Firstly I just want to thank everyone who gave us their help choosing and matching restaurants for the first three days of our honeymoon last week. While there will be nothing groundbreaking here for the regulars I hope we might help some others in the way we were so kindly guided.
I feel I also deserve bonus marks for typing this on a maddening azerty keyboard in the Languedoc.
Drink at the bar in L`Hotel as recommended by Parigi (also our place of residence). Fantastic cocktails, 17 euros each. The bar is absolutely beautiful although I never saw it particularly full over our time there so while a lovely stop off in St Germain I'd hesitate to recommend a trip across town.
Dinner at Le Chateaubriand
A lovely setting with obligatory husky waitstaff. Needs no detailed exposition but for those planning trips it is well worth it. With a menu at 60 euros for 5 courses plus extras this would qualify as incredible value in London and many other cities and so for Paris is stellar. Sadly wine pairings were off.
We ate: a rapidfire succession of nibbles all of which had superb flavour. The ceviche juice with avocado was incredible. Good and unlimited bread as well which we gorged on.
Then the main courses: Tuna tartare with peas and moss - this was stunning and the peas were the star. Turbot with asparagus and spring onion - lacked all the flavour of the previous course, an aberration in a procession of 8 great pieces of food. It wasn't in the flavour combinations or in the execution, just a complete lack of flavour. Sweetbreads were the best I've ever had (though my life experience is not exactly full of great sweetbread moments).
Desserts were decent with an elderflower pastry and the classic Tocino del Cielo although the substitutable cheese course was really rather meagre.
Overall bill 213 euros with a fair bit of wine including a great Morgon.
Lunch at Guy Savoy on the 110 lunch menu. The obvious point is that this is stunning stunning value for what you get.
The room is far from palatial (esp if stuck in the back 'lunch deal' room as we appeared to be) so those who want that should stick to Le Cinq but if you want to eat 3* food in Paris and do so without breaking even 400 euros with a whole lot of wine this must be the place.
After the truffle toast with fois gras they let us share our starters meaning we both tried the signature artichoke soup with truffle accompanied by what must be the world's greatest brioche, and also the bresse chicken with fois gras and artichoke and truffle dressing. All superb obviously. My springtime veal was also excellent, the belly in particular shone.
My wife's red mullet with seeds and cuttlefish though was a curious misstep which just didn't work and even with liberal application of sauce was really really dry. Maybe for other palates but for ours was very hard work and we left most of it.
Desserts: the millefeuille was incredible as was the raspberry, meringue and avocado. Then we set to work on the bon bon trolley until we could bear it no longer.
Bill was a shade under 400 euros with two glasses of champagne, four good wines accompanying the meal and then the classic move of ordering two glasses of Sauternes when mildly intoxicated on food and wine.
I would recommend the lunch deal in a heartbeat. Quite how I would feel if I had paid almost triple the price in the evening I'm not sure. I think I would return to Gagnaire before Guy Savoy for dinner.
The legendary service was nice but perhaps a victim of my heightened expectation of being borne from door to table in a palanquin. They offered us a sort of tasting menu which included none of the classics we came for and very graciously amended it when we piped up. One odd point was that they forcibly insisted we order dessert at the start of the meal which seemed strange for a place of this calibre when my local Pizza Express is happy to wait. I often find my dessert choice will change from first viewing the menu to ordering and we were forced to order on the hoof so this was a bit weird.
Lunch at Le Comptoir. We arrived, quite inadvertently, at the perfect time just at midday and were immediately seated outside. Absolutely fantastic house pate and a beautiful salade nicoise was all we needed but the bread was super and the wonderfully friendly and convivial atmosphere outside as the locals around us chatted on and on with us in a lovely poetic franglais meant I will probably remember the sheer blissful happiness of this hour just out of the pouring rain even when the three fine dining experiences are forgotten.
Dinner at Septime
This was brilliant. Great room and service and while the whole evening was in French they were very happy to give us the more unusual dishes and ingredients in English.
The health warning here is that this did not feel like a dinner in Paris but could have been any thoughtful; ingredient and vegetable driven kitchen. It would certainly be difficult to distinguish it from a meal at Roganic in London.
Here we had a salad of vegetables with a wonderfully flavoured tomato water, white asparagus with ham and yolk, salt and herbs, a red mullet significantly better than the one at Guy Savoy with carrots, spinach I think and what tasted like sorrel. A lovely duck with cherries and beetroot, good dish but suffered slightly from "we've-put-meat-on-the-plate-so-don't-have-to-think-quite-as-hard-about-the-rest-of-the-dish" syndrome. A more generous cheese course at 8 euros and an excellent dessert.
Septime is an absolutely fantastic restaurant doing interesting and clever things and with a wonderful lightness of touch it would be a great choice sandwiched between gluttonous visits to Chez L'Ami Jean and an indulgent 3* to prevent menu fatigue. The 20-something euro lunch menus must be a steal unless they are significantly inferior.
Total bill 217 Euros but the wine list is very reasonable and you could eat here for a lot less.
And that was it for our brief excursion. I think in my over-zealous research I have already alighted upon our choices for our next long weekend.
With thanks again to all.