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Michael Mina or Boulevard for team lunch? [San Francisco]

Our team lunch got pushed out to late November. I have reservations for Michael Mina (couldn't book Boulevard) though I am contemplating going to One Market instead after all the recommendations. I've been to both only for dinner so not sure what would be a better lunch.

There are a lot of moderately priced places recommended here that are also great (and have enjoyed in the past), but I'd rather go to the really $$$$ ones on this occasion to take advantage of the expense account. :) Too bad my top choices are closed for lunch! Dinner is unfortunately out of the question for most of our team.

Champagne/caviar bar in SF?

I've had the caviar service at the bar at Jardiniere, and really enjoyed it. Absinthe is pretty decent too, they offer by the 1/2-ounce.

Not too crazy about Gary Danko, heard a lot of good things about their blini but it was too greasy/buttery and overpowered the flavor of the caviar.

Michael Mina or Boulevard for team lunch? [San Francisco]

Looking to go to SF for team lunch of 9 people...right now trying to decide between Michael Mina or Boulevard.

Any recommendations either way, or suggestions on other places to go to? A lot of other "fancy" places are unfortunately only open for dinner.

Dress Code

That's a great idea! I think I will bring my giant purse and walk/take the metro in my flats but keep my heels in my bag.

It *would* be a shame to be restricted from walking around, but would also be a shame to not be able to wear cute shoes to a fancy restaurant. :)

Oct 16, 2012
arlenemae in France

Dress Code

So what would you recommend? To bring or not to bring?

Heels vs. flats is a whole different debate than jacket vs. no jacket, I think...at least restaurants don't require heels! :)

Oct 15, 2012
arlenemae in France

Dress Code

I just started packing for my trip next week and now I'm thinking about what to wear...

I have lunches booked at Ledoyen, Guy Savoy, and Le Cinq, and a dinner booked at L'Atelier St. Germain for my first two weeks. In my last week, I have lunches at La Tour d'Argent and Pierre Gagnaire.

I'm planning on bringing a couple of nice dresses (I do love to dress up!) and perhaps buying at least one LBD while I'm in Paris (can never have too many!), however I'm torn on whether I should bring heels. I have a nice pair of black Tory Burch flats that are super-comfortable, but they look a bit too casual for my dresses, since I normally wear them with heels. Since most of my meals are lunches though I may be walking around for quite a bit after.

Do people typically wear heels when they go out for a nice meal in Paris? Maybe I should just suck it and wear my high-heeled black pumps (they do look great w/ the dresses) and bring an extra large bag for a spare set of shoes. :)

Oct 15, 2012
arlenemae in France

One month in France for a food and wine adventure

Thanks all...I actually did book Mas des vertes rives after seeing all the rave reviews! I just really got intrigued by the idea of eating at a farm, and their November menu looked great (pig parts...yum). We are stopping by for lunch on our way from Provence to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It had the added bonus of being open all year, unlike most of the ferme-auberges I looked at in the Dordogne.

I was looking at other, possibly more picturesque towns but in the end we just decided to stay with our original booking at CdP since it was the most convenient to all the wineries we were planning on visiting (less than an hour to all the wineries on our radar) and it was only for a couple of days (doubt we will spend much time in thetown itself). There are so many places I would like to visit, including spending more time in the Dordogne. I think the main focus of these last two weeks will defintiely be the wine though, so most of our itineraries are planned around that. We were only going to do a couple days in Bordeaux wine region, but then we found out that there was a Margaux festival while we were there so we decided to spend more time in the area. I'm hoping to get a good overview of these regions in this trip so next time I can spend a more extended time in a single area.

I thought a month would be enough but it's really not...I wish I had a year!

Oct 11, 2012
arlenemae in France

Green salad in France

Thanks, I'll put Millefeuille is on the list. Will look into the others as well.

Oct 10, 2012
arlenemae in France

Green salad in France

Where would you suggest eating in Aix then? We will be staying in Aix for a few days in November. We plan on picnicking on market goodies for some of the meals, but we are also hoping to eat at least a couple of restaurant meals.

Oct 09, 2012
arlenemae in France

ferme auberges in the Luberons

Thanks Parigi and CMichaelis for the advice...I think I will stick with Mas des Vertes Rives. It seems to work out with our itinerary too, since it's on the way when we go from Aix-en-Provence to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Will report back after my meal there.

Oct 07, 2012
arlenemae in France

ferme auberges in the Luberons

I'll be in the region in November as well, and so far I am torn between Mas des Vertes Rives and Le Castelas (Booking a Sunday lunch where both seem to be open). The main thing that would attract me to Le Castelas is the roast pig, but I'm not sure if they do it every time. The Mas des Vertes Rives November menu looks pretty good as well, it's focused on pig with charcuterie, some sort of blood sausage and other pig parts.

So far I'm leaning towards Mas des Vertes Rives...

Oct 07, 2012
arlenemae in France

2 weeks + 3 days in Paris

Thanks so much for all the great tips! I think I will definitely make a stop at the monoprix on my first day (I love visiting foreign grocery stores anyway). And I get what you say about really enjoying the neighborhood I'm in...that was my goal from the start but I might have lost sight of it a bit in trying to find "the best" everything.

Great advice on La Coupole and La Tour d'Argent...I think I will enjoy both as long as I know what to expect. I'd be willing to visit them for the ambiance/scene more than the actual food (as long as it's at least decent), because sometimes just having great food <CH blasphemy> isn't the be-all and end-all </CH blasphemy>. Good to know we don't need to make reservations for La Coupole or the little bistros way in advance. I do think i will call Chez L'Ami Jean soon.

I would love to get the tasting menu or order a bunch of dishes a la carte at Pierre Gagnaire. Unfortunately I probably have to cut back for budget reasons, especially since I'm already going to Ledoyen, Le Cinq, and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon on the same trip. Decided to cut out Joel Robuchon Etoile and sub La Tour d'Argent for that instead, that way I only have one reserved meal w/ the hubby and we can be more spontaneous in our last 3 days. The only dinner out of my Michelin meals will be at L'Atelier in Saint-Germain...at least with two friends with me hopefully we can get a good sample of the menu between the 3 of us.

I had an excellent time having tea at Laduree the last time I was in Paris (I don't think we made reservations then, we just showed up), but admittedly my (other) sis who was with me did think their pastries were too sweet. Are there any other places to have tea and French pastries that you would recommend? I would prefer something very French/Parisian since I am already doing afternoon tea at the Ritz on my side trip to London.

Regarding the obsessiveness, I think I'm a lost cause... :)

Oct 03, 2012
arlenemae in France

2 weeks + 3 days in Paris

Wow, that's so sad...I loved Montmarte and the area around Sacre Coeur the last couple of times I've been there, but it's been quite a few years.

Oct 02, 2012
arlenemae in France

24 hours in Nice

Thanks, I think I'll check that out for the first day lunch, since I don't want to eat anything too heavy since I will be arriving close to 2pm.

Will probably prefer to sit down for my lunch on the second day when I have a little more time.

Oct 01, 2012
arlenemae in France

2 weeks + 3 days in Paris

Yeah, that's what I need to watch out for, since I tend to overplan! You should see my color-coded spreadsheet (at least it's easier to read than the post) :)

I'm trying to limit myself to a few reservations per week, mostly for the fancy lunches/dinners and be more flexible for the other days. At least now that I've done some research I am armed w/ my giant spreadsheet and google map of possible restaurants for whichever corner of the city where we would wind up any given day. I'm hoping I don't have to make reservations for the bistros/brasseries and be able to "wing it" some of those days.

Sep 30, 2012
arlenemae in France

Saint-Emilion and Dordogne in mid-November

As most people have mentioned, almost all of the places I contacted are closed in November (looks like I just missed the cutoff). At least it looks like Ferme Auberge de la Rhonie is open for dinners only on Fridays/Saturdays until mid-December, which works out for us since we were planning to go on a Friday anyway. Will report back.

We are staying in Saint-Emilion since the primary purpose of this trip is to visit wineries, and it seems to be pretty central as we are planning on spending a day in Medoc to visit the big chateaux as well as spending a day in Dordogne. For our last day we will likely just stay in the Saint-Emilion area and look for any local wineries in that region.

Sep 30, 2012
arlenemae in France

2 weeks + 3 days in Paris

I'll be spending 2 weeks in Paris in late October/early November, then a few days again in mid-late November. Will be staying in an apartment in Montparnasse near Rue Daguerre for the first 2 weeks. I'm spending the first week with my little sister who has never been to Paris (or France or Europe) before, but she loves French food and culture (and speaks much better French than I do). I would like to give her a nice well-rounded experience, and at the same time she's on more of a budget so aside from our 2 splurge lunches, looking at more affordable options. My second week will be spent with a couple of friends who have been to France multiple times before, so the itinerary will be less packed, and there's less of a budget restriction. After that will tour other parts of France for 2 weeks with my husband (separate threads for those, as I've learned on these boards), and spend our last 3 days back in Paris, with an apartment in the 5th for the last 3 days.

Here's my plan for the first week (last week of October):
- Sunday: Our flight from SFO comes in at 9am. Figure we would probably get to our apartment by around 10:30am, check out the Raspail market to get some breakfast and supplies for the week. Want to get some stereotypical French food starting with crepes for lunch at La Crêperie de Josselin. Dinner at La Coupole, which has been highly recommended by some of the locals I've talked to (including the person we're renting the apartment from) but seems to have mixed reviews on this board (should we go to La Rotonde instead?). Looking for atmosphere as well as a good representation of classic French food. Go to the Eiffel tower.
- Monday: We have lunch reservations at Ledoyen (I emailed and their lunch menu is now 105 euros). I had hoped to do this later in the week but this was the day they had it available (I hope it doesn't ruin me for the rest of the trip!) I figure this will be a long and filling lunch so planning on just having some bread and cheese for dinner (is it better to get cheese at Raspail the day before, or should we go to a specialty cheese shop?). We'll probably walk along Champs Elysées after lunch since it's right by Ledoyen all the way to Arc de Triomphe.
- Tuesday: Go to Montmarte and check out Sacre Coeur, have croque-monsieur for lunch at Coquelicot. Dinner at Sens Uniques in Montmartre, or if we decide to go back to our apartment earlier, at Le Cornichon.
- Wednesday: Day trip to Champagne region. Still a bit torn whether I should go to Epernay or Reims. Would want to visit Pommery if I go to Reims and Moet if I go to Epernay, and would like to see some smaller producers as well. Is it possible to do that without a car in either city, which city is better for visiting without a car? Still need to find a restaurant for lunch once I decide on which city to visit. Will probably have more bread/cheese/market food for dinner, along with any champagne we may buy.
- Thursday: Going to the Louvre in the morning (my sis isn't much of a museum person so we'll probably only spend a couple of hours here). I would like to do afternoon tea at Laduree, but I can't tell from the website if they take reservations over email/online. Do I have to call to reserve a spot? Dinner at La Cerisaie.
- Friday: No plans for lunch, we are right next to Rue Daguerre so will probably get a sandwich/snack from that market. Dinner at La Regalade.
- Saturday: We have lunch reservations at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile (get their "cheap" 37-euro prix-fixe menu), dinner at Cafe Constant (is it impossible to get in on a Saturday, since they don't take reservations?)

Also looking to cram in a patisserie/macaron crawl at the 6th one of these days (Laduree, Pierre Herme, Gerard Mulot) since my sis loves sweets, and macarons are her favorite.

Second week plans (First week of November, a little less firm since I still need to consult with my friends on what they want to do):
- Sunday: Go around the local markets (Rue Daguerre & Raspail), dinner at Les Cocottes
- Monday: No firm plans for lunch, dinner at Le 122
- Tuesday: Have reservations for lunch at Le Cinq, will probably have a light dinner of just bread/cheese or go to a wine bar for snacky food
- Wednesday: Might go to a day trip so will probably have a late dinner close to the apartment...looking at La Rotonde or La Closerie des Lilas
- Thursday: No firm plans for lunch, Chez L'Ami Jean for dinner
- Friday: No firm plans for lunch or dinner, looking at maybe Bistrot du Dôme.
- Saturday: No firm plans for lunch, Dinner reservations at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon St. Germain. I would have already been to lunch at the Etoile location by this time, but my friend really wants to try this place. I figure this will be a different experience though since we have less restriction on budget, and with 3 people can order a bunch of dishes a la carte. Is it too much to go to both restaurants within a week of each other?

Any recommendations for good cafes in Montparnasse for coffee/snacks? My buddy is kind of a coffee snob so looking for places with excellent coffee.

Last 3 days (Late November w/ the hubby)
- Sunday: Arrive in Paris in early afternoon (will probably eat our lunch on the train from Bordeaux), hang out at a cafe for coffee/snacks (any recommendations in the 5th/6th for good coffee, snacking and people-watching?). Drinks and light dinner at L'Avant Comptoir.
- Monday: Lunch at La Tour D'Argent (68-euro prix fixe lunch)...is this place worth going to? I've always been interested in checking this place out and soaking up the history/ambiance, and maybe getting a tour of their wine cellars, but the reviews have been pretty mixed. As long as the food is decent (doesn't have to be spectacular), I think I'll be happy. Dinner at A La Biche Au Bois (hubby wants some game meats).
- Tuesday: Lunch at Pierre Gagnaire...initially wanted to do dinner but that got vetoed by the hubby due to the cost. How's their lunch menu? Will probably just want something light for dinner but with a lively atmosphere, thinking about checking out Frenchie's wine bar.

I have reservations for all the Michelin-star places (except for Pierre Gagnaire which only takes reservations 30 days ahead), do I need to make reservations at the brasseries/bistros as well or can I just show up for those? What are good times to show up to maximize our chances of getting a table without a reservation?

Really appreciate any comments/suggestions from everyone.

Cheers,
Arlene

Sep 30, 2012
arlenemae in France

24 hours in Nice

Hi, I'll be in Nice for a little over 24 hours in early November. I figure this gives me 2 lunches and 1 dinner max. I'll be visiting Paris and other parts of France before/after so I am most interested in regional Nicoise cuisine and maybe some Italian. Here are my choices so far:

Dinner: Aphrodite or Flaveur. Both look pretty good, but from looking at the menu it seems like Aphrodite is more regional, as well as modern. Flaveur seems more popular on these boards though. Any recommendations for/against both, particularly interested to hear what you'd recommend if you've been to both.

Lunches: For my first lunch, I'd probably prefer something lighter like a Nicoise salad, since I'm arriving there late and I don't want to ruin my dinner. For the second day lunch I'm thinking perhaps Italian, seems like Nice is well-known for the ravioli. So far I am looking at Le Safari, Acchiardo, La Ville de Sienne, and Le Local. Which ones would be better for Nicoise salad, and which one would be better for Italian/pasta?

Thanks all!

Sep 30, 2012
arlenemae in France

Best chicken tikka masala in London

Thanks for the recs...will check these out!

Sep 30, 2012
arlenemae in U.K./Ireland

Best chicken tikka masala in London

Yes, I realize it isn't an authentic Indian dish, but I thought that since it was supposedly invented in London that I can find the best versions here :)

I have seen it in many Indian restaurants in the US, as well as in India when I've traveled. I've found that versions of chicken tikka masala that I've tended to like the most are those with a bit of a kick.

Most butter chicken that I've had has been fairly mild, but I wouldn't mind getting some of that either if you can recommend any.

Sep 30, 2012
arlenemae in U.K./Ireland

Best chicken tikka masala in London

I love Indian food. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, and I have to admit, I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to Indian food...particularly near where I live (Fremont, California), and work (Sunnyvale, California), Indian food is authentic, plentiful, and pretty damn tasty. I've also been to India a few times, mostly in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh which has very spicy food.

My traditional benchmark for good Indian food is chicken tikka masala, which is my favorite dish. Where can I find the best version of this in London? I am definitely not afraid of spicy/hot food (the spicier, the better), so I'm hoping to find a version with a good spicy kick, but also a good balance of the other flavors.

I'm staying at the Staunton Hotel near the British Museum, so any good recommendations close by would be appreciated, though I'm willing to travel for the best, as long as it's reachable by public transportation.

Cheers,
Arlene

Sep 29, 2012
arlenemae in U.K./Ireland

Saint-Emilion and Dordogne in mid-November

My husband and I will be staying in Saint-Emilion in mid-November but would like to either do a day trip to the Dordogne region or stay there for one night (is a day trip doable?)

Some of the threads we've read so far got us very interested in going to a ferme auberge in the Dordogne area. So far I am looking at:
- Ferme Auberge de la Rhonie in Meyrals
- Ferme auberge du Belvédère in Tremolat
- La Toulado in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil

I found quite a few more that looked great but it seems like many of these are only open in the summer and closed by mid-November. Does anyone know of any that are open later in the year? Do you usually have to stay there the night to eat dinner there?

Thanks,
Arlene

Sep 26, 2012
arlenemae in France

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Thanks...that seems like a lot of food to me too. Since I'm going with two other friends we might just do a la carte, in which case we might as well just go for dinner instead of lunch if it's going to cost the same.

Sep 25, 2012
arlenemae in France

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Does anyone know whether the one in St. Germain has a prix-fixe lunch? The one at Etoile has several price levels listed on their website but I don't see any lunch menus for St. Germain.

Sep 24, 2012
arlenemae in France

Lunch at Michelin starred restaurant

Hi, I am considering having lunch at a few places for my upcoming trip to Paris...initially I wanted dinner at a 3-star but since those prices are astronomical I think I would rather spread my dining budget over a few restaurants at lunch. Is it possible to get an approximate price of a lunch prix-fixe menu (not including wine) for each of these options? Most restaurant webistes don't have this info (I could go on a rant on how hard it is to find useful info on restaurant websites in general, but that's a whole other post):

- Pierre Gagniere
- Ledoyen
- L'Arpege
- L'Ambrosie
- Le Maurice
- Le Cinq
- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon St. Germain
- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile: 39e for 3-course, 59e for 4-course (according to thread below)

Sep 20, 2012
arlenemae in France

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Las Vegas has a L'Atelier also, aside from the more expensive "Joel Robuchon" restaurant. Is it worth going to the Paris one if you've already been to the Vegas L'Atelier (I think the Vegas version is 1 Michelin star while both Paris locations are 2-star)?

Sep 18, 2012
arlenemae in France

One month in France for a food and wine adventure

Thanks for the tips...I didn't realize that there wouldn't be that much to see in the town of CduP itself. This is definitely the type of information I was looking for when I started this thread.

One of the main reasons we didn't want to stay in Avignon in the first place is because we will have our rental car, and we are afraid that there wouldn't be any parking. Also, I would have visited a few large cities the prior weeks before (Paris, London, Nice, Marseille) that I would prefer to stay in the country in a small village for a while. Are there any villages that you would recommend outside Avignon that have good access to the wineries in Chateauneuf-du-pape, Gigondas, and others in the Southern Rhone?

In Bordeaux we are staying in Saint-Emilion which seemed a perfect balance of having a village w/ stuff to do (and restaurants to go to) yet does not have the big city atmosphere. Is there a place in the Rhone where I can get a similar type of experience (yet still be convenient to go to the wineries)?

Sep 13, 2012
arlenemae in France

One month in France for a food and wine adventure

Wow, I guess I underestimated the costs at these places...thanks for the tips! I definitely don't want to be counting every euro on my big blowout meal. I haven't really spent more than that on other 3-stars I've been to in the US but I guess the exchange rate puts us at a disadvantage.

I really want to try just one 3-star meal in Paris (and enjoy it thoroughly) so I guess I'll have to up my budget! :)

Sep 07, 2012
arlenemae in France

One month in France for a food and wine adventure

Thanks for the tip...the more I think about it Loire is looking a lot better to me (and it's closer too). Hopefully I will learn more about Loire wines since I'm not as familiar with them as I am the other regions.

Sep 07, 2012
arlenemae in France

One month in France for a food and wine adventure

Thanks for the tips...good to hear from someone with a Bay Area perspective. I think for the 3-star I'm looking for something ultra-modern with lots of variety and creativity. I guess to illustrate my most recent Bay Area dining experiences I actually vastly preferred Atelier Crenn, which I felt was more creative and took more risks to Saison (which had 2 michelin stars and was more expensive), which had more straightforward but still excellently prepared food. From your description P. Gagnaire looks like it will meet what I am looking for.

I wish I could also go to L'Ambrosie as well since it seems like a good contrast w/ the old world style but not sure if my budget will allow for 2 3-star meals.

Sep 07, 2012
arlenemae in France