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Craving Fried Clams like the old Howard Johnson's

Fords Fish Shack - fried belly clams, unless you consider that highbrow...? They do them well there - I've been a couple times over the past couple years when that craving hits. Good Bloody Marys, too, if you like that sort of thing. :-)

Report on 6 days in Paris

You make very good points. I did see a couple tables of patrons reading guidebooks, hence my own declaration of "touristy," but you're right, it shouldn't necessarily be categorized as such, especially since "touristy" has such a bad connotation. And I did mention seeing regulars - easy to spot when the waiter addresses them by name.

I am far from hip, but I do like to think I'm clued-in. When I saw Le Progrès, I remembered reading about it on this forum (likely from you, so thanks, Parn) which definitely influenced the decision to stop there after a visit to the nearby Kitchen Bazaar.

Dec 09, 2014
VaPaula in France

Report on 6 days in Paris

Good call! I debated whether or not to even mention it (and I guess I should have listed it under cafés) but after several discussions on this board regarding lack of good food at many cafés, I figured I'd include it.

Dec 07, 2014
VaPaula in France

Report on 6 days in Paris

Just drinks. It's absolutely touristy, given its location, but there seemed to be a handful of regulars as well.

Dec 07, 2014
VaPaula in France

Report on 6 days in Paris

And six days flies by! I can't believe we've been home for a week already.

I wasn’t a very good hound - not a lot of notes, only a couple receipts, so there won’t be detail on every one. This became the “raw meat” trip as you will see. I love steak tartare, but have been disappointed by it over the years so I’ve stayed away. Until now…

RESTAURANTS

Le Richer (9th) No reservations taken here, so we had about a half-hour wait on a Monday at 1:30, 4 people. We shared 4 starters: 63 degree egg; mushroom consommé, steak tartare and mackerel. All delicious, but the egg stood out for me – creamy goodness. Mains were daurade, duck and beef cheeks, with the latter being stellar and everything else very good. Friendly service, very casual. Would return. 134 Euros for 4 with one bottle of wine.

Restaurant Clairière (9th)– I found this place while google street-walking before last year’s trip, but we never got around to going. This turned out to be one of our favorite meals – not just the food, which was very good (grilled vegetables, goat cheese salad, steak tartare, daurade), but the ambiance and sweet service as well. The tartare was more rustic than the version at Le Richer. It was served with Tabasco – is that done often in Paris? I resisted because it was already seasoned so well, but when I tried some on it, it was quite good! And since we spent some time living in Louisiana, I felt almost obliged.:-) Most definitely a neighborhood place with a couple one-tops who were well-known by Madame, and a table of work colleagues. 20 Euro for 2 courses at lunch. Definitely plan to go back.

Le Mary Celeste (3rd) – we stopped in before a play for cocktails and a bite to eat. I loved this place, and want to return to try more. Plates included: a fresh, crisp kale salad with fruits and nuts, boudin noir with foie gras (a new addition to the menu, I believe – so good), tongue & grilled cheese sandwich, and tataki with chili oil, nuts & veggies. All so fresh-tasting. Just a note that if you end up downstairs, be prepared to have to track down your server. We’re normally never in a hurry, but we were on our way to a show, which they knew.

Les Portes in the 11th – open late, it was a good choice for post-ballet. Nothing really wow-y, but just fine. We had a lovely, large table in the corner by the window which made us feel like we were in someone’s living room. Very cozy space yet very lively (or at least the foursome sitting next to us was), good service. It was late so we only had plats here and a bottle of wine: cèpe ravioli, squid with chorizo (perfectly cooked, so tender, one of the standouts), lamb shank (another good one) and short ribs.

Bistrot La Bruyère in the 9th (thanks, Laidback!) – We really liked this place; super-friendly welcome and service, 19-Euro two-course (2 choice on each) menu. My one quibble was the beef main. Although it was called “confit” and wasn’t meant to be served like a steak, it was pretty dried out. But the daurade was lovely as were the two entrées : duck carpaccio and smoked salmon. 115 Euro for 4 with a bottle of wine. Would return.

Café du Centre right on Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd – chosen strictly for its terrace and having a 4-top available at a late hour (I know, very un-chowlike of me!); food really not worth mentioning although my friend liked her steak frites just fine and the salad I had was OK. Great service, though, lively atmosphere, and of course, we loved the terrace.

WINE BARS, CAFES, ETC.

Les Sardignac – wine bar in the 9th where we waited out Le Richer. Great service; don’t remember much about the wine list other than there was a good Chinon on it, as well as some organic wines. Would return.

Le Progrès in the 3rd – I was stunned by how reasonably priced drinks on the terrace were, considering you’re smack-dab on the Rue de Bretagne with excellent people-watching. I could have stayed here for hours, even on a gray, drizzly day.

Experimental Cocktail Club – I’ve been wanting to come here forever; loved it, but it was pretty packed considering it was fairly early on a Friday night. Great cocktails, neat space, very good service.

The Grands Crus Tasting at O Chateau – not cheap, but I was attracted by their private sommelier offering, which they stopped offering while we were planning this. It was still a fairly small group (11 of us) with a sommelier named Richard who was not only informative, but entertaining as well. Here’s what we tasted: Laherte Frères – Les 7 Champagne; Domaine Chavy-Chouet – Les Folatières Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru ; Domaine Nicolas Rossignol – Chevret Volnay Premier Cru; Domaine du Coulet – Brise Cailloux Cornas; Léoville Las Cases – Le Petit Lion Saint Julien; and Château d’Yquem, 1er Grand Cru Classé de Sauternes. Nibbles included a wonderful jambon and something else which reminded me of a coppa, two cheeses, foie gras, salad and bread. Very enjoyable evening.

MISCELLANEOUS

This was one of those trips where we just stumbled along Rue des Martyrs – not even sure we went to any "famous" boulangeries or patisseries, to be honest. We did go to La Maison Georges Larnicol in the 4th for a Kouign Amann for Thanksgiving dessert. I’m glad I got to try one (as opposed to the smaller versions, which I also like) – reheated in the oven, it was pretty good.

Salon des Saveurs (thanks mangeur!) – In hindsight, I’m thinking it wasn’t the best thing to do on jet-lag day, but I’m still glad we went. We sampled many products, and picked up some Pata Negra, 3 different cheeses (please don’t ask me the names!) one of which we ate last night while trimming our tree (almost brought us back - almost...), bread, and another dried sausage – pork shoulder encrusted in herbs. If you go, be strong! (lest you drop waaay too many Euros. ;-))

Dec 06, 2014
VaPaula in France
1

Vienna Area - Take-out or Delivery Food That Travels Decently

We've ordered from Curry Mantra (is Indian too adventurous?) with good results twice and one not (they were very late.) If you go to eat24.com & plug in your zip code, you'll get a few options outside of standard (and so often bad) Chinese. Santini's for sandwiches? How about some prepared foods from Whole Foods?

2 Salons Saveurs, November and December

Thanks for this, mangeur. I went to Barnes & Noble when I read this, but they already had the December issue on the shelves. :-(

Still debating if it's something we want to do on jet-lag day or not, but at least we wouldn't have to TRY to look pathetic standing at the bottom of an escalator, looking for freebies.

Nov 15, 2014
VaPaula in France
1

Moderately Priced Dinner & Good Wine List

Rouge et Blanc (all French wine list) although I haven't eaten there in over a year. Not sure it'll fit the budget, though, as it's tapas-style, which can add up very quickly.

Nov 13, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Top 3 Bloody Mary spots?

+1 for North End Grill.

Nov 13, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Thip Kao in DC - Report

Thanks for the report, Steve. Other favorites at our end of the table were the smoked eggplant stew and the sausage - although the fish was the dish I was craving again the next day. The noodles were much too sweet for me. I agree that there could have been more heat.

Btw, for searching (which is not great on CH) purposes, it's Thip Khao.
http://www.thipkhao.com/

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

Shoot - we'll just miss you! We'll be kicking back on the Côte d'Azur (if the creek don't rise, as my husband would say) around the time you get to Paris.

Btw, R is a man after my own heart. I can barely organize my life without a spreadsheet. 16/20 arrondissements is quite impressive, but with an extra week next year, we will expect you to eat in all of them. :-)

Nov 11, 2014
VaPaula in France

Long report: a Franco-African week in Paris

Poetry. Comedy. And some serious reporting. This has it all! Thank you for a most enjoyable read. And wow, that's a lot in 7 days! Good job.

Nov 06, 2014
VaPaula in France

Lunch(not brunch) on weekend

While both had brunch-type dishes on the menu, I had two very good lunches over the weekend: Stella 34 and Union Square Cafe. There were plenty of options that weren't eggs or pancakes, although I had a perfectly not-cooked egg brought to me in my carbonara-like pasta at Stella 34 (with duck confit instead of bacon - yum.)

Nov 05, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan
1

Alex Croquet's Kouign Amann

Or a snowy morning! While everyone else on line at Trader Joe's had bread, milk, bottled water or chips in their baskets, there we were with two items: a French sparkling wine and a package of the kouign amann. They made a nice breakfast on that 3rd or 4th snow day of the season.

Nov 04, 2014
VaPaula in France

Shu Han Ju - New Szechuan at 6th Ave. and 11th St.

Just wanted to report back on our lunch here on Friday: cumin lamb, dan dan noodles, Chengdu prawns, soup dumplings - in order of favorites, although everything was very good. I'm already craving the lamb.

Not only do they not dumb down spices, but I appreciated not being asked, or told, that what I just ordered is spicy. I know, I can read! (or at least de-code the chili peppers.) Lovely, efficient service, too. Thanks for the recs on this place - it was a great start to our 53-hour stay.

Nov 04, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Pays Basque: something old, something new, something borrowed, something insanely delicious

Just when I thought I had the 2015 France trip itinerary all figured out...

Thanks for this, Parigi. This is an area that has always been high on my wish list, but I think I can finally foresee it happening within the next couple years.

I love those "wrong turn" finds! Not to mention blood sausage and trout - two favorites of mine. Sounded like a delicious trip!

Nov 04, 2014
VaPaula in France
1

Alex Croquet's Kouign Amann

Thanks for posting the video, but I am so glad I just had lunch!

I lost my Kouign Amann virginity about a year and a half ago (same as you, never ate them in Brittany) but to the Gontran Cherrier version in Paris. I stayed away for a long time because I don't have a sweet tooth, and I kept seeing descriptions of them that sounded like they were sickly sweet. Not true with the one I had, and I plan to try more. (If you're ever in NYC, Dominique Ansel's version, which he calls a DKA, is not bad - not the same, but it'll do for a fix and is cheaper than plane fare.)

You can always wear a disguise when you go back if you're feeling a bit too slutty. :-)

Nov 04, 2014
VaPaula in France

Early word: Le Marecage in the EV

Ah, got it. Nothing wrong with flavorful, though! Thanks.

Oct 31, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Early word: Le Marecage in the EV

Thanks for the review. I'm wondering if it's "real" dirty rice, i.e pieces & parts (especially liver) and not silly ground beef (so wrong.) Could you tell?

Oct 31, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Shu Han Ju - New Szechuan at 6th Ave. and 11th St.

You're not making this easy. I was all set on sushi for lunch tomorrow (place TBD) after we get off Amtrak, but this place really has my attention now. And thanks for the tips on the lack of liquor license and the frogs' legs. I hate dealing with tiny bones (I know, I know).

Oct 30, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

French Bistro/Brasserie Type

Man, I love Lucien (that rabbit in mustard sauce, wow) - thanks for reminding me I need to go back.

I'll let you google away, but a brasserie used to be associated with beer (it means brewery in French) but the lines have become blurred over the years. In my mind, it's a brasserie if it's big and bustling, and not dimly lit (like Balthazar, Le Grand Colbert in Paris), but that's far from all there is to it. Raoul's calls itself a bistro - but I cheated and looked on their website. :-)

Oct 30, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Quick Hit at La Piquette (Across from 2 Amys)

Same owner, I think. It's in the "about us" section on La Piquette's website. Also referred to as the "sister bistrot" on Lepic's website.

Quick Hit at La Piquette (Across from 2 Amys)

Thanks for this, Steve. It's been on our list since it opened. We love Bistrot Lepic so I'm happy to hear they're doing well with the new place.

Best veggie burgers

I loved the black bean burger (although it was a special when I went) at Joe's Burgers in McLean.

"Tip and Tax not included." A new trick on visitors unfamiliar with Paris restaurants?

I've had this happen, too, Busk, and I try to warn newbies about it, i.e. don't let them guilt you into anything!

I remember seeing something similar to what Ptit mentioned upthread (service non compris) but it was a long time ago. I asked the server about it. I can't remember his exact answer, but he definitely intimated that it meant I should tip. I ignored his counsel.

Oct 23, 2014
VaPaula in France

Balducci's new york

Yes, and I liked it a lot. I used to buy their focaccia, back when that was new to me. There always seemed to be friendly, happy people working there.

Oct 21, 2014
VaPaula in Manhattan

Good Chinese in NoVa

We just had another good experience at 100 Degrees over the weekend. I'd say we've been there 5, 6 times and order 2 dishes each time; we've had maybe 1 or 2 clunkers in the whole lot -I remember something insanely salty. We stuck with the specials this time around: jumbo shrimp with asparagus (locavores, close your eyes) & pork kidneys with chiles. The shrimp were fresh, sauce was delicate but loaded with ginger and garlic, perfectly cooked asparagus. My husband is the bigger kidney fan (hit or miss for me) but these were good: tender, tasty with just the perfect spice in the sauce.

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Well, I'm no Californian - just a piddling New Yorker - but my experience, at that time, was more like phrederic's and onzieme's. Was I ordering "wrong?" Maybe. Was I going to the "wrong" places? Maybe. All I know is after every trip I took to France (and several other countries in Europe), I came away happy and satisfied and wanting so much more of it, but craving vegetables like nobody's business. I'm not saying they didn't exist. Of course they did. They were in the markets, I saw them. As a hotel person back then, I didn't cook with them so my opinion is merely based on places where I ate out - which I did at every meal during that time. I'm sure I was eating at more traditional places, and perhaps that's why I had the experiences I did. I never ordered vegetables à la carte. Was I supposed to? I ordered a plat, and many of them were lacking green vegetables, especially for someone who considers meat/fish/poultry a "side."

Regardless, this has not been my experience in probably 15 years - and I was still staying in hotels then, so it has nothing to do with cooking. So what can I say? Apparently I missed the abundant vegetables offered in restaurants at that time, but so what? (See above statement regarding happy and satisfied and wanting more). I'm just glad I can enjoy all the wonderful options now. And none of us can deny we all have more options now - no matter where we hang our hats. For this I am grateful.

Oct 14, 2014
VaPaula in France
2

Major change of plans... will I be blacklisted at places when I cancel???

It's looking like November 20, at least for the lights on the Champs-Elyseés.

I know MRS doesn't need yet another vote, but I'll add that this will be my 5th November trip to Paris coming up next month. (I think I've been every month save January and July.) It's typically Thanksgiving week because I only have to use 2-1/2 days of my precious vacation time to spend as much as 8 nights in Paris. There's so much to like in November, much of which has already been mentioned, but at the top for me are fewer crowds and better prices for airfare and accommodations.

Weather has never been a factor for me when planning a Paris trip, but after freezing my tuchus off over the last weekend in MAY in 2013 (I know of some Parisians who were using their fireplaces during that time!), it just confirmed for me that you really never know what you'll get.

So yes, go next month, and you'll barely remember how disappointed you were to have to reschedule!

Oct 14, 2014
VaPaula in France

Caius

Quel dommage! Next time, I hope...

Oct 02, 2014
VaPaula in France