Paris bound....

thanks, i will keep that in mind! Le Baratin was on my list.

Keep in mind that a lot of great chefs have their day off eating at Baratin, this explains all. (Some people said they had met Pierre Hermé…)

Talking about eating with chef in restaurant, we had Éric Fréchon and his friends eating at a table next to us in l’Ami Jean a few years ago. Chef Stéphane Jégo was testing new dishes, and asked Fréchon for his opinion all the time.

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i have a rez for Bistrot Paul Bert!

Still mulling over L’Ami Jean, Baratin… just don’t want to tie us in to too many places so that we be spontaneous.

I suggest you booked both places, you can always call to cancel if you don’t feel like.
Paris is a place that without reservation, it’s difficult to eat well in places that has good reputation on especially Friday, Sat and Sunday, because most places are tiny (around 30-50 seats). I will try to post a review on l’Ami Jean that we had in July tonight or tomorrow. (Duh, catching up with all the meals, need to find the photos!) Personally, I will rate L’Ami Jean over Paul Bert (2nd) and Le Baratin (3rd).

Since we just came back from our “food” vacation, actually there were times, we weren’t particularly hungry, but we went anyway, but eating a smaller portion, or even asking for doggy bag if we couldn’t finish… Don’t forget to take something to help digesting…

Wait, i thought doggy bags were a no-no in France! i was very sick (bad oysters) in Lyon in 2014, and my sister and i had reservations at Daniel et Denise, and i made myself go, but when the food came, i couldn’t even look at it. i left my poor sister to eat alone, went back to the hotel. but first i asked one of the maitre-d’s if it would be possible to take the food home - a full plate i hadn’t touched because i was very ill. she said yes. however, when it came time for my sister to leave, they wouldn’t let her. The manager told her “no, this is France.”

i’ve always assumed you can’t do doggy bags in France, and especially in Paris, so i never ask any more. Has that changed?

Also, is it still frowned upon to share a meal? When i was in France (not Paris) in 2014, my sister and i would each order a prix fixe, and invariably it would be too much food.

thanks for any advice you can give on this front…

as for booking and cancelling, my phone doesn’t work there without wifi, so i would be limited to cancelling only when i’m in the apartment, and i don’t want to limit ourselves. so, maybe on our first few days there, i’ll call around to some of these places and see what’s available. but really, even if they’re not places with a stellar reputation, i had very good meals almost everywhere we ate, places that we just stumbled into. we used the TripAdvisor app for ratings, and found it surprisingly useful. and, for instance, one day in Paris we walked by a well-respected place (name escapes me now) and were able to make a rez for the next night. so i’m hoping we’ll get lucky!

thanks for all your tips!

France passed a law, a restaurant NEED to give a client a take away bag / box when a client asks. Read more here:

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Some places you have reserved, like Septime, you shouldn’t worry about big portion, beware that you will leave the place still feeling hungry, you need to eat enough bread.

Many places allow a 2 courses meal, an entry and a main dish or just a main dish and a dessert. If it’s not a menu, but à la carte, it’s possible you just order a main dish and that’s all. But if you see a fixed price menu is cheaper than just 1 main dish, you will change your mind…

Of course, if you only want to eat a salad and nothing else, you will be frowned at…

Some places if you go early or late enough, you will be able to get in easily on week days.
Lunch is easier too.

But anyway this year, restaurants aren’t doing that well. Less tourists come to France because of terrorism or the forever economy problem that is bothering the local to eat out.

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oh wow, thanks! that’s great news.

perfect - this is just what i wanted to know.
believe me, i’m a big eater, but not as big as i used to be, with my old lady slowed-down metabolism…


Well i’m sorry to hear some places aren’t doing well, but i’m happy if that gets me in easier.
No threat of terrorism could keep us away. life’s too short, and all that, but more importantly, these acts can happen anywhere at any time. i can’t wait go spend my $$ in Paris.

Bistrots tend to serve larger portion. So beware of having lunch and dinner at bistrots on the same day. Hope you will have a nice stay in Paris. Please report your adventures, would love to hear your point of view.

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another good tip - thank you. i hope to try some wine bars for one of each meal a day, to just have a snack and a glass or two of wine instead of a full meal.

i will definitely report back!

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So very sorry it’s taken me so long to report back - pic issues (my phone was stolen while we were there, and I’ve just been trying to piece pics and descriptions together).

Paris was, of course, utterly fantastic, and i think we maybe had one less-than-stellar-but-certainly-not-bad meal while there.

I’ll start with the best.

Septime: Deemed by San Pellegrino as the 50th best restaurant in the world. We went for lunch on our second to last day, and had already been wowed by all the food we’d had. And still, this stood out as our best meal.

1st course: very thinly sliced mushrooms, perched over a mushroom broth, containing raw cream, toasted buckwheat, over sashimi bonito. it was mushroom squared, heaven.

2nd course: Cauli, mussels, some type of beautiful bacon (lardons), gooseberry jus, marigold leaf. stunningly good! the marigold leaf was intriguing,

3rd course: John Dory, spinach, and a leaf from an Asher tree? something like that. wonderful.

4th course: sweetbreads, cabbage, various herbs (mint, basil, parsley, etc.), quince something, in a red wine reduction. We both liked this but it was maybe our least favorite, and i normally ADORE sweetbreads. They were cut a bit too big - should have maybe been smaller pieces, crisped up, so
the dish wasn’t quite so rich. still, pretty amazing.

1st dessert course: raspberry sorbet - beautifully creamy, with rhubarb infused water, olive oil. so tart, different, surprising!

2nd dessert - blew me away. i am not a dessert person. This was an Iles Flottant, and the meringue was floating in a sage-infused creme anglais, with bay leaf/salted caramel. It was to die for. This was maybe the 2nd best thing of the lunch.

We tried to eat at Clamato one night, not realizing they were right next to each other, but a cab driver took us to a completely different street and the building he stopped in front of was dark. I knew we were at the wrong place but I had no idea how to tell him where we were supposed to be, as I just figured I’d written the address down wrong. We ate at a random place (Le Bistrot du Peintre) and loved it.

I think my next favorite meals were lunch at Brasserie Lipp, which consisted of a shared sole meuniere, an order of frites, smoked salmon with a blini, a dish of herring with boiled potatoes with olive oil and parsley. It’s my favor kind of meal, and I was so happy our server had
no problems with us sharing this; their menu famously says “No Salad as a Meal” right on it! I’m also just a sucker for this kind of old style place, with the older businessmen inside the beautiful
dining room. We sat on the glassed porch and watched the parade go by. Perfect. I’m still dreaming of that herring dish.

Much later that evening, after copious amounts of champagne and hours of conversation with
a young man next to us outside at Les Deux Magots (I know, but it’s perfect for people watching and this was my dear friend’s first trip to Paris) was Le Petit Bistrot Saint-Benoit, which was right around the corner. I’d heard about this place but I had not planned on going. I made my friend get the boeuf bourguignon – excellent, so rich and deeply flavored! I had a special of pork with lentils, also wonderful. We split an ouefs dur mayonaise, and unfortunately their mayo broke, but it still tasted great. Love the atmosphere of this place – it was raucous and full of life, yet homey and cozy. We finished off with a delicious chocolate pot de crème.

The one meal that we had that wasn’t mind-blowing was our first lunch, and it was a place around the corner from the Pompidou, I’m not even sure of the name. The special was some kind of chicken over a mound of rice, and everyone was eating it – it looked great - but my friend didn’t want it, and we were determined to share. We got instead the other special – a warm fish quiche, a green salad, and a side of fries. Also, bread. The quiche was a little too browned, but it was still good, and we enjoyed the meal, although this was the first example of, but fortunately the last
time of, being denied butter with our bread. I know it’s not done, but I love their butter, and I love their bread. Every place else we went indulged us.

One place I loved on my last visit to Paris was a wine bar in the Oberkampf – La Cave de L’Insolite –
and so we sought it out for dinner one night. It ended up being quite a bit pricier than I had imagined it would be, but the food was uniformly stellar, much higher quality than I had expected
(the last time my sister and i were there in 2014 for a rainy day lunch they were serving everyone moules frites and a creamy celeriac soup – everyone! ) I’m so glad we went back. For the amuse, they brought out a celeriac puree with coffee beans and parmesan. Holy moly, was that good. My friend got the crab and avocado with greens and apple slivers, with something crunchy, almost like corn flakes, and a droplet of a cilantro sauce, maybe? Splendid! My entrée - reminiscent
of our lunch at Septime, was thinly shaved mushrooms, sauteed as well, greens, and the most deliciously fresh tasting egg. My friend’s main was a “flat fish” (best translation we could get) with leeks. the topping was delicious and sweet, and i’m not sure what it was. I got the black pork, which was like the best, fattiest, crispiest and most tender pork chop ever, with greens and beans. scrumptious. For dessert we got a chocolate tart with a ginger/peach sorbet and what seemed almost like toasted rice. Divine! And figs were definitely in season – here, in basil syrup with raspberry sorbet, and a spiced cracker. Just beautiful.

Bistro Paul Bertexceeded my expectations, even though they absolutely sat us back in the
“American” room with all the rest of our ilk. No matter. I had a nicely dense pate de campagne, while my friend ordered Coquilles St. Jacques – although surprisingly with the roe removed!
Another Americanism? First time I’ve seen that in France. But they were still great. I had the entrecote, bloody rare, tender as could be, with bernaise, and my friend had a simple dish
of brill with buttery spinach. Excellent, all. We split an Iles Flottant for dessert – in the shape of a triangle, which I’d never seen before – tasty, and our neighbors, an older fun couple from New York, let us each have a bite of their soufflé. Perfect meal.

Jeraboam was a little wine bar two doors down from our apartment in the Marais, with wine served from those automatically measured dispensers, which I found a great idea.
You had an option of about 18 wines, and three different pour amounts. Our server (on three nights, we liked it so well) was wonderfully welcoming. Some of the food we had there: Fresh mozzarella with sautéed onions and olive oil, the best tartare I’ve ever had – super garlicky!
– pate de foie gras, a cheese plate, a conserva (Spanish style) of sardines in olive oil, and I’m forgetting other things. Very reasonable, too.

Our first dinner on arrival was a splurgy place, Saturne. Lovely space, wonderful service. First:
Brioche with sheep’s milk yogurt. Good but not stellar. Next, guindilla pepper, tempuraed, with tomato powder. Crispy, warm, and delicious, sweet and tart.
Steamed Clams with an herb mix, heavy on the savory, but I was also sure I tasted lemongrass. Great, but it was hard to eat as they hadn’t disconnected the meat from the shell (which I thought was a pretty rookie move). Haricort vert veloute with another sheep’s milk blob. Granita-ish, creamy, but icy. I loved the the vegetal quality of this. My friend did not. Tuna with a smoked egg yolk, a mushroom gelee, toasted buckwheat, garlic, and some kind of nut. One of my favorites of the evening. Dreamy! A white fish, with celeriac, cockles, and clams… we both loved this. Bread… WITH BUTTER! upon request. But it was bad idea because the bread was so excellent, and apparently made in-house, we filled up on it. Very good dark rustic sour dough. We had a
beautiful Sancerre, lots of depth, apple-y, and surprisingly, almost caramel-y. Perfect with the food. Pigeon. My friend was cringey about the claw, but he loved the leg meat. Wonderfully crispy/fatty. The breast was cooked medium rare, and had a somewhat, not at all unpleasant, spongy texture, with an almost liver-y flavor. I LOVED it, my friend, not so much. Which meant I got most of his. Yay me! Comte! Our server slyly asked us if we wanted some cheese. We thought we were too full but apparently we were not. It was shaved paper thin and extraordinary. He only
then mentioned – and apologized - that it was an add-on, but we didn’t mind. Then came the desserts. An almond milk granita, with a raspberry sorbet, I believe, and with nuts, but there was something else fruity inside that quenelle. Amazing. Light. We loved this. The second desert should have been better than it was: A browned butter crisp, ice cream, which was quite distinctive, but I’m kicking myself for not remembering what kind, with fig mash, and verbena oil. This needed salt, or something to make it pop. We actually said something, because our
sweet young waiter asked, and we begged him to please not mention it to the chef until we were gone! He didn’t, but he did bring us another little dish of the almond milk granita so that our last taste would be a good one. Very kind. To finish, he brought out the best madeleines I’ve ever had – made with browned butter and honey, they were almost creamy inside.

Our server took us aside afterwards and advised us to check out Baratin. A few people here advised me of the same, as did a friend in San Francisco. But we missed it. Just not enough meals! Sure, we could have planned it better, but I truly loved being spontaneous and if we were tired, just popping into our neighborhood wine bar for a light snacky dinner. Also, as this was my friend’s first trip to France, I wanted him to have more “typical” French food then something fusiony. There’s always next time, and there will always be a next time, for me…

Random eats:

Our first day, we tracked down Ble Sucre – listed as one of the best bakeries for croissants in
the city and they were gorgeous, for sure, and as buttery as you’d expect. But I actually preferred the almost creamy almond croissants at a bakery near our apartment. We had oysters as a late
afternoon snack one day at Bar à Huitres, had a very decent cheese burger at a way gaudy be-mirrored and turquoise-walled restaurant called Café de la Paix in Reims (referred by a server at another restaurant that was closing as we arrived too late for lunch). We had soft-boiled eggs one morning, in proper egg cups, with buttered batons of bread at Merci in the Marais. And a
moan-inducing tomato and white sardine tart one afternoon at a cheese/charcuterie place (La Maison Plisson) also in our neighborhood, because they inexplicably would not fulfill our wish for a cheese plate because they were “changing menus in a half hour.” I love the French. And not in an ironic way.

It was a wonderful trip, I can’t wait to go back. Thanks to all who gave their suggestions! (I’ll continue with the pics in the comments below.)

ETA - the pics don’t seem to be uploading on the original post… have to figure this out…

Uploading… Uploading… Uploading… Uploading… Uploading… Uploading…


Sounds wonderful and thank you for the vivid descriptions.

I didn’t realize they don’t serve butter with bread in Reston there. I guess I never paid attention as I never eat the bread.


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Brasserie Lipp

grrrr… can’t upload these! will try again later.

Looks fantastic!

Bistrot Saint-Benoit