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Posts posted by Felice

  1. My two cents will be added to Song Huong. I go once a week. The place is seriously no-thrills though. Be prepared for cafeteria style seating and having to to get up at least once to let the people beside you in/out. It's also only open for lunch and they take French holidays off.

    That's funny, I go about once a week too and was just there Saturday. But, I have definitely been at night several times, so maybe we are thinking of different places.

    I like the Camboge too, but when you need to wait hours to get it, it seems a bit much.

  2. The shopping mall is the Centre Commerciale at place d'Italie, and the place is on the top floor all the way at the back on the right, non?

    The one I mentionned above (Bida Saigon) is in a shopping mall at 44 ave Ivry.

    The notes in my notebook say " go straight, turn right, 100 meters, then left, upstairs, past the DVD shop, and then straight" I have no idea if this will get you there though, but it did work for me when I tried it. I went on a Friday night and it was practically deserted, which was a shame. I imagine it is the kind of place to go to during the day.

  3. One of the many roles I play here at the Forum is as alta/alter kocker/vieux schnock/historian of times long gone.  When I first came to Paris before you were all born, around the Quartier Latin/Pantheon/Sorbonne, there were genuine Viet Namese (two words please) restaurants run by real Viet Namese people who didn't serve up some melange of Thai-Chinese-Viet Namese food but genuine fare such as pho.

    Since then and since my government gave me the opportunity to have pho at the source, I have searched for true pho here and in the US.  I don't understand what happened - every few years, some friend says, I work with this real Viet Namese person and she says this place is genuine.  I go and, nope.

    My conclusion - I am returning to Viet Nam with my children to show them what real South East Asian food is.

    Do you really think we would recommend something Thai-Chinese-Viet Namese ? :shock:

    So maybe our next meal is going to have to be in the 13th....

  4. lots of vietnamese [and chinese] restaurants in the 13th arrondissement.  also try everything else on the menu!  :wub:  i tried a couple of places and they both tasted good to me.  no doubt the 'best' place has to be vietnam itself but then paris is only a few hours from me by high speed train.

    Unless you want something on the more extravagant side (ie Tan Dinh) the 7th probably doesn’t offer much in the way of Vietnamese. For Soup, I really like Song Huong (129 avenue de Choisy) a very no thrills place that often has a line out the door, who specialises in soups, including of course Pho.

    Also, a bit trickier to find is Bida Saigon (44 ave Ivry) which is inside a shopping mall.

    Pho 14, next to Song Huong, is also supposed to be good, but I haven't tried it. I have a friend who loves Pho and she has tried most on ave de Choisy and likes Song Hunong the best.

    I would love to hear about any that you end up trying.

  5. One interesting note there is that most of the places mentioned in that list -- at least Bofinger, Julien, Terminus Nord, La Coupole and Brasserie Flo -- are operated by the Groupe Flo. This makes me wonder whether the Parisian concept of the brasserie is something historically derived or something invented by a restaurant group. Of course it could be a little of both.

    There is a great article in the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik that is worth reading, about the outrage that takes place when loyal customers learn that Flo is taking over their beloved Brasserie Balzar. It's called "Saving the Balzar," and is found in The New Yorker, August 3, 1998, p. 39.

    As Ptipois mentioned, Flo and a few other restaurant groups have bought up many of the historic brasseries, for better or for worse. I suppose it saves them from being turned into fast food places, but doesn't do much for the quality of the food. Not that the food is terrible, it's just not amazing. It doesn’t seem like talented young chefs have decided to take over many brasseries as they have with bistros.

    Thank you Ptipois for all of the great historical information.

  6. Thanks, Luckygirl, Amorino is actually a chain with locations throughout Paris. I have to say, I don't know anything about their quality or origins and warranted or not, I have stayed away since they were a chain. I know they were discussed previously though.

  7. I'm curious, though. Felice, you've given a clear, concise statement of what I'd call the formal distinction. But does that distinction hold up in fact? I'm asking, because I don't know the answer: are there restaurants in Paris calling themselves bistros that are really brasseries, and vice-versa? Or do restaurants in Paris without exception honor the formal distinction?

    This is just the feeling I get from the Brasseries and Bistros I have been to in Paris, so I am not sure that these are the definitive rules, but it does seem to hold up in most cases. All of the brasseries I have been to (Bofinger,Terminus Nord, Flo, Julien, Lipp, la Coupole, le Gallopin, le Vaudeville) are also historic landmarks so there is something monumental about them, which is quite the opposite with bistros, which are typically more simple. But bistro styles vary widely in Paris, with some being quite modern and others rustic. I suppose there are also examples of modern brasseries, which don't really fit the traditional mold (expect being big, bustling and serving 7 days a week, at all hours) but I just haven't been to many.

  8. When I think of a Brasserie, at least in Paris, I think of big bustling places, which serve late into the night, where one can eat at most times of the day, places like Bofinger, Terminus nord, and la Coupole which serve big platters of shellfish, and dishes like choucroute, sole meuniere, and filet de boeuf. Most brasseries are also open 7 days a week and I don't think they close in August. In contrast, a bistro is a much smaller place, serving traditional cuisine at moderate prices, in a laid back, convivial atomosphere and the dining times are more set. They are likely to close on Sunday and Monday and for a few weeks in August. There are certainly overlaps between the two however and today's bistros in Paris are changing, with more modern takes on the classics. Today, in France you hear the words néo bistro and bistronomique to describe today's bistros as opposed to something more classical.

  9. As Ptipois noted, you are free to smoke on the terrace and a recent dinner at the Cambodge on the terrace was proof that smoking is not entirely banished--in fact most people were smoking. I have also noticed that customers at my local tabac/cafe, which has a front which opens rather than a real terrace, sit near the opening and smoke away. But other than that, I think the ban has been very well received. Even the smokers I know are pleased and just go outside for a clope when needed.

  10. I just bought Michelin's latest endeavor, the magazine "étoile".

    This first edition features articles on Jean Georges Vongerichten, Gérald Passédat and Jean Luc Rabanel, a recipe and story on Paul Bocuse's truffle soup, articles featuring London, Burgandy, Turin, Marseille and the Luberon. I've just started glancing through it, but would definitely buy it again.

  11. Not new at all but Le Pré Verre is one of the best values in Paris, the menu is now 27€ I believe, and Les Papilles is also a bargin for the quality.

    Breizh café would be a good choice, you can easily eat there for under 20€.

    For steak frites, Le Relais de Venise is not expensive.

    And as for Olivier's question about why Paris is more expensive than NY, I think it's because of the VAT and wages, an employer in Paris will pay at least double if not more than an employer in NYC to cover health insurance, vacation pay, etc. Plus the minimum wage here is much higher.

  12. John, is this part of the Paris Est A Nous collection of little books? I think I must have 20 of them, many food related, including

    Vivre Bio à Paris

    Cuisiner Comme Un Chef

    Paris en Bouteilles (wine bars and shops)

    A chacun son café

    Meilleurs Bars de Paris

    Paris Gourmandises

    They are great little guides.

  13. John has already mentionned this in the digest but I thought it would be worth noting that

    Thierry Marx has teamed up with chemist Jérôme Bibette for an exhibition at the newly opened Le Laboratoire, a new culture centre which combines art and science. The Bento Box menu plus entrance is 27€ but you can also just have coffee and a "whif of chocolate' and coffee for 6€.

    It seems that you need to reserve:

    4 rue du Bouloi

    75001 PARIS



    Information +33 (0)1 78 09 49 50

  14. I bought her book as well (at Cocotte!) I was a little disappointed, but only because I didn't really find that it included many places that I didn't know about or have in other guides. In fairness, if you own most guides, it's pretty difficult to find one that is different fom the rest. But you are right, for 10€ it is a pretty good deal. And I love her blog for current places.

    I wish more guides would include ethnic places, the now defunt Zurban did, but since its demise I haven't found anything that takes its place in that category.

  15. I believe it was on the recommendation of Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini that I tried Saigon Sandwich, an ordinary looking little sandwich place in Belleville that serves Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich. The shop itself may not be very inviting, but the sandwiches are delicious and it’s obvious that the owner considers sandwich making no small thing and is eager to tell all of the details that makes his sandwich that much better than your average shop (like hand cut carrots and homemade sauce) You can grab a sandwich, a coconut juice and head to the Parc de Belleville for a picnic lunch.

    Saigon Sandwich

    8 rue de la Présentation

    75011 Paris

  16. Fruits & vegetables are all over the place depending upon seasonality. My tip. If the fruit or veg is either out of season or is not grown locally then buy at the supermarkets. (figure out which one in your area has the best quality) They have the buying power & also tend to sell in bulk. Since you are feeding 20 you can take advantage. Recent examples- 2kg bags of apples for 1.5E. Oranges about the same. 1kg bags of endive heads for 1E. 3kg of leeks for 2E. Asparagus is coming in now & I got a big bunch for 1.50E yesterday.

    Vegetable prices definitely vary a lot. I was just at the marché Aligre and Broccoli went from 1.60 a kilo to 4.90 (not even bio). So, be careful. I have found that when I buy local, which is more expensive, my carrots last at least two weeks, from lesser quality venders they might only last a few days. So, at times it pays to spend more.

  17. I think food prices in France can be high. They can also vary greatly depending on where you shop.

    Tonight, I bought pasterized milk (not steralized) at Champion and it was 1.25, while it was only 1€ for the same brand at Monoprix. A dozen "label rouge" eggs at Monoprix were €2.10.

    I will try to list more prices soon.

    There has been much talk recently that prices have risen significantly, beyond the standard cost of living.

    I think there is a website that compares prices for the hypermarchés, but I can not remember the name.

  18. The Label Rouge label applies to many products, not just chicken. I try to buy them as often as possible, as it is a guarantee that you are getting a better quality product. Each item has very strict rules about what can be labeled 'label rouge'. Chickens are free range and come from small farms. They have to have access to the outdoors for most of the day. They are also limited to certain breeds.

    I feel very fortunate that France has this, as it makes knowing where your food is coming from much easier.

    A Google search turned up this paper from UC Davis which details the criteria in English.

    Label Rouge: Pasture Based Poultry in France

  19. It's called l'Agapé, it's brand new and it's in the 17th, 51, rue Jouffroy d'Abbans. (It used to be the Baptiste.) Three menus: 39, 77 and 110 €. Oh, by the way: three ex-Arpège boys are in charge, including Laurent, the former maitre d'. I'll report ASAP.

    Wow, thanks Zouave, this is great info!

  20. It's common to leave some coins, or a few euros, for a low- or mid-priced meal in France if the service is good, but what does one do in a 3-star restaurant?

    In most places, 'rounding-up' is the standard formula (ie: leaving 3€ on a 47€ check). But when dinner is 550€, would or should you leave 50€? Is that too much?

    Assuming the service is good, which is should be in a 3 star place, it still seems that's excessive in France. After all, service compris is already included. But still, a gesture of thanks is often given.

    So I'm wondering what people think is acceptable to leave in high-end restaurant in France?

    I am no expert in 3 star restaurants and have only been to one, and wasn't paying. That said, I think your instincts are right that 50€ is excessive. But, you obviously wouldn't leave a few coins either as that would be insulting. And, in this case, the waiters are trully proffessionals and are being paid a fairly decent salary. I think if it were me, and the service was exceptional or really contributed to the meal in some way, I would probably leave 20-30€.

    I always leave something for good service in your average restaurant because I know first hand how crappy the pay is, but starred places seem different.

    I am curious to see what others with more experience do.

  21. I don’t understand the notion that a love of food, leads people to be fat and unhealthy. I live in France. I eat anything and everything, including butter, charcuterie, cream, meat, cheese—probably every day in fact— am pretty much obsessed with food, and am certainly not fat or unhealthy. I weigh 115 pounds and am about 5”5. However, I’m sensible and think about what I eat, and for the most part only eat real food, no imitation, no packaged junk, just real food. I buy my meat from a good butcher and prefer to buy local produce from a market rather than the supermarket. I buy great cheese from the cheese shop, made from raw milk. I make sure my bread is made from flour, salt, yeast and water, not filled with ingredients I don’t recognize.

    Shopping this way is expensive and I can’t necessarily afford to eat this way, but it’s a choice and I cut out other things to be able to do this.

    There are many cultures who love food (France for one obviously), who eat very well and do not have such huge problems with obesity and food-related health problems, so I can’ t help but think that it is the way people are eating and not just hereditary. Not always of course, but I doubt it's the rule in most cases.

    I weigh myself quite often and if I have been particularly indulgent, I’m careful for a few days but that doesn’t mean that I am depriving myself and suffering.

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