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Bux

Vegetarian Haute Cuisine in France

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I have almost nothing to say about this. I don't even tend to notice if there are such options when I dine. However, there is a thread going on elsewhere and it might be helpful for those who are interested to have the discussion under a heading that will both draw posts by those who know something useful and be easily found by those with an interest in finding that information. I do have some sympathy for someone traveling France who cannot find a wonderful dinner no matter their restriction.

La Rotunde ouiside Lyon, had a vegetable menu as one of it's printed prix fixe offerings when we were there in November 2001. I hasten to add the one caveat I'd always make to a strict vegetarian as vegetables are often cooked in stock or finished with a meat jus--the swiss chard baked with mushrooms, parmesan cheese and pinenuts had been braised in chicken stock. I assume this would ruin things for most vegetarians.

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The website of two-starred Jean Bardet (Tour) indicates there is a vegetable-driven menu, among other choices. Note that Bardet has a significant garden, cultivating hundreds of varieties of vegetables.

LEGUMES DU POTAGER, Menu tout légumes - 69.00 €

(Farmers' Vegetables; All Vegetable Menu at 69 euros; rough translations only)

LE FONDANT DE NAVETS (Turnip fondant)

****

LES ASPERGES VERTES, PETITES BETTERAVES ETUVEE

salade d'herbes (Green asparagus, little beetroot, salad of herbs)

****

BARIGOULE D'ARTICHAUD VIOLET

créme de basilic (Barigoule of purple artichokes, basil cream)

****

L'ASSIETTE VERTE DE LEGUMES DU MARCHE

yaourt bulgare et piment d'Espellette ("Green" vegetable plate of the market; yoghurt and Esplette)

****

LES PETALES DE TOMATES CONFITES A L'HUILE VIERGE

citron jaune et piments de la Jamaïque, sorbet au thym frais

(Petals of tomato confit with oil, yellow lemon and Jamaican pimentos, sorbet of fresh thyme)

****

PETITS FOURS FRAIS ET SECS

****

CHOCOLATS

I have not sampled Bardet's cuisine, although that is soon to be remedied. :laugh:

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On a related theme, vegetarian haute in London is still a long way behind what they're up to in the US (eg Charlie T). Only places I can think of are the Lanesborough and the Admiralty.

I suspect the imperative is commercial - the market for haute cuisine is small enough; with veggies only being a fraction of that (would it be fair to say there are less veggies as a proportion of foodies than non-foodies) the incentives to do veggie haute are sadly lacking

Which is a shame because there are times when you want a top-class meal but really don't want to be slaughtered by a torrent of truffles and porked-up goose liver. Even two starters don't always help in some of these "foie gras with everything" joints

cheerio

J

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I can't speak for the UK at all, but traditionally, at least for the last half of the 20th century, I think the French have done far better with vegetables than the Americans and, up until recently, I've enjoyed eating vegetables in France more than the US in spite of a tendency to over cook some things. On the other hand, vegetarianism has not been strong in France and perhaps one of the reasons I've enjyed vegetables there has been the use of veal stock to cook or finish off the vegetables. Thus the all vegetable meal I might enjoy may not classify as "vegetarian."

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Thanks for setting this up Bux!!

Beurheisel in Strasbourg has a vegetarian menu (phenomenal!)

Les loges in Lyon (tasting meal by special request;also phenomenal)

Christienne Ettienne in Avignon (Tomato menu is all vegetarian but one course)

Prieure and la Mirande, in Villeneuve les Avignon and Avignon respectively, have vegetarian menus.

Thanks for the tip, Cabrales!

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On a related theme, vegetarian haute in London is still a long way behind what they're up to in the US (eg Charlie T).  Only places I can think of are the Lanesborough and the Admiralty.

J

Zaika qnd Tamarind would make any vegetarian happy.

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I have not sampled Bardet's cuisine, although that is soon to be remedied.  :laugh:

Cabrales, I hope your experience will be a good one. We stayed at Jean Bardet for two nights a couple of years ago, and I was quite disappointed with our two dinners there.

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Thanks for the recommendations thus far. My experience of finding vegetarian menus in both France and Britain has been very positive. Given advance notice most restaurants will come up with a vegetarian menu, though one's statement of vegetarianism takes longer in France, since you will be asked if chicken, seafood etc. are OK.

This summer we ate at Jacques Maximim's restaurant in Vence where we had a so-so, herby gazpacho, a fantastic green bean and truffle salad, a gratin of cocoa beans and cream, a great cheese course (with roasted garlic and walnuts), and a classic pear pudding whose name I forget.

In Britain, the best vegetarian meal I have had was at Overton Grange in Ludlow (whose chef now runs Hibiscus), but also very good were Gidleigh Park in Devon and Shaun Hill in Ludlow. I currently live in Dubai, where Gordon Ramsay's restaurant, Verre, offers a good vegetarian carte and tasting menus.

When asked to, good restaurants really do deliver, and they provide infinitely better experiences for vegetarians than middle-of-the-road restaurants which want you to enjoy yet another variation on goat's cheese, often charging you just as much a really good restaurant, since my impression is that better restaurants really do charge less for cheaper ingredients, whilst middling restaurants want a fixed minimum for all courses, no matter how cheap the ingredients. Bourdain writes on this with some glee in 'Kitchen Confidential'.

Eating as vegetarian in good restaurants is great because one's demands force chefs to come up with inventive meals.

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Bernard Loiseau has a 5-course "Vegetarian Feast" (counting cheese and dessert) for slightly over 100 euros. It is likely that Burgundy Stars describes P Wells having taken in some sort of all-potato (?) menu at Loiseau shortly prior to the restaurant's receipt of its third star.

http://miseajour.apicius.com/loiseau/uk/carte.asp

I have no information on Auberge de Clos de Cimes, and have not eaten there. However, one might think R Macon's skill with mushroom preparation might support an all-vegetarian mushroom tasting during the applicable season.

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I have to assume that, given the way the restaurant has marketed itself recently, Arpege can create a vegetarian degustation.

Jean-Michel Lorain told me that he enjoys the challenge of creating vegetarian menus. Advance notice helps, of course. But his position was that any two- or three-star restaurant should be able to assemble a multi-course vegetarian menu of a high order that exhibits an understanding not only of how to cook vegetables but also of how to balance a meal from start to finish -- and if it isn't great it says something about the chef's competence.

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One of the best totally vegetarian restaurants in France is on the Riviera in Nice-- It is actually an Italian restaurant called La Zucca Magica, right on the port. There is no menu, and for about 26 Euros you get 6 courses of wonderful creative Lacto-Vegetarian dining!! A fun, wonderful place. Lovely, dark ambience with a "Pumpkin" theme.

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Does anyone have any more experience of eating as a vegetarian in medium to high end Paris restaurants? We're going to be in Paris for lunch in a couple of weeks, and want to go somewhere good for lunch - we had been weighing up trying for a table at Arpege, but after eating at the Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsey in the last week we're feeling a little poor! In London our experience has been that anywhere with at least 1* will happily deal with vegetarians given advance notice - does the same apply in Paris?

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did you get vegetarian food at the fat duck?

and I would do Arpege if you can ..I found it sensational

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did you get vegetarian food at the fat duck?

and I would do Arpege if you can ..I found it sensational

yes (or rather my fiancee did) - the fat duck did a particularly good job of the vegetarian food, actually, coming up with similar tastes/textures to the meat dishes (for example, substituting a large cep for foie gras, which was something i hadn't ever thought of, but worked remarkably well).

Arpege is certainly very tempting, but almost ever review I've seen has made the prices seem terrifying, except for one I've saw recently that made it sound like lunch is more affordable - is there anywhere that has an actual list of their prices? I guess I should give them a ring.

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yes (or rather my fiancee did) - the fat duck did a particularly good job of the vegetarian food, actually, coming up with similar tastes/textures to the meat dishes (for example, substituting a large cep for foie gras, which was something i hadn't ever thought of, but worked remarkably well).

Arpege is certainly very tempting, but almost ever review I've seen has made the prices seem terrifying, except for one I've saw recently that made it sound like lunch is more affordable - is there anywhere that has an actual list of their prices? I guess I should give them a ring.

that is rather impressive!

I was very skeptical especially with "molecular" places whether they could easily substitute or alter dishes. Thankfully (in that regard) I don not have a vegeterian partner anymore.....

Regarding L'Arpege, I think at lunch the tasting was 130 Euro last summer.

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Arpege is certainly very tempting, but almost ever review I've seen has made the prices seem terrifying, except for one I've saw recently that made it sound like lunch is more affordable - is there anywhere that has an actual list of their prices? I guess I should give them a ring.

It has a "menu" at lunch for 130, dinner "menu" 340, a la carte 250. The food is good but worth those prices? Not sure.

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Does anyone have any more experience of eating as a vegetarian in medium to high end Paris restaurants?

Just back from aParis with a vegetarian in tow, having used this thread for inspiration. The best thing to do in the mid-market places seems to be to negotiate multiple starters rather than the usual starter/main combination. (although if you don't speak French, expect considerable confusion from the waiter).

Was disappointed to discover that Lena et Mimile is no longer taking the Hervé This approach, as suggested here. It's now pretty ordinary, albeit proficiently executed and with a good wine list.

Anyway, Maceo is highly recommended, although I guess it's hardly a secret these days. And if you're prepared to ignore national appropriateness and forgo and the meaty set menu options, El Fogón does a seriously good vegetable paella.


Edited by naebody (log)

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I thought I could update this thread with the name of Alain Passard and l'Arpège (three stars), Paris. The restaurant is famous for its potager and emphasis on vegetables. Sad to say, I've never been there :sad:

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