The following is a review of several places we dined in our rect three week trip to Paris and Provence. I did use this board for ideas and relied on some of past experience. Despite knowing Paris, we still were left with the fantasy that everything in Paris should be fabulous(not so).
We ate at the following:
Chez Denise(loved it )and it was perfect place for our first night(a Friday). I had beef daube and my partner had the roasted wild salmon. Huge portions, pretty good food and reasonable prices. Lots of fun as the place really does fill up. We sat next to a couple from the Village-NYC) who ended up eating off our plates.
Next night: Chez L'Ami Jean: big disappointment. Relatively limited menu with very little that appeals to us. Nothing of what we had read about was on the menu. Service was brisk (even for a bar). Not inexpensive and not particularly good.
Sunday: Benoit. I'd skip this all over again. There were mixed reviews of this place on the board. It has recently been bought and "redux'd". It's overpriced and not all that good.
While my salmon was very good, my partner had the $49 euro lobster salad entree which was lacklustre at best. For that price, I'd head to La Mascotte in Montmarte and have a roasted Brittany lobster. The only redeeming factor was that we could walk back to our hotel(the Caron de Beaumarchais in the Marais).
Monday we ate at our old "neighborhood" North African place "L'homme Bleu" which we found far better in our memory than the food this time.We had eaten at Chez Omar on our previous trip to Paris and I would probably opt for that again over L'homme.
On our return to Paris(following Provence and Switzerland), we ate at Le Pontoise in the 5th on a Sunday. Lovely, small, reasonably priced. My ravioli dauphonoise was to die for as was the scallop salad.
Our last night we opted for Bofinger in the Bastille which was great. We did have reservations for 8 pm which is early by Paris standards but the dining room quickly filled mostly with French. The Irish smoked salmon was heavenly. This was my only steak frites in the whole trip and it was divine.
We began our stay in Arles and had reservations for L'Atelier. We had eaten Rabanel's food at La Chassagnette three years ago and were captivated. I'm with Family doc on this one (who ate there a while back and didn't get it). It was a tremendous and very expensive disappointment. Too much hype,no soul and a very cold dining room.
Our fabulous find on this stay was a Le Criquet near the Arena. This is a very small dining room, young chef and great food. There is a 16/22 euro menu option. We selected from both. The salads were a much welcommed feature for us. The bourride and the chicken in tapenade were to die for. The tarte tatin rivaled anything (mostly) I had anywhere in France.
We had lunch with friends who live in St Quentin on our way to the Luberon. We met them at Terroirs in Uzes which was very good and most affordable. The Saturday market in Uzes is amazing. This sleeepy town(on our last visit) has gotten very popular in the three years hence. Go soon before it becomes too cute.
Now for the insider's tip:
We stayed for 4 nights @ Le Ferme de la Huppe just outside Gordes and were amazed. The 10 rooms are charming and most affordable. Our's was spacious with a huge bathroom including breakfast @120 euros.
Breakfast was taken by the pool including:
French press coffee with steamed milk(avec bowls)
a glass of fresh pressed orange juice
a basket of fresh baked croissants, artisanal breads and pan chocolate
a jar of different homemade confitures each morning
One can add other items for additional cost. One morining I had the best scrambled eggs I have ever eaten for an additional 5 euros.
Dinner is by reservation(both for guests and others not staying at the hotel) and is amazing. 45 euros buys you an amuse bouche,,entree, plat,palate cleanser and dessert. For an additonal 6 euros you can have a cheese course.
While the menu is pre-set you do have some options. As we do not eat foie gras, we were given a 2 oz slice of perfectly roasted wild salmon with a lovely green salad as an appetizer.
Our roasted rack of provencal lamb was perfect. Dessert was a vanilla panna cotta topped with roasted apricots and a roasted almond glace. We had some very good local wine (La Verriere Syrah)at $42 euros for the bottle.
We also headed to Buoux one day for lunch at Auberge Loupe. We sat in the garden and shared a basket of provencal tapas. At $22 euros a person this included a goat cheese and green salad and dessert. The tapas were divine and included things like poached quail eggs, roasted beets, eggplant caviar, chickpea puree, olives, artichoke hearts and carrots in mayonnaise.
We're home now and the credit card bills are rolling in. The exchange rate is a shocker. We agreed to pay cash for the meals we found disappointing(both Benot and L'atelier) as we thought it would be double the disappointment. I'm glad we did.