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Restaurants for Christmas Eve in Paris

My husband and I visit annually around the Hols ( to borrow an expression from Capote) and Christmas Eve is hands-down the hardest night to find decent grub ( can't speak to high-end joints, as we are usually on a lesser budget) that won't break the bank. In past years we've had lovely and cozy ( and very quiet) candellit dinners at Le Reminet, near the Quai De Montebello, near Notre Dame in the 5th, and slightly less happily at Chez Julien, both pre-Costes and post: lovely room and ambiance and decent food and wine, but like many places Xmas eve... Loaded with out of towners, which of course, is fine if they are like we hope to be (respectful, curious, enthusiastic, making an effort of some sort with the language, and keeping our voices at an appropriate decibel...). Have frequented several brasseries this night well, which are one, but not special.

Depending on your accommodations and company, I concur that a night at home followed by a late-nite stroll is a very nice alternative. Even without oysters (hubs is allergic) there is so much good, exciting food to be purchased that needs minimal prep or cooking and one can truly have a bounteous feast with your own pace, playlist and dress-code. The walk devant ou après helps soften the understandable "I-didn't-come-to-Paris-to-stay-in-syndrome." It is, however, a great night to stay home with those in the. If you have any contacts you can squeeze for invites. Last year we got lucky and scored an invite to a jolly pig-roast in Bas-Normade with a cast of fabulous characters including writers, architects, artists and their ever-expanding family. As the night progressed slowly toward dinner and midnight chairs were fetched from every stray corner of the stone house to accommodate incoming stragglers and long lost pals; the crowd was funny, kind, smart and very tolerant of our intermediate French and I count it among my happiest nights on earth.

Bon courage et Bonne Fetes.

Dec 02, 2014
Gman in France

Restaurants near musee d'orsay

Second the mention of Cinq Mars. Had a great lunch there last year and it is high on my list this year for a second visit.

Dec 02, 2014
Gman in France

Normandy Report - Bayeux, Port-en-Bessin, Granville

ahw001 - was hooked up through a friend but if you're in the neighb. I'd try stopping by...

Sep 01, 2014
Gman in France

Normandy Report - Bayeux, Port-en-Bessin, Granville

Mentioned in my second paragraph above: a pastry specialty of the town. We found out about them from some locals who told us not to miss them. Very much like a Kouing Amman but larger. Buttery, sweet, dense, moist... Really good. They sell them whole ( about the size of a small, flat ciabatta ) or cut in half. (Shown below with baguette for scale!)

Mar 12, 2014
Gman in France

Normandy Report - Bayeux, Port-en-Bessin, Granville

Have a great time! Don't miss the Brassiliere! I can still see the boats going out in the middle of the night...

Mar 09, 2014
Gman in France

Report: 8 Days in the Cote d’Or (w/ lunches in Ronchamp & Lyon) in January.

After several snowy visits that severely limited our explorations we were given surprisingly warm and clear days, which made our getting about all that more pleasant. All prices are for 2 people, with wine and usually cafes.

BEAUNE, place Carnot GRAND CAFÉ DE LYON. Hmmm. Grand might be overstating it, but we weren’t quite as speedy on the A6 as we thought we would be and we arrive in Beaune close to the end of traditional country-side lunchtime. (1:15-1:30…) We were chased out of one place that ironically had a sign out front that boasted “Service Nonstop” so we trotted across the Place to a place we’ve often ducked into in the early morn for a café and tartine. Vinyl banquettes, florescent lights, coffees and beers dispensed in equal numbers at the bar. Had the plat de jour, which was Poulet au Pot with salad on the side. I think I’d stick to breakfast. Though it was inexpensive, better to have waited 30 minutes til Alain Hess opened back up after the lunch break and picnicked in the car…32,60€, pichet de Pinot Noir, 13€

BEAUNE, LA CIBOULETTE This is likely our third or fourth time here, and we always enjoy it. Always reserve and it is always full, often, as is the case in these parts, with some men dinning solo (wine merchants on the road?). Started with a salad that had a warm liver mousse on top that was quite good, and Bman had Œufs en Meurette. We both had Filet de Bœuf en sauce Epoisses and washed it all down with a lovely Faively Mercurey, La Framboisière which indeed had nice raspberry notes. 99,50€, of which 33€ was for the wine

GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN, CHEZ GUY Also a return visit for us. This time we score the table next to the fireplace, which was quite nice. Nearby a table is laid out for 20 which looks like it might be a post-Christmas company celebration. Amuses were a small glass of delicious veloute de navet (turnip) and a small toast with a quenelle of trout mousse. I started with Œufs Brouiller au Truffe and Bman went for Meurette encore (when in Rome…) My plat was a Quasi de veau et pomme purée and Bman had the house specialty of Joue de Bœuf cuite 12 heures au vin rouge. We sprang for a Gevrey-Chambertin, 1er Cru “Les Champeaux” from Olivier Guyot. 160€, the wine was 88€ (never drink wine this expensive at home, but so easy to do in the environs of the vines…)

POMMARD, LE POMMARD. Spent the early part of the day exploring the Cote de Beaune and found ourselves (once again!) close to the end of lunch time (how can we be such novices at this point… but we kept finding one more interesting narrow road to drive up into the vine-covered hills and the sky was so clear…). To our good fortune, when we inquire at this spot they agree to feed us if we have the menu du jour, which was a copious Salade Landaise, Faux Filet in a wine sauce, and a platter (each) of desserts including sorbet, tuiles, chocolate moelleux and (ha!) fruit… At this pace we may need to start walking up some of those hills… 99€ with a demi of (natch !) Pommard 29€.

RONCHAMP, Le RHEIN (Hotel-Restaurant CARRER) it has been a dream since art history class in college, decades ago, to one day visit Ronchamp and see Le Corbusier’s masterpiece. There is not much to recommend around these parts but we follow signs to this place just outside of town which claims to have a few stars for its hotel and that sets it above the other places we spot in town. Started with some nibbles of cheese and Rosette de Lyon on a toothpick, and then had a veloute de potiron with some chestnuts thrown in, and the Escalope pane, followed by some forgettable dessert. Was inexpensive, reasonably crowded for lunch and not an English voice to heard, for sure… 40€ including a pichet Cote du Rhône 8€.

NUITS SAINT-GEORGES, LA COTE D’OR. This being January, our favorite spot in town, La Cabotte is closed so we opt for this spot right on the Route des Grand Cru in the centre of town. There a reasonable number of cars parked out front and plenty of folks going in so we take that as a potentially good sign. In our experiuece this usually means at least decent grub at a good price, if not revelatory. Bman started with mysterious and slightly indiscernible salad of potatoes, corn, haricots vert and brochet. I had Œuf mollet en sauce époisses, which was pretty good. Plats were a very average Bœuf Bourguignon with, um… frites (it was that or rice…) and Bman had pork chops with ratatouille and spaghetti…. (?). We shared un upside-down pineapple/banana cake. 48,50€ including a pichet of the house red.

BEAUNE, LE COMPTOIR DES TONTONS. Had read about this place in Le Fooding and decided to try it. We both started with the Terrine de Pain Perdu au verts de blette, et vieux parmesan Reggiano, Lomo Iberico puro de Belotta. My plat was Bœuf de la ferme Guerin cuit longuement en sauce vin rouge, et olives Taggiaches avec Ecrasé de Désirée. I followed with a nice cheese plate with Bleu d'Auvergne, Epoisses, Brillat-Savarin avec les truffes et chèvres. Bman had a plat of Colin de petit bateau de nos cotes Bretagne grille avec purée de radis longs. This was washed down with a delicious Ladoix Prieure Roch (59€) Others on CH speak of lesser experiences and a chilly welcome but we were treated well (perhaps because it was January and we nearly had the place to ourselves…) and the food was actually memorable. 138€

LYON, RESTO HALLE, in Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. Giddy with the good weather and our ability to zip about we decided to nip down to Lyon for lunch and a visit to Les Halles to score some Mere Richard Saint Marcellin. If we were closer to the beginning of our trip I would have loaded up on all the fine items to be found here, but we limited ourselves to the Mere and some Lomo from Belotta Belotta which made an excellent apero the next day. We decided to déjeune in the Halles and after a stroll around to review the numerous attractive options we snagged the last little table at Resto Halle. Bouchon touches here and there, and a very busy bar with seeming business men having a quick drink before or instead of lunch. Started with salad Lyonnaise which was enormous (we shared) and good. I had Quenelles de Brochet en sauce Nantua which was served with rice on the side and Bman had Rabelais de Lapin accompanied by a macaroni gratin. I loved my Brochet. Washed down with a bottle of St Joseph, Revol, 26€. 64,60€.

BEAUNE, LE GORET. Behind the Basilique Notre Dame. This is the number one restaurant recommendation on Trip Advisor which both fascinated and horrified, but with so many favorite spots closed for conge annual we decided to give it a try. Once we were seated in the timbered dining room the chef explained that there are no starts as the meals are so copious. I remember wondering why the bread basket was so skimpy, usually a pet peeve of mine. Now I know why: copious was an understatement. Selections are on small, pig-shaped ardoise lining one wall. We both had what was called la Trilogie, which was ½ a Morteau, ½ a saucisson, and a paleron de Veau. The saucisson was grilled on the plancha with a bit of truffle dust on it. The whole feast was brought out on a cutting board which also had salad, roasted and sautéed potato halves, and a small compote of peas. The veau melted in your mouth, and the sausages were delicious. Somehow, we both cleared our boards. I don’t think we ate for the next 24 hours… 60,40€ with pichet of the house rouge 8€.

FLEUREY-SUR-OUCHE, P’TIT REPARE DE GOUT. Sometimes we are punished and other times rewarded: we like to amble, drive down roads we’ve never been before, follow our noses, and seek out long views. We were meandering around Châteauneuf-en-Auxois and its environs taking in the hilltop views and the warm temperatures. Noon creeps up quickly in these meanderings, and 12:30 and 12:45 even quicker. I start studying the google map on phone to try and guess the size of nearby towns to hope one will have a spot we can stop for lunch. Driving down the D104 we find ourselves crossing over the Canal de Bourgogne and spot a line of cars outside a restaurant along the canal. We quickly park as we see others doing the same, and are relieved when they agree to seat us without a reservation at the one remaining table. The interior is stone, brightly lit, with modern touches and large windows overlooking the canal where a number of ducks and geese are swimming about. Without studying the menu too closely we opt for the menu du jour, which started with a puff pastry of leek and emmentaler with a small salad on the side. The plats were Bœuf Bourguignon (again, pretty average) and what looked and tasted like Rice-A-Roni (soy sauce? Something that tinted white rice brown and made it quite salty…) Dessert was a Spéculoos parfait that was better than I thought it would be. We shared a bottle of Haut Cote de Nuit, Andre Goichot (25€) and were the last ones out at the end of service. Don’t think I’d make a special trip, but clearly the pickings were thin and the place quite lively for a mid-week lunch in January. 56,60€.

BEAUNE, LE BACCHUS, rue du Fauberg Madeline. Can’t remember where we had read about this place, CH, or elsewhere but it seemed to have good reviews and we were game. This is a small husband-and-wife place and there was a large group taking up half the restaurant for some celebration, the third time this week we encountered this. And again it sort of seemed like a bunch of co-workers. Is there some January tradition we were observing?? I started with a Puff pastry with escargots and followed with Sourie d’Agneau. Bman had a Dos de Cabillaud. The cheese plate had époisses, a cheese washed in Pommard and coated with mustard seeds, and a Brillât Savarin. We liked everything we had, and enjoyed a nice Fixin Vielle Vignes from Humbert Freres. Lost the recipt but I think the total was around 80€ with the wine.

A la prochaine, Bourgogne…. Merci houndies for all your guidance.

Mar 09, 2014
Gman in France

Repas Report: Two weeks around Christmas and the New Year. (long)

Thanks Parnassien and Mangeur, I'll give Paul a try next time out. It is, indeed, hard to hold on to the old places, and yet it is, indeed, thrilling to find the new ones. I understand how this turns some folks into junkies, seeking the next fix, though I don't think that will ever be me.... Balance, right? Make new friends, keep the old.... I sometimes feel like many of the places we visit are not worth reporting on, but I genuinely (and happily) feel an obligation to do so: I have benefited so much from this board, and honestly, over time have come to cherish the voices here, so I feel, right or wrong, I should report my own (usually modest and humble) experiences. Burgundy notes up next. Could personally benefit from just one more Northeast snow day... But I never said that if anyone asks...

Mar 07, 2014
Gman in France

Repas Report: Two weeks around Christmas and the New Year. (long)

Just that a little crunch or toothsomeness might have given the meal some other dimensions. Not to speak for my friend, but I think everything was served in a kind of soup-y broth and was all meltingly tender, not in and of itself a bad thing, but the meal might have been heightened by some other textural experiences.

Mar 03, 2014
Gman in France

Repas Report: Two weeks around Christmas and the New Year. (long)

Old friends, a couple of standouts, and a few warnings...

Two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s 2014, in our usual perch on Ile Saint Louis. All prices are for two including wine and coffees...

A slight delay in our flight so we didn’t arrive at the apartment until almost past lunch time so after dropping the bags at the apartment we wandered down the block to cozy and friendly but unremarkable

POM CANELLE, on Rue des Deux Ponts. It is well known there are not many options on the island, though lots of folks stop at this spot for desserts or Berthillon. However, if you’re in the hood and hungry the Plats du Jour are a bargain and if not revelatory, they are just fine and the welcome is always warm. I started with Soupe au Légumes and then followed with Bœuf Bourguignon and Bman had Curry d’Agneaux. 33€, including the demi de Brouilly 12€.

After shopping for provisions at all our favorite spots, and unpacking, and pushing through the jet-lag (we subscribe to the stay-up-til-local-bed-time-then-go-into-a-coma-til-the-next-morning approach) we were happy not to wander too far and visit an old friend:

BRASSERIE DE L’ISLE SAINT LOUIS. This is not a food destination, really. Many things are okay, some a bit shy of that. I think the Choucroute is the way to go… but there is something so wonderfully untouched about the interior, the wait staff, the menu and I somewhere deep down feel that some homage should be given to a place like this before it slips away, precisely as the once decent café across the street did a few years ago when it got all tarted up (more on that later…). Shared a starter of escargot, then I had Faux Filet sauce aux Poivre and Bman had an omelette mixte avec frites followed by a shared Mille Feuille. 87,50€, including a 25€ Bottle of Morgon.

Had early tickets for the d’Orsay Masculin show which left us in a neighborhood with many good lunch options…

CINQ MARS, in the 7th. Started with Salade Lentille which was topped with crispy bits of sautéed Spec. The lentils were perfect, the dressing exact and the Spec a yummy touch. I think this is now my favorite example of this, my oft-ordered starter… Bman started with Œuf Mayo. Ditto. Perfect eggs (damp in the middle, tender whites) delicious mayo and delicate well dressed greens. We switched half-way, thank goodness. Bman followed with Pot au Feu façon Cinq Mars which was lighter and fresher than the traditional dish but delicious and I had an “Omlette Bien Baveuse” offered nature or accompagnée which is the way I went. Waiter (owner?) offered lardons, fromage, champignons ou les trois… yes please. It was indeed tender and bien baveuse and polished off. We shared a chocolate Fondant Baulois with crème Anglaise. The rest of our two weeks in Paris we talked of going back. I think we should have…. 99€, 31€ for a surprisingly earthy, really delicious bottle of Joubert Vielles Vignes 2011 Brouilly.

As we travel around the Hols we are frequently shut out of many places that close at that same time. Had tried for years to get here and finally did…

BISTROY LES PAPPILLES in the 5th. Well known on CH and from the Googling I did it seems the menu doesn’t vary all that much, but it mattered not for the occasional visitor and the food was terrific, the welcome warm and the joint jumpin’. Started with a lovely porcelain Soupière tête de lion with a Velouté de Pomme de terre Douce avec copeaux de châtaignes, croutons, ciboulette, et lardons frits. This was followed by a near-overflowing copper casserole of Epaule d'agneaux des Pyrénées, pomme de terre grenaille, carottes, pois gourmands, oignons nouveaux, tomates confites, ails confits, fleur de thym. The lamb was tender and onctueuse, and the vegetables each à point, the sauce rich and satisfying. Followed by a cheese course and then Panacotta clémentines. 97€ (pris fixe entrée plat fromage dessert : 31 €) with a bottle we picked out from the shelves of a very nice 2010 Yves Cuilleron Saint-Joseph, 35€.

LES TEMPS DES CERISES, in the 4th. Charming little corner bistro with a zinc bar. Started with Soupe au crème de Champignons which was meaty and rich followed by Joue de Bœuf braise a l’Orange for Bman and Filet de Bar for me and a Mère Richard St. Marcellin after (which I can never pass up). 78,90€ with simple but quaffable bottle of Lucien Tramier L’Origine, 18,50€

AUX TONNEAUX DES HALLES, in the 1st near St. Eustache. Had just come from the Pierre Huyge show at Beaubourg and was hoping to find a new spot in the neighborhood. Had read about this bistro in a few different sorces and wanted to fortify ourselves with some good steak and good frites (harder to find all the time…). Started with a shared Œuf Mayo and then Entrecôte and sauce Bordelaise (though I prefer just good fiery mustard, which I had) for each of us with excellent frites maison. A bottle of George Descombes 2011 Brouilly. My notes fail me here, but I’m pretty sure we were out of there for under 60€.

ST REGIS, Ile Saint-Louis. I won’t vent for long and I have only myself to blame, but we were tuckered out from a full day of exhibitions and touring and still a little full from the big entrecote at lunch and just wanted a Croque Madame and this was the only place nearby where I thought we would find one. Found one indeed but would have done better to pick up some eggs at the grocer and make one myself. This used to be a very serviceable neighborhood café, now has been overhauled to look more like Pastis in New York City (an imitation, of an imitation of a genuine Parisian Café…). Lighting and atmosphere are nice enough, and it’s a lovely corner of the world to look out on, but 81,00€ for a couple of “croques” (they were in fact more like mediocre, cold croquants..) and cold mediocre frites…). We shared tart, and had a bottle of forgettable Cote du Rhone, 27€… oh, and to increase the charm – after 9pm (just when we arrived) the price of a bottle of wine is increased by 10%, or some such nonsense…. Not again, I swear….

Had been invited at the last minute to spend Christmas with friends up in Normandy, made all the more adventurous by Tempete Dirk, but we finally made it there and the Cochon de Lait was pit roasted with the help of a large café umbrella…. Upon returning to Paris a bit late in the day, and knowing we were dinning in with friends in the evening we decided to try

CREPE EN L’ISLE, Rue des Deux Ponts, indeed our closest food option directly across from the apartment door but we had never been. A couple of Crepe Complete and some Crêpe au Caramel Beurre Sale and we were sated and quickly back on our way for more adventure. 35€, which included a pichet of Cidre, natch! (6,80€)

LE RELAIS DE L’ENTRECOTE, in the 8th, Rue Marbeuf. Probably our 7th time here, and have to say always one of our most enjoyable experiences. The steak, ‘sauce fameuse’ and frites are so consistently good….75,30€, which included a bottle of the house Tarn Reserve at 17,90€.

RESTAURANT MOISSONNIER, on Rue des Fosses in the 5th. Had likely walked past this place a dozen times and never thought to stop in, but we were meeting friends from the neighborhood and this was where they suggested. Started with Frisée au Lardons which was excellent and for my plat had Quenelle de Brochet en Sauce Nantua, which was enormous, delicious and even I couldn’t finish it… Shared and Œuf a la Neige and a bottle of some Cote du Rhône (my notes fail…). Unlike our visits to other more-well-known places on this strip that disappointed… here, I’d go back. 105€.

AU CHAI DE L’ABBAYE, Rue de Buci in the 6th. A frequent lunch spot when we’re in this neighborhood. Filet de Bœuf for me and Chou Farci for Bman. First time we’d visited and the place wasn’t packed with Parisians and we started to wonder if the economy is hitting these mid-priced places a little harder than those above and below. 60€ which included a carafe Juliénas 20€.

METROPOLITAIN, Rue de Jouy, in the 4th. We both started with a Œuf mollet croustillant, crème de champignons de Paris, topped with thin slices of pickled radish (I think…) that was rich and delicious. My plat was a rif on Brandade de Morue that was somewhat lighter and the potatoes more crushed than mashed but it was delicious. Bman had Perdreau (partridge) three-ways : a sausage, seared breast, and braised. Apres, Bman had a “Paris-Carcassonne“ a sort of riff on Paris-Brest and I, as is my wont, went the cheese route with an Assortiment de fromages affinées par M Dubois “MOF” which included very fine examples of Roquefort, Cantal, St. Nectaire and some aged chevre. Not the coziest of spots, but we liked the music they were playing so much we asked the waitress to tell us what it was (London Grammar). 120€ which included a François Villard Saint Joseph, “Poivre et Sol” Saint-Joseph which indeed was quite pepper-y and nice 44€

LA ROTISSERIE DU BEAUJOLAIS, in the 5th. Our third visit, and as always, a very pleasant stop. Poelee de Champignons Provençal for a shared starter, Colvert Roti for me off the spit, and Faux-filet de Salers for Bman, followed by fromage (St. Nectaire, La Mere Richard St. Marcellin, Pont Lévesque) and washed down with a very nice Juliénas (31€). 118€

LA ROSE DE FRANCE, Place Dauphine, Ile de la Cite. Place Dauphine seems such a potentially magical location. It’s a shame this place has gone seriously downhill, from what was never a very lofty perch in the first place. Last time stopped in here for lunch and had a very good, inexpensive plat du jour and agreeable service and wine. This time out it was horrible. The place has been fancied up since our last visit, now attempting a modern interior and a newly frosty and insulting hostess to go with it. My pumpkin soup was obviously thrown in the blender with all its seeds which were not pulverized in the process… just kind of chopped up. VERY unappetizing. Joue de Boeuf was 70% big hunks of fat, 10% gristle.

LE PETITE PONTOISE in the 5th. I like this small, cozy spot. We each started with Raviole du Dauphine Gratinee and then Poulet Fermier for me Joue de Cochon for Bman and followed by a chocolat Amadeus (whatever that is). 112,80€ 34€ for a bottle of Brouilly.

BISTROT PAUL BERT, in the 11th. Meeting Parisian friends and this is one of her favorites and we are happy to return. Started with Œufs a la Truffe, which is steep (28€) but I love it and we live once…Then we both had Filet de Bœuf in the house pepper sauce and frites maison (shame we have to spell that out now…) and we shared the enormous and yummy Paris Brest. 147€, with a Morgon Decombes 36€

LA TARTINE, Rue de Rivoli, in the 4th just near where it becomes Rue St. Antoine. Didn’t manage to snag my receipt but the place is reasonable and reliable and usually pretty lively. Had a lunch of Leek soup and a croquant with Grison (dried beef) and some Savoie cheese and a pitcher of the house red.

JACQUES GENIN in the 3rd. Happily our travels brought us up into this neighborhood and I insisted we stop. I joined the chorus of mourners when he stopped making pastry… thank heaven he has returned to making at least the extraordinary Mille Feuille which is monte à la commande… made to order. There was a line and we waited for about 30 minutes while several single visitors hogged up 4-tops, but no matter… Here’s the deal: I’m not even really a dessert person – I always opt for the cheese instead… but this little shatter-y marvel is just about the best thing I have ever eaten. Savory, buttery pastry, delicious pastry cream (this time vanilla… I think there was one other option, something fruity as I recall)… Oh, Chef…please never stop again….. 27,40€ with some cafés on the side.

LA DAME DE PIC, in the 1st. Friends were meeting us in Paris and had reserved here for our dinner together. An unusual experience. The menus are built around perfumes. One sniffs three testers at the table and selects a menu based on what scent you are most attracted to. Why not? A bit off putting to me at first, like having a scented candle on a dinner table, but once the ordering is done the scent strips are taken away. Based on my whiffs, I selected a menu called Conte d’Hiver (Winter Story). Here’s their description. « LES PETITS LEGUMES bille coulante au Parmesan, poivre de Sichuan rouge. LE BLOND DE PARIS, royale de champignons, émulsion dashi, Matcha. LA BAVETTE D'ALOYAU, consommé à la feuille de cannelier, ail doux. L'ANANAS, camomille matricaire sauvage, galanga. » 80€

We were given an amuse of curried cauliflower and coconut soup, with a savory, crushed-peanut encrusted marshmallow, which was tasty. Next up were the delicate, perfectly cooked baby vegetables on a pillow of parmesan in a mushroom and green tea foam. Plat was a bavette in a soy broth with vegetables. A cheese plate with a very nice Langres, Comte and one other was served and we followed with the sort of pineapple flan with thin cookies, caramelized sugar and gold leaf worked in to the sculptural top. Had very nice wines, a Volnay and then another Burgundy… So. Hmmmm. All the food was tasty. One of our companions rightly said it was all a bit soft, and I think that’s true. While it was good, and in fact subtle, nothing really knocked my socks off. For the price point and ambience, which was refined and slightly spare, but warm, I found the service to be a bit stilted and frosty, and once or twice bordering on condescension. Not sure I’d be tempted to go back.

CHEZ DENISE, in the 1st near Les Halles. I just love this place. Boistrous, crowded and incredibly tasty and copious food. We shared the terrine de pate, and then I had Daube de Bœuf which was served like most stews here, in a big copper pot deposited on the table. Came with a side of elbow macaroni which was (unusual for France, in my book…) perfectly cooked. We shared a Baba au Rhum and a bottle of the house Brouilly. After the fussiness of the night before, I loved this place even just a little bit more. Lost the receipt but I think we were out of there for under 50€ each. Hail Denise. Long may she reign…

Houndies, as always, thanks heaps for your guidance and candor.

Mar 02, 2014
Gman in France

Please review my restaurant choices - Beaune area

sorry to hear that June...

Mar 02, 2014
Gman in France

Please review my restaurant choices - Beaune area

It's worth signing up for the emails from Ruchotte which seems to be more up to date than the website. They have had some meals in 2014. Try the FB page too..

Mar 02, 2014
Gman in France

Please review my restaurant choices - Beaune area

Was just there in early January, a bit too close to the Hols so many places were closed.... however, a couple of quick notes (more to follow).
Ma was closed but I love it. Chez Guy is very consistent and good. Agree with Laidback on La Cabotte (also closed this time round) but disagree on Tontons... first visit and for me the food (and wine) were exceptional. Am dying to try La Ruchotte but been closed the 4 times I've been nearby... I'll second Parigi as well on one per day. Thoroughly enjoyed Le Goret: couldn't eat for 24 hours, and I'm about the size of the chef...

Feb 27, 2014
Gman in France

Solo wine trip to Alsace or Burgundy? Miserable or worth trying? Suggestions?

Wholeheartedly agree on Fruirouge.. Have loved everything I ever acquired from this charming little shop ( snagged sme cassis and jams this time)and always make a point to visit when in Burgundy. Just spent a week there and had pleasant weather so was able to get about quite a bit in our rented car which has been more challenging in past winter trips. Just up the pedestrianized street in Nuit from Fruirouge is La Cabotte- a great spot for lunch or dinner. Have had several wonderful meals there which kept us returning even if the reception is a bit frosty. Having a car will make it possible to see so many of the small Cote d'Or villages (if you are a hiker, you could walk, but we loved exploring around and especially getting up into some of the small villages above the Cote where Fruirouge has their farm and there are so many other wonderful cassis makers (loved the cassis from Colette et Paul Simon in Marey-les-Fussey). As mentioned already, Ma Cuisine and Alain Hess in Beaune are musts, and had a great meal at Comptoir des Tontons and a fantastic wine too (2011 Ladoix from Domaine Prieuré-Roch). More notes to follow soon...

Jan 29, 2014
Gman in France

Sunday Lunch spot near Vanves?

Thanks much Parnassien... Can't believe I committed the rookie mistake of not searching the Board first. Have done the Odeon Route before, too but thanks for the Timbre suggestion which sounds like just the kind of place we would like.

Dec 29, 2013
Gman in France

Sunday Lunch spot near Vanves?

Mes Cher Houndies. Bman and I are ensconced here for our 10th Noel, (full report to follow, I promise) and we are meeting friends to make our semi-annual stroll through Vanves in search of inexpensive goodies. Anyone know a decent spot out that way for lunch? Mille Merci. Your guidance, as always, is enriching our holiday immeasurably. Bon Fêtes et bon Fin d'Année à tous!

Dec 27, 2013
Gman in France

Food shopping for Christmas day on Rue Saint-Antoine?

I believe the Trotte spot is now under new management but also highly regarded...

Nov 07, 2013
Gman in France

Beaune: Best Cheese Course

Yes, Gaugry is just down the road and a quick and fun visit. Alain Hess is excellent and the single best serving of Epoisses I've ever had was at Ma Cuisine... I can still conjure it....

Feb 06, 2013
Gman in France

Normandy Report - Bayeux, Port-en-Bessin, Granville

Our timing was off, but they do sell in lovely artisan bottles that come in a handsome wooden box. Another reminder to buy it when you see it (or taste it)...

Jan 23, 2013
Gman in France

Normandy Report - Bayeux, Port-en-Bessin, Granville

Meandering around between tapestries, cathedrals and cemeteries... after several brief visits, our first time spending an entire week in the region.

Gite - Un Bateau sous mon Transat, Port-en-Bessin-Huppain
After much research on the web, and trying to find a spot with a sea view, we rented this very nice gite in this busy little harbor town. We are overlooking the protected bay, just along the quai and paces from the Halle aux Poissioniers, where each day (sauf Lundi) one can wander in here in the morning and buy fresh fish directly from the fishermen and their families. The gite has a very well equipped kitchen, and if a festival of cooking fresh fish is your idea of heaven you could do no better than here. The weekly Sunday morning market was well stocked, and the three small supermarche in town (two of which were a short walk from the gite) were more than adequate. There are two boulangeres within walking distance, one only open in the morning, but both owned by the same person. At the bakery along the quai we found the specialty of the town, the Brassiliere, which is a pastry very similar to a Kouign Amann, but flatter, the size of a small platter, and so rich, sweet and buttery we swooned. The sweet elderly couple that run the Proxi import bread from Bayeaux and have a lovely selection of cheeses and farm fresh eggs. Finally, the Epicerie Fine along the quai has excellent regional products and wine and calva.

Le P’Tit Resto, 2 Rue de la Bienvenue, Bayeux
Houndies had mentioned this place, and we were surprised to find it right across from the Cathedral. Not more than 20 seats, but very contemporary and comfortable. Small amuse of crème d’escargot in a tiny, chilled custard with some parsley and a tartare of cabillaud. Started with a Sautéed St. Jacques with radish, corn and cream and followed with a Roulade of Pintad stuffed with chorizo and roasted and served with jus. Bman had the Pintad and followed with an intriguing dessert of layered cake and ice cream and crème Anglaise and a very good red pepper sauce. 59€ including a demi of Samur, for 15€ and coffees.

Later in the week we returned for dinner. We had kirs and I started with a slightly odd boulette de fois gras which was rolled in peanuts and had a figgy jelly sauce on the plate. True, the foie had a peanut butter in this context, but the peanuts overpowered, ultimately. B had a risotto with ham, arugula and a thin crackly emmental cracker and a “Burger” de Canard avec pomme purée et sauce foie gras. I had the same pintade though this time it was served inside out, with a thin layer of chorizo wrapping the pintade. A shared dessert that, as the menu explained, was a deconstructed Snickers Bar: Mars has nothing to worry about…. 107€, of which 45€ was for a bottle of nice Mercury.

Hotel de France, Isigny sur Mer.
Thought we’d briefly explore the town where the famous butter comes from. The shop at the factory, indeed, also sold many cheeses and various cheese and buttet accoutrements. On our way into town spotted a waning (in the rain) marché and were enticed into a little shared snack of grilled saucisson, on a baguette with mustard because the line was long and the smell so mouth-watering. Okay and we might have also shared a little container of frites too… it was cold and rainy… what other defense do we have than sustenance… Actual lunch was taken at the Hotel de France on Rue Emile Demagny, just down from the town square where the market was. The ardoise promised a very reasonable formule for dejeurner and it was fine. We had the Hachis Parmentière, made with nice shredded beef (far preferable to ground) and I started with a small plate of Jambon de Normandie and a few greens. Bman finished with a dessert and we each had coffee. 34.90€, including the carafe 7.5€

Fleur de sel, Port-en Bessin, Quai Felix Faure
There are a handful of restaurants in this small port town. We were told this is the best of them. Started with the Terrine de fois gras and followed with (it is, after all, St. Jacques season…) the Poêle St. Jacques. Bman had the Tournedos de canard. All perfectly fine. 90.5€ total including the 37€ pouilly fume

L’Angle Saint Laurent, 2 Rue Des Bouchers,Bayeux
Our aimiable and talented (gite décor was univocal, comfy and refined) locutrice had recommended this place in Bayeux and we enjoyed it as well. It had a handsome interior with a couple of connected rooms and cozy, intimate lighting. A Crème de Foie Gras amuse was served, and then we both started with Veloute Forestier which in addition to the oncteuse champignons had a few bits of ham and an oeuf mollet in the center. Yummy. Then I had the Bœuf de basse Normandie which was quite good and Bman had Supreme de volaille, sauce champignons et des chataignes et une pomme cuite au four. A fromages (les trois Normandiase) and a chocolate stacked sort of millefeuille for Bman. 120€ with a Mercurey première cru, 48€.

Restaurant du Port, 19 Rue du Port, Granville
It has been raining for months in Normandy, and there are innondations everywhere and closed roads to prove it. Today is another one of those days. We had meant to get a bit further afield than we had thus far so we decide to hop in the car and head to Granville, maybe go on to Mt. Saint Michel or up toward Cherbourg. But the rain is heavy, and the fog occasionally thick, so by the time we get to Granville we know we’re in the you-might-just-be-too-late-to-be-served-lunch Zone. Fortunately, this spot on the Quai is happy to let us in at 13:50 (!) but just… They served a small pot of Rillette de porc as an amuse, and I had a Kir Norman (made with cidre and cassis) and then an Assiette de Crudités (carrot râpée, beet salad, tomato salade, 2 oeuf dur, and um…. Corn salad….). My main Paella, and B had Salade Chèvre Chaud which included a healthy heap of lardons as well and Escalope de Dinde. 52€, including 9€ for 50cl rosé.

Chateau de Brouay, Brouay, France
We got a chance to taste the divine Calvados at this this 6th-generation family-run Chateau between Caen and Bayeux. Would love to have purchased 4 bottles to get us through the year. Smooth.... so smooth.

Jan 23, 2013
Gman in France

Paris Report: Christmas Week-- new surprises and old friends.

Christmas week in Paris… our 10th. No great revelations and no blow-outs but a couple of surprises along the way...

Pom’ Cannelle, 27 Rue des Deux Ponts, in the 4th.
Brace yourselves and cut me some slack: this may be my discovery of the trip…. Having rented flats on the Ile St. Louis for 9 years now, we’re pretty familiar with all the (for the most part) extremely sub-standard joints, both drinking and nibbling. But having arrived slightly late in the afternoon on a holiday (Christmas Eve) and not wanting to waste too much time, and also wanting somehow to end up somewhere new, we landed at the (seeming) ice cream boite on Rue des Deux Ponts for lunch. Pals, I have to say….Pom’ Cannelle was surprisingly good. Bman had the Lapin Moutarde and I had the Blanquette de Veau, both served with a side of Basmati rice, though there were some other starch “side” options as well. In addition, the regular menu seems daily to have tarts and quiches and other savory dishes and several sweet tarts and Berthillon ice cream for the many visitors that want only dessert. Based on this visit, the warm welcome, the very agreeable price – and the proximity to the flat - I’ll go back. Reminds me of the kind of place that seems to be disappearing… basic standards, thoughtfully executed at gentle prices. We had a bottle of Cote du Rhone and were happily sated when we left. 29€, including the bottle at 10€.

Le Reminet, 3 Rue des Grands Degres, in the 5th
We have learned the hard way that the eve de Noel is the single hardest night out in Paris, second only to July 31st when it falls on a weekend… so we always are careful to make a reservation if we aren’t opting to eat in. It is our first night in Paris, and renting a new apartment with an untested cuisine we opt for eating out. We’ve been here before, thanks to John T. and his invaluable recommendations. Small place, practically en face de Notre Dame, and could easily be a tourist trap but in fact have always enjoyed the food here. Started with some kind of amuse (notes fail) and then I had Crème de châtaignes à l’espuma de champignons et croustillant de Saint-Jacques en kadaïf which was a chestnut cream and mushroom soup centered around a deep fried scallop and topped with deep fried Armenian “kadaïf” noodles. It was presented in tiers, and one was meant (as I asked…) to taste the layers individually and then combine. Didn’t entirely comply but they were very tasty all together. Bman had a Petit pain moelleux au maïs, crème de reblochon et jambon Serranno à la manière d’un hamburger which was a small soft corn cake, reblochon cheese and Serranno ham somewhat assembled like a hamburger. For plats I had the Quasi de veau et son jus tranché à l’huile d’olive fruitée, pressé de pommes de terre au comté, and Bman had the Côte de cochon Ibérique aux carottes glacées, pistaches et oignons nouveaux, purée de panais au beurre demi-sel. It being the holiday we finished with a crème brulée and I had the buche de noël. About 150€ With a Savigny les Beaunes 45€

We’ve had Christmas lunch at Relais de L’Entrecôte in the 8th several times, often after morning mass at the Cathedral Americain, but this year the resto was closed (it is so true, from year to year, one never knows…), sadly, as we had schlepped over quite purposefully to see the Hopper at Grand Palais (also closed… would it kill them to put this on their website, which said “ open throughout the Holiday season”, and having attended many past GP expositions that were open on Noel…) and was tres triste to find it closed this day, and Relais to boot. But, this being a slightly unusual year, we’ve still got wheels from our country touring and we decide to follow the suggestion on the door to go to the Relais on Montparnasse. (101 Blvd Montparnasse, 6th.) I slightly prefer, still, the dining room in the 8th, but the Steak frites was just as reliable as ever, and we polished it off, both rounds. 89€, which included 18€ for a bottle of house Tarn and desserts and coffee

We’ve landed at Chez Paul (13 rue de Charonne, 11th) for Christmas before, not that that is any reliable measure… one really does need to investigate afresh each year to find who is open and who is fermed, but we were able to reserve online and so we did. A slightly rough and tumble place, and we’ve usually been given a warm welcome, somewhat less so this go round. We walked in, and having reserved online (as opposed to by phone) were immediately told we were being exiled to the 1st floor upstairs. I frowned and said no and the M’d barked out a table number and the slightly surly waiter escorted us to the furthest table from the entrance, where Bman was literally sitting on top of the radiator. Allors… the Japanese tourists next to us were friendly enough, and were quickly replaced by a middle aged Frenchman and his mother? Aunt? Granny….? They were very dear, as a couple, and having exchanged a few words en Francais with them and sharing our flashlight phone app so the menu could be read, the waiter seemed to decide we might be all right after all. Leçon: next time I’ll phone instead, as usual… sure the place is rough around the edges but was never treated quite this poorly before. Started with some Kirs, I had œufs mayo and Bman had the Salade aux pissenlits lardons. As is his habit, this was followed by Lapin Farci au Chèvre for Bman, and breaking from my Pot au Feu minor addiction, I ordered Steak au Poivre because I saw those words that always stop me dead in my tracks: Gratin Daupinoise. The grand pichet (100cl) of Cote du Rhone washed it all down. With 2 coffees, the bill was 78€, with the vin being 14€.

Le Rostand, 6 Place Edmond Rostand in the 6th.
Had come to the Luxembourg to see the Cercle de l”art Moderne show and decided to visit this reliable café for lunch. Had an omelette aux champignons (a bit wet) and Bman had the Cote d’Agneau. A bottle of Rose, I think, and coffees and tarts to finish. They didn’t have my favorite, Poire Amande, but their Mirabelle is a close second. Don’t know if they are made in house or come from elsewhere but the tarts here are faboo. Didn’t seem to keep this receipt, but it is a fairly reasonable spot.

Le Grand Palais, 21 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 8th.
We returned to the Grand Palais to see the Hopper, skipping the line thanks to the Sesame Pass (well worth it, I think). We had decided to see the Boheme show as well and needed a spot of lunch before taking on another exhibition but it was raining. Hard. And it was bitterly cold. So, being sans parapluie, comme toujours, (buying an umbrella on vacation seems somehow like admitting defeat, and long past when we should have, we tend not to…) we ducked into the nearest café and hoped for the best. Possibly for the very same reason (rain and proximity), it was packed: we seemed to snag the last available table. Lots of English on the menu (blast you Champs Elysée!!!) but when I saw there were four different Steak Tartares I decided that they must be somewhat serious on this topic and I decided to give it a whir. I didn’t dive fully in, as I ordered it Aller Retour, with a little sizzle on one side, but the mound of beef was raw enough, for sure, to still qualify. The frites served with were decent too. Began with a soup and Bman had escargot and duck Confit which he said was quite tasty. 65€, 17€ for the 50cl of Brouilly.

L’Atlas, 12 Blvd Saint Germain, 5th
Had read a number of respected recommendations for this place on CH and after a week in Normandy and nearly a week in Paris was finally ready to allow something not Cuisine Grandmere to enter the picture. Seems the seats in the window overlooking the Blvd are very popular and hard to come by without specifying (which we had not when we reserved) so we were seated in the back dining room. The interior dining rooms are a bit bright for me, though the elegantly carved stone arches and walls are beautiful. I started with the traditional Moroccan soup, Harira, which hit the spot on this sniffly wet night, and then had the Couscous de l’Atlas which included merguez, lamb brochette and lamb meatballs. The couscous was fluffy, dry… ephemeral. The meats quite good and the vegetables on the side all very well prepared. Bman had the Tagine d’agneau aux pruneaux et amandes which I tasted and can attest, was pretty sublime. The service is a bit formal and stiff, and I have to admit I far prefer the warm welcome and vibe at Chez Omar but the food here does win for sure. 72€, including a bottle of Provencal Rose 18€.

Dinner Chez Nous, Ile Saint-Louis.
First time in this apartment and the kitchen situation did not look promising so I waited until we were in situ before deciding if I would attempt cookery: a plenty large enough kitchen, but oddly lacking an oven. There was a small toaster oven, and a microwave with a heating element, but no proper oven where there was plenty of room for one. With most wintertime entertaining I prefer some slow braise that can sit in the oven and I can be with guests instead of in the a-la-minute kitchen. But having a nice container of St. Jacques purchased on the quai in Normandy, I decided on a stove top menu. I’d read about this combination in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about a decade ago and have made it several times in Maine but never in France: sautéed scallops, crispy bacon and creamy scrambled eggs. Poor Bman can eat no shellfish, but I figured the lardons and eggs would be enough for him. The verger on the Ile sells very good vegetable soups in jars, and we opted for a watercress variety that we enhanced with a dollop of crème fraiche. First up we had a plate of very good Terrine de Fois Gras that came from the cheese shop on the Ile, Le Ferme Saint-Aubin, some toasted brioche, a few fresh figs, and a small scoop of pre-made celerie remoulade. The lardons were able to be carefully cooked ahead of time, and the scallops and the eggs were both very fast in the pan, which cut down time away from our pals in the dining room. An assortment of small cakes and tarts was dessert, and a scoop of Berthillon pistache (my favorite) on the side. If I didn’t have the scallops, and had an oven, I would have probably purchased a rotisserie chicken and potatoes and built a dinner around that, perhaps with a salad made with pre-roasted beets which are easy to find both at markets and in the supermarche. There are many options in Paris for easy dinners with little or no cooking.

Les Pipos. 2 rue de l’Ecole Polytechnique in the 5th.
Had been for dinner once before and had a French friend coming into town to meet us for lunch and decided this cozy mom & pop place would be a good fit. I was right because once we were seated he recalled coming here late one night after a jazz concert in the neighborhood. We shared a Pot de rillette d’oie to start (mostly me – I love the stuff…) and it being a grey rainy day, I happily ordered the Blanquette de Veau, while the 2 other gents ordered the Pave de Charolais avec sauce au poivre vert and a nice big bowl of crisp frites to share. Coffees all around, and a bottle of Morgon (33€) and we were well and happily sated. 94€ for the three of us.

Pamela Popo. 15 rue Francois Miron, 4th
Had peeked at the menu here several times in our meanderings and had read, with interest, a few kind words on CH so, being eager to break out of our repeat customer status we reserved here for dinner. First floor bar is tres hip, and the upstairs dining room continues the vibe. We were seated on a banquette on the back wall and had a couple of kirs to take in the nice view of the very full and very dim room and the (also hip) crowd. A small gazpacho amuse was offered, and then I started with Risotto aux cèpes and followed with Quasi de veau. Both were tasty, and plates were cleaned. Bman started with Ravioles d’artichau and then Suprême de volaille, served, as was the Quasi, with a mashed qqchose. 122€, 40€ of which was a bottle of Pouilly Fume. Thumpy bass and DJ sound were better during apero and a bit much for me during dinner, but maybe I’m just getting old and deaf…

Le Hangar, 12 Impasse Berthaud, in the 4th.
Had meandered down this alley opposite Beaubourg a few times but had never ventured in. This afternoon when it was getting late for lunch, and after one highly regarded place had turned us away because the hour (13:30??) we popped in here and were greeted very warmly. Not packed, but enough folks still dinning that it seemed we’d be served. Had a delicious châtaigne and potimarron soup and followed that with a pave de bœuf and gratin dauphinoise (it is embarrassingly true: I’d order Old Shoe if it came with gratin dauphinoise). 98€ with coffees and a nice plate of mignardise that accompanied… at least 30€ was for a bottle of wine.

Le Coup Chou, 11 Rue Lanneau in the 5th
Confession time: this has been a crazy year and we have never arrived in France with fewer plans, less research and a nearly empty agenda. The very down side to this was the not-the-most-adventurous meal-taking. I don’t know where, but somewhere I had read about this spot and written it down in my sketchy notes. Again, wanting to press ourselves to try new spots, and in the name of the endless research we came here. Had looked at the website only to determine we wouldn’t starve or go broke. It being winter, entry was gained through a side hall seeming to have nearly nothing to do with the restaurant. It was very reminiscent of Chumleys in New York, if you’ve ever been. All that to say, a sense of mystery, and the unveiling revelations can be a part of the fun. We were led through a rabbit warren of several dining rooms, bars, passageways, all chock-full with small tables and each one filled, including one that appeared to be on the landing of the stairway, and up into an equally full upper dining room. It was incredibly warm, like being inside a hot clothes dryer filled with wet towels (were we above the kitchen?? Didn’t seem to be…) and the only defense against fainting seemed to be to immediately remove whatever layers of clothing one modestly could. Given the crowd, the service was surprisingly prompt, and almost too speedy. Perhaps they were trying to turn tables quickly. I started with the Œufs cocottes crème estragon. I can eat pretty much anything where a runny egg is involved, and Lord knows I love cream, but these two ingredients seemed to me to be merely combined. There was little seasoning, and less flavor. I followed with the Bœuf Bourguignon made with joue de Bœuf. All the traditional garnishments were there, along with some boiled potatoes. It wasn’t the bell-ringer I’d had a Chez Josephine Dumonet, but it wasn’t horrible either… just okay. Bman had the Pave de Veau a la Normande. He liked it, though it didn’t look like much with its tiny mound of rice and mushrooms. We had a 50cl pitcher of wine (don’t remember which) and in what felt like 50 minutes we were out the door, which, given the heat, I was grateful for. 55.50€

Au Chai de l’Abbaye, 26 Rue de Buci in the 6th
An old stand by: could easily be a tourist trap given the crowds on this market street but instead seems (every time) to be frequented by habitués (lots cheek kissing between personnel and guests) and almost always exclusively French folk. Had the very good Onion soup and then the Chou Farci which could easily feed two and I handily finish. Having realized that I’ve had little room for dessert in most of our meals, and we’re now in countdown to exile mode, I have a millefeuilles and Bman has some special dessert of the day which involved macerated berries, pastry, Crème-Chantilly and maybe something else… If he gets quiet and says nothing about what he’s eating, it’s your sure sign that it is super good and to go in fast. I failed. 78€ , which included 2 coffees and 22€ for a carafe of Juliénas.

Tastevin, 46 Rue-Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile, in the 4th.
I’ve defended this place before but Houndies you know it is all sentiment, not palate. The food is always just fine, occasionally delicious, and I know the dollar can go further many other places, but my soft spot remains, even (gasp) though the small room seemed even more full of Yanks than ever before. But I love that cozy small room, the lace café curtains, the dusty bins and shelves of bric-a-brac, the beamed ceiling, and Annick Puisieux always greets us so warmly, and asks after us in our absence. It feels like home base. Started with the Terrine de Maison which was very tasty and then had Cote de Veau. Bman had the Pave de Boeuf and finished with a Moelleux au chocolat , always good here .We drank a bottle of Rully 1ere Cru. Our good friends were spotted dinning in the corner opposite with their French neighbors, including a man that had lived just across the street from here for most of his life. On our way out we swing by their table and have a jolly few minutes in our ever improving French and Monsieur et Madame, having seen us on many of, our annual trips want to know when we’ll be back. Noel prochain, j’espere. Noel prochain. Madame Puisieux kisses us on both cheeks as she hands over our coats. The evening ends my favorite way, the thing I think about most when I’m back home, a quiet stroll around the island taking in the Seine, the sights, the clear evening sky. About 90€.

Thanks, Hounds as always, for your generous and thoughtful guidance.

Jan 22, 2013
Gman in France

Paris restaurant w/ friends

Two very friendly places that are very reasonable: Le Pre Verre and Les Pippos. Haven't check yet with LPV, but Pippos is open the 26th - 29th. ( we'll be in Paris the same period). Rotisserie du Beaujolais is another option, and for candlelit intimacy, Le Reminet.

Dec 12, 2012
Gman in France

Paris for the Holidays (Dec 23-Jan 2)

There are no markets on Mondays, and the Sunday markets are over by 1 or 2... A good list on Chocolate and zucchini. If you can make it into town earlier it will be worth it: the last market before Noël is very jolly. But if not, fear not, there are excellent shops sure to be open Sunday and Monday, and a surprising few on Christmas (boulangeries, bucheries, etc). Christmas eve is the tough night, lots shut down, and a bit earlier than usual. Chez Paul in the 11th is hardly quiet but will be open Christmas day and I love the inexpensive traditional fare. Congrats on the upcoming wedding.

Dec 10, 2012
Gman in France

4 Days in Paris and a month worth of restaurants! Please help!

One less to choose from... Les Papilles is closed 23-Dec through Jan 2.

Dec 06, 2012
Gman in France

Restaurant near Sainte-Chapelle

Was at La Rose last February and really enjoyed it. The ecargot were terrific, and when the gals next to us snagged the last plat du jour the waitress winked at me and later said I should have the veal roti with risotto ("c'est mieux" said she with a second wink). Can't speak for whatever the special was that day, but my plat was really tasty, and I was a bit forlorn when the plate was practically licked clean.... Cafe Zimmer - wow - haven't been there in years , but it certainly does always look lively.

Nov 19, 2012
Gman in France

Any Normandy Rec.s from Caen to Saint-Vaast.... then Paris

Hello Houndies. Looking forward to a week in Decembre based in Port-en Bassin, and grateful for the one recommendation I could find in Bayeaux for Brasserie Reine Mathilde (thanks Da Tulip!). Planning to meander around.... any comfy spots you know of?

After that - off to Paris for our usual Christmas fete. Thanks to this board, Sir John T., and 8 years of holiday trips have a pretty good sense of the slim pickens but if something unusual comes to mind or if any houndies want to break some bread we're wide open. Merci bien.

Nov 11, 2012
Gman in France

Apartment or Hotel? How's a diner to choose?

LOVE this thread! We we're bounced out of an overbooked hotel 8 years ago into an apartment they managed and have never looked back. Our annual routine now consists of flying into Paris, picking up a car and driving out to the country for a week or two almost always in a gite. I loathe big box stores in the US, but love them in France and we'll hit a few of these while out in the country. At a minimum, the re-usable bags will be necessary to carry all the comestibles into the Paris apartment we will conclude the trip in. We travel around the holidays so two things are relatively assured: extremely jolly markets, esp. the last one before the holiday, and at some point in the trip we've been snowed in so having a pantry with a few options is critical. Always stock up on jam, butter, coffee, cheeses, pates, olives, cornichon and goofy snack crackers and cookies (why, WHY can't we have Sable de Flandres in the US??) A couple of cheap and cheerful torchons will be a joy throughout the trip and a nice thing to have back home. Ditto some regional pottery serving dish or bowl. 8 years and several dozen pieces of pottery and all of them have made it home in one piece and remain freighted with happy memories of meals in France. Once all this booty makes it to Paris, all delivered right to the door cause we still have the car, we can then manage the rest of the shopping very close to home. Most Christmases we eat in, might be a combo of foraged and cooked ( slow braised lamb stew with Moroccan spices) but usually something that I can pull of without to much fuss or thought. Rental kitchens everywhere seem to suck. The list of things we bring to Maine each summer for a few weeks is 4 columns long - in France I tend to restrict myself to my trusty Opinel, a small but decent bread knife (amazing how hard this can be to find in an apartment, and since the fresh morning baguette is among my favorite traditions I hate to see the pour dears hacked to bits...) a vacu-vin because I want to pretends I wont finish every bottle we open, and a folding, waiter's corkscrew, which I far prefer. A decent spice shop will sell in small amounts (we're close to Izrael) and I adore asking the verger for a handful of nuts, fruits etc. to have on hand for the one or two dinner parties or apero we'll host while in Paris. Oh, and not to neglect an icon - I am mad for the small faience pots that Fermier yogurt comes in and will keep these for olive pits, pencil cups, sugar bowls, once served a starter course of soup in them, and have squirreled home an absolute ridiculous number of them. Here, as in many restaurants in France, they will be used for pot de creme or some other gelatinous dessert. I love every single one of them... I sort of love the bracing winter morning walk at dawn to go fetch the baguette or croissant. The streets are so quiet, the merchants so energetic at this hour, and the little morning routines of the neighborhood such a delight to take in: the hand-holding father and child off to school; Madame from the apartment next door buying her meat for the day; the morning deliveries still coming in. At this hour I can at least momentarily feel like a local...

Oct 05, 2012
Gman in France

Paris Notes from Feb. 2012

Merci pour les felicitations!

Jul 23, 2012
Gman in France

Normandy, Bordeaux, Loire Trip notes Jan. 2012

I did not, in the end, find the food, even setting aside our trepidation, to be all that memorable... refined, yes.... tasty..... not really anything that would make me feel like going back, and yet, par example, a simple cod dish I had at La Cabotte in Nuit Saint-George comes to mind and I can still conger the deep flavor of the dish....

Brasserie was, unfortunately the only place we made it to... We were staying with foodie friends and mostly ate in... would like to go back and spend more time in the city...

Jul 22, 2012
Gman in France

Brief Dickensian Trip to London in January 2012

A quick trip over from Paris to take in the Dickens 200th Anniversary….

LA FROMAGERIE, Moxon Street, Marylebone. This cheese shop/gourmet food shop/wine bar/café is lively and fun and the food is delicious. Had a creamy and delicious crème de celeriac soup with truffles and a kind of play on bangers and mash: local saucisson covered in a rich onion gravy over mashed rutabaga. Divoon. Bman had the ploughman’s lunch which was a lovely selection of cheeses, breads smoked ham and relishes. Tall, moist, yummy Banana Bread and Carrot cake for dessert. Would eat here once a week if we lived in the neighborhood. Think we had a few glasses of wine and coffee too. 52£

THE GOLDEN HIND – 73 Marylebone Lane. Turns out our super-power works in the British Isles as well: we brought snow to London. It is coming down heavily, and we are happy not to venture too far. Houndies led us to this classic chip shop in this charming neighborhood. Crowded but we were seated within a few minutes. As advised, brought our own wine which was opened at table (1£) and had the classic battered haddock for me, cod for Bman, chips and peas. Vinegar, natch. Very low on ambience, but high on spirit, and some say among the best in London… It was snowing, the windows were steamy, rather merry. 22£

CAFÉ ROUGE. Nice looking large brasserie opposite St. Paul’s. Croque madams and frites. Passable, but not much more. Probably best for tea, coffee or a drink.

CAFFE CALDESI – Marylebone Lane. Opposite of the Hind, which is closed as it is a Sunday. Nearly didn’t make it into this place either… can’t say whether everyone’s exhausted from the snow or just plain quiet on Sundays…. Nice looking first floor corner café with more seating above. Also offer extensive list of Italian cooking classes. Started with some Bresaola and bread and Rigatoni. Next, Bman had Pollo alla Limon accompanied by the “best spinach ever!” and I had Polpette Con Polenta and finished with Panettone Bread Pudding and a Tiramisu, all washed down with a bottle of Nera d’Avola, Angelo Sicilia. (20£) 94£.

GESSLER AT DAQUISE. South Kensigton. Hopped on the tube headed for the V&A and decided we would sniff around for a lunch place once there. This little Polish place intrigued, and seemed more interesting than the touristy places on the square. Started with hot borscht with dumplings (moi) and pierogi (meat, cheese and our surprise favorite, cabbage) and then Kura W Rosole (Chicken in a Lemon Sauce) for Bman with noodles and broth, all assembled table side and Pulpety Cieleci (Veal meatballs with dill and gravy and mashed potatoes) and carrots for me. A bottle of something red from Roussillon. It was all quite satisfying, if the setting was a bit retro-ascetic. 62£

GIRAFFE, Marylebone. Was meeting a friend and wanted to find somewhere nearby that would be easy for her to find and close to a train. Didn’t realize at the time that there are, like, 30 of these resto’s in the London area, but it was fine. Shared a mezze platter and nachos and then I had schnitzel and Bman had a club sandwich. We drank a bottle of Pinot Noir and shared ice cream at the end. All of it fine, nothing memorable except the schnitzel might have been a bit greasy… 53£ for 2 of us.

Thanks Houndies for the help.

Jul 21, 2012
Gman in U.K./Ireland

Normandy, Bordeaux, Loire Trip notes Jan. 2012

Rouen, Etretat, Poitiers, Bergerac, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, Amboise

First, Houndies, an apology… I’m usually faster on the notes turnaround but (thank you New York State) in the 5 months since our trip to France we got married, Bman started a new job, and we moved. It has taken until now to report back. Mea Culpa.

I subscribe to the “stay up the entire first day, go to sleep at a reasonable hour and try to get on the local time as soon as possible” camp, though this was particularly hard this trip. I almost never sleep on the overnight, usually because my 6’3”Liebling-esque frame doesn’t easily squeeze into coach… this time we sprang for the Open Skies seats to no avail: rough winds shook us from JFK nearly to Dublin. Allors – so once we picked up the rented car and headed for Rouen and la Couronne for lunch we were in dire need of some succor and resuscitation.

ROUEN - LA COURONNE. Located on a pedestrianized square near Les Halles, the “plus vielle auberge de France" has been taking in hungry travelers since 1345, perhaps most famously for us Yanks, St. Julia after HER rough sea passage back in 1948. The tall half-timbered building just opposite the strange 1979 Eglise Jeanne D’Arc seems wedged into place, like all the buildings lining the square. Once inside, a calm and cozy opulence envelops: exposed beams, ochre walls and lush jacquard draperies all set off the simple, pinky-salmon colored floor-length linens. What we had: Bman started with Crémeux de pousse d’epinards, ( a sort of mini-souffle) copeaux de jambon sec followed by Saute de Veau à la provençale. I started with Coquilles St. Jacques and then had (what else) La Belle Sole de la Manche Meunière. The scallops were delicate and sweet and gently, and quickly, grilled, served with slightly odd tempura battered vegetables and braised strawberries. It worked, but for me the scallops were the focus. The sole, I will admit, not unlike Julia’s description or Meryl’s depiction, did make one swoon. Perfectly cooked, moist, napped in browned butter, and with a squeeze of lemon, sublime. The filet was huge, covering the plate; I ate every bite and would have kept going if they brought another. We drank a bottle of Pouilly Fume (42€) and had cheese and mignardises. Total: 163€

ETRETAT – LA TAVERNE DES DEUX AUGUSTINS. Rookie mistake: hadn’t reserved anywhere and ended up at this joint. Cozy enough looking from the outside. Even okay on the inside, I suppose. Crowded (was it the slightly lower price point of the menu than the other joints nearby??) and lively. Appalling service. Nearly left, twice. Finally some food arrived…. I started with the Soupe de Poisson… (not bad actually) Bman started with a Salade de Campagne that had lardons, chesse, tomatoes, croutons….. Duck confit and Veau in sauce camembert were the mains….. we were onto, at this point, hour 40 sans a wink….My memory: it was more than I would spend for the level of service, but edible.

ETRETAT – RESTAURANT LE GALION. Lovely half timbered building with exposed beams that had all been painted a subtle and pale grey, giving the room a softness and more airy and bright feeling. After having been shut-out the night before (“Desole, complete!) we were determined to go back, and reserved early in the day for lunch. I started with the Foie Gras which was sweet and firm and had lovely accompaniments including two slices of brioche nested in a little bed of napkins to keep them warm. I followed with Lotte that was crusted in Riz Sauvage (a bit crisp and chewy, that, and with a few too many Baie Roses for my taste) but the fish was good. Bman had a steak au poivre. Between my courses I was given a Normande palate cleanser of calvados infused apple sorbet. It was very tasty. Cheese plate for me (all good) and for dessert we shared Mousse au chocolate and Profiterols Caramel au Buerre Salé. We drank a bottle of Domaine Tassin Sancerre (33€) Total 116€.

HONFLEUR – SA.QUA.NA. A spare, Japanese influenced seafood place close to the harbor on a small side street. For those who follow such things (I don’t) I think, a two-starred joint, many say on its way to a third. Small dining room, probably not more than 20 covers. Spare, elegant, quiet, refined. Much about this esthetic to be read on their website. A gentian aperitif, and a an eau de Coing for bman. Madame was quick to offer English Menus, and as I’ve groused before, I hate that. A) I don’t need them (usually) and b) the translations often can be much more confounding than the occasional French word I don’t know. Indeed in most cases, I’ve had to look at the French menu to understand what it was they were getting at: true, Google translate is better and better all the time, but if they have no mastery of English the menu can be a confusing unappetizing mess i.e “A white sauce of baby cow with mushrooms and onions” instead of Banquette de Veau… So, I continue to eschew the Menu Anglais, though this time it proved nearly (sorta) fatal. Bman is allergic to all shellfish. In the past I’ve gotten away with saying, in French, that he was allergic to les crustaces. Usually that’s all I have to say, and we haven’t needed the epi-pen once. Here, for the first time, apparently I needed to say crustace et les coquillages, because the first course (cabillaud) comes out liberally sprinkled with small gray clam-like shells. Houndie - you’ll probably know the name of such things, but if they were listed on the description of the dish it was lost on both of us. And unfortunately, the allergy is no joke: I’ve seen him nearly go into anaphylactic shock and it is very grave. To her credit, Madame did ask me “all fish?” and I said no, fish were fine, crustacé were not. Until now this level of qualifying had been enough. From this day forward I will specify crustacé et coquiallge but here in the U.S. just saying “shell fish” has been enough and seem to cover the whole spectrum… I know there are folks out there that are only allergic to one shellfish and not others, but most folks that have had an allergic reaction to one shellfish are generally counseled not to eat any of them (and apparently, rightly, based on our few close calls…) Back at Sa Qua Na… This was a bit hard to figure out at first, but there are two options on the menu which changes daily: Vert Olive (98€) or Rouge Cerise (68€). In essence, and this was why it took reading the menu for a while to figure out, if you go the green route, you get every dish, all 9 of them, listed on the menu, and since they mostly all read like Plats it was a bit hard to figure out at first. Red route bought you 5. With drinks they brought out a selection of crunchy little amuses. Then the first course, which was presented in a medium-sized deep bowl, and was the cabillaud filet almost still quivering, and accompanied by, I think, edamame, pale baby lettuces, a rich clear broth and those little grey shells… This I think was followed by another fish course, a dorade with cous cous and cauliflower, and then a very rosy delicious morsel of cochon noir from Iberia with a porcini cream. Dessert was an odd affair – a large macaron “painted” with various powders (cocoa, others being green, red and orange, I have no idea what they were…) And then at the end a small pot of ice cream. Truth is, after the little shells it was hard to relax and regain the confidence we weren’t going to end up in the emergency room (which of course I had no idea where the nearest one was) and I think the Epi-pen might have been back in the luggage… in Etretat! They did whisk away the dish and returned with a new one sans little shells… but… maybe a few days further into vacation mode we could have made a faster recovery…. Allors… A bottle of Pouilly Fume, Domaine Michel Redde (45€) water and coffees- 220€

ALENCON – BAR DES PIETONS. A very, very simple café in the pedestrianized area, after walking around and finding the rest of the pickings to be a bit slim… but this spot was relatively full with lots of folks seeming to be on their lunch break, and paying with their orange lunch tickets…. Plats du jour, which happily here included sauté de lapin au sauce pruneaux ( et “ses spaghettis”… love that!) for Bman and a bavette frites for me. A small carafe of vin and we were out of there, and happily, for under 30€.

POITIERS – BISTROT DU BOUCHER. We’re making our way down from Normandy to see a friend in Bergerac, and this turned out to be where we would land overnight. Actually did something I never have done: asked the concierge if he had a recommendation. He pointed across the street at this place. After wandering around for an hour or so to get the lay of the land and consider other options this seemed to be a reasonable choice. Turned out better than that. Brasserie feel, despite its name… bright lights, brass rails, bustle. Turned out we were the last walk-in they would take for a while. Started with some Kirs, had the Cote de Boeuf for 2. Came with a good salad and super delicious roasted fingerlings. Course salt, sharp mustard…. We were happy. Washed down with a nice bottle of Samur Champigny (21€) 88€.

BERGERAC – LA TABLE DU MARCHE. Juste en face de Les Halles. Lovely spot recommended by our local pal. We started with some sort of amuse, and peanuts in a test-tube… kind of interesting… For entrée we had potato-leek soupe, and then Bman had biche and pomme puree, and I had the St. Jacques with same. All was delicious, the welcome warm. A bottle of Rosé (18.50€) and deux express. 78€

BERGERAC- FLEUR D’ORANGER 30 Rue de la Resistance. A lovely, modern salon de thé and Bar a soupe with an emphasis on Bio and local. We’re here just after the market which had many beautiful edible and non-edible products… Had: Pumpkin and chestnut soup, tartines of avocat and jambon sec, and chevre frais et fruit sec each served with a little salad. Crepe beurre sale for us to share. 32€

SAINT EMILION – L’ANTRE DEUX VERRES Place du Cabiou….(as the name suggests, literally in a cave, not quite the size of Saint Emilion’s but a slightly damp and slightly moldy cave… But we don’t have many options… we are here for lunch, off season, a bit late in the day, and many places are either not serving this late or are just plain closed. Despite the damp interior with theatrical and colorful lighting and the subtle, thumping rock and roll, the food and wine (no surprise) are pretty good. We have a glass of Graves, soups of mushroom and asparagus and le plat du jour, something called Chicken ala Mexique. It might have been better named a la Inde since it was curried, but I suppose the sweet red peppers kicked it a bit south of the border. Whatever it was, on this cold winter day it actually hit the spot, and the chicken was tender, the basmati perfectly cooked and we were happy to have found this spot. I had fromage and B a dessert of caramel, mascarpone and a macaron somehow all combined. About 60€

BORDEAUX – LA BRASSERIE BORDELAISE. After several agreeable home meals with pals in Bergerac and Bordeaux we ventured out for some lunch on our own. We had reserved, thankfully, at this very large, lively and popular spot that was recommended by our local foodie friend. Bman started with a Potimarron/ chataigne soupe and I had Oeuf Brouille au Truffe. Jou De Porc et pomme puree for him and Dos de Cabillaud Roti for me. Every bit was yummy, and the place, if a bit overwhelmed at lunch, was also lively and pleasant. A bottle of Alycastre Rosé (24€) and 2 coffees, 85€.

AMBOISE – RESTAURANT L’EPICERIE. Had been trying to make it here for a while but been shut-out as our visiting often corresponded precisely with their fermeture annuelle. Started with a Kir and a Ricard, then started with Fois Gras (moi) veloute au cep et ses croutons avec oeuf poche (Bman) followed by Confit de Canard for Bman and Onglet de Veau a la crème et ses pleurotes for me. If nothing was revelatory, it all was fine and the welcome was very warm and the dining room full and cheery. A bottle of St. Nicholas de Bourgueil (21€). 80.50€

Merci Hounds for all the guidance.

Jul 21, 2012
Gman in France