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food lover's guide or zagats?


vox
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hi all...

don't have a lot of time to be researching restos (i'm a busy line cook) but will be in paris for a week in march.

which of the above guides is worthwhile? i've heard conflicting reviews on wells...mainly that she's too generous to subpar restaurants. and zagat's is reliable but tends to overly favour the expensive.

i'm looking for value for my (hard-earned) dollar.

any tips? thanks!

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i love the food lover's guide, and have gone through two copies. while i still carry it to paris, it has not (and apparently won't be) updated in quite some time, and much of the info is outdated. that being said, i still enjoy walking the neighborhoods, looking for some of the places wells loved, and if they are gone, usually there is something else interesting going on..so for background and "color commentary", i say food lover's, but for up-to-date info, maybe zagat.

edited to add: i had good luck with a paperback called "bistros of paris", last time i was there. not at home to check right now, but i seem to recall (oddly) that the author's last name was hamburger....(no, reallY!)

Edited by chezcherie (log)

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Wells' book is an credibly useful guide to Paris. Nevertheless, it's least usefulness is as a restaurant guide. It's just not up to date. Too many restaurants have opened up since it was published and too many have changed hands or gone down hill. Simply because the average English speaking person living in Paris seems more interested in good food than the average American living in the US, I suspect the Zagat Paris survey is probably better than the average Zagat Survey. That said, I have so little interest in any Zagat Survey that I've never really looked closely at it. I'd use a combination of Michelin Guide and personal opinion. On the whole, I'd rather have a guide with text rather than numbers and stars. Margaret makes a good point although you will have to do some work to find the recommendations here and you will find confusingly opposite opinions. You'll have to decide which one is right for you.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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My wife and I are fond of the Lebey guides, but they are in French, which of course means they're not for everyone. Any good general bookstore in Paris should have them (I'm horrified to say we bought ours at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysees).

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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My wife and I are fond of the Lebey guides, but they are in French, which of course means they're not for everyone. Any good general bookstore in Paris should have them (I'm horrified to say we bought ours at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysees).

Why not? Virgin's store is well-stocked and current.

I agree with Margaret that you should check out this Forum first (and it's free).

Then buy Pudlowski 2005; it's the most reliable.

Lebey's two guides (regular 2005 and Bistrot 2005 which will be out in March along with the new Michelin) are alright but less judgmental.

I'd certainly skip Wells and Zagat (as a French food writer asked me this week: "Taillevent is the best resto in Paris?") I thought Steven Shaw had demonstrated Zagat was nothing more than a unscientific poll of a skewed population. As Bux points out and correctly, Wells is great for where to find markets, etc. outside Paris but for restos is way behind the times (even tho she issued a new edition). People here use Zagat + Michelin as telephone directories.

Spring for Pudlo + Lebey

Happy eating.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I find the Zagat useful as a compact directory for addresses, etc. The best quide for consistent, explanatory info to me is "Le Pudlo Paris", but any guide is about a year out of date by the time it is published and distributed. The beauty of eG forums is the timeliness as well as the quality of the posts.

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care to turn this thread into a suggestions thread?

as noted, i'm a chef de partie at a fine dining restaurant in toronto, and thus, not left with a lot of time to be surfing the net and cross referencing suggestions.

also, i'm on a fairly limited budget...i'm looking for great, iconic meals at around 30-50 euros/person.

help please!

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The Michelin red guides are restaurant and hotel guides, while the green guides are sightseeing guides. The newer green guides have some very limited eating and hotel suggestions, mostly on the lower end. You can get the some of what is in the green guide and most of what is in the red guide, including maps and some other information, online at /www.viamichelin.com It takes a few minutes to figure out how to set up an account, but it's free and once you do it's a very helpful reference. The Bib Gourmand restaurants on the guide are well-priced and generally very good.

I always make reservations where they accept them, and they are necessary for many of the best places.

I would suggest Au Bon Accueil and Le Troquet. John Talbot's list of recommendations is what I'm going to be working off on my next trip.

(Edited to clarify what is on the Michelin website.)

Edited by Carlsbad (log)
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Beside the point of whether a reservation is necessary at any particular dining room, in France making a reservation is a courtesy that is part of the diner/restaurant relationship. Upon entering, you will be asked if you have a reservation. When you answer, "Yes", you are received as an expected guest who understands the protocol. Even in informal situations, the French are more formal than we.

eGullet member #80.

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Why not?  Virgin's store is well-stocked and current.

Personal politics and nothing more. I don't buy from chain bookstores here in the U.S., and while I'm not informed about non-chain French bookstores (or, really, if the chain vs. independent thing is an issue in French bookstore culture), I feel like I should at least buy from a French chain (fnac, perhaps).

As you point out, though, Virgin has the books we need, and it's centrally located.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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The last time we were in Paris we had both books you asked about.

We used the Zagat's strictly as a guide and noted a few problems.

First, I think it was one of the first Paris editions put out and there was really a lack of participation in it which means some of the numbers are based on very few people's input.

I would listen to Margaret and follow this board.

Some other points are that the resturant siutation changes very quickly in Paris, far to quick for print media to keep up with. Also you can almost tell thebest places to eat from the outside; the posted menus, patrons and general atmosphire.

dave

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The last time we were in Paris we had both books you asked about.

  We used the Zagat's strictly as a guide and noted a few problems.

First, I think it was one of the first Paris editions put out and there was really a lack of participation in it

  Some other points are that the resturant siutation changes very quickly in Paris, far to quick for print media to keep up with.

Zagat's surveys are also largely answered by Americans.

Also the situation does change quickly.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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For my 2003 visit to Paris, I found Emmanuel Rubin's Gourmet Paris to be the most useful restaurant guide. It's unusual in that it's organized by dish or type of cuisine and there are no ratings, per se. Unless a new edition has been published, it may be somewhat out of date at this point. As a reference for where to find shops, markets, etc. Wells' book is very helpful.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Readers of this thread who don't venture into the provincial backwaters of the EGullet site may care to know that the 2005 Michelin Red Guide for Benelux is experiencing a bit of self-inflicted bother and has now been withdrawn.

So far the story has featured only in the Belgian press which indicates some good disaster management at the Michelin HQ - if you don't read French or Dutch, I've just posted a short note in the "Elsewhere in Europe" section.

moderator's note: The discussion on this subject has been moved to the Michelin - Benelux Guide 2005, another blow to their reputation thread in the Food Media and News Forum.

Apart from the tingle of schadenfreunde that the story evokes, it really puts a question mark over the standards applied generally by Michelin. I've noticed a healthy scepticism on this site about the Red Guide and this latest mishap confirms that you are best to make your choices on the kind of informed personal comments which make eGullet essential reading.

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Readers of this thread who don't venture into the provincial backwaters of the EGullet site may care to know that the 2005 Michelin Red Guide for Benelux is experiencing a bit of self-inflicted bother and has now been withdrawn.

So far the story has featured only in the Belgian press which indicates some good disaster management at the Michelin HQ - if you don't read French or Dutch, I've just posted a short note in the "Elsewhere in Europe" section.

Apart from the tingle of schadenfreunde that the story evokes, it really puts a question mark over the standards applied generally by Michelin. I've noticed a healthy scepticism on this site about the Red Guide and this latest mishap confirms that you are best to make your choices on the kind of informed personal comments which make eGullet essential reading.

Actually there's been a lot on the French press some of it on other threads here and some in the Digest, I believe it's January 17th

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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It all depends what you like, I think.

For me, I use of course eGullet. Then: Michelin, GaultMillau and Champérard. The last two existing in French. Michelin 2005 has not been published yet, as far as I know; GaultMillau 2005 is very recent (la couple of weeks ago), so quite up to date. Champérard 2005 was published a few months ago.

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The Pudlo Paris is my personal favorite of the Paris Restaurant guides. There is a mini review as well as a conversational description of the restaurants here. This proves quite useful when making decisions about restaurants. Michelin will NEVER describe the wallpaper or lighting fixtures... :raz:

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I've found Time Out Paris Eating and Drinking very useful in the past, and there's a new edition due out any moment. Their reviews are just long enough to get an idea of the ambiance as well as the cuisine, and written in such a way that you can usually tell whether the bias of the reviewer corresponds to your own.

John T's leads and summaries are as useful and up-to-date as any you'll find, but difficult to access in situ unless you're equipped with laptop and wi-fi.

My own website is by no means encyclopaedic, but it's just been updated and is the first hit you get from about 80,000 if you Google Paris Bistros -- or click below. (I've finally mastered Dreamweaver to the point where I can update and expand the site myself, so I'm no longer "reliant on the kindness of strangers". :smile: )

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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"My own website is by no means encyclopaedic, but it's just been updated and is the first hit you get from about 80,000 if you Google Paris Bistros -- or click below. (I've finally mastered Dreamweaver to the point where I can update and expand the site myself, so I'm no longer "reliant on the kindness of strangers".  :smile: )

Let me express my appreciation for "Whiting's Writings", especially the Paris Bistros section. The historical context interspersed with his drole commentary makes refreshing reading and adds to my exercise program...I have to put down my wine glass and pick up a heavy dictionary at regular intervals to discover the meaning of words such as vademecum. Please keep up the updates.

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. . .  adds to my exercise program...I have to put down my wine glass and pick up a heavy dictionary at regular intervals to discover the meaning of words such as vademecum.

I have bad news for you: in the long run it doesn't work. :sad: (See my home page.)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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