Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
snoopy64

Taillevent vs. Grand Vefour

Recommended Posts

Hi folks,

I am planning a trip to Paris and I want to experience one 3-star, blow-the-budget, haute cuisine restaurant. My two finalists are Taillevant and Grand Vefour. I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has been to either of these two places. In particular, recommendations for particular dishes, atmosphere, decor, etc.

Snoopy64

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why have you narrowed it down to Taillevent or Grand Vefour ?

If I was forced to choose between these two, I'd go to Grand Vefour. The place

is magnificent, the location great. Foodwise, it might also be better than Taillevent from

what I've heard from friends who have been recently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To winemike's reasonable question, I add it would be useful to have some idea of what you were looking for from a three star experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife and I went to Grand Vefour last year for the 70 Euro lunch because like you, we had to experience a 3 star in Paris at least once. The room was incredible and the staff were terrific...couldn't have been nicer or made us feel more at ease. However, besides from an amazing aged comte, the food was not memorable. I've read that you can get excellent food there, but you have to order off the set lunch or dinner menu, which is big bucks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There aren't many restaurants in Paris where I've had both the top of the line tasting menu for dinner and the special prix fixe at lunch. In fact, there's just one. The seasonal dinner degustation menu was a bit more than twice the price of the bargain lunch menu. It was a meal that rocked us. We were on the edge of our seat all meal long and spoke of little else than the food in front of us when we spoke at all. At least one course just left us speechless. It was a priceless evening. The lunch menu, on the other hand was very good, even excellent, but it was background food. It would have left a first time diner at the restaurant clueless about the chef's talent and the kitchen's capabilities. It was flawless, and maybe many Parisians never have a meal this good in the life for all I know, but it wasn't a meal that offered any insight into greatness. At a very expensive restaurant, the most expensive meal may well be the one that offers greatest value. The first hundred euros goes to pay for the overhead.

The thing about one meal in a three star restaurant is that unless you have a yardstick, you don't always know how successful that meal is. Those meals I just referred to were at a two star restaurant. You can have epiphanies at two star restaurants and while I understand the desire to experience a three star dining experience once in one's life, if you are young enough, it may well be in your best interest to work your way up slowly, by learning and establishing your own benchmarks at lesser, but still world famous, restaurants. Of course where you've eaten in the US will affect your standards as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all for the replies.

To clarify my search criteria, as this is my first trip to Paris I am looking for a memorable dinner with top-notch food (classical French, 3-star rating), ambience, and service. The wine list is not an important consideration, and price is not an issue for this experience.

I narrowed my list down to Taillevent and Grand Vefour after doing some research on the web and from publication such as Frommer's and Fodor's, but I don't always trust these sources and was hoping to get some personal recommendations from the people in egulletworld.

I am currently leaning towards Grand Vefour because it is reputed to be one of the most beautiful and historic restaurants in Paris. I do wonder about if the quality of the food matches the decor. Taillevent strikes me as having somewhat better food but may lack the history and ambience. Another knock against Taillenvent is that I also considered Tour d'Argent but heard a number of negative reviews on the quality of the food.

Do people recommend going the a la carte or price fixe route? Any dishes that were particularly enjoyable or to be avoided?

If anyone has other ideas on what would be a memorable damn-the-expense type of evening I am all ears.

Regards,

Snoopy64

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing about one meal in a three star restaurant is that unless you have a yardstick, you don't always know how successful that meal is. Those meals I just referred to were at a two star restaurant. You can have epiphanies at two star restaurants and while I understand the desire to experience a three star dining experience once in one's life, if you are young enough, it may well be in your best interest to work your way up slowly, by learning and establishing your own benchmarks at lesser, but still world famous, restaurants. Of course where you've eaten in the US will affect your standards as well.

There is wisdom in these thoughts, Grasshopper. If you've never had a meal in Paris, much less a 1 star or 2 star meal, suddenly encountering a 3 star meal may be so overwhelming (or in some ways, underwhelming) that you don't really get what you are paying for, much less fully appreciate it. (Think about the first time you had sex versus some later encounters by way of analogy.) A 3 star experience could come off as overly snooty and terribly expensive to the uninitiated but wonderful to one with a range of experiences. Perhaps you should start at the one star range and work your way up to the heights--whether on this trip or another. Although I personally find Grand Vefour more charming, I think Taillevent is more accomodating (or less threatening) to someone going for a 3 star meal the first time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oops, my error.

What I meant to say was that another knock against Taillevent is that a relative booked a reservation, only to be told at the door that they had no recod of it and were SOL, which is an experience I do not wish to have myself.

Snoopy64

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not eaten at Grand Vefour and Taillevant has changes chefs at least twice since I've last eaten there, but by repute these are among the lesser of the 3 star restaurants from a cuisine perspective. The restaurants with the most foodie interest are Ambroisie, Arpege and Pierre Gagnaire, and I certainly wouldn't recommend Pierre Gagnaire for a first 3 star experience as it is too avant garde to fully appreciate without a broader background. Arpege would be for food primarily. Ambroisie comes closest to meeting your requirements, however, an evening reservation is almost impossible for someone not known to the restaurant unless you are staying somewhere like the Plaza Athenee and utilize the concierge, lunch is relatively easy to reserve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you choose Grand Vefour I recommend the foie gras ravioli. Lamb is very good, they are not generous in use of truffles so I do not choose there, say, a lobster salad with truffle. Cheese tray is usually very good.

Soliveres in Taillevent excels is preparations with spelt(farro), and shellfish.

Do not hold the mishap against Taillevent. They are very professional and such a mistake is unlikely to repeat.

I am not sure how good a source the web is for your inquiry. l'Ambroisie does not have a website---but I guess you can get some idea about the range of dishes offered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would choose Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee. Of the three-stars I've visited in Paris (Ducasse, Arpege, Gagnaire, Taillevent, Ambroisie -- I think that's it though I could be missing one), ADPA was for me the closest to the ideal expression of that experience. I'm not sure I would recommend any of the others for a one-time, one-hit experience: Taillevent was unremarkable, Gagnaire was amazing but quite radical, Ambroisie was excellent but minimalist and strange, and I didn't find Arpege to be particularly impressive or even worthy of three stars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grand Vefour is an absolutely drop dead gorgeous room - the kind where if your wife isn't wearing diamonds - you wish you'd bought her some. I am not sure how it compares to more contemporary 3 stars these days in terms of food. Robyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Although I personally find Grand Vefour more charming, I think Taillevent is more accomodating (or less threatening) to someone going for a 3 star meal the first time.

The only Michelin 3-star I've been to so far was Grand Vefour, and I found our reception and service terrifically unthreatening, considerate, exceedingly professional, and impressively choreographed. I loved the food, too! You can read about my experience by clicking here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I narrowed my list down to Taillevent and Grand Vefour after doing some research on the web and from publication such as Frommer's and Fodor's, but I don't always trust these sources and was hoping to get some personal recommendations from the people in egulletworld.

I am currently leaning towards Grand Vefour because it is reputed to be one of the most beautiful and historic restaurants in Paris. I do wonder about  if the quality of the food matches the decor. Taillevent strikes me as having somewhat better food but may lack the history and ambience.

I would not recommend AD/PA after reading this. I thought the room was awfully dour and the atmosphere a bit stiff. Admittedly the quality of the food is beyond reproach, but if someone is even thinking that a beautiful and historic room would improve his meal, I would not recommend AD/PA to that person. I've not been to either Taillevent or Grand Vefour, but they would offer the decor for someone looking to have that one three star luxury experience.

Mind you, I am not so sympathetic to that. The appreciation of French cuisine is a sort of continuous process to me and not one I can file away as a single experience at the top. I don't mean to be as condescending as I am sure this sounds, but when you've eaten at the three star restaurants, you will better appreciate the bistros and after you've eaten at the bistros, you will better appreciate the three star cuisine. I'd rather invest small change learning to appreciate the haute cuisine in bistros than invest in a meal that runs hundreds of euros per person to learn how to appreciate bistro food. :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not prepared to debate architecture with Bux, but I happened to like the room at the Plaza Athenee. I suppose the most responsible thing would be for me to say you can judge for yourself. You'll find a 360 degree virtual tour of the room here:

http://alain-ducasse.com/public_us/plaza_a...atmosphere.htm#

You might recognize the Plaza Athenee from the final episode of Sex & The City. Ducasse's desinger, Patrick Jouin, who also did Mix in New York, has taken the grand dining room of the Plaza Athenee (which dates to around the turn of the century -- maybe 1910 or thereabouts) and given it a modernist overlay. I think it's kind of cool, but it's probably a love-it-or-hate-it situation. I don't have a basis for comparison against Grand Vefour, but ADPA is about a million times better than Taillevent in every respect. I'm sure the room at Grand Vefour is great, but if the food at ADPA isn't quite a lot better I'll eat my hat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bottom line about ADPA is that the chef left(monsieur Piege) about a month ago and became the chef at hotel Crillon--restaurant les Ambassadeurs. Ducasse replaced him with the chef of his bistro, Spoon. To say the least, one should be skeptical. If I want to eat ADPA food for better prices I would go to Les Ambassadeurs right now and the room there is much more impressive in sheer luxury than the upgraded ballroom appearance of the Plaza Athenee. Reasonable minds may disagree on aesthetics of course. But IMHO the classical cuisine at ADPA under Piege had a slight edge over Taillevent and Grand Vefour--but all 3 do deserve 3 stars.

In the end judgements on whether Pacaud is better than Ducasse or vice versa is subjective and I had dishes at both which are 19.5 or 20/20. Or we can debate all day who is better, Gagnaire or Arpege and we will not create a consensus. What is more important are the issues raised by Bux and Marcus(in that, at the very high end cuisine can be appreciated against a certain background or comparative framework). Such issues may be worth discussing in a separate thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not prepared to debate architecture with Bux, but I happened to like the room at the Plaza Athenee. I suppose the most responsible thing would be for me to say you can judge for yourself. You'll find a 360 degree virtual tour of the room here:

http://alain-ducasse.com/public_us/plaza_a...atmosphere.htm#

You might recognize the Plaza Athenee from the final episode of Sex & The City. Ducasse's desinger, Patrick Jouin, who also did Mix in New York, has taken the grand dining room of the Plaza Athenee (which dates to around the turn of the century -- maybe 1910 or thereabouts) and given it a modernist overlay. I think it's kind of cool, but it's probably a love-it-or-hate-it situation. I don't have a basis for comparison against Grand Vefour, but ADPA is about a million times better than Taillevent in every respect. I'm sure the room at Grand Vefour is great, but if the food at ADPA isn't quite a lot better I'll eat my hat.

I don't remember the view to the street. The curtains may have been drawn or I had my back to that view, but the room looks much offwhiter. I recall it as grey, on the web site it looks beige and exceedingly dowdy. The artwork has changed. Needless to say, I didn't like the decor at Mix either. :biggrin:

In my opinion, vmilor and marcus seem more in touch with the member's needs. Of course that's my subjective interpretation of his needs.

Reasonable minds may disagree on esthetics and on food. :biggrin:

Another random thought provoked by this thread is that one should always conform an important reservation. If you just show up and learn there's no reservation, you can share in the blame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had an outstanding dinner at ADPA in December from the cuisine perspective, couldn't really be much better, but I very much disliked the room, in my experience there are very few who like it, and the service was seriously condescending. But the principal reason that I didn't recommend ADPA was the one mentioned by vmilor, the departure of Piege, who I believe was really key to the food operation. I haven't seen any reports yet regarding the new chef.


Edited by marcus (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had an amazing experience at Le Grand Véfour, and their specialty, foie gras ravioli with truffle sauce was one of the most enjoyable things ever to cross my mouth...

My top fave in the three-star range still has to be Guy Savoy, though. Perfect, friendly, supremely professional service, and a cuisine beyond reproach.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If atmosphere weighs heavily in the selection equation, there's Ledoyen, a lovely room where the food compares well to Grand Vefour. And Lucas Carton hasn't been mentioned...

To my mind the decor at Ducasse's restaurant at the Plaza Athenee is squarely in the "global five star zone": fine, but not that different to what you would find in New York, Frankfurt, Tokyo, London or any other world city at the top of the price range. Whereas Ledoyen and the Grand Vefour couldn't really appear anywhere other than in Paris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Snoopy dawg,

Why isn't the winelist important? Taillevant has one of the most important and serious winelists in the world. Unlike us idiots in America, instead of listing the wines by price in descending order, they list the wines by vintage, in descending order. I like looking at a Bordeaux list that starts in the 1870's. Taillevant is also very famous for the service. M. Vrinat is the consummate restaurateur. The new chef has gotten many very good reviews.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The bottom line about ADPA is that the chef left(monsieur Piege) about a month ago

The whole Ducasse system has been designed from the ground up such that it should hardly matter that Piege has moved on. And one can be certain that Ducasse himself will devote the personal resources necessary to ensure a smooth transition. Indeed, for those who take a great interest in who's behind the kitchen doors, the answer these days at ADPA is much more likely to be Alain Ducasse than at any time in recent history.

Let me put it this way: if my first three-star meal had been at Taillevent, I'd have reached the conclusion that Michelin three-star dining is bullshit, an elevation of form over substance. Taillevent has that great wine list (and great wine service), it offers a ton of hospitality, there's a lot of art all around, etc., but the food is to me entirely unremarkable generic luxury food.

Those of you who have dined at five, ten, or more three-star restaurants in France, let me ask this: will a single one of you step forward and take the position that Taillevent or Grand Vefour is the best? I don't know any food-knowledgeable person who takes that position. The only really savvy people I know who peg Taillevent as a top place are restaurateurs like Danny Meyer who respect it as an institution (both Danny Meyer and Thomas Keller have, I believe, mentioned that they seek to emulate much of what is good about Taillevent).

If somebody is going to have one three-star experience, it should be at one of the top-tier three-stars. That's a fairly small group, and in Paris (someone can help round out this list because I don't have a guide handy) it would certainly include ADPA, Gagnaire, and Ambroise, and would certainly not include Taillevent or Grand Vefour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... the principal reason that I didn't recommend ADPA was the one mentioned by vmilor, the departure of Piege, who I believe was really key to the food operation. I haven't seen any reports yet regarding the new chef.

Then I stand corrected when I said marcus and vilor were in touch with this particular member's needs. This is a universally applicable opinion. If anyone is going to have what may be a singular three star meal, it should probably be in a restaurant that's not recently undergone a major change at the top of the kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Piege's departure from ADPA is, to me, the equivalent of Alex Lee's departure from Daniel or Marco Canora's departure from Craft: I know that Piege, Lee, and Canora are excellent chefs in their own rights, but the cuisine served at ADPA, Daniel, and Craft is not the cuisine of Piege, Lee, and Canora. It is the cuisine of Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, and Tom Colicchio. Those changes would not presumptively affect my decisions about where to dine. Of course, if someone I trusted told me "The food has declined since Alex Lee left" I would be inclined to conclude that the transition had been mismanaged and that I should wait.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×