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Le Comptoir du Relais-9, carrefour de l’Odéon


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Just to make things even more confusing as far as Le Comptoir's opening hours are concerned. A friend told me he ate there on Sunday night, but it was not the set menu. So, it appears that you can eat there on the weekends, you just won't get the 40 € menu.

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Often prix-fixe menus are from Monday through Friday..

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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Just to make things even more confusing as far as Le Comptoir's opening hours are concerned.  A friend told me he ate there on Sunday night, but it was not the set menu.  So, it appears that you can eat there on the weekends,  you just won't get the 40 € menu.

As a matter of record, Francois Simon in Saturday's Le Figaro notes that weekends (I assume nights) there's a single dish.

John Talbott

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's too late now for us, but just for the record does Le Comptoir normally have any sort of menu on display outside?

We were in Paris last week and staying within walking distance so we went to have a look at the menu, but we couldn't see any sort of menu on display for the restaurant itself. Although the "cafe" was clearly open there was building work at the front of the hotel which stopped us getting close enough to see if there was a menu inside.

I'm afraid that we gave up on Le Comptoir for that evening and went to the excellent Casaluna instead - of which hopefully more later when we have recovered from our trip. (We never went back to have another look at Le Comptoir since we found more than enough nice places to choose from elsewhere for the rest of the week).

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It's too late now for us, but just for the record does Le Comptoir normally have any sort of menu on display outside?

We were in Paris last week and staying within walking distance so we went to have a look at the menu, but we couldn't see any sort of menu on display for the restaurant itself. Although the "cafe" was clearly open there was building work at the front of the hotel which stopped us getting close enough to see if there was a menu inside.

I'm afraid that we gave up on Le Comptoir for that evening and went to the excellent Casaluna instead - of which hopefully more later when we have recovered from our trip. (We never went back to have another look at Le Comptoir since we found more than enough nice places to choose from elsewhere for the rest of the week).

I don't know aboutlunch but regarding the evening meal, there's a slate board w/ the 40euros eve. menu, that is hung on the outside left wall, next to the pancakes take away.

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I thought French law required a menu to be posted outside every restaurant. It's a great idea and wish it was more the custom here. That said, I'm the sort of person who is happy to enter a restaurant I know, or even one that comes highly recommended by the right source and just have the chef feed me most of the time. There have been some posts by others who are quite up in arms against such table d'hôte practices and tasting menus in general. At the high end, as cooking becomes more creative and more personal, I suspect we're going to see more of this sort of dining. At the lower middle end, it's a way to cut prices and with the knowledge before hand that my choices will limited, if I have a choice at all, I'm still frequently happy to have a good meal and save a few euros in exchange for dining without the power to choose between equally appealing items on a menu. Au C'Amelot was a good example of this. Perhaps it still is. At any rate, I'd be happy to have Camdeborde feed me what he wants to cook and charge what he he thinks it's worth if he's still true to the spirit in which he opened la Regalade.

Robert Buxbaum

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I thought French law required a menu to be posted outside every restaurant.

That's my understanding too but if I recall correctly at lunch there was nothing posted (but in truth I wasn't truly searching) and at dinner only the little chalkboard on the northwest outside wall.

John Talbott

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I thought French law required a menu to be posted outside every restaurant.

That's my understanding too but if I recall correctly at lunch there was nothing posted (but in truth I wasn't truly searching) and at dinner only the little chalkboard on the northwest outside wall.

That's odd, invariably the French adhere to the letter of the law, unless of course, they decide not to do so at all.

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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I thought French law required a menu to be posted outside every restaurant.

That's my understanding too but if I recall correctly at lunch there was nothing posted (but in truth I wasn't truly searching) and at dinner only the little chalkboard on the northwest outside wall.

That's odd, invariably the French adhere to the letter of the law, unless of course, they decide not to do so at all.

At the risk of getting way, way off topic, good point Bux. Example: French driving. Folks slowed down when strict alcohol levels were enforced and automatic photo highway radar machines put up. However, last night's TF1 said more machines would not be installed next year. To see; go to site click 20 Juin 2005, click 20H, click afficher le video, et voila. On topic, this is one reason Francois Simon noted that doggy bags were now in vogue for leftover wine en route.

John Talbott

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I do not know about the law regarding this, your mention rings a bell though. My point was that nobody going to Camdeborde's - and knowing a little about the place - ever thinks of checking for a menu posted outside. It is one of those places.

Besides, I find it difficult to say how many restaurants do obey this law. In Paris I hardly ever look for a menu outside because a) I know the place or b) My hunches about a new place, when I am facing it for the first time, don't involve looking at a menu. However I seem to remember there are quite a few small restaurants without menus posted outside. The precaution becomes useful when I am outside of Paris and I really need to know what type of fare they serve inside.

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. . . .  In Paris I hardly ever look for a menu outside . . .

I, on the other hand, am an inveterate street menu reader and I don't have to be looking for a place to eat or even hungry, to stop and read the menu. I stop and read street menus as regularly as I peer into charcuterie and patisserie windows. They catch my attention almost as predictibly as a pretty woman, albeit without risk of a poke in the ribs from my wife, which also may explain why I do it so freely by habit.

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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. . . .  In Paris I hardly ever look for a menu outside . . .

I, on the other hand, am an inveterate street menu reader and I don't have to be looking for a place to eat or even hungry, to stop and read the menu. I stop and read street menus as regularly as I peer into charcuterie and patisserie windows. They catch my attention almost as predictibly as a pretty woman, albeit without risk of a poke in the ribs from my wife, which also may explain why I do it so freely by habit.

Bux

I am so glad that you posted this. My wife thinks I am the only person who has to check out every menu on every street we ramble down in Paris. The other interesting thing about these menus are how out of date some of them are. The pages have yellowed and are not in tune with the season at all. I went into a small bistro on r. de Rosiers a couple of years ago and asked if the menu outside was current and the hostess thought it might have been posted about a year ago. Thanks for letting my wife know I am not the only person in the world who does this. Back to topic.

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  • 2 weeks later...
As F. Simon would ask: Should one go?  Absolutely; great location, great prices (my meal was 37E), great ideas.

While I am not going to retract what I said a month ago, I would like to update it. The ambiance, French clientele, fullness and reasonable price (114E for 4) at Le Comptoir at lunch remain. However, today I ate with Colette and two other exigeant eaters and while my foie gras/veggie terrine and pig's foot main were OK, except for the tuna had by one of the distaff folk, the rest (tuna slices on salad, gaspacho, beef with veggies and salad nicoise) was banal.

John Talbott

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As F. Simon would ask: Should one go?  Absolutely; great location, great prices (my meal was 37E), great ideas.

While I am not going to retract what I said a month ago, I would like to update it. The ambiance, French clientele, fullness and reasonable price (114E for 4) at Le Comptoir at lunch remain. However, today I ate with Colette and two other exigeant eaters and while my foie gras/veggie terrine and pig's foot main were OK, except for the tuna had by one of the distaff folk, the rest (tuna slices on salad, gaspacho, beef with veggies and salad nicoise) was banal.

This is bad news. I figured that this was at leat one place I would absolutely try to get to during my upcoming trip to Paris. I will continue to monitor opinion here.

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Does he still cook Cassoulet with Olive Oil??!???

I suspect so. I haven't found a reference one way or the other. One of us might ask when dining there.

I was surprised to learn about Camdeborde's use of olive oil. I thought I'd share some old web pages I found. Here's a web page published by Lesier, a producer of cooking and salad oils for the French market, some time ago. On it there appears this qustion and answer.

Utilisez-vous des huiles dans votre cuisine ?

Oui ! Originaire du sud-ouest [Pau], je propose un cassoulet digeste et sain à l’huile d’olive.

and here, in English, from an interview posted on the UK site, frenchedonist.com
Do southwestern traditions influence your cooking?

YC: Relatively little. I use much more olive oil, because it's more digestible. The southwest adopted olive oil during the nouvelle cuisine trend, around 1975 to 1985.  . . .  It used to be that if you ate a cassoulet, it would take a week to recover because of the goose fat. I make mine with olive oil; you can eat it at lunch and go back to work.

This however, is the quote I enjoyed from that page.
Are Americans surprised to see some of the foods on your menu, like testicles and veal kidneys?

YC: No, I’m the one who is surprised. The Americans who come to my restaurant want to eat just like us. They are thrilled to find real French cooking. We treat them exactly like French customers,  . . .

Sure there are the ugly tourists, but I have met more than my share of the traveling American gastronome and they are often excellent ambassadors. There are some other good comments in that interview where he speaks of seasonal foods and local foods. It's not hard to remember why la Régalade was so popular.

Edited for clarity.

Edited by Bux (log)

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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As F. Simon would ask: Should one go?  Absolutely; great location, great prices (my meal was 37E), great ideas.

While I am not going to retract what I said a month ago, I would like to update it. The ambiance, French clientele, fullness and reasonable price (114E for 4) at Le Comptoir at lunch remain. However, today I ate with Colette and two other exigeant eaters and while my foie gras/veggie terrine and pig's foot main were OK, except for the tuna had by one of the distaff folk, the rest (tuna slices on salad, gaspacho, beef with veggies and salad nicoise) was banal.

This is bad news. I figured that this was at leat one place I would absolutely try to get to during my upcoming trip to Paris. I will continue to monitor opinion here.

I have two colleagues who went separately and said roughly the same, but they didn't go for the menu gastronomique, so I assumed this was why. I had dinner there shortly after it opened and found it to be wonderful and it was certainly one of the best meals I have had in Paris this year. A friend went shortly after and raved about it as well.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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As F. Simon would ask: Should one go?  Absolutely; great location, great prices (my meal was 37E), great ideas.

While I am not going to retract what I said a month ago, I would like to update it. The ambiance, French clientele, fullness and reasonable price (114E for 4) at Le Comptoir at lunch remain. However, today I ate with Colette and two other exigeant eaters and while my foie gras/veggie terrine and pig's foot main were OK, except for the tuna had by one of the distaff folk, the rest (tuna slices on salad, gaspacho, beef with veggies and salad nicoise) was banal.

This is bad news. I figured that this was at leat one place I would absolutely try to get to during my upcoming trip to Paris. I will continue to monitor opinion here.

I have two colleagues who went separately and said roughly the same, but they didn't go for the menu gastronomique, so I assumed this was why. I had dinner there shortly after it opened and found it to be wonderful and it was certainly one of the best meals I have had in Paris this year. A friend went shortly after and raved about it as well.

I should have been clearer; I am only talking about my two luncheons there; dinner remains a fond memory. However, since M. Camdeborde was there for all three meals, I'm stumped as to why the second lunch was off.

John Talbott

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had planned on having just a quick bit to eat yesterday at the bar aux soupes in the 11th, but it was closed so I jumped on a bus thinking I would decide on something else along the way and ended up having a late lunch at Le Comptoir de Relais. I was very happy I did. I had been for dinner right after it opened, but had wanted to try the bistro menu as well. There were so many things I would have loved to have tried, but I settled on the plat du jour, which was duck confit with puree. It was simply prepared but delicious. The duck was perfectly cooked, with crisp skin and tender meat that fell off the bone. The puree was served in a separate bowl topped with a rich jus de something, not quite sure what. The clientele was very mixed—tourists, student-types stopping by for a coffee on the terrace, young branché types having lunch, businessmen, etc. I’d love to go back for a glass of wine and a plate of the many cochonnaille dishes they serve. I think there is a risk that some people will be disappointed at lunch because their expectations will be so high. The food is much simpler--although still very good--when they are not serving the menu gastronomique, which might leave some wondering—what’s all the fuss about. I however loved both. The prices are quite reasonable as well with entrees running about 6-12 €, main course 12 €, and desserts 6-7 €.

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Actually I have been there twice for lunch and once for dinner, and I definitely prefer lunch at Le Comptoir. I think the food served at lunch is more in harmony with the place and type of service, besides it tastes distinctly better for it's the kind of food Yves is good at, at least in such surroundings.

At dinner, there's a trace of trying too hard: the place is too crammed, too casual for the widening of the mind that goes with refined cuisine, and some dishes were nice but below the standards of the generous gascon-bistrot food served at lunch. My melon balls were like raw squash bullets.

This is a very personal opinion, but I believe the dinner formula doesn't quite make it. This kind of cuisine needs another "context". I'll aways go back very happily for lunch though.

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So, if I were to drop by for lunch on a weekday, what sort of time should I get there to be (reasonably) sure of getting a table?

Does anyone have a note of Le Comptoir's service times?

PS

Edinburgh

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So, if I were to drop by for lunch on a weekday, what sort of time should I get there to be (reasonably) sure of getting a table?

I went around 14h30 and there were several tables available. You probably want to go either early (12h-12h30) or late to be sure to get a table.

Edited by Felice (log)

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So, if I were to drop by for lunch on a weekday, what sort of time should I get there to be (reasonably) sure of getting a table?

Does anyone have a note of Le Comptoir's service times?

Both days I had lunch I came just after noon (unfashionable but effective); both times there were folks seated.

John Talbott

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  • 4 weeks later...
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