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snoopy64

Taillevent vs. Grand Vefour

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Let me add my opinion that from what I've seen of Ducasse and his organization, I doubt that any but the most experienced and sophisticated diner will notice much of a difference between Piege and post-Piege Ducasse, which goes back to my earlier contention that for the one-shot three star experience, the difference in food quality between most of the three stars is not going to make as much of a difference as the rest of the experience. Difference in style, yes. Quality not as much. That's why Gagnaire's name is not coming up. His food is not representative of the main stream. That may also be why Taillevent may be a good choice. That restaurateurs and chefs such as Danny Meyer and Thomas Keller understand what it has to offer, is another reason why it may make an ideal place to experience three star luxury dining for someone with no previous experience not only at the two and three star level, but in Parisian dining.

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With all this talk of chefs, can anybody even name -- no googling! -- the chefs at Taillevent and Grand Vefour?

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With all this talk of chefs, can anybody even name -- no googling! -- the chefs at Taillevent and Grand Vefour?

Off the top of my head, is it Guy Martin at Grand Vefour, and

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

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The whole Ducasse system has been designed from the ground up such that it should hardly matter that Piege has moved on.

I am an admirer of Ducasse, but I think that you are far underestimating the importance of Piege and also treating Ducasse as if he were Superman. Ducasse has in fact had serious chef transition problems in his restaurants, most notably in Monte Carlo. Every chef change at ADPA has been noticed and commented on in the press and this has been true for Taillevant as well. Loufood's diary has also made clear how uniquely important Piege is to the operation.

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Yes, it's Guy Martin who previously brought first one, and then two stars to a provincial Relais & Château restaurant and who has been named chef of the year by GaultMillau and Pudlowski. He's received other honors, but he's quietly been with Grand Vefour for over ten years plugging away and apparently not a media hound.

Friday, May 2, 1997

Le Grand Vefour:  New Life for an Old Landmark

By Patricia Wells  International Herald Tribune

PARIS -  It's been a long, long time since I left a restaurant with such excitement over the sheer creativity of a young French chef. Guy Martin has been at the stove at Le Grand Vefour for five years now, and it's clear he has his feet planted solidly on the hallowed ground.

Wells had one criticism then.

I do part company with the chef in his use of vegetables for dessert

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Alain Soliveres is the chef at Taillevent. His style is very different than the provious chef's who was Michel del Burgo. Burgo in turn(who now went to Negresco in Nice)was very different than Soliveres. The issue of course, is whether or not Soliveres will have his way to reorient Taillevent away from the generic luxurious and towards his lighter contemporary style which is like a synthesis of mediterranean and Basque with unmistakeable French technique. I am not sure if this style will be appreciated by Taillevent's traditional clientele and it is not clear if Vrinat will allow Soliveres free rein. It is in this restaurant that I literally see coke drinking tourists who also only order well cooked beef or chicken.

By the same token it is possible that Ducasse himself will be at the helm in Plaza Athenee now to assure a smooth transition. The odd thing is the choice of Spoon's chef. Francois Simon of Le Figaro, who is very respected in Paris, raised this issue and found the choice bizarre. I should add that, in Ducasse's Monaco restaurant things are going very well and last June I had a meal there which was my best Ducasse in recent memory and equalled the meals I remember there in the early 90s. The difference with Paris is that the service was not condescending, it was heavenly.

Guy Martin is the chef at Grand Vefour and he has been there all the 4 or 5 times I have patronized the place. We also spent a reveillon there in Colette's table. This is a very French institution and Martin has a style. There are some misses but he can concoct masterpieces too.

Lucas is going very strong and esp. popular with the older gourmet set in Paris. Recent reports from Ledoyen are very positive and I may try it a second time(the first time I nearly had a fist fight with the sommelier who did not want to give me the 95 Meursault Perrieres from Coche Dury and I won a phyrric victory, got what I wanted but could not enjoy my meal) thru the recommendation of an insider who can get us special attention there.

Recent report from 2 stars Meurice and Elysees are also very positive. Les Elysees is taken over by Eric Briffard who was kicked out by Ducasse in favor of Piege when he took over the Plaza Athenee. I had one memorable meal there and this is one rare instance I found Patricia Wells recommendation veracious. I will have another meal there next week and see if it is consistent. Yannick Alleno in Meurice is a rising star in Parisian circles and apparently he is doing very well in one of the most sumptuous dining rooms in the world. Piege debuted at Les Ambassadeurs and again early reception in the press is more than positive.

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This thread, which started out as a "head scratcher", ie, "is this question answerable?", has been IMHO one of the most interesting and revealing of our many 3-star threads, pointing to the factors that make up a single 3-star experience, as well as the variety among different dining rooms. I don't think enough diners really ask themselves, "What do I want and/or expect from this experience?", the answer to which should dictate the reservation.

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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.

It's odd, but even spending almost four months of my life in Europe, I've spent less than two days in Paris :laugh: .

I will be in a similar situation to Snoopy64 in July. Dining at a few one stars, taking great advantage of bistros, and one (possibly two) three star experiences. Simply for budgeting reasons, what could two people expect to pay with reasonable wine service at these places that Steven mentioned? (exclude ADPA, unless you believe it is markedly better than ADNY. Is it?)

Oh, and I'm there for the food. Period.

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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.

Another excellent point. Part of what you are paying for at a 3 star is the cellar and the sommelier's suggestions regarding marriage of wine and food. Also, the way the staff is able to be there with refills just at the right moment and at the same time make the wine last throughout the meal (Taillevent, I believe is one place that will open another bottle gratis just for this purpose). While theoretically possible to have a 3 star meal without wine, I think the odds are against it.

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It's odd, but even spending almost four months of my life in Europe, I've spent less than two days in Paris :laugh:

It's not so odd. It's very French. Most Frenchmen spend a far greater percentage of their life in the provinces. :biggrin:

I love Paris, but there have been periods in our life when Paris was more often an airport at which we changed planes or picked up a rental car for a tour in the country. We certainly ate as well as we could have in Paris though we probably spent less money. The great and legendary three star destination restaurants of France have more often been those in the provinces, although there is agreater density of them in Paris.

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what could two people expect to pay with reasonable wine service at these places

well, that's not an easy one to answer, if you choose a la carte or one of the menus (though, l'Ambroisie

does not offer menus .. at least not a single time when I've been there) the price can be considerably different.

The wine will probably make the difference. I, personally, think that wine is very important

with my meals. I can't cook food that honours a bottle of, say, Romanee-Conti or Comtes Lafon so I might as

well have it with fantastic food to make the whole experience even better.

Of course, a sommelier will be able to recommend something that matches the food well

and that will be reasonably priced, but if you ask any of them, he/she'll always have something that matches "better" :wink:

Anyway, my average check in Paris 3 stars used to be around EUR 700 for two.

We certainly ate as well as we could have in Paris though we probably spent less money

Bux is absolutely right ! I would add, well, take the word "probably" out of his comment :smile:

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You can find menu price ranges for most of these places online, either on the Relais & Chateaux site or on the individual restaurants' sites. For example, Relais & Chateaux report that Grand Vefour offers:

Menus 78 € s.i. (lunch), 230 € s.i.

Carte 160-200 € s.i.

http://www.relaischateaux.com/site/us/rc_vefour_tarifs.html

ADPA's menu is online:

http://alain-ducasse.com/public_us/plaza_a.../fr_cuisine.htm

It's 190 € s.i. for the basic five-course menu (three savory dishes chosen from the carte in half-portions plus cheese and dessert), with several more expensive options.

Wine is of course going to make a big difference, and it's worth noting that Taillevent offers not only great wine service but also very attractive wine prices. Note also that the s.i. prices include taxes and a service charge -- so it's not like in New York where you have to compute 25+% overage for tax and tip. You might leave an additional gratuity in France, but it will generally be a small one and is not implicitly mandatory as it is in the US.

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Thanks for that winemike, Bux, and Steven. I'm actually in a peculiar and lucky position, and once I formulate our dining itenerary, I'll start a new thread. Although we are significantly less wealthy than we were even six months ago, yesterday we discovered a method to fly to Paris for free and stay in the 9th for eight days for slightly less than a three star meal served to a single diner. Therefore, we are able to concentrate our limited resources on dining. I'd love to take Eurostar to London to go to the new Globe (per my wife's profession), visit provencial France, return to Innsbruk, etc. Nope, due to our situation, we're stuck ( :laugh: ) in Paris. It's alot more expensive now paying for cars, a mortgage, and a wife ( :laugh: ) than it was in college.

Nevermind. That's for another thread. Thanks for the responses.

Another question: would one suggest pooling our "fine dinind" resources on a single meal at a three star, or perhaps spreading it out over two-three lunches allowing me to taste more chefs' cuisines? What do you think would be more, er, worthy?

A bit of background. I'm relatively well dined in the US, not interested in atmosphere, and not terribly interested in the theatrics of service. I'm just there to taste the food.

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Another question: would one suggest pooling our "fine dinind" resources on a single meal at a three star, or perhaps spreading it out over two-three lunches allowing me to taste more chefs' cuisines?  What do you think would be more, er, worthy?

A bit of background.  I'm relatively well dined in the US, not interested in atmosphere, and not terribly interested in the theatrics of service.  I'm just there to taste the food.

You have said things about not being interested in wine, theatrics, atmosphere on the one hand and the fact that you want to taste the food that suggest you might actually enjoy spending time in some flavorful bistros and brasseries rather than in a 3 star temple where whether you want them or not you would be paying for these things you view as nonessential.


Edited by hollywood (log)

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You have said things about not being interested in wine, theatrics, atmosphere on the one hand and the fact that you want to taste the food that suggest you might actually enjoy spending time in some flavorful bistros and brasseries rather than in a 3 star temple where whether you want them or not you would be paying for these things you view as nonessential.

Well, they are by definition nonessential. And I never said I wasn't interested in wine. I in fact am, although I will gladly admit I've alot of education about it to come to me.

I suppose I was not clear or providing context. I am very concerned about the atmosphere and the service. However, at that level, I don't find myself contemplating sitting on a picnic table. At the higher level, I take for granted that the atmosphere will be acceptable (it doesn't have to be grand) as will the service. I didn't say impeccable, I said acceptable. To me. At this level, since we aren't eating off a buffet, all I am concerned about is the food.

Sorry to be unclear.

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I'm relatively well dined in the US, not interested in atmosphere, and not terribly interested in the theatrics of service.  I'm just there to taste the food.

I think there's a very good reason why Jeffrey Steingarten has focussed his attention in Paris on modern bistrots rather than the maccarooned monsters. The fact that the famous chefs of Paris are increasingly focussing their attention on opening bistros of their own (whatever they choose to call them) is not just a sign of hard times, but an accomodation to the fact that many Parisians are now more interested in everyday excellence than in gob-smacking extravagance.

Does that sound dogmatic? It merely describes what is actually happening. And I believe that the motivation is not merely a greedy desire to make more money, or even just to survive, but the recognition of a changing scale of values and even a new enthusiasm.

Taillevent and its fellows do indeed perpetuate a great tradition, but it's not unlike the Mona Lisas and the Venus de Milos in the Louvre -- except that in the Louvre you can pay a small sum to look at them rather than a fortune to purchase them.

What does all this mean to you? My advice is, spread the money around and learn what Paris is today rather than what it was in the fading past.

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I'm relatively well dined in the US, not interested in atmosphere, and not terribly interested in the theatrics of service.  I'm just there to taste the food.

I think there's a very good reason why Jeffrey Steingarten has focussed his attention in Paris on modern bistrots rather than the maccarooned monsters.

Heh, I almost mentioned Steingarten in my previous post. And you don't sound dogmatic at all. I completely agree with the philolophy your posts seem to suggest to me on various boards. As I said, I plan on taking great advantage of various bistros and brasseries, as well as your wonderful website.

I may have overstated our financial plight. Less always seems far less when one once had more or far more. We could afford to eat a meal a day at a three star and not have to harvest any of my organs. I just don't find it prudent. But I would very much value the experience of a three star meal, or two three star meals. I didn't mean to downplay that.

That said, would I be better served breaking the bank (not really) on a single meal or two, or testing lunch cuisines? Note at the better restaurants in NY, I almost always eat lunch and, if it is successful, then secure dinner reservations.

Edioted for Claridioty


Edited by Lyle (log)

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The fact that the famous chefs of Paris are increasingly focussing their attention on opening bistros of their own (whatever they choose to call them) is not just a sign of hard times, but an accomodation to the fact that many Parisians are now more interested in everyday excellence than in gob-smacking extravagance.

Does that sound dogmatic? It merely describes what is actually happening. And I believe that the motivation is not merely a greedy desire to make more money, or even just to survive, but the recognition of a changing scale of values and even a new enthusiasm.

It's very east to select certain facts in order to reach a personally desired conclusion. I actually prefer bistros most of the time rather than haute cuisine, although I appreciate both. But I also try to observe objectively. My observation is that haute cuisine is probably more popular and more significant today than ever before. It's the bourgeois cuisine that has really been moving in the bistro direction. There are 10 three star restaurants in Paris today, significantly more than at any previous time. When I first started going to Paris in the mid 60s there were only 5 (Maxim, Tour d'Argent, Lasserre, Laperouse, Grand Vefour). There are also today a number of up and coming candidates. These restaurants are largely full and not just with tourists, but with Parisians. Yes, there are chefs like Camdebourde and his cohorts that could do haute cuisine and have decided to do bistros instead, but there are also up and coming 3 star chefs like Yannick Aleno at the Meurice. We should all be pleased that Paris offers to each of us what we're looking for without needing to believe that it is being guided exclusively down our own personally chosen paths.

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That said, would I be better served breaking the bank (not really) on a single meal or two, or testing lunch cuisines?

You probably won't be disappointed by either but it is a very personal choice.

I do like both brasserie/bistro and haute cuisine experiences and I would try to do both

rather than focus on just one.

Good french cuisine is available at all levels in Paris, from brasserie to haute cuisine.

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That said, would I be better served breaking the bank (not really) on a single meal or two, or testing lunch cuisines?

You probably won't be disappointed by either but it is a very personal choice.

I do like both brasserie/bistro and haute cuisine experiences and I would try to do both

rather than focus on just one.

Good french cuisine is available at all levels in Paris, from brasserie to haute cuisine.

Yes, sorry to be unclear. I was speaking specifically of haute 2-3 star cuisine. Several lunches to sample chefs or one or two all-out dinners.

I'll wear the bistros out, trust me. :smile:

Allow me to change the formula. Would one expect a similar experience at a Parisian 2-3 star for dinner as one would recieve at ADNY? That would really help my decision making process.

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My observation is that haute cuisine is probably more popular and more significant today than ever before.

It's also worth noting that some of the most exciting food in the western world is coming out of Spain and although dinner prices are exceedingly moderate (if that's a possibility rather than a contradiction in terms) the style is completely chef driven and owes its existence to haute cuisine in France. I would say that haute cuisine is much like the Venus di Milo. It's got legs.

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Recent reports from Ledoyen are very positive and I may try it a second time(the first time I nearly had a fist fight with the sommelier who did not want to give me the 95 Meursault Perrieres from Coche Dury and I won a phyrric victory, got what I wanted but could not enjoy my meal) thru the recommendation of an insider who can get us special attention there.

To have to rely on an insider would make it not worth it to me. A 3-star that doesn't provide a gracious welcome and excellent service to guests previously unknown to the restaurant is not worth my time or money. And why didn't the sommelier want to give you the wine you wanted? He wanted to keep it for himself or something?

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I'm sure that most of those posting to this list have a starrier experience than my own. I should say in all honesty that if I could afford it, I'd go back to l'Arpege for another menu degustation -- and another, and another. My choices are based not so much on abstract principle as on the lack of principle in my bank account.

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Would one expect a similar experience at a Parisian 2-3 star for dinner as one would recieve at ADNY?

Never been to ADNY but have visited Le Bernardin recently. My experience there was definitely

not in the 2/3 stars league but it was a one timer only so not very reliable comparison.

Service was horrible but that's another story .. in the NY forum, if you're interested.

Surely, some guys here have experienced ADNY and can compare with french standards.

I nearly had a fist fight with the sommelier who did not want to give me the 95 Meursault Perrieres from Coche Dury

What :shock: ??!! That's unbelievable. Under what circumstance ?

I do know some sommeliers and have heard all sorts of stories (from both sides) but one refusing to serve

a client what he wanted, never. If the sommelier does not want to sell a bottle (god knows why) he would just say the wine is sold out.

I would have written to the restaurant owner....

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I'm sure that most of those posting to this list have a starrier experience than my own. I should say in all honesty that if I could afford it, I'd go back to l'Arpege for another menu degustation -- and another, and another. My choices are based not so much on abstract principle as on the lack of principle in my bank account.

I've known my share of women who had no interest in men without principle.

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