This Saturday evening my better half & I will be in Tours, and we're looking for good restaurant suggestions.
Budget: max ~30-35 for entree plat dessert
Any ideas most welcome!
aw shucks <blush>. I like this "responsible epicurean" label - much more flattering than "greedy and hungry".
Reporting back, a few months later:
We ended up following Parigi's recommendation of Absinthe, but for dinner rather than lunch. I checked the site, and I liked the creative-sounding dishes. On the phone, the welcome was not great. I was told quite brusquely that the only option was upstairs. It looked OK on the website, so i said sure.
The reception was significantly warmer when we showed up in person, but then I found out the "catch" of being upstairs: it's the foreigner ghetto - even ones who speak decent French, evidently - with a decor and layout more reminiscent of a suburban Olive Garden than a restaurant in the 1st arrondissement. Fortunately, the friends didn't know this. And the patient, English-speaking waiter was indeed helpful for the one person at our 4-person table who didn't understand French.
Service was polite but very slow and not as responsive as I'm used to here (i.e. we had to ask several times for another carafe d'eau, or waiting at least 20 min for our plates to be taken away). They seemed severely short-staffed.
Foodwise, it reminded me of dining when i go back to Vancouver: creative dishes, often with an Asian influence, and attractive presentation. But the dishes seemed overly "busy" and the execution was sometimes sloppy. I took the deep-fried softshell crab and iceberg lettuce salad for entree. The crab crust was heavy and greasy, the sauce had the consistency of store-bought mayo, and the wasabi flavour overpowered the rest of the dish. My husband ordered the escargot and mushrooms, which was heavy on the latter and light on the former, served on a tough little sliver of waffle. He wasn't impressed.
The next morning, we asked our friends what they thought. They were happy, they found it much better quality than what they claim they can find in Toronto. But by the end of their visit, two weeks later, my friend said that after having dined at so many other restaurants in Paris and Provence, from ranging form gastronomique to creperies and pizzerias, in retrospect the meal at Absinthe was pretty mediocre.
A few weeks later I decided to go there for aperos with a friend. It was convenient, and remembering the friendly accueil, I decided to give them a second chance. Unfortunately, none of the apero nibblies were available, as they were short one cook in the kitchen. Perhaps this explains the slow service when we dined there.
thanks to all for the suggestions.
Ooh, have never actually been to the Grand Palais. This could be a good excuse....
Haha, my office literally looks onto the door that leads to that little restaurant. A great suggestion (I keep forgetting it exists), but perahps not for the first day because I know my friends will want to see some sunshine!
L'absinthe sounds wonderful, but with the price &menu looks like the type of place to linger so might make more sense for dinner when my friends won't be itching to play tourist.
Burgundian cuisine is generally not great for veg options, but for me personally this is a great tip - affordable & tasty lunch spots are hard to find in this neighborhood!
Friends of ours are arriving this Thursday. We'll be meeting up for lunch that day near my office. I'd like to take them somewhere with a nice terrace to the enjoy the spring weather and also so they can "see Paris" (for one friend it's his first visit to the city).
My thinking so far:
- The Saut du Loup has the perfect location, but rotten everything else. Ditto for Cafe Marly.
Would love to hear your two centimes!
thanks in advance
I'm afraid I've never dined at Caius or Caius Zinc before - I don't know much about the Arc de Triomphe area in general.
I've only been to Fish once, but I do pass by it regularly as I live not too far away. It's very popular with expats. The cuisine was good, but nothing memorable - except that it felt a bit 'like home' for me (right down to indifferent service by staff who I assumed were students) so perhaps not the best place to go if hankering for a Parisian experience.
A short metro ride away from L'Arc de Triomphe, next to Place de la Concorde, is a tiny little restaurant called Lesure on rue du Mont Thabor. It has lots of hearty attitude and equally hearty food (southwest cuisine) This isn't Parisian either, but it sure is French.
And now, at the risk of losing my right to ever post anything ever again to ChowHound's France board, I am going to suggest a fun, touristy and totally anti-foodie place: La Refuge des Fondues, in the 18th near the Abbesses metro stop. They serve only two dishes: cheese fondue, or meat fondue. You drink your wine from baby bottles. Everyone sits crammed at 2 long communal tables. You're allowed to write on the walls. It's the type of place where you inevitably end up chatting with the laughing diners next to you, who most certainly will be tourists as well. You get the idea.
I suggest these last two as they show another side to the Parisian dining scene, and prove that not all restaurant experiences in Paris (or anywhere, for that matter) must be sublime gastronomic affairs to be enjoyable or memorable!
The classic Marais take-out is Falafel, from rue de Rosiers. While everyone seems to flock to L'As du Falafel, the others on the street are just as good. I personally prefer Falafel King, because they include crispy-fried onions and fried eggplant in their toppings. And don't forget to ask for "sauce piquante" on top.
Another equally casual option is the pizza sold by weight at Al Taglio, around the corner from the Marché des enfants rouges. Like Pink Flamingo, they have more original toppings than the standard Parisian pizza joints. Their potato pizza with truffle cream is killer!
At both places, you can either eat in or order as take out.
And I will second the rec for Breizh Café - including the need to reserve.
== 5th arr, near Notre-Dame, Ile St Louse & Latin Quarter ==
1. Le Pre-Verre 13,50 euro lunch menu. Includes appetizer (entree), main course (plat), and glass of wine and coffee...ok, those last two won't be terribly appealing to your teens, but the parents can take the extras!
The chef has travelled extensively in Asia, so Asian accents regularly appear in his take on classic french dishes, such as celeri remoulade with sesame oil. The desserts are very original too, such strawberries with parsley sorbet.
The place is justifiably popular, so try to reserve ahead. http://www.lepreverre.com/en/
2. L'Atlas moroccan restaurant. It's high end for a cous cous restaurant, but still very affordable (esp at lunch) and it's been very tastefully decorated in the Moroccan style.
3. L'Itineraires 5, rue de Pontoise. During the week, they have a 2/3-course lunch menu (the menu du jour) for 29/35 euros. A good example of modern French cuisine, beautifully executed. Full disclosure: I have never eaten here at lunch, only dinner, but have always been blown away.
Since the food here is considerably more of a fine-dining experience than at the other two places, I suggest coming here is you're not in a rush.
== 7th arr, Near the Eiffel Tower ==
I used to work near here, and it's tough finding affordable eateries. However, on rue St Domique are the two affordable restaurants by Christian Constant: Le Cafe Constant, and Les Cocottes. In the Cafe Constant you are in a tiny space eating traditional French dishes wonderfully executed. At les Cocottes, you eat in a more modern space and each course is served in a small cocotte, which is a tiny casserole dish.
You can't reserve at either of these restos, I think, so best to go early or go in off-hours.
== Near the Louvre, 1st arr. ==
A short walk from the Louvre is Le Petit Machon, on rue St Honoré. It serves Lyonnaise cusine and they have an evening formule of 18 euros.
== in the Marais, 3rd arrondissement ==
Breizh Cafe - Breton creperie with a Japanese influence (Breton husband, Japanese wife). I find they have more original fillings for their galettes and crepes than the usual crepe stand, and they have a huge selection of cider.
The creperie is smack-dab in the middle of a former garment district, now a haven for indie designers, so your girls can have lots of fun window shopping nearby.
Reserve ahead! http://www.breizhcafe.com/
Bon voyage, and bon apetit!