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Mayur

Le Bristol

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Greetings, Gulleteers!

Having just joined, I feel that it may be a bit presumptuous to lead off with an involved question (I'd like to build up some good karma first), but I'm left with no choice. I'm having dinner or lunch (options still open) at Le Bristol on the 2nd of November with my girlfriend and her sister. I've eaten M. Frechon's cooking before (though not at this restaurant) and have some experience dining at various haute cuisine establishments in Paris; however, this will be my first visit to this restaurant. I've read other eGullet posters' details about Le Bristol (including molto e's amazing photo-document, which thrills me hugely!), and I have some idea of what to expect. However, because I'm only in Paris for a week, and I'm not completely made of money, this is going to be my only "serious" dining experience (good food aplenty I hope, but nothing quite this luxe). So, I want to make the most of it. To this end, I'm trying to figure out what might make my meal better. Some questions for those of you who have been:

1) Is there a quantifiable difference between lunch and dinner? If so, which did you find the superior experience?

2) Is there anything to specifically avoid on the menu?

3) Are the menus the way to go, or does one potentially get a more well-rounded and "truer" experience of the restaurant by ordering a la carte?

4) Is there something specific that MUST be ordered here (accounting for the season, of course)?

5) What with Le Bristol's new sommelier talent infusion, I'm probably covered on this, but regardless, are there any exceptional selections from the cellar that simply must be had?

6) I've heard that the cheese course may be a weakness here. True/false?

7) If I can squeeze in a second two- or three-star, is there another establishment that provides an interesting counterpoint/commentary to Le Bristol?

8) As a corollary, are any of you of the opinion that there's someone out there that does what Le Bristol does, but better, so to speak?

Some of these questions probably seem rather asinine (in fact, they do to me as I'm reading them... :blink: ) But I'd really love some help! Thanks in advance!


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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Mayur,

I am jealous that you will be eating at my favorite restaurant. I am pretty sure the menu is the same between lunch and dinner and jacket is required. I just looked at the website and I think that the chef's menu has changed since my meal there so I would think that there are some menu changes as well. I will attempt to answer your questions:

1. see above

2. When we dined there we did not have one thing that we did not love.

3. The best value is the tasting menu, but there were things on the a la carte that I could not live without so you may want to do one tasting and order a la carte for the other meal.

4. I think that you will be equally happy with all of Chef Frechon's dishes

5. As for wines you are in good hand's with their suggestions

6. As for cheese see my picture-how is that a weakness

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=10271

7. I did not eat at Le Meurice, but I have only heard good things and the same of L'Arpege. I did not have a good eating experience at Pierre Gagnaire or Le Cinq, but the service at both was very good. These are not starred spots but I liked Atelier de Robuchon, Le Comptoir for lunch and Chez Denise. Two names that kept coming up to try were La Troquet and L'Ami Jean.

8. Based upon my experience at Le Bristol, this is not a meal to miss and for any other questions ask Raphael Courant, the restaurant manager and a true gentleman-he gave us great menu suggestions

Good Eating,

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I've eaten M. Frechon's cooking before (though not at this restaurant)

I'd only add one thing to molto's comments; the food at le Bristol is an extension of but hardly the same as at le Restaurant aka Eric Frechon on rue General Brunet. You'll get many more than the three courses he offered in the 19th, in a much upgraded setting, with many more staff, and the price is no longer the equivalent of 190 francs. Happy eating.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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We ate at Le Troquet the other night. My first course was way over-salted, the rest of the food was just so-so. The servers raced us through the dinner and hovered all night; the nano-second we set down our forks, our plates were whisked away and the next course arrived. And it wasn't very busy.

When I tried to slow things down, they seemed a bit irked...plus they didn't return our change from the money we left for l'addition, assuming we were leaving it as a tip, I suppose...no one would ever dare do to a French customer. (That happened to me at lunch somewhere else yesterday, as well.)

L'Ami Louis is great. A better bet. The food is very good, they were really nice, the dining room was lively and convivial, and when we left, my friend from New York was admiring the Basque linen napkin...so they gave it to her!

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We ate at Le Troquet the other night. My first course was way over-salted, the rest of the food was just so-so. The servers raced us through the dinner and hovered all night; the nano-second we set down our forks, our plates were whisked away and the next course arrived. And it wasn't very busy.

When I tried to slow things down, they seemed a bit irked...plus they didn't return our change from the money we left for l'addition, assuming we were leaving it as a tip, I suppose...no one would ever dare do to a French customer. (That happened to me at lunch somewhere else yesterday, as well.)

L'Ami Louis is great. A better bet. The food is very good, they were really nice, the dining room was lively and convivial, and when we left, my friend from New York was admiring the Basque linen napkin...so they gave it to her!

WE had lunch last week at le troquet and all of us found the food to be oversalted in many dishes.

I assume they must have a new chef.Service is based on a system of taking your order when you come in and then delivering the food efficiently.We fouled their system by taking our time and then had to call their attention to place the order

However ,when we explained they honored our request.Of course we were the last people to leave.

The place perhaps has also a new management.Le troquet was not the same that day.

The french custom is to leave a cash tip ,if one is happy .It could be 10% or higher if you are very satisfied with the service.THey must have thought that you were extremely pleased with their rushed service. :smile:

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Thank you muchly for the comments and suggestions! Very helpful! (John, I know that this'll be nothing like Frechon's resto on Rue Gen. Brunet, but that's fine as long as the cuisine translates well.)

I've heard nothing but good things about L'Ami Jean; maybe I'll give it a try. I'm trying to pull myself away from the usual places I go, and since I normally never pick the restaurant before the neighborhood and circumstance, it might be an interesting choice.

molto, I tend to agree with you about Gagnaire: I love the space, the philosophy of cooking, and the service, but the food has wowed at times, disappointed at others.

Thanks!


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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Feel free to ask för Jerome Moreau, the head sommelier at Le Bristol. Tell him the Marc from Sweden suggested you speak to him about wine selection and eventually food choices as well if you want to discuss. His English is perfect and after many years at Lucas Carton he probably knows more about matching food and wine than 99 out of 100 sommeliers in France.

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Thanks, Marc! I'll certainly do that; do you know if M. Moreau is generally likely to be there most evenings?


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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L'Ami Louis is great. A better bet. The food is very good, they were really nice, the dining room was lively and convivial, and when we left, my friend from New York was admiring the Basque linen napkin...so they gave it to her!

David, do you mean l'Ami Jean? If so, I agree. If you mean l'Ami Louis, I'm staying out of that one. :rolleyes:

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Sorry to hear about these issues with Le Troquet. We've really enjoyed it. If anyone has updates, please post.

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Somehow I could not find the old topics for food review in Le Bristol Paris. Anyway, I will put some of my comments from my lunch at Bristol here.

This is actually my 1st experience ever to eat haute cuisine outside US - well, it's incredible. Now I can understand why at the end of last year some people would question the legitimacy of Michelin NY. Personally, I think this restaurant could be one of the best should it's located in US - in europe this would be different story since the competition is much stiffer.

I tried the Spring Flavours tasting menu. The restaurant actually is quite flexible with the choice if you don't eat or like to eat particular dish, you could actually change it. This new french cooking is refined and artistic. There are many foie gras degustation menu. I ate the best Sole and Souffle here. The quality is still high despite the fact that Chef Frechon was not around unfortunately. The bread, cheese and chocolate/candy selection are really abundant - so far only Ducasse that could do better I think.

The service is also superb overally. The waiters (they are very well-dressed) would pamper you. The waiters are numerous, so there is no specific one or two assigned to my table - perhaps I was in touch with almost 10 different ones where the later one nicer than the early one. I just find that the assistant sommerlier is a little bit cocky, but he chose me decent 3 glasses of wine. Almost all of the staffs understand English since my french is pretty much nothing.

The decoration of the winter dining room is luxurious and elegant. The restaurant itself is quite small, the capacity is only about 40-50 people. At that time, it was quiet since it was an Easter Monday I guess. I did not know if jacket is required for lunch, good that the hotel kindly lent me one.

I came there around 2 pm, so by the time I finished my whole food - its almost 5 pm already. By 4 pm, I was pretty much the only customer left, but they never rush me or anything. In fact, I felt relaxed and had some chats with the waiter. I could also see the staffs changed and iron the table cloths and arrange everything for dinner - no wonder it's very difficult to maintain Michelin stars in Europe. I could be bias but this establishment should get more than just 2*, 2.5* perhaps.

For those of you would like to see the pictures of the dishes or the restaurant, please check the website below

http://andichahyadihermawan.blogs.friendst...paris_spring_2/

That would be from me right now, the review for the other restaurants would come later. Please check the Spain and Italy too for the review about Can Fabes and Calandre - well, they're not there yet. Thanks

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Here is a thread on Le Bristol.

Sounds like a wonderful experience; looking forward to your other reports.


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I'm winding down my stay in Paris. I'm staying at Le Meurice and decided yesterday to lunch at the gastronomic restaurant in house today. I got a menu last night and, after studying it, decided it wasn't interesting enough and canceled this morning. I decided to give Frechon at Le Bristol a try. I didn't reserve and just showed up. Fully booked. I apologized to the Manager. He said there was only a table for five available. I suggested he move a party for three there. He did and that started the best meal I've had in Paris in many years. It was the prix fixe 95 euro menu. Varied pre-amuses were all interesting and delicious bites. Amuse was a beetroot jelly with a ham flavored mousse -exceptionally good. The entree, a cold mackerel in jelly with a horseradish cream,was beautifully done as was the hen pheasant main. The latter was of exceptional quality and roasted still slightly pink. There was a predessert and I had a coffee ice cream based dessert. Excellent gracious service. The restaurant was full with me there. There were only 16 diners when I lunched at Ledoyen last week and I would not recommend dining there.

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Just had lunch at Le Bristol yesterday, and was disappointed.

My full thoughts with photos and videos are available here.

I left the restaurant confident that Le Bristrol had rightfully earned its three stars for its refinement of dishes, service, and ambiance. I just felt like they just lacked the inspirational spark that some of the other Parisian 3* restaurants, like L'Arpège and L'Astrance, have ... most of the flavors were boring.

In a way I wish I had gone last year before the third star was awarded. Some of the dishes seemed to have unnecessary plays on texture making them really gelatinous, which make me question if this was artificially done to make some of Frechon’s more classical cooking seem more modern and innovative. Perhaps this is his way of keeping things “new” to hold on to his third star. Leaving out this play on textures could have made the first three courses even more appealing and seem more natural.

The other thing I noticed was what seemed to be a tremendous discrepancy between the main courses ordered from the lunch menu, and from the à la carte menu. It was like two different restaurants, and made me wonder if there was a separate lunch menu chef who was preparing those items. The majority of the courses for which I had qualms came from the lunch menu. Could be a coincidence,and maybe I’m just too idealistic, but I feel like a three star restaurant should have consistency between the two menus. At least that’s been my experience.

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Once again another wonderful, atmospheric review. I have one question though. What makes food exciting? New? Yes, Arpege and Astrance are more innovative. But, they also cater to different customers from Le Bristol.

I haven't eaten in the "winter" restaurant at the Bristol, but I have enjoyed, both lunch and dinner, in the Summer Restaurant.

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Once again another wonderful, atmospheric review. I have one question though. What makes food exciting? New? Yes, Arpege and Astrance are more innovative. But, they also cater to different customers from Le Bristol. 

I haven't eaten in the "winter" restaurant at the Bristol, but I have enjoyed, both lunch and dinner,  in the Summer Restaurant.

Hi Seth -- Thanks! That's a good point actually.

I don't think classical and exciting are mutually exclusive. I would not call some of the dishes at L'Arpège, for example, new (onion gratinée, vegetable garden salad, etc ...) but the simplicity and quality of ingredients makes them exciting. Each dish has a very clear focus and concept.

At Le Bristol the vision wasn't as clear; 2 of our consecutive dishes were sauced nearly identically, and the dominant flavors of the meal were nothing I hadn't tasted before: vinegar and salt.

It seems like Le Bristol is awkwardly placed between trying to keep to Frechon's classic style and and trying maintain its 3rd Michelin star by making dishes unnaturally "innovative" (lots of gelées, plays on textures, etc ...).

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Once again another wonderful, atmospheric review. I have one question though. What makes food exciting? New? Yes, Arpege and Astrance are more innovative. But, they also cater to different customers from Le Bristol. 

I haven't eaten in the "winter" restaurant at the Bristol, but I have enjoyed, both lunch and dinner,  in the Summer Restaurant.

And I walked by the summer room, it was full of light and overlooked the beautiful courtyard of the hotel. That could have made the ambiance much more enjoyable as it was such a beautiful day.

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Just had lunch at Le Bristol yesterday, and was disappointed. 

My full thoughts with photos and videos are available here.

I left the restaurant confident that Le Bristrol had rightfully earned its three stars for its refinement of dishes, service, and ambiance.  I just felt like they just lacked the inspirational spark that some of the other Parisian 3* restaurants, like L'Arpège and L'Astrance, have ... most of the flavors were boring.

In a way I wish I had gone last year before the third star was awarded. Some of the dishes seemed to have unnecessary plays on texture making them really gelatinous, which make me question if this was artificially done to make some of Frechon’s more classical cooking seem more modern and innovative. Perhaps this is his way of keeping things “new” to hold on to his third star. Leaving out this play on textures could have made the first three courses even more appealing and seem more natural.

The other thing I noticed was what seemed to be a tremendous discrepancy between the main courses ordered from the lunch menu, and from the à la carte menu. It was like two different restaurants, and made me wonder if there was a separate lunch menu chef who was preparing those items. The majority of the courses for which I had qualms came from the lunch menu. Could be a coincidence,and maybe I’m just too idealistic, but I feel like a three star restaurant should have consistency between the two menus. At least that’s been my experience.

I think you're spot on. Unfortunately, it's not last year you should have visited to enjoy Fréchon's undiluted talent without the stupid texture plays -- it's ten years ago. And yes, the lunch menu is seriously subpar.

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Five years prior to this meal was the first official Europe gastronomy I’ve ever had. I truly enjoyed the full tasting menu; overall it’s a good experience though nothing particularly spectacular. Fast forward to late winter ’10, I brought my family here to enjoy both the food as well as the restaurant’s wonderful dining room. Le Bristol is President Sarkozy’s favorite place to eat in Paris

Food (and wine) – 94/100

My parents were not to keen on spending more than 2 hours on a meal during lunch, thus I complied. My main purpose of coming here is to taste Eric Frechon’s famous braised Bresse hen cooked inside the pig’s bladder. I believe it’s inspired from the similar dish prepared by Lyon’s Brazier mother and the legendary Fernand Point. The bladder was put in flavorful chicken stock and cooked at 59 C; the chicken is braised at low temperature for a few hours. I shared this dish with my mom.

The first part is the breast meat. A very fine piece of nicely salted breast meat (though not as tender as I had expected) put on top of offal/duck liver in the bed of rich albufera cream. The prawn and pungent smell of the truffle enhanced this rustic dish. It may not be my best chicken dish, nevertheless really wonderful! Though I ate better chicken somewhere else (at l’Arpege and ADPA to be exact), this is worth a 3-star

The second part, on the other hand, is not as good as the 1st one. The leg part was cooked in truffle stock with leeks and potatoes. The bouillon was complex, inspired by Chinese cuisine and tasted a bit like 'medicine', but somehow it's not cloying. Some diners may not like this part ...

My dad ordered fried wild turbot served with onion tempura.He liked the fish flesh with tasty sauce and puree. But later in the evening, this Turbot was eclipsed by Passard's grill version. Nothing memorable from the amuse bouche and the palate cleanser part. We had a decent light red-burgundy by the glass to accompany our dishes. While the food was delicious (especially the chicken’s 1st serving), I don’t see this place as a strong 3-star place even after having their signature dishes (Chef Frechon is really good at preparing rustic dish) such as stuffed macaroni with artichoke & foie gras; sweetbread with dried fennel; or soufflé with vintage grand marnier. I gave 94 pts (equivalent to 2 ½*) for the food this time.

Service (and ambiance) – 92/100

There are many beautiful dining rooms among Paris 2-3 stars and Le Bristol oval shaped room for late autumn and winter season was one of them. It features 18th century décor of Lille tapestries, Baccarat crystal chandeliers and Hungarian oak paneling – not yet counting the fine china, table linen and silverwares. Despite all these impressive attributes, my mom preferred the Ducasse Paris’ dining room. I think this one is more historical, but talking about the wow effect, probably nothing beat Le Meurice’s belle époque style dining room with (very) high ceiling.

I remembered the staffs were working seriously 5 years ago, but this time they seemed to be more relaxed (still efficient). Some were talking and smiling among themselves, possibly the manager was already satisfied with the attained goal of 3-star status here. The basic of refill water, refold napkin or change flatware was executed nicely. But, I find it difficult to relate/connect with them the way I felt at Le Meurice/Hof van Cleve for examples. It was quite full during our lunch. The overall score will be 93, a convenient 2 ½* - I’m not very sure it’s a 3-star level by Parisian fine dining standards. Had Bristol been in New York or Chicago, it probably would have been an undisputed recipient of Michelin accolade IMHO.

Pictures of the dishes: Le bristol winter '10

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