This is a trip report from Paris for week March 25-28 based on information and suggestions gained from Chowhounders and followed up on line. Reservations were made using our concierge prior to arrival, or by me. The report includes dinner at Le Verre Voles in the 10e, Fish-La Boissonnorie in the 6e and Chez l'Ami Jean and Reed in the 7th and take out pastry lunch from Rollet Pradier (6e) that was carried across the bridge to the Orangerie before taking in the Monet (awesome). We planned a balance of meals, all with great food, but some with a higher creativity level than others and to balance our experience for the week. We want a great trip and planned for different experiences with the common denominators being great eating.
Le Verre Vole: Wine bar with really good food in a hipster hard to get in resto in the 10th. Small tables, loudish, good music, cool vibe. Parisian friends of ours were surprised we knew about it, and that we were able to get reservations because it's "in" with a hard to get cool vibe going for it - people are very serious about service and quality of food here. Cool street, fun to walk around near the canal, lots of Parisians for dinner, a great staff and helpful for wine choices and settling on dinner options. Dinner with a bottle of wine, starters, plats and dessert was about 109 euros for 2. We had reservations, and dress ranged from jeans to dressed up locals headed to the back room for what was clearly a dinner party. The restaurant sells wine and people came in choosing wines on their way home to eat. Dinner was excellent. This is the new french bistro cuisine, not so heavy on the sauces, locally sourced and sustainable meats, poultry and seafood, nicely presented and served rich in flavors. Scallops were the best dish of the night but in a couple grit remained marring a heavenly offering. The young pork loins served beautifully seared and still moist served on a bed of wild greens were excellent also. Wines are naturel so they need to breathe. Another couple decanted theirs which we were kicking ourselves for not having done. The sausage was too much and we would not order that again, its just too much of a good thing without the creativity of the other dishes. Wine selection and service are great. Its all men here.
Fish-La Boissonnorie: Great location, terrific food, service to die for with a lovely bathroom, great dishes and one of the best dishes of the WEEK! Lots of visitors, great decor, small tables, close together and little loud. Pork belly, I licked my spoon and wished I had even more and there was more than enough. Again, the mackerel ceviche was wonderful, champignon veloutte was yummy comforting and my husband was thrilled he chose wisely thinking he picked the best dish of the night - my ceviche was a little artfully arranged and bordering on the deconstructed and possibly precious...until the pork belly arrived. Then I won hands done. Yes, it's a stupid game, but fun to note later which dishes surprise, delight and continue to impress. This one was phenomenal. If I could have I would have stolen more from the kitchen and licked the plate clean. Wonderful. Chocolate dessert was so dense as to be almost one incredibly large solid truffle - that was not easy to eat. The poached pears and sabayon on the other hand was perfect! Tonight it was wine by the glass, fairly decent and not quite as initially bitingly dry as Le Verre Voles.
Chez L'Ami Jean: Phenomenal meal and probably our favorite of the week. Jego and his staff are SERIOUS about service and food. They efficiently seat you, help you order dinner and wine, serve with impeccable presentation and make service a bit of a production and later check in to see if all is well. It is. It was. Small tables, eating next to strangers, a little loud, the servers are well instructed and work as a group. And despite flying broken glass once and the dutch traders next to us in their suits ripping a rival a new one sotto vox into a cabled cell phone, the meal was beyond expectations. Baby scallops are a wry twist on the emperors new clothes, trust me the staff has a sense of humor that they will test you with. I was served a plate with small tiny nuts like seeds in what appeared to be a smeared pesto sauce. Patrons around me and my husband didn't know how to react, so laughter and ribbing followed stunned silence as my incredibly miniscule baby scallops became the joke. I had faith. After Larry's oysters and pork appetizer with fois gras was served a plate of beautifully prepared amazing scallops still in shells arrived to be placed artfully on my green plate. Wow. So worth it. These should be eaten as a layered series of flavors and are truly amazing. Fois Gras with lobster followed, plus a beautifully prepared turbot and then...of course...Jego's rice pudding. I shake my head with the glorious memory of that delectable concoction served with two accompaniments that must be used to gain the taste of heaven that has arrived. Order the sauterne with this. What a surprise! Yes it was sweet, but not too sweet - this sauterne was a revelation. Jego and his staff are the epitome of new Paris cuisine.
Reed: Reed is the anti-male chef dominated evening. Catherine Reed's restaurant is set up as a beautifully decorated kitchen and dining area - you feel as if you have been welcomed into this elegant and beautiful woman's home and she is preparing a wonderful meal just for you. It's all really well done, comfortable food beautifully prepared and served. Beautifully relaxing lovely restaurant, very quiet, romantic even, good service. And while it is not a crazy combination of the new Paris cuisine, it is wonderful and extremely nicely prepared, as if you are sitting in the lovingly designed home of your neighbor the chef and allowing her to please your palate in a setting that allows you to visit with your companions too. It's not all about the chef, but about the company --- which is perfect for a Paris visit - honestly it should be about you. My asparagus risotto was wonderful, but the revelation for me was a tie between the first green and red tomato starter sliced thin with olive oil and parmesan on puff pastry and the dessert of citrus cheesecake - lovely! The restaurant is gorgeous with a stove that I would kill for. I took a picture. Check it out on facebook. Larry's poulet was very well prepared, and his Chocolate Mousse Pie was quite tasty. This was the best pick of the week for wines, Catherine knows her stuff and was willing to pull in a wine that wasn't even on the menu. Amazing!
Rollet Pradier: While in Paris choose a lunch of pastry in the park one day, it's SO WORTH IT!!! We chose Rollet Pradier behind the National Assembly in the 7th, near the d'Orsay and across the river from the Orangerie. Run to this place, their macaroons, the fluffy savory pastries of chevre and tomato, and an AMAZING champignon tart one of a kind experience that will remain with me always. Paris is known for this. Take advantage. Phenomenal presentation, a little fancier than most, very serious about pastry here. We downloaded David Lebovitz's Paris Pastry book arranged by arrondissment and have made great use of it. You only live once and you can diet later. Wow.
That's the trip report. Tomorrow night is Les Papilles. Friday on to Amsterdam for Bathazar's Kitchen, De Kas and Blauw.