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Felice

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Posts posted by Felice

  1. It is my understanding that, in spite of packaging and contrary assumptions, the "Senderens-imagined" menu is not even available yet.

    Well, if that is the case, I will go back, but the menu definitely has his name on it now and says "le chef Alain Senderens a imaginé pour Mama Shelter une carte simple" and then goes on to say what I loosely translated above.

    I really liked the spaced, but just imagined somethng more interesting (and good of course) to go with it.

    Julot, I of course would be curious to hear your thoughts should you go.

  2. I ate at the ultra trendy Mama Shelter last night, located in the newly-opened Philippe Stark designed hotel of the same name. It's located in the quartier Saint Blaise in the 20th, an area most visitors to Paris never see. The rue Saint Blaise has a lovely village feel, with its cobblestone streets which stretch out from the St-Germain de Charonne church.

    The hotel itself is very cool and is certainly one of the best values in Paris. Rooms start at only 79€ a night and look nothing like the shabby digs you find for the same price in the 5th. Instead you get sleek modern design, comfy bedding, an Apple iMac in your room, wifi, TV, DVD, and even a microwave and a mini-bar.

    The restaurant is equally inviting and obviously a hit with the bobo crowd. The loft-like space has an industrial yet warm feel, with graffiti lined walls and interesting touches that you would imagine from Stark. Towards the center you'll find a large circular bar, something you don't always see in Paris. Further along towards the kitchen are communal tables, adding to the convivial feeling.

    And the food? Well, the menu "imagined" by Alain Senderens was surprisingly dull. Foie gras, escargot, smoked salmon were amongst the starters, with lamb curry, duck Parmentier and steak frites for a few of the mains. The menu says " to do something simple, is essentially the most complex. To concentrate on the essential, to revisit the classics, to imagine food meant to shared, these were the reflections which went into the menu you find in your hands" Okay, I get that and am all for this type of cooking. And indeed, my very simply prepared leeks vinaigrette, were beautifully presented and quite good as were the other entrées. Unfortunately, my main dish—lamb curry—was just fair, and at 24€ and from a chef like Alain Senderens, I would hope for more. It was a bit fatty and certainly nothing out of the ordinary. I, unfortunately, didn't try any of the other dishes, but heard similar comments from friends. The steak frites however, looked great, but at 29€ I would hope it would be.

    And we were all perplexed as to why they would decide to have such traditional cuisine in such an interesting, exciting space. Couldn't they come up with something more exciting than duck parmentier? (which by the way I adore and did look quite good) I could understand if the level of cooking was up to that of some of the great neo-bistros in town, but from what I had it didn’t appear to be.

    And so I had very mixed feeling about Mama Shelter and will be curious to hear and read what other people think. I would really like to love this place and have reason to trek to Bagnolet, but I am not convinced for the moment. I would definitely return for a drink, but I am not sure the food was tempting enough for a second time.

    Mama Shelter

    109 Rue Bagnolet, Paris 20

  3. I always try to seek out good price/quality places given that I do not make an extraordinary amount of money but am very concerned with the quality of food. I probably spend a good portion of my salary on food and hate to waste money on mediocre products and restaurants. I am also fairly sure I drive my non-foodie friends crazy because I have to pick every place we go, and make faces when someone suggests a place they love that I have never heard of. Contrary to some, I think Paris still offers exceptional value for the money, maybe not on every corner, but it’s there if you know where to look. I was just in the States (Philadelphia) for 3 weeks and although I ate well, I still found the restaurants in Paris to be of a better quality for the price. I also thought the good restaurants we ate in, were quite expensive, especailly for wine as Weino points out.

    Lucky for me, I can honestly say that I am just as happy in a convivial bistro that serves exceptional food as I am eating in a three-star. Stars are nice, but I certainly don’t feel deprived when eating at a place like le Verre Volé or at my favorite Japanese noodle place because I can’t afford more. I don’t agree that people are merely settling for less, when they can’t eat in the luxury restaurants every night. I assume that chefs like Camdeborde et al opened high-quality bistros because these are the kind of places they want to eat in, not only because they wanted to serve less expensive food.

    For me, 25-35 € for high-quality ingredients is what I think of as a bon rapport qualité/prix. Also, I really don’t think you can take the exchange rate into account because it fluctuates. The fact that the dollar is down only means Paris is more expensive for Americans. If the dollar suddenly goes up, it will not change the prices here in Paris for those of us who live here.

  4. Has anyone tried, or know more about, Mama Shelter (the new trendy hotel in the 20th) and Senderens' involvement? I have read a bit in the Fooding and saw today's short piece in the Figaro but wanted to know more. Is he actually in the kitchen at all, or just designing the menu?

  5. I'm afraid this is one time when I disagree with my esteemed cohost.  I and another eG member ate at Gazzetta and were not impressed at all. 

    Did you go for lunch or dinner? One of the problems is that Gazetta, like Chateaubriand, is one of these places that has an entirely different menu for lunch and dinner and so you can't compare the two. For lunch they cater to local office workers and have pizza, salad, and a tapas plate all for around 10-16€ and then dinner is entirely another thing with a menu gastronomique. I had wanted to go when it first opened but then heard mixed reviews as well and so never did. After hearing a very good review more recently I decided to give it a try and was very impressed. I can only go by my meal, but would certainly go back.

  6. This isn't exactly a new a place, but Gazetta is a place that doesn't get mentioned often for some reason. I had an amazing meal there in July and thought at the time that it wouldn't be surprising if it was awarded a star.

    I saved the menu, which was 37€ for 4 plats and 49€ for 6.

    The cuisine was definitely innovative and exciting, but more importantly delicious.

    My memory of the meal is now a bit faded, but I remember that the descriptions on the menu did not necessarily do justice to what was presented.

    Here is the menu on the evening we went. There is also a small à la carte selection.

    Girolles, patty pan squash, saffron and watercress

    White summer truffles with poached egg yolk and new potatoes

    Grilled Sardines with red beans, lardo, pepper

    Farm raised suckling pig with creme de boudin, Chioggia beats, purslane and spelt

    Caramelised mozzarella flan with apricot sorbet and smoked bread

    Floating Island with watermelon, sheep milk yoghurt, chocolate pain perdu, figs and fennel.

    Actually writing about it makes me want to go back.

    Another not so new choice would be Chateaubriand.

  7. I don't condone the practice, but have to say that this doesn't really surprise me, especially in Paris where they don't really turn tables all too much. Racines is a pretty small place, which serves very expensive ingredients for a fairly reasonable price, so every cover counts. I am in the States as I write and went to a great place in Philly the other night where we had trouble reserving on a Sunday night for 6pm! We had to eat in the bar area because the place was packed. So imagine how many times they turn their tables, easily 3.

    In Paris, you would be very lucky to get 2 services as people don’t even think about eating before 20h.

    And Racines doesn’t really strike me as the kind of place where the customer is king and so you gotta play by their rules.

  8. Thank you both for the suggestions. I would love to try them all but I don't have enough days left and this is not a very fun trip unfortunately (family illness) and doesn't give me too much time to go out. However, I don't make it to the States too often and Mexican is one thing they do really badly in France, so I couldn't miss it. :smile:

  9. I have been following this thread for some time since I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and then lived in the city for more than 10 years before moving to France. When I lived in Philadelphia, good Mexican just didn’t exist (except for Tequilas).

    And so the day after I landed I knew what my first meal would be. I hopped on the R5 from the burbs and made my way down 9th street (with a quick stop at the Terminal, one of my favorite places on earth, for a Peking duck roll to hold me over) for a very late lunch at La Peubla. It’s amazing how much things have changed since I lived at 10th and Christian more than ten years ago. I loved wandering down 9th street, and would strongly recommend a trip to this unique part of Philadelphia to anyone visiting. The tacos al pastor were, as depicted here, delicious, and worth the trip. I would definitely like to eat more Mexican before heading home to Paris since this is just something I can not get and will return to La Peubla, unless someone has another recommendation in the area.

  10. I’ve been in Philadelphia for the past week and after eating all of the things I can’t readily get in France I was feeling a bit homesick and so stopped by Parc for the late lunch. The space itself is beautiful and with a bit of imagination it wasn’t hard to envision that I was back in Paris sitting along blvd Saint Germain.

    The menu is, unsurprisingly, an American interpretation of French cuisine and doesn’t really reflect the best of French bistro cuisine today, but I loved my warm shrimp salad with avocado, shaved fennel, arugula and beurre blanc. The bread was great and could rival, and even beat, some bakeries in Paris (unfortunately you can get a lot of bad bread in France!) and I was pleased to see Badoit, which I had never seen in the States (although, I don’t get back often so maybe this is commonplace now).

    I think Steven Starr has done a tremendous job with the décor and if I lived in Philadelphia, I would certainly go back to try more of the menu. One faux pas, there was a pretty glaring grammar mistake on the card they gave out, so, before they reprint they might do well to have a French speaker do a quick proof read.

    It would be great if some of these places sent their chefs to Paris for a tour of some of the best bistros, to bring a more modern style of French cooking to the States but all in all, it was, as they say, pas mal du tout.

  11. We just lunched at La Véraison and were in complete harmony with Pierre's assessment, but can't quite elevate the chef to Gordan Ramsey status. If anyone would like to see a pictorial, all you have to do is ask.

    Yes please! I always love photos and think they definitely add to posts. My "to try" list is often inspired by some of the photos on eG.

  12. And to everyone else: make garbure (and lots of it).  With a chill in the air, you'll be happy to have a huge pot of it stashed in the fridge.  And it gets better and better after a few days.

    MMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Garbure.

    I love Garbure as well and just made a big pot last weekend. It is very easy to make and, as you say, perfect when the weather gets chilly.

    I boil poitrine de porc with potatoes, then add cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic, turnips if I have them, herbs, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. This recipe is basically from Julia Child, does the "Cooking of Southwest France" recipe differ much?

  13. One of my favorites is the Marché Aligre in the 12th, I prefer the covered market but the general market is something to see, although a bit crazy and the quality is not always great, depending on who you buy from. On Sundays it is a zoo. On one of the side streets is also Blé du Sucre, which has great bread and pastries and a few tables set up outside. And you can also stop off for a glass of wine at the Baron Rouge (or is it Bouge?) which you can't miss as there is a sea of people spilling into the streets.

    And the Marché near Bastille on Richard Lenoir is also great on Sundays.

    That said, if you are near the Marché Biologique on Sunday, it is one my favorites as well. I especially love the guy selling potato and onion cakes. And there is an American selling carrot cake and banana bread. I am not so sure it is touristy, but certainly very expensive.

  14. Phil is right, there is not much in La Defense and if you have the time I would get back on the metro and eat in Neuilly or even near Charles de Gaulle. Of course, there are a few basic bistros but they are all over priced and none very good. I work in La Defense and often eat at our cantine, Matsuri or one of two Lebanese places that I like, but I normally skip the bistros. The Safrannée is supposed to good, but expensive. For business lunches many people I know go to Le Monde, which is exceptable but nothing special. Another problem, as Phil mentionned, is trying to explain to someone where something is. There are no streets, just buildings and so giving directions is not easy.

  15. I came across a great little shop in the 10th on the rue Sainte Marthe, selling small production, extra virgin, Sicilian olive oils along with a handful of other seasonal products like capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese. It looks more like an atelier really, than a shop, with vats of olive oil lining the walls. I knew I had found something exceptional when the owner, who is quite passionate to say the least, invited me to try at least twelve different oils before making my choice, each one very different from the next, taking the time afterwards to explain and describe what made them unique . I came home with two beautiful bottles of some of the best olive oil I have tasted. You can even bring your own bottles to fill, if you prefer. This is definitely a unique shop and one that I am certain will start getting noticed. Apparently the Plaza Athénée is already getting their oils here…

    La Tete Dans Les Olives

    2 rue Sainte Marthe

    Paris 75010

    Metro: Goncourt

    Open Tuesday-Friday 14h-19h

    Saturdays 11h-18h

    And I came across this video on Youtube which will give you feel for the shop.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9dcZ9i3e0M

  16. In my "Guide des Gourmands" which lists where you can get the best products throughout France, including Paris, only lists 2 places for Rillettes and Rillons, neither in Paris, but they both deliver so you may find them elsewhere.

    Boucherie Charcuterie Traiteur Michel Bréhault

    27 rue de Paris

    Connerré

    02 43 89 01 05

    and

    Hardouin

    Julien Garnier

    L'Etang Vignon

    Vouvray

    www.hardouin.com

    I would agree that the Bon Marché would be a good place to try.

    For foie gras they list Christian Languque Solandi, 248 rue de la Convention, 15th. 0148 28 11 47

    And Chantal Larnaudie, 8 rue des Volontaires, 15th 01 47 83 52 97.

    And incidently they mention that this place is also a "paradise" for mushroom amateurs.

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