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L'Astrance Nov 4 lunch

Our Paris eating extravaganza "death by fois gras" tour ended here on an amazing note. The only fois was poached from my wife. The maitre d' asked if there was anything she didn't eat, and I forgot to mention it. The millefeuille of mushroom and fois was fabulous btw. There were more tastes than I can keep track of as well as garnishes and the like, as well as 6 deserts !! Langoustines, Cod, and lamb were the main anchors in a meal that went on for almost 3 hours - at lunch. Each dish was perfectly executed and visually stunning. The staff was attentive, relaxed and forgiving of my shall we say, much less than perfect French. The white Chateau Neuf du Pape, on the wine list stated from Isabelle Ferrando was actually a St Prefert, and was a wonderful wine for this meal at a price that didn't break the bank (70 E, i think). AT 70E for lunch (no a la carte, just what monsieur Barbot thinks you should be eating that day) this is one of the mega dining deals for haute cuisine. English is spoken for those who have no French. If you call, you may get an answering machine in rapid French, the tail end of which I think says to call back after 9 PM. Though I could easily have misunderstood, that's when I got through. Reservations only by phone. This is on my "must return" list. Perfect in every way.

Nov 07, 2010
rhonemonger in France

Le Gaigne Oct 29, 2010

No Parker doesn't - my term and arguably misused - mostly grenache with a little carginan - as some Rhones are all grenache, it seemed close. I would have to check what Rhones proper have a some Carignan, but I think its an allowed varietal, Southern France blend might have been a more accurate term. I was under the effects when i wrote the post. Apologies for any misinformation.

Nov 03, 2010
rhonemonger in France

Chez L'Ami Jean, Benoit, L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon, Dominique Bouchet Oct 30 Nov 2 , 2010

Apologies for the long combined post, and thanks to the many of you whose prior posts helped with trip planning.

Chez L'Ami Jean – Oct 30 - Sheer gluttony – the fois gras entier with cepes came on a platter large enough for a Christmas turkey and was a challenge to finish although a delightful one. Done perfectly a little pink and runny in the center it was to die for – take an extra asprin and maybe borrow a dose or two of lipitor. The daurade (sea bream I believe) for my wife came roasted whole and was simple but elegant and delicious. The lievre (hare) had been cooked I suppose for hours as it was nearly disintegrated but the flavors were intense and exquisite. That's a strongly flavored and very gamey dish that isnt for everyone for certain. My good friend and dining companion for this trip had the partridge, which was I think, domestic. Our server steered him away form the wild partridge as being a bit strongly flavored, and my friend being uncertain abut the intensity, chose the tamer variety, with later regrets. It was tasty and well prepared, but without the “wild” flavor. The meal was magnificent. I don't have a clear memory of the wines. Having noted inconstant reports about CLJ, ours was a resounding 10/10, and the very friendly staff mostly speak English, for those challenged by the language.

Benoit Oct 31– the staid classic was superb. Escargots and smoked salmon starters, sole nantua sweetbreads with fois gras and filet of beef. The escargots were excellent with great flavor, likely fresh, and the smoked salmon was the best we have ever had, and plenty of it. The filet was tender and had the most intense flavor, much more so than the fine beef, even USDA prime, that we pride ourselves on at home.
A splurge wine, Chante Alouette 2007, a white Hermitage Chapoutier selection was a wonderful starter, but a little steep due the dollars miserable weakness. A rhone Massif Duchaux cros de la mure 2007 was much more reasonable, and is worth the trip alone at around 40 E per bottle. That's still a bit of a markup as its available in the states in the high 20s / bottle (one vendor only according to wine searcher – yep – it was good enough to search for) Benoit is open on Sunday, and the staff is fluent in English.

L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon followed on Monday – my wife had had too much dining by then and sat that one out – much to my later thanks – The scallops that I had were subtle and excellent but not special, and my friend had the Iberico ham which he later regretted – not because it was bad, but because it didnt “exercise the kitchen” he late commented he felt rushed and would have liked more time to ponder. We both had the partridge stuffed with cabbage and fois gras. This was wild partridge with the mark of authenticity waiting to break the tooth of the unwary. This dish was sublime , but at 80 E as a special, it was definitely a splurge. The Gauby Vielles Vignes 2007 ( they were out of the 06 and had raised the price without notice – should have asked) was disappointing at any price but at a little over 100E added to the feeling of low QPR overall. Yes the quality was superb but even this attempt by an uber chef to make cuisine affordable is only “relatively affordable” . I would go back, but with Draconian cost control in mind. Tab was 200E each – many thanks to my wife for sitting this one out.

Dominique Bouchet followed. We had the discovery menu except my wife who had the bar roti. On the discovery menu the scallops carpaccio was truly amazing as was the mushroom sup with fois gras. The macaroni stuffed with lobster was excellent, but a notch below the 1st two. The civet marcassin (wild boar stew) was good, but not stunning, and seemed out of place amongst its peers. It was the wild game selection of the evening. An Auxey Duresses by Nerthus 2008 was pleasing, needed a bit of time to open had nice citrus notes with a distinctly lemon note (flavor not astringency). A Richaud Cairanne (a named village appellation Cotes du Rhone) from 2009 needed time to breath out but was intensely fruited and pleasing and a reasonable price point (40E). Definitely on the revisit list.

Too much food ? Maybe – Elusive search for great value wines in restaurants – marginally successful.
Best wine bets if you are a wine lover seems to be 2007 or 2009 Rhones. Hope this helps in your dinner planning. More later after the trip winds down.

Nov 03, 2010
rhonemonger in France

Le Gaigne Oct 29, 2010

Realtively new to the Paris dining scene but had to try to recapture the magic of the 1st trip, including a repeat visit. Noticed a couple of recent posters disappointed here, but compelled to return. Special off menu item a mushroom soup with seared fois gras - wonderful complements to each other and the fois gras easily 3 times the usual USA dining portion, done to perfection.

Terrine of hare (lievre) from the regular menu followed by a roasted loin of hare were both exceptional and pleasing.

Roasted cod was outstanding (my wife's) and one of my dearest and oldest friends had the 5 course degustation and was quite pleased.

Geoffrey rose de saigne 2007 was reasonably priced / value and enjoyment as was the 2008 Coume el Mas Collioure "Schistes" 2008 - the 2007 was well rated by Parker but they were sold through so we had the 2008 - a very pleasing Rhone blend - personally drank in the 90 point range for score keepers - that is to say a very happy bottle of old vine grenache at a reasonable price. Unfortunately the Gauby vielle vignes is no longer on the list.

tab about 250 Euro for 3 including splurge drinking and unbridled ordering.

Reception and service were in keeping w memory of being very friendly helpful and relaxed. I speak a little French and don't recall Aurelie speaking English last year but this year she spoke a fair amount, enough for a complete non-French speaker to have a an easy enough time with the evening.

The negative to neutral at best recent posts were not in keeping with tonight's dinner, which was outstanding and worth every sou.

More to come pertaining to other restos as time allows later in the week.

Oct 29, 2010
rhonemonger in France

Paris end of October 2010 - effect of strikes ??

Can any of the regular Paris posters either resident or visitor comment on the effect that the current situation with strikes has had or may have with

1) the metro - I assume it would be the last transit to shut down - but thats just an assumption

2) the ability of resturants to bring in the quality and freshenss of the produce they need to maintain therir standards.

Any information helpful. Sorry if this post is not appropriate - new to this board.

Will post on return the impressions fo the 'death by foi gras" tour


Oct 18, 2010
rhonemonger in France

Street food in Paris (trucks, carts, etc.)?

A question within the question - have heard the "hot dogs" at the Eiffel Tower are to die for - Anyone with experience with them? Noted post re "Saucisse de Francfort"


going in 6 weeks

Sep 18, 2010
rhonemonger in France