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rswatkins's Profile

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Solo Diner Reservations

Love dining solo in Paris, but reservations are a must.

Present yourself as someone who is serious about food and drink, not as someone who just wandered in off the street looking for some grub, and you'll be treated very well.

Feb 20, 2014
rswatkins in France

foodie finds near Republique

Not really fried. Poached, then breaded and grilled, a la St. Menehoulde (sp?).

Apr 15, 2013
rswatkins in France

How to Make Reservations?

If you get to Paris and haven't made all your reservations, drop by in person at non-peak hours (end of lunch service) a day or two in advance, dressed nicely (as I'm sure you always are), and let them know you're a serious diner. Most places will make an effort to accomodate you if you make a good impression.

Mar 06, 2013
rswatkins in France

"L'Oreiller de la Belle Aurore" Dish Available!

When I had it chez Besson, I was told that there were seven types of game in his version. I can't remember exactly what they were, but very emphatically hare was not one of them, being considered too strong.

I was dining alone, so I went by the restaurant two days in advance to request a version for one. They were glad to oblige. A great memory, not to be repeated.,

Oct 12, 2012
rswatkins in France

Green salad in France

I think you are, and I am too. Part of it is that plain green salads have gotten much better in the US and have deteriorated somewhat in France, so they're no longer the memorable item they were when we first travelled.

I remember being shocked/intrigued when the salad was intentionally served onto the same dish that had held the plat, in order to incorporate the small amount of remaining sauce.

Oct 10, 2012
rswatkins in France

"L'Oreiller de la Belle Aurore" Dish Available!

Any news on what M. Besson is doing? There were rumors that he might have a project after closing his restaurant, but I haven't heard anything for quite awhile. I greatly admired his cooking.

Oct 09, 2012
rswatkins in France

Paris -Where to find Steak Tartar aller-retour (seared)

Who's on first?

Sep 18, 2012
rswatkins in France

Paris 2 stars or 3 stars

Would very much like to hear more about Chaignot.

Sep 10, 2012
rswatkins in France

Summer trip to Provence

Actually,the search doesn't bring up anything about the town of Orange: it's all about the fruit.

I've had the same experience here: do a search, find nothing, ask an honest question, and get nothing but a referral to the search.

I don't ask questions any more.

Aug 27, 2012
rswatkins in France

Josephine Chez Dumonet Report

A bare white plate, IMHO.

Aug 09, 2012
rswatkins in France

Salted Cod and Molecular cooking

Barcelona is a great location for salt cod, with a couple shops just off the Ramblas that sell nothing but. It's sold having been pre-soaked to various degrees. If you want to bring it home, I'd go for the driest available, but the thought of the "parfum" in your luggage . . . !

There are good mail order sources for salt cod and even stockfish on the Internet

Jul 12, 2012
rswatkins in France

Are we overdoing it?

Sucessive three star dinners are much more manageable for me if I'm very careful about what I eat after I finish the main course. It's the cheese and pre-desert and desert and petit fours that push me over the edge. Skip those, and you'll really be consuming a moderate amount of food.

Jun 20, 2012
rswatkins in France

Looking for authentic dinner experience in Lyon

I've had several good meals at Chez Hugon over the years. It's worth experiencing just to see Madame in full flight: working the room, talking to every table, and doing the cooking in her open-view closet sized kitchen

May 30, 2012
rswatkins in France


The menu at Chez Denise is so extensive that even if half of the dishes aren't available, you should be able to eat very well. And sometimes the reverse is true: I've been the beneficiary of a cleaning-out-the-larder attitude at other restaurants on the night before vacation.

May 21, 2012
rswatkins in France

Best Restaurants Consistent with 6- and 9-year-old Children

Another tip. When travelling with two under-tens recently, we always made it clear at the start that the kids would be ordering a first and second course, just like the rest of the table (especially at dinner). If the kids couldn't finish all the food, so much better for the adults. I think letting the staff know that two covers wouldn't be occupied by non-eaters improved the quality of the service (maybe just my imagination).

May 18, 2012
rswatkins in France

Best Restaurants Consistent with 6- and 9-year-old Children

Recently had a great time taking a seven and a nine year old to Chez Denise for dinner. The noise level is high, the non-stop activity is constantly entertaining, and they had no problems sitting at table for three hours. ALWAYS make sure the kids have a short pre-dinner nap, and take a couple books or other quiet amusements with you.

May 17, 2012
rswatkins in France

Traditional French food - Benoit? Allard?

Would add Le Quincy to the list.

May 11, 2012
rswatkins in France

Dijon vs Beaune?

If you have a car, would definitely pick Dijon. Distances in the Cote d'Or are quite short. And Beaune can get VERY crowded on weekends, holidays, summer months.

May 10, 2012
rswatkins in France

Recommendations for western Ile-de-France

Any good addresses for the area from Rambouillet down through Chartres and into the Beauce would be greatly appreciated.



Mar 09, 2012
rswatkins in France

Tour d'Argent Paris

Sounds like you know what you want, and you have a great attitude.

Taillevent may also offer the experience you are looking for.

Mar 02, 2012
rswatkins in France

Can we eat well in Paris without reservations?

Agree. Reservations made face-to-face for later in the day or in the week are a great way to introduce yourself, and get a feel for an unknown restaurant.

Feb 09, 2012
rswatkins in France

Bringing cheese back home

This is an area of total confusion, both for travellers and those enforcing the regulations. Here's what it says on the U.S. Customs website:

"Cheese- Solid cheese (hard or semi-soft, that does not contain meat); butter, butter oil, and cultured milk products such as yogurt and sour cream are not restricted. Feta cheese, Brie, Camembert, cheese in brine, Mozzarella and Buffalo Mozzarella are permissible (USDA Animal Product Manual, Table 3-14-6). Cheese in liquid (such as cottage cheese or ricotta cheese) and cheese that pours like heavy cream are not admissible from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Cheese containing meat is not admissible depending on the country of origin."

This doesn't mean that you won't encounter an agent who doesn't understand the rules. My experience is that if you make it clear that the cheese is for personal use and not resale, they'll let just about anything through.

Jan 31, 2012
rswatkins in France

50th in Paris

If you order carefully (i.e., simply), "La Closerie des Lilas" might fit the bill. If not for the meal, it's a great place for a drink. They're usually open in August.

Jan 18, 2012
rswatkins in France

Quick Bite Near Gare de Lyon Station Before Lunch

The bar area opens at 7:30 AM on weekdays.

Jan 18, 2012
rswatkins in France

Quick Bite Near Gare de Lyon Station Before Lunch

For a quick AM bite to eat, I can't think of any reason not to use Train Bleu: no wasting energy dragging luggage across that hellish parking area in front of the station, and a chance to sit on a comfortable banquette and look at the ceiling.

Jan 18, 2012
rswatkins in France

Josephine Chez Dumonet Prices

My experience has been very similar to yours. A gret advantage of going for lunch is that the restaurant is usually much less crowded and the service less hectic.

Jan 16, 2012
rswatkins in France

Looking for a special occasion restaurant in Paris, Le Grand Colbert?

Agree with the recommendation for the bar at the Closerie. Comparable in quality to the palace hotels, with more locals, and at a third of the price.

Oct 20, 2011
rswatkins in France

3 stars recommendation

Yikes! Not a good batting record.

Sep 20, 2011
rswatkins in France

Repas Report - 2 weeks in July: Giverny, Paris, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Jura, Paris.... (long...natch!)

Glad to hear that Madama Chantal continues to run her establishment so well. Everytime I've dined there, she's very graciously and charmingly told me what I was going to eat. Not to be missed.

Sep 19, 2011
rswatkins in France

One night in Paris - Chez L'Ami Jean, Le Fontaine de Mars, Chez Dumonet...

Any comments on Le Pere Claude? Lobrano reviews it favorably in his book.

Sep 09, 2011
rswatkins in France