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"Tip and Tax not included." A new trick on visitors unfamiliar with Paris restaurants?

I think this post has morphed into two separate but related issues:
1. The issues of leaving extra 'tip'. This topic pops up periodically and the conversation always takes the same path. Americans feel bad or is insecure not leaving a tip whereas locals object to that. There is somewhat of an agreement that 'service; is included in the price/bill' and not much extra is necessary. Doing so leads to all sorts of other issues. It is not necessary to rehash this every 6 months. Just get with the program and follow what locals do or continue to leave the extra 10% or whatever to alleviate the guilt and insecurity. We are familiar with deja vu on this board. We are just wasting time.
2. The issued that the OP brought up is that there appear to be cases in Paris where there is a written message on the bottom of the check that states 'Tip and Tax not included". Is this a new trend? some change in the law? a conspiracy? No, that statement is false and twisted and is a trick to get unsuspected visitors to leave an extra amount. The word 'tip' rather 'service' is used to skirt around the issue. Strictly speaking, it is correct that 'tip' is not included but it is irrelevant. Now, the 'tax' part is a total confusion. I don't know how many visitors actually know what the VAT on restaurant is, therefore, what percentage more do they have to pony up. This second part is fraud because tax IS included. This is a bad trend, fleecing the tourist.
Back then in France, occasionally I would see 'service non-comprise, 12% (15%) en sus" printed on bottom of a menu. That percentage will be added to the bill. Pay that amount and no need to leave anything else. So far, I have not seen a menu or a bill stating 'tip and tax' not included in Paris. Maybe I should be looking more carefully. I posted above of my view and experience on this topic in Venice.
Thanks, everyone. I need to get this off my chest.

about 11 hours ago
PBSF in France

Les Bouqinistes

Les Bouquinistes (before it was called Les Bookinistes) when first opened was a Guy Savoy offshoot with William Ledeuil running the kitchen. He has since moved over next door to Ze Kitchen Gallery. My impression is that very few locals on this board has eaten there since, therefore, very few mentionings. Also when it first opened, it had a good value 3 course formula and as you stated, good location. Patricia Wells, a big Guy Savoy fan, gave it a big plug hence, drawing a lot of Americans. I ate there then and enjoyed it. Since, the price has gone way up and even if the quality is still good, it is no longer good value compare to many newer bistrots, etc.

about 16 hours ago
PBSF in France

Four days Rome, four days Venice

Though both the veraci and the Asian import are cultivated in the Venetian lagoon and beyond, I do as Venetians do and use the vongole veraci. We call the Asian import, Manilla clams in the States and I like them very much also. Both are pretty much available all year and not too much difference in price at the Rialto; the veraci around 8-9 euros for a kilo. Half a kilo a good amount for spaghetti alle vongole for two. Signor Benelli's description of the two varieties is right on.

about 19 hours ago
PBSF in Italy

Vegetarian in Paris?

Before posters on this board get riled up on this frequently discussed topic, my advice is to do a search by typing 'vegetarian' on the top right of this page to pull up numerous earlier posts on this topic. Lots of good recommendations. Find those that of interest to you then repost with some specific questions. It will save a lot of good will.

about 19 hours ago
PBSF in France
1

Does anybody know whether Kaiku (BCN) serves paella daily?

The few times that I ate at Kaiku, I have never came across paella on the menu, only variations of 'arroz'. It is possible that I overlook it. If arroz is what you are referring to, yes, it is on the menu regardless when you go. There is no such thing as brunch in Barcelona, at least not yet.

about 20 hours ago
PBSF in Spain/Portugal

"Tip and Tax not included." A new trick on visitors unfamiliar with Paris restaurants?

There was a recent discussion on this topic in the Italy Board.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/989174
I am speaking mostly about Venice as it has always operated on an unwritten rule that fleecing the tourist is fair game. For many things, it has a two tier system: one for visitors and one for locals, some through legally adapted measures such as the public transport system and and others just common practice. As more and more Venetians leave Venice proper, the restaurant business has depended more and more on visitors to survive, especially in the evenings. This is the case even for very good places and not tourist traps. It has gotten more brazen on the service/tipping issue as reported by several posters as well as some of our visiting guests. This past year during our stays, we saw more and more restaurants have their menus (even the Italian menu) printed with 'service at your discretion" or similar. Of course, locals know better. The law in Venice is the same as in France.

about 20 hours ago
PBSF in France

Four days Rome, four days Venice

You will find filled cream puffs in just about every pastry shop Venice, some better than others. And they are not just for children; for us adults too, try the ones filled with sabayon at Tonolo; look for the ones with caramel on top. At the more or less uniform price of 1.10 euros each, indulge.
As for spaghetti alle vongole, I have never eaten it in Rome so I can't compare the difference. In Venice, it is one of the primi that appear in just about every trattoria/osteria menu. In a perverse way, if it is not offered, my first thought is that the place must be good. Because we cook so much pasta when we are in Venice, I almost never eat primi out, therefore, I can’t recommend a place. I know it is always on the menu at ai Sposi Promessi, which would be my choice. Also perverse is that they frequently have spaghetti all'amatricana which is generally an indication that they are catering to tourists and not good. Like most restaurants in the center, they get a lot of visitors in the evenings. Even if spaghetti alle vongole is on the menu at Antiche Carampane, I would skip it and order something uniquely from the Venetian lagoon. This is the place for that. Like many places, if one engage the staff, one gets a lot more in return. Ask them if there are any items not on the printed menu. Unless the weather is terrible, cold weather brings the best seasonal seafood, especially shellfish from the Venetian lagoon. Hopefully, there would be some of the following: moeche, canoce, tiny scallops, calamaretti (thumb size squids), schile (tiny grey shrimp), latticini, folipetti (baby octopus). Most likely, these will show up in the antipasti or the primi section of the menu or in a fritto misto. As with the Japanese, the Italians are masters in frying. In general 'tiny' is good because those are the ones that are found nearby. Big is usually is from the deeper Mediterranean or elsewhere. Though scampi are no longer local (mostly from the northern Atlantic near Norway), they can still be delicious. Many offer whole branzino. Pass on it, as 90% what is being served are the farmed variety and not worth the expense. The wild ones should be at least 1kg in weight, enough for two and cost at least 75euros. Any smaller is guaranteed to be farmed; same for dorada. Better fish are sole, coda di rospo (monkfish), San Pietro, swordfish, tuna.
Couple of general comments:
Children are welcome in just about all trattorie and osterie except maybe Alle Testiere being too cramped. Most will be happy to prepare something simple for them and it is never a problem if your family share, especially antipasti, which can be expensive as a secondo and more than one can eat to begin a meal.

Oct 21, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Four days Rome, four days Venice

The OP did considered Anice Stellato but decided it is too far to walk from where their apartment is. There is no reasonable short cut and would require a transfer with the vaporetto. I also like Vini da Gigio but hesitate to recommend it because, though not stuffy or formal, I thought it might be a touch too table clothy for their children. I was thinking more fun and lively.

Oct 21, 2014
PBSF in Italy

A list, because who doesn't like lists?

"Cafe Breizh (creppy lunch)"
When read that, my first thought was 'creepy'?
Redundancy or inventing words.

Oct 21, 2014
PBSF in France

Budget dining in Paris?

Food shopping around Place des Vosges: the commercial strip on Rue Saint-Antoine between Bastille and the Metro St. Paul has many food shops for all your picnic needs. Walk 10 minutes up to rue de Bretagne in the third for another similar but slightly better area. The open air Bastille market on Richard Lenoir (starts at Bastille and goes up three blocks), open Thursdays and Sundays, morning to early afternoon.
Patisseries nearby:
Cafe Pouchkine, on one of the corner of the Place des Vosges for over the top high pastry art. Budget buster but worth at a stop just to admire.
Mulot: on one of the other corner of the Place; a small branch of Mulot in the 6e has good pastries and croissants, etc. A little more affordable.
Boulangerie St. Gille: up a couple of block on the same street name for more typical everyday breads, pastries at everyday price.
Pain de Sucre on rue Rambuteau, another high art patisserie. Some of the best tarts in Paris; I love pastry crust and for me they make the best and their fillings are balance and vibrant.
When in Paris, I am always hungry for a sandwich Grecque with frites on top (almost as much as Parigi's love of Angela's Banh Mi). There is usually shops in most high traffic areas around the central arrondissements 1-6, 10, 11, 12. If you walk by one that has the meat sizzling on the spit and the server is just slicing it, that is the time to buy one.
General advice, pass on any Asian traitteurs or "delis" that are all over Paris; only for desperate late at night hungry pang; I stopped buying anything from them years ago, maybe they've improved. On a budget and otherwise, supermarkets are a good place to shop: good prices on cheeses, prepared food, pate, etc. You'll run into them everywhere. A Monoprix and Franprix on the above mentioned rue Saint Antoine. Many of the most discriminating Parisians shop in them.
All the above comments on cost for a good meal is what we've experienced. For 3 course dinner, 35e for food (any drinking is extra but it include tax and service) is a good barometer. Lunch is less expensive because many same places offer a 2 course option.

Oct 21, 2014
PBSF in France

Four days Rome, four days Venice

Venice:
Venice is not a big city but the lack of transport and accessibility make for a lot of walking. The vaporetto has gotten frightening expensive for a tourist single ticket (7e for 60 minutes) and since last year, up the traghetto to 2e for most non locals. Children get a discount. No matter what route one takes, it is a long walk from your apartment to the outer Cannaregio where Anice Stellato is at. More direct if cut across the Grand Canal but that is more or less for locals.
Antiche Carampane and Ai Promessi Sposi are keepers. Check what is open for dinner NYDay. Besides Trattoria da Fiore and da Alberto, can throw in a couple of very traditional osterie to the mix: near your apartment is Osteria ai Assassini and in San Polo is Antico Dolo.
If it was me, would definitely eat in on New Years Eve. Even simple trattoria will charge 100e and up for their special menu. Leave extra time to get to Piazza San Marco afterward to watch the fireworks, a mob scene but worth it. It is great fun shopping at the Rialto. No pastry shops around the market, therefore have to pick up holiday pastries for dessert elsewhere: Marchini Time on Cp San Luca, Fuori Menu off Cp Santa Stefano, Rosa Salva near San Marco or our favorite,Tonolo in Dorsoduro. For Tonolo, if you are in that neighborhood before NY Eve, drop by and buy your children some terrific filled cream puffs, take home a Foccacia de Venezia (a dome shaped eggy soft bread with a crunchy almond sugar topping; available Thursday through Sunday, closed Mondays) and order a cake ahead to pick up on New Years Eve (check their closing time for that day). Take your children to see the chocolate work at Cioccolateria Vizio Virtu on calle dei Campanile in San Polo. She is the only artisan chocolatier in Venice. She also has a pastry shop down the calle on Campo San Toma. Family Christmas in Rome and New Year in Venice, a wonderful and memorable holiday.

Oct 20, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

No kidding, the mid to late 80's was the bargains decade in France. I had a friend who was working in Paris and was paid in dollars. Seems like she got a little raise every week as dollar keep strengthening to 9ff and more to $1. Remember when Guy Savoy was at rue Duret, Alain Dutournier at Au Trou Gascon, Michel Rostang just relocated at rue Rennequin and Bernard Pacaud at Quai de Montebello, all Michelin one star and 2 menu degustation with a bottle wine, etc, came to less than 700ff, about $75. The cooking was just as good as now, just less showry. 850ff bought dinner and wine for two at Taillevent, same for Troigros, Jacques Pic and his Menu Rabelais. When we had to pay 900ff for two at Alain Sanderen's l'Archestrate, we thought it was expensive. Glad that we indulged when the going was good.

Oct 19, 2014
PBSF in France

Best region to move to in Spain/Portugal

Having visited multiple times to Barcelona (Catalonia), the Basques, Madrid (not on the coast but gets some of the best seafood) and Andalusia, you can't go wrong with any of those for seafood. It is no single 'best', it is more of a preference, therefore, maybe the better approach is to find where the good job openings are at and then see if they fit your eating preference. As for olive oil, unless one is looking for 'green' and just harvest, there should be no problem finding all types of olive oil in any part of Spain. It ships well. Generally, Catalonia olive oil is lighter where as the oil from Andalusia is heavier and more full body. One doesn't live on food alone, therefore, you should consider other factors such as city versus small towns versus rural or do you want a car, etc.
Where in Spain did you visited and what did you eat that was so unpalatble? Being a pescatarian should have not been a problem unless you visit the landlock area such as Extremadura or Castilla-Leon where pork is king. Being vegan can be difficult; better in large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia. Interesting that you are a vegan but eat seafood.

Oct 19, 2014
PBSF in Spain/Portugal

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

"For morning croissants, no need to make pilgrimages... the best is always the nearest and the freshest."
I think the first part is definitely right on but the 'nearest' doesn't always do it. I think there is a boulangerie in every neighborhood baking good croissants and for some, multiple. But there are also a lot of inedible ones from many neighborhood places. When our apartment was off rue Daguerre in the 14e, there must been five boulangeries on Daguerre between Ave, Gen. LeClerc and du Maine and only one, Le Moulin de La Vierge which later became Au Pain d'Antan, made good ones. On their closing day, we trek down to Dominique Saibron. All the others were inedible. Now that we are near Maubert, we walk couple extra blocks to Kayser on rue Monger rather than buy from the very nearby Carton (decent but nothing to get excited). Just want to comment that not every boulangerie makes a good croissant. Just find good ones nearby and don't buy them past late morning.

Oct 19, 2014
PBSF in France

Four days Rome, four days Venice

For Venice:
In general, except for hotels and those fronting the prime canal locations, most of the better or worst osterie/trattorie are family owned. Your three choices fit in that category and all serve more or less traditional Venetian cooking. Antiche Carampane has excellent seafood and if one look past the window signs as "no pizza, no lasagne", it is an informal friend trattoria. Your two children will have no problem there but perfectly understand if you want a quiet evening. For less expensive and simpler, Ai Sposi Promessi is excellent but I wouldn't take two children for cicchetti in the front bar which is small and stand up only. Not etched in stones: they will serve cicchetti in the two small dining rooms but non regulars are expected to also order something from the menu. Better go for lunch or dinner. The nearby Alle Vedova is roomier and better for cicchetti, also their meatballs are better. La Cantina is one of the few bacaro that has seating. They only serve assorted items in a large platter, not individual items.
As for Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, except for a casual drink I have never eaten a full meal there; for no particular reason, just hasn't given a reason to. I don't know the reason you chose it, therefore, it is difficult for me to comment. If you are looking for a good mid price osteria/trattoria that your whole family will enjoy: consider da Alberto, Anice Stellato or Trattoria da Fiore (not the Michelin star Osteria da Fiore). All are family owned, friendly service and a lively atmosphere with Trattoria da Fiore being a bit more expensive. Next to the trattoria is their bacaro with a few seats. Good selection of cicchetti and should be fine for your children. It is not far from Palazzo Grassi.
Assuming you are spending NY Eve and Day in Venice. Like any city, eating places tend to serve a special menu and increase prices. And the hoopla never appeal to me. I would eat in. Shop early that morning in the Rialto: maybe some prosciutto di San Danieli and cheeses at Casa di Parmigiano, some seafood at the Pescheria or meat from one of the nearby butchers and then the produce vendors. SHOP EARLY in the morning on NYEve at the Pescheria's selection will be slim by 11am. For New Years, I am sure Antiche Carampane will be closed but one of those mentioned above should be open. Just have to call them to find out. As for lunch on that day, places around the tourist sights will be open. If around San Marco, Aciugheta is pretty decent, always open.

Oct 19, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Latest Opinions on L'Arpege??

Some of the best advice. The problem is that many people choose a restaurant with no idea what a place is about.They just read the headline, ie, the best, the hottest, the most difficult reservation or an acquaintance loved it or the NYTimes wrote about it. They choose L'Astrance rather than for them the more appropriate Le Meurice Then they wonder if they made the right decision. If the OP has an idea of the ambience and the food being served at L'Arpege, why change it? Has it gone downhill? NO. If one is always looking around the corner to see if something else is better, one will never be able to enjoy the experience.
As for my experience at David Toutain in May, it amounts to tastings of bits and pieces; cooking without soul or generosity.

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Didn't know they have a shop there. Will check it out. Thanks.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Not since we moved out of the 3e a few years ago. Way back, we went to their shop often when they were on rue Vignon near the Madeleine. From where we are at now, it is a long trek up to Rochechouart. Thanks for the reminder. We'll definitely check it out now that the rue des Martyrs area is on our radar.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Marche d'Aligre and the 12e is not our neighborhood though we shop there regularly when we are in Paris. Overall, it is our favorite market and trek there from Maubert in the 5e. DCM is the generous expert.
There is no need to make coffee in the apartment with at best an Nespresso capsule type contraption. There are plenty of cafes and boulangeries/patisseries in that neighborhood to explore. We happen to like Ble Sucre very much and always buy something to take away. It is not a cafe (no waiter service) but a tiny boulangerie-patisserie that set out few tables on the sidewalk looking out to Square A. Trousseau. Not good if the weather is cold or wet.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Either life without Me Petits aged Comte for awhile or have to forked out the high price of Dubois; enjoy the rest of your bounty from Fromagerie Hardouin. We bought 30-36 month Comte this May from them for around 30euro but didn't check if it was Marcel Petite; was excellent. We'll see what is available when we are there and taste it. Sometimes, we prefer the simpler 18 month. Thanks again for the tip.

Oct 18, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Do go to Ble Sucre for their pastries and excellent baguette. Lovely staff. Too bad that they serve their coffee in paper cups. Just can't drink an espresso from it. But skip the coffee at Le Square Troussea no matter how inviting the terrace is. Below even the corner cafe standard and at 5 euros for a cafe creme. If you are cooking in an apartment rental, Boucherie des Provinces on rue d'Aligre has excellent beef and lamb. Also a wonderful Middle Eastern Food store, Sabah on the corner of rue d'Aligre/Faubourg St-Antoine. We buy a lot of olives from them.

Oct 17, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

Thanks for the info. Under 30 euros for a kilo, wonderful. We'll stock up when we are in Paris in November.

Oct 17, 2014
PBSF in France

8 days near Le Marche D'Aligre

We buy a lot of cheese from Fromagerie Langlet-Hardouin. Rather than the 'top named' fromageries such as Dubois, Marie Cantin, Quatrehomme, Barthelemy, more of a typical fromagerie where Parisians shop. Good selection and price. One of the best selection of chevre. To avoid the long line, shop early in the morning or afternoon shortly after 4pm when they reopen. And if Monsieur or Madame Langlet, you'll get wonderful charming service. Can't go wrong with any of the chevre, otherwise, let the staff know what type of cheese you interested in and they will recommend those that are ripe and ready to eat. Their 36 month aged Comte is about 1/4 less than at Dubois and just as good.

Oct 17, 2014
PBSF in France
1

A week of inspiring and disappointing meals!

I have never spent less then 3 1/2 hours at Gagnaire. Our last three dinners have been three course a la carte. Just setting the varies plates down, explaining each dish, then clearing takes a bit of time. There is usually the long pause before dessert which if it is the Grand Dessert, serve in 3 courses. Afterward, coffee or not and there is a small plate of sweets. Plus an amuse to start. They don't turn their tables, even at lunch when we take the 3 course lunch special. Reserve at 1pm and usually leave after around 4. Can't explain your two hour dinner. Since you were eating so quickly, maybe the staff thought you were in a hurry. If that is not the case, then the staff didn't pace it properly.

Oct 16, 2014
PBSF in France

Venice without seafood

Except for a few seafood-only restaurants, most eating places in Venice will have poultry and meat dishes on their menu. My advice is to do a search on this board as there have been tons of earlier posts on recommendations for all budgets. Skip the seafood-only osterie/trattorie, i.e., Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, Boccadoro, Corta Sconta. Vegetarian is a bit more difficult. Can post back places that you might consider for specific feedback.

Oct 15, 2014
PBSF in Italy

Jacques Genin Rive Gauche

"Middle class" is a wide net. Wish I dine out as well as you.

Oct 12, 2014
PBSF in France

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

Thank to you and others, this board has been a wealth of knowledge as well as great entertainment.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

I've enjoyed reading all your wonderful delicious posts on eating in Piedmont and other areas in Italy. We haven't been there in many years, mostly because our reluctance to drive. As you've pointed out, the best eating in Italy is in the country side, difficult without driving. For the past few years during our Venice stay, we debated on driving down to Emilia-Romagna then lunch at dal Pescatore on the way back to Venice. Maybe next spring.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France

Jacques Genin Rive Gauche

You might be right. Weekends in that area is bumper to bumper with people and there is a lot of money floating around these days for certain group of people. Being old and middle class, difficult for me to spend 8euros for a pastry or 120 euros for a kilo of caramel, very expensive wrappers.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

I share the frequently discontent at many popular restaurants, even more so in the San Francisco Bay Area. There is this lock-step approach to cooking/restaurant: everyone is doing essentially the same: using every 'ingredient of the moment', a little of this and a little of that on the plate. It is just a lot parts but rarely where the whole plate comes together and one can say "wow, this is eating". There is rarely depth of flavor because the cooking is getting simpler and simpler. If that is the case, the ingredients that most chefs use are just not good enough for this type of cooking or they don't have quite the skill yet to cook simply. Alternatively, an assortment of small plates thrown together on a menu and let the diner take their chances; no progression, no balance, no statement on what the place is about. One leaves paying over 120$/euros for two and say that was ok. Maybe we are just old and jaded.

Oct 11, 2014
PBSF in France
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