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pierre45

A revisit to L'epigramme and Le Gaigne in Paris

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Recently I went back to these restaurants.I was curious what effect ,if any a new york times article could have on a small restaurant in Paris.

L'epigramme was full,although to be expected on a friday night.The food was excellent with the same emphasis on ingredients and sophisticated cooking.Service was efficient and professional and prices were the same.About 1/3 of the customers were American.I asked the owner about the effect of the article .He said that often the majority of the diners are American and that he was pleased.

Le Gaigne.THis was packed on a tuesday night with 2 turn overs for each table.The food was quite bad .Most dishes had very little flavor.IT was one of my worst meal in recent memory.Wine list was good and the service harried.All diners were American .

INtersting to note that one kept his standards,while the other is thinking of early retirement

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Thanks for the update. I haven't been back to l'Epigramme in about a year but mean to go soon. I had dinner at Le Gaigne in September and was very disappointed. The food was boring, some of it not good at all. We were surrounded exclusively by Anglophones in the tiny room. When I asked the server (the owner's wife?) if this was typical, she told me that it was since the article had come out. She seemed quite pleased.

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I've been thinking about this alot lately. How articles in big magazines can destroy restaurant culture. Any other examples? Anyone?


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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Adrian it is an interesting question but does depend on what you mean by restaurant culture. Some places are good because they are crowded and buzzy, the hype creates the atmosphere and the experience is based on the complete package not simply the food. Other places do lose their direction and the original proposition gets a bit lost in both the hype and crowds: Spring is a good example, I loved it when it first opened and wasn't impossible to get into, but towards the end the hassle of getting a table outweighed the benefits of the place i.e. I could get better food more easily elsewhere.

You could also cite examples of restaurants which get to popular and drop the standards that made them popular in the first place, Le Comptoir could be an example, although I personally always had good meals there, but it did seem more fun when it was easy to get into. In other examples the crowds can limit the experience, a 2 hour table limit meaning you need to rush your meal, OK this seems more of a problem in London, but I have been moved to the bar in Chez L'Ami Jean (and Le Regalade is going this way) before now as they squeezed the 15th sitting in that evening (OK an exaggeration and they did give us free Champagne). As I result the food here starts to take on a production line quality, the food is still good but you shovel it in and lose the sense of enjoyment.

But bottom line isn't a lot of this down to the restauranteur, each rides the wave of publicity in their own way to their own ends. Some will seize the moment and milk the cash cow for all it is worth, and as a result erode that original culture that made it good. A few though will stick to their original principles and maintain the quality.

One last thought. Is it only a Paris and maybe Barcelona phenomena? Both towns with very large numbers of tourists, both towns with reputations for gastronomy, and thus both towns where tourists need to tick off good restaurants as well as the usual suspects of the Louvre , etc. When you get home after a trip to Paris your friends will want to know what you ate? How were the great French restaurants, cafes, boulangeries etc? When you get back from a trip to NYC, or London I would guess that friends ask about the shopping or the experience but not the food. So the pressure is on for writers to find hidden gems (because tourists need to satisfy the urge to be explorers)and the pressure is on for tourists to follow the advice.

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