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Restaurants & Bars 5

Trip report, Paris Part 1: AG, Frenchie, Auberge du 15, A Noste (downstairs), L'Huitrade, Josephine Chez Dumonet

andygottlieb | Jun 26, 2015 07:39 AM

Not sure whether this is "paying it forward", as someone on this board wrote recently, or simply paying it back, but here's Part 1 of our trip report.

Le Relais de L'Entrecote (6e) - We returned here on our first night after landing around noon, with our two teenage daughters (the younger one the carnivore) just as we'd done on our last trip. One of only 3 restaurants we're returning to from our 2013 visit. The sauce was not quite as good as we remembered, the steak itself better than I recalled, and the atmosphere just as we remembered. A great place for a first night's meal. My little carnivore decided she actually preferred my saignant steak to her a point, so a little victory there! I've seen recommendations here that Le Relais de Venise is the original and better, and so I think we'll have to try that one next time, but since this was literally 3 minutes from the apartment, it was a no-brainer.

AG: This was an excellent meal, and no doubt the best bargain of the first half of the trip. Also brought both girls, and even the finicky older one found something to enjoy. My wife raved about her egg appetizer, I had the same excellent bar/oyster with avocado that JT wrote about on his blog earlier this month. For mains the veal shoulder was very good, my fish very good, and the vegetable "risotto" accompanying the fish fabulous. Finally, I've never been a marshmallow fan (except when eaten in s'mores), but the lime ones served as part of the mignardise were awesome enough to make me a convert.

Frenchie: Never having been and having succeeded in getting a reservation, I wanted to try this place. I thought my foie gras appetizer was creative - somewhat unusual and quite enjoyable. The other appetizer and both mains were fine, but nothing at all special. Given that as noted elsewhere on the board the prices here are no longer any great bargain, after the mains I could see why many CHers consider this place overrated. That said, my opinion went up significantly with the desserts. My wife's cherries came with delicious and refreshing thyme ice cream. And I thought my millefeuille was out of this world, one of the best desserts I've ever had. The pastry itself was actually pretty mediocre, and slightly overcooked. But the combination of pistachio/mint ice cream with St. Marcellin "something" was just spectacular. This dish alone would be worth a repeat visit.

I also learned something about eating at this meal. One of my dishes was pigeon served very rare. As we Americans are inclined to do, I took a fairly large first bite of mostly meat, and I just didn't enjoy it. Remembering something I read somewhere on this board in the past month, to eat the rest of the dish, I took particularly small bites of meat, and combined it with the zucchini and all of the various sauce elements on the plate. With the exception of one further "gamey" bite, I found that not only was I able to finish the dish, but I actually quite enjoyed it. So I've resolved to make sure as much as possible to combine all the elements on the plate when eating in French (and other higher end) restaurants, as this dish showed what an enormous difference that can make.

Auberge du 15: This was our least successful meal. Part of it, perhaps, was that our waiter (whose English was not very good) seemed to misunderstand when we said that my wife doesn't like shellfish, but very much enjoys fish, yet the meal ended up with no fish at all for either of us, and very meat-heavy. Part was no doubt because the main meat was pigeon, which my wife ended up not eating, and which I didn't much care for. And part was because nothing else stood out as being particularly great, though I enjoyed my veal tartare and my wife really liked the mignardise.

A Noste (downstairs). Brought the girls, and this was definitely a hit. We ordered too much, but were able to take some home. Standouts included the can't-miss charcuterie plate and the smoked duck fried polenta sticks, the potato tortilla, and the duck/oyster tartare.

L'Huitrade. One of my favorite food memories was a dinner at Guy Savoy about 8 years ago. We loved the meal, and I was enthralled with his famous oysters en nage glacee. So when I heard that he had opened L'Huitrade and I could order them without a full 3-star dining experience (and price), I knew I had to go. Went alone at lunchtime, since the rest of my family are not oyster people. I ordered the "Trois huîtres en préparation froide" in addition to my 8 huitres en nage glacee along with some excellent Muscadet by the glass. The waitress, pointing out that one of the Trio was the en nage glacee, suggested replacing it with another l'huître concassée, and I readily agreed. Excellent suggestion on her part, because while the "en escabeche" preparation was fine, and my 8 nage glacee oysters were very good (but nowhere near as good as that meal long ago), the two concassée - basically done as a tartare with some other ingredients and a lemon granita served over the top - were the absolute stars. I'd encourage anyone who loves oysters to make the pilgrimage and ask for multiple of the huitre concassées. The place is expensive (~6E per oyster) and so I doubt that it's a good value for "regular" oysters compared to other places recommended here, but IMO everyone should try the concassées at least once.

Josephine Chez Dumonet: This was my wife and carnivore daughter's absolute favorite meal of the trip 2 years ago, and it was excellent this time as well. Not much to add here that you wouldn't see elsewhere on this board. This time, the foie gras and the house red were not quite as good as I remembered (but still very good), the duck confit and the must-have Grand Marnier soufflé just as good as remembered, and the boeuf bourguignon even better than remembered - and we remembered it as fabulous in the first place. I never otherwise eat - and didn't order it myself - boeuf bourguignon in the summer, and if you live here full time you don't need to, of course, but it is so good that it's worth doing for a visitor.

Apologies for the length of this post. Thanks again for all of the recommendations here. Part 2 will of course follow.

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