Our fourth week in Paris: Omar Dhiab, Palais Royal, Flocon, Les Arlots, A.Lea, Granite, Origines

Omar Dhiab - I was mildly curious when Parn mentioned the new restaurant Omar Dhiab a few days after we arrived in Paris. And then k-man followed up by including it in plans for his November trip. Then when it appeared before us while walking down rue Hérold during one of our Paris walks, I thought the culinary muses must be guiding us there. So we booked lunch, and wow, it was good. Better than good for sure. Intriguing flavors bursting out of every dish. At first I thought the restaurant must have a middle eastern slant, but except for the introduction of a few mysterious spices and the nougatine at the end of the meal, it was brilliant modern french cuisine. The elegant salle was full which added a liveliness to the superb plates. Staff were friendly, but professional too. Beautiful marinated bonita, perfectly not-overcooked St. Pierre with a wine sauce in which lotte liver was added, a simple pear dessert. No question that we will be back again.

Palais Royal - The gardens of the Palais Royal are probably my favorite place to be in all of Paris, a fondness likely shared by many. But the idea of dining at the two-star Palais Royal Restaurant under chef Philip Chronopoulous never occured to me until last year when the chef at Pertinence mentioned it as one of his favorites. So there we were, sharing an extraordinary lunch in a casually elegant room overlooking the gardens at ground level. An interesting aspect of the various menus available at different price levels is their similarity in terms of structure, sauces and condiments. So if the 255€ lunch included langoustines or lobster, the same dish in the 130€ lunch was made with gambas. Or the more expensive veal-prune-onion-mustard plate was replaced with pork-prune-onion-mustard in the more affordable lunch. Of course the three-course lunch became more like six or seven dishes, all stunning. Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves immensely and certainly plan on returning.

Flocon - We met with friends at Flocon and had a fine meal. Nothing exceptional, but very nice. And the service was friendly and helpful (including running half a block after dinner to return my glasses left behind!) We thought the chef was particularly good with vegetables, reflected in a smoked trout and beet dish, as well as roasted celery on a purée of parsnips. While I wouldn’t cross town to dine here, if I were cruising down rue Mouffetard at lunchtime or Sunday brunch time, I would certainly stop by, although Flocon is small and you might need reservations on weekends. Sometimes this can be done just the night before or “le jour même”.

Les Arlots - Les Arlots in the 9th is the great neighborhood wine bar/bistrot where you’d like imagine meeting your friends on a Saturday night. It has a pared down list of many of the French classics: sausage and mash, entrecôte, duck breast confit, oeuf mayonnaise, carpaccio of tête de veau, tartare of some raw fish, a homey soup, chocolate mousse, riz au lait… You go for the fun vibe and the well-prepared basics. We had a memorable evening.

A.Lea - As soon as William opened the door to A.Léa we knew from his irresistible smile that we would have a great Sunday lunch. The location of A.Léa must be charmed because we previously trekked up here repeatedly to come to dinner or lunch at L’Arcane, and now it looks like we’ll be doing it again. I started with beautifully tender langoustines, followed by a bass filet served with Vendée beans. R started with a beet carpaccio studded with fresh smoked eel, and then moved on to a succulent quasi de veau.

Granite - Another home run for Granite. A very warm welcome on a rainy Halloween night. They remembered R didn’t drink alcohol. They remembered what I like to drink (I know, I know, they keep good notes). Dinner is five or seven courses. We chose five, among which, jerusalem artichoke in a vin jaune sauce, a slightly cooked filet of char; pigeon breast, thigh and liver; an ice cream, custard and whipped cream all done in different affinages of Conté cheese. The engaging staff made the evening very enjoyable.

Origines - This was our third lunch at Origines with chef Julien Boscus who used to be the chef at Les Climats. A couple of years ago his lunch menu provided a choice of a couple of dishes for each course, but last year the menu provided no choices. We weren’t crazy about what was available on the menu so we went with the slightly more expensive 4-course tasting menu. Each course was spectacular. But this year he wasn’t offering the 4-course tasting menu so we just stayed with the 3-course no-choice lunch menu. Two courses were great (a beet/smoked trout combination that was beautiful and delicious), but the main was just plain boring: a braised lamb that any good home cook could prepare on top of bulgur. We love what Boscus is capable of cooking up, but if things don’t change in the future we may cross this one off our list. However, if you come for dinner and get one of the tasting menus or order off the carte, your meal is bound to be extremely good.

FYI: https://omardhiab.com; https://palaisroyalrestaurant.com; https://www.restaurantflocon.com; https://www.facebook.com/lesarlots; https://www.alearestaurant.com; https://www.granite.paris; https://www.origines-restaurant.com

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@sfcarole Thanks for another super collection of “you were there” descriptions. You’d better stay there!

Another thank you! Such great descriptions, I would add to @pilgrim’s comment that I feel I “was there!”

I’m laughing reading your list because I’m in Paris now. We went to Les Arlots for lunch on Wednesday (actually recommended by a friend years ago, and chosen mostly for proximity to Gare du Nord), lunch at Flocon yesterday, and dinner will be at Aléa tonight. Oh and oyster happy hour at Istr - all those thanks to HO. I’ll do a separate write-up so as not to hijack a perfectly written report. Thank you!

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Thanks Madame Pilgrim, ninkat and Paula for your comments- HO has made this trip so much more enjoyable for us as well. We also went to Istr one day when we wanted a light lunch, and loved it.

I still have to post our fifth and sixth weeks (this was our longest trip yet together) which I’ll do in the next week or so. Wish that we could “stay there”! Especially through the fêtes de fin d’années.

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Carole, thank you so much for these fabulous reports — we are looking forward to the fifth and sixth.

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My attention hasn’t been on Paris recently but today I’m taking a break from World Cup controversies and eating way too much Lebanese and Emirati cuisine to relax (at the beach) with HungOn.

Of course, fulsome praise for your foodie adventures in Paris. Very well-done descriptions of not just the food but the tone of each restaurant.

But a quibble. I have a much higher appreciation of Flocon which, given its location, is an unexpected gem and even more commendable because of its fab price/quality ratio and youthful vibe. Admittedly, I have never been for lunch (which is always a toned-down meal) but have always immensely enjoyed the conviviality of my 3 or 4 delightful dinners (“entre potes”/ with my best pals) there.

Nevertheless, even though I long ago proposed to Madame Mangeur/ Pilgrim who turned be down, we should get married… with the exception of Flocon, our tastes are very similar. I’m also huge fan of a.lea and am delighted that you validate my appreciation of it. Maybe the feng-shui of location adds a lot. I enjoyed the food and ambiance when Arcane was here but, now that Arcane has moved up the street and got a Michelin star, I am far less enthusiastic and much prefer a.lea in Arcane’s former premises. I’d also like to sneak in a plug for another restaurant in the same ‘hood, Chantoiseau on rue Lepic with the hope that it gets on the to-do list for your remaining time in Paris…. everything a good neighbourhood restaurant should be.

And even more chuffed that you enjoyed Omar Dhiab. I was blown away by the surprise flavours and combinations there but was cautious in recommending it after just one experience in the very jubilant first fortnight of its opening.

But ya allah! on second thought, maybe divorce. You rich gringos spend way too much on restaurants in Paris. Evil grin. I can only afford many of the restaurants on your have-done list with my expense account. And when it comes to the essential purpose of a restaurant as a social occasion, the enjoyment (at least for me) is often much greater at less rarified places.

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We liked Flocon a lot at lunch last week. I plan to do a brief report over the Thanksgiving break - which will include our favorite meal at…{drum roll}…Chantoiseau. :grinning:

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Thanks, sfcarole, for your commentaries here and for the other weeks.

Re SFCarole’s and Parn’s commentaries:

I’ve been a regular customer at a.léa since last March – about once a month when I’m in Paris. Based on that, I think I can advise that although the regular lunches are bargains, one really should go in the evening or at Sunday lunch (as carole did) to fully appreciate what this talented cheffe can do.

I was at Flocon with SFCarole and we all four agreed on her evaluation – good for the neighborhood but not a destination restaurant. Of course, that was just one Saturday evening.

Re Chantoiseau, I went several Sundays ago for lunch with very high expectations and came away very disappointed. In particular, a blanquette de veau that was dry and stringy. For an entrée, I received a single, thin slice of foie gras for 22€; I compared notes with SFCarole, who had been there last spring, and she received two generous slices of foie gras with salad for 17€. Something seems to have changed: I would not recommend on the basis of my one visit, and if you have not been this fall, maybe you should go again to re-evaluate.

At Omar Dhiab, I had a very good value lunch, but want to see again, as there were some rough edges to some of the food and to the service (and I wasn’t taken by the room). Two days later, I had a lunch at La Scène Thélème that blew Omar Dhiab out of the water, as good as the latter was.

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Congratulations to France on its win against Denmark! And happy belated Thanksgiving to most of the rest of us.

Well, Parn, I’m enormously flattered by your proposal, which perhaps you later retracted :cry:, and despite your outstanding proposal to Madame Mangeur, I think the solution is to marry both of us. Certainly in some parts of the world that would be okay. And I know Pilgrim and I would get along splendidly! I would just sit back and be entertained by listening to you and Pilgrim discuss all the philosophical aspects of dining.

Ah, Flocon, I had looked forward to that Friday night. We all arrived around 8pm and were the first there. By 8:30pm only two other tables were filled, one with a family of four, another with a quiet couple. Granted it was raining, but I expected a little more liveliness. Could something have recently changed at the restaurant? I peaked at a couple of recent TripAdvisor reviews and they were not good, although admittedly most were very good. We will for sure give it another try, maybe on a Saturday or Sunday.

Regarding Chantoiseau, we had a great lunch there in October 2021. As onzième has noted, we received a generous portions of terrine de foie gras de canard, roasted langoustines in a delightful shellfish sauce, one of the best ris de veau we’ve had and a gigantic portion of perfectly (very red) cooked duck breast. We didn’t return this year because, as good as the meal was, there were some spices in some dishes that seemed like they were edging toward a different type of cuisine. Maybe we should have returned this autumn, but onzième’s comments made me hesitate. If anyone else visits this lovely spot on rue Lepic, please post and let us know about it!

As to your last point, some of us not-so-rich gringos may choose restaurants to spend their euros on, others may go to World Cup games. And probably my favorite day in Paris this year was a bike ride up the Marne with R (no tour groups, please) on very good road bikes we rented in the 4th. Our lunch as we stretched out on the grass along the Marne was whatever snacks we happened to have in our jersey pockets.

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