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Best Paris Brasserie MERGED TOPIC


sookeharborkid
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As a category, brasseries are much more to be appreciated for their ambience than for their cuisine. If you order intelligently and don’t expect your palate to have a religious experience, it’s possible to dine pleasurably at any of the Flo Group, that much maligned hierarchy which has saved a number of architectural masterpieces from certain debasement or even destruction. Within the month I’ve had positive experiences at Flo and Au Pied de Cochon, not so good at La Coupole (I ordered unwisely), and less recently, very acceptable at Balzar, Bofinger, and Terminus Nord.

Bistrots, brasseries & restaurants parisiens (Editions Ereme 2004) is a vademecum to a treasure trove of interiors so breathtakingly splendid that the simplest lager and choucroute would seem like nectar and ambrosia.

What do you recommend in terms of "ordering intelligently"? Are there general rules - or do they vary from restaurant to restaurant?

Although I haven't been in Paris for a long time - I understand what you mean about the "architectural experience". It's like Bibendum at the Michelin House in London. Worth a meal at one of the eating venues there just to see the place. Robyn

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What do you recommend in terms of "ordering intelligently"?  Are there general rules - or do they vary from restaurant to restaurant? 

In this instance, I ordered La Coupole's famous lamb curry. I should have known better than to order a curry recipe that had been served unaltered in a Paris restaurant for eighty years. :biggrin: In general, if I were visiting an unfamiliar brasserie whose architecture interested me, I'd stay with food that's difficult to spoil, such as seafood (if they have a big turnover) or choucroute garnie.

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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What do you recommend in terms of "ordering intelligently"?  Are there general rules - or do they vary from restaurant to restaurant? 

In this instance, I ordered La Coupole's famous lamb curry. I should have known better than to order a curry recipe that had been served unaltered in a Paris restaurant for eighty years. :biggrin: In general, if I were visiting an unfamiliar brasserie whose architecture interested me, I'd stay with food that's difficult to spoil, such as seafood (if they have a big turnover) or choucroute garnie.

The mental image of lamb curry and a brasserie is a somewhat jarring one to me. When I think of a brasserie - (because I don't eat a lot of meat) I think of a plateau de fruits de mer - some pommes frites - and a bottle of Muscadet. Unfortunately - in a lesser restaurant - you can wind up spending a lot of money for a meal like this and eating lousy seafood (the frites may be lousy too - but at least they're usually inexpensive). Also - I don't like the really teeny tiny sea shells where you need surgical tweezers to get the meat out (there are a lot of interesting seafood utensils - but surgical tweezers are hard to come by in a restaurant). I collect seashells - and when I used to collect live shells - those teeny tiny ones were hard to clean even at home with an assortment of medical instruments.

So are there any (in general) reliable middle-of-the-road things to order? Like a plain grilled local fish? A roast chicken? Etc. Robyn

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Julien is the prettiest among those I've visited. Call me superficial, but that's generally what draws me to a brasserie.

Where is Julien (it's not in my restaurant books)? Thanks. Robyn

That's surprising because it's been there forever; it's in the 10th, 16, rue Faubourg St Denis; it's part of the Flo empire and not to be confused with the bakery in the 1st or Chez Julien in the 4th recently reopened by the Costes family. I disliked the food in the brasserie the last time I visited more than my charming co-host (despite the setting) but disliked Chez even more. Both reviews can be obtained by a Search.

John Talbott

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After some research and help narrowed it down to these two based on location. Dinner for 8 friends in Paris, and I am responsible for picking. Brasseries have worked the best in the past, and these seem to be the best given my location(between Opera and Place Vendome). Looking for good food, service, nice brasserie interior.

All thoughts appreciated.

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I have to tell you that having eaten without incident at Mollard for nearly a decade I would not be able to recommend it again after my last experience. Admittedly, we went early in the evening (to suit my elderly Mother), around 7.30, but the always variable service hit a new low. We more or less had to beg to order, the wine was forgotten, water had to be requested twice, even bread was not immediately forthcoming.

Onto the food - a dismal grantinée that had been sitting and waiting far too long, the dried out end of the torchon of foie gras (returned in disgust, but with barely an acknowledgement, let alone an apology) followed by a hideously expensive chateaubriand comprehensively overcooked (ordered à point) with curdled béarnaise.

I could go on. Actually, I couldn't because at that point we left the barely half-full restaurant and went elsewhere for a coffee.

The sadness of the whole experience was that Mollard has been a fixture in our lives for many years. I have an apartment just 15 minutes away and this was a place my kids loved coming to all through their teens. No more, alas. Excuse the melodramatic tone.

Anyway, wherever you go, I hope you have a great time. I hope you avoid Mollard.

Final thought - even with years of experience of the place I was always disappointed that their wine list was so downright poor. I guess I no longer need to let it worry me...

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  • 5 weeks later...

We were stuck Saturday last at noon at the Terminus Nord, despite my statement that from now on I’d go to l’Ardoise Gourmande in the future if leaving from the Gare du Nord, because the latter is closed Saturdays. In any case it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Colette had a Provencal vegetable "compotine" with goat cheese and pesto followed by a floating island, both of which she thought were pretty good; I the #4 fines de Claire’s and beef tartare and liked them too. With a ½ bottle of wine, no water and two coffees, our bill was 75.30 €.

John Talbott

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today’s Figaroscope had an side box by Gilles Dupuis on “cult dishes” at brasseries:

Leg of lamb

Zeyer

Chez Sebillon

Roast farm chicken

Chez Georges

L’Alcazar

Brasserie Lutetia

Drouant

Boeuf gros sel

Lipp

Lamb curry

La Coupole

Choucroute

Brasserie de l’isle St Louis

Beef tartare

Rotonde Montparnasse

John Talbott

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  • 2 months later...

I ate at the Brasserie Suffren the other day. It was a great experience. Wonderful seafood. Pleasant service and quite reasonably priced. There are many places in Paris that have the word "Brasserie" on their awning, but few seem to have a visable selection of seafood. Perhaps it's just th cold of January, but I was quite surprised.

I selected it from reading this thread. Thanks for the tip!

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Today’s Figaroscope had an side box by Gilles Dupuis on “cult dishes” at brasseries:

Lamb curry

La Coupole

Did it comment on their quality? The lamb curry at La Coupole would have disappointed us if it had come from a cheap London Indian takeaway.

EDIT: Whoops! I forgot that I'd already commented on this last August.

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Today’s Figaroscope had an side box by Gilles Dupuis on “cult dishes” at brasseries:

Lamb curry

La Coupole

Did it comment on their quality? The lamb curry at La Coupole would have disappointed us if it had come from a cheap London Indian takeaway.

EDIT: Whoops! I forgot that I'd already commented on this last August.

I rarely save the sidebar comments; but I suspect it was more of a list than an opinion.

John Talbott

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  • 3 months later...

I have asked about regional cuisine, steakhouses, product driven restaurants, and restaurants open in August. In some ways, the real Paris brasserie meets all these needs, and most of the discussions have proposed at least one brasserie. Which are the best? I have heard Lorraine proposed, and La Rotunde (a well informed Chowhound endorses that one). Thoumieux and Marty have been mentioned, as has Stella. An article in the Telegraph avalable on te web, is very out-of-date. What say you? I am afraid to say that I would like "un-touristic," which of course seems sort of self-hating. But to ask for something "un-touristic," is not to say I need a place without foreigners or tourists, but clearly some places become so infected with tourists and guidebooks that their character changes.

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I have asked about regional cuisine, steakhouses, product driven restaurants, and restaurants open in August. In some ways, the real Paris brasserie meets all these needs, and most of the discussions have proposed at least one brasserie. Which are the best? I have heard Lorraine proposed, and La Rotunde (a well informed Chowhound endorses that one). Thoumieux and Marty have been mentioned, as has Stella. An article in the Telegraph avalable on te web, is very out-of-date. What say you? I am afraid to say that I would like "un-touristic," which of course seems sort of self-hating. But to ask for something "un-touristic," is not to say I need a place without foreigners or tourists, but clearly some places become so infected with tourists and guidebooks that their character changes.

I hate to be contrarian (again) but why bother? The dumbing down of brasseries or more accurately, Flo-ing down, has made them never great but never disastrous. When there's so much else to savor here, unless you're coming in on the Eurostar at 10 PM, I don't see much to be gained. I've fallen into and out of love with Wepler, Charlot, Marty, Jenny + Bofinger too many times. If I want oysters I get them at the corner and choucroute from Bon Marche.

John Talbott

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Brasseries are not food destinations.They fit a niche ,because of their availability at any time.They are similar to a fancy diner in the US.However they are worth a single visit by a visitor. since they are unique to France.Hollywood ,often portrays them as the ultimate dining experience,i,e

Dining scene at le grand corbert in a film with J nicholson.

Actually ,Le grand colbert ,with its nouvelle epoque decor and acceptable food

qualifies as an interesting place .

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Brasserie Julien has a wonderful ambiance; we stuck to dishes that had to be freshly prepared and enjoyed the evening. The walk to the nearest metro can be disconserting to some in the evening; if we went again (not hardly!), a taxi could work out better.

For similar reasons we keep going back to Balzar; we enjoy seeing familiar faces and being seated with locals. The place fits us; good food is only a part of the Brasserie experience, IMHO.

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They're all going downhill in my opinion. Could be the next trend if some enterprising chefs/businessmen wanted to do something about it. I've been to most of the big ones within the last year and it's extremely disappointing. The Balzar full of locals???? Wow. I guess something happened...

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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They're all going downhill in my opinion. Could be the next trend if some enterprising chefs/businessmen wanted to do something about it. I've been to most of the big ones within the last year and it's extremely disappointing. The Balzar full of locals???? Wow. I guess something happened...

fresh_a, help me out, s'il vous plait.

When you say that the brasseries are "all going downhill," are you talking about the food itself, and/or the whole concept (food, service, decor, etc.)?

Would you consider brasseries the French version of the "corporate chain restaurant," where the menu is basically the same, mostly geared towards tourists who want to be served by a handsome Frenchman with a French accent whose name is Jean-Luc, for that "French dining experience"?

And based on what pierre45 wrote, it sounds like brasseries are there when you just need something to eat, correct?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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fresh_a, help me out, s'il vous plait.

When you say that the brasseries are "all going downhill," are you talking about the food itself, and/or the whole concept (food, service, decor, etc.)?

Would you consider brasseries the French version of the "corporate chain restaurant," where the menu is basically the same, mostly geared towards tourists who want to be served by a handsome Frenchman with a French accent whose name is Jean-Luc, for that "French dining experience"? 

And based on what pierre45 wrote, it sounds like brasseries are there when you just need something to eat, correct?

I'll coat-tail this question several of with my own. Are brasseries downhill because their food is predictable or because it is badly sourced and prepared? Or both? Or all of above?

eGullet member #80.

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The food is very mediocre, if not just downright bad in almost every brasserie I know. I don't mind predicatable food if well done. And one of the reasons is that most of the old-style French brasseries are owned by big corporate groups. I love the old style decos and ambience.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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After a phase of gentrification for the last ten years or so, most big brasseries no longer serve brasserie food that is worthy of the name, but a standardized, homogenized fare.

Brasserie cooking has not disappeared, it has moved downward to corner cafés and simple troquets, a few unpretentious cafés that still remain and cater to office workers for lunch. Not the big names. Not all serve good food, but if you're looking for brasserie food, it is in that sort of places that you will find the last remains of it. I have no particular names to give, it takes a bit of exploration and peeking through the bay window at customers' plates. Somewhere you might even find true gems, much superior than anything served at a trendy bistrot.

For instance I had a good meal at Le Canon des Gobelins last Winter, nothing to write a review about but quite good as brasserie meals go.

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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After a phase of gentrification for the last ten years or so, most big brasseries no longer serve brasserie food that is worthy of the name, but a standardized, homogenized fare.

Brasserie cooking has not disappeared, it has moved downward to corner cafés and simple troquets, a few unpretentious cafés that still remain and cater to office workers for lunch. Not the big names. Not all serve good food, but if you're looking for brasserie food, it is in that sort of places that you will find the last remains of it. I have no particular names to give, it takes a bit of exploration and peeking through the bay window at customers' plates. Somewhere you might even find true gems, much superior than anything served at a trendy bistrot.

For instance I had a good meal at Le Canon des Gobelins last Winter, nothing to write a review about but quite good as brasserie meals go.

I think I agree, but how about some examples of what you (or anyone else) consider a dish of 'Brasserie' food. In the modern sense that is. Many of us know and love the traditional dishes associated with Brasseries.

I'm curious.

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