Jerry and I had the pleasure to dine at five local restaurants within walking distance from our hotel. Of these, we had lunch on a previous trip at L’Avant Comptoir du Marché, and I liked the small-plate French tapas so much, we decided to re-visit it. But Thomas Wolfe once said, “You can’t go home again,” and in this case for us this true.
This is a new restaurant in the new Hôtel Pavillon Faubourg Saint-Germain run by Chef Thibault Sombardier. I was attracted to the dinner menu because it featured Veal Prince Orloff, which was part of a running gag on an old episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show. I was always curious about this dish! Les Parisiens is a friendly place, comfortably appointed, but nothing particularly special about the decor. We happened to be seated near a single female diner, who I started chatting with. A travel agent, she was there to review the hotel to see if it would be suitable for her clientele (It was). Ironically, we had the same last name (not an especially common one).
For dinner, we chose the Puff Pastry of Veal, “Orloff Style,” reduced juice, which was to be shared by two. It was a hearty portion of pastry stuffed with cubes of soft veal, on top of a thin jus. It did not have the components of Veal Prince Orloff as I imagined, no duxelles, onions or mornay sauce. Overall, I thought this dish was a bit bland. Just a smear of mornay would have been welcome.
I ordered a side salad, Heart of Lettuce, Vinaigrette, for us to share. This was on par with any iceberg wedge you’d get at a second-rate steakhouse in the U.S., nothing special at all (I was just hoping for a lovely vinaigrette). I think Les Parisiens will have to up its game considerably if it is shooting for Michelin.
For dessert we shared Ile Flottante with hazelnuts (also meant for two). A nice smooth orb of meringue and sauce with tasty hazelnuts.
I would love to hear the thoughts of others about this restaurant.
After a long day of sightseeing, we decided to stick close to home that night for dinner and asked our hotel concierge, Clement for a recommendation. He suggested a local bistro, Cinq-Mars. What a delight! The place is casual but intimate. Very homey feel. One of the specials of the night was Saddle of Lamb with Garlic Sauce and Ratatouille. Did they know I was coming?? Ratatouille is one of my favorite things, so I ordered that. Jerry had a pork dish listed as Côte de cochon élévé au lin, purée de celeri. We split a side salad of well-dressed greens that paired well with our rich plats.
The saddle of lamb was cooked medium/medium rare and set on a puddle of a delicious brown sauce, flavorful and not especially garlicky. The ratatouille was a sunny mix of tomatoes, eggplant and other veggies. The pork was cooked perfectly as well and the puree was a good match. I liked this meal so much, I asked our server to give my compliments to the chef. He said the chef would appreciate it and had been cooking there for 16 years. Nice job!
For dessert, I decided to go for the Mousse au Chocolat à Discretion, which was a huge mixing bowl of chocolate mousse. After an audible, WOW, I put one scoop in a serving bowl. It was rich and a little dense. But it had all the chocolate goodness you would want in a mousse. One scoop was enough for me, and Jerry had two spoonfuls. This sparked the attention of the elderly gentleman sitting next to us. He was dining solo while reading a French newspaper. He suddenly came to life and pointed a finger at me, saying in French, “You’ve got to eat it all, you can’t waste it!” or words to that effect. We all shared a good laugh. Afterwards, Jerry and I walked to the Pont Royal to watch the Eiffel Tower light up. A great ending to a terrific meal.
I was dying to have a soufflé in Paris, and Le Récamier has a great reputation for both savory and sweet ones. A reputation well-deserved, I can now say. Unfortunately, we weren’t overly hungry this night, so we decided to forego the savory soufflés and instead split a small tenderloin and potatoes, and a chocolate soufflé for dessert. We watched all kinds of soufflés passing by, and they looked soooo good! The steak was fine, covered with a light sauce. The soufflé was delicious, light and airy with a nice outer crust, served with a small pitcher of chocolate sauce. I was definitely getting my chocolate fix. Little did I know I would have another chance for a soufflé, at Auberge Bressane. They also do these French delicacies very well. Overall, very good experience at Le Récamier.
Le Colvert is another one of those little neighborhood bistros, like Cinq-Mars, where you can count on a well-cooked meal. Parn, you described it as similar to Le Reminet, which I liked on my previous trip. But unless Le Reminet has changed, I did not think they were much alike. Le Colvert was rather stark, with a small bar in the middle of the room and loudish music playing. With flowers and candles on the tables, Le Reminet had a romantic vibe. Food-wise, the dishes at Le Colvert were simple with fewer adornments, while Le Reminet had more vegetables on their plats. All in all, Jerry thoroughly enjoyed one of the dinner specials, seven-hour lamb. The chicken supreme I had was cooked so tenderly. How do the French make such tender chicken with crisp skin? We didn’t have dessert, tired from a long day.
The first time I was in Paris, I absolutely loved this little place. Small plates are my favorite type of comfort food, and a ham and cheese croquette I had at L’Avant Comptoir du Marché on that trip was probably my favorite bite. So, I was looking forward to it again. We stopped by for lunch on a Sunday afternoon and the little place was packed to the gills. They had added several outside tables (perhaps due to Covid) and the inside, which was mostly open space, was now jam-packed with small high tables. It was so cramped and congested, it was no longer possibly to sidle up to the lovely zinc bar and eat standing there. No problem, we were able to snag a high top table as another party was leaving. I then looked for the overhanging placards to see what was on the menu, and was surprised to see that most of them were gone, there were just a few left up. Instead, they had a small chalkboard with about 10 items on it. I didn’t see any mention on the placards or chalkboard of the croquettes or a delicious beef and eggplant dish I had also enjoyed previously. I asked the bartender if they had either dish and she said no. She said the menu had completely changed since I had been there.
Fortunately, a couple things were still the same. There was still a bowl of fresh butter on the bar for guests to help themselves to (although much much smaller than before, again, I’m thinking perhaps a Covid change) and the basket of bread was also excellent. As our server came by with the bread he accidently spilled it down the side of my leg, apologized and told me to leave it as I started to pick up the slices. He then brought us another basket. I knew then, I wanted to eat quickly and leave. I was not comfortable in the cramped quarters with bread around my feet. I went to the bar and ordered a veal dish and a pork dish (I don’t recall the particulars). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to order a third small dish, when the bartender suggested getting a small, I believe she said, “Lard” sandwich. So, I said sure. I also got us each a glass of red bio wine.
The veal and pork dishes were good and hearty, as was the bread and butter. The Lard sandwich was terrible. Dry piece of fat on dry bread with a smear of what appeared to be (but didn’t taste like) mustard.
We ate expeditiously. I paid the bill in cash and told the bartender to keep the change. She then rang a bell and bunch of people shouted something out. Maybe they do that when they get a tip???
This is the place a couple of blocks down from the other L’Avant Comptoirs & the main restaurant Comptoir de la Relais, right? I realize that I never wrote about our lunch there 3 years ago. We hadn’t liked our lunch at Comptoir de la Relais (I know that I wrote about that - probably on CH - perfunctory, dull meal with waitstaff that clearly didn’t want to be there with us), but had managed to eat several stand-up lunches at l’Avant Comptoir de la Terre and l’Avant Comptoir de la Mer that we loved (yep, wrote about those as well), so we decided to try L’Avant Comptoir du Marche. Unfortunately, a similar experience to yours. There were outdoor tables set up and they were mostly full, but we sat inside at the bar & found it to be lacking all the charm of the other 2 L’Avants. Sorry about your experience, but thanks for the warning. We won’t be returning there either.
Gosh, I usually find veal orloff a bit unexciting as a species so I didn’t order it but the next table had it and it looked very well sauced. Maybe just a little hiccup in the kitchen when you were there or adjustments based on other clients’ complaints of not liking the mornay sauce.
I had a seafood vol au vent that was stellar. I know you can’t eat fish but just want to point out that it usually depends on what you order. Not all items on a restaurant menu will match the diner’s tastes and preferences. You are easily pleased by chicken… I am usually bored by it.
I’ve the same feeling with our dinner years ago. Should stop wasting time to queue and got okay but not memorable food, nothing “extraordinary”. L’Avant Comptoir used to be interesting. Sorry to know that food and service is not as good as before.
Finally figured out how to quote from a post! Still navigating my way around.
Parn, we didn’t go to Le Reminet on this trip. My recollections of it was from 2019. So things may have changed. We went to Le Colvert for dinner on a weekday.
These are my thoughts. In this day and time why are proteins that swim considered superior to proteins that walk or fly? Back in the day, where I am from in New England, lobsters were considered the rats of the ocean that only poor people ate. Fast forward to today and they are a delicacy. Tastes and customs change I guess. Yes, I like chicken, and when its cooked well, I don’t think it’s boring. Though it surely can be, just as a dish made from frozen shrimp or an overcooked scallop can be. À chacun son goût.
Getting back to the Veal Prince Orloff, naf, like you, I am a sucker for pithivier and dishes en croute.
If a good restaurant has a dish on its menu, I think it should be ok to order it. If they can’t make it well then they shouldn’t serve it. In this case the VPO was not something I would want to order again without the duxelles, onions and bit of mornay (if people complained about the sauce then just serve it on the side).
@Trish, your points are all excllenr. Kitchens change, menus change, diners differ in taste and expectation. Your good descriptions are guides for upcoming visits. As you say, our tastes and dreams differ. Many thanks.
Orgueil on the rue Popincourt in the 11th has a demi-pithivier of pigeon and foie gras on its carte.
Re Pantagruel: note that it appears to have a no substitution policy for its menu. I booked mentioning the one thing I don’t eat and was told to come back another time when that item was not part of the menu.
Yikes @onzieme! That sounds incredibly unwelcoming. When I booked at Pantagruel and let them know that I was bringing someone who didn’t eat meat or innards, they did not give me that message. And when my pescatarian friend couldn’t make it to Paris, I took another friend who eats everything, but they checked in to ask which one of us didn’t eat meat, so it seemed like they were opening to honor that request anyway!