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FoodMuse

Where to recommend first time visitors to eat

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I plan on some days just roaming around, but I've been burned in the past with this kind of travel....where I miss seeing great sites and eat badly. :rolleyes:

My 2 eurocents: experience has shown me that, even on days when I just want to "roam around", I'm much more pleased with the end result when I'm roaming vaguely towards 2 or 3 "known" possible eating destinations.

A solution; carry the Zurban Guide with a nifty map of each quartier before each section, featuring largely new restos & wine bars. Grab it fast because this is the last edition.

Just a few weeks ago, our foursome showed up at La Grande Rue and guess what, it was now a totally different place; quick huddle, off to Thierry Burlot for possibly our best ever meal there.

Talbott Rule #102b; always have 1-2 backups; one never knows when power outages, sous-chef outrages or banks strike.


John Talbott

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OK, so I finally figured out from old notes that the name of the wonderful river- and people-watching café I wanted to recommend to you: it is Brasserie L’Lutétia on Île St.-Louis. I was driving myself crazy, because my notes say “Brasserie Le Lutetia”, which is the name of a resto in the Hôtel Lutétia and a completely different place. I view this spot as a calm café with a superb view of the Hôtel de Ville and the Seine, where I can enjoy a good noisette and sit and relax, watch the world go by, and dream about living in Paris. But according to some, L’Lutétia is actually a decent place to have a meal or a glass of wine. In fact, the Paris Voice website listed it as a “wine bar winner” of 2002: “There is a large, if sometimes pricey, selection of wines, notably from the Bordeaux and the Loire regions.” I was not aware of that during my visits. But knowing that now, I might just stick to coffee or wine and go with the other restaurants already recommended in this thread for a true meal. But you can’t beat L’Lutétia after an afternoon in the Marais or on Île St.-Louis for just sitting, watching, plotting your next trip to Paris.

Equally enjoyable after spending time in the Marais, but without the view, is La Belle Hortense, a literary wine bar in the heart of the Marais. Although none of the bottles is particularly exciting, Hortense's list is perfectly respectable. The vibe in this tiny spot (with a bookstore in the back) is completely relaxed. You decide whether to sip a glass alone or engage in a political discussion with one of the patrons.

Enjoy!

Brasserie L’Lutétia

33 quai de Bourbon (corner of rue de Bellay), 4e, M° Hôtel de Ville

open until 2 AM, closed Sunday evening and all day Monday

La Belle Hortense

31, Rue Vieille du Temple (not to be confused with Rue du Temple) 4e

M° Hôtel de Ville or St.-Paul

open 5 PM - 2 AM


Edited by bethala (log)

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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I did a quick search for the Zurban Guide and it looks like it’s in French. My French is super rudimentary so maybe its not a great choice for me.

Brasserie L’Lutétia sounds so great, I've been on the lookout for restaurants with views or terraces.

Regarding wine: :biggrin: I know NOTHING. All I know is that I don't like sweet wines, and I know when it tastes good, but that is about it.

Any tips for ordering wine when you don't have a clue? For example how do I specify the most I want to spend on wine? Is this done? Can I say "Can you recomend a bottle under $15". I guess I can always order the table wine, but it would be nice to have waiters recommend wines. Can I ask how much their recommendation will cost?

For boulangeries make sure you ask for Pain Tradition or Pain a la ancien as it is worlds apart from the anaemic white bread sold by most boulangeries.

This is just the type of tip I really appreciate finding on eGullet!!

Here's a challange: Describe your favorite Sunday in Paris! Eats, walks, drinks...let's have it. I arrive on a Sunday around 11am and will have one entire sunday to fill the next week.


Edited by FoodMuse (log)

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

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My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

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Regarding wine: :biggrin:  I know NOTHING. All I know is that I don't like sweet wines, and I know when it tastes good, but that is about it.

You might want to go to a few wine bars then while you're here, where you can sample wines by the glass from different regions to get an idea of what you like. Lavinia, Legrand, Willi’s Wine bar, Juveniles, and Fish are all places where you can have interesting wines by the glass. For more ideas check out the thread on Paris Wine Bars.

There are also many free wine-tastings on Saturdays and I am hoping to include more of them in the events.

You might also want to take a wine class while you are here. There are many in French of course, but I know that the wine shop La Dernière Goûte will be offering wine tasting classes in English in October, so this might be something you will want to do as well.

Here's a challange: Describe your favorite Sunday in Paris!  Eats, walks, drinks...let's have it. I arrive on a Sunday around 11am and will have one entire sunday to fill the next week.

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday is to spend the morning at the market and then head to a café to read the paper. The marché biologique on ave Raspail might be a nice choice for a Sunday morning, with a café afterwards in Saint Germain. If it’s the first Sunday of the month you might want to go to a museum, as most ,if not all of them, are free.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Here's a challange: Describe your favorite Sunday in Paris!  Eats, walks, drinks...let's have it. I arrive on a Sunday around 11am and will have one entire sunday to fill the next week.

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday is to spend the morning at the market and then head to a café to read the paper. The marché biologique on ave Raspail might be a nice choice for a Sunday morning, with a café afterwards in Saint Germain. If it’s the first Sunday of the month you might want to go to a museum, as most ,if not all of them, are free.

I second the market idea, if not Raspail, one in the country, then a meal at a country place with lots of three-generation families, rounded out with a visit to a Chateau, I think the great ones are Vaux le Vicomte, Rambouillet and Chantilly - it helps to have a car or friend with one.

A second option is walking around, in and resting at an in-town park - Luxembourg, Monceau or Montsouris.

Third is to wing it; pick up a Journal de Dimanche which has a plan for how to spend time each weekend in Paris and outside (in different sections); that way we've found an olive oil festival at the Pte de Champarret, wine exhibition at the Pte de Versailles and craft fair in the Bois de Boulogne.

I did a quick search for the Zurban Guide and it looks like it’s in French. My French is super rudimentary so maybe its not a great choice for me.
Correct; its advantage is that map I referred to, which except for the occasionally published Bottin Bistrot one, is a rare resource for locating a place when you're walking around and want to plotz nearby.

John Talbott

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all the previous sunday ideas are excellent. i will only add that le flore en l'île on île st. louis (not to be confused with café de flore) provides a glorious view of the back side of notre dame and is a nice place for breakfast, coffee, and hot chocolate with a view. as i remember, the breakfast wasn't anything special, but this is another one of those view places where coffee is the cost of admission, and for your first trip, especially, i think places like this are important. perhaps you could go to one of the marchés early and then stop here for a break. this is a great spot for reading the paper. a quick google sweep reveals that they also serve berthillon ice cream but does not reveal whether they are open on sundays. can anyone weigh in on whether le flore en l'île is open sundays?

Le Flore en l'Île

42 quai d'Orléans (at rue jean de bellay)

Ile St-Louis

M: Pont Marie

as for wine, what's great about paris is that you can often enjoy "house" wines that are of excellent quality and usually very fresh. i especially appreciate all the reasonably-priced rosés from provence and the southwest that seem to be everywhere in the summer but do not make it to our shores. not complex, but flavorful and very fresh. for reds and whites, again wines from the southwest shine (if you see an irouléguy of any color, try it), as well as those from the loire valley (red and white anjous, red and rosé chinons and sancerres, etc.). you will not have the same experience that you often have here, where you order the house wine and get swill. the house wines are served either by the glass (un verre), half carafe (un demi), or full carafe (une carafe). just fill in the color you'd like to order -- "un demi de vin rouge/rosé/blanc, s'il vous plait " -- and you're in business. but of course if you'd like to splurge, don't hesitate to ask for assistance with the wine, giving the server an idea of how much you'd like to spend by pointing to a wine of that price on the list.

and please forgive me if you already know this, but i say this only because you say you don't know too much about wines: french rosés are dry and crisp, often smelling of fresh fruit, cream, flowers, and herbs, and are different from the sweet rosés you sometimes still encounter here in the states (we've gotten a lot better about that lately, though). enjoy them where you can!


can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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A couple more thoughts about Sundays (having just spent one).

The Journal du Dimanche's "What to do" outside of Paris (eg places that are usually reachable by RER) today has 1 out of 11 that relate to food and inside Paris 2 out of 13 where one can eat and 1 where you'll see things you could eat, well to tell the truth crocodiles.

In addition, I think we all omitted the St Ouen flea market as a classic Sunday outing. It has practically anything one could want to buy from antique posters to armoires. Warning (aside from a pickpocket alert): there are really two parts to it; that on the south and east sides as you approach from the Metro #4 (Porte de Clignancourt) which features cheap scarfs, bags and knock-off tee-shirts, etc (but if you're a soccer-nut, the stars' shirts are now only 15 E) and the interior (more easily reachable by the #85 bus that bypasses all the schlock shops and puts you in the center of the real flea market). To stay on topic, there are both real restos (Le Soleil being the best known) and quick-food stands outside for eating.


John Talbott

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While several topics start out, "we (or friends,) are first time visitors, where do we eat?," there's not been a topic culling our collective advice. So here goes with my list not of my new favorites, or all-time favorites, but where I'd send first timers. (Eagle eyes will note that one of my current faves, Spring, is missing, both because it's booked far in advance and because it didn't fit into any easy category - it's sui generis.)

One classic brasserie Bofinger

One classic bistrot l’Ami Jean

One bustling fun place Astier

One neo-bistrot Cerisaie

One gastro-bistrot Le Repaire de Cartouche

One good fish place Fables de la Fontaine

One meat place Severo + Bis de Severo

One oyster place L’Ecallier du Bistrot

One post-modern one Ze Kitchen Galerie

One one-star experience Les Magnolias in Le Perreux-sur-Marne


John Talbott

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I would add Savoy as the ideal first-time three stars in Paris. Unintimidating, hugely enjoyable, as I detailed there. (Same eagle eye who spotted the absence of Spring will note the absence of l'Ambroisie and other favourites. That's because I think they're less ideal for first timer)

I did not list more than one starred place, thinking (perhaps wrongly) that that info is better known and been discussed many times before here.

But one of our loyal but bashful members took the time to telephone me to say he liked my list but thought it should include more places that look great, suggesting we add the Pre Catalan, Bristol + Meurice and knock out l'Ami Jean.

He also raised an issue I hadn't thought of, which was, should we take into account whether English is spoken, suggesting that, for example, the Severo + Bis de Severo might not meet that criterion.


John Talbott

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Oh man John, you took all the best ones...

One classic brasserie la Biche au Bois

One classic bistrot L’Entredgeu

One bustling fun place Bistro Vivienne

One neo-bistrot Le Pre Verre

One gastro-bistrot La Gazzetta

One good fish place Fables de la Fontaine

One meat place Au Bouef Couronne

One oyster place The oyster guy in the middle lane at the Bastille Market

One post-modern one Pramil

One one-star experience Les Magnolias in Le Perreux-sur-Marne


"When planning big social gatherings at our home, I wait until the last minute to tell my wife. I figure she is going to worry either way, so I let her worry for two days rather than two weeks."
-EW

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While several topics start out, "we (or friends,) are first time visitors, where do we eat?," there's not been a topic culling our collective advice.  So here goes with my list not of my new favorites, or all-time favorites, but where I'd send first timers.  (Eagle eyes will note that one of my current faves, Spring, is missing, both because it's booked far in advance and because it didn't fit into any easy category - it's sui generis.)

One classic brasserie Bofinger

One classic bistrot l’Ami Jean

One bustling fun place Astier

One neo-bistrot Cerisaie

One gastro-bistrot Le Repaire de Cartouche

One good fish place Fables de la Fontaine

One meat place Severo + Bis de Severo

One oyster place L’Ecallier du Bistrot

One post-modern one Ze Kitchen Galerie

One one-star experience Les Magnolias in Le Perreux-sur-Marne

Let the games begin:

Classic Brasserie Lipp

Classic bistrot La maison du Jardin

Bustling fun place Cinq Mars

neo bistrot Le Cameleon

gastro-bistrot Le Violon D'Ingres

Fish Gaya

meat Unico

oyster Le Bar a Huitres

Post Modern Ze Kitchen

:blink:

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Ah my friend, having set up the challenge, I forgot to spell out any rules (as you do so well in your tastings), so are we allowed RESPONSES, if so, how many and how often?

One classic brasserie la Biche au Bois

RESPONSE: it's not a brasserie by my lights, that's a well-lit, beer and choucroute and oyster place with a great ceiling. Plus, while they did a fab 120 FF 3 course menu with game about this time of year, the new team has fallen off, 'cepting the wonderful waitstaff. But maybe I gotta go back.
One classic bistrot L’Entredgeu
RESPONSE he was better at Chez Casimir. Who knows why?
One neo-bistrot
Le Pre Verre RESPONSE agreed
One gastro-bistrot La Gazzetta
RESPONSE, the RFC and I had a disappointing meal there.
One meat place Au Bouef Couronne
RESPONSE, Ahhhright but mainly for the only souffled potatoes left in town
One post-modern one Pramil
RESPONSE OK

John Talbott

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boston - this is a great list, treat my RESPONSES as annoying gnats.

Let the games begin:

Classic Brasserie Lipp

Nah tired, '50's, touristy, yuck.
Classic bistrot      La maison du Jardin

Bustling fun place  Cinq Mars

neo bistrot  Le Cameleon

gastro-bistrot  Le Violon D'Ingres

Fish  Gaya

meat  Unico

oyster  Le Bar a Huitres

Post Modern  Ze Kitchen :blink:

Not one quibble, boston, you're spot on.

John Talbott

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One gastro-bistrot La Gazzetta
RESPONSE, the RFC and I had a disappointing meal there.

Bummer! Did you go for lunch or dinner? We had a surprisingly good dinner at La Gazzetta, so good in fact, we decided to go back for lunch the next week. The lunch was disappointing (yet half the price) and not nearly as well-prepared as the dinner. So I would only really recommend it at dinner. Plus, the space looks cooler at night.

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One gastro-bistrot La Gazzetta
RESPONSE, the RFC and I had a disappointing meal there.

Bummer! Did you go for lunch or dinner? We had a surprisingly good dinner at La Gazzetta, so good in fact, we decided to go back for lunch the next week. The lunch was disappointing (yet half the price) and not nearly as well-prepared as the dinner. So I would only really recommend it at dinner. Plus, the space looks cooler at night.

Yes it was lunch and I think the carte is much abbreviated. It was also right after it opened which can or can't be good. Two notes: the RFC like it better than I and wrote it up rather more positively; and I had eaten at his place near Uzes a few months before and liked it. Here's my report:
HS* La Gazzetta, 29, rue de Cotte in the 12th, 01.43.47.47.05, closed Sunday dinner and Mondays, is a place almost impossible to rate. Why? Because, it’s chef’d by a Swede (Petter Nilsson from the Trois Salons in Uzes, where Colette and I were just ten weeks ago); has a French staff and an Italian name and heritage. So what’s the food like? Well, after reading the big boys last week, who all made it sound French, I made a reservation Monday, took one look at the menu and fled – pizza, risotto, lasagna; yuck. But then my friend, the real food critic said, ah come on, neither of us has been, so we went four days later. And it is weird, weird nice, not weird my gawd. The menu is all in threes like Drouant intends and Gagniare does; three small starters; each main with three things, desserts ditto. My pal and I started with the three small entrees (a tomato-carrot+something gazpacho, a pizzetta with scraped celery root and a brandade with yogurt;) then he had the risotto with toasted tiny nut pieces and pumpkin and a jellied yogurt slice – I the mullet with balsamic sauce on a bed of root veggies; finishing with a cheese (rove de garrigues) and orange cake with yogurt and something else. Sorry I cannot recall all the third ingredients but here’s my take: the starters hark back to the chef’s smorgasbord past, the mains are largely Italian and the desserts French; least successful in my mind. We had lots of wine (they it have by the glass, ficelle and bottle from France, Spain & Italy); superb ristretto Illy and got out for 81.20 € for two mind you.


John Talbott

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One classic brasserie la Biche au Bois 

RESPONSE: it's not a brasserie by my lights, that's a well-lit, beer and choucroute and oyster place with a great ceiling.  Plus, while they did a fab 120 FF 3 course menu with game about this time of year, the new team has fallen off, 'cepting the wonderful waitstaff.  But maybe I gotta go back.

Technically La Biche au Bois is a "petit restaurant" in the French sense of the word, by some standards it could be referred to as a bistrot but it lacks some of the apparatus.

Sorry I am not contributing to this thread in a more constructive way, I have a lot of trouble making that sort of list. Perhaps I should compose it according to personal criteria.

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Disclaimer: The places I listed below are not necessarily favorites in each category and don't include many of my favorite places, because they aren't necessarily appropriate for first timers. I think we need to remember that John asked for places for someone's 'very first trip' to Paris, so I would consider things like neighborhood, expectations, and even personality. I would be more likely to recommend something in a central part of Paris over more off the tourist track parts like the 19th or 20th.

One classic brasserie Bofinger, Gallopin

One classic bistrot: Chez Georges, Chez Denise

Gastro-Bistro*: La Violin D'Ingres, Clos des Gourmet, L'Os à Moelle

Neo Bistro*: l’Ami Jean, Paul Bert, Regalade, Troquet

One bustling fun place Fish,(Chartier if the food wasn't so bad)

One good fish place: Bistro du Dome

Wine bar: Le Rubis

One meat place: Relais d'Entrecote, Le Relais de Venise -

One post-modern one: Chateaubriand, Jean

A star experience: Taillevent, Bristol

I am not entirely clear how people are defining Neo-Bistro and Gastro-Bistro and if there is a clear difference.

To me a classic bistro would be one that is really serving classic dishes without updating them.


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Perhaps I should compose it according to personal criteria.

Yes, please.

Okay, if I'm assured I'll make more than one person happy (I know John will be too), here goes:

Picnic Parc André-Citroën, parc de Saint-Cloud

Cup of tea Mariage Frères on rue du Bourg-Tibourg

Néobistrot Le Pré Verre, Le Châteaubriand

Southwest bistrot Chez l'Ami Jean

Brasserie Balzar, L'Autobus Impérial

Steak Le Relais de Venise

Gaulois bistrot La Maison de la Lozère

Three-star L'Arpège, L'Astrance

Bourgeois bistrot Le Caméléon

Wine bar Le Rubis

Bar (period) Andy Wahloo

Wine bar with a bite La Muse Vin

A bite with wine Les Papilles

Couscous L'Atlas


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Great list, Pti and it does make me happy.

But since you've added picnic places, I'd suggest the Parc Monceau rather than St Cloud for the first time visitor; both because of transportation and dazzling buildings surrounding it, despite the crowds, kids and pousettes.


John Talbott

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Is it actually possible to picnic in parc Monceau? I had no idea. If so, by all means, yes!

In that case, parc Montsouris and Buttes-Chaumont might be great options too

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Is it actually possible to picnic in parc Monceau? I had no idea. If so, by all means, yes!

Well, if you mean spreading out on a blanket with 15 people and wine and such, no, they have signs all over about the precious grass. But to sit on a bench with one's honey sharing some charcuterie and cheese and wine, it works. But as I said there are lots of people around, it's not calm.

John Talbott

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