Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

xigua's Profile

Title Last Reply

San Sebastián, Pays Basque (Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, St Jean de Luz, Biarritz, Espelette, Hondarrabia) Suggestions

I spent a May weekend in Pays Basque staying in Biarritz. Of course you are already going pintxos tasting in St Sebastian, but if you are still up for more small plates, my family quite enjoyed Cafe Jean, which is the more comfortable pintxos version of Bar Jean. It's right by the Biarritz market which might interest you too.
On our way from Bayonne to Irouleguy for a wine tasting, we stopped by a restaurant perched on the hilltops called La Ferme Gourmande. It has a Michelin Bib Gourmand label, and the food (slightly modern, quite a bit lighter than traditional Basque cooking), service and setting was excellent, as was the rapport qualité-prix.
Did not eat at Espelette, but had really nasty coffee sitting on the terrace of Pottoka.
In St Sebastian we ate at Akelarre. The food was overall good with 10-20% misses, but the service and killer views made up for it.

Jul 12, 2012
xigua in France

Sunday lunch in San Sebastian: What is more unique? Akelarre or a pintxos crawl?

3 weeks after our lunch, I've finally hunkered down to write the review on Akelare.
First off, thank you everybody who convinced us to eat there v. bar hopping. The view was undoubtedly gorgeous, the food beautifully presented and quite interesting (though not all to my taste) and the service and atmosphere was relaxing. Excellent way to spend Sunday afternoon.
There were 2 tasting menus, one heavier in terms of flavors and number of meat courses, the other almost 100% seafood save for the 1 meat course. I personally enjoyed the seafood heavy menu "A" (can't remember the full name).
In terms of memorable dishes, the first few dishes trumped the latter more protein heavy dishes, with very clear-cut clean flavors. I thought the crab cake with a blini made of crab roe was excellent, the umami flavors fully expressed in the blini. The dancing prawns in flames were extremely sweet and fresh, and I did enjoy the gooey, crunchy, chewier textures in the razor clam and veal shank dish. The fish and meat dishes all had gimmicky hooks, such as hake pretending to be monkfish and fake "salt and pepper" on the foie gras, but flavorwise were comparable to any well-regarded restaurants, well executed but non-too memorable.
I liked the xaxu with coconut ice-cream best amongst our desserts, especially the light-as-air coconut ice cream that looked a meringue but was cold and concentrated with coconut flavor. The cheese plate was interesting but too high-concept for me. I prefer big slices of cheese to dainty little bites. The apple tart tasted normal if not for the layers of fruit leather printed with the Akelare print.
In all, a very enjoyable meal, reasonably priced for its quality and quantity (in fact we were so stuffed we skipped dinner that night), and an expansive wine list with good deals. Not necessarily the most mind-blowing food, but the whole package was solid as you guys have advised.
More details and pictures on my blog:

Jun 14, 2012
xigua in Spain/Portugal

Traditional Eating in Bologna / Gubbio / Modena

I visited Bologna for 1.5 days and had dinner at Serghei. The food was home-style and unpretentious, and we tried both the tagliatelle al ragu and gramigna con salciccia. We preferred the latter to the ragu, which we found a bit too dry and overly-beefy. The secondis were fine, the pork in milk super-tender and the guinea fowl quite flavorful, albeit on the dry side. Service was actually much friendly than anticipated even though it wasn't a slow night and the place was quite full, so perhaps the server isn't always a sourpuss. Of course, it helped that I had read the menu pasted on the window quite thoroughly so I knew what I wanted beforehand. It's a solid meal but not someplace where the food is absolutely swoon-worthy. Then again, I only had 1 real meal in Bologna with no basis to compare with its competition.
The other meal was at il Cacciatore in Castello di Serravalle region, halfway between Modena and Bologna, as part of a food tour that brought us also to a cheese factory and a balsamic vinegar acetaia. Great location perched atop rolling hills, and the food was rustic, simple and very satisfying. The 4 pasta dishes we tried were excellent especially the spinach tortellini with an impactful gorgonzola sauce and very juicy and tender fried rabbit. The trattoria was quite full on a holiday afternoon with local families enjoying the inexpensive and plentiful food (~7e for primis, 10 for secondi)
A link to my blog for pictures:

May 15, 2012
xigua in Italy

Sunday lunch in San Sebastian: What is more unique? Akelarre or a pintxos crawl?

Thank you all for chiming in. I couldn't resist Akelare after all and am very excited about our meal there. Is there an a la carte or just a menu at lunch? And are there any specialties that I should not miss?

May 15, 2012
xigua in Spain/Portugal

Japanese Food in Paris?

I had the chirashi at Foujita this week, and sorry to report that it's not very good. The fish's fresh but the rice was too mushy and vinegary.
Haven't tried it personally, but my friends like Comme de Poissons near Passy.

May 12, 2012
xigua in France

Sunday lunch in San Sebastian: What is more unique? Akelarre or a pintxos crawl?

My family and I are spending 2 nights in Biarritz with the intention of hopping over to Guggenheim in Bilbao followed by lunch in San Sebastian on May 27th. I was convinced to try the pintxos scene until I emailed Akelarre on a whim yesterday to see if they had space for 6. Amazingly, they got back in the affirmative so now I have a very delicious dilemma. With only 1 afternoon and an evening flight to catch back at the Biarritz airport, I can unfortunately only choose 1 option. Which would be more memorable? The budget's not an issue, and as a context, we live in Paris and have access to haute cuisine temples in that city.

Thank you so much in advance for your advice!

May 10, 2012
xigua in Spain/Portugal

Starting to narrow the choices: input please?

For Le Troquet, a few days in advance should suffice. As for La Cantine du Troquet, I'm not 100% sure but I believe they start dinner service at 7 pm though it also offers continued service for aperos and such so you might even be able to get seated earlier. We were there at 730 on a Saturday and the place was only about 50% full. By 830 most of the tables were taken.

Apr 12, 2012
xigua in France

Paris - Classic Steak Frites near 6th arr.

We had good service and a good steak last Saturday at La Rotonde! Lots of other options at this classic brasserie (the scallops next table looked lovely) so your girlfriend should have no lack of options.
Another place not often talked about on these boards is Boucherie Rouliere near St Germain de Pres. Big juicy steaks and manly sized bone marrow is what I remember most about the place.

Apr 12, 2012
xigua in France

Starting to narrow the choices: input please?

Like Chef June, I like Belisaire too. Doesn't hurt that it's a 5 minute walk away from home.
Le Troquet is my neighbor so I might be a little biased but I love it not just for convenience sake. Always comfortable, generous, lively with good food. Someone in the group always ends up getting the charcuterie basket where you cut however much sausages you want.
La Cantine served me very similar food when I was there last week, although you can have the option of snacking instead of doing a full meal. The appetizers are more exciting, love the pig ears salad. Close to La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix is Au Dernier Metro, also good and casual.
I love Jadis, the food is more refined than the rest.
a review of last week's meal at La Cantine du Troquet:

Apr 12, 2012
xigua in France

Sunday and Monday in the 7th, pas trop cher

By not half bad it means I wouldn't cross town for it, but when in the area, I am assured of a decent meal: planches of charcuterie and light, fresh salads, decently grilled meats and yummy open faced sandwiches. Mathematically that would mean 6.5-7? Hope that answers your question.

Mar 26, 2012
xigua in France

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

The 37E 3 course lunch menu at L'Atelier de JR Etoile is the best lunch value I've seen so far in Paris. The menu is naturally not as exciting as the a la carte options, and the ingredients tend towards more common stuff (amazing daikon bouillon, the cheese souffle sans truffle shavings, a meltingly soft blanquette de veau and the famous mashed potatoes) instead of foie gras, truffles and caviar but the cooking is excellent as befitting a Michelin starred establishment and there were quite a few choices (4 entrées, 2 soups, 6 plats and 3 desserts) to choose from.

For those with bigger appetites, there is a 57E option for 4 courses and coffee, and 77E for 5 or 6 courses, I forget. The menu changes occasionally but is not posted on their website, but if you do happen to be at Champs Elysée, the menu is posted right outside the Publicisdrugstore building.

Feb 16, 2012
xigua in France

What's the early word on Verjus?

We went to Verjus the last week of January for my husband's birthday. The restaurant is quite intimate and decorated in that haphazardly chic fashion, though like previous posters mentioned can get quite loud when full. Service was pretty good and the pacing of the meal started quite quickly but slowed down significantly as the evening progressed and the room became more packed.
The two of us got one of each of the menus (4 courses at 55E, 6 courses at 70E + amuse bouche and a small cube of cake with the check). My husband also got the wine pairing with the full menu. The full menu was better value as the portion sizes were quite small and I was not completely full after my 4 courses. Flavors were quite international with both Eastern European and Asian flavors. The seared duck breast with onion and red cabbage ravioli was the best dish we had, the duck beautifully seared and paired with sweet, sourish dumplings. It was followed by the korean style pork belly. Unfortunately, some of the other dishes to us were not as successful, especially the desserts with too much going on. All in, I felt a bit underwhelmed given the high prices and my perhaps overly high expectations going in, being a birthday dinner and all.
Pictures and more description on my blog:

Feb 16, 2012
xigua in France

Paris salons de thé open in the morning

I like the atmosphere and the pastries at Carette at Trocadero very much, and expect the one at Place de Vosges to be good too.
If you are only looking for breakfast after 10 or a mid-morning break, Sadaharu Aoki's branches on Segur and Port Royale provide seating, and the matcha croissant is divine.

Feb 04, 2012
xigua in France

Need help for Nice in April

Just came back from a 2 day trip to Nice and found Bistro d'Antoine really nice too with simple, homey food. The other place we went to called Voyageur Nissart has a very good price-point but the meal was a little mixed with good plats making up for quite middling entrées so I cannot recommend that without reservation.
In Antibes we had lunch at a really delightful restaurant called La Taille de Guepe. Fresh, light cuisine for the calorie conscious (or not) and I'm just super impressed with the service.

Hope this helps!

Feb 01, 2012
xigua in France

Quick Bite Near Gare de Lyon Station Before Lunch

I took the exact 1049 train today to Nice and can confirm that le train bleu is definitely open way before 10. I got there around 945 and the place was already packed. Yes the menu is quite expensive but if one has a lot of luggage it really is the best place to settle breakfast, with gare de Lyon being large and difficult to navigate particularly with construction work going on. Still the train ride is long (in fact I'm still on it) and if you have a pecking nature like, you'd definitely want to pack some snacks, if not a full lunch.

Jan 20, 2012
xigua in France

Food itinerary for first Paris visit

I just checked lafourchette for the Les Papilles deal. You probably already know this, but in case you didn't, the restaurant (in the 11eme arrondissement) with said deal on lafourchette is not the same oft-discussed Les Papilles (in the 5eme).

Jan 17, 2012
xigua in France

Proposal Trip! Restaurant Lineup help needed for 4 days in Paris

If it's of any consolation, the tap water here, unlike in NYC, is not iced but cool.
Also, for Asian desserts, if your gf's craving really strikes, there's Aki Boulangerie on Rue St Anne that does standard Japanese fare, such as anpan and katsu-sando as well as various match and sesame flavored french pastries. Taiwanese bubble tea is another possibility, with a few dispersed around Opera and the most famous being Zen Zoo, you could make a break out of it in between shopping.

Jan 16, 2012
xigua in France

need asian change of pace in paris

I've never been to Lao-Viet but quite enjoy my meals at Lao-Lane Xang. The Thai menu is not great, and I remember particularly being disappointed with a sugary, insipid pad thai. What I really liked was a Laotian curried fish noodle (Khao Pun Nam Pa) that reminded me of Singapore Laksa.

Jan 16, 2012
xigua in France

Le Cinq Revisited

I just celebrated my 1st year wedding anniversary at Le Cinq yesterday, chosen because of the solid reviews here and because it was one of the few haute cuisine places open on Sunday. We picked the 85E set lunch which sounds very similar to the menu portion of PhilD's meal. We had the same amuse bouches, and our favorite was the pumpkin soup with green tea foam too. For entrees, I had a nice oyster and asparagus vol-au-vent, and my husband a very rich and super yummy tartine of foie gras and pork cartilage terrine (ears and foot according to the menu). For plats, my rouget was well cooked though the sauce and accompaniments were a little weak, and he had a piece of biche, nice and rosy with a powdery texture. Cheeses were excellent and we had seconds of the comté, and when desserts came, they were adorned with candles and the server then took a picture of us which was then printed and delivered to our table with the check. The bonbon tray was breathtaking though we were so stuffed by the end we hardly ate. The chocolate bark though was excellent, so was the nougat.
So in essence, we had a really good time with impeccable service (bread, wine, water promptly refilled; energized and involved service), beautiful surroundings and very good, though not spectacular food which we expected going into the value meal. I am persuaded now to return and see what the kitchen can do on the ALC.
More pictures here:

Jan 09, 2012
xigua in France

Josephine Chez Dumonet Prices

For me, the best thing about Chez Dumonet is how consistent the food, both menu and the cooking is. We go there about once a month, and while the service can be somewhat hectic and the seating cramped, we are always happy with the meal.

The duck confit and boeuf bourguignon are best in class after eating through lots of both dishes, and we always return with friends whenever we have visitors in the mood for french classics. As for the pricing, it really isn't much more than a run of the mill restaurant considering the portion sizes and their share-ability. If you, like me am not a big eater, a half portion of boeuf bourguignon or a half portion of the powdering foie de veau is all i need for mains after a demi portion of foie gras or the terrine, leaving comfortable space to share either the souffle or the Paris Toulouse. If you're getting the big plates like cassoulet and the canette, then you'd definitely want to share apps and desserts. We're not big drinkers, nor do we know a lot about wine, so we've typically gone for bottles under 50E or glasses of the house Julienas with is 10E a glass.

and yes, comparing Le Cinq to Josephine is like comparing apples to oranges. I hardly have room to hang my purse behind the chair at Josephine whereas my bag has its own stool at Le Cinq =)

Jan 09, 2012
xigua in France

Cheap places to eat in Paris.

A very cheap and authentic spot within walking distance from your hotel is Chez Gladines (metro Corvisart). Huge salads (more like meat and potatos with some lettuce) and Southwestern French dishes such as confit de canard and Piperarde. Salades and some other dishes are under 10E and almost everything else is under 15E. Not the best food you can find, but very authentic, with an amazing atmosphere. Get there early because the waits with the French student crowds can be rather frightful.
my experience last spring:

Jan 08, 2012
xigua in France

Pottoka Reviews??

My husband and I were there about 2 weeks ago. Very decent lunch set at 17E for 2 and 22E for 3 courses if you can stomach having no choices. We enjoyed the rich and bold flavors and I could hardly believe the carrot puree on the lamb confit was carrot. I think it must have been cream with some carrot instead hehe. I think its a good neighborhood place, probably not one to travel for but can definitely give the neighborhood Les Cocottes and Cafe Constant a run for their money.
More details on my blog:

Dec 30, 2011
xigua in France

Last minute trip to Paris - game menus and is it too late?

I can concur with Auberge Bressane. Just had a very yummy meal there. My husband got the jugged boar meat, and you can find pheasant and hare too.

Dec 12, 2011
xigua in France

Paris Brest in Paris

here's the news article:
and the list:

I just tried the Paris-Brest at L'Ecailler du Bistrot, which was excellent though the dense cream was quite rich so you'd want to share. I'm guessing Bistro Paul Bert would serve the same dessert.

Dec 05, 2011
xigua in France

Best Seafood Platter in Paris

Just had a fantastic and pretty cheap (for Paris) seafood platter at 38E pax. Where? L'Ecailler du Bistrot on rue paul bert, related to bistro paul bert.
Pictures in the blog:

Dec 02, 2011
xigua in France

vietnamese food in paris

I've never eaten at Song Huong but my in-laws who ate through the pho shops on Ave de Choisy preferred Le Kok (next to Song Huong) to the former. The soup is pretty good and I suspect it was the heaping pile of meaty beef bones Le Kok serves that tipped the balance. What are your thoughts?
Also, I realized Song Heng on Rue Volta is missing on this list. Its imo the best pho I've had so far, very clean and flavorful broth sans msg, good meat. The bun is excellent too.

blog post on Song Heng:

Dec 01, 2011
xigua in France

Back to New York Trip Report

It's been 2.5 years since I left the city and the country, so it felt like a homecoming being back for 4 days during late October. Thanks to you fellow chowhounders, I got to revisit places that I used to love and also try out some new restaurants.
We ate lots of Chinese food in New York given the lack of good Cantonese restaurants in Paris. Congee Village and Great New York Noodletown were my go-tos in the past, and I'm glad to see that nothing has changed. The roast chicken and homemade tofu were still yummy at Congee Village and my husband finally managed to track down some minced beef porridge at old-school Noodletown.
We also visited Old Yeah Shanghai Deluxe which has changed locations since mid-2009. The dumpling skins were too thick and I had a serious MSG attack after dinner, but that didn't stop us from finishing the big portion of dong-po pork, in its braised, wobbly glory.
A Flushing mention is C&L Imperial for fantastic home-style Taiwanese dishes including a warming pot of chicken in rice wine and the oddly-named fried fries' heads.
As for new restaurants, we had ramen at Hide-chan. Not bad, but I kind of regretted not just lining up at Ippudo as the broth (we got the thinner New York style broth) was decent though lacking some depth and I prefer my noodles to be thicker.
We met some friends at La Mar Cebicheria and really enjoyed the food. The Elegance ceviche and Nikei Tiradito were very tasty, a combination of very fresh fish and interesting seasoning combinations. The causas looked too cute to eat, and were indeed to small to satisfy any hunger pangs. We had lomo saltado and the arroz con mariscos for mains, both decently portioned and fully flavored. The dessert menu looked too challenging for us that evening (I like my desserts simple) so we skipped. My only gripes there are the loud noise level and a really long wait for our food.
Marea was the only meal we had planned prior to arriving, and we had a very enjoyable lunch. The fusilli with octopus and marrow was worth the hype afterall, especially the rich and meaty sauce that begs for one to sop it all up with bread. We got the affogato that other chowhounders had praised, and thought it would've been better separate so I can enjoy the gelato leisurely without having it melt under 3 minutes in scalding espresso!

Detailed trip reports on the blog:

Great New York Noodletown
28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

Congee Village
100 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

Old Shanghai Deluxe
50 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

248 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022

La Mar
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

C&L Imperial
59-14 Main St, NY 11355

Nov 30, 2011
xigua in Manhattan

Where can I find good coq au vin in Paris?

Thanks souphie for your recommendations. Unfortunately they are either not open on Saturday night or do not have the dish. I've found some favorable reviews about the coq au vin at Auberge de Bressane and will likely try that place. Hopefully it will meet my guests' expectations!

Nov 29, 2011
xigua in France

Paris - good, inexpensive seafood restaurant

I had a fantastic meal of fruits de mer with some friends at L'Ecailler du Bistrot on Rue Paul Bert. It costs 38E pax with a good selection of oysters, clams, shrimp and crab. Perfect if you like eating with your hands. My friends tell me the cooked dishes are good too but they appeared more expensive on the carte.

Nov 29, 2011
xigua in France

Where can I find good coq au vin in Paris?

Hi fellow chowhounders,

My visitors next week requested specifically for coq au vin and I can't seem to find much information on chowhound and elsewhere on where to bring them! The only coq au vin we've had since March was at a la biche au bois, which was a good deal but we only found the rest of the meal besides the chicken and the cheese plate so-so. Would really appreciate some solid recommendations, thanks!

Nov 25, 2011
xigua in France