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Helene Darroze or Marcus Wareing? [London]

I agree with howler, Helene Darroze for sure. Marcus Wareing was better when the restaurant was Petrus, for some reason. Wareing's food is good, not great, whereas Helene Darroze is great. Plus the service at Wareing was some of the worst I've ever had at a restaurant of that caliber.

Apr 09, 2010
Paris Dreamin in U.K./Ireland

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Oh yeah, read her post wrong. Oops.

Nov 01, 2009
Paris Dreamin in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

Marcia,

Oh God, I hope that L'Ami Jean didn't close down, it's absolutely phenomenal, the true definition of the gastronomic bistro. Even though the interior looks like any other bistro in Paris, Stephane Jego was turning out some of the best innovations of bistro fare in Paris. La Regalade has been great (I haven't been there in a while), but I think that the reviews lately have been mixed. If you do not want the counter seating of L'Atelier, which is a common complaint about the place, perhaps you could consider La Table de Joel Robuchon, which serves very similar food, but with traditional table seating, although I don't find the decor to be inspired. But the food, as you would expect from the "Chef of the Century" is fantastic.

Nov 01, 2009
Paris Dreamin in France

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

If you want something bistronomique, I can tell you that the usual experts on this forum suggest the following (some of which I have been to and can attest to, a few not, but the experts on this board never seem to be wrong): Chez l'ami Jean, Christophe, Le Chateaubriand, Josephine chez dumonet, among others. I would also suggest a look at Atelier de Joel Robuchon or La Table de Joel Robuchon, L'Angle du Faubourg, or le Violon d'Ingres.

Oct 31, 2009
Paris Dreamin in France

gordon ramsey, fifteen, murano

No need to be fearful about Maze, it's lovely, with great food. But, that being said, it never hurts to try to snag a table at GR at RHR. The last time I was there was the first time I've ever been there that there was actually an empty table the entire evening (on a Friday too!), so it's worth a try. Must be the recession.

Oct 31, 2009
Paris Dreamin in U.K./Ireland

If you had one meal in san francisco...

Better eat it (but sparingly, save some for me) before it no longer exists in the world.

One night in London

I agree with the Wild Honey and L'Autre Pied suggestions as very good. Arbutus is another possibility (sister to Wild Honey), as well as Maze. If you don't mind a little travel across the cirty, one of the most unique experiences in London and anywhere, really, is St. John, with Fergus Henderson's use of all parts of the animal in his cooking. The roasted bone marrow is the best that I've had, and it's the one must-try thing on the menu (it's the only thing always on the menu). If you don't like meat, it's not for you.

Oct 30, 2009
Paris Dreamin in U.K./Ireland

If you had one meal in san francisco...

There is nothing that I have ever had at Manresa that I haven't liked, but I would note a few things that I find to be incredible, with obviously things being seasonal. The vegetables are out of this world, due to Kinch overseeing their growth and cultivation. As Robert Lauriston said, "into the vegetable garden" is probably the best salad that you will ever have. Also, I love Kinch's Tidal Pool, lamb, and sucking pig dishes. But the best of them all, when it's available, is the abalone in brown butter, which I still rank as one of the top ten things that I have ever put in my mouth.

gordon ramsey, fifteen, murano

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road (not the one in Claridge's) is my favorite restaurant in the world. Some would say that is sacrilege, as I have been to several of the world's best restaurants, including many 3 stars in France, The Fat Duck, El Bulli, and all the 3 stars in the US. I realize that taste is very subjective, but GR happens to suit my taste. I find the duck, the ravioli, the lobster, the sweetbreads to be some of the best dishes anywhere. Of course, I would therefore, suggest going to Gordon Ramsay RHR. However, it is not easy to get a dinner reservation. You need to book two months in advance, and I would call right when the reservations line opens. That all being said, Maze is wonderful as well, just not in the class of GR RHR.

Oct 30, 2009
Paris Dreamin in U.K./Ireland

15th Anniversary Dinner - Which 2 star?

As this is for a milestone wedding anniversary, in the most romantic city in the world, I would not choose this meal for your first experience with molecular gastronomy, so I would not go to Pierre Gagnaire. If you do decide to go with a 3 star after all, L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, and Guy Savoy are my favorites, but L'Arpege is admittedly pricey. I don't think that it's been mentioned, but L'Astrance is the least expensive of the 3 stars (still not cheap), but there is no A La Carte menu, you simply order the number of courses that you want, and you get whatever the chef is making that evening.That is, if you can get in, as it is tough to get a res. If you do decide to stick to the two stars, then the ones that get the most recommendations (including by Souphie), include Le Cinq and La Grande Cascade. I also love Taillevent, an institution that I find still to be great even since JC Vrinat passed away.

Oct 30, 2009
Paris Dreamin in France

If you had one meal in san francisco...

I'd vote for Manresa as well. As its location has not been mentioned, I think, I would mention to you that Manresa is in downtown Los Gatos, about a 20-40 minute drive from Palo Alto, depending on traffic and where in Palo Alto you will be. Manresa is our favorite restaurant in the area, enough so that we venture there 4 to 5 times a year at least. Although taste is certainly subjective, I personally like it better than many of the area's other best restaurants, including The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Gary Danko, Coi, Boulevard, etc. I do have to admit that I have not been to Commis before. I also like the suggestions for La Folie and Incanto, very good for French and Italian food respectively, but neither is of the quality of preparation or presentation of Manresa.

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Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

La Folie
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

Gary Danko
800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Commis
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

Need some help with restaurants...for a non-foodie.

I like the recommendations for Zuni, Range, and One Market. However, I would not necessarily ixnay the Boulevard choice. Boulevard is nowhere near as formal as Gary Danko is, so your husband may not have a problem with Boulevard. I tend to describe it as comfort fine dining. That being said, even though Boulevard is good, I am not as enamoured with it as some others on this board are, just a matter of personal taste and opinion. I just don't find the food to be as interesting or of the complexity of the food at Gary Danko, for instance.

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Gary Danko
800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

One Market Restaurant
1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

In Paris for 5 Days.

Although I have been to a number of places that I would recommend, the resident expert in this forum is Souphie, with good input from some others, including PhilD and Delucacheesemonger. Some of the common suggestions, some of which I personally can attest to as well, include Chez l'ami Jean (I love it), Christophe, Le Chateaubriand, Josephine chez dumonet, La Regalade, L'Auberge Bressane (the last I find to be OK only). I find that other good spots that won't break the bank include the Christian Constant restaurants (le violon d'Ingres, Cafe Constant, etc.), L'Angle du Faubourg, Les Bouquinistes.

The Guy Savoy 100 Euro internet lunch special is great (just e-mail them and ask for the internet special).

For one splurge, Souphie typically recommends L'Arpege and L'Ambroisie among the 3 stars and Le Cinq among the 2 stars. I have been to all three, although not as often as she has, and I can attest to the fact that they are all out of this world. I also like Guy Savoy for dinner and L'Astrance for the (relatively) least expensive of the 3 stars.

Oct 29, 2009
Paris Dreamin in France

Foie Gras Deflowering: Where's the best place for a first-time foie gras experience in San Jose area?

Le Papillon is a good suggestion, with decent foie gras in addition to decent French food in general, but it won't necessarily blow you away. It's also not a place that you can typically just stop in for some foie gras as a quick bite. Manresa is a wonderful restaurant, but in the umpteen times that I've been there, I've never seen David Kinch serve foie gras as just a simple item, either prepared cold or hot. In fact, I can only recall occasionally that he has used it as one ingredient among several in a dish. Ultimately, if you want the ultimate foie gras "deflowering," I can of course name you hundreds of places in France that outdo anything locally, but you probably should at least travel into San Francisco to do it justice, with my suggestion being La Folie.

Napa/Sonoma for special occasion

Good job getting a The French Laundry reservation to suit your trip time frame. That's no small feat, if on a weekend. My favorite restaurant other than The French Laundry in the Napa Valley is Redd, also in Yountville, very good one Michelin starred restaurant, actually a great value for what you get. Other great "special occasion"/romantic restaurants in the area include Cyrus in Healdsburg, The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Terra in St. Helena, the Auberge du Soleil Restaurant in Rutherford, and Domaine Chandon Etoile in Yountville.

2 nights/ 1 day in Yountville

My favorite restaurant in the area other than The French Laundry is Redd, which has already been recommended. Great tasting menu at $75 per person, although I usually order a la carte there, because I love the foie gras tasting trio (torchon, mousse, and terrine), and I like the petrale sole, duck breast, and beef (NY steak and short ribs) entrees. My wife loves the risotto appetizer. The peanut butter chocolate gianduja dessert is outstanding.

Mustards Grill, as has been mentioned, is not that long of a drive from Yountville, and has one particular dish that is a must-try, Cindy Pawlcyn's grilled Mongolian pork chop. You'll never find a grilled pork chop anywhere else that retains its juiciness like this one. I'd suggest this for lunch instead of Brix.

Ad Hoc and Bouchon are both pretty good, although won't rock your world (except Ad Hoc's fried chicken, as already mentioned.

Biustro Jeanty, I feel, has fallen off somewhat in quality in recent times, although does some very traditional French bistro classics, if you are a fan of that.

If you are willing to drive up the road a little into St. Helena, I also would recommend Terra.

White Shallot?

I literally just tried it with some friends this past Friday night. The location is a bit awkward, strangely set as a storefront in a strip mall adjacent to BevMo. There are two "sides" to the menu, French and Vietnamese. It is not French-Vietnamese fusion food. There were some hits and some misses. First off, let me mention that they appeared to be a bit understaffed for a Friday night, so service was a little slow, although I actually felt bad for our server, who was trying to move as fast as possible. With regards to food, there were some hits and some relative misses. The French onion soup was just OK, a little on the salty side. The Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup was pretty good, not the best I've had, but something I would definitely order again. The French beet salad was quite tasty (may have been a special?), although the Vietnamese beef and green papaya salad was just OK. The mussels appetizer was pretty mediocre, although the escargot, and I didn't expect this, was actually quite good, the best thing I ate all night, I think. The salad with pork rillettes was actually a surprising find on the menu and not bad. They were unfortunately out of the Vietnamese sea bass, which was one thing that I really wanted to try on the menu. The braised short ribs were OK, with the meat consistency a little uneven and a little too heavy on the red wine taste. The shaking beef was actually quite tasty, certainly not the best that I've had, but still pretty good. The lemongrass chicken, I'm told, was pretty good. The desserts were average at best. The crepes suzette was a little too heavy handed on the liquer, with not enough orange infused tang. The coconut jelly was served in the coconut and was just OK. The profiteroles, I'm told, were not bad. All in all, I'd go again. For the money (good prices), it was a pretty decent meal.

Lunch - Downtown San Jose

I'd agree in general, downtown San Jose is not a culinary mecca. The best you might do is Arcadia, the Michael Mina outpost in the Marriott Hotel, which serves some of his classics, including the lobster pot pie, as well as some decent, if not memorable steaks. The restaurant unfortunately looks like a typical hotel lobby restaurant, however. Otherwise, I would wander into Los Gatos or Saratoga for far better dining options.

French Laundry in Napa or Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas - Which one?

Clearly I've never been to these "at least two other places" in Vegas with jambon Iberico, although I tend be to a proponent of going to the source. My reply to Missmoo is about L'Atelier in Vegas, though, since I was asked by her about it, not about the Iberico, I just happened to mention it to give an example of things you can find at L'Atelier, not to start a debate about where you can or can't find it.

French Laundry in Napa or Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas - Which one?

Try finding it elsewhere in Vegas.

French Laundry in Napa or Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas - Which one?

Missmoo,

Absolutely I would. L'Atelier is fantastic for the price. The Paris one has a Michelin star and the one in New York does as well, I think. The one in Vegas does not have much of a drop in quality despite being in the circus known as Vegas. The foie gras parfait with parmesan amuse bouche is an outstanding start, and the rest of the menu is delicious as well. I particularly like the poached baby oysters, the sliders with foie gras, the lobster, the broth with foie gras ravioli, and the hangar steak. They also serve Iberico ham, which is a surprising treat. The only thing that I have ever eaten there that I found to be mediocre was a whitefish that was underseasoned (can't even recall what fish it was, it was so forgettable). But otherwise, it is a wonderful place to dine. Just keep in mind that you are seated at a counter around an open kitchen, served by staff from behind the counter. The prep here is intricate, so looking into the kitchen is actually quite nice. The alternative is a few tables on the side, but they only will seat you at a table if you have at least a party of 4. If you must have dinner at the Mansion, though, the current "special" menus run as low as $89, I think, for two courses and about $20 more for each additional course that you want. The Mansion is decidedly more formal that L'Atelier, however.

French Laundry in Napa or Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas - Which one?

I've been to both, and if it were feasible to go back in time, I'd go to Jamin when Robuchon was cooking there over both choices (TFL and Robuchon in Vegas), but that is of course not possible. As has been alluded to previously in the thread, The Mansion Joel Robuchon is French haute cuisine whereas The French Laundry is California French, so what you prefer in style might help you to make a decision. I have not been to The French Laundry since Corey Lee left as chef, although I imaging that the food quality remains solid, as Keller promoted from within. For total dining experience, The French Laundry is certainly superior when you take into account food, service, decor, and setting. Although Robuchon is more expensive, they are running prix fixe menu and tasting menu specials, depending on number of courses desired, because Vegas tourism is suffering so badly. And yes, you are correct, a table at Robuchon will be much easier to get than one at TFL. As for Atelier de Joel Robuchon, it is very nice as well, although certainly not up to the quality of ingredients and preparation as The Mansion. Plus the quality of food at L'Atelier in Paris is superior to the one in Vegas. If I were you and had never been to either, I'd go to The French Laundry, even though I personally prefer traditional French haute cuisine. The reality is that although Keller is the best chef in America, Robuchon is after all Chef of the Century, so if both were actually cooking in one of their restaurants, you should of course go to Robuchon's restaurant,

Harris or Arcadia?

I like Harris' as the best steak I've had in San Francisco, although I like House of Prime Rib for the namesake dish more. I've been to Arcadia once before, and the food is not bad, not as good of course as Michael Mina in SF. The restaurant is itself very uninspired, as it sits in the lobby of the Marriott and looks like a run of the mill hotel lobby restaurant. I agree with your take on Alexander's, in that American prime steaks there are only OK at best. If you go to Alexander's and want something great, you unfortunately have to spend more than $100 on either an Australian steak or Japanese Wagyu. But then again, it's the meat that still shines above the preparation, in Alexander's case. If you've never been, I find that the best steak in the South Bay, which I like better than Harris's actually, is at Forbes Mill in downtown Los Gatos.

La Folie or Fleur De lys?

SWS, Robert,

I think that perhaps my word "attacking" was missplaced, I apologize. I think we can just suffice it to say that La Folie is a very nice place that serves excellent food. The reality is that we probably shouldn't try to "label" restaurants into specific groups anyways, and I would admit to being guilty of that myself. I think that most great chefs each feel that he or she is trying to do something great and unique and does not want to be "categorized." I was actually unaware that Passot has highlighted the formal nature of his restaurant in comparison to other one-star places, although I would venture to say that his restaurant exhibits nowhere near the formality of the area's most formal place, The French Laundry. I agree, I would not compare his restaurant either to Cafe Claude (to which I have never been) or Chez Papa Bistro or the other Patricia Wells's selections such as one of my favorites Chez Georges, which are typically more traditional bistros rather than the newer "gastronomic bistros." In all honesty, I personally find the Dining Room at the Ritz, Masa's, and Fleur de Lys to be more formal than La Folie, but that might just be me. I don't think that his food is any less tasty than Ron Siegel's or Hubert Keller's, though. It is a good point that Passot's true attempt at a bistro is through Left Bank, though, I admit. As an aside, if anyone has not tried his new endeavor, the steakhouse at Santana Row in San Jose, LB Steak (formerly Tanglewood), don't. I went on opening night, and Passot was there personally greeting each table. Admittedly, it might have been first night kinks, but we were served undercooked chicken (wings) and some of the worst steaks I dare say I have ever had at a steakhouse. Anyways, using Joel Robuchon as a comparison, as was mentioned, I would reference his restaurants in Las Vegas (which I admit is not a mecca of dining for true gastronomes) as illustrating my opinion. I might compare La Folie to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (in Las Vegas or elsewhere) but not to The 3 star The Mansion by Joel Robuchon. At any rate, I am sorry for appearing defensive or confrontational on the subject, I don't think that there really is a substantial disagreement in opinion but rather intrepretation here. LOL.

La Folie or Fleur De lys?

That's your opinion that what I said is misleading. I've already been attacked on this forum for what is simply MY opinion on what La Folie is. I did NOT indicate that this is just "Provencal bistro cuisine." Rather I was simply making a distinction that Passot's cuisine to me resembles more what a gastronomic bistro serves (which is not what a traditional bistro serves). For example, I had drawn a comparison (not in region, but in preparatory style) to Stephane Jego or Yves Camdeborde, both of whom have a delicate, intricate touch in which they render classic fine French cuisine more "in touch with the masses" but still serve delicious food that is more complex than that served in a traditional bistro. I had by comparison indicated that Passot's cuisine would not be compared to that of Passard or Pacaud for example, but those two also serve MUCH more expensive cuisine. For comparison to Provencal cuisine, per se, I don't think that I would compare La Folie to La Palme d'Or, La Bastide Saint Antoine, Ousteau de Baumaniere, La Mirande, or Christian Etienne either, to name a few. There is no appropriate comparison of a "gastronomic bistro" in Provence that I am familiar with, however, which is why I used Parisian examples. I do realize that Passot was classically trained in Lyon, but I don't think that with La Folie he is trying to recreate a formal French haute cuisine establishment, which I don't think would do that well locally anyways, particularly because of price (I don't think that there would be a huge number of customers for $150 Bresse chicken or Breton lobster). That all being said, I think that La Folie is wonderful, one of my local favorites. But again, this is only MY humble opinion.

La Folie or Fleur De lys?

HK Foodie,

I'd agree with what you say. I guess my point was simply that La Folie's cuisine is closer to upscale bistro cuisine than French haute cuisine.

La Folie or Fleur De lys?

Whiner, good point, I would agree with your assessment, although the one caveat is that Provencal cuisine in Provence tends to be lighter, I would say, than the variety found at La Folie.

Please Help, Avignon on Sunday, Aix on Monday.

I can't speak to Aix, but in Avignon, I can say definitively that Hiely Lucullus is open on Sundays, right in the heart of the shopping district, and it serves very good food at a pretty decent value for what you get.

Sep 14, 2009
Paris Dreamin in France

La Folie or Fleur De lys?

SWS:

I don't think that we are really in disagreement, I think that we simply have different definitions for the colloquial terms used. By "homey" I do not mean to demean or indicate that Passot's food is something that anyone could cook at home. I simply find that Passot's cooking is more like "gastronomic" bistro cooking than the pinnacle of fine dining. In other words, I find Passot's food to be more like Yves Camdeborde's or Stephane Jego's (two very impressive chefs) rather than Alain Passard's or Bernard Pacaud's. Then again, some of this has to do with the fact that Passot does not have access to or does not use some of the incredible ingredients that these latter chefs use (nor is dinner at La Folie $800 or more for two, though, either). He also couldn't possibly lavish as much time and attention to each and every detail as some of the Michelin 3 star chefs can, given the fact that Passot's kitchen probably serves 3 times as many covers per night. I do have to disagree, though, that, although I have not eaten at all the 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, I have never eaten at one (among Le Meurice, Le Cinq, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Astrance, L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, La Grand Cascade, La Table de Joel Robuchon, Les Ambassadeurs, Lasserre, Taillevent, Michel Rostang, Les Elysees du Vernet, Ducasse) that had quality of food and cooking technique that was exceeded by Passot, but then Passot's food again is nowhere near as expensive as any of those. The reality is that La Folie is still probably one of my 10 favorite restaurants in San Francisco. I hope that sheds some light on what I was trying to say.

La Folie or Fleur De lys?

SWS:

Perhaps you and I simply have different ideas of what would be described as "homey." I consider "homey" to be what one might find at a Parisien bistro or brasserie (both food and ambience). I did qualify it by describing Passot's food as refined bistro cuisine, which I would still stand by. The reality is that you can find seared foie gras or sweetbreads at many bistros in Paris. The standard of comparison for me is that the menu at La Folie is much more similar to that at gastronomique bistros such as Chez l'Ami Jean, La Regalade, Le Comptoir, or Josephine Chez Dumonet in Paris than at haute cuisine restaurants L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie, Le Cinq, Guy Savoy, etc. That being said, saying it's homey is not detracting from the food, since I actually quite like the food at La Folie, and I compare it to those specific "gastronomique bistros" in Paris because they are all wonderful. But then, I would note that I am certainly not an expert on La Folie, I've only been there 4 or 5 times.