As usual, the France board was helpful for whetting our appetites for the meals my husband and I had at these restaurants shortly before Christmas. We would love to have any of them in New York where we live. All seemed good value. I won't report at length but we found Le Severo and la Table d'Aki offered more personal and therefore more appealing cooking and ambiance than Spring or Septime, however good and attractive the latter two were. Le Severo and la Table d'Aki also concentrated on beef and fish respectively, cooking simply (even at la Table d'Aki, perhaps illusorily) but producing perfect, deeply satisfying renditions of their ingredients. I also guess that tasting menu orientated restaurants appeal to us less after feeling fatigue and disappointment during long meals of tiny courses at places like Manresa or Atera in the U.S. -- although Spring and Septime's tightly-focused and fun approaches are much more palatable. For us, l'Arpège continues to be the exception with regard to tasting menus. Our winter lunch there was unbelievable, as good as a summer honeymoon lunch a year and a half ago, and could have gone on forever.
Le Severo -- faux-filet and Overnoy poulsard, as well as great boudin noir.
Septime -- the best raw scallop dish of our trip (competing with Spring and l'Arpège) incorporating raw clams and carrot juice.
Spring -- very well-executed, crisp-skinned quail main with a jerusalem artichoke puree, excellently sauced (worthy of a much more expensive restaurant)
la Table d'Aki -- sea bass with celeriac puree (the cooking and quality of the sea bass as good as that served at l'Ambroisie); sole with a curry sauce.
l'Arpège -- salt-baked beetroot (a special long, skinny varietal) with quince curd and bay leaf oil; salt-baked salmon (from a huge beast they showed off to the dining room in its crust) with vin jaune sauce, leeks and jerusalem artichoke; "l'oeuf parfait" with lobster coral sauce and scallions; pigeon with hibiscus glaze; exploding Barthélemy Mont d'Or with smoked blue potatoes.
Typically, we would have visited Jacques Genin -- but we couldn't manage to eat anything else on our 2-day trip!