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Great Restaurants that are no more


julot-les-pinceaux
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Host's Note

Since long-term memory seems to get better as those nasty, un-needed, short-term Betz cells die off, I'm going to suggest a topic based on old time places, long gone. These chefs and restaurants can be totally gone, caduc, disappeared; succeeded in chefdom or other circumstances; or where a chef reached his pinnacle (in one's opinion). We've touched on the issue in several topics, most recently in Arpege: 2006-present. So I've moved the relevant posts to this topic and we can concentrate on old memories here. The following was Julot's contribution that started it off.

Oh, and I forgot -- I am just old enough that I was able to live the last days of Claude Peyrot's Vivarois -- And that was in the top league, no doubt.

Edited by John Talbott (log)
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Oh, and I forgot -- I am just old enough that I was able to live the last days of Claude Peyrot's Vivarois -- And that was in the top league, no doubt.

Indeed, it was top. We should do a historical topic; for me, I'd relive Giradet, Lameloise, Bocuse, Barriere de Clichy + Jamin, Loiseau, Pere Bise, Boyer pre-Crayeres and even {gasp} in the very early days l'Ami Louis. Would I be age-ist or get no responses if I insisted that the only posters be born before WWII?

I mean, if Frederic Gersal can do a c10 min spot on Telematin qd, why not us?

Send me a PM if interested. Otherwise we'll let the idea die.

John Talbott

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John,

Just curious, what's wrong with current restaurants? It seems that the restaurant you cherised all are "old" to me - I would still love eating KFC and McD at that time. Isn't there any place now that even closed? What is the different between the current and the past Lameloise?

I cannot answer the last question, haven't been in years.

As for current vs old; I was suggesting we test our memories for memorable "old" meals in "old" places. Maybe that idea doesn't resonate with anyone but some of my ancient memories of places long gone (for example, Barriere de Clichy + Giradet are as strong today as then.

John Talbott

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I was not born before WWII. Before Iraq I, though.

But I would love to read detailed memories of these places. Really. All we ever hear was Robuchon and Girardet were the best, etc. Tell us more, John.

Bu Pun Su, some dishes at Senderens are at the Lucas Carton level, especially the desserts, but there have been execution discrepancies lately which I believe are solved (recent reports from friends told me service became slower which does confirm my idea that they're back on track on quality). They would totally do some Lucas-Carton dishes on special order. As I wrote in my review, they even are considering adding one or two Lucas Carton dishes on their menu. We may have a harder time with having the same level in wines.

Actually, I propose we set up an event asking M. Senderens that we have a Lucas Carton meal one of these days. Who's game? Say in Truffle season? Morel season? MarcdiBiaso, are you reading us? We should arrange to have M. Senderens dining with us.

As far as Loiseau is concerned, it may not be the best food on earth anymore (not that it ever was the only best food on earth, of course) because chef Bertron does not have the subtle and brutal genius of Loiseau, but it is still amazing, gives you the sense the sense that you never ate before (not unlike Passard or Pacaud), and the place is one of the most pleasant in France.

And they do any Loiseau dish on order -- some of them are on the menu (see their website). My favourites are (starting your thread, John!) the "langoustines, huitres et ormeaux au jus d'ortie", (what's ortie in English? I always forget) the "tartelette de foie de lapin", the "assiette de crudités de la côte d'or", the "poularde de bresse Alexandre Dumaine", the "Sandre à la peau croustillante, fondue d'échalottes, sauce au vin rouge", the Epoisses with figs and toasted pain de campagne, and the Saint Honoré. John, if we start the thread, I promise to give a detailed review of these dishes. Also the "pot-au-feu de foie gras de canard". And the "poelée de champignons à l'oeuf cassé".

Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)
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Thanks. Nettle are cooked "à l'anglaise" (meaning like any green vegetables in a lot of very salty very boiling water and stopped in iced water) and blended with a seafood stock (made with the lamgoustines' heads). Langoustines and ormeaux are sauteed, oysters barly poached. The whole interest of the dish lies in amazingly exceptional ingredients and precise cooking. And also in the perfect match between the nettle, its almost metallic taste, its stringence and long lasting retro-olfaction, and the salty seafood. And those are three different contrast of textures. It is powerful, simple and subtle -- and it was surprising. It actually still is, not on paper but in the mouth.

I gave those details so my thanks are not suppressed as an off-topic post.

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Oh, and I forgot -- I am just old enough that I was able to live the last days of Claude Peyrot's Vivarois -- And that was in the top league, no doubt.

Indeed, it was top. We should do a historical topic; for me, I'd relive Giradet, Lameloise, Bocuse, Barriere de Clichy + Jamin, Loiseau, Pere Bise, Boyer pre-Crayeres and even {gasp} in the very early days l'Ami Louis. Would I be age-ist or get no responses if I insisted that the only posters be born before WWII?

I mean, if Frederic Gersal can do a c10 min spot on Telematin qd, why not us?

Send me a PM if interested. Otherwise we'll let the idea die.

John, I qualify age-wise but I tend to be more glutton/gourmand than gourmet. One place I will always remember is the the restaurant at the Negresco about 38 yrs. ago. A small bowl of simple green peas was served as a side dish of which I still search for the equal. The fresh fish as far as I remember was simply prepared but of incontestable freshness. I haven't been to the temple in Chagny since 9/11/01 but at that time Jacques Lameloise had not abandoned the wonders of traditional French cuisine for the modern wave of foams, passion fruit, yuzu, etc. Among my favorites among the more modern, in terms of spice usage without losing a sense of terroir was Olivier Roellinger at Cancale, but my last visit was about 12 years ago when the great god Michelin deemed him worthy of less than 3 stars. I admit to a weakness for tradition and find wonderful French cream,butter and wine based sauces still thrill my palate and have never found Taillevent boring or lacking in technique, service or wine choice through the tenure of Del Burgo, Legendre and now Soliveres. As I noted on another thread, few meals have pleased me more than my 1st visit to Troisgros when Pierre was still a presence. If someone has done a better filet of beef à la moelle with a Fleurie wine sauce please let me know...boring, traditional, maybe; superb, without a doubt. Who else in Fance has had a monument done entirely of forks? Another great memory is staying overnight some years back at Boyer's Les Crayeres, the details elude me as this was pre digital camera years but the overall experience made quite an imprint.

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For me:

Girardet, referred to before, represented one of the cardinal points on my culinary compass by his absolutely impeccable choice of products, cooking and plating.

Second is Michel Guerard at the Pot au Feu in Asnieres, for his solid, fabulous rich dishes, such as lievre a la royale, before he sought fewer calories in Eugenie les Bains.

Next comes Bernard Loiseau at the Barrière de Clichy, in Clichy of all places, long before the Cote d’Or + Tantes.

Now a surprise, because he’s cooking and living well but has gone over the hill or around the bend lately: Gilles Choukroun, who really did it at the Café des Delices.

Also on the hit parade but who have moved on, out or backwards are Joel Robuchon while at Jamin, Roger Verge and Alain Ducasse (one was never sure who put what where) at the Moulin de Mougins near Cannes, Alain Senderens and Alain Passard at L'Archestrate before becoming l’Arpege, Michel Rostang’s invention of the Bistro’s d’a Cote, Gilles Epie at Miravile and Eric Frechon on the rue du General Brunet in the 19th which changed its name three times by my count, before moving to le Bristol and the charming Billaud couple at La Grande Rue, (he’s landed well apparently at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay).

Edited to fix missing words.

Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

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I'm way too old. Sometimes think I was born before WWI let alone WWII. In any case I can add a memory or two of Girardet.

The first time I went was before the big renovations/additions/ remodel. The place still looked like a typical Gasthaus. The dining room was nice, but typical of a country place. I can remember being presented with dish after dish that seemed to be both innovative & perfect. My clearest memory of that occasion was a wonderful cheese cart populated with nothing but cheeses from Switzerland. I was flabbergasted.

Next chance to go was a bit funny. I was newly married (2ond try) and we had planned a vacation which started with a tour through the Rioja wine area of Spain & continued into SW France. Less than a week before we we were due to leave I got a call from my buddy Pierre. "I have a reservation four 4 at Girardet next week. Can you & Linda make it?" Can a duck swim? I went home & informed my bride that plans had changed. Good sport that she is she promised not to divorce me until after the meal. She still talks about the sorbets, 6 types I believe, that we were served. By then the great physical changes had occurred and the place was beautiful.

The 3rd big meal at Girardet was as the result of an incentive program. Pierre's crew were selling a new product we'd come out with like there was no tomorrow. (these went for about $75,000 a pop.) They'd beat their plan by July. So Pierre says to me what are you going to do to keep us motivated? My answer: A meal for each sales person & their SO at Girardet for every two additional products you sell.

I ended up hosting lunch at Girardet for 16 people! Best incentive program I ever came up with.

At that meal which we had in a private room we were offered seconds of the roast chicken with truffles we had as a main course. (the only complaint coming from the ladies who did not get offered seconds.) I've never had that happen before or since in a top class restaurant.

Still my all time favorite restaurant. Girardet had it all.

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My experiences are a bit different. I'd read about him and after landing in Geneva immediately drove there for lunch. We had a 2-week trip to Annecy (whoops, I forgot to list Pere Bise but that's another story) and then Vienna and back thru Geneva (1985, the French franc was 10-1). We were so blown away by our first meal, which we had reserved months in advance on the exact day, that we pleaded to come back in two weeks and wouldn't you know, John, the Anglo maitre d', put a table out towards the entrance (it had been fully booked), where my wife (1st, 2nd and only) and I went nuts and needed no food on the airplane at all. While I have eaten there and at his culinary children's places since, nothing matched those two meals that bookended our trip. And those were the days when the chef cooked, made pastry and cruised the house.

Edited by John Talbott (log)

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We had a 2-week trip to Annecy (whoops, I forgot to list Pere Bise but that's another story) and then Vienna and back thru Geneva (1985, the French franc was 10-1). 

OK, on popular demand, the Pere Bise story, yet again.

This takes place in 1984-5 as well, when the dollar was King, we (as always) had no reservations but 10 guide and food books and pre-internet, lots of advice from friends.

We arrived in Annecy and Talloires about 3 PM and though we were warned NOT to go to Pere Bise because Pere was in decline, we had to see that lovely lawn that runs down from the hotel to the Lac (famously featured in Claire's Knee). Well, one thing led to another, Colette said, "why don't we stay here," I replied, "it's much too expensive and besides M. Bise is in decline," sez she "do we spend it or the kids?," Me: "I don't speak French and we don't have a reservation;" she: "come on John, this is lovely, I want to stay here." I creep in, tugging my forelock, timidly ask Madame if they have a room, they do, but it's an old servant's room at the top of the detached building and it's hot (no A/C in those days). We look at it, it's divine. We (straight off the airplane and M. Giradet's lunch, wine and a petit armagnac) take a nap, waking to the sound of a woman with a period costume, in a rowboat singing "Sur les toits de Paris", rowed by a another woman, while a guy played a guitar. Oh we were in heaven.

Of course we planned to eat elsewhere, in Annecy or with M. Veyrat or even at the Hotel de l'Abbaye where Baby Doc Duvalier was hiding from extradition - anywhere but there, but we didn't want to move. So, sheepishly I approached Madame again: Could we eat there? Of course, we always reserve tables for our guests. The meal was memorable, a late summer night, a sunset over the lake and mountains and then the question I had not anticipated: would Monsieur like some cheese? We had already emptied a half bottle of white with our entrees and a full bottle of red with our mains (those were the days eh?) and I said I would love some but needed a glass of wine. Desole, Monsieur, we only have wine by the bottle. So I ordered the cheese and miraculously a 1/2 full bottle of very, I mean very, good red appeared. I stammered, "mais...."

The waitress poured it and looking behind her said "M. Bise wanted you to have this." And there, ten feet away, finishing his dinner, old, shrunken, but with twinkling eyes and a grin of extreme pleasure on his face, sat, for me Pere Bise, extending his hand in offering up his fabulous wine.

Well, of course we stayed for breakfast and lunch as well.

They don't make 'em like that anymore and the staff cannot carry out the master's wishes like that much more either.

Here's to you Pere Bise!

John Talbott

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I want to pay a tribute not to Robuchon, which I nerver knew and besides doesn't need my praise, but to Robuchon successor in this restaurant, his sous-chef for the longest time, Benoit Guichard.

Jamin closed a few years ago because Guichard decided to give up the restaurant business. Some say it is because of a disease. He was the most serious man about food, but also had rigorist principles: he wanted to remain the cheapest of all Parisian two star restaurant, he wanted to be continuously training young people in his kitchen (only him and an experienced cook in the kitchen, all six others fresh out of school), he did not want to invest, and he also did not want to deal with the press. He even refused Master Robuchon's invitation to Bon Appetit Bien Sur.

So he was not a funny guy. But his concentration when he was cooking (of which you can see pictures in the book "L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon") and his knowledge were incredible. He always referred to Escoffier as the basis of everything, and several of his recipes were discreetly inspired from him.

I ate there the first time on the infortunate date of Sept 11, 2001, at lunch. Nevertheless, I went back a lot in the following years, taking advantage of the price policy and of a 50e lunch menu that gave acess, among other things, to the dessert trolley. The classicism and intensity in flavours was incredible, and it was really that magic of high class cooking, for recipe were nothing. The Galette Bressane was a simple cake of flour, sugar, egg and cream, ice creams were perfect. My favourite, the one that always had me closing my eyes and purring was the passion fruit tart. It is a very subtle composition because, unlike a lemon tart, the cream on the tart should not reach a high temperature that totally destroys the passion fruit flavour, that unique mix of acidity and sweetness, with its characteristic two time taste. It was carried by the texture of the egg cream, in a nice contrast with the pate sucrée sablée, that has some almonds in it. It was pretty much like Mozart: so simple, and yet so divine and perfect.

Another unforgettable and deceivingly simple dish was the pintade rotie au foie gras. The bird was simply roasted, came in a big oval Staub cocotte, and was carved in the dining room. In the cocote were season vegetables, and also a roasted foie gras. One day Claude Peyrot came with Gilles Pudlowski and they had that too -- Peyrot called the pintade "rôtie avec une magnifique sensibilité", and that was exactly right. It was also so much like a sunday family dish, ony sublime and showing you what it is that our mothers were trying to mimick.

That was classic in the best sense, because it was a perfect harmony of nature (powerful highquality ingredients) and culture (the traditional recipes and, come to think of it, the ingredients as well), of brutality and refinement.

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Some years before I even thought of making a living as a food writer, I met Claude Peyrot, chef of Le Vivarois, through a very close ladyfriend of his, who was my best friend at the time.

Sometimes when I visited her around midday, and depending on the, um, weather conditions, she would take me to nearby Le Vivarois (she lived a couple of streets away) for lunch.

That was my first contact with haute cuisine. But I was much more dazzled by the character. The problem was that my friend was half-anorexic, and that spoiled our first lunches. When asked by the maître d' what we should like for lunch, she'd immediately answer "oh not much, we're not very hungry" so we got half-portions. After she did the trick to me once or twice I learned to speak up: "Yes and I am normally hungry, so please serve me as you would serve a normal person." So I did not get to experience the full extent of Le Vivarois until I learned to defend myself.

The food was simple, strong-tasting, dazzling. More the kind of food you should get at a country auberge that is known regions around, than at an elaborate three-star. But that is precisely the kind of food I like. It was manly (in the sense that it had balls) and feminine (in the sense that it was based on a perfect mastery of reducing, simmering, crisping up, achieving the umami of old family cooking) at the same time, and normally I would never risk that kind of gender comparison which I think is 99% of the time utterly stupid, but for this occasion only I find it justified. Because Peyrot's cooking was a perfect union of yin and yang, and referring to gender makes sense in this case.

I remember the extraordinary cèpes ravioli, the salad with truffle oil, the oxtail braised in red wine then oven-grilled, the côtes-du-roussillon blanc or coteaux-de-l'ardèche that Peyrot himself recommended for our meals, the way he had with wild things like mushrooms, game and truffles. Once I asked him if he would compose an all-truffle menu for a group of a few friends who loved truffles, and such a truffle dinner I never saw (until I had one at the Pébeyre's, in Cahors, last year but this is another story).

He was quite a character. He was humorously irreverent with his richest and stuffiest, or richest and most pretentious, clientele. Nonsense that they are used to get away with everywhere else he would never let pass. When my friend and I were eating in the smaller room, we would hear loud talk from the other, larger room. Sometimes the loud talk would abruptly stop and silence would follow. After a minute Peyrot would come to our table, literally wriggling with joy. He'd sit down with us and say: "You'll never guess what I just said to <insert name of any Rothschild here> or <insert name of famous fashion designer here>." No, indeed, we'd never guess.

So he told us. It was hilarious, dirty, well-thought, impossible to repeat here, and it totally explained why his restaurant was generally only half-full. He is, after all, one of the rare great chefs who kicked Gault and Millau (or one of the two, I do not remember) out of his restaurant. Once when I was working for food critic Claude Lebey, and had lunch with him, we talked about Peyrot. He looked tense, as if he remembered something unpleasant. He then told me that he had visited Peyrot one late morning and had found him vacuuming his dining-room. "Can you imagine, he said, a starred chef vacuuming his restaurant like any cleaning woman!" Clearly it was utter scandal for him. But that was not all. "When Peyrot saw me coming in, he hardly turned around, said hi to me and then went on vacuuming his carpet." Lebey was dumbfounded. A food critic feared by all French chefs, someone who asked Senderens to screw up one of his signature dishes for 12 people and Senderens did it, was gracing Peyrot's restaurant with his presence and Peyrot was not even paying attention!

Needless to say, I admire Peyrot tremendously, the man and the cooking.

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Thanks, Ptipois, that was moving.

Allow me yet to try again to pick up a fight: the recipe of Peyrot may be the ones you would have in a little auberge, but the actual dishes, as I think your description suggest by emphasising the perfect and rare balance of the execution, the permanent quest for great meals, is nothing you would ever find in an small auberge. It requires money and manpower and skills, and a very special kind of attention. I get your point that Peyrot was nothing Ducasse-like in terms of the whole palace circus, and that is also a reason why I liked him. But Peyrot was quintessential grand restaurant precisely because of that care and sensitvity he brought to the most simple and humble things, that ended up making the Peyrot experience so unique and exceptional. Isn't that real luxury (et pas ostentation), rather than having tea from living plants and standing menus and custom-made suits for the waiters?

Great Lebey/Peyrot story.

Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)
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Thanks, Ptipois, that was moving.

Allow me yet to try again to pick up a fight: the recipe of Peyrot may be the ones you would have in a little auberge, but the actual dishes, as I think your description suggest by emphasising the perfect and rare balance of the execution, the permanent quest for great meals, is nothing you would ever find in an small auberge.

No, the actual dishes, with their perfect and rare balance in the execution, etc., were absolutely something that could have been found in a good auberge back in the 1950s or 60s, just as I wrote. I do not believe in the existence of any gap between that exceptional cuisine, which I call "popular gastronomy" (now disappeared), and what you call "grand restaurant". This is a modern, artificial characterization and segmentation of cooking that I do not agree with.

Ducasse, anyway, came later with a different style, and different priorities, leading French cuisine further away from its roots, but the fact that the roots are no longer visible does not mean they never existed. And they had nothing to do with "grand restaurant" style.

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Allow me yet to try again to pick up a fight: the recipe of Peyrot may be the ones you would have in a little auberge, but the actual dishes, as I think your description suggest by emphasising the perfect and rare balance of the execution, the permanent quest for great meals, is nothing you would ever find in an small auberge.

No, the actual dishes, with their perfect and rare balance in the execution, etc., were absolutely something that could have been found in a good auberge back in the 1950s or 60s, just as I wrote. I do not believe in the existence of any gap between that exceptional cuisine, which I call "popular gastronomy" (now disappeared), and what you call "grand restaurant". This is a modern, artificial characterization and segmentation of cooking that I do not agree with.

I'm not sure who I'm agreeing or diagreeing with here but let me take an auberge I'm especially fond of as an example. In another thread I wrote:
"..... the Ferme de Lormay (Chez Albert) in Le Grand-Bornand 33 km from Annecy (better known as a skiing destination)......[is] very special. The guy (Albert Bonamy) prepares great rustic cuisine with gutsy terrines, well-thought out mains and terrific tartes.
Bonamy does both traditional, simple stuff for firsts and desserts and more daring plates for mains. It's a bit like readability and scientific; the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

But maybe I'm missing the point.

John Talbott

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It's a bit like readability and scientific; the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

But maybe I'm missing the point.

I was writing about something different, a definite level of cooking which, I think, no longer exists: high-quality popular cooking. It was Peyrot's background (his father's auberge kitchen in the Ardèche) and I was raised on it too, so when the chef and I had conversations about that style of cooking, we perfectly knew what we were talking about.

The relative overall poorness of contemporary "modest" food (compared to the relative overall excellence that prevailed, say, until the 80s) and fussiness of "elegant" food are deceptive. They easily make one overlook, or just hide the fact, that there is a missing link, a torn page in the history book, that questions the value of that duality. The duality is a reality now, but it is a very recent trend.

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It's a bit like readability and scientific; the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

But maybe I'm missing the point.

I was writing about something different, a definite level of cooking which, I think, no longer exists: high-quality popular cooking. It was Peyrot's background (his father's auberge kitchen in the Ardèche) and I was raised on it too, so when the chef and I had conversations about that style of cooking, we perfectly knew what we were talking about.

The relative overall poorness of contemporary "modest" food (compared to the relative overall excellence that prevailed, say, until the 80s) and fussiness of "elegant" food are deceptive. They easily make one overlook, or just hide the fact, that there is a missing link, a torn page in the history book, that questions the value of that duality. The duality is a reality now, but it is a very recent trend.

Got you now.

Memory does play tricks on one, and I'm not sure this subject doesn't deserve a separate topic, where perhaps we should discuss the absence of "contemporary 'modest' food" but although I was a very callow youth when I first came to France in '53 it seemed to me the old adage about "you can't have a bad meal in France" was pretty true; I had steak/frites, "trash" fish, green salads with simple vinaigarette, sliced tomatoes (Bocuse's probably apocryphal comment rang true to me) where students like me ate, everything was inexpensive and good.

But in 1991, when I was stuck near the Rue de Buci for a month with less than an hour for lunch everyday, except for Gaya(in its original location)'s wonderful bar/tapas food, the inexpensive places students ate at were pretty awful.

As I say, memory plays tricks and probably I'm romanticising the 50's, but.....

Pti, can't we find that missing page?

John Talbott

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Got you now.

Memory does play tricks on one, and I'm not sure this subject doesn't deserve a separate topic, where perhaps we should discuss the absence of "contemporary 'modest' food" but although I was a very callow youth when I first came to France in '53 it seemed to me the old adage about "you can't have a bad meal in France" was pretty true; I had steak/frites, "trash" fish, green salads with simple vinaigarette, sliced tomatoes (Bocuse's probably apocryphal comment rang true to me) where students like me ate, everything was inexpensive and good.

But in 1991, when I was stuck near the Rue de Buci for a month with less than an hour for lunch everyday, except for Gaya(in its original location)'s wonderful bar/tapas food, the inexpensive places students ate at were pretty awful.

As I say, memory plays tricks and probably I'm romanticising the 50's, but.....

Pti, can't we find that missing page?

It is not romanticizing, you do see what I am referring to. That missing page is nothing mysterious or completely lost, and when I say that cooking has disappeared, I am overpessimistic. I can at least say much of it has disappeared, and you have to search for it now. Of course memory plays tricks but, on the other hand, memory does shape our taste references throughout our lives. The kinship between Claude Peyrot's braised oxtail, his father's auberge cooking and my adopted mother Emma's roasted dishes (she was an aubergiste in the Nice hinterland hills back in the 60s and she fed me at lunch because walking home from school at noon would have taken too long) is quite obvious to me, as it will to anyone who has known those times. Then the roots of French haute cuisine become more tangible, the missing page is found.

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Memories of the Golden Age of Nouvelle Cuisine.

Definitely, Claude Peyrot’s Le Vivarois, sublime cooking in an ultra modern dining room with shocking paintings and Knoll chairs. Peyrot had then the audacity to serve a plate of beautifully cooked vegetables as a separate course. And Alain Senderen, still at L”Archestrate (now Arpgege), cooking in a cramped kitchen for a tiny dining room of 35 guests. Remembering having his sautéed rouget with fried celery leaves then being served almost the same dish at Robuchon’s Jamin few years later. At the same time, the opulent Lucas Carton still serving grand classical cuisine in the beautiful belle epoch décor with foot stools for ladies. The last time that I had whole roasted kidney with mustard sauce. Can’t forget Jacques Maniere at Au Pactacle and Dodin Bouffant.

Jean and Pierre Troisgros cooking together in their brand new kitchen. Chatting with Pierre’s wife, Olympe, about their newly redecorated hotel rooms with see-through bathrooms.

The generosity of Jacques Pic with his "Menu Rabelais"…including whole truffle baked in puffed pastry, two plated dessert courses before the pastry cart and then the fruit and ice cream service. The most amazing breakfast served for just six guests staying in the three modest rooms above the restaurant. And the warm and friendly staff.

Alain Chapel, so intense, intellectual and brilliant; probably the most poetic of all the great chefs. His plates were just about perfect, down to the beautiful menu descriptions.

The trio of Roger Verge, Louis Outhier and Jo Rostang in the Riviera...remember having dinner on the terrace of Rostang’s La Bonne Auberge while hearing cars speeding by just outside. Also Jacques Maximin cooking at Le Chancelier in the Hotel Negresco.

Of course Girardet in Crissier…amazing cooking and the most intensely flavored ice creams and sorbets.

Edited by Pork Belly (log)
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Host's Note

Since long-term memory seems to get better as those nasty, un-needed, short-term Betz cells die off, I'm going to suggest a topic based on old time places, long gone.  These chefs and restaurants can be totally gone, caduc, disappeared; succeeded in chefdom or other circumstances; or where a chef reached his pinnacle (in one's opinion).  We've touched on the issue in several topics, most recently in Arpege: 2006-present.  So I've moved the relevant posts to this topic and we can concentrate on old memories here.  The following was Julot's contribution that started it off.

Oh, and I forgot -- I am just old enough that I was able to live the last days of Claude Peyrot's Vivarois -- And that was in the top league, no doubt.

What a great topic that brings back such enjoyable memories.

I have been thinking back to:

Armes de France in Auch when Daguin was there: the wonderful foie gras and duck

Nandron in Lyon for the most fabulous quenelles-especially on News Year Day for lunch.

Hielly Lucullus in Lyon-although I do not recall any specific meals

and now unfortunately Greuze in Tournus-truely the last of a tradition of abundant and joyfull dining.

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Who had the experience of tasting Jean Delaveyne's cuisine?

It was still possible in the early 90s, at his restaurant Regain, which later became Constant's Violon d'Ingres.

Superior classical French cuisine. And a delightful old chef with a wonderful sense of humor.

I remember a wonderful timbale de macaroni Albuféra (with pigeon and a gorgeous sauce) and fresh cod in aïoli that was everything I could ask from that kind of dish.

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Who had the experience of tasting Jean Delaveyne's cuisine?

It was still possible in the early 90s, at his restaurant Regain, which later became Constant's Violon d'Ingres.

Superior classical French cuisine. And a delightful old chef with a wonderful sense of humor.

I remember a wonderful timbale de macaroni Albuféra (with pigeon and a gorgeous sauce) and fresh cod in aïoli that was everything I could ask from that kind of dish.

Oh wow Pti, you're right, I'd forgotten Christian wasn't always there. Now to find the file in which the memory resides, ahhhhh.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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For me, some of these unforgettable memories are

Jacques Pic (and his wonderful Menu Rabelais, still digesting ...)

Taillevent under chef Claude Deligne

Troisgros under Pierre Troisgros

L'Auberge de l'Ill under Paul Haeberlin

Joel Robuchon's Jamin

Claude Peyrot's Vivarois

Alain Senderens's Lucas Carton

Tour d'Argent under Claude Terrail (and with three Michelin stars)

Jean Ducloux's Greuze

Comme Chez Soi under Pierre Wynants

Some places I never made it to in time will have to wait until time travel becomes possible:

Fernand Point

Alain Chapel

Louis Outhier

Francois Bise

Pierre Gaertner

Charles Barrier

Raymond Thuilier

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