On our recent trip to Paris we had more rain than I would have liked, but we saw some great exhibitions (Leonardo, El Greco, Toulouse Lautrec, Alana) and had a lot of great meals. There were also some disappointments.
Our favorite places were Alliance, Montée, Virtus, and Istr. Alliance is within walking distance of the hotel we stay in, but that is not the only reason we like it. The food is terrific and the service is accomodating. They offer a five-course tasting menu and an eight-course menu along with à la carte dishes. We did not want too many dishes but I said I wanted the caviar, the foie gras, and the scallops, so they concocted a four-course menu for the two of us, with a different first course for my wife and myself. There were three or four excellent amuse-bouches. Everything was fantastic. Alliance is now my favorite restaurant in Paris.
Montée was also excellent, if not quite so varied as Alliance. But at Montée there is, I believe, one man in the kitchen while Alliance has a team. In any case, Montée was so careful of my slight lactose intolerance that I even ate the desserts. Just so as not to insult them.
We had lunch at Virtus with friends. We all enjoyed it. Anne-Sophie Pic was sitting at the next table. I had no idea who she was, but our friends recognized her.
We at at Istr with the same friends. And here, @naf, for the very first time in France, I had oysters that were separated from the bottom shell. We also had excellent scallops and fish. They even turned down the music for us.
We were looking for a very simple lunch on a Sunday, so we went into Miramar. They appeared to be full, though I cannot be sure. No one greeted us. No one looked at us. No one said a word to us. After about three minutes we left and went to the nearby Pho 5, where we had a very good simple lunch with extremely pleasant service.
We were also very impressed with Sadarnac. The cooking was very inventive, even though all four of us thought that one dish, foie gras with radishes I think, didn’t really work.
The slight disappointments were Solstice, Cézembre, and L’Arcane. At Solstice my wife and I paid as much for the two of us as four of us paid at Sadarnac. And the food, although good, was not as interesting as it should have been. The two of us split a pasta main as a first course. It was excellent. Then I had scallops, but they came in a sauce that was much too similar to the sauce that was on the pasta. That was also the problem at Cézembre. Everything was good, but too similar.
I was looking forward to L’Arcane above everything else. They have moved across the street to a larger location, and the room is large and somewhat cold. It seemed to take hours between courses. And I also had a scallop dish here. Well, after having really excellent scallops at Istr, Montée, Solstice, these were just mediocre. A disappointment. L’Arcane has opened a wine bar at their original location. We’ll probably try it the next time.
Two more excellent small, modest Chinese meals were at Tricotin and Délices de Shandong. We went to the latter for lunch last year, and it was full to the seams. This year we went in the evening. It was half empty, they were glad to see us, and the food was still excellent.