Our second week in Paris 2023: Perception, ChoCho, Le Grand Véfour, Soces, Pierre Sang in Oberkampf, Jacques Faussat, Café des Ministères

Perception - We had great anticipation for Perception and not surprisingly it delivered. Each course of our 6-course dinner was a light and fusion-inflected pleasure. The amuses bouches (noodles with bottarga, mackerel cru and beef tartare) were particularly flavorful. The Saint-Jacques course included an algae-based bouillon that didn’t try to compete with the delicate flavor of the scallops. A vegetarian course based on carrots was flavored with bokbunja, a fruit from Asia not unlike a large black raspberry, we were told. Superb. The lotte, followed by the duck course, were each cooked to perfection (i.e. not overdone). The sauces that accompanied each dish were quite strong with a bitter component that to me was not really pleasing, as if the caramelization of the sauce had been taken a minute too far. But to others they might have just tasted strong, as with a strong cup of coffee or a very dark toffee. Maybe it’s not the same every night. There were two desserts and I’d be hard pressed to say which I liked more - a satsuma/pistachio tart with pistachio ice cream, or a chocolate ganache and macaron with mango and some other tropical fruits, both delicious. The restaurant holds about 40 customers and on this night it was filled except for one table of two. Everyone seemed to be in their 30s and 40s, with a few outliers. A great evening.

ChoCho - Another delightful lunch at ChoCho. We shared four plates plus dessert, but we noticed that some patrons don’t share but order a couple of dishes that serve as an entrée and a main. I think it can be done successfully either way. When we visited ChoCho last November it was a Sunday afternoon and it was very packed and busy. This particular weekday it was about two-thirds full, but still very lively. The chef, Thomas Chisholm, was in the kitchen and was very approachable and pleasant.

Le Grand Véfour - Now taken over by Guy Martin this absolutely stunning restaurant with its neoclassical décor is supposedly the oldest in Paris. According to Wikipedia it opened under the colonnades of the Palais Royal as Café de Chartres in 1784 and was purchased in 1820 by Jean Véfour. Post-Covid it gave up its two Michelin stars and reopened with more affordable bistro food. It seemed like a fun stylish place to meet our friends who live out past St. Germain en Laye. You can order off the carte or you can order the three-course menu, the “Semainier”, available Tuesday through Saturday for 65€. Our friends each had the menu which was a beet salad entrée, lieu jaune and baba au rum. They said it was fine. We ordered off the carte, avoiding the pricier items. We both ordered the œuf parfait which was presented on sweet potato purée and with four squares of pineapple coated in pepper. The dish seemed like a campy joke and indeed tasted pretty dismal. For a main R chose the pork cheeks which he liked, and I thought I’d be safe with a fegola risotto with butternut. But it was bland and soupy, with nothing added to really elevate the dish. I couldn’t finish it. R had the profiteroles for dessert which IMHO were just okay. I skipped dessert. Well, what can I say, it’s a beautiful restaurant and service was excellent, but it’s the first time I’ve gone to bed hungry in Paris!

Soces - Back to a fun, lively little bistrot tucked into a quiet neighborhood in the 19th behind the Église St. Jean-Baptiste de Belleville and not far from Les Buttes-Chaumont. The menu offered an array of oysters, cheese and charcuterie, as well as a few entrées and three main dishes. Based on onzième’s review we expected more fish, but this night only a fish burger was offered. R eyed that immediately while I was primed for the beautiful pieces of cerf (deer) I had seen on a nearby table. These were delicious, as were the starters of a tartare of Saint-Jacques and a plate of barbecued lactaire mushrooms. Desserts were good bistrot fare: tarte Tatin and a pear/meringue/whipped cream dish.

Pierre Sang in Oberkampf - Pierre Sang has become somewhat controversial on this board, with some members having very good meals there and others having just okay or disappointing meals. Ours last night was at the very good end of the spectrum, while not being as good as last year’s. Interestingly the menu was all seafood, which was fine with us, but the lack of duck or veal seemed odd. Then I looked back at last year’s meal and noticed there was no seafood, only meat. In any case, we enjoyed the starter of tuna poke in a lemon/soy reduction (so we were told); seared scallops with a butternut squash purée; a sauté of several different kinds of mushrooms (pleurote, shiitake and korean pleurote) with a kind of granola, which seemed kind of strange but did add a crunchiness; salmon fillet with cauliflower purée and various condiments - a busy dish we thought; cantal with yuzu marmalade; and a rocky road bar dessert with mocha whipped cream swirls on top and a very light coffee ice cream on the side. Aside from the salmon dish we enjoyed it all, and it’s still a very good deal for 44€!

Jacques Faussat - As Andy Gottlieb explained here, J.F. is a very moderately priced one-star restaurant in the 17th. For their 3-course lunch menu they charge 60€ (70€ at night), plus supplements for various upgrades, which I chose thanks to Andy’s excellent advice. We started with an array of delicious amuses and then moved on to a splendid entrée for me of the house special foie gras-potato combination, which was a kind of multi-layered club sandwich made entirely of cooked potato slices and foie gras. R had the ravioli made with a very thin pasta filled with duck confit on top of a bed of cooked leeks in a ramen-esque bouillon. Both were excellent. For mains I chose the duckling breast confit which turned out to be a tad chewy but tasted quite good. R chose the maigre (a type of bass) in a silky citrus, butter and chive sauce, served with winter squash and garnished with kumquats. Dessert was an easy choice: a chocolate concoction for R and the supplement-worthy pear soufflé for me. All in all, a very nice lunch. The only reservations for me were that the room wasn’t very lively - definitely an older crowd - and that the chef, who was frequently in the dining room, is a bit of a fussbudget! We never interacted with him but he was always fussing around.

Café des Ministères - Despite what clearly appeals to many on this board, reading the menu at the Café des Ministères was almost enough to make me lose my appetite. Rich, heavy, traditional dishes. But…we had a sensational lunch thanks to lucky ordering and judicious eating. We started by sharing their excellent and generous portion of foie gras de canard des Landes. Almost half of the entire portion went into a ziploc bag to take back to the apartment for that evening! Then I chose the wonderful Saint-Jacques à la parisienne, served in large scallop shells on a bed of sautéed mushrooms and surrounded by potato purée, topped with a light cream sauce. R had the house favorite of chou de Pointoise farci, stuffed with delectable Morteau sausage. He ate half of it and the restaurant nicely offered to pack up the other half to take home. Finally, thinking “in for a penny, in for a pound”, we both had dessert: for me the pavlova with clementines and chestnut ice cream, and not surprisingly the profiterole for R, served with about a cup of hot chocolate sauce.


Great report. Having eaten at chocho alone a number of times, I can vouch for the fact you can order dishes and use them successfully as an entrée and plat.

Re Café des Ministères – interesting that they let you order what you did. I’ve seen other people try to order the foie gras followed by the chou farci and be warned away from it by the staff as being too much and too rich. They must have sized R up as a trencherman. :wink:

Thanks for another wonderful report.

Questions on ChoCho: have you ever had the (quite reasonably priced) tasting menu(s) there, or do you always order a la carte and share? Do you prefer lunch there, or dinner?

We asked if we could “partager” the foie gras and that may be why we didn’t get the warning.

I have only been for lunch and have never been tempted with the tasting menu since I know which dishes I want. But it might be fun to try that sometime.

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We did the tasting menu (or “medley”) when we were at chocho two months ago. But it was selected from dishes that were already on the carte, so no real advantage to doing so.

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Thanks for your great report. Chocho back on my gotta try list.

three of us went for lunch at Café des Ministères. We took down 1 chou farci, 1 blanquette de veau with rice, 2 vol au vent in petit size (one with lobster), 1 pavlova, and 1 profiterole. That was a big meal… and nothing was packed away. So good.

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But did you have entrées too??? :joy: Kidding aside, I think that place is my new fave for a traditional meal.

I would have loved to try their boudin noir or tripe…

Mmmm, love boudin noir.

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Me too. And perhaps I just never had a good boudin blanc, but any I’ve tried just seemed so bland.