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January eating in Paris


hemingway
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Paris Eating

My latest trip to Paris was Jan 11-15. My goal was to get good value for the money. I wanted fantastic food but the bulk of my research was bistros where you would get great food including wine and service for around 100 euros for two. I considered using price line for a hotel where I knew I could get a four star hotel for $150 per night around the Defense area or the far 15th. However, I noticed an expedia offer for Prince de Galles that was 40% off if you stayed four nights or more so I jumped on that and had a superior room for $303 per night. The hotel was on Avenue George V and next door to the Four Seasons. It couldn’t have been a better location and this size room had a hallway, marble bathroom and extra room for your luggage. Many thanks to those here who responded to my request for suggestions before the trip on places to eat. I would go again to all of them.

Le Devez, 5 pl de l’Alma. 8th. 53-67-97-53

We ate here on our first night in Paris when were still jet lagged but it was just a three minute walk from the Four Seasons and you got to see a nice view of the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night. We both ordered the onion soup to start which was full of gruyere cheese and sweet onions which was the best onion soup I have had. This restaurant is known for the Aubrac beef, made from one of the finest races of French cattle. My friend ordered the Aubrac burger, which is considered the best hamburger in Paris and I had the Aubrau steak. We shared the aligot (creamy mashed potatoes with garlic and cantal cheese) and had the green beans on the side, washed down by a bold red wine. Instead of dessert we had the cheese tray. It was an excellent start to the trip.

Laduree, 75 Ave Champs-Elysees. Many other locations

This institution dates back to 1862 as a coffee shop-tea room. Zagat calls it “refined but not snooty” and that pretty much sums it up. We ate at the Champs-Elysees location for breakfast one morning and had perfect omelets, croissants and fresh fruit. If you are at this location make sure to take a peek at the jewel box bar located at the far end of the take out counter. One afternoon after shopping in 25-degree weather we stopped in for a coffee at the Rue Royal location. All locations have take out counter for desserts and drinks. They are known for their macaroons and sell dozens to locals and tourists to take home. They are pretty good but as a foodie the best I have had is at L20 in Chicago. Some tourist places are worth going to and in January when there was no line at the door it was an enjoyable experience.

Ze Kitchen Gallerie, 4 rue des Grands-Augustins, 6th, 44.32.00.32.

The restaurant was just across the Seine from the Louvre and was next door to Guy Savoy’s bistro. On a 25-degree day there was only one empty table during lunch. My first course was one of the highlights of the trip. It was foie gras ravioli in some kind of a Thai broth made with lime leaves, ginger and lemongrass. It was totally delicious. My main dish of St. Jacques and octopus was also good. My friend had seafood gnocchi in a broth to start and a Sea Bass that was perfectly cooked. The mashed potatoes brought to the table echoed the famous ones by Joel Robuchon. Desserts were good but the dishes before dazzled. Chef William Ledeuil is clearly influenced by the flavors of Southeast Asia. His other two cooks on the main line were Thai women. This food is the best French meets Asian experience I have seen yet. The bill for two including a glass of wine each was just 80 euros, clearly the best value of the trip. If you don’t eat here on a trip to Paris you are missing a great treat.

Jadis, 208 rue de la Croix-Nivert, 15th. 45-57-73-20.

A bistro that opened in 2008 that has generated a lot of word of mouth and some praise in the press was a two minute walk from the Metro stop at the Port de Versailles. Chef Guillaome Delage experiences have included the kitchen at three star Pierre Gagnaire. You can have a set menu at dinner for just 32 euros. However, when we looked at the menu we were excited about different options. The truffle Risotto was a starter that was 18 euros, which we both wanted to order, but since we like trying and sharing different dishes we had just one order. In the USA, truffle specs are included in dishes or shaved on the top of a dish and the prices are sky high. This dish contained six pieces, each about the size of a half dollar. But it was large enough for two to share and was the highlight of the meal. The other starter was a vol-au-vent which was an earthy dish combining snails and mushrooms and very tasty. We both ordered fish and my Bar roti was excellent. The John Dory my friend ordered came with vegetables. The wine list had several very good choices in the 20-25 euro range. We opted for cheese for dessert. This entire experience was just 102 euros.

Les Ambassadeurs at the Crillon 44-71-15-00

I enjoy luxe three star places as much as anyone and can appreciate the setting, service and food. I have experienced six of them in Paris and have enjoyed them all. What I do not enjoy is the $1,000 and up tabs for two that is the going rate now at dinner. And when you can get amazing food elsewhere for 100 euros for two I had decided to go to just one splurge per Paris trip and to do it at lunch. Many top end places have set menus for lunch for under 100 euros per person and the one at Les Ambassadeurs currently is at 88 euros.

There are only two starters and two main choices to choose from but all were excellent. You still get all the amuse beginnings, extras during the meal and at least three rounds of dessert so the experience I had is nearly the same as if I had been at dinner. My starter was foie gras de canard des Landes that were in the shape of cubes and came in a bowl of broth. The other starter ordered was Oeuf coque “sans coque”, which was a soft boiled egg “without the shell” which had an egg yoke foam surrounding a beignet with a runny yolk with crayfish and griolles, which are small trumpet like mushrooms. My friend and I both ordered the same second course, a bar de ligne that came in layers on a plate about 4x12 inches that was extremely tasty. The other choice was sweetbreads. I had the selections from the cheese trolley for desert and my friend had the Chocolate “Alpaco” which was a terrine with mandarine. A good value here was the tea service that only added eight euros to the bill. I had two glasses of wine and my friend one and the bill with all the extras came to 251 euros. You can get individual items or tasting menus at lunch but the tasting menu is 330 euros just for the food. One of chef Jean-Francois Piege’s most famous dishes is a starter of langoustines and caviar which would set you back 130 euros just for that one item.

If you have never been or seen photos of the dinning room, it is like eating in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, only better. For me it is among the most romantic rooms in the world. There are only 15 tables and the service is exquisite as well. It is not at all stuffy and the staff makes sure you enjoy yourself at a non-hurried pace.

LeBaratin, 3 rue Jouye-Rouve, 20th. 43-49-39-70

Most visitors to Paris who are food lovers are looking for that perfect little bistro that is bohemian and unpretentious, has great food and frequented by a smart locals only crowd.

You can still get all of those at LeBaratin that is in the Belleville district. Word of mouth has gotten around that this IS the place to go but it is so far out, that you have to be serious about food and wine to make the trip. We took the Metro to the Pyrenees stop and only had a five-minute walk to the bistro that is on a steep cobble stone side street. It only took a half hour from our hotel. Inside are two small cramped rooms with cracked tile floors and bare wood tables. The owner reserves the red carpet treatment only for regulars but we were seated at a table near the bar which gave us a good view of all dishes coming out of the kitchen. We were the only Americans in the place that evening. Our waiter doubled as the bartender and spoke perfect English and was glad to go over every item on the chalkboard menu. My starter was seared foie gras on top of a hearty dark lentil dish. This was a perfect dish for the 28-degree January evening. My friend ordered bouillon de lotte au galanga that was a monkfish broth with galangal root. My main dish was brill with various vegetables.. The other main dish ordered was a piece of roast beef in a really good wine sauce. They feature natural, small production wines here that are around five-eight euros a glass. We opted to have different glasses instead of just one bottle. So LeBaratin is the perfect place to do the wine bar experience with great food. Even with coffee and bottled water it was 80 euros for two at dinner.

La Fables des Fontaine, 131 rue Saint-Dominique, 7th. 44-18-37-55

I love all things seafood so this was the place to go for my final evening in Paris. I first encountered chef Christian Constant at the Crillon on my first visit to Paris in 1982. Later he was among the first starred chefs to open the smaller bistros with reasonable prices and wonderful food. He has four different restaurants on the same block, just a three-minute stroll from the Eiffel Tour.

I had never had Gillardeau oysters and was anxious to try them and did for my first course. It was a treat to have what many consider the finest oysters in the world. I am a huge fan of langoustines and my friend and I ordered both kinds that were on the menu.

The hot dish had the langoustines fried in a phyllo pastry with basil leaves that came with a citrus dipping sauce that was very tasty. I preferred the langoustines in their shells with the mayonnaise dipping sauce. It was some work to get the meat out of the shell but there was about three or four times as much to eat than in the other dish. I love stone crab in a mustard sauce but this dish beats it. My main course was scallops that were large and sweet. My friend had the John Dory with vegetables and morel mushrooms. After a nice bottle of white wine that was 49 euros and desserts and coffee the bill came to 199 euros. It was really a fine meal, one that I am anxious to repeat.

Edited by hemingway (log)
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