j

jdream's Profile

Title Last Reply

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

We did! Needed one more round of the tajarin (it was as good as the first time).

We went to Da Ivan today-- what an amazing place! La Buca was great too, though Da Ivan takes the cake. Report to come eventually...

Nov 15, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Il Centro was a dream of a restaurant. From the sleepy town to the warm welcome by Enrico-- we loved every moment of this experience! While the dining room was very hushed and mostly empty, it didn't feel barren or uncomfortable at all. The wine list was unreal and loved getting to chat wine with Enrico. We started with an Arneis and then had an '85 Nebbiolo from Fontana Francia. I know Nebbiolo isn't meant to age this long but the combination of perfect storage conditions and a stellar vintage made for an absolutely stunning expression of old Nebbiolo.

We were started with an amuse of house made salumi and pickled cabbage on a tiny roll-- we knew after that bite that we were in for an exceptional meal. For antipasti we ordered for the table the carne crudo with tartufo, thinly sliced vitello in an herb sauce and roasted peppers wrapped around a tuna sauce. It would be thoroughly impossible to choose a favorite among these. The joy of eating was only bested by the look on Enrico's face as he enjoyed how enthusiastically we were about the food.

For primi we had tajarin with tartufo, plin with "sunday" sauce (pork sauce, beef, chicken liver) and a wheat fettucine with bagna caudal & autumn vegetables. Each was better than the next. My parents and husband all favored the plin but for me it was all about that fettucine. The nuttiness of the pasta, with the pungency of the anchovy and the earthiness of the beets and romanesco-- it was perfect!

For secondi we did rabbit liver with red wine sauce and agrodolce onions and veal cheek with caramelized fig sauce. The sauce and onions were amazing with the liver, though the liver itself was a bit overcooked. No bother-- liver is tricky and the amazingness of everything else more than made up for it. The caramelized figs and veal cheeks was stellar. The sweetness of the sauce and the super tender meat was just perfect-- and the Nebbiolo could not have been better with it. The wine as actually a TOUCH reductive and while that's considered a "flaw" in a wine it actually went so well with the fruit in the sauce.

We finished with their hazelnut dessert which was a warm soufflé, a dissolving magical hazelnut something and a scoop of hazelnut gelato-- all perfect (as were the petit fours). We ended with a tour of the cellar, hugs & kisses from Enrico and him giving me his daughters email address since she lives in New York- he would like for us to get a coffee. All in all it was an incredible meal and the clear standout-- among many great meals-- in Piemonte.
-------------------------------------

Unfortunately we didn't make it either Veglio or La Cocinella which is a bummer. My parents were feeling under the weather and weren't up to it. We ended up eating at the hotel (Palas Cerequio) which was good. Certainly not better than other meals we had, but much better that most hotel food. It was interesting, we had a number of locals (winemakers, shop keepers, etc) try and steer as away from Veglio saying there was much better food to be had. That wasn't what kept us from going but was interesting/surprising given the love on this board how unanimously it didn't get love around town. As in every place we leave there are always place we wish we could have tried… here La Cocinella, Veglio (maybe?), Della Posta as well as some spot that don't turn up here but that we kept hearing good things about Casa Seracca, Casa Ciabotto, L'angolo di Rosina, Guido, Schiavenza…

The standout meals were definitely Il Centro and Da Bardon, both of which I would return to over and over. La Torre in Cherasco was the only place I wouldn't recommend to someone coming to Piedmont. It was by no means bad, it just didn't leave an impression. Bercau was lots of fun, food good, some things very good-- and they did have the best version of tajarin we found… We thoroughly enjoyed the food and wine and scenery of Piedmont and it's a region I hope to explore more in the future!

Last 4 days of the trip left, two Parma, two Milan, then home. Last up La Buca and Da Ivan...

Nov 14, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

I am combing through many posts that mention la buca. Any chance I can ask you to provide a link to one where you mention your "must try" dishes?

Nov 13, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Alright... some catching up to do:

We had dinner last night at Osteria La Torre in Cherasco. The dining room was simple and elegant and the food was certainly more refined as far as plating goes than other places we've been. The wine list was terrific, we started with a lovely Paolo Scavino Nebbiolo and followed it with a stunning Conterno (Giacomo) Barbera '11. We started with a flawless bagna cauda, perfect vitello tonnato and carne crudo with tartufo. The bagna cauda & vitello tonnato were both terrific-- thoughtful presentation and really well executed flavors. The carne crudo was good, but the truffles seemed pricier and not as of high a quality as at other restaurants. Additionally, they came out already shaved. We've found we much prefer it done table side where you can more appreciate the aromatics. We followed this with tajarin with tartufo (same feelings about tartufo being "pre-shaved") and plin. The plin were served dry on a towel which was interesting and a bit dry but definitely allowed you to appreciate the flavor of the pasta. For secondi we shared snails, quail stuffed with liver in an amaretto sauce, and oven roasted lamb-- all excellent, but the quail a standout!

Desserts were hit or miss. A very odd burnet tasted of too much gelatin and a watery orange (?) puree. The poached pear with crema gelato was definitely superior.

We really enjoyed our meal a lot. Most of the food was incredibly well executed and very tasty. The wine list was terrific! However, we felt much less connected to the dining room staff than we had in other restaurants throughout Italy. And while we absolutely enjoyed it- I'm not sure it resonated (for lack of a better word) with us as much as other meals have.

Today was Il Centro (the highlight of Piemonte thus far. the food! Enrico! That cellar! It's going to be a hard one to beat) and a return visit to Bercau (we wanted to take my parents who are now in town). Reports to come!

We were supposed to go to La Cocinella & Veglio tomorrow, but we just don't have it in us. Fairly certainly we will cancel our reservation at Cocinella and just do Veglio at dinner. So many places to try, some might just end up on the "next time" list...

Nov 12, 2014
jdream in Italy

Munching in Turin

Ziggy-
We are headed to Torino for the day to pick up family from the train station. Where did you find parking nearly Giordano? (As it's also near the station).

Also, how was Italy?

Thanks!

Nov 10, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Alright, catching up here a bit:
Sunday night after a great lengthy lunch at Bardon we just wanted something quick and easy. We grabbed a pizza and salad at La Duchessa in Alba It did the job but certainly not somewhere I would recommend seeking out.

Monday we realized we forgot to make reservations for or just about any plan. I think it's harder to get into a restaurant in Piedmont on a rainy Monday that it is to get into a restaurant in New York just about ever! But I digress...

We spent some of the day just driving around and at lunch time we found ourselves near La Morra. We talked into Osteria Vignaiolo and was greeted by the rudest person I've encountered in Italy. I explained in Italian that "Good afternoon. I'm sorry, we don't have a reservation, but do you happen to have a table for two?" he literally stared at me, no smile, no sorry, nothing a just barked NO (loud enough that a nearby table turned around). I asked if perhaps he had something later on and was then barked at NO again and given the nastiest look as he glanced toward the door. I would never return to this restaurant and was totally astounded by this lack of manners, hospitality or warmth. That is not what restaurants are about and certainly not what Italy is about.

Fortunately this experience could not have been more contrasted to our quick but really nice lunch at More e Macine. Gracious service and tasty, simple food. We started with vitello tonnato & a delicious pickled cabbage w/anchovy salad. We then shared tajarin con ragu and a vegetable soup. Certainly nothing remarkable but all really tasty and a nice easy option for lunch in La Morra- just not worth driving out of the way for. Of note, they have a very good winelist and sell all the bottles "to go" and a very discounted price (we picked up a Mascarello Freisa that was listed at 20EU, for 13EU).

Again, no reservations at dinner and no luck. Given the weather and we knew we would be driving a lot of the next day we decided to stick around Alba and try and find something. We attempted to walk into La Libera-- while they didn't have anything they were kinda, courteous and offered a table for another day: Vignaiolo take note!

We ended up wandering into Osteria Sognatori which was packed every time we walked by. Super traditional, boisterous environment. No menus; just a bunch of antipasto to start (care crudo, farro salad, spinach flan with cheese sauce) and then we shared plin & rabbit with vegetables. Nothing to write home about, really super simple food that lacked some seasoning and finesse (particularly after Bercau and Bardon). But they were totally full with locals all of whom seemed to be regulars. Love that after your meal they put a bottle of grappa, a basket of clementines and a bowl of hazelnuts on your table. They also had the best tiramisu we've had in Italy; though that was definitely the only standout. There was basically no wine list, but the house wine was totally quaffable. Dinner for 2 was 40EU.

Nov 10, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Currently staying at Hotel Langhe in Alba. Tomorrow we move to Palas Cerequio in La Morra.

On an unrelated note: we have to pick up family in Turin tomorrow. They're taking a later train so will unexpectedly end up doing lunch there. Any recommendations for something (relatively) quick and delicious. Either in Turin or on the drive down to La Morra. They don't arrive until 1:30 so our window of time to get somewhere is pretty small....

(Will definitely review your notes before La Buca. And also ask for a cellar tour at Il Centro!)

Nov 10, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

We had a light lunch at More e Macine, which was just fine (a great cabbage salad with anchovies, vitello tonnato, vegetable soup). We realized we somehow totally forgot to make any plans/reservations for tonight. Scrambling to figure something out now...

We have on the agenda for the next week: Veglio, Il Centro, Le Torre, La Coccinella, Da Ivan & La Buca. So if tonight ends up being something low-key, I've got no problem with that!

It's the last week of 10 weeks of travel, leaning heavily on lots of your recommendations- so I'm sure it'll be a great week of food!

Nov 10, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Couldn't agree more. The drive, the setting, the service... that's all part of what clearly makes that place special. And that wine list is simply beyond words. At a point I needed to force myself to put it down. After visiting Bardon I need to revoke my statement that Bercau's list is "dreamy". Bardon's list is dreamy, Bercau's list is good (though it was my first glance at a wine list in Piedmont and astounded by the producers that were represented and the prices they were being sold for). Maybe this is why it's best to wait until the end of things to report in- need comparative measures...

With regard to Bercau, which you mention needing to try above... I do you think you should. The wine list doesn't have nearly the depth or breath of that at Bardon (but what does?!) but the food was really good and also devoid of tourists. I don't know that it would end up blowing your mind, but worth a visit if in the area.

Nov 10, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

For whatever it's worth I don't think I've stopped thinking about the carne crudo or plin at Bardon since we left yesterday. There is something about the room and the food... that restaurant definitely has a bit of magic going on there...

Nov 09, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Lunch at Da Bardon...
Our GPS took us on the scenic route and we were excited and hungry once we arrived. Loved the bread set right on table cloth and expansive windows looking onto the countryside. The wine list is impressive to say the least; overwhelming and amazing. We chose a bottle of the '98 Conterno Quartetto which (Gino?) the sommelier seemed very happy with- as were we.

We started with carne crudo and cotechino. The carne crudo was just amazing quality meat, served with olive oil, salt and pepper on the side-- an exercise in perfect restraint and just showing off awesome product. The cotechino was complex in it's seasoning and sticky from the fat of the sausage... in a good way. We then had two pastas; tagliolini with butter and truffle & plin. The plin here was superior to the one we had last night at Bercau; the tiny nuggets containing so much flavor and so much delicacy. While the tagliolini was good, it wasn't nearly as good as the tajarin at Bercau last night. The pasta was a touch overcooked and had way too much butter. Whereas last nights pasta was just barely coated the version at Bardon was thoroughly saturated which took away from the truffle flavor, additionally the pasta from last night had more bite and texture. I believe the volume of truffles and the quality of them was about equal at both places-- while the cost of the dish was quite different; 25EU at Bercau 39EU at Bardon. We finished the meal with a great cheese plate.

Loved the presentation of the big pieces of braised meat on the cart, ditto the remarkable cheese cart. The service was lovely and the room was great to spend an afternoon in. Really exemplified everything we love about Italy. We really enjoyed our meal and would absolutely return.

Nov 09, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

Wanted to try one of Vajra's wines and '09 was what they had. Still gives an essence of winemaking style and vintage-- though clearly not yet at it's prime. (As opposed to today's '98 Conterno Quadretto that was good and ready at Da Bardon!)

Nov 09, 2014
jdream in Italy

We're in Piedmont!! (reporting in...)

We arrived yesterday; we'll be staying three days in Alba before heading to La Morra for three days. Dinner last night was our first meal here...

Trattoria dai Bercau
We had seen the name of this place float around the boards a bit though no one had been and had gotten the recommendation from a couple friends that live in the area, so decided to check it out. It was packed and 100% with locals. It's a big restaurant with a real bustle going on.

All antipasto were served table side-- as in, a server comes around with a big pot or tray of something a puts some of it on your plate! The antipasto yesterday included a 1) boiled beef salad with salsa verde, chickpeas & red onion which was very good if a bit funky for my tastes 2) carne crudo, essentially raw beef wrapped around raw salsiccia with some bitter treviso type greens on the side 3) something they called "caponata" <or maybe I heard wrong> but it was more a stuffed cabbage with meat/breadcrumb/cheese inside. All were tasty, nothing mind blowing, but good.

For primi I had the tajarin con tartufo bianco which was simple perfection. Truffles super aromatic, pasta perfectly cooked and just a trace of butter left on your lips. They didn't weigh the truffle, they just stood there for about 30 seconds shaving mountains over the pasta. The dish was 25EU, I'm not sure where that falls in the scheme of things. My husband had the plin with butter and sage which was also absolutely delicious, delicate and flavorful. We got one secondi for the table, a piece of perfectly seasoned/cooked roasted pork served with impossibly creamy mashed potatoes.

For dessert, a mint semifreddo with amazing hot fudge & a torta bacio with chantilly. The wine list was dreamy, not super old vintages (only until about late '90's) but representation from some great producers and very fair prices. We started with Pelaverga from Burlotto, because when in Verduno... and then we had a bottle of '09 Vajra Albe Barolo- which opened beautifully. Though it's just two of us we've gotten in the habit of getting a couple bottles if things look great/well priced. We take what's unfinished back to our accommodations with us and taste how it opens over time.

The drive was about 15-20 minutes from Alba with only the last 5 being up a very narrow unlit road. At 35EU per person for antipasto selection, primi, secondi w/contorno & dessert it seems to be like a steal. It's our first meal in Piedmont and I don't expect it will be our best. However, it was incredibly good nonetheless-- the pasta and dessert were both exceptional. I will dream of the tajarin.

Today, we're off to Belbo da Bardon for lunch!...

Nov 08, 2014
jdream in Italy

Brief Lyon Report

Three days in Lyon and we had some very good meals. Since there's not much about Lyon on CH I wanted to briefly write back about our experiences.

Day 1
Leon de Lyon- had our first lunch here but really went wowed. The service was stuffier than anything we encountered anywhere else in France and the food was good, but not remarkable (beef cheeks, roasted pork, bream w/fennel cream, salade lyonnaise). Best part of the meal was definitely the merengue dessert with caramel ice cream & hot fudge.

Comptoir du Vin- loved it here! Couldn't be more simple, just a step up from eating in someones home. Limited menu but done so well. Between the four of us there was bavette with St Marcellin sauce, pork with cream sauce and steak tartare. The potatoes that all the dishes are served with are rustic and amazing. There's such a vibe here and the prices are beyond reasonable. 100% recommend.

Day 2
Boulangerie du Palais- We grabbed sandwiches and ate along the river. The fougasse with chevre was a standout, as was the roasted vegetable sandwich with tapenade.

Daniel et Denise- This was the classic bouchon meal we were looking for. Such friendly services and such an appealing menu. On our table was salade Lyonnaise (best of the ones we tried), foie terrine & sweetbread ravioli. For entrees there was an amazing lamb shoulder for two, a casserole with many pork bits & chicken with morel cream sauce; all very good (as were their fried potatoes). For dessert the madelines were chocolate were the standout, but creme brulee & poached pears also good.

Day 3
Etoile d'Asie- We needed a break from the heavy and had some Vietnamese food for lunch. This place was great, lovely service and exemplary pho.

Nord- Unfortunately our last meal was a bit of a bummer. This place felt like it cranked out food with no love (no other place in Lyon felt this way). Really not worth going through the dishes as nothing stood out. Everything fine, nothing more than mediocre and tremendously overprice. Also, snobby service.

Overall, we really enjoyed Lyon. Look forward to hopefully returning one day to explore more. Besides the culinary wealth, it was just a beautiful city with some of the friendliest people we met in France; full of pride for where they're from and deservedly so.

Nov 08, 2014
jdream in France
1

Lyon help, with apologies in advance...

anybody??

Nov 05, 2014
jdream in France

Lyon help, with apologies in advance...

Alright, the Lyon leg of our journey seems to have snuck up on us and we will be arriving tomorrow. Eek. My husband and I will be joined by his parents for a few days. We have jotted together a quick list that isn't as well thoroughly researched as what I would usually throw on a CH board. However, I would love a little forgiveness if some of these horrendous and don't belong on here or if a similar post already exists. We're on a time crunch and would love some guidance. Keeping in mind that we aren't looking for outrageously expensive meals (ideally under $50/per person for food), his parents are both sober so winelist isn't as much of a factor and we need places that we will be able to book for 4 people with only a couple days notice! Thank you in advance!!

-daniel et denise
-au 14 février
-cafe comptoir abel
-cafe des federationes
-le saint cochon
-poelon d'or
-l' ourson qui boit
-le centre
-Le Garage - 20€ lunch, 26€ Menu Lyonnaise
-L’Ame Soeur - 44€ Dinner (5 courses)
-Le Jean Moulin - 20€ Lunch
-la jura
-in cuisine
-le bouchon des filles
-brasserie chantecler
-le comptoir du vin
-brasserie georges

Nov 04, 2014
jdream in France

Baffled in Beaune-- P'tite Paradis???

la Ferme de la Ruchotte was absolutely epic with a full report to follow. It met and exceeds every expectation. Details on that to come with our full burgundy report...

As for PP; I guess what I meant about it not seeming like an off night was that sometimes you're in a restaurant and you can tell from service and peaking into the kitchen that things are not going according to plan. This happens. A cool called out, a server spilled a glass and can't recover composure, etc. To us it seemed like a standard night of service so we didn't chalk up out experience to an off tonight.

Perhaps it's simply a matter of taste or perhaps their current menu. The dishes we had were quite heavy (the lightness you described would have been most welcome!). But as you said, such is life and and eating. Not everything can be a home run. I more just wanted to know if chefs recently changes over or something like that. I still think the gummy crocodiles were strange. I'm all about the quirky, but this just was odd.

That having been said CH has indeed been invaluable on our travels and has lead us to wonderful gems like Angela. I hope our reports will be as helpful to others as others have been to us!

Nov 02, 2014
jdream in France

Baffled in Beaune-- P'tite Paradis???

Sadly I don't have 700 EU wine budget. And yes, it was gorgeous here yesterday and again today (which is wonderful since we basically had ten grey/rainy days in Paris before arriving here).

Nov 02, 2014
jdream in France

Baffled in Beaune-- P'tite Paradis???

Sorry- I wasn't clear. Lunch today is at Ruchotte but we are in town until Tuesday- which is when we would go out for dinner at either Madeleine or Ma Cuisine or..... When we walked by Ma Cuisine there was a tour bus of people taking photos outside which was a bit of a turnoff (though I know their winelist is supposed to be epic). You would say stick to Madeleine over Ma Cuisine?

For what it's worth should you ever find yourself in or around Arbois we had a fabulous lunch yesterday at La Balance!

(Still totally confused about this P'tit Paradis thing....)

Nov 02, 2014
jdream in France

Baffled in Beaune-- P'tite Paradis???

Thanks for responding.

I'm glad to know it wasn't just me... The places that we heard about from friends that visit often here Comptoir les Tontons (which we went to Thursday) & Caves Madeleine-- we heard mixed about Ma Cuisine.

Today we're having lunch at Ferme de la Ruchotte and are planning to have our last dinner here at Caves Madeleine. As it sounds like you're familiar with the region, do you think this is a good move or have another place you would recommend?

(and yes, it's pricey here!)

Nov 02, 2014
jdream in France

Baffled in Beaune-- P'tite Paradis???

So after reading so many great things on CH about P'tite Paradis we moved things around to make sure to get there and I have to say, I'm totally confounded by what the appeal is of this place. Generally I find the recommendations here to be so solid but this I just didn't understand. From a relatively commercial winelist (Drouhin, Latour) to the odd food, I just don't get it. We started with sesame breadsticks and a tomatoes/garlic/cheese paste that all felt a bit Olive Garden. For appetizers my husband had a watery carpaccio (frozen so able to be sliced?) garnished with pesto and lacking in salt. I had a tartlette of potatoes with mustard topped with smoked salmon. However the salmon was placed atop the very hot potatoes and ended up being slightly cooked. Both of dishes were garnished with the same green salad (which would later appear on my 2nd course) and the same dots of mustard vinaigrette and balsamic reduction around the edges of the plate. Very 90's. For the second course he had dish that layered pork cheeks with pancetta (which was more like overcooked Canadian bacon); it was fine, just absolutely nothing special. I had the smoked duck over gingerbread with apples which was probably the best dish of the evening-- but that's not saying much. We finished with a cheese plate which paled in comparison to the one we has at Tontons yesterday. The portion was too large, the cheese was too cold and the epoisses wasn't runny at all.

Our 110 EU bill was served on a bed of gunmy crocodiles and marshmallows.

I don't get the impression it was an "off" night. This just seemed to be how they prepared their food.

What am I missing here? I don't understand all the love. Can someone explain to me? Perhaps then I can get past the frustration and that irksome feeling of wasted money/meal....

Oct 31, 2014
jdream in France

A report: 10 days in Paris

As for as Flottes goes it wasn't abject so far as incredibly mediocre. Nothing beyond food that just didn't taste all that good.

As far as the attitude comment goes; perhaps the other reason as you not so subtly suggest is that there isn't attitude here in Paris (if I am correctly reading between the lines). And while that is entirely possible I think it is not uncommon for people when visiting Paris to experience this attitude- or so it has been relayed to us by many people. While we certainly didn't find the warmth here that we experienced in much of Italy, I understand that to be a bit of a cultural or social difference. So my only point in saying what I did was to suggest that I was glad that wasn't our experience as it was something we were weary about before visiting.

Oct 30, 2014
jdream in France

A report: 10 days in Paris

Day 1:
We arrived in Paris in time to settle in and go for dinner. We kicked things off at Chez Denise which was excellent. The dining room was bustling and it was so much fun. We were sandwiched between a couple super friendly tables (locals) who must have thought we looked hungry. As during our meal one of them offered one her marrow bones, insisting we need to try and a gentleman at another table urged us to taste his terrine-- who we were to say no? In addition to our neighbors generosity with had leeks vinaigrette, frisee salad & an amazing lamb and white bean stew (though really more resembled a cassoulet). The portions were huge and the server was kind enough to stop us when we tried to order two entrees. We adored it here and would love to come back with a group. This and a bottle of house broiully and we were VERY happy.

Day 2:
Lunch at Le Servan which was excellent. Tiny crevettes with cilantro and chile, squash soup with bonito, mackerel tempura, pork belly with anchovy, killer lemon meringue pie… I could keep going. There was definitely classic French technique involved but with a decidedly Asian bent. And most importantly the flavors were spot on and so well balanced. The 3 course lunch menu at 23 EU was a steal! We would absolutely return here.

Feeling like we were both coming down with a cold we kept it low-key and grabbed udon at Kunitoraya for dinner. It was good, did the job- but nothing to write home about and the prices seemed a bit absurdly high 14-18 EU for noodle soup. Nothing I would recommend or feel the need to return to.

Day 3:
In the morning somehow got totally turned around when looking for a patisserie (at this point I can't even remember which one!!). We ended up grabbing a pain au raisin at Angelina that was just fine.

We had lunch at Bistrot Paul Bert and so thoroughly enjoyed it. We started with pork rillettes and then had steak frites and sole meuniere. The sole was the standout of the lunch. It was buttery, lemony and perfectly cooked. For dessert we shared gaufre with unsweetened whipped cream. This with a bottle of Les Debonnaires Chinon and we were happyyyy! Really friendly service and just a great looking room. Would absolutely return. When we left we wandered past a patisserie that seemed very busy. We assumed there must be something good going on so we went into Les Temps du Maisons and got a apricot & pistachio tart-- it was a good move!

Full from a late lunch and without a plan for dinner we ended up with a mediocre bowl of onion soup and a salad at Cafe Flottes much later that night. It was a bad move. I don't want to talk about.

Day 4:
Grabbed sandwiches at Epicerie Generale after spending the morning at the Orsay. Cute shop and really good product. We had one with jambon, chèvre & tapenade and another with tuna rillettes & cucumber. Also a side of some tasting slaw. Seems to me a good budget option in the area.

That night we met friends for dinner at Bucherie Les Provinces. I haven't seen that place pop up much around CH but we so enjoyed it. Great wine list and truly exceptional charcuterie/terrines-- a standout was their duck and orange terrine. There were a couple steaks and some tartare on the table for dinner. All the meat was great! Only complaint; given that the only sides they served were potatoes and a salad I feel like they should do those well. The salad was unseasoned and barely dressed and the potatoes were also unseasoned and not cooked all that well. However, it was otherwise a delicious (albeit meaty) dinner!

Day 5:
We got some requisite macarons from Pierre Herme before heading from the 1st to our new lodgings up in the 10th. There were some interesting flavors (white truffle and hazelnut, olive oil & vanilla), but as always, I just find them too sweet.

After a number of heavy meals in a row we decided to take a break and grabbed some falafel at l'As du Falafel for lunch. I know it gets a bad rap around these parts but we really enjoyed it. Our opinion might be skewed by the fact that we've been traveling in Europe for a couple months now and were so thrilled for the change of pace in flavors. Particularly their harissa, tahini and hummus were quite good. We ordered a falafel platter and a schwarma platter and left very happy.

We grabbed some cheese from the super friendly Le Cremerie on Rue du Lancry. Great selection, great product and really helpful.

Continuing on our break from French day (minus the macarons & cheese) we grabbed dinner at Le Cambodge in our new neighborhood. Had a good noodle soup and some bo bun-- really enjoyed it and they were packed!

Day 6:
Started with incredible pastries at Ble Sucre-- in particular a life changing Kouign Amman. We walked through the Aligre market (which because it was a Saturday was full outside as well). This market was amazing and we preferred it head and shoulders over Bastille Market which we went to the following day.

We grabbed lunch at Urfa Durum; sitting on the worlds shortest chairs and thoroughly enjoying watching the cook use a blowdryer to make sure all the skewers were properly smokey. Again a nice change of pace from what we have been eating. The lamb was super tender and well seasoned. Still have sticker shock about the price of some things in Paris… there is a spot in NY that does similar sandwiches for $3! I mean this was obviously a cheap lunch, but relatively speaking….

Dinner was at Au Passage and probably the strangest meal of our ten days in Paris. The dining room, like many in Paris was bustly and the tables were close together. However, we were seated directly next to (on top of?) a group of about 8 British & Australian guys. They were passing around a bottle of whiskey at the table, drinking tons of wine, clearly were already wasted, getting up every two seconds to smoke-- and thereby bumping into us. They were genuinely disrupting the entire dining room and we just got the brunt of it being right next to them. To add insult to injury, we found out one of the guys was the chef of the restaurant which in and of itself would probably cause me never to return. That much disregard for your customers is not my thing. Which is too bad because our sever was lovely; really well informed and made great suggestions. The wine list was quite good and the food we ate was actually very good (particularly the tete au cochin with endive & mustard and the rabbit with a spiced sauce). I wouldn't return and wouldn't recommend-- as someone in the business I'm just not down with this kind of stuff.

Day 7:
Lunch at Jeanne B was really nice-- and again, impressively good service. We sat outside on our only sunny day in Paris so we were happy. We started with a steamed artichoke, pate en croute (which we were surprised to find was chicken), and a sweetbread terrine. All starters were quite good. We then had a roast chicken and a duck margret with chorizo. The chicken was tasty, the duck had nice flavor but seemed overcook (more like med-well) and the skin wasn't rendered. Is crispy skin/medium-rare duck an American thing? Everything was tasty, nothing amazing and most things seemed a bit underseasoned to us. The wine selection, however small, was very nice and their bread was excellent. Wouldn't run back but a nice option in the area.

We had dinner with friends that were unexpectedly in town leaving us a bit scrambling for a table for 4 on a Sunday night. After many calls around we ended up at Chez Paul (as found on David Leibovitz's website). It was packed, with very few tourists in sight. It definitely seemed like some homey French cooking and we had the classic "whoops we accidentally ordered some intense offaly stuff in France moment". We started with lardon/poached egg/chicory salad, escargot, rabbit rillettes (which were the stand out) and what they called leek vinaigrette, but was served instead with a tartar type sauce. After we had tete du veau (which we expected to be breaded and crispy, but intend was a pot of brains in it's braising liquid), a very good steak tartare and andoilette (this was our biggest surprise, we didn't realize the was an intestine sausage, oops). The food was hit or miss; with good rillettes, a fine lardon salad and great steak tartare. The standout of the night however was a most excellent tarte tatin. It was a super affordable dinner and a fun dining room, just nothing I would write home about.

*I should mention that breakfast every morning was courtesy of the amazing Du Pan et des Idees which was across the street from our apartment.

Day 8:
Lunch was tasty sandwiches from Cosi eaten along the Seine after exploring the Latin Quarter.

We picked up some incredible chocolates at Patrick Roger- wow!

Dinner was an impressive meal at Le Verre Vole. Despite urgings around CH not to go we decided to take the risk and am so glad we did. It was one of our best meals. We drank a killer Anjou Chenin and ate some super tasty and thoughtful dishes. Not to mention service which was helpful and friendly. We started with sardines with pomegranate, grapefruit & herb, a foie torchon and (the standout) an amazing bonito tataki with beets & cilantro. For a main we shared a pork dish with sunchokes, red cabbage and apple puree. We finished with a really great cheese course. Everything we ate was spot on and it was tempting to go back a second time. For those who were nay-saying, if it's been a while, maybe it deserves another shot?

Day 9:
Late breakfast/early lunch was at Angela's Banh Mi. We had the pork and the chicken and they were both amazing. Love how much carrot and cilantro she puts in there-- to me, there's usually never enough. When we arrive (about 15 minutes after they opened) she was scurrying because she hadn't made her mayonnaise yet. We were astounded and impressed to learn that she makes her own mayo fresh for the banh mi ever day! We ended up sitting and talking to her about food, cook, French cuisine and life for nearly an hour. Everything was delicious but the real standout was her! Would be here weekly if I lived in Paris!!

For a mid afternoon snack/late lunch we decided to try falafel at Mi Va Mi to decide for ourselves what we thought. Overall, I think Mi Va Mi edges out on top. Their falafel were slightly lighter and their food was seasoned with more love and complex flavors. I think L'as du Falafel wins for hummus, tahini and israeli salad and Mi Va Mi wins for everything (and their harissa is amazing!).

We were full until quite late so ended up with a late dinner at the bar at Le Mary Celeste. It was packed but we found the service to be really friendly and well organized chaos. We had couple cocktails and shared a few plates: roasted peppers with black vinegar & manchego, pork tacos with pickled shiitakes and ginger (the winner), beef tataki with harissa & tahini, tongue grilled cheese with jalapeños & tomato chutney (the other winner). Thoroughly enjoyed the food here, really smart flavors and well-executed.

Day 10:
Lunch was at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie. This was probably the weakest meal of our trip. We started with an onion soup that was oddly filled with some type of broken roux making the stock gritty/floury. It's too bad because what we could taste of the stock it seemed really good. There was also barely any cheese on it… For mains I had a Salad Gourmande (mesclun with various ducky products, tomato & egg). I got this because I wanted to be able to sample some of their goods… It was tasty, none of the product on it (foie, smoked duck breast, gizzard) was amazing and the salad itself lacked dressing/seasoning. The standout dish was my husbands cassoulet which was actually quite good. The food here wasn't poor, it just isn't a destination at all. Somewhat a bummer as our last meal is Paris, but after a week and a half of great eating, I can't really complain. Not to mention, we next head to Burgundy & Lyon…

My overall impression of the Paris dining scene is really very high. Particularly this whole "bistronomie" thing seems to be executing on a very high level. There are a lot of restaurants in Brooklyn that look/feel very similar. However, I must admit that from our experience the food in this style of place in Paris is of a higher level than that in Brooklyn. Don't get me wrong, there are amazing restaurants in Brooklyn. But there is too often a problem of style over substance whereas in Paris there was more substance with the style. We were surprised to find it so difficult to find what we pictured a classic bistro to be (with Paul Bert probably being the closest). Equally surprised by the prices of the places that are doing some of this more classic food that we were looking for (though we didn't make it there, from looking at menus for Chez Georges, Chez Josephine, etc). In fact, we were sticker shocked throughout our whole time here. Particularly after 5 weeks in Italy where we would have a great coffee for one Euro and an amazing pasta for ten. We fortunately experienced little to no "Parisian attitude" that we had been warned about. We're friendly people so maybe it's that, or maybe we got lucky… but overall service was really good. The options for "ethnic" food (i.e. not French) was certainly far superior to the options we found in any cities in Italy or in Barcelona. However, New York is still the winner in this category for me. Really though, we enjoyed dining in Paris immensely. The only problem is that we're leaving with a list of places to try as long as the one we came with! (Septime, Frenchie, Bones, Flesh, Josephine, Chez George to name a few, not to mention all the places we would want to revisit…)

Thank you for all the suggestions along the way!

Oct 30, 2014
jdream in France

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

It was amazing and only bested by spending time talking to Angela about food and cooking with passion.

Oct 29, 2014
jdream in France
1

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

So as it turns out we have friends in Paris right now (who knew) and might just have to revisit Chez Denise afterall tomorrow! We adored it, just needed a group to eat there and now we have one!

Thanks all for the recommendation (they're all noted in case the friends flake or to get our list started for the next trip).

Report to come at the end of this week...

Oct 28, 2014
jdream in France

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

Just confirming Le Valois or Bistrot Valois? Thanks!

Oct 28, 2014
jdream in France

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

Just confirming you guys are talking about the Chez Georges on Blvd Pereire?

Oct 28, 2014
jdream in France

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

Terrific-- thanks so much!

Oct 28, 2014
jdream in France

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

We are certainly not "profoundly dissatisfied"-- quite the contrary, we are really enjoying ourselves. Denise was terrific, but yes the portions were too large to really explore the menu much and we were also interested in trying more than one place with this style of food.

Oct 27, 2014
jdream in France

Two nights left in Paris, help us find something we haven't been able to please! The elusive classic bistro/brasserie!?

Alright- we've been eating super well here in Paris with much thanks to the CH board, with a long report in the works to follow. However, there is something we can't seem to be able to track down. We have eaten great modern bistro food here (ie Le Servan) and also some great classics (Chez Denise, Paul Bert, Jeanne B-- and really loved both). But we can't seem to find a classic bistro/brasserie to have great steak frites, escargot, roasted bone marrow, etc. We don't care if we are sitting on our neighbors lap or if the wine list is mediocre. We just want to have this experience and some awesome frites before we leave. I have to believe such a thing exists. Chez Denise is definitely that, but the portions are HUGE and it's just two of us. Would like to be able to go some place that we can order a number of dishes and not be as committed to just a couple plates as we were at Chez Denise, however delicious they may be (in fact, we tried to order two apps and two entrees when we were there and the waiter kindly discouraged it-- fortunately we listened). Push come to shove, we will happily return to Denise. But would love to try someplace else...

Merci!!

Oct 27, 2014
jdream in France