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Trip Report--Paris, March 2009, two Fodorite GTGs, 27 meals, some new sites

Trip Report--Paris, March 2009, two Fodorite GTGs, 27 meals, some new sites

Apr 14th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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Les Ministeres

On our first day of walking about, I had made no lunch reservations but got pretty excited when almost precisely at noon I found us walking on a trajectory to take us directly to Atelier Joel Robuchon. I began to think that the idea of serendipity in dining selection which DH has always professed, might not be so bad after all. At that precise moment, however, another place appeared on our right and DH decided to really push the philosophy to its ultimate end. I'd never heard of this place but at least was able to find an entry for it in my trusty Pudlo guide. It turned out to be just fine, actually one of our better finds.

It's very reminiscent of Le Grand Colbert, complete with giant globe lights and potted palms but missing Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. The menu is typical old fashioned bistro/brasserie and we went with it. Oysters, pate, fois gras with duck gizzards and steak tartare. Everything was good, but because we ordered some of their more "exotic" dishes the food tab came to more than we'd have paid at Colbert, 105 for two.

Les Ministeres, 8th arr. 30 rue du Bac, metro Rue du Bac, 42 61 22 37.

Mon Viell Ami
This was one of my favorites. DH wasn't quite so high on it as I, but he enjoyed it. I'd been reading lots of recommendations for it on various foodie websites and decided it had to be on the hit list.

It was quite wonderful. It's a small place and quite dark with a gigantic clear vase about 5 ft. tall with flowers
practically reaching the ceiling. A big hit was my cocotte of skate with potatoes, radish and apple shreds in a mustardy vinagrette. DH had a terrine, then he had scallops in a foam with more shreds of "stuff", and I had kid with mashed potatoes. This is a place where we both opted for desserts (most likely due to a prix fixe menu), a rum soaked cake with pineapple and a dense chocolate cake with almost black chocolate ice cream. The food was attractive, very tasty and the prices reasonable (82 euros for food for two) This place deserves the hype it's getting.

Mon Viell Ami, 40460135, St. Louise en Ile 60, 4th arr. Pont Marie metro

Potager du Roi

This is where we chose to dine after returning to Versailles with our museum passes. It's right in downtown Versailles, which is quite a charming little place. We stopped to see the nearby church and strolled along a charming main street after dining. This is also a good example of how you can often get wonderful cooking in smaller towns for less than it would ever cost you in great cities.

While I'd planned to steer us to this restaurant for lunch, I did not make advance reservations and we were very lucky to score one of their few unreserved tables. Lots of local townspeople were dining on their wonderfully reasonable prix fixe menus and they led us to one of only two tables that were not filled.

They started us with an amuse bouche of spring pea cream soup--tasted almost like eating fresh peas from the garden. Entree of house terrine with watercress flowers, then cod over swiss chard with burnt butter sauce--Yumm. DH had excellent scallops that formed a little dam on his plate between foam on one side and lentils in bouilliabaise on the other. Cute and good. With coffee but no dessert, we paid 27 euros for my meal and 30 for his. Excellent.


This is a new favorite of ours across from the Odeon theatre in the 6th. It's apparently a well-established, long time place in existence for over 60 years as attested to by the pictures on the wall of the Queen and Liz Taylor and Eddie Fisher who had dined there before us--though not together, I presume. Old as it may be, it's kept up with the times and has a modern maritime feel with a Cocteau inspired decor. We were served by a particularly pleasant waitress and seated near some interesting fellow diners.

They started us with an amuse of periwinkles. DH followed with oysters and I had a wonderful razor clam (one of my all-time favorite foods) and scallop combo with spinach leaves and plump cherry tomatoes, all sauted in butter. Sweet and very, very good. We chose the same main course--bouilliabaisse which had a nice saffrony broth and very minimally cooked identifiable pieces of a wide variety of fish, all with their skins still on. Very essence of the sea. Very fresh.

La Mediterrannee,43260230, 2 Odeon Place, 6th arr., Odeon metro
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 07:51 AM
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This is an Asian place I found on the site Whitings Writings. Before going to Paris, or most anywhere else, I always make a point to have a list of Chinese and other Asian restaurants along so that when DH digs in his heels and swears he can't eat another French meal, we won't have to just settle for the next restaurant we find with hanging lanterns. This one was a bit off the beaten track near Parc Dupleix. Even so, by the time we left several local French/Thai families had arrived for their Saturday lunch, so apparently Whiting isn't the only one to have found it.

It's quite a pretty place with nice Thai decor, not kitschy at all. I had silk noodle soup and multiple meats on skewers with friend rice. DH, whose name is Val and by which I shall refer to him hereafter, opted for egg rolls and shrimp on skewers. Food for the two of us came to 64 euros.

Erawan, 15th arr, 76 rue de la Federation, La Motte Picquet Grenelle metro, 47 83 55 67


I had been looking forward to this meal perhaps more than any other. I'd read about this place and even stopped by to see it and its menu on a previous trip and decided this time we absolutely had to book. It's very tiny so I thought booking would be essential and I was right.

They specialize in offal, what Tony Bourdain calls "the nasty bits" of leftover organ meats, etc. I love this stuff. I can't say I'm a real die hard tripe fan for instance, but gizzard salad, sweetbreads, pigs feet--and snouts and tails, etc, just do it for me. They also have some not so nasty items so that people like me can dine there with people like Val and still order without problems

I had to do it. I had the cow's udder salad. The udder was in thin slices about the size of a playing card, crisped and laid over the salad. I can't say it was mind-bending or anything, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the few opportunities I'll ever have to experience this dish, and it was fun, if not terrific, and certainly not creepy or anything.

Before having the salad, however, we had amuse of head cheese slices. While I was having the udder, Val had three large pieces of marinated salmon. This was something I noticed this trip. Restaurants seem to have ditched the thin slices of smoked or marinated salmon for fairly thick (about 1/2 inch or more) long chunks marinated almost like salmon tartare. I think it's a good change. Val followed with two perfect cuts of medium goose breast over braised celery and I had tete de veau with ravigote sauce.

Again we both had dessert--the same for both of us, a perfect 4" round each of unctiously creamy St. Marcellin cheese. I don't have my receipts for the costs of this meal, but I recall it as being quite reasonable. I do know for sure that the ambiance was delightful. It's one of the most charming (ok, so I tend to overwork that word, but hey, it is what it is) places we dined during the trip. It has two small rooms with about 14 covers each, warm yellow/gold walls with here and there a drawing of pigs and sausages, and tables decorated with small, low bouquets of anemones, here in purple, there in red, and over there in yellow. Delightful. Pleasant, caring, if overworked, service.

Ribouldingue, 46339880, Rue St. Julien de Pauve--right across from the church--in the 5th, St. Michel metro.

Aux Tonneaux des Halles

This was one of my two selections for a possible replacement for my beloved Chez Clovis in the Les Halles area, which a renovation seems to have ruined at least for me since I prized it above all others for its patina of age and continuation of traditions from the time when Les Halles actually was Les Halles. This place has the patina of age thing right, but unfortunately the food didn't quite live up to the old Chez Clovis standard.

I was able to order herring in oil and it came appropriately in a communal casserole but I wasn't happy that the accompanying boiled potatoes were cold rather than hot as I think they should be. I was also unhappy with my beef provencal with noodles--just not inspired or even very good. But Val was happy with the Auvergne sausages and with the duck confit and garlic fried potatoes he had.

The place seemed on a Sunday lunch to be doing quite a brisk family business on its outside terrace facing Rue Montorguiel. It's in the 1st arr, on that market street, metro Les Halles. Again I don't have a receipt so I can't provide price information but this was inexpensive.

Aux Tonneaux des Halles, 26 rue Nontorgueil, 42 33 26 19

Petite Pontoise

This place is open on Sunday which is a wonderful thing in itself, but it has lots more to recommend it. It's a classic. Small, cute, pleasant service. Nothing not to like. Excellent food, pleasant surroundings, what Americans want to find when they go to Paris. And it's even more reasonable than the newer trendy places--75 euros for food for two. Best to dress for coolness. The place is quite small, always fills up and gets rather warm.

We had a most wonderful, tasty dinner there. Val had escargot served in a small copper pot in a green cream sauce with plenty of garlic, then green beans with crayfish salad and risotto with morels, in another copper pot. I opted for a very respectable duck terrine followed by lamb with provencal vegetables. Classic. And just swell.

Petit Pontoise, 43292520, 9 rue de Pontoise, Maubert metro

L'Echo du Clos

We'd planned several other things to do the day we ate here. None of them worked out for one reason or another and we found ourselves hungry and walking aimlessly just hoping to have something appear that might offer a decent meal. This place filled the bill. Val had fois gras and I had artichoke hearts with crayfish over greens then he had braised beef provencal over noodles and I had duck confit with fried potatoes--kind of a switch of dishes we'd each had the previous day. We found the beef better here and the duck better at Aux Tonneaux.

We both finished with 3 cheeses--a chalky goat, one cow's milk and a second goat. Tiny tarts accompanied our coffee as a thank you from the hosts. Again a lack of receipts, but as with Aux Tonneau, quite inexpensive and certainly serviceable with rather homey atmosphere.

This one I don't even have an address or phone number for. I just recall that it was at the lower end of Rue des Martyrs (where the Amelie cafe is) probably in the 9th.

Lao Tseu

Another of Val's "I must have Chinese now" places. I selected this because it seemed a straight shot from our hotel down the Blvd. St. Germain. It turned out to be further than I expected and after walking all that way there appeared to be a distinct possibility that we'd not be able to be accommodated for dinner since we had no reservation. They fit us into the tiny first floor entry room where tables were snuggly close to each other, but at least we got seated.

Again, this was a pretty much "grown up" kind of Chinese restaurant with restrained decor. It was also pretty much a neighborhood place judged by how familiar the wait staff seemed to be with many of the diners. Again soupl with silk noodles, this time also black mushrooms and chicken. Dim sum in steamer baskets and finally Imperial duck for Val and lamb with ginger and green onions for me.

65 euros for food for us two, could have been considerably less if we hadn't over ordered, though I must admit we finished it all. That's because it was good.

Lao Tseu, 209 Blvd. St. Germain, Rue du Bac metro, 7th arr. 45 48 30 06
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 08:12 AM
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My mouth is watering just reading your restaurant descriptions! Really enjoying your trip report and looking forward to the rest!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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LCI, glad you're enjoying it. We really did seem to have awfully good luck on this trip. Our pre-trip picks lived up to our expectations and even our desperation grabs netted us some good experiences. We would be happy to return to at least 18 or more of them and we'd be overjoyed to repeat at least 6 or so of those. This was definitely a good trip, all the way around. Good weather, good sights and excellent food.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 09:36 AM
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Hi Julie! It was so nice to meet you and your husband at the GTG. I love your report and your writing style. I dream of having two weeks in Paris. Our weather didn't hold up as well as yours did but we still had a great time.
gomiki is online now  
Apr 14th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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There are quite a few restaurants in Paris bearing the name Paul, or Chez Paul, or Paul something or other. This one happens to be a lovely little bistro on the Place Dauphin on the Ile de la Cite and one of my new favorite spots in all of Paris--the Place not the restaurant, although the restaurant is plenty nice too.

Decor is relatively minimalist and service got a bit hectic as the place filled up. It's also quite small with rooms facing the Place and the Quai on the other side, a bar of sorts primarily for service staff to pick up drinks for their tables in between the two rooms, and there are several tables outside on the Place. Because the Place is directly behind the Justice Courts, the clientele runs to legal types, many of whom seemed to inhale their lunch while they read briefs or prepared to get back to court.

Food was good in an old-fashioned way. Val again had marinated salmon, again thick rather than thin slices. I had oeufs mayonnaise. He surprised me by ordering bar over fennel which he loved (he's usually more of a meat than a fish eater) and I had blanquette de veau in a nice creamy sauce over rice. We split three scoops of sorbet for dessert, chestnut, mango and kiwi, all rather odd tasting, especially the latter which tasted more like fish than fruit. Wonder if it had anything to do with their refrigerator. Doesn't sound good as I write about it, but I don't recall being put out about it either. With espresso for both, the food came to 74 euros, probably a bit higher than usual for a lunch.

Paul, 43542148, 74 Place Dauphin, 1st arr, Chatelet or St. Michel metros.


Our second favorite meal of the trip. I'd been reading constantly about this new restaurant which replaced Chez Toutonne in the 5th, near Petit Pontoise, and about the great chef who'd previously been at Temps au Temps, in the 11th I think, on Rue Paul Bert, which was such a tiny little place people were fighting for reservations. I'd even had a reservation there myself one night but it was a warm night, it was a very small place with tightly packed tables and no air conditioning and Val rebelled at the last minute. Now things had all come together to make this the perfect place for us to have dinner. It was near our hotel, the space was nice and pleasantly decorated, it wasn't too hot or too cold and I'd finally get a chance to experience the chef.

I wasn't disappointed. There is a youthful vibe about the place and a feeling that it's destined for big things. The food is as beautiful as it is delicious. It's reasonably priced and the waitresses couldn't have been nicer.

We started with 6 oysters apiece. Each was tarted up with some topping and usually we'd hate that kind of thing but we came prepared to cut this guy a broad swathe. The best topping was the seaweed, but the celery root chards were good too, as was the plain aspic. I wasn't so crazy about the smoked aspic nor the beetroot and radish, but sometimes you have to take the bad with the good. Like I say, had we been in a really critical mood, we'd have crabbed about unnecessary embellishment but we were feeling generous and expansive and we gave points for originality.

Our main courses were fantastic. Val had pig, prepared in a modern version of the Spanish cochinillo with crispy skin and meltingly tender meat accompanied by perfect, creamy mashed potatoes with just a hint of parmesan. I had goat (my favorite meat) and it too was perfectly done, accompanied by a red rice in a wonderful syrupy sauce with a bit of cream foam on the side.

We had strawberry or raspberry maccaron sandwiches for dessert. Everything was excellent. At the time Val called it "best meal"--but we hadn't yet eaten at Fables de la Fontaine. 84 euros for this meal was a real bargain. This was quality food prepared with real imagination and skill.

If you're looking for a special meal which will show you the best of the new bistro cooking and ambiance, this is a place to book.

Itineraires, 5 rue de Pontoise, 5th, Maubert metro 46-33-60-11

Belleville Chinese

I'd promised Val another Chinese meal when we went in search of Belleville park in the ethnic area of Belleville. Sorry I don't even have the name of this place, but it made him happy and it didn't make me unhappy, so it was perfect. It was a rather large place on the rue de Belleville. We had dim sum and even ordered a second helping of those tiny pork ribs in black bean sauce for dessert. Pretty cheap.


I took the recommendation for this meal from Pudlo. He selected it as one of his favorites in the 6th and we'd walked by it on a previous trip, so it was due to go to the head of the list. I'd read complaints about the cow pictures but found nothing amiss about the decor. In fact, I rather liked it with its half timbered walls, and bright lighting. We were seated at the only table in a kind of purgatory between the main front room and the stairs to the upstairs dining area and the kitchen. They even had some of their food preparation equipment across from the table, nonetheless we were happy with our space. It was roomy and cool in a place that I expect heats up like Petit Pontoise when you're seated cheek by jowl with other diners in the snug main dining areas.

Our waitress was perky but not in an annoying way. Basically it meant that she was fast, another good thing because there were only two wait staff for a full house.

Val started with oysters (again), and then had lasagne with salmon in a pink celery sauce. Very tasty. I wasn't as fond of my oxtail terrine until I scraped off the pimento it came with, left the curry sauce on the side and substituted Val's migonnette sauce to give it a bit of sour. Then it was good.

They had aligote on the menu--one of my all time favorite French dishes of mashed potatoes with cantal or tomme cheese and garlic that turns into stringy shreds after being beaten to the right consistency that can reach heights of up to 3 feet or more. Unfortunately the aligote was paired with a large piece of meat intended for 3 or 4 persons and while I was hungry, I was not that hungry. They kindly agreed to bring me a side dish, so I got to have my aligote and eat my tongue stewed with sugar snap peas, Chinese mushrooms and bacon too. The aligote was wonderful. The tongue, another of those nasty bits I really enjoy, was a little too over the top with all that accompaniment. Left me with a feeling that they were trying just a bit too hard to be trendy.

They redeemed themselves with an excellent cheese plate of tomme, Bleu d'Auvergne and Reblochon. Generous portions.

At 73 euros for food (only 3 euros for my side of aligote) this was quite a reasonable meal and mostly a good one.

Ferrandaise, 8 rue Vaugirard, 43263636, in the 6th arr, by Odeon metro.

Delices d'Aphrodite

I've had an eye on this place forever. We've dined several times at it's upscale sister, Mavromatis, and I consider that to be the nicest Greek restaurant in Paris. Delices is just around the corner from Mavromatis and I may even like it better or at least equally but for different reasons. This is more casual and it has a very pleasing interior of teal blue wood and overhanging philodendron.

The waiter was cheerful and refered to us as Mr. and Mrs. Portokalis. She may not be svelte, but I'll take a comparison to Lainey Kazan anytime. Val starts with tarama, olives, mushrooms and other Greek appetizers. I have a wonderful plate of octopus then Greek salad. Val has giant shrimp and I follow with lamb and all the time we drink a nice Greek rose. Good stuff.

Delices d'Aphrodite, 43314039, 4 candolle, by the Censier Daubenton metro stop, not far from the end of Rue Mouffetard, 5th arr. Note: These folks have just opened a beautiful new catering/take away store on the street that leads from Rue Mouffetard to the metro. The offerings are very upscale and the place is classy.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Yes, gomiki, as we left our dinner after getting together with you on our last night in Paris, we got the first and last real rain of our trip. I thought of you all then and worried that you might not be as lucky as we had been in the weather department.

We enjoyed so much meeting all of you. Thanks for getting us all together. Hope we can meet up again sometime.
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Apr 14th, 2009, 10:13 AM
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julie, adopt me!!!!!
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 10:34 AM
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Petite Perigourdine

This is one of those places like so many others that sits on a corner in a neighborhood and looks like it might be an ok place for a meal--or not. In this case, we went at the urging of Beatrice, the wonderful front desk concierge at our hotel, Parc St. Severin. Beatrice is an enthusiastic gourmet who had recommended Truffiere to us on a previous trip. We'd liked that and so came to trust her recommendations. She didn't let us down.

Actually after listening to her description of the food she'd had at a dinner at Petite Perigourdine recently I felt like the woman in Katz's who listens to Meg Ryan faking an orgasm and tells the waiter "I'll have what she's having." Beatrice really throws herself into her food descriptions and you feel yourself pulled along until you decide you simply must dine where she's dined.

And so we wound up at Petite Perigourdine having aligot (just realized I misspelled it previously, sorry) twice on this trip. We paired it with steak and preceded it with poached egg with smoked salmon in cream sauce over cabbage in butter and a plate of charcuterie. Alas I forgot to have the plum tart with caramel sauce that Beatrice had rhapsodized about, but we got a non-food extra that even topped the food for us.

The place was celebrating something--we never did find out what--and had they hired an accordianist for the evening. She played everybody's favorites and the boys at the bar--and the rest of us--all sang along. This is the kind of wonderful good fun you hope to just luck into, and we did. Lily Marlene, Je ne Regret Rien, even the Marseilles (sp?) What a fun time. Food only 64 euros for two. With that much singing and good fun, however, we doubled the bill with the wine we kept drinking. Oof da.

Petite Perigourdine, oops, don't have the address, but it's in the 5th or 6th, I believe on the rue des Ecoles. Just look at the corners or drop by the Parc St. Severin and ask Beatrice to direct you.

Fables de la Fontaine

This wasn't a new place for us. We'd been twice before and I had all but decided that it might be better than Atelier Robuchon IMO. It's run by protoges of Christian Constant and it's just down the street from his other places, on the same mini-square as Fontaine des Mars. In the summer they can almost double their size with the tables they set in the square but the restaurant interior only seats about 22 people. For that reason we felt incredibly lucky to drop in at about 12:30 on a Friday and snag the only two remaining places. We were squished but ecstatic to be able to eat there once again.

This place is not inexpensive. In fact we spent 135 euros for food for two, but if it was our priciest meal, it was also our best, so I guess the price to happiness ratio was still good.

The "goodness" of the food was immediately apparent as we were served an amuse of fois gras creme and parmesan foam over a hard cooked egg with a hint of raspberries in it somewhere. Exceptional.

Val had extra large and very tasty oysters (that's the kind of ordering that invariably drives the price up) while I once again ordered my favorite dish that remains, thank goodness, on their menu time and again--langostines in crispy ravioli with thyme and basil dipping sauce. This time, however, my favorite dish may have been surpassed by my new favorite dish--St. Pierre, white, wonderful and flakey, accompanied by artichokes and artichoke puree and morels. Wonderful.

Val had scallops with endive cooked in ham slices and suddenly became an endive fan, big time. As he's raving about the best meal of the trip, our dessert is presented--tiny natural, not farm raised, strawberries in a cornet in a glass which is spewing forth smoke. Can't honestly say what all this was about, but it was pretty startling and certainly didn't harm the taste of the berries or their exceptional sauce. It did make my vanilla ice cream atop tiny cookies look a bit tame by comparison.

I've really never seen anything bad come out of the kitchen of this place. It's all good. I would go again and again. It's special. And because it is and because I will probably always opt to go there, I may never get to Cocottes, another Christian Constant place right down the street that I keep thinking I'll try. Choices. So hard to make them when they're all so good.

Fables de la Fontaine, 131 rue St. Dominique, 7th, Ecole Militaire metro, 4418 37 55
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 10:59 AM
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Wonderful report, JulieVikmanis!

Thanks for the food reviews - they're great!
queen1730 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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Glad to read your report on Intineraires, I had it on my list for our last trip but we ran out of time. It will be our first stop on the next trip.

Your lunch at Les Ministeres,was a bit pricey. They have a 3 course 35 Euro menu at dinner. The selections aren't as exotic as your lunch but are quite good.
avalon is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Joan Grace (Gracejoan3) and I are having lunch at Fables on May 2nd. Next trip try Les Cocottes-a fun place, good food and very reasonable.
Weekender is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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Like Itineraires, Christophe is a place for which I'd read many reviews, all with glowing recommendations and high praise. Unlike Itineraires, however, it didn't turn out to be one of our new favorites. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't the top experience we were expecting.

We found the room cold, both actually and metaphorically, and the service ok but not truly pleasant. We weren't excited about the menu overall. Instead of having to make a tough selection because there were so many things we wanted to try, we found ourselves trying to decide which of the few choices available might be ok since none really struck our fancy.

Val pronounced his escargot ok but not outstanding. I found my basque pork nems to have too much pork in them to provide a good balance of crispy skin to meat and with no hint of sweetness to balance the spiciness of their sauce.
Of all our choices my veal chop was best, a beautiful cut of meat, perfectly done but with nothing except its perfection to set it apart. (Does this sound harsh?) Val had sufficient trouble finding something else to his liking that he wound up selecting an appetizer plate of sausage and fois gras for his main course. True to the chef's trademark, you could tell it was all well-sourced, but it didn't substitute for a well-cooked dinner.

I don't know. Maybe we just "don't get" this place. Maybe I was looking for the wrong things. Others have certainly found it to have the right stuff. What can I say?!! We are who we are. We eat what we like, and this place just didn't provide what we were looking for.

Chrisophe, 8 rue Descartes, in the 5th, Cardinal Lemoine metro, 43 26 72 49


When I was in Disney World at the France pavilion a while ago, I bought a coffee table book with pictures of beautiful places to dine in Paris. I knew all but a few of them. One that I did not know was Mollard. So I started to pay attention to reviews about it. I learned that it's a brasserie (I believe still independently owned rather than one of the two big chains) across from a gare with fantastic art nouveau mosaics and tiles on the walls. I also learned that like so many of the brasseries, it was resting on its laurels and its food was nowhere near the equal of its decor.

Nonetheless, I more or less started to plan to try to see the place if not to break down and dine there. So I was elated when serendipitously we drove by it on a bus while starving after our trek to the Batignoles area. We pushed the stop button and walked back to it and were greeted by a jaw-droppingly beautiful place that afforded us not only eye-candy but some pretty decent food besides.

The place is all mosaics and mirrors and waiters in typical black suits with long white aprons--a trip back in time. For food it's typical Brasserie fare with expensive shellfish platters, but also sauerkraut dishes and other typical "French" fare that certainly looked to me as good as that at Bofinger or Cafe Capucins and I dare say the decor almost puts the beauty of those stalwarts to shame. It's across the street from the Gare St. Lazare, and worth not only a stop when within the neighborhood, but a full scale detour.

We pigged out on oysters and a plateau des fruits de mer, so the price went sky high, but it could be kept in check by ordering other, standard brasserie dishes. Pudlo extols the cooking of the chef as "first-rate" and recommends the scallop carpaccio, the rockfish bouilliabaisse, the veal kidneys and the Grand Marnier dessert omelet. One way or the other, you should arrange to see the interior of this place. It's gorgeous.

Mollard, 115 rue St. Lazare, 8th, metro St. Lazare, 43 87 50 22

Petites Sorcieres

This place just a little way from the Denfert Rochereau metro stop which is on the 4 metro line and easy to get to from the St. Germain area where we stayed, is owned by the female chef Ghislaine Arabian who is known as a kind of spitfire who keeps falling out with her staff and restaurant owners. At one time she seemed headed toward three star status, but her temper seems to have deterred her. She's apparently calmed down and is now running her own place in a quiet neighborhood softened even by pictures painted by children on the walls. It is basically a neighborhood bistro but a good one and her cooking has a Belgian flair sometimes incorporating beer.

We've followed this woman's career (where in France is Ghislaine Arabian?) so it was fun to finally be able to eat at her place. She was handling the front of the house, so the kitchen was without drama the night we ate there. She was quite charming as a hostess, and the food her staff was putting out was very good though priced somewhat higher than that you'd expect to find in a typical neighborhood bistro, perhaps in recognition of her quasi-star status. Though we arrived at opening, the place filled completely while we were there.

Val loved his mushroom and fois gras soup and was delighted to get another endive fix, also with scallops which was good, but not as good as that he'd had at Fables de la Fontaine. My skate and leek terrine was beautiful and very good, as was my duck confit with fried potatoes. I do wish, however, that I'd given her beer-based dishes a whirl

Les Petites Sorcieres, 32 Rue Liancourt, metro Denfert Rochereau, 14th arr, 43 21 95 68

Aux Armes de Bruxelles

This place was not in Paris, but rather in Brussels, as you might have guessed from the name. It was expensive, both because of what it is, and because of what I ordered, but it was the most fun we had in Brussels, and given how disappointed we were in the rest of the city, we needed that. I think the place may now or in the past have had a Michelin star and it is good, probably one of the best in that restaurant area surrounding the Grand Place.

It has two dining areas, one rather formal with flowers on the tables, and one more diner like with beautiful old art deco decor. The same food is served in both. We opted for the less formal art deco side.

Val had a dozen oysters and I had excellent herring in champagne vinegar and onion with a side of celery root salad. Then Val had one of his favorite Belgian dishes, eel in green sauce, and I had a fish waterzooi. Both of these are quintessentially Belgian dishes, and we couldn't come this far without having them, but we paid dearly for them. The waterzooi was made with turbot and priced at 47 euros. Ridiculous really, but by this time I was already figuring we'd never be back and carpe diem and all that.

If you've never had waterzooi, it's a wonderful creamy stew of chicken or fish with boiled potatoes, and other veggies at the choice of the chef. It's delicate and comforting--and probably not worth 47 euros, but I already explained that carpe diem thing that carried me away.
Dessert was a near perfect tarte au citron with raspberry coulis. What can I say, we did it. It's over, and for us, so is Brussels. It hurts to have an old favorite go bad.

I don't have the address or other information but I assure you this is a good place to eat if you should find yourself in Brussels and you can eat much more reasonably than we did--especially if you think it might not be your last meal in Brussels ever.

Actually it wasn't even our last meal in Brussels, We had another, also on one of the streets surrounding the Grand Place, before we caught the Thalys back to Paris. It wasn't worth writing about, though among the places there it was surely not the worst.

Chien Qui Fume

I'd always seen this place as I sailed by on my frequent trips to Chez Clovis in Les Halles and thought we might try it sometime, so it was a natural to audition for our Chez Clovis replacement and it may be it. It's on a cross street to Rue Berger, about block from Chez Clovis across from the Les Halles park area. It's sort of a cross between Grand Colbert (though much smaller) and Chez Clovis, and more modernized than I'd like but acceptable from that patina of age perspective. The food is certainly good and in the Chez Clovis old classics vein.

I had Saucisson slices over lentils, then the tete de veau with great gribiche sauce. Val had oysters then langostine salad. Everything was swell. I'm sure we'll return.

Chien Qui Fume, Pont Neuf 39, Les Halles metro., 1st,

Chez Dumonet

I don't know why I've resisted this restaurant. I've seen it mentioned time and again (usually by both its names--Josephine/Chez Dumonet--but never picked up on it as a place to actually eat a meal, perhaps because its kind of out of the way for us, on the outer reaches of the 6th, though it is on the main 4 metro line. At any rate, I finally bit the bullet and took a chance on it, and it turned out to be one of our new favorites. Actually if it were in the Les Halles area, it would instantly become the new Chez Clovis.

It has all the old stuff, both for decor and for food. It's a true classic. Val's herring in oil was perfect. It came in the communal casserole with onions and carrots and a side of WARM (not cold as at Aux Tonneaux) potato chunks in a nice mustard sauce. So was his duck confit with garlic potatoes, as was my artichoke salad and most of all my cassoulet with two large chunks of great sausage, two pieces of fat ham, and a bit of duck confit.

It being our last meal of the trip (and a great way to wrap things up) we capped everything off with a Grand Marnier souffle and raspberries in creme brulee. Heavenly, actually perfect. Another place we'll return to for sure.

Josephine Chez Dumonet, 6th arr, 117 rue du Chrche Midi, Duroc metro, 45 48 52 40.

So that's it, for those of you gluttonous enough to hang in there with me, something like 25 meals in Paris on one of the best trips of our traveling career. We sure enjoyed it. And I enjoyed reliving it as I wrote about all those meals for you. Hope you enjoyed it to. Happy to answer any questions I can.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 637
Hi Julie,

I'm just finishing my first bottle of rose, the Sancerre. Delicious, of course.

It was fun to see you and Val again, and to hang out at Le Derniere Goutte. Hopefully we can make it a regular occurrence!

melissa19 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
Thanks so much for your report, and above all for the restaurant reviews. You went to a couple of my favorites (Chez Dumonet/Josephine and Les Fables de la Fontaine) and you've given some intriguing new ones to add to my list.

I'm sad to hear about Chez Clovis! We've gone there a few times and loved its unpolished old-time atmosphere and food "like Maman used to make." What did they do to it? Is it really ruined? Please say it isn't so!

Did you need reservations at Mollard? That's one I've never heard of, but it sounds worth it for the decor if nothing else.

You sound like someone that I'd love to sit with and compare notes with over a glass of wine, and your report makes me feel in a way like I just did!

Much appreciated! Many thanks!
marcy_ is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 03:45 PM
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Hi, melissa19. The wine looked good. Glad it was. Did Cora find more exciting "French" things to buy? We enjoyed seeing you all again, and think that it's entirely possible we might wind up doing it again sometime.

marcy, my check on your profile and your previous posts tells me you're quite a serious cook and francophile. So I'm doubly pleased that you enjoyed my report.

We've only been to Chez Clovis once since it was renovated. They did keep the marrow bones on the menu, but they pretty much cleaned everything up and installed--quelle horror--chandeliers!!. I haven't had the heart--or the stomach--to give it another try but suppose that for the good of the order, I really should. It just looks too yuppified to me and I quickly called "uncle" and decided to try to find what I'd loved about it elsewhere. I'm actually somewhat encouraged by Chien Qui Fume though the best would be the decor of Aux Tonneaux with the food of Chien. Perhaps I will continue my search. It helps, however, to know that there are kindred spirits who also loved Chez Clovis the elder who might profit from my efforts. Thanks for reading. And let us know if you either try Chez Clovis and find that I threw in the towel too quickly or find a more suitable replacement.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 04:09 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1,799

It is good to see your post. I just re-read your cooking school post and remember it well. Welcome back. I just spent the weekend in Indianapolis-are you still there?
Weekender is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,102
Julie, thanks for the all the great information for our next trip to Paris. This trip we also dined at Petit Pontoise and Itineraires, and enjoyed both. They are on the same block but represent very different culinary traditions it seems. Sunday night at Le Petit Pontoise was crowded with Americans but the food was very good in the traditional manner. Thursday lunch at Itineraires was full of Parisians and the menu was much more what Tomas says is 'seasonally fresh' and 'trend setting'.
AGM_Cape_Cod is online now  
Apr 14th, 2009, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 554
Thank you Julie for such detailed restaurant reviews, EJ
elsiejune is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 06:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Julie, We'll have to give Chez Clovis a return visit
to see how we feel about the new decor. Thanks for the info.
Thinking of other spots in the same neighborhood, how do you feel about Chez Denise?

I don't want to highjack your thread, but I'm looking for a couple of restaurants for this weekend, so I'll start a new thread, and I'd appreciate any input you might have.

Weekender, thanks for the welcome back. I do stop in here from time to time. Still hanging out in Indy, when I'm not traveling.

AGM, I'm always eager to see your restaurant opinions, as well.
marcy_ is offline  

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