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Paris "Destination" restaurants?


plafield
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OK. So there's been some discussion on another thread about if a restaurant should be considered a "destination" restaurant and a little bit of back and forth about what that really means.

I'd like to hear from folks who dine out in Paris regularly what you would consider/recommend as "destination" places to eat with the definition being based on

1. worth traveling out of one's immediate neighborhood

2. Value (excellent price/quality ratio)

3. with one week to dine out in Paris (so a max of say, 10 available meals)

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I'd like to hear from folks who dine out in Paris regularly what you would consider/recommend as "destination" places to eat with the definition being based on

1. worth traveling out of one's immediate neighborhood 

We regularly (read: nightly) travel out of our arrondisement.
2. Value (excellent price/quality ratio) 
We don't patronize restaurants that don't provide what we consider this ratio.
3. with one week to dine out in Paris (so a max of say, 10 available meals)

This question is problematic on an ongoing basis. We've been visiting Paris multiple times a year for probably 15 years. As kitchens and dining rooms soar and decline, our destinations change.

Destination restaurants tend to be those on the cutting edge of the media. Best you stay tuned here. For better or worse, you will hear about what is happening now.

eGullet member #80.

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What is defined as destination depends on who you are talking about. It's not that everyone's tastes are different (they really aren't that much), but that people have different expectations and interests. In particular there is a question of how much one values simply excellent food (I think this discussion started about Jadis) as opposed to unusual one.

For purely excellent food (knowing that you are one focused on it), and following your criteria, I would list Chez l'Ami Jean, la Régalade, Chez Christophe, Ledoyen, le Cinq, Wally le saharien, Au Bon Accueil, le Sévero (and le Bis du Sévero), Likafo, l'Arpège, La Grande Cascade, Pasta e Basta, le Pétrelle.

There are also textbook places like La Fontaine de Mars, Lasserre, Joséphine chez Dumonnet, Jadis, l'Auberge Bressane, Gérard Besson, La Table de JR (for lunch), l'AOC, that are like a dream of France. Food there is very good but not "the best", unlike, in my opinion, the ones on my first list. But the overall experience is very perfect and has to do with French gastronomy as part of a lifestyle, a culture, not just an art of cooking.

In the "usual" sense of destination dining (unusual experience that feels new and unique), I can't think of any destination dining in Paris save Gagnaire and, maybe, l'Arpège.

Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)
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OK. So there's been some discussion on another thread about if a restaurant should be considered a "destination" restaurant and a little bit of back and forth about what that really means.

I'd like to hear from folks who dine out in Paris regularly what you would consider/recommend as "destination" places to eat with the definition being based on

1. worth traveling out of one's immediate neighborhood 

2. Value (excellent price/quality ratio)

3. with one week to dine out in Paris (so a max of say, 10 available meals)

Since I'm the bloke who suggested we start this discussion on the other topic on Jadis + Goumard, I've had second thoughts that are mirrored in Margaret and Julot's posts.

It so depends.

For instance, another restaurant Pierre 45 and I (and Laidback and Felice and others) are hep to is the Table d'Eugene. For me, it's 500 meters from home; for Pierre it's 54 minutes but he thinks it's worth the schlep and I think for a neighborhood haunt it can't be topped.

As Colette was saying today on the subject though, we go to places way across town (in the deepest 13th and 15th, for instance) and don't regard them as destinations, they're just there.

I happen to think (right now and like Margaret it changes weekly) that places that meet #1-3 of Plafield's criteria include:

Clocher Pereire

Ze Kitchen Galerie

Spring or Son of Spring

Le Gaigne

Afaria

Cantine de Troquet

but none of them would qualify as what I think is the hidden agenda to this subject of a "destination" place; which is I suspect stars, reputation and lavish settings and food a la Gagnaire, Alleno, Frechon, etc, etc, etc.

Let me float a balloon here - is l'Ami Louis a destination place? I bet a lot of Americans (including the late great Johnnie Apple) would say so.

I'd remind everyone that we also have a topic running on "creative" restaurants. Is there a cross-over between "destination" and "creative" places?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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It so depends.

but none of them would qualify as what I think is the hidden agenda to this subject of a "destination" place; which is I suspect stars, reputation and lavish settings and food a la Gagnaire, Alleno, Frechon, etc, etc, etc.

For me "starred, reputation, lavish", is not my agenda (hidden or otherwise) at all. And definitely not "trendy" although a place might be any of these things and considered a place really worth going to if you have a limited number of meals and want really good food and excellent, welcoming service. That's my real definiton of "destination" as I think Julot understands. For some (myself included)if a place is right around the corner from "home" the convenience of that, particularly after a long day is sometimes worth settling for or risking the chance of a little lower quality

And of course "it depends" and is always subjective. I've been reading this and other boards avidly for a number of years and have a decent sense of many of the regular posters preferences and what they look for so it's interesting and informative for me to read where they (you) would choose to go if you had a limited number of meals. I'm not looking for consensus, which doesn't ever happen because of differences in tastes and experience, but I do look for overlap. Certain names of certain places come up over and over again in various discussions, blogs, articles etc and from that I compile a list and make my choices of where to go.

My last time in Paris (last May) my list included among many others: Guy Savoy for lunch and Briehz Cafe as well as Le Regalade, Spring, and Au Gourmand and many in Le Marais where we were staying. This time, we're staying in a different neighborhood and are looking to try places we didn't get to last time or have heard new and good things about since as well as wanting a few places that are relatively close by (we're in the 15th this time, Montparnasse area.)

So let me rephrase the question so we can stop debating if there is a such thing as a "destination" place to dine:

If you had one week to dine out in Paris; 7-10 meals, where would you go and why? Totally personal, subjective, no right or wrong answers, just opinions and reasons to back them up.

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Let me apologize if I've implied that plafield had a hidden agenda; I was referring to those members whose definitions of "destination" I've guessed involved other than price-quality, etc. I could well be wrong. My 10 year old visitors this week certainly kept my feet on the ground.

In any case, I've started a new topic on "What are your current 7-10 places to go in Paris" here.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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