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Conflicting Opinions Regarding Bistrot Paul Bert

Le Baratin has *lots* of tourist traffic: I have never been there (and I've been there an awful lot over the last six years) without at least one, if not several English speaking table(s) - not to mention the less frequent but definitely present tables of Japanese or German or Spanish speakers - and it is much smaller than Le bistrot Paul Bert.

Also, as far as pricing is concerned, my bill, (based on an entrée, main, dessert + 1/2 bottle of wine per person) is about the same in both places, perhaps fractionally higher at the Baratin, where it is now almost impossible to do entrée/main/dessert for 34 euros (the set menu price at Le Paul Bert).

Like everyone, I've had good and less memorable experiences at the Paul Bert. But to describe it as a tourist trap really is going too far: so many other places in Paris serving frozen food deserve that label, but this place doesn't cut those corners that too many others do.

Aug 15, 2011
LongBeak in France

boudin noir,Paris

More places serve this in Paris than can be mentioned.
"Le Verre Volé" (rue de Lancry 10e) always has it on the menu (they get it from Rodolphe Paquin). You can also almost always get some at "L'Avant Comptoir" (Odéon, 6e) (made by Philippe Camdeborde in the Béarn). Both are good.
Bon appétit !

Aug 02, 2011
LongBeak in France

Trappe Echourgnac in Paris or Bordeaux?

I beg to differ with DLCM: cheese from l'Abbaye de Citeaux and la Trappe d'Echourgnac are, to my taste buds at least, not that similar. They are both soft and made from cow's milk, and both were developed in monastries, but that's about where the similarity ends - unless perhaps you are talking about the version of the Trappe that is not made with walnut liquor (and which I haven't had the opportunity to taste)?

For the French readers on this forum, you can find the Abbaye's site here: http://www.abbaye-echourgnac.org/abba... - with photos of the cheese making and ageing process. The Abbaye d'Echourgnac have also given the right to make this cheese to another monastry in Brittany.

If you're looking for it in Paris, I recently bought some at François Priet, rue des Pyrénées (near Gambetta), in the 20th. As it was made in the Abbaye, I imagine it is of the same quality as that which you can find in Périgord, which is why I'm surprised that the quality RL found in Paris wasn't up to that found in Périgord. Does anyone know if other cheese makers outside of the Abbaye are making it and commercialising it under that name? I wouldn't have thought they would have had the right to do so...

Jul 14, 2011
LongBeak in France

METRO COURONNES--anything unmissable nearby?

You don't have to walk far from Couronnes to get to the following places:

Le Baratin. Rue Jouye-Rouve in the 20th, north of Couronnes. Continue along the boulevard till you get to the Belleville station, then go up rue de Belleville, it's the third street on your right.

I would qualify "Le Baratin" as a "truly great" Parisian bistrot. It's not Michelin-starred food, and doesn't try to be. But it is a stalwart of Parisian bistrot culture. Almost all the serious French "foodies" I know are Baratin fans. It's two steps away from "Le Chapeau Melon", which is similar in spirit, and also very good (the guy who runs it used to co-run the Baratin).

I must add, though, to be fair, that the Baratin has also gained a bit of a reputation for brusque service. You might not get that, but don't take it personally if you do. It helps to speak a little French, and to show that you care about good food. But do not fear, you won't be the only English speaker there (those days are long gone).

Both the Baratin and the Chapeau Melon are wine bars, specialising in organic/natural wine. The Chapeau Melon is also a "caviste" (wine shop).

Another wine shop I can recommend, not far, which also has a few stools and a table for you to sit down on and open up your bottle, plus some cheese and saucisson to nibble on while you do so, is "Au Nouveau Nez", rue Saint Maur (south of Couronnes - go down past Place Jean-Pierre Timbaud, and turn right onto rue Saint Maur, and it's not far). The lady who runs the show is passionate and knowledgeable, and will spend time with you discussing what you're after and introducing you to producers - she's personally visited a good number of the winemakers whose wares she sells. Don't know if she speaks English; wouldn't be surprised if she did. Also specialising in natural/organic wine.

Chateaubriand - already mentioned twice - on rue Parmentier is really not much further away. And once you're there, the Verre Volé (on the other side of the Canal Saint Martin) is actually close by...

Enjoy the neighbourhood. Some of the most interesting views of a city come from "off-centre" places. But you can get a lot further "off-centre" than this...

Jun 30, 2011
LongBeak in France

The best dining in the Marais?

My latest good eating experience in the Marais was this Wednesday: Café des Musées, 49 rue de Turenne. Traditional bistrot fare with quality produce, prepared with attention and served in generous portions. Organic wine list. 20 euro no-choice menu (entrée, main, dessert), or count on 35-50/person à la carte (with wine).

Jun 26, 2011
LongBeak in France

Dining suggestion for Biarritz

Hi PhilD,

I never intended to turn anyone away from Biarritz, and I did begin with a recommendation for eating in the town. This is not the forum for tourist-guide style comments about the merits of Biarritz - a 19th century sea-resort like so many others across Europe - versus other towns in the Basque country. My suggestions are based on (a) my own culinary experience of the region through relatively regular visits over the last seven years, and (b) on brigdo's itinerary, which, as you can see, goes beyond Biarritz. Of course, there is lots about Biarritz I don't know. I have never eaten at the place you recommend, Sissanou, for example, although I've heard good things about it from serious eaters in the past, and will have to put it on my list.

Concerning ElKano, I just wanted to add - in order to not to create any false expectations - that the kind of cooking here is not experimental nor is it "inventive." It is product-driven, to the point that I would describe the cooking style as being that of fish fundamentalists: not so much as a single potato is served as a "garnish" with the fish. But what fish!!! The turbot I ate there in 2005 remains unbeaten by any other turbot I've eaten since, except perhaps the one I ate at ElKano again in 2009... As for other things I would recommend trying there: kokoxas and the chipirons (small squid), if they are in season (either stuffed with their tentacles and an onion compote or in an ink sauce - a Basque traditional favourite - or grilled with nothing else. You can order a mixed plate of all three)...

Jun 13, 2011
LongBeak in France

Dining suggestion for Biarritz

That's a hard one!!

Getaria is a much smaller town than Hondarrabia, and it really is very close to San Sebastian - around 17 km I would guess. If you are staying in San Sebastien, it won't take much time to get there and have a wander before eating. It's charming, the old part of the town running down a steep hill to a fishing port. ElKano really is excellent. They are passionate about fish, and it shows.

I also like Hondarrabia a lot, and you can eat well there too. The tapas at Gran Sol are good (even if they put too much bechamel sauce in their piquillos stuffed with salted cod fish for my liking).

Jun 12, 2011
LongBeak in France

Dining suggestion for Biarritz

Great itinerary ! Here are three different places I've been to and enjoy.

Very close to San Sebastian, there is a little town called Getaria, and there is a restaurant there called "El Kano" which has fabulous fish and seafood, including produce you don't find often in France (percebes, kokoxas...). Count on 60 euros per person.

For eating in Bayonne I would suggest Le comptoir de la Nive. Simple, honest bistrot food, terrasse on the Nive river that runs through Bayonne. Nice wine list made up by Camille Benat, who also has a wine shop that does tapas in the back on the "Petit Bayonne" side of the Nive.

Finally, when you go up into the Pyrenees, on the French side there is an auberge/restaurant called Etcheimaïté. It is in the gorgeous village of Larrau, just under the Pic d'Orhy, which is the highest summit of the Soule (part of the Basque Country). Beautiful Basque villa, excellent local produce and Basque cooking with refinement, very good value (evening menus start at 34 euros, lunch at 18 euros).

Jun 12, 2011
LongBeak in France

Dining suggestion for Biarritz

I would suggest Ahizipak - it means 'three sisters' in Basque, and is run, as you might expect, by three Basque sisters. They serve good modern bistro fare with a Basque twist, and at reasonable prices. I ate there twice last year. But if you have a car and can move, the Basque country is full of gems... (are you planning on going to Bayonne or crossing the Spanish border? Because if so, the place is full of good eating eating options. Though, as PhilD mentioned, tourist traps aren't lacking either.

Jun 11, 2011
LongBeak in France

paris: chez michel vs. chez casimir

Chez Michel and Chez Casimir both share the same kitchen and both are run by Thierry Breton. The two places are not the same, though they do share an emphasis on fresh, quality produce. Chez Michel is more "bistronomic" and Chez Casimir is more simple bistrot fare with less "prestigious" produce on the menu. There have been changes this year, Chez Michel now has a big bread oven for slow cooking dishes and a 50 euro menu (with supplements), Chez Casimir now has a 32 euro menu (also with supplements for higher-end produce). Good, very affordable wine list. I haven't been back to Chez Michel since the price hike (the menu was previously 32 euros), but I've had many good meals there before. Now you'll be looking at upwards of 65 - 80 euros / person. In the 10th arrondissement, that's not really in the price range for a "regular" bistrot. And in the 50 euro price range in Paris, competition is tough...

What I heartily recommend though is going to Chez Casimir on the weekend for the "Traou Mad" (which means 'Good things' in Breton), when there is both a buffet of cold salads and hot dishes served throughout the day. It's a great "French" ... um, Breton... brunch option

Jun 11, 2011
LongBeak in France