and Spanish spices, poured over chorizo with bits of white fish and something crispy that I couldn’t identify. Complex, spicy, rich, with varied textures. Delicious! For plats: pan fried John Dory, with crispy skin served with fresh peas, white asparagus and Caramelized pork belly with mustard mashed potatoes. The pork belly has 2 distinct layers of meat, one moist, dark and rich, the other drier and lighter, and then there is a lovely layer of fat right under a crisp, caramelized skin. Eaten with the mustard mashed potatoes, it’s heaven. There are pork cracklings scattered all over the plate, adding crunch to every bite. Sinful! This is not a dish for cholesterol counters! Dessert was rice pudding, served with a thick caramel sauce and a rich vanilla pot de crème with fresh raspberries. 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of water and 2 coffees: 92.50E. The deal of the century. For our second meal, entrees were: boudin noir: blood sausage, served over a croquette of mashed potatoes surrounded with finely chopped apple, dark ham and a scattering of pork skin cracklings, topped with beautifully dressed baby greens. The other entrée was red tuna, just seared on the outside, served cold over a puree of deliciously seasoned eggplant, topped with lightly dressed baby greens. For entrée we decided to splurge and for a 14E supplement, we ordered the foie gras for 2. WOW! This was an enormous portion of perfectly cooked foie, crisp on the outside, melting on the inside, served with mustard mashed potatoes, fresh peas and fava beans and a few mushroom all in a light, simple pan sauce. What a decadent meal and worth every bite. Dessert was the rice pudding and caramel sauce again and a delicious quenelle of Guanjia chocolate mousse with a vanilla tea custard sauce and a chocolate tuille. Another totally outrageous meal. With wine, a bottle of water and they comped us our 2 coffees, 90.50E. Still more to come!
  15. Breizh Café: Dinner. Great meal of real buckwheat gallettes with quality ingredients in the fillings and crepes for dessert. 1 beer, 2 coffees, 42E. Astier: A lovely little bistro in the 11th serving a simple homey menu. Great service, amazing cheese course. 4 course menu, 31E. We had pigs ear croquettes and foie gras terrine (4E supplement) for entrees and rabbit stew and perfectly cooked salmon with haricot vertes for plats. Then cheese: a “help yourself” tray of about 25 different kinds. Yum. Desserts were chocolate crème brulee (the sugar topping was a bit burnt) and raspberry/rhubarb en croute, good but so tart, a scoop of glace or whipped cream would have helped it out. With 2 glasses of wine and 2 coffees:78.50E. An excellent value.
  16. Passiflore: Dinner. Very elegant, great service, very French. The menu was a good value for high end dining: 4 courses for 54E, all delicious and beautiful. Entrée: Royal de foie gras baignee d’un cappuccino de champions: Foie gras mousse swimming in a creamy mushroom sauce topped with sautéed button mushrooms. Plat: Caneton croise mi sauvage roti aux cinq parfum: Roasted leg and thigh of wild duck in 5 spice sauce (caramelized) with a tiny poached pear and celery root puree. Cheese: Fromage fermier d’ Auvern: 2 pieces Dessert: Chocolate gateau with pistachio filling and a quenelle of dark chocolate ice cream. One of us ordered off the carte and had foie gras ravioli (outrageously delicious) and cote de boeuf. The beef was the only real miss of the entire trip. It was tough and slightly over cooked. I suspect there was a bit of a language/culture issue when they asked how I wanted it cooked. I asked for rare and they brought it medium rare, I think maybe assuming that as an American I didn’t really want it bloody rare. Perhaps I should have sent it back but I didn’t. The flavor was good, but the consistency not great. 1 menu, 1 entrée and plat from the cart, 2 glasses of wine, water and 2 coffees: 179E
  17. Prashant: I will say that if this is your first time, you may feel a bit under the microscope. The rooms are quite small and a flank of staff stand against the wall scanning the floor at all times. They're looking to make sure that everyone has everything they can possibly need, but it can feel like they're watching your every move. We found it a bit nerve racking and we've been dining in high end establishments for many years now. You just need to remember that they're doing their jobs...and they really do do them quite well. Have a great time.
  18. I’ve just returned from 10 nights in Paris and want to share some of my food related experiences here after receiving so much from reading this board. I'll be posting over the next few days and am happy to answer any specific questions. My husband and I shared everything we ordered so it was double the pleasure! Prices are what we paid for 2. Our first night we went to Le Hangar, a tiny little place hidden behind the Pompidou. Outdoor seating, no credit cards. No menu, but the carte is very reasonably priced. We had one entrée (baby green bean salad) 2 plats (beef “stroganoff” with fried potato puffs and sautéed foie gras on a bed of olive oil mashed potatoes) 1 dessert (chocolate gateau) ½ bottle of wine, and 2 coffees for 70E. An excellent meal. If you find yourself in this neighborhood, I would highly recommend Le Hangar. The next day was Guy Savoy's 100E internet special lunch. Lots of hoopla (including a dessert cart after the real dessert with a few hundred gorgeous little things that they want you to try, as well as many kinds of excellent bread, and 3 kinds of butter) a couple of really spectacular dishes (“all peas,” a truffle brioche, and the strawberry dessert) and the rest was just very good food in a very cushy atmosphere with over the top service for a lot of money. We found equally if not more creative and delicious dishes at numerous less expensive places. If you're looking for food that will totally excite your palate I don't recommend Guy Savoy. If you want LOTS of really good fancy food and spectacular service and can spend plenty of money, then this is the place. Our lunch, with 2 glasses of wine, water, and coffee: 268E. Later that evening we went to Les Cocottes for a late dinner. Excellent for a light meal: White asparagus and wild mushrooms in a creamy broth with a poached egg on top. Dark ham over greens and hearts of palm with a vinaigrette. Crusty wheat baguette. Dessert was gaufre (waffle) fresh made, topped with fresh whipped cream and a salted butter caramel sauce. With one glass of wine, no water or coffee, 38E. More to come...
  19. I'd be interested in reading where are everyone's favorites for classic mille-feuilles, and why.
  20. Just a quick note about Spring...He's doing lunch on at least some Thursdays as well as Friday. We have reservation for a Thursday in mid May.
  21. Argh! We'll miss out as our reservation was for May 9! The good news is that I was able to secure a reservation for Spring when I called today. A very different experience, I'm sure, but I'm expecting a special treat.
  22. Lasserre offers a 75 E lunch menu. Do you think this is a good value for what they offer? I'm wondering if this might be a decent choice as a substitute for lunch at Les Elysees if the chef moves on to Le Cinque. How far in advance does one need to make reservation for lunch or dinner at Lasserre?
  23. So, that raises another question: who is gonna take over Les Elysées' kitchen? ← After tons of research for what would provide us with the best meal for the best value we made reservations for lunch at Les Eleysees during our ten days in Paris in May. How disappointing if the chef leaves! It seems it would then be prudent to change our plans. any thoughts? Suggestions for a comparable quality/value lunch?
  24. How far in advance would you recommend making a reservation for dinner at Passiflore?
  25. I'd love to hear a compare and contrast of these 4 places (food, decor, ambiance, service) and if you had to choose just one to travel out from city center to dine in, which would you recommend and why? Thanks!
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