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Jun 08 Itineraires 6 Odeon Ducoté Grenelle Gaigne


John Talbott
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June 08 – Itineraires, Six Odeon, Ducoté Cuisine, 153 Grenelle, Le Gaigne, La Folle Avoine, Le Telegraphe, Les Comperes, M comme Martine, Mets & Vins, Valentin, Messager, 25º Est

It’s even better than Temps au Temps. Why? I dunno.

6.2 Itineraires, 5, rue de Pontoise in the 5th, 01.46.33.60.11, closed Sundays and Mondays, has been written up by all the big boys and I’d been delaying going until I could with the RFC. Today was the day. I had really liked Sylvain Sendra’s cooking at Temps au Temps and equally admired Sarah’s sang froid in the front room. But could they go successfully from 20 covers on the Rue Paul Bert to 2.5 times that in the 5th. The short answer is yes. One enters and it’s quite different; new, big, airy, welcoming – Sarah and two other wait-folk; blackboards all over with the 3 course 34 € (29 for 2) menu containing 4/5/4 plus daily specials in all three categories. The RFC ordered the hure Lyonnais which he liked and I thought was standard, but my green asparagus with a foie gras vinaigrette and dried tuna belly (like smoked duck breast slices) was outasight. He then had a magret de canard with sliced beets that again I thought were gold standard but my confited beef cheek(s) with pureed potatoes were/was incredible; the sauce intense and different from the norm. Then he had a round of picodon cheese that was straight from the frig but good; while I had a deconstructed lemon tart with sorbet that was as good as it gets. The bill after a lot of wine, one glass of which was “offered,” no bottled water and one coffee was 105 €.

Go? You bet; this is this spring’s l’Epigramme, Afaria, Spring, etc., eg the bright shining star of the season.

Bait and switch, low-ball/high-ball, whatever.

6.0 (food) - 4.0 (price-quality-deception) Six Odeon, 6 rue de l’Odeon in the 6th, 01.44.41.09.72, closed Sundays and Mondays, was touted by Emmanuel Rubin as running 30-40 € pp and on scoping the three sheets of paper in the window, I was pleased to see that one could have two of the same things offered at night for pricey prices, at lunch for 24 €. We thus entered this very trendy looking art gallery/restaurant/cantine with no expectations but an open mind. The menu, as my companion went through it, is a pastiche of traditional, bistrot and dieting-model food that certainly sounded interesting. We asked about the “menu” – Oh, we just changed everything, it’s now just a goat cheese and foie gras first and beef main. Whadabout the lunch “menu” outside? Oh, we just changed that. So, we soldiered on. My companion ordered herring with warm potatoes, a bit pricey (15 €) she said but I want potatoes. Me I ordered a warm Toulouse sausage also with potatoes and salad in a Ball jar, also pricey (15 €) but I too wanted it and didn’t want the Caesar salad, salad with parmesan, etc., alternatives. Both were very, very good; both were tasty and tart and tangy. Then she had a gateau Landaise (20 €) and I the beef special with many terrific veggies and aioli (18 €). If you’re doing the math you can see we’d already easily exceeded the 24 € lunch advertised. So we went for broke with one shared very fine sort-of moelleux chocolate cake (8 €). With a bottle of the cheapest wine, a small bottle of water (6 €, which is rubbing it in), and no coffee, our bill was 124 €. This may have been the most expensive meal of the month and was totally not as advertised.

Go? For the food, yes; for the deception about the prices, no way.

The next big thing? Could be.

5.6 Ducoté Cuisine, 112, ave Victor Hugo in Boulogne-Billancourt, 01.48.25.49.20, closed Sundays and Mondays opened just a few weeks ago, but only Emmanuel Rubin seems to have glommed onto it – what a shame! While it’s pricey (80 € a la carte) as you’ll see later, one can exit for under the magic number (50 €) and it’s well-worth the long subway ride to Sembat because it’s almost just opposite the exit. I went on a typically grey, rainy, Roland Garros day and got drenched entering and leaving. It is elegantly appointed, clearly the charming couple who run it, Amelie and Julien Ducoté, who know NY and the States well (Daniel for four years), intend for this to shoot up the charts. The cooking is elegant and yet traditional and yet innovative. They started me off with an amuse gueule of a curry-battered shrimp set on a bed of chopped tomato salsa with a shotglass of spicy gazpacho – both simply wonderful. Then I had the daily entrée special, a mousse of sandre with lobster sauce; not unlike quenelles de brochet; I sopped up ever drop of sauce, that had a kick at the end, with their excellent wheaty bread roll. After I had the main special – monkfish with an intense red-brown sauce (one almost thought it had foie gras in it, it was so tasty.) Besides the lotte was a large serving of tasty spring veggies: asparagus, artichoke hearts, green peas and tiny potatoes. Though I had no coffee, they provided a nice mini-éclair with caramel and a raspberry tarte/thing. I had no dessert, bottled water or dessert but if one has the 2-course 35 € formula (3-courses are 43 € at lunch) with a half-bottle of wine (that start at 14 €; bottles commence at 22 € and go to 950 € for the Lafitte-R) one can get out for under the magic number.

Go? Of course you won’t, but this is this year’s Magnolias.

Another fine spring opening.

5.55 153 Grenelle, 153 rue de Grenelle in the 7th, 01.45.51.54.12, closed Sundays, is an incredibly classy place; classy food, classy setting, classy carafe d’eau, classy wait-folk and sommelier and classy prices (59 € for the 3-3-2 choice menu.) I went on a sunny day with an eGullet member who isn’t quite sure yet if she likes French food yet (over her native Asian fare) but I think it made an impression. We both had the 35 € menu, which has 2-2-2 choices and we split the possibilities. She started with purple artichoke hearts in a nice sauce topped-off with a slice of pancetta that set off the blandness of the hearts perfectly. I had an unusual (because it was tart – terrifically so) asparagus soup with teeny tiny wild asparagus stalks. Then she had the fish that replaced the turbot, but nothing lost in the substitution, it was quite good, with a cabbage side. I chose the baby (milk-fed) lamb chops which were also delicious, with excellent mashed potatoes. We finished with the goat cheese dressed with olive oil and the melon with melon ice, both also good. There was a slight problem with the bill (overcharged by 11 €) but remedied and wound up with coffees but no bottled water at 100 € for two; no bad for excellent food.

Go? You haven’t got distance as an excuse.

A little gem, barely found, but for how long?

5.5 Le Gaigne, 12, rue Pecquay in the 4th, 01.44.59.86.72, closed Tuesday – thus open Saturday, Sunday, Mondays, hooray! Let me start with the young chef – Mickael Gaignon – who’s passed through the shops of the Pre Catalan, Gagnaire and Gaya; he may be young but he’s got it. And his wife Aurelie is terrific in the front room. When I entered (coming off this dingy street in nowheresville to find tables decorated with young live herbs) and realized it was just the two of them (plus a kitchen aide/plongeur) for 20 covers, I worried that they could never get the food out promptly, but they did, meanwhile turning away people who drifted by and saw the reviews by E Rubin et al in the window. I was worried about the “brunch on Sunday” note in Figaroscope, but the chef insisted that they served the full weekly menu too. And they did with no cancellations or substitutions. For this tiny and new a place, they served an amuse-bouche - of real vichyssoise – I haven’t had it so good in years. Then I had terrific small cromesquis morsels of morue, thankfully not called brandade, that were crisp outside and melting inside, with forceful watercress sprigs and puree. The bread is worth commenting on, not crusty, but dense with a moist wheaty flavor, quite, quite good. My main was/were a divine farm chicken served two ways; a sliced breast with a delicious herb/cream sauce and rollatine bits atop young green stuffed cabbage. I had no dessert but a terrific Molongo coffee with fine marshmallows. Coda: there’s a funky pink light in the bathroom and a funky tin milk pail instead of a wash basin (someone has a good sense of humor.) The bill = 42 € with two glasses of wine – but other days, the menus are 16 and 22 and wines begin at 14 €.

Go? Yes, this guy knows what he’s doing. He’ll be moving into bigger space eventually for sure, with higher prices, so go soon.

No pretensions, no frou-frou, just good chow and great service.

5.5 La Folle Avoine, 91, rue de Grenelle in the 7th, 01.45.51.02.59, closed Sundays, opened to almost no acclaim, except for Emmanuel Rubin’s keen eye. I went expecting nothing and was pleasantly surprised. The exterior and interior are purple-tinged in a very soothing way. But you look around and there are arty pix of Audrey Hepburn (from the “Breakfast at Tiffany” era) and the Brooklyn Bridge and music such as Johnny Cash/Joaquin Phoenix and Procol Harum, played non-obtrusively. Oh, and my wine from Alex Lichine’s son Sacha had a quote from the Rolling Stones. The options are many: one dish plus 2 drinks for 20; 2 dishes plus one drink for 25; and 3 plus a drink are 30 € (and the glasses of wine are 20 cl = 7 ounces) and they also allow you to order a la carte. I started with a terrific brochette of three grilled shrimp with sesame seeds and oil and salad and a shot-glass of gazpacho that was quite soothing as well. My squid main was too salty and the artichoke halves were presented in a Ducasse/Aux Lyonnais/Ball jar but these are minor quibbles. The chocolate moelleux with pistachio ice cream was as good as it gets. A problem? – I worry about the charming chef’s tobacco addiction – he should live a long life – he’s does good stuff, but at the rate he puffing them down, who knows? The bill, as I say, 3 dishes plus 2 glasses of wine and coffee run one 38 €.

Go? You bet, especially if you’re selling arms to Hervé Morin or blackboards to Xavier Darcos or are in the nabe.

Le Telegraphe - On a great day, near the Orsay, you cannot beat it.

5.4 Le Telegraphe, 41 rue de Lille in the 7th, 01.58.62.10.08, open everyday for lunch only, with menus at 24.50 (2 courses) and 29.50 € (3 courses) looks much the same inside as when we last visited 20 years ago except I saw none of the old photos of the women “manning” banks of telegraphs/telephones that used to decorate the salle. Since then, it’s changed owners and focus at least twice, most recently appearing as a Kosher place that someone on the Kosher Blog called the “best restaurant in the world” in 2006 – Whoa! If it was that good why is it now under new management, etc? In any case, I entered and was impressed by the amount of money they’d sunk into the chairs and tables (resembling Gordon Ramsey’s high-priced internal restaurant at Versailles.) The nice waitperson asked if I’d like to sit inside or out – foolish lady – it was 75º and sunny and the terrace looked delightful, which it was until the patrons felt free to smoke and talk loudly on cell-phones in this space with echoing brick walls. I didn’t really cotton to the ultra-healthy salad firsts so chose to just have a main and dessert. The amuse gueule was a tiny but good piece of liver, nicely sautéed, atop a dozen cooked apple bits. Then I had crispy-skinned, roasted pintade with a cream and rosemary sauce that was perfectly made and served along with fine rosemary-flavored rice. My dessert was a crème brulée, flamed off at the table a la the Pump Room, circa 1950. OK. Finally a good coffee, which with wine and no bottled water runs one 50 €. PS. the bread was warm and made there and so good I hustled some off to have with my raclette tonight.

Go? While not as bucolic as say the terrace at the Maison de l’Amerique Latine, it’s a great place to have a good, calm but not dazzling meal.

What a nice place to have lunch in.

5.3 Les Comperes (de Dantzig), 32, rue de Dantzig in the 15th, 01.45.33.72.71, closed Sunday and Monday nights. It’s another “to hell and gone” place, just across from the “Lost and Found” building, has a small but good “cave” at the entrance, is packed with locals and looks really brand new (3 ½ months old) and reminded me of both Les Papilles and Les Racines. This was a place listed in ANP as being a good value place and with its 14 € 2-courses (wonderful looking melon with ham, beef and veggie brochettes and a faiselle with a coulis of red fruits) with coffee formula, it sure was. I though wanted something(s) else. I started with a salade gourmande which I did with some trepidation since the last time I had one, it was just a few blocks away and descending from the bus my knee locked, I had to fly to the States the next day and the next thing I knew my meniscus was magically removed. In any case, added to the quite nice salad, green beans and baby tomatoes were slices of fine foie gras, duck breast but also wonderful warm soft, yummy, confited gizzards. My. Then I had spareribs with a caramelized surface, perfectly crisp on the outside and moist inside. I’m not a potato man but man these potatoes were good. I had a nice wine (they unfiltered, etc and are 4 a glass, 10 a carafe and 16-50 € a bottle), good Kimbo (Naples) coffee, awful bread and tap water - the bill was a gentle 41 €.

Go? It’s not yet in the Afaria + Grand Pan league yet but I have a suspicion it soon will be. If I lived nearby this would be another “cook’s night out” option.

The perfect example of a neighborhood resto you wish you had in NY, LA, Chi or (ouf) Baltimore.

5 M Comme Martine, 33, rue Cardinet in the 17th, 01.43.80.63.60, closed Sundays and Monday dinner, underwent a change in chefs a few months after I wrote it up in April 2007 and gave it a 4.3 calling it the “perfect example of a neighborhood resto you wish you had.” I see no reason to revise my opinion. It’s quite, quite nice. I was 15 late, which is unusual, due to horrible traffic, a balky bus-driver and bad karma. I don’t like to be late anytime but especially not when dining with a multi-talented much-published food writer (MTMPFW). So when I entered, I forgot to take a pix as I always try to do to lead off my pieces with some color, tone and flavor, but more of that later. I also barely registered the changes in the place; indeed, were there any? There’s a 17 € menu with a lentil salad, some fowl or some fish and a dessert; but we both ordered off the carte, which you’ll see wasn’t expensive. Spookily enough, I had the same starter (tuna tartare) I had a year ago but this came a la guacamole (eg with avocado, chopped scallions and the tuna). I ate halfway thru it before realizing it was unsalted and un-Tabasco’d; once I added salt it improved 100% tastewise and when I hit the bottom I got the pepper hit. Madame, the MTMPFW, had a lovely looking artichokey salad. We didn’t trade bites because I felt awkward offering her a bit of fish she now avoids because it’s overfished; I felt therefore doubly-guilty. She then proceeded to supions with a - was it really pink? – foamy topping that was quite good with zucchini (one of her top two likes) spaghetti. I had a simply super, properly cooked (“presque bleu” = some outside bits burnt, some inside liver still quivering), thick enough to recall Chez les Anges, circa 1968-70 with – I was in heaven I thought it so good. (Do you know when one dish changes your whole view of a place – oh well, that’s an essay for another day.) We had no dessert but coffees properly made both long and short as asked for. The after-dinner choco-pralines were fine as well. Our bill with no bottled water but two glasses of wine – I wasn’t “working” this afternoon, she was – was 66 €. Beat that folks!

Should one go? For the fourth time, if you live/rent/hotel in the 17th, I envy you. Go.

Good products, good wines, a great host (Pierre-Benoit Perard) and a good time, what more could one ask for?

4.9 Mets & Vins, 14, rue Saussier in the 17th, 01.42.27.64.58, closed Sundays, is a place I’d walked by and into a few months ago and was astonished by the newness of the furniture amidst a mountain of wines. Somehow I didn’t get around to going until today. Why? Oh, I guess I was confused by Emmanuel Rubin’s 1 heart rating but 2 heart review. I went after reserving (warning, they don’t always answer the phone, but do give a cell number, and they will show up: they being three guys who together manage the wine store – Mes Accords Mets-Vins, 10, rue Bridaine in the 17th and Mets & Vins.) As I entered the host was sampling a white with two locals and discussing it earnestly (which he did just fine, but did not with me, sensing correctly that I hate “winespeak,” if you know what I mean). Then he turned to me and explained that they just have wine, cheese and charcuterie, one cold and one warm plat and a dessert (no surprise, because I knew that from the reviews and chalkboard). There was no mention of where stuff was from, which I appreciated since I’m tired of waiters boasting about serving Bordier butter, I mean nowadays, who doesn’t – Flunch and McDo’s? The next guy who struts about Bordier, I swear I’ll bop. But of course it was Bordier butter, Alleose cheese, Leautey charcuterie and Mes Accords Mets-Vins wines. I started with a Toulouse sausage with potatoes, both lukewarm (the guys have one tiny oven/micro, which is one reason why their predecessor Presqu’ile, failed), both perfection, especially with the tart Greek olive oil and ground salt and pepper. Then, though I was full I had the “small” plate of 3 sheep cheeses and an aged Gouda; quite nice. It was all accompanied with a bottle of Moulin a vent (that he complimented me on choosing – a good move for any host) a la ficelle (you only pay 10 € corkage and for what you consume). Bills therefore, will range according to the price and consummation of wine but should run 30-40 € with coffee.

Disclosure – Pierre-Benoit Perard and I talked endlessly about wine, American and French politics, their business and the neighborhood over 2 glasses of super Givry, offered as they say.

Go? If you liked the old Caves Miard/La Crémerie and Les Papilles, you’ll probably like this place, it’s better than 1-heart. But of course, one is judging their choice of products.

A hole in the wall that comes up with pretty decent chow. Where?

4.5 Valentin, 64, rue Rebeval in the 19th, 01.42.08.12.34, closed Sundays has one dish at 10, 2 for 13.50 and 3 = 16.50 €. So where is the rue Rebeval? Where Le Baratin, Zoe Bouillon, Mon Oncle Vigneron, O. Bon. Home, Mukura + Chapeau Melon are. It has a wonderful provenance: Argentinean/Latin American in origin with a Thai chefess who cooks things like Mexican chicken molé. Two of us went one dismal early June lunch. I started with the Thai duck salad that was exactly flavored like Colette’s Thai beef salad, that is great and I mopped up every drop of the sauce with my bread. He had oeufs mayo he admired equally well. Then we both had the chicken mole, that didn’t match the one served at El Parador on East 34rd St, circa 1968, but what does? The potatoes that came with it were nicely browned and garlicky. We finished up with a tarte tatin and warm clafoutis creole (banana) that was flamed; both very nice. With coffee, no bottled water and two carafes of house wine, the bill was 53 € that my dining partner picked up most graciously and unnecessarily.

Go? You won’t, but if you’re near there - you should?

Oh I wanted to like it. Truly.

1.5 Le Messager, 28, rue du General Bertrand in the 7th, 01.47.34.30.26, closed Sundays was a place both Le Monde + Figaroscope were not wholly enthusiastic about but liked some things. It had opened a few months ago but given the burst of new places this spring, only now has it worked its way up my list to a reachable position. I went on a brilliantly sunny day and I thought that that and the multiple choices on the chalkboard were good omens. As an amuse gueule there was a small ramekin of peanuts which I started eating, then felt guilty because none of the other tables seemed so provisioned, but they did appear spottily elsewhere afterwards. As I said, there were lots of choices on the 16 € formula chalkboard (3/3/3 I think) and many more on the a la carte one. I chose to start with the risotto with gambas which wasn’t half bad albeit a bit skimpy on the shrimp. Then I had the duck thigh fondante, which I thought then and now was a strange use of the adjective. It was nicely-cooked but had a strange, slightly woody and honeyish sauce accompanying it – not bad, just strange – along with a tartly-dressed salad and mound of mashed potatoes. I finished with a pain perdu that also had a strange but not bad taste and thus I was left with two strange tastes versus one nice one. Now I began to calculate how I’d rate this place, taking into consideration also:

1. The waitress’s lack of knowledge of what people had ordered what.

2. Her blowing her nose in a Kleenex and not then washing her hands.

3. The coffee asked for serré was saturated with water, and yet

4. The chef was most genial, inquiring about my family ties to Talbot/t wines.

The bill for the formula plus a glass of wine could be 20 € but mine was 38 € with two glasses of wine at 4 € (bottles were 16-50 €.)

Should one go? Why not? I think it deserves another tasting but unfortunately not by me. Someone’s got to confirm or refute my impression.

I oftentimes tell the story about how it’s important it is to “anchor” one’s ratings. 25º Est did that for me today.

0.0-1.0 25º Est, Bassin de la Villette in the 19th, is in one of the most opportune and beautiful spots in Paris; at the bottom of the basin. I went, despite the lack of many reviews except Richard Hesse’s idyllic report from last summer. The menu is not inspiring; lots of desserts, cheese, wine and salads. The clientele is eclectic; Moms with kids, kids themselves, business folk and a largely 22-32 crowd. They have a daily menu for 14.80 €, 2 courses for 11.80 €. I ordered the 1st special Quiche Lorraine – safe eh? Unh unh. Terribly, much too salty, although not bad. Then the main – a bavette with fried potatoes and salad; beef tough (expected) and tasteless (surprise): mustard, salt and pepper and cursing didn’t improve it. Potatoes - oh well. Finally the crème caramel; quite good actually, as was (very surprisedly) the bread and the Sinatra and Sinatra-era songs playing nonstop.

The bill (no bottled water) with coffee and ½ l. of house wine =’s 27.80 € .

Go? Well, I suppose with your teenage kids or young adult kids with toddlers (great fountains and boats galore).

Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

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Well, as they used to say on the commercials, your mileage may differ. I was thrilled to have stumbled across Itineraires when out for a walk one day in early May since I had absolutely loved le Temps au Temps. I made a reservation for dinner immediately and looked forward to it all day. Having arrived in a downpour, we were welcomed and seated with an aperitif and ordered from what sounds like the same menu you were offered. I had the asparagus in vinaigrette, in which I could identify no foie gras, and found the dried tuna belly just odd. This was followed by the beef cheek confit, the sauceof which was, in my opinion, TOO intense and I just couldn't finish it. The potato puree however was the best I've ever had.

Can't remember what my husband had, but we were both disappointed and agreed that it just didn't measure up to Temps au Temps. The service was very warm and we had quite a long talk with Mme. Sendra, who was charming, but we left feeling no need to return.

Having not had a chance to read any reviews since then I'm a bit startled to hear you rave. I feel we do need to try it again, but given we had the same dishes, I wonder if it's just a matter of personal taste. Maybe we could try it together next time and compare on the spot.

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John,

Re Six Odeon... you said "Me I ordered a warm Toulouse sausage also with potatoes and salad in a Ball jar." Why do you think a place like this serves salad in a Ball jar?

Keeping up with the Joneses or in this case Alain Ducasse. And I'm sure it's not really a Ball jar but some fancy handblown glass one.

John Talbott

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John, thank you for letting me know where the Sendras left Temps au Temps for. In your review of Le Gaigne you mention that it is open on Sundays. Is it open for dinner or only brunch? When we arrive in Paris this coming October it will be on a Sunday and it sounds like Le Gaigne may be the place to go that day. The others on my short list are Astier and La Cave l'Os a Moelle. Also thanks for your monthly reviews.

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They did have a brunch Sunday noon but a full menu too. Most people were having brunch but there was no resentment at my ordering just like it was a weekday.

Two other Sunday real lunch places are Garance and Fine Gueules (about which some eG folk disagree with me)

John, thank you for letting me know where the Sendras left Temps au Temps for. In your review of Le Gaigne you mention that it is open on Sundays. Is it open for dinner or only brunch? When we arrive in Paris this coming October it will be on a Sunday and it sounds like Le Gaigne may be the place to go that day. The others on my short list are Astier and La Cave l'Os a Moelle. Also thanks for your monthly reviews.

John Talbott

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They did have a brunch Sunday noon but a full menu too.  Most people were having brunch but there was no resentment at my ordering just like it was a weekday.

Two other Sunday real lunch places are Garance and Fine Gueules (about which some eG folk disagree with me)

John, thank you for letting me know where the Sendras left Temps au Temps for. In your review of Le Gaigne you mention that it is open on Sundays. Is it open for dinner or only brunch? When we arrive in Paris this coming October it will be on a Sunday and it sounds like Le Gaigne may be the place to go that day. The others on my short list are Astier and La Cave l'Os a Moelle. Also thanks for your monthly reviews.

John, my question is Le Gaigne open for dinner on Sundays, 7:30-9:30, or only brunch at noon. Pudlo nor Michelin have any information. Le Gaigne seems like a great place, not only for the food you describe but also because it might be a pleasant walk back to Cour du Bel Air. We hope that the quartier near Cour du Bel Air is not as exciting as Cara Black's novel "Murder in The Bastille". Thank you for any help in solving my Sunday dinner dilema.

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John, I have answered my own question. Google was able to lead me Le Gaigne’s website http://www.restaurantlegaigne.fr/index.html and they are indeed open for dinner Sundays, 7:15-10:30. If anyone else has been there or to Itineraires please post their experiences. Poppy Quince seemed much less enthused about Itineraires than John. This type of difference makes dinning and wine tasting so interesting.

Off topic. Last week my wife and I attended the DjangoFest in Mill Valley, California for our second year. Where can we go in Paris to see musicians that carry on his music? It is amazing that so many great guitar players today are doing with five fingers what Django did with only three so well. To make this fit into eGullets food and drink theme it could be moved into it’s own thread “Biere & Jazz".

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2 of us went for lunch on saturday at Ducoté Cuisine.

After a nice tuna and gaspacho amuse, we both had tourteau ( don't know the translation but it's very close to crab) than one had lobster w/ baby vegetables and pasta, while I had the poultry and gingerbread dish. we then shared a cheese course, and a gariguette strawberries and almond milk ice cream dessert.

Overall nothing bad, HUGE portions, but IMHO each single dish was too sweet, too neat, lacking nervosity...and the wine list matched it perfectly.

Actually before meeting him, I would have thought the chief was in his 60's or 70's, not 25 yo.

the bill for 2x 3dishes, 1 bottle of white, 1 bottle of water, 1 coffee was 190euros.

So not a hit for me , but it is still nice to try new places.

Let Eat Be

Food, Wine & other Delights

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Le Gaigne – A pleasant Sunday revisit* with a gang.

Not much changed from my last visit until today* except the amuse gueule was a little croque of lentils with ham and a slice of fine sausage atop, the wheaty bread was replaced by Banette and there were no marshmallows with the coffee. Since there were four of us we stretched the menu out a bit; for a starter I had an heirloom tomato and other squashed veggies in a pastry crust much like the veggie terrine I had at the Bistrot 121 forty years ago; my male friend had the tete de veau and Madame the warm veggies, both of which were just fine. Then two of us had the chicken, made as it was last time with forcemeat inside cabbage pockets; one had the lamb special and Colette had a rouget – all were quite happy. Finally we had a moelleux that had apricot pieces inside – good idea; one had rhubarb and two folks exotic fruits. With two bottles of perfectly light and chilled red Loires, two coffees and no bottled water we were out for 194 € for the four of us.

Go back. Colette said sure, even on a non-Sunday.

*Last visit June 22, 2008, fully paid for.

John Talbott

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June 08 – Itineraires, Six Odeon, Ducoté Cuisine, 153 Grenelle, Le Gaigne, La Folle Avoine, Le Telegraphe, Les Comperes, M comme Martine, Mets & Vins, Valentin, Messager, 25º Est

Oh I wanted to like it.  Truly.

1.5 Le Messager, 28, rue du General Bertrand in the 7th, 01.47.34.30.26, closed Sundays was a place both Le Monde + Figaroscope were not wholly enthusiastic about but liked some things. 

The bill for the formula plus a glass of wine could be 20 € but mine was 38 € with two glasses of wine at 4 € (bottles were 16-50 €.)

Pretty dicey math John. How many glasses of wine?

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The three harshest critics I know came back with me today* to Itineraires and loved it. Even the bread. For firsts we had the tomato gazpacho, sardine rillettes with a [sic] cornichon sorbet and a rabbit nem roll with mousseron mushrooms and cilantro; all inventive, slightly but not too busy or deconstructed and delicious. Then we had the joue de boeuf with mashies, that were mashed and whipped with something akin to egg whites posited Madame the expert cook; a huge souris of lamb with a coco-bean puree; rabbit with celery puree with vanilla; cod with clams and Japanese citrus (combawa) all also super. Finally I had a chocolate wonder with peanuts in the air; others the strawberries and rhubarb and what was called citron tart revisted – which surely was – this was truly deconstructed but very well deconstructed. Our bill for 4, with 4 coffees, 2 bottles of wine and no bottled water was 168 €.

*Our revisit was June 24th, fully paid and we reserved again for next week.

John Talbott

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OK, I guess we'll have to go back.  I'd love to find I was mistaken the first time.

No no no. If your heart says no, don't go. We should start a topic on this. There are places, such as l'Astrance, Ze Kitchen Galerie + Itineraires where honorable eaters disagree; we should respect that. We should each speak our piece, but tastes differ and that's life. And information as to where to go.

John Talbott

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153 Grenelle - A revisit* that revealed a weakness.

Well, we three went again today* and upon looking at the "menu" all gasped: not great choices, but no a la carte, so we were stuck. Oh well. Ordered. Two of us had the carpaccio of bass (loup) with a dribble of oil and generous microtomed slices of cantaloupe and Colette the heirloom tomatoes with a boiled egg; all quite good. Then the men had the lamb chops with again a generous portion of string beans while Madame had the whiting (merlan) with a timbale of ratatouille; all again quite good. We waved the goat cheese option for the Ganguette strawberries with a digestif sauce; once again, quite good. Our bill, after 3-35 E menus, 2 bottles of wine and 3 coffees was 170 E.

Go? Sure, but the weakness I referred to is/are the limited choices on the "menu;" so go only if you're one or two.

*Last meal June 27th, fully paid for.

John Talbott

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OK, I guess we'll have to go back.  I'd love to find I was mistaken the first time.

No no no. If your heart says no, don't go. We should start a topic on this. There are places, such as l'Astrance, Ze Kitchen Galerie + Itineraires where honorable eaters disagree; we should respect that. We should each speak our piece, but tastes differ and that's life. And information as to where to go.

I agree that we don't have to agree, but since you (and the three harshest critics you know!) were so enthusiastic, who am I to dig in my heels and refuse to give it another try? I intend to go back and hope to be won over next time. (I'll take a couple of critics along as well to make sure.) :wink:

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OK, I guess we'll have to go back.  I'd love to find I was mistaken the first time.

No no no. If your heart says no, don't go. We should start a topic on this. There are places, such as l'Astrance, Ze Kitchen Galerie + Itineraires where honorable eaters disagree; we should respect that. We should each speak our piece, but tastes differ and that's life. And information as to where to go.

I agree that we don't have to agree, but since you (and the three harshest critics you know!) were so enthusiastic, who am I to dig in my heels and refuse to give it another try? I intend to go back and hope to be won over next time. (I'll take a couple of critics along as well to make sure.) :wink:

From my recent dinner at Itinéraires, I'd say that even if it's good overall, some dishes are way better than some others (and I can understand why some can be enthusiastic about it, at least I am). John pointed that in his review, somehow, and I think he was spot on. Maybe you were "unlucky" in your choices...

And I also think Itinéraires is about more than the food. Couldn't say why exactly, but there's a nice feeling there that already makes me want to go back before they go on holiday.

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OK we've got:

Go? You bet; this is this spring’s l’Epigramme, Afaria, Spring, etc., eg the bright shining star of the season.
From my recent dinner at Itinéraires, I'd say that even if it's good overall, some dishes are way better than some others (and I can understand why some can be enthusiastic about it, at least I am).

Versus:

we left feeling no need to return.
So not a hit for me , but it is still nice to try new places.

My father had an annoying response to pleas that he side with either me or my sister in arcane arguments (such as, does a glass of milk have tidal activity?) He would say, "You're both right."

Well, I've just come back from meal three at Itineraires and I now agree with Poppy and daemon even though I used to think Olivier and I were correct.

What was wrong?

Well, it's hard to pin it down.

As Atar said "it's as if another chef was cooking today." The veal tongue was so-so and the spicy guacamole helped but not enough, though Colette thought her gaspacho was equal to her last one.

Then two of us had the quail special that was again so-so, the lotte (8 E supplement - Why?) with veggies and rabbit were not raved about either.

We decided to call it a day then; the bill with 4 coffees, 2 wines and no bottled water was 159 Euros for four.

Go again? Hoo boy, let's see how this topic goes.

John Talbott

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OK we've got:

Go? You bet; this is this spring’s l’Epigramme, Afaria, Spring, etc., eg the b

Well, I've just come back from meal three at Itineraires and I now agree with Poppy and daemon even though I used to think Olivier and I were correct.

What was wrong?

Well, it's hard to pin it down.

As Atar said "it's as if another chef was cooking today."  The veal tongue was so-so and the spicy guacamole helped but not enough, though Colette thought her gaspacho was equal to her last one.

Then two of us had the quail special that was again so-so, the lotte (8 E supplement - Why?) with veggies and rabbit were not raved about either.

We decided to call it a day then; the bill with 4 coffees, 2 wines and no bottled water was 159 Euros for four.

Go again?  Hoo boy, let's see how this topic goes.

BYEbye Itineraires

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We are booked in next Saturday (12th July) so it will be interesting to see which version of Itineraires we experience. I will report back.

We have decided to try mostly restaurant that we have not visited - all get mixed views - should be interesting. We start at the old favorite with lunch at Le Regalade, Dinner at Les Ombres, then Itineraires, and finally lunch at the Ramsay's La Veranda.

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We tried Itineraires last Thursday evening. I really, really wanted to love this place. The welcome was warm and we were given our choice of best in house tables. My husband was "off his wine feed" so we ordered by the glass and Mme Sendra was delighted to match wines with our several courses.

Our first course was perfect. My gaspacho set a new bar for the dish: an almost clear tomato broth that tasted fresh off the vine, clean herbal accents, like nothing I've had before. I'd kill for the recipe since gaspacho is a summer staple with us. My husband's foie gras was above reproach and the spiced apple puree accent was interesting, if a little close to apple butter for his taste.

Then we waited. Our plates were very slow in arriving and were a jarring contrast to the entrees. My husband's cabillaud in a shellfish nage was just okay. But while I love tarragon, my rable of lapin was completely overwhelmed by its undisciplined use. It was accompanied by an interesting celery root puree, but all in all a rather odd plate.

Then we waited some more. A lot more. I don't remember if we each ordered the same dessert or shared one. It was, however, fennel confit with chevre glace. I wanted to like the combination as well as both parts, but really didn't enjoy any of it.

We were at table for more than two hours for these three courses. It appeared that the kitchen was fighting to stay abreast of the dining room, and it was pretty obvious that it was losing the battle. Larger tables enjoyed the luxury of having no pressure to eat rather than converse, but we noticed all around us that at small tables, the very ong time between courses became a strain.

If all of our dishes were on a par with the gaspacho, I'd book every night. But it wasn't a particularly enjoyable evening, and I was sad when I left.

eta that the beef cheeks were obviously the correct order, but it was such a hot evening that lapin sounded less heavy. Should I go again, however,...

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)

eGullet member #80.

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Colette thought her gaspacho was equal to her last one
Well, Margaret and Colette agree on that.

This place mystifies me.

Let's see what PhilD gets Saturday.

Like Margaret my partner and I really wanted to love the place. After meeting friends for drinks in the 7eme we had strolled through the tourist horrors of the 6 and 5eme and thought Itineraires looked really good. A comfortable room, and a really nice welcome, set the tone for what we hoped with be a great meal. But like others have found it was very patchy. The next table to us asked what we thought after our starters (they had just ordered) I thought the most tactful thing to say was "interesting...!". At the end of the meal he replied "interesting..!" Our experience was as follows:

Lots and lots of blackboards, a good sign obviously a seasonal food. But no, once we had settled the waitress reeled off a list of specials. I had wondered how long it took to update the blackboards everyday - mystery solved they don't, they are simply a design feature.

First course I had the veal tongue. Quite nice and crispy, but accompanied by grapes, and grapefruit segments and spicy guacamole - although it was either very mild spicing or else the fruits flavours had blown out the flavours because it was very bland. Overall a pretty badly constructed dish with a lot of the components fighting each other. My partner had a salmon cerviche with beetroot puree and sour cream. An even stranger dish, the beetroot had raspberries through it, and the sour cream was aerated (soda siphon?) giving it a strange texture. Again badly put together, very nice salmon, but the beetroot/raspberry puree simply didn't work, and the sour cream could have come out of a can.

For our main courses I had the beef cheeks, which would have been good except for the beetroot/raspberry sauce which was around the beef. It came with potato puree, which had a very weird texture best described as "claggy" with almost a mouse like structure. My partner chose the rabbit, with celeriac puree, which she thought was truly outstanding - no overdose of tarragon. She loved every mouthful.

For desserts my partner had a warm strawberries with basil and dried olive pepper, and vanilla ice-cream. Another outstanding dish - everything worked. This was a contrast to me dessert which was a "tarte au citron revisited" - I wish I hadn't.

In summary a disappointing experience, we so wanted it to work, but the food was almost schizophrenic. Some dishes quite superb others very well cooked but mis-constructed with jarring flavours. Needless to say the four Parisian gentlement at the next table were also disapointed and remarked they would not be back. This may not be an issue for them given the number of American accents in the room - I think it has just had a favourable review in a national paper in the US.

As we discussed the meal we wondered if this could be a result of the chefs in Paris having very limited horizons, during training they stage through kitchens cooking variations of the same theme (and no doubt they relax in these places as well). Paris has great traditional food, chefs with great technique, but it does it have the breadth of food to let new chefs gain experience of what works and what doesn't...?

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  • 2 weeks later...
John,

Re Six Odeon... you said "Me I ordered a warm Toulouse sausage also with potatoes and salad in a Ball jar." Why do you think a place like this serves salad in a Ball jar?

For trivia trend watchers this news - August's Gourmet has six different recipes and four photos of salads in jars in an article (pps 46-49) entitled "Picnic in a Glass."

John Talbott

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A friend whose food judgment I trust just added this:

I just read this
My father had an annoying response to pleas that he side with either me or my sister in arcane arguments (such as, does a glass of milk have tidal activity?) He would say, "You're both right."

Well, I've just come back from meal three at Itineraires and I now agree with Poppy and daemon even though I used to think Olivier and I were correct.

What was wrong?

Well, it's hard to pin it down.

As Atar said "it's as if another chef was cooking today." The veal tongue was so-so and the spicy guacamole helped but not enough, though Colette thought her gaspacho was equal to her last one.

Then two of us had the quail special that was again so-so, the lotte (8 E supplement - Why?) with veggies and rabbit were not raved about either.

We decided to call it a day then; the bill with 4 coffees, 2 wines and no bottled water was 159 Euros for four.

Go again? Hoo boy, let's see how this topic goes.

and I thought about my last meal, a couple of days ago. We had loads of great wine, but food was more than more than more than so so...

Maybe a good (and huge) entrecôte, but the veal tongue was not generous at all (and over cooked), the gaspacho as gaspacho as it could have been (but I really prefer the gaspachos at Fogon), the cocotte of mulet (instead of the lotte, cooked differently and this time with a 10€ supplément!) with vegetables was non interesting (vegetables OK but fish not tasty, or maybe it tasted like mud?). Most of all, the place was packed and really, really, way too noisy... Really nice, though: the charcuterie platter with amazing andouille and spanish ham and chorizo. Oh, and everyone loved the purée you once had. Oh, and the rabbit I had was as dry as a desert (and that, I cannot forgive: I mean,….,râble de lapin is supposed to be juicy and tender, right?!) the celeriac and vanilla purée served with the rabbit was purely amazing.

I felt terrible, because it's always been good so far... And I wonder when I'll go back — surely not tomorrow!

John Talbott

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