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Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

Great point - my ignorance is unpardonable (I will order this dish the next time I go to Ambroisie).

I just wish to add that someone commented that there are no weaknesses in Pacaud's menu - but but .. for the price and the decision matrix that one needs before ordering that dish - and to fight off cognitive dissonance (curry in France) is very difficult.

Dec 14, 2013
coxford in France

Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

Thank you - and I loved the sushi analogy.

I agree with you and that is why perhaps this board is so invaluable - leaning towards sharpening of palates and what is new rather than, and indeed it will be tragic, to be a slave of tradition as that immediately closes the door on what is possible.

I mean where is the fun in recommending Jiro/Saito/Sawada all the time?

Dec 14, 2013
coxford in France

Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

I know your note was addressed to Rio, but - It really got me really thinking about it in terms of - what is authenticity and how should ingredients be used and how it should taste. These are very very good comments, and when I reflect on my own eating habits, perhaps I can empathise why you would say that putting white truffles onto fish kills it without having to try it.

For example, when in Paris, I would avoid asian food or even asian influenced food - because it annoys me when it is done badly. Hence, when I looked at Ambroisie's menu, the one dish that stood out was the langoustines with curry. Now that dish would be something I would avoid - because I know what curry tastes like (both from India and Southeast Asia), I know how it is cooked and I know what I enjoy. Hence I assumed (without splashing out a hundred euro) to think Pacaud's competency would not be so strong as to be able to cook something against the grain.

Similarly, when I tasted Passard's beetroot sushi (pic uploaded) as part of his tasting menu, it totally did not work for me because I automatically took my benchmark from how the japanese do it, and how sushi tastes. But is this an argument to suggest that Passard has no competence in cooking/making sushi or even how rice tastes (ie.putting soy sauce onto rice, too much rice in proportion to his vegetables)? Or is my benchmark too high (ie. assuming all rice needs to taste like uonoma koshihikari rice and hence because I can taste the difference, therefore all chefs who can't have no competence?) or is my worldview too set in stone?

I like your wine analogy (not sure if its 45, since thats usually the mouton, while latour is probably the 61) - and thats probably a good analogy. Again, should a good dish be something that makes you happy and judged on its own merit without benchmarking to the best you have ever tasted (ie. a truffle dish benchmarked against the best truffle dish, similarly, any pinot noir tasted benchmarked against a la tache or a leroy musigny?)?

Dec 13, 2013
coxford in France

Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

my bad - very embarrassingly i can't tell the difference between white or black (or one can think that the addition of truffles didn't really matter to the taste which is your point on how it is an abomination - which was strange because the truffles didn't 'lift' the dish as much as you would think they did)

Dec 12, 2013
coxford in France

Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

A picture of the dish - all caveat though, my wife found it a little too heavy for her..

Dec 12, 2013
coxford in France
1

Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

Spot on. White truffles for the egg and broccoli - black truffle shaving for the sole. Come on - it's Pacaud!

Dec 10, 2013
coxford in France

Paying it fwd: Short reviews of a few Paris restaurants

Once more, posting up some reviews as a ‘paying it forward’ to the board, and once more, into the fray with more reviews on my trip to Paris (Cinq, Arpege, Ambroisie, Chez Denise, L’ami Jean, 110 taillevent, Frederic Simonin, Charbon rouge). Bear with me as it is long.

Saturday – Cheese hunt (Marie-anne Cantin). Decided to go down on a cheese hunt and picked out some 4 year old Comte (I think from 2009?) – sublime taste, good length with very nice crystallized texture. I couldn’t resist grabbing some of the La truffe de la marne as they were in season, and I do like that there was a lot of balance, with neither the truffle or the cheese overpowering each other (having said that – it was a bit difficult to chomp that that much cheese without some champagne). Pretty fun.
As we were in the area, next up was the aux merveilleux de Fred. I had read about this on the board and it was truly the find of the trip (at least for me) – these were the best meringues I have ever tasted in my life, it literally dissolves in your mouth, light as air, and leaving behind that cleanness of taste. I bought 15 tiny ones and before I knew it, had ate 5 at one go. These were truly astonishing – so much so that I was really tempted to buy the huge cake and eat it. As an aside, the only problem with the meringues were that they can’t keep beyond a day (understandably so as it collapses), which makes it virtually impossible to bring it home or to save it for later. I only found this out the hard way when 5 of my precious meringues died in their own pool of cream. Very tragic.

Sunday – Lunch at Le Cinq. I know many people have written about them and their great value – but decided to go for the carte, and ordered the lamb shoulder for mains, and the egg dish and the shellfish for the starters. Shellfish was amazing (oysters in 3 ways etc), but the lamb was fantastic. Slightly Arabic tasting, and so so tender, to quote my wife “if I have to stop eating lamb for the rest of my life, let this be the last taste of lamb..” It is that good. I must also say that for some strange reason, the wine at Le Cinq was actually not too bad – I had a decent value bottle of Coche-dury for much less than any of the other restaurants at the rest of the trip. There was also something quite funny – at the end of the meal, as I walked out (more like stumbled out), I was perusing their cognac/fine cart and saw a couple of DRC Fine. The server, being ever so generous said, pick one (and I did), proceeded to pour out a generous portion and gave it to me gratis. Loved it.

Monday – Lunch at Chez Denise. Pretty fun and shoulder to shoulder stuff, we were trying to recover from the heavy meal at Le cinq, but I think this is really not the way to do it at this restaurant. We had the massive pork with lentils as well as the onglet. Onglet was forgettable, but the pork with lentils was the standout dish. Very well executed with the lentils just about balancing out the pork, which was full of flavor and umami. Excellent.

Tuesday – Lunch at L’arpege. I think my wife was a little affected by the board’s discussion about “to arpege or not to arpege” and having been there before, we were a little apprehensive whether they were still “consistent”. It didn’t help that before my trip, another friend of mine was talking about how the standards have truly fallen at arpege, hence it was with some apprehension that we approached l’arpege. This is not a detective story, so I will just say straight up that they were just as good as the first time I have been there. What I really love about them is (i) food execution (ii) generosity (iii) great fun. (In contrast to l’ambroisie, which I will talk about later) – for a lunch tasting set, Passard threw in a lot of other dishes not listed in the menu for free (that would have been in the more expensive degustation). Standout dishes – celery soup with vegetable ravioli, butternut squash veloute, the best ever hay smoked chicken with that right combination of moistness, fat, and flavor that almost made me tear up (I told Passard that Gunther’s in Singapore – his ‘disciple’ – tried to make this same ever dish, but my god, this one is many steps above Gunther’s). I like how his dishes are simple, not overly complicated, but just really fresh. Having said that, there were a few dishes that didn’t cut it for me – notably the beetroot sushi (which to be honest, I was looking at it from a lens of someone who likes to eat sushi, and while his rice is done well, the flavor and the portion of rice didn’t quite work for me as with sushi, there needs to be a balance – and the rich portion was too much and didn’t quite balance against the thin strip of beetroot. I noticed he put quite some soy sauce onto the rice which was a bit … interesting). I don’t know, maybe Passard was in an exceedingly good mood (I counted him out of the kitchen at least 8 times – and all smiles!), but the food certainly reflected a certain joy which I couldn’t quite capture in words.

Wednesday – Dinner at 110 Taillevent. Having had dinner at taillevent before, I wanted to try out 110 given its interesting concept (4 types of wine for each course). It wasn’t as dreaded as some people make it out to be (ie. Full of tourists, commercial etc), and it was actually quite enjoyable. Decided against the set and went carte – trying out their calamari, foie gras and 2 fish dishes for mains. Food was quite decent – but nothing to rave about. Generous portions (quite similar to their big brother) and wine pairings “worked” in so far as they weren’t disjointed, but for some reason (and one could be post arpege?), there was no “wow” factor. It was functional, decent. Would recommend, but reluctantly.

Thursday – Lunch at L’ambroisie. I recall at Le Cinq, my server was telling me that L’ambroisie served fantastic truffles during this season, hence I was raring to go and try some of their famous dishes. Apparently Mathieu Pacaud was away – hence this meal will all be Bernard Pacaud. I must confess I have no idea whether there is any different, but the dishes were simply … sublime. We had the scallop broccoli with white truffle, and the ‘egg’ for starters and for mains, we had the Bresse chicken breast with crayfish and the sole braised with yellow wine and grated truffle, finished with their chocolate tarte. L’ambroisie is difficult – it is not a ‘wow’ type of cuisine – as the dishes are simple, not too many ingredients, not overcooked, and actually quite deceptive. For example, the broccoli dish. For a dish like that not to taste purely of truffles (you need to see the size of the truffles) but to taste of the finest essence of broccoli, yet without overpowering the scallop, is really amazing. I can’t help but harp on how this is real mastery – and I would say, impossible to recreate. In fact, the sole was another incredibly executed dish. Once again, it is very counterintuitive. A fish dish that should taste light, but taste heavy, yet not ‘corrupted’ by the overpowering truffle. I don’t know, but as I left, my first thought was ‘when can I be back?’. Surely a tour-de-force in restraint.

Friday – dinner at Frederic Simonin. We ended up here in part because we wanted to dine at L’atelier Joel Robuchon. This was quite an interesting story – we walked over to l’etoile JR without reservations only to be told that they have started taking reservations and they were full. Amazing. I had wanted to recreate the great fun we had the last time (and I think my wife has a mini-crush on Suga) – and we were gutted to find out it was full for dinner. Next seating will be at 10.30pm which was a good few hours away. Fortunately Francois Benot (the chef patissier of JR, but based at etoile) was kind enough to suggest a restaurant just ‘round the corner’, cooked by his good pal but more importantly cooked food that was actually very good, and asked whether I have heard of them. I confessed to my ignorance, but given such a recommendation by Francois, I couldn’t say no and proceeded to walk over to the 17th to Frederic’s restaurant. (Of course, later I found out that Frederic had worked in JR for a couple of years and that Francois knew him for 25 years - and that was after I had eaten at Frederic and went back to thank Francois for his kind recommendation). Anyway, back to the review – Frederic Simonin was very very good. For dinner, we ordered from carte, his sea urchin and crab for starters, for mains the squid and turbot. I like his bold use of Japanese ingredients – yuzu mainly – and his lightness and his own interpretation of sea urchin. The sea urchin had a certain creaminess (very different from the uni we eat in Japanese restaurants) and flavor that was quite unique. I loved his turbot (it had a texture like chicken and the skin was grilled to have that oiliness that was similar to chicken – but then it opened out became a lot more fish like). My wife was raving about Frederic Simonin and how he didn’t even need to serve the mash potato (in a nod to JR) as his dishes stand on their own. The service, the atmosphere, the food, was a lot better than expected. Would definitely go back.

Saturday – dinner at L’ami Jean. By now, I was exhausted. I was, to be honest, dreading a massive heavy dinner, but given that this is a strong chowhound favorite, I decided to indulge myself. I don’t really have much to add that hasn’t been said about this place (it was quite amusing to see Jego do his clapping and scolding his chefs) but one thing that struck me was how this is *really* shoulder to shoulder dining. This is 2x more cramped than Chez Denise. And it was hot, it was loud, it was just a spectacle. Having said all that, there were 2 standout dishes. First – the squid in squidink with ‘risotto’ – absolutely heavenly and Second – the rice pudding (nothing more needs to be said).

Sunday – dinner at Charbon rouge. My wife actually likes this place – a lot. I don’t know, there is something about this place (I ordered the hen – ha ha – but my wife ordered steak) which I can’t place. It doesn’t do anything extraordinarily good (service/wine/food) but for some reason, I think it was the perfect place to just chill out, no stress, eat loads of meat and move on home.

Dec 09, 2013
coxford in France

Passard at the Sentosa

Fantastic review. Would have loved to go - as like you, I am a huge fan of Passard. Unfortunately away in Tokyo. So interesting that he would be happy to allow you to sit at the main room with little kids and not at the cave!

Dec 17, 2012
coxford in China & Southeast Asia

Tokyo short review (Kanesaka, Dons de la nature, Takazawa, Kyubei etc)

Lurker here - but thought it might be useful to give some trip report on a short trip to Tokyo a week ago, especially after reading so many tips and reviews of food from the board.

Kanesaka
Managed to get a lunch reservation at Kanesaka - Chef was Sanpei - and we went for the 15k menu.
Having been a fan of Shinji in Singapore, decided to head down to the mothership and taste their sushi and see if there was any difference. First of all, the atmosphere - pretty empty during lunchtime, but that is not a bad thing as the Chef was fully focused on serving. The 15k menu includes some sashimi and some grilled dishes. No need to wax lyrical about how good the sushi was - but enough to say that these tasted really fresh. Some couple of standouts: The tuna cheek - we had tuna cheek sushi as well as grilled cheek in shoyu and some yuzu. Amazing texture - tender, oily. A real treat. When the chef took those out, I thought they looked like wagyu (the amount of 'marbling'). Definitely a must try. What really stood out for Kanesaka wasn't their fish, but to me, I really really love their rice. Just the right amount of vinegar, temperature (slightly warm), and just the right amount of 'pressing' to make sushi where every grain of rice just fell apart in the mouth. I like that. I dislike sushi where the rice is pressed too hard.. Chef Sanpei also suggested that the water that is used in Singapore may be slightly different than the one used in Tokyo - which may explain why the rice is just so slightly better in Tokyo. I kind of like the way Chef Sanpei prepared the sushi - he pressed it very gently - almost gingerly, as if the sushi was kind of sacred. The other thing that stood out - and one which was significantly better than Shinji, was the nori. The nori was just the right amount of crispiness and umami - can't quite describe it. I asked Sanpei why this was so, and he postulated that whilst the supplier was the same, it could have been due to the temperature (Singapore is notoriously humid). Excellent.

Dons de la nature
Dons is helmed by Chef Yoshiji-san. A spritely old chap who is extremely proud of his produce. I don't really need to elaborate on how good his beef was. Me and my wife chose a 400g Kobe Sirloin cut at dinner - and whilst it must be the best beef I have had in my life, my wife thought it was just way too fatty and too 'melt in your mouth'. She preferred beef with a lot more texture, and unfortunately, wagyu being wagyu, this was not to be. To me, what I really like abt Dons wasn't so much the beef (which was amazing), but the wine list was also amazing - we had a rousseau clos st jacques at an amazing price to go along with the beef - and we had a good chat with the Chef. Chef Yoshiji had a few cards up his sleeve - apparently he trained in France many years ago - and Alain Passard (disclaimer: L'arpege is my all time favorite) worked in the kitchen under him (so I guess that must be in the 70s or early 80s). Another interesting fact: Apparently Chef Yoshiji ages his beef for 2 months before he deems it worthy to be served - combination of dry and wet aging. Well, next time anyone goes to Dons, do ask him to pull out his beef that is "aging in progress". It is amazing. He also keeps the 'birth certificates' of the cow that he buys from (comes complete with nose print, the cow's lineage etc - absolutely fascinating). Another interesting fact - I asked him whether he had Matsuzaka beef - and he said that he didn't serve them as he felt they ate too much grass - and that they were not suitable for his charcoal grill. Total for beef and wine was abt 80k - very pricey, but I can see why they cost so much.

Kyubei
Ah, the grand old dame of Sushi. While we didn't manage to get a first floor sitting, they sat us on the 5th floor for dinner. Can't remember the Chef's name - but he had very good technique, and very very precise in his use of sauces. What stood out for me was the 'dancing shrimp' - an amazing raw prawn that was still alive which he sliced quickly for sushi. The prawn was still throbbing - pretty disgusting, but tasted so good, and almost .. crunchy and muscular. My wife was a lot more squirmish and decided to eat the prawn cooked. Overall, very well executed, technically can't fault their sushi and every bit as good as any other top sushi place. Sometimes, I wonder whether what makes a place truly great - surely beyond technical execution it has to have that emotive element which really does it right? I felt that whilst this was very good, it didn't have that extra something (perhaps the chef?) that did it for me.

Takazawa
Many people here have talked about Takazawa - so I won't really go down to description of the food. Going straight to the point - my wife loved it. It is definitely her top restaurant of the trip - the food was inventive, playful and thematic. It was a play on all her senses, visual (and all the food trickery that Akiko-san suggested), smell (burning leaves, towels that smell like pine trees), texture (jelly that bursts out in flavor, vegetables that just tastes so different), company (yours truly) etc. I didn't feel that they were trying to be gimmicky - (I went for the "tea pairing course" because I had drank way too much during lunch and decided to go easy for dinner - also, I didn't want to drink Japanese wine to be very honest) - and I really appreciated how inventive they were. Moreover, this was a place that I felt I had "fun". I mean, the food is not as cutting edge as Pierre Gagnaire, but certainly I felt that it was place where I laughed a lot, where we were amazed and were shaking our heads on how only the Japanese could pull off something like this (like the hot air balloon dish) etc. I don't really want to spoil it for others who want to go, but Takazawa was amazing. Was it a life changing experience - no - but it was certainly a place that would be talked about, remembered, laughed at. Very memorable.

Others
Well - staying in Shiodome means that I am inherently too lazy to travel across town to track down the best restaurants in Tokyo - so I ate at places pretty much where I stayed. Tateru Yoshino at Shiodome for lunch (good if not very memorable), Tsunahachi Sui for Tempura (they killed the eel right in front of you - pretty brutal - but seriously good) and various random restaurants not worth mentioning. All in all - Tokyo was pretty good - this is my second time in Tokyo, but the first time looking out for some serious food. Would have loved to go to Ryugin, Sawada etc, but alas, time is too short.

Dec 06, 2012
coxford in Japan

Paying it forward - short reviews of LTDA, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Arpège, Michel Rostang, Taillevent, L'entrecote, L'Atelier Maitre Albert, L'ami Louis, Etoile Joel Robuchon

Yes - I took the Esprit PG menu, if I recall was 265 euros. Not entirely sure, but I recall they were only open for Sunday dinners...

Dec 21, 2011
coxford in France

Paying it forward - short reviews of LTDA, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Arpège, Michel Rostang, Taillevent, L'entrecote, L'Atelier Maitre Albert, L'ami Louis, Etoile Joel Robuchon

Oh yes, the GC (I forgot which plot) Raveneau was 130.. Some markup, but not obscenely so. Interestingly extremely old vintages are amazing value - for example, a 61 La Chapelle at Rostang is about 9000+, which is extremely good value and definitely of impeccable provenance. But yes, before going to l'ami louis, i was actually at Les Papilles (which I somehow forgot about writing in my reviews) and drank a full bottle of an aged beaucastel - I definitely overpaid for that bottle, but was too happy to care too much.

For sure there are definitely showstoppers at decent prices - alas - I stuck to coke at l'ami .. but having said that, they charged me 22 for 2 cokes and 1 bottle of water!

Dec 21, 2011
coxford in France

Paying it forward - short reviews of LTDA, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Arpège, Michel Rostang, Taillevent, L'entrecote, L'Atelier Maitre Albert, L'ami Louis, Etoile Joel Robuchon

Hi everyone. I have been a lurker here for a while - and after doing so much research and reading about all the delightful recommendations, I have decided to "pay back" so to speak, and write about the 'food tour' that I did with my wife over 10 days. It was an amazing experience - and certainly a humbling one (well definitely made my wallet lighter) - will jump straight in and talk about these restaurants relying on memory rather than extensive notes... I will also not discuss too much about each course that I had (not having taken many photos and also a lot of the food has blurred after suffering from caloric overdose almost everyday) moreover, I do not think I can do the food justice. I decided against splitting up the topic and I hope that it is not too long (and tiresome) for everyone to read.

La Tour D'argent - landed on a saturday morning and after a couple of hours of rest, decided to head out to LTDA for my first meal having heard a lot about the restaurant and their duck. Duly seated (last seating at 1.30pm) and had a great view of the restaurant. It was bustling and certainly packed to the brim with families and dare I say it, tourists. We had the lunch fixed menu (at a pretty good price) and we were off. I really loved their wine list. It is the size of a telephone book and it is incredibly intimidating. You can probably spend days, just examining the tome and for all that, prices are surprisingly affordable, and for some reason, as a general observation, I find bordeaux prices to be very marked up, whilst prices of red and white burgundy to be very decent. I settled on a 2000 grand cru Chablis from Raveneau, which was singing. Great acidity, good balance. Very enjoyable. Whilst the overall quality of the food was high (the escargots were delightful), I found that they were on the richer side, and perhaps a bit more one-dimensionally. The duck (which came with a nice postcard with the number of the duck on it) was decent, but not something I would come back for. I found it a bit gamey, and not extremely enjoyable. But food aside, LTDA lacked a certain refinement of service - for example, we could not speak french, and having told them that a few times, they still explained to us the dishes in french, which was a little annoying. For me.. LTDA is all about the wine list - the view and perhaps the history (the walls on the side of the lift had ridiculous photos of people who have eaten there).

Pierre Gagnaire - made reservations for sunday dinner (as someone on this board said, Pierre Gagnaire is the king of sunday dinners) and off we went. This was an epic meal - we had the tasting menu which consists of something like 20 over little dishes of mindblowing food that changed my view of how food should be like. There is something about PG's restaurant that feels like a temple. Everyone is very serious (including our server) and I constantly feel as if I am in a place of serious business - as if to say "respect the food". Food is taken to a new level - food is not food - but more like a play in 20 acts, unfolding constantly to new heights - and I never felt comfortable. i can't quite describe it, except to say that at the end of the meal (4 hours later), I felt exhausted, and challenged. Certainly wasn't my favorite restaurant of all time (perhaps I am not that sophisticated) maybe because it was too challenging for me (I felt a little not worthy - and certainly no fault of theirs) but definitely a place to go. Service was impeccable (you really feel like a king) but not 'warm'

L'Arpege - went for monday lunch and had the fixed price menu. Decided to go for the hay smoked chicken which was sublime (Hints of hay without over grassiness). I felt like this was home - perhaps with all the vegetables and was cooked with no pretense. I loved their pumpkin soup with bacon foam (sounds far less than it tastes), and overall an excellent excellent meal. My favorite in Paris; mainly because it challenged my world on how vegetables can be cooked, and as a bonus, not terribly expensive either!

Michel Rostang - Tuesday lunch. By now, you must be wondering how I can stuff myself with so much food without palate fatigue. Basically the premise is simple - one good meal a day, coupled with a lot of walking. I know many posters here recommended pacing, and here I must say that it is extremely good advise. I did not pace as well as I could (after Taillevent on Wednesday, I was exhausted and began to yearn for something 'simple'), and certainly I suffered from 2 states - either very hungry, or very full, which is definitely not healthy. In anycase - I couldn't remember much of the food at Michel Rostang - but certainly I would suggest that one should order half portions here. Their portions were huge! I had a great seat overlooking the kitchen (looking at Mr Rostang - still looking so energetic in the kitchen despite being old), and had a look at their wine cellar (in the basement). They have an epic cellar (not as intimidating as LTDA), with some really old grail wines. I ordered a 91 chablis for an apperitif and d'yquem by the glass (which was very decently priced) for desert. What I really like about Michel Rostang is their generosity. Their sommelier for example, served the d'yquem out of a fresh new bottle. Portions were immense. Very hearty / rich food that made me so full that I swore not to eat at anymore restaurants again.

Taillevent - Wednesday dinner. Having had more than 24 hours to recuperate; we proceeded to another old establishment - Taillevent. Taillevent is a beautiful restaurant; finely decorated, packed seating (I was not seated on the main hall, but the backroom). Again, another fine wine cellar. I was simply amazed at how cheap their wines were - I ordered a grand cru musigny which was selling at 30% of the market value!!! Taillevent's food was quite straightforward (I had the dinner tasting menu - deciding to skip the truffles), but very delightful.. and I felt really like a king here. The service was absolutely amazing, with me mentioning that I did not like the artichoke; they removed the artichoke from all my dishes. I had fun here, even though I expected this to be quite a staid environment, with the server constantly teasing whether I was full etc. Taillevent feels like an old friend - warm, comforting. I would definitely be back.

Having had a few restaurants in succession, I decided to check out L'entrecote on Thursday (the one at rue marbeauf). Nothing too difficult - and it was more like comfort food. Small dish of beef and fries.. after you finish the dish, the server (a wonderful lady) will come and give you a new dish of beef and fries. Nothing too sophisticated, and feeling warm and happy, we were ready for the assault to find the best poulot roti in France.

As my concierge could only secure l'ami louis for Saturday dinner, I decided to check out Atelier Maitre Albert for lunch on Friday. Very modern; simple food (menu off a chalkboard) - had a chicken liver salad and the chicken for main. They served the chicken thighs - great firmness, excellent texture. The jus of the chicken was really concentrated, which added to the balance of the dish. Certainly not cardboard tasting. Skipped dessert (by now, we were eating as little as possible).

L'ami Louis - after having an extremely light lunch at Breizh cafe (oysters and crepes), we were all eagerly waiting for dinner at l'ami louis (yes, having read the great debates on the board, read and re-read AA Gill's article etc). Turned up at 10.30pm, and amazingly still packed. Guy with white suit walks over, snorts out "you have a reservation?" and then proceeded to place me on a table near the back. Let me just say this first. I really really enjoyed l'ami louis. I think back about a memorable experience in Paris, and I smile when I think about this place. Yes the restaurant looked pretty beat up, and yes the servers did this "throw the jacket onto the top" shtick, but it did not feel very touristy to me (everyone there spoke french, other than a japanese couple who knew one of the burly white jacketed men). Service was not as bad as I thought it would be, and for all that is said and done, the escargots and chicken was amazing. I steered away from the wine menu (ordered coke instead - thinking that the servers must have sneered at me - but they didn't). Now the chicken. It is very juicy - very firm. It was a lot more flavorful than a normal chicken, and certainly worth every euro. Walked out with a smile and probably paid the least amount of money in the restaurant (spied some tables drinking some crazy first growth bordeaux).

Sunday dinner - final day. I told my wife that Sundays were typically not a good day for dining, and that perhaps we should eat something simple. My wife suggested that we could perhaps walk down the champs-elysee and see if there was anything to nibble. Ended up at Etoile Joel Robuchon. Ironic. Pretty light food and I was really happy at Etoile (Suga was there that night). Had the most amazing calamari (which had the texture of fish!?), and I think a wonderful end to the crazy food tour.

Alright, will answer any questions (if any) and many apologies for writing such a long post and at the same not being able to do justice to some of the restaurants. Thanks to chowhound France board once again!

Dec 21, 2011
coxford in France