First I wanted to thank everyone for their input on planning our Paris trip and now wanted to follow-up with some reviews of the places we visited to give back to the community. Also happy to answer any questions people had.
(-1) - SKIP
() - Ok
(*) - Good
(**) - Very Good
(***) - Excellent
Day 1 Lunch - Kitchen Terre - ()
The starters were quite good and innovative including a baby octopus dish with horseradish and a cured fish dish with strawberry. The pasta mains while interesting in flavor choices felt muddied with most flavors being lost. Service was good and wine selection was so-so. Dessert was ok. Value was good at 30€ for 3 courses. Overall I'd say if you were in the area stop in - though not a glowing recommendation to go out of your way to visit.
Day 1 Dinner - L'Arcane - (*)
Overall presentation of dishes was the best of any place we went during our stay in Paris. Flavors were good, but a little old school (in our opinion). Pre-dessert, dessert, and petit fours were expertly executed! Also we did not enjoy the wine pairing - though we can say that the pours were extremely generous. Service from Sophie (sp?) was very good. If you are looking for classic example of nouvelle cuisine - I would recommend, if you are looking for exciting flavor combinations I would probably look elsewhere.
Day 2 Lunch - Clown Bar (**)
We had some concerns with the chef leaving somewhat recently, but we ended up very much enjoying all the food at Clown Bar - particularly the veal brain and the fried mackerel dish. Wine list was quite impressive and the wine picked out by our server was very good. Would recommend for a nice lunch or light dinner.
Day 2 Dinner - La Condesa (***)
This meal really took us through an journey of Indra's influences and inspiration. We had a very creative dish that showed his Noma influence with the use of radish tops (the greens) to create a sauce/soup, then there was a fish dish that showed his Indian influences with just the right hints of spices, and finally there was a dish that had a mole-like sauce and the most perfectly cooked chicken that showed his Pujol influences. Desserts were equally inspired with one dessert including a sourdough sauce and another with a spicy pepper sorbet.
Service was impeccable (felt like 2 or 3 Michelin star level) and wine choices/pairings were very interesting! Chef Indra also came out at the end of our meal to talk to us both about his experiences and food - it was clear he truly cared if we enjoyed the food. Highly recommend that anyone who is in Paris stop in at La Condesa - do not miss!!!
Day 3 Dinner - Pierre Sang Signature (**+)
We were greeted at the door by Pierre Sang himself - which was a very nice touch. The food at Pierre Sang Signature was the best combination of interesting, innovative ingredients, and expert execution. You can really feel the experience come through in each dish. While the food was great, we enjoyed this meal a bit less than La Condesa because service was good versus excellent and ambiance overall was a bit less curated and felt less "fun". The wine list while quite good, was overall the most expensive of any of the places we visited.
One funny point was at the end of the meal - I realized they had forgotten it was my friends birthday. When I let them know they grabbed a book and actually went to Pierre Sang's home to have him sign the book - that definitely was a very nice tough. Overall I would highly recommend Pierre Sang Signature as the food is both interesting and perfectly executed.
Day 4 Dinner - Frenchie Wine Bar (-1)
Food was somewhat interesting with a strong British influence, though quite overpriced. Wine list was excellent with some very rare finds from the United States such as La Clarine on the list. Service was AWFUL and ambiance was AWFUL. They sat our group at 6 at a shared 8 top (that was empty), but only let us use half the table and stuffed to seats on the corners which made it impossible to eat. Would highly recommend SKIPPING.
Bonus #1 Mugaritz, San Sebastian (***+)
I can understand why some people might not like Mugaritz as every dish is a concentrated bite of flavor. Though for me this was a truly transcendent food experience. Andoni pushes the envelope of what food should or can be; serving things such as raw stinging nettle, raw iberco heart, colostrom (milk protein that forms right after giving birth only), and enzyme processed apple.
Service was a bit scattered as each table gets a slightly different menu - but the friendliness and authenticity of the waitstaff made up for that. The wine pairing was ABSOLUTELY INSANE with some highlights being: Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Chateau d'Yquem Vertical from 1970s-2010, 1962 Bertani Amarone Classico Superiore, Reisling region and vertical cross going from 1980s-2010s, and Jacques Selosse 'Mareuil sur Ay Sous le Mont'.
Needless to say, I believe this is a must for anyone who wants "exciting" or "different" food and wants to sample some of the worlds most sought after and incredible wines.
Bonus #2 Azuremendi, Bilbao (***)
Both the experience curation and food were excellent. You start your meal with a "picnic", then moved to the kitchen for a couple bites, next you go to the green house for some more bites, and finally you end in the dining room. Throughout the whole meal you really can feel a very harmonious ode to traditional Basque food, local farmers and ingredients, and modern cooking.
The service was quite good and the wine pairing started with 5 "innovative wines" including wines such as orange wine from Fruili and wine from wild vines (growing on trees) then after it follows 5 "classic" wines that highlight vintage such as a 1960 Lopez D. Heredia Vina Tondonia and a 1986 Vin Jaune. At the end of the meal Chef Eneko Atxa came out to our table to check-in and also discuss his cuisine.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone!