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Taillevent Merged topics


Holly Moore
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This is my first response as a member. If I valued discretion, I certainly would not make this my first foray into culinary quick sand. Nor can I claim the sensibility to comment on Michelin stars. This is a wonderful restaurant and a pleasure to eat at in every way.

By way of comparison however, my wife and I have eaten at Taillevent, L'Arpege, Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee and L'Ambroise over the past 18 months.

I do not feel the food at Taillevent measured up to the inventiveness and presentataion of these others. In the spirit of full disclousure I also prefer the "show" and stylized service at Lasserre to that of Taillevent .

Finally I much prefer the food available in the recent wave of wonderful restuarants that John keeps us up to date with than any of these. That is where the value and much of the creatvivty is today, literally for my money.

Boston

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Not having eaten their food, I can't compare them. I do think it would be a bit of an apples/oranges comparison though. The chefs you mention represent different styles in both setting and cuisine, and for the most part, higher prices.

People look for different things in dining experiences. Some people like food laboratories and some don't. Some like 18 small "courses" and some like more traditional menus. For me, Taillevent hits the right chords for dining pleasure, but that is only my opinion. Others may disagree.

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The Paris three stars I have dined in over the last few years include Taillevent, L'Arpege, Ducasse, and Le Cinq. Our meal at Taillevent was very good and the service was top notch, but it placed last if I had to choose based on food. We actually had better food at Le Cinq, and found it more innovative and interesting, funny given he was the former chef of Taillevent. The food at Ducasse was as tasty as I have had and the food at L'Arpege was just about as good and more interesting. All were very expensive. I got the best wine values at Le Cinq and Taillevent, but the one three star experience that hit on all cylinders was Ducasse.

With all that being said for reference, I had a wonderful meal at Taillevent and I will never forget their foie. It was the best I have had and nothing has come close. This upsets me because I keep eating it and is bad to great, but nothing touches those gelatin covered orbs of foie we had that day. My wife thinks foie is ok and mostly disappointing, but she said she would eat Taillevent's any day of the week.

Based on my limited experience Taillevent is probably a three star many nights, but not enough, and two suits it well and will only improve the legend. I will be back for a bottle of sticky and some fois.

Nate

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I had Soliveres' food at les Elysees (3 times) and at Taillevent (once).

I don't think Taillevent was right for him. His style did not match the Taillevent tradition. Before I thought he was a candidate for the third star. But strangely, when he got his third, he was delivering less good food than the new trio which are elevated.

My problem with Michelin is that they become too lax. Their France guide is the only once which can be taken seriously. But even there they need a new category of a fourth star to have a perspective.

Le Cinq was turning out "assemly line haute cuisine" (an early post of mine here on haute cuisine forum) and 2 stars may be too much.

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Just my 2 cents

While what's served on the plates certainly is the most important aspect, often hospitality and good rapport are the ones that could bring some customers to come back to that place over and over again (but not enough to bring the 3* Michelin in this case)

Last summer, the host at Can Fabes asked her friend to drive us to the train station in Sant Celoni since no taxi's willing to do so (I guess the distance is too short, but my cousin's in rush to go back to Barcelona to catch for the plane). For me, this kind of treatment would last quite sometimes (along with wonderful food we had there)

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Just got back from an eight day trip to London and Paris where we ate at five three star restaurants(at the time) - Gordon Ramsey, Ducasse, Le Grand Vefour, Guy Savoy and Taillevent. Of the five, the best all around dining experience hands down was Taillevent. Food wise Guy Savoy probably had a slight edge on Taillevent.

The best single dish I had was an appetizer at Taillevent. I'm not sure what its called, but it consisted of a large cube of fois gras placed in a bowl. The waiter then poured a broth over it and it melted into sheer decadence. It might have been the very best thing I've EVER tasted. Amazingly, it was part of the 70 Euro lunch special, which has to be one of the best high quality meals existent. Not only were the portions far from meager, but the addition of excellent amuse buches, gougeres and various sweets following desert made for a meal that was quite generous.

Sure its not cutting edge cuisine. But you don't go to Taillevent expecting cutting edge. If you want that, you go to Pierre Gagnaire. You go to Taillevent(or at least I do) expecting excellent food, unexcelled service and hospitality, one of the world's great wine lists and great value. Taillevent delivers on all counts.

I just don't understand Michelin's demotion of it to two stars. I've been there three times over a five year period. If anything the overall experience has improved with each visit.

Incidentally we were the only anglophiles(unless you count a miniature English Bulldog setting in the lap of a Frenchwoman of a certain age) in the room in which we were seated. We certainly wouldn't have been upset if there were others. I don't understand this seeming self hatred by Americans in particular and Anglophones in general when visiting France. So long as people are not obnoxious regardless of their nationality, I have no quarrel with the neighbors that a restaurant chooses for me.

Porkpa

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I had a great lunch on Monday. My partner, TH, had been there with her father in 1995 and found it quite stuffy.

She was very happy with our room, which may or may not have been the American Room. We were the only Americans in there.

She had the 140 Euro menu and I had the 70 euro. With a half bottle of wine, water, two apertifs it came to something like 320 euros.

We were both quite full when we went back to our hotel to change out of dress clothes and back into the poste, macarons and monoprix clothes. :biggrin:

I will list the menu when I get home.

We skipped dinner that night, wine in the afternoon does not agree with us.

As for it being a two star/one star experience, I have very limited experience and I thought it was very nice, not rushed service and I appreciated not being hovered over.

I did lose a bet with TH, I thought I would see at least one person in jeans. I had to buy her another box of chocolates, this time from Jean-Charles Rochoux.

lala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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  • 10 months later...

I should be circumspect in making any overtly critical comments on Taillevent, which seems to have many admirers in this forum. I counted myself as one of those admirers too, until an awful experience on 28 December 2007.

I had written to Mr Vrinat, telling him what fond memories I had of Taillevent from my last visit and that I was keen to celebrate my first wedding anniversary there. My wife had not been to Paris before, so I thought I may cap our holiday off with a nice romantic dinner. Mr Vrinat wrote back in his flowery prose, saying how honoured he was that we were returning to celebrate such an occasion and that he would do everything to make sure that Taillevent would meet our expectations on the night.

I could bore you all to tears if I listed every single grievance, so here are some selected lowlights:

1. There was no acknowledgment of our anniversary whatsoever from the staff to my wife; the welcome was not even as warm and friendly as during my first visit. (Vrinat was not there on the night). I should point out that I would not be as ungraceful as to expect free gifts etc. I got enough of that from Les Ambassadeurs a couple of days before, and would get much more at Arnaud Lallement a couple of days later.

2. I was placed in the middle of a room surrounded by noisy large groups with young teenagers, and was seated directly next to a family group divided only by a one foot wooden panel. I was so close to the woman across the panel that I could have seriously clocked her with my elbow if I decided to stretch out.

3. The normally charming Jean-Charles Chareyre hemmed us in tightly against the banquette seating with his amazing moveable table, presumably to make room for another group to squeeze in. I'm 5'11"and weigh in at 74 kilos dripping wet, to give you an idea of how tight a squeeze Jean-Charles administered. We should perhaps have left at this point, but decided to give them a chance and asked to move to a different dining room (which was thankfully acceded to).

4. When we ordered wine by the glass to pair with our entrees (immediately after placing our food order), the wine managed to arrive some 5 minutes after we had finished our entrees. After our entree plates were cleared, my wife's cutlery was half-reset for the main course (think one knife and no forks); no waiters, busboys or sommeliers, let alone cutlery, arrived for the next 15 minutes.

5. The staff were clearly over-extended and took far too long to respond to our queries or subtle attempts to call them over.

6. Amuse bouche of lentil veloute was salty and one-dimensional. A pumpkin garnish with some duck was undercooked and barely edible. Lamb was between medium and well-done when we had ordered it medium-rare. We complained to the waiter, but were so underwhelmed at this stage that we could not be bothered waiting further for the meat to be re-cooked, and decided to make a break for it as soon as possible.

I know that Taillevent's food is not top-rung if you are expecting anything exciting or creative. But from past experience, I know they can prepare very good dishes, albeit more in the classical tradition, such as the epeautre risotto, lamb with espelette peppers and a cabbage and bacon-stuffed tourte with sauce perigueux. The food this time was frankly ordinary. I am not going to draw distinctions between assembly-line three(or two) -star meals versus the food of a passionate and mercurial masterchef; the debate does not even get to that level. This was marginal one-star fare at best.

As for the "legendary service", I found them uncaring, unresponsive and distant. They were quite clearly understaffed and overstretched for the number of covers. I had better and more solicitous service at numerous brasseries and bistros during my trip.

I used to be a believer in "rebound" theory, where if a restaurant believed it had been demoted or downgraded unfairly, that it would redouble its efforts to excel. This is perhaps part of normal human psychology and may not be restricted to restaurants. Regardless, I remember Vrinat saying he was wronged by Michelin and that they had based their decision to demote Taillevent on bad intelligence / wrong information. Yet my dinner there confirmed much of what was said, namely too many tables with floor staff struggling to cope, inconsistent run-of-the-mill cooking etc etc. Perhaps Taillevent are now beyond caring and were happy to turn the tables, keep the numbers churning and the cash register chiming.

I have since written a complaint to Michelin and Mr Vrinat in the strongest possible terms. This was the worst meal of my Paris trip by a long shot. If you are after a classic meal of higher quality with truly excellent and caring service, may I recommend a short stroll down to Les Elysees du Vernet, Alain Soliveres's former digs, where the vastly underrated Eric Briffard proposes a delicious and very seasonal menu.

Edited for typos.

Edited by Julian Teoh (log)
Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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I agree with you and had a similarly lackluster experience: cold food, one-dimensional uninspirational flavors ... frankly, it was boring. I think the pictures speak for themselves; but note the hardened sauces from plates sitting around in the kitchen. It seems like the restaurant, as well as the menu, are in need of a renovation.

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I agree with you and had a similarly lackluster experience: cold food, one-dimensional uninspirational flavors ... frankly, it was boring.  I think the pictures speak for themselves; but note the hardened sauces from plates sitting around in the kitchen. It seems like the restaurant, as well as the menu, are in need of a renovation.

Alas, Taillevent underwent some major renovations around 2005, which I think has robbed the dining rooms of much of their majesty. The resplendent old chandeliers and the charming Coromandel screen separating the Trianon Room from the kitchen were removed - the new lighting designers were "very young, exciting Parisian designers" at a firm called Ozone, according to a quasi-manager type.

He was noticeably taken aback when we asked him about the old fittings, perhaps destroying his illusion that we were young once-off-fly-by-nighters-who-may-be fobbed-off-ne'er-to-be-seen-again. He may actually now be right on that count.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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I should be circumspect in making any overtly critical comments on Taillevent, which seems to have many admirers in this forum.  I counted myself as one of those admirers too, until an awful experience on 28 December 2007.
To the contrary, I wish more folks would relate their disastrous experiences - yours is the very model of moderation, detail and reason.
I had written to Mr Vrinat, telling him what fond memories I had of Taillevent from my last visit and that I was keen to celebrate my first wedding anniversary there.  My wife had not been to Paris before, so I thought I may cap our holiday off with a nice romantic dinner.  Mr Vrinat wrote back in his flowery prose, saying how honoured he was that we were returning to celebrate such an occasion and that he would do everything to make sure that Taillevent would meet our expectations on the night..............

1.  There was no acknowledgment of our anniversary whatsoever from the staff to my wife; the welcome was not even as warm and friendly as during my first visit. (Vrinat was not there on the night).  I should point out that I would not be as ungraceful as to expect free gifts etc. .

I am stereotyping and overgeneralizing here but I think French restos sometimes will not make a fuss about such events, I'm not sure why but I'm not sure it was personal. Except for that it certainly sounds like a minus-star meal. Sorry you had to endure it but perhaps your warning will save other members from having a similar experience.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I am sorry to hear about your experiences as I have always been a great fan of Taillevent, the classic food, the wonderful wine knowledge and selection, the space and elegance of the rooms, the perfectly orchestrated service.

My first visit dates back to the late eighties when it was wonderful and truly worth three stars. No question that there has been a slow decline stretching over the last years. Back in 1994, I remember us chewing on a dry duck breast for quite some time and once we had finished, Vrinat arrived with some more sauce, withdrawing it again with the comment "Trop tard, peut-etre".

I also do not think that the recent renovation has added to the appeal. The modernization took away most of the appeal of this grand old house. We were also squeezed into some narrow space recently and my wife was not able to go to the bathroom without me and a lady from the next table getting up for her and the table being moved ... and the same again when my wife returned.

Is this perhaps also a problem of succession? I can imagine that there are easier jobs than stepping into Jean-Claude Vrinat's footsteps. During your visit, was there any sign of Valérie Vrinat? I understand that she is being prepared to take over her father's role in the not too distant future (he will be 72 years old in April).

Edited by ameiden (log)
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How very sad to read!!

I have so enjoyed Taillevent. I was there in October with a first-timer friend. I had told them of my friend's first vist to Paris and they really put on a show for her!! We were very fussed over. I had excellent Lievre a la Royale. M. Vrinat put a bottle of complimentary cognac on our table.

I, too, preferred the earlier decor.....will see what happens next.......

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My single visit last May was luckily nowhere near so disastrous, although in terms of the quality of the food, it paled in comparison to most my other dining experiences at two or three star Michlins. But I did not have any issues with the service, which was very good. Perhaps this is because M. Vrinat was there during my dinner, and his presence may elevate the service. M. Vrinat was very gracious and welcoming. I also received the complimentary cognac, which was a nice touch. But it seems like even the service is hit-or-miss at this point.

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Ameiden - I have never met Valerie Vrinat in the flesh, but having seen her photo on the website, I can say she wasn't there on the night. True that it's not the easiest job replacing Mr Vrinat, but she hasn't completely assumed his roles and responsibilites yet (not that I am aware of) and I'm not sure how much of the decline can be attributed to her. Perhaps it was the complete absence of the proprietors that led to a lapse, though I note your unhappy experience even with Mr Vrinat present.

Obviously, I hope and pray that all other eGulleteers who do decide to go to Taillevent get an experience worthy of the name, but it seems I am not the only one who has suffered from the inconsistency in service and food.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Passed away yesterday morning. RIP.

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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This is a "black" week for the world of haute cuisine

I was very sad to know this and hope Mr. Vrinat's family will be streghthened and would be able to get through this tough times

In 2005 - during my first visit to Paris to try the 3-star Michelin in Europe, Taillevent was one of my choices. Despite many not-so-good reviews, it's very difficult for me to resist its legendary and historical richness within the world of French gastronomy. And the graciousness of Mr. Vrinat that I heard from almost all diners was the main reason why I still would give it a shot. Alas, the restaurant was full.

Now, with Mr. Vrinat forever leaving this world, I'm not sure if I would ever dine at Taillevent. I'm afraid this establishment could follow the path of La Tour d'Argent - going down the hill and soon be forgotten. I hope I'm wrong ...

Au revoir Monsieur Vrinat - the French "perfect" gentleman

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AP reports today:

"Jean-Claude Vrinat, who ran the Paris restaurant Taillevent, died Monday. He was 71.

Vrinat died of lung cancer at a Paris hospital, said his daughter, Valerie Vrinat.

The restaurant opened under Vrinat's father, Andre, in 1946. Jean-Claude joined in 1962, and Valerie Vrinat now runs the establishment after taking over in 1987.

Vrinat put in long hours at the restaurant, rising early to help prepare for the lunch service and staying on to greet the last diners on most nights, his daughter said.

Jean-Claude Vrinat was born in Villeneuve l'Archeveque, in eastern France. He studied at the prestigious HEC business school and had his heart set on a career in the automotive industry but entered the family restaurant business as a stopgap measure and ended up staying, Valerie Vrinat said.

The restaurant was known for its innovative French cuisine and its extensive wine cellar. It won its third Michelin star in 1973, under Jean-Claude Vrinat's management, but lost it last year."

I was sad to read your recent negative report but am now even more sad to hear this latest piece of news. To me, it explains a lot though - surely your disastrous dinner experience can be attributed to Jean-Claude Vrinat's sudden, unforeseen and severe cancer outbreak. Family and staff will have been elsewhere in their minds. Rest in peace, Jean-Claude Vrinat.

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