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This is a report on my very gluttonous trip to Paris. I will try to make my communication short and concise, that isn’t easy for me. So, please be patient. Thanks for all your advice before I chose our venues.
I must add, on this March trip to Paris, people, strangers were nicer than ever to me. There was an extension of warmth that went beyond the norm. My lousy French was appreciated and brought squeals of laughter. Perhaps all the strife has caused Parisians to drop pretense, and show their true magnanimity and care. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, and many people in France feel remorse towards the overt expressions of anti-semitism. Whatever the cause, it felt wonderful.
Automne in the 11th - Located in a narrow space with tables quite close together, Automne was given a Michelin star in February. Evidently, the Japanese chef has been touted in Japan, because at least 80% of the people dining were Japanese. We heard no French being spoken all evening. Food was artistic, precious and beautifully presented. Our first dish from the tasting menu, smoked eel with foie gras, was our favorite. Everything was very good, if not memorable. To coin the venerable John Talbott, a return is doubtful.
Louis in the 9th - This was our second visit to Restaurant Louis, and a different experience, because the maitre d’ and server gave an inordinate amount of attention to a VIP couple. All the other diners weren’t happy, and it was obvious. My wife, who is the true gourmet, thought the cooking by Stephane Pitre was magical and creative. I thought some dishes worked and some didn’t, unlike our first visit. I did love his use of cacao with truffles. My favorite was, the very long winded, Blanc de Cabillaud Basse Temperature, Romanesco Noisette du Piemont. Nege Emulsionee au Savignin. That’s what the restaurant called it. You can understand this dish better than me. It was delicious. My wife would return again and again.
Tomette in the 12th - Tomette is a tiny wine bar that serves a delicious array of hors d'oeuvres and charcuterie. There is also a selection of all natural wines for sale, but I'll get to that later. Everything was scrumptious, and service was excellent, with a sense of humor. This was a perfect Parisian spot to wile away the hours while the rain poured down outside. By the time we finished our bottle of wine, the Pâté Octopus, and tasty desserts, the sun popped out, and we were ready to walk the streets of the 12th Arrondissement again. As for the wines for sale, I discovered the two bottles of wine I bought were double the retail price. That pissed me off, but I can't get these bottles back in the States, so c'est la vie.
La Condesa in the 9th - I love this restaurant and am very prejudiced. Chef Carillo shines when he blends Gallic classicism with the pungent spices of Mexico. La Condesa is great fun, and the down to earth ambiance, makes a diner feel they’re eating at Indira Carillo’s home. No one leaves La Condesa without a smile on their face. The warmth of the chef and staff permeate the space.
L’Ours in Vincennes - Jacky Ribault can cook, and his skill and talent is evident. Yet, some dishes are horrific, the eel with a sesame Nori in particular. The space is gorgeous, except for the incongruous ceiling. The formal, maybe pretentious service, would be fine except all the servers were lost, running around like the Keystone Cops. They forgot orders, and the pacing was weird. A return will never happen.
Virtus in the 12th - Virtus is my favorite restaurant in Paris. The gestalt experience is what makes dining here a wonderful experience. The Maitre D Kevin, is hands on, assuring each diner is happy and comfortable. The food from the two chefs, Chiho Kanzaki and Marcelo di Giacomo, is consistently wonderful, innovative, and special. Service is sophisticated, but warm. Perhaps Virtus doesn’t get as much publicity from the bloggers because it isn’t chef driven. The owners are silent entities of Virtus’ day to day management. I don’t care. This is a great restaurant, and Michelin agrees with me.
Restaurant H in the 4th - The chef is a culinary artist, and presentation at Restaurant H is superlative. Each dish is creative, with interesting flavors that are wonderful. Chef Hubert Duchenne is a master in the kitchen, and the space is quite sensual at night. Yet, all personality has been vacuumed out of Restaurant H. There is no warmth, no fun, and I guess the experience is all about the food. Even with an open kitchen, the chef and his staff remain distant from the diners. This would be fine, if the front had some effervescence. The servers were equally cold, going about their business professionally, but also robotically. They warmed up a bit at the end, when I pointed out they forgot to charge us for a glass of wine on the check. At first, the servers were bewildered, and told us in France, when there is a mistake on the check favoring the diner, it is just forgotten. I would have none of it, and insisted they charge me. I will return to Restaurant H. It was that good.
Fulgurances in the 11th - This was a wonderful lunch. The new chef is Alban Chanteloup, who worked in esteemed kitchens in Australia and Switzerland. Fulgurances squeezed as many tables as possible in the narrow space, but the atmosphere is so congenial, who cares. Staff was happy, engaging, and helpful. I loved the food Chef Chanteloup put out, especially the veal tartare.
If there was more time, I would have hit up Fulgurances for dinner.
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