Here is my informal review of some of my dinning experiences in France: (a small disclaimer- we don’t eat many of the foods you may like: no shell fish, no Pork, very little meat. I will also apologize now for both my spelling and my lack of culinary terminology)
Juveniles- a wonderful little wine shop with about 8 tables. Tim Johnson who runs the place is a hoot. (a Scott who has worked all over the world in the wine industry). His store has many relative unknown wines that are in expensive and very, very good. Due to the setting I was not expecting much in the way of food, boy was I wrong. It was fabulous. We had Eggplant puree on toast and Salad with chavie cheese for lunch. Along with some wine :) Highly recommended.
2006 Alain Graillot Syrah Tandem Domaine Ouled Thaleb - Morocco, Ouled (6/7/2008)
cherry pie, blueberry earth. great balance, good acidity, bright fruit- cherry, black pepper, spicy finish. (92 pts.)
Aux Fins Gourmets- nice little atmospheric place. I’m not sure if they didn’t like our French, or if because we didn’t have reservations, we were placed in the back room by our selves. I actually liked it. I feel uncomfortable eating right on top of my neighbors. We started with a tomato salad with were beautifully ripen tomatoes with a nice mustard vinaigrette. I next had Scorpion fish with root vegetables cooked and served in an iron pot. This had terrific flavor and may have been the best thing I ate the entire trip. We had an apple tart (very good) and a cherry cake with sorbet (not so good).
2006 Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage (6/8/2008) earthy, tobacco, blackberry. good balance, good acidity, some complexity, medium finish. very nice wine. (93 pts.)
Les Fables de la Fontaine- we very much looking forward to this lunch. We arrive and asked to sit outside and were bluntly put down, and then stuffed into our spot in the sardine can they call a dinning room. After an extremely long wait, even in Paris, we were finally recognized, and the calk board which hold the cart moved for us to see. Luckily thing improved greatly from here. A creamy sweet pepper amuse bouche–fair, a gazpacho that was incredible, a tuna tar tare that was very creative and very good. Cod that was a little too fried. Dessert was a tiramisu and strawberries. Both of which were very good.
2005 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage Blanc Mule Blanche - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage (6/8/2008)
Lemon, anise, mineral nose. minerality, good acid, medium body. nice finish (90 pts.)
L'As du Falafel – we enjoyed this very much, more due to the area, than the actual falafel. I thought the Falafel was very good, but probably not worth traveling for.
Il Vino- Although there have been mixed reviews of this place, being the cork dork that I am, the thought of ordering wine and having to food mad to pair was irresistible. It was made even more so which an exchange of emails establishing that they not only could do a vegetarian menu, but when I challenged them to match it with big, bold reds, the reply is they accept the challenge and will impress me. WOW, I thought. I was looking more forward to this than any other place. So I arrive in a jacket (no tie) only to find more jeans than Jackets. We are sat, champagne brought. So far so good. The head front person (?sommelier) came to speak to us and explain the menu.
They have bottle you can order, or three menus: a blind tasting with four wines for 95E, the days menu for 195E or the 2000 E one paired with superstars like Petrus and d'Yquem. We chose the blind tasting because I did love the wines included in the 195 menu. When he asked us if we had any dietary limitation, we told him. I also expressed my preference for bold whites. He looked down his nose and very condescendingly said, but that would be good. I hesitantly tried to explain my e- mails and he said something about both people having to have the same wines. Finally, he reluctantly gave in. (Let me add a side note. First, I understand wine pairings. I’m not a novice, but the wines I like and the foods I like don’t match. I deal with this when I plan dinner parties, so I though it would be fun to see what professionals do with my dilemma. I also tend to be shy, and not speak up. Which if not for the e mails, I certainly would not have.)
So our meal- Cream of zucchini soup- wonderful, dried sweet chili- interesting, Asparagus risotto- very good, Sea bass with celery mousse fair, Tiramisu- good.
The wines were good- not great. (My wife and I got the same wine except for a burgundy I got instead of a chardonnay.)
I would not go back, beside the above issues I didn’t think the food was worth the price.
Les Florets near Gigondas- we were very happy to find this place, and have been served lunch even without reservations. The patio area is fabulous, but it was raining, so we ate inside. A nice country decor. Amuse bouche- soft cheese- not very good. Smoked salmon mousse with cream- incredibly rich and tasty. Eggplant tourrine with sun dried tomatoes and tomato sorbet- great mix –hot/cold, savory/salt/sweet. Great. Sea bass- very good, chocolate mint bowl with white chocolate mousse and dark chocolate, cannelloni with Chantilly cream fruit and raspberry sorbet.very good.
Very Highly recommended.
2005 Domaine la Roubine Gigondas - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Gigondas (6/15/2008)
earty dark fruit nose. big full bodied mouth, tons of fruit. very tight (my be my favorite Gigondas at this point) but thins out on mid palate and never recovers on finish. no change through entire bottle. (89 pts.)
La Mirande in Avignon (chef Jean-Claude Aubertin)- had a chef’s table tasting. 11 of us in the kitchen with jaen-Claude cooking for us. We were told a vegetarian meal is no problem. We had a great time, but our meal was simply everyone else’s without the meat/shellfish. So when they got a huge prawn on a bed of rice, we got rice. When they got a pork chop with roasted anthem chili, we got the chili. Ya win some, ya look some.