All posts by Meg Zimbeck

Meg Zimbeck has written more than 600 reviews of Paris restaurants, bars, hotels and shops. She's served as the Paris editor for both Budget Travel and BlackBook, and has contributed articles for SAVEUR, the Wall Street Journal, Gridskipper, the BBC’s Olive magazine, and the seat-pocket magazines of United, Virgin Trains, and Gulf Air. Meg's food photography has been featured in T Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and Libération. She is currently writing the "Dining" and "After Dark" chapters for the 2012 Frommer's Guide to Paris. Meg is the Editor of Paris by Mouth.

Our 50 Favorite Restaurants

In Any Category: Top 10 Favorite Restaurants in Paris

  1. Septime
  2. Restaurant David Toutain
  3. Sola
  4. Au Passage
  5. Verjus
  6. Restaurant Frenchie
  7. Clamato
  8. Juveniles
  9. Le Griffonier
  10. Le Cinq

Classic Bistro

  1. Juveniles
  2. Le Griffonier
  3. Philou
  4. Chez Michel
  5. Bistrot Paul Bert
  6. Bistro Bellet
  7. Chez l’Ami Jean
  8. Terroir Parisien
  9. L’Assiette
  10. Chez Georges

Modern French

  1. Restaurant David Toutain
  2. Sola
  3. Verjus
  4. Restaurant Frenchie
  5. Le Chateaubriand
  6. Spring
  7. Porte 12
  8. Akrame
  9. Pirouette
  10. Clover

Extremely Difficult to Book

  1. Septime 
  2. Restaurant Frenchie
  3. Abri
  4. Yam’tcha
  5. Le Chateaubriand

Small Sharable Plates

  1. Au Passage
  2. Ellsworth
  3. Yard Wine Bar
  4. Clamato
  5. Gare au Gorille

Especially Good at Lunch

  1. Table
  2. Semilla
  3. Le Baratin
  4. Le Servan
  5. Le Galopin

Haute Cuisine

  1. Le Cinq
  2. Pierre Gagnaire
  3. Ledoyen
  4. L’Arpège
  5. L’Ambroisie

Cheap Comforts

  1. Breizh Café
  2. Frenchie To Go
  3. Crêperie Josselin
  4. Holybelly
  5. L’As du Falafel

Simple Food & Excellent Wine

  1. Café de la Nouvelle Mairie
  2. Les Papilles
  3. Le Repaire de Cartouche
  4. À La Renaissance
  5. Retro’bottega

Daniel Rose to take on Chez la Vieille & New York

Chez la Vieille occupies an unassuming corner at the intersection of two quiet streets, Bailleul and l’Arbre Sec, between the Louvre and what’s left of Les Halles. It was opened by the formidable Adrienne Biasin back in 1960 and catered – like most restaurants in this neighborhood – to a clientele of workers from the nearby Les Halles market. When the towering iron and glass pavillions were torn down in 1971 and the market was transferred to the sanitary suburb of Rungis, the “old lady’s” place remained as a comfort for locals who were (and still are) mourning the loss of “the belly of Paris.”  Continue reading Daniel Rose to take on Chez la Vieille & New York

Beards, beanies & bacon jam: Brooklyn arrives at Le Bon Marché

Hovering fifty feet above the corner of Sèvres and Babylone is the image of a hipster eating a hot dog. The waxed tips of his mustache curl up as he gazes down upon the sidewalk scene below: an elegant woman wearing a camel trench coat is loading her shopping into a car. This is the line for valet parking at the city’s most expensive department store, and madame’s bags are bursting with jars of bacon jam.

Between now and October 17, Le Bon Marché (LBM) is celebrating New York’s most populous borough with their Brooklyn Rive Gauche festival.  Throughout the department store and their next-door food hall La Grande Épicerie, black water tower display stands direct shoppers to kale chips, artisanal matchsticks, and beard cream. Continue reading Beards, beanies & bacon jam: Brooklyn arrives at Le Bon Marché

What’s Open in August?

For years, we’ve been assembling a calendar to show you who will be staying open during the summer holidays, based on information that we’ve confirmed directly with the restaurants.  This year, we’ve added a Google calendar that you can can bookmark or even import into your own calendar.  Continue reading What’s Open in August?

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2015

The annual ranking of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has just been announced. El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona (Spain) now wears the crown and Copenhagen’s Noma has fallen to #3 with Osteria Francescana in Modena (Italy) sneaking up to grab second place. Here’s a look at where Paris ranks among the best in the world, according to this jury. Continue reading The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2015

Our Favorite Three Star Restaurants in Paris

In discussing the three-star restaurant L’Ambroisie, which ranks among the most expensive in the world, people often bring up a quote by chef Bernard Pacaud. “Someone’s first meal here is never their best,” he once said. “It takes at least two or three meals for us to learn the customer and for the customer to learn us.”

This was true for food blogger Adam Goldberg, who wrote a scathing report of his first meal at L’Ambroisie. After returning more than twenty times, however, he declared “I am now certain that this is the finest French restaurant in the world.” Continue reading Our Favorite Three Star Restaurants in Paris

Behind the Curtain: Examining Haute Cuisine in Paris

More than 100 years ago, a tire company named Michelin began telling people about their best options for eating while motoring around the country. Travelers wanted to know what was worth a detour or a special journey, and that’s still the case today. The question I’m most frequently asked by our readers is where to go for a special blow-out meal. You want to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a victory. You want to seal a deal, whether business or pleasure. You’re willing to drop some cash, but you don’t want to feel like a fool.

Until now, I’ve had a hard time answering this question. I know well the landscape of the city’s classic bistrosmodern French restaurants, and food-loving wine bars, but this class of two- and three-star tables is a different terrain entirely. There’s an obvious barrier to understanding these restaurants: the staggering, outrageous, almost immoral price of a meal. Prior to this project, in which I anonymously tested every three-star restaurant in Paris over a period of twelve weeks, I had only visited a handful. Continue reading Behind the Curtain: Examining Haute Cuisine in Paris

Eating & Drinking in the No-Go Zones

Nolan Peterson, photo from his Facebook page
Nolan Peterson, photo from his Facebook page

The reliably cynical Fox News network has been broadcasting an interview with Nolan Peterson (photo at right), a supposed security expert and confirmed bozo who has declared Paris to be dotted with “No-Go Zones” where “in just a ten-minute cab ride from the Eiffel Tower, you can be walking through streets that feel just like Baghdad.”

Baghdad, eh? How wonderful for Baghdad if their streets are also filled, as these districts are, with modern bistros, craft breweries, natural wine haunts, vegan cafés, and spots for Philly cheesesteak. Not to mention a place that ranks among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and a bakery that won the Best Baguette in Paris competition.

Inspired by a rebuttal by Sened Dhab, we decided to plot all of the wonderful restaurants, bars and shops that fall within these unterrorized borders. They are some of the most vibrant quarters in Paris and you shouldn’t hesitate for a single moment to visit. Continue reading Eating & Drinking in the No-Go Zones

Lawsuits and threats for negative reviews

Update December 16

Following his (really very) negative review of Le Verre Volé sur Mer, writer Aaron Ayscough (Not Drinking Poison in Paris) received this comment from chef Laurent Julien:

your gonna review only soups restaurants after you cross my way motherfucker.You need a good reminder of what respect is.Tu va connaitre ton poid sans tes dents mon enfant de chienne.a bientot

Continue reading Lawsuits and threats for negative reviews

Delicious Reading for Summer 2014

Hungry for France: Adventures for the Cook & Food Lover

by Alexander Lobrano

For those of you traveling around the countryside this summer, Alexander Lobrano’s new book is an indispensable guide to the fascinating food ways and favored restaurants that you’ll find in the many different regions of France. Every chapter shares the author’s personal connection with a corner of the country and provides a meaningful context for understanding the people and flavors you’ll encounter there. It matters because Lobrano isn’t someone who decided to write a memoir after a handful of meals in France. He’s been eating and thoughtfully writing about food in France for decades, and for the very best publications. It’s also a great book for armchair travelers and home cooks, with tantalizing photography from Steven Rothfeld and regional recipes from longtime Food & Wine contributor Jane Sigal. On summer days when I can’t escape work and the city, I can turn to the Normandy chapter recipe for dorade with lettuce cream, radishes and cockles (a recipe from Alexandre Bourdas of SaQuaNa in Honfleur) and feel like I’ve escaped to the shore.

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories

by David Lebovitz

As Paris bistros continue to evolve and send out modern dishes that are more often marked by smears and shavings than long simmering, I continue to jones for classic fare like céleri rémoulade and cassoulet. Considering how hard it has become to find these dishes done correctly in restaurants, and given how easy (and relatively inexpensive) it is to find the necessary ingredients in Paris, I’ve been trying to master the classics at home. This project started with the 2010 publication of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table and has now been reinvigorated by this, David Lebovitz’ first significant foray into savory cooking. Widely celebrated for his sweet recipes and sharp wit, Lebovitz is an obsessive guy with a test kitchen in his east Paris apartment… the kind of guy who will repeat and refine a recipe for Coq au Vin until it’s perfect. That’s what you want. The accompanying stories (debating, for example, the inclusion of cocoa powder instead of chicken blood in that very Coq au Vin) invite you into his kitchen, into his thought process, into the question of what it means to be cooking in Paris today.

The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris: The Best Restaurants, Bistros, Cafés, Markets, Bakeries, and More

by Patricia Wells

When Patricia Wells published the first edition of this book 30 years ago, it quickly became a bible for food loving travelers to Paris. Before this effort, no one had compiled a collection of addresses, recipes and advice in such a useful way. By carrying a single tome, travelers had an insider’s list of tables to try, a food glossary and practical pages about etiquette, plus hundreds of black and white photos documenting the fabulous fashion and feathered hair of the 1980s. The world has changed a lot since 1984 and the internet (including our little corner of it) has become a plentiful source of free milk, a sometimes overwhelming provider of information about where and how to eat. Why stick with Wells? Because the lady knows what she’s talking about (how rare that has become!), and has personally tested on her own dime each of the restaurants included in this book and its associated app. Many of the tables she celebrated thirty years ago are still here, but a huge number have been necessarily culled and replaced with restaurants that appeal to today’s appetites. Wells loves Japanese food and light and healthy fare, so there are plenty of spots for noodles and sushi to compliment her recommendations for hearty bistro classics. This will be the source that other people continue to rip off for years.


Lead image by Nicolas Portnoï via Flickr












Much Ado About Munster: Cheese Names Do Matter

There are a lot of inflammatory stories in the media about how Europe is trying to bully the US in trade talks into “giving back” its cheese names. Should producers in Vermont be able to name their cheese after a French or Italian village? Are these names about civic pride, or do they indicate something more? As someone who regularly encounters Americans’ confusion about names during my weekly French cheese tours in Paris, I have some thoughts. First of all: this isn’t new.

Continue reading Much Ado About Munster: Cheese Names Do Matter

2014 Winner for Paris’ Best Baguette

For the second year in a row, the winner of the Best Baguette in Paris competition comes from the 14th arrondissement. Congratulations to Antonio Teixeira from the Délices du Palais for placing first in the annual Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris!

Continue reading 2014 Winner for Paris’ Best Baguette

Yannick Alleno to Cook in Swimming Pool

Well, not exactly… but the Michelin starred chef will moving in when the Molitor swimming pool reopens next Spring as a splashy (sorry) new hotel.

The Art Deco landmark near the Bois de Boulogne will be transformed into a hotel with all 124 rooms (hopefully not the size of changing cabins) overlooking the pool. There will be a restaurant – this is where Alleno comes in – and a rooftop bar overlooking the city.

It is unclear whether, as with all Paris pools, guests will be required to wear a swim cap and (for men) a Speedo.

Molitor hotel restaurant Alleno Paris

Read more from the City of Paris – Piscine Molitor: le “Paquebot blanc” bientôt remis à flots

Foie Gras in its Many Forms

foie gras au fil des saisons

Foie gras melting into duck confit at Au Fil des Saisons (photo Meg Zimbeck)

Foie gras may be banned in California and 14 other European nations, but in France the tradition is still going strong. In fact, the fattened livers of ducks and geese are protected by law as part of the country’s cultural and gastronomic heritage, and the French ate more than 8,000 tons of foie gras last year.

Duck, Duck, Goose

The vast majority of foie gras is made from duck (canard), and it’s considerably more affordable than the small amount (less than 10%) made from goose (oie). That’s because geese take longer to mature and require more feed to fatten their livers. Duck foie gras is considered to be more robustly flavored and less refined than goose, but it’s better suited to high temperature preparations like searing because it contains less fat.

Foie gras de Landes from L’Ami Louis (photo- Julien Tort)

Terrine of foie gras from L’Ami Louis (photo Julien Tort)

Various Foie Gras Forms

Foie gras is most commonly cooked at a very low temperature to make a spreadable terrine or pâté, but it can take many other forms. The organ, for that is what it most basically is, can be flash seared and served alone with a condiment or as an enhancement to other ingredients.

Seared foie gras with strawberries, red onion & basil from Vivant (photo- Meg Zimbeck)

Seared foie gras with strawberries at Vivant Table (photo Meg Zimbeck)

The raw and the cooked: Foie gras that is raw (cru) can be seared and served warm. Semi-cooked (mi-cuit) foie gras has been poached at a low temperature and is prized for its silky texture. It has a short shelf-life of three months compared to fully cooked (cuit) and pasteurized foie gras, which can be kept in tins or jars for years.

Foie gras torchon with boozy cherries from Frenchie photo Barbra Austin

Foie gras torchon with boozy cherries from Frenchie (photo Barbra Austin)

Composition: Foie gras entier contains one or two whole lobes of liver, whether cooked in a jar or in a towel (au torchon). A bloc of foie gras contains many smaller livers molded together. Both are cooked (if not cru) with only salt, pepper and a “noble” alcohol like Cognac or Armagnac. A bloc of foie gras with morceaux (bits) contains many pieces of liver pureed together and emulsified with water. It must contain only 50% actual foie gras if goose and only 30% if duck.


Foie gras with beet and green apple from Kei (photo- Meg Zimbeck)

Foie gras with shaved beets, radish & green apple at Kei (photo Meg Zimbeck)

Foie gras is intensely fatty and perked up by any accompaniment that offers sweetness or acidity. Green apple, which brings both of these, is a pairing that we’ve seen in a lot of restaurants lately. Red fruits like cherry and fig are common. Also delicious are savory accompaniments that add both saltiness and sweetness. Along these lines, restaurants are pairing eel (smoked or not) with foie gras, but onion jam (confit d’oignons) is a little easier to pull off for those indulging at home.

If you’re serving a jam or fruit with some sweetness, plain toasted brioche is the best bread option. If you’re forgoing any accompaniments, serve your foie gras with bread that has some sweetness like pain d’epices (honeyed spice bread) or a bread stuffed with raisins or figs. Serving both a sweet bread and jam could be considered overkill.

That sweet accompaniment can also take a liquid form: the classic pairing is of course Sauternes, but the sweet fortified wines of Banyuls and Coteaux du Layon are also nice, and considerably cheaper. I also like a Jurançon or late harvest Gewurtztraminer.

Foie gras and eel Septime

Foie gras and eel at Septime (photo Meg Zimbeck)

Where to Buy in Paris

La Grande Èpicerie has an entire case dedicated to foie gras during the holidays. So does Franprix (a cheap supermarket), for that matter.

If you prefer to patronize the little(r) guys, a few options for homemade include:

  • Le Garde Manger – a shop near the marché d’Aligre selling foie gras from a small-production farm in Alsace
  • Gilles Verot – near Saint-Placide in Saint-Germain, selling slices of foie gras terrine layered with truffles or figs
  • Maison Guyard – a traiteur at 42 rue Verneuil in the posh 7th selling homemade terrines alongside jars and tins

The Destroyer’s Guide to Ravaging Pigalle

In case you missed his much-discussed lament in the New York Times, Thomas Chatterton Williams is upset that Hipsters Ruined Paris. More specifically, he’s annoyed by the proliferation of “burrata salad” at the expense of hostess bars in South Pigalle. He warns us against the anesthetizing effects of steel-cut oats and worries that there isn’t room for both kale and human trafficking in the neighborhood to which he moved two years ago. From Brooklyn, of course.

Continue reading The Destroyer’s Guide to Ravaging Pigalle

Review: Lazare

Lazare was the biggest opening of the rentrée 2013 – a splashy restaurant from a three-star chef inside the Gare Saint-Lazare. Eric Fréchon, who has been branching out from his home base of L’Epicure (formerly Le Bristol) ever since he opened Le Mini Palais in 2010, was purportedly serving Normandy-inflected comfort food to travelers en route to that region or arriving from the other side of Paris. Reviews had been ecstatic, praising the menu as “glorieusement française,” (Gaudry), noting the “friendly, professional service” (Moore) and celebrating the casual openness of the place (Rubin).

In nine years of dining in Paris and writing about its restaurants, this was the worst service I have ever experienced. It was shockingly, almost comically bad. Continue reading Review: Lazare

Daniel vs. Danny Rose: the battle for America-in-Paris

Danny Rose Bistro Americain

Appearing on Charlie Rose last week, the chef of Spring Restaurant joked with his interviewer about hosting a dinner for people who share the name, or a connection with the name Daniel Rose.

At the time, the American chef was unaware that a new restaurant had just opened in Paris bearing the improbable name of Danny Rose Bistrot AmericainIs it possible that the owners of this new place near the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont were unaware of another Daniel Rose in Paris, one who happened to be American and to have one of the most popular restaurants (and web searches) in town? After speaking on the phone with the owners of Danny Rose, the Spring chef Daniel Rose is persuaded that they just liked the Woody Allen film and were completely unaware of his existence. Still, lawyers are involved, since the original D-Rose spent thousands of euros to protect his name and doesn’t want it attached to a place that’s serving “American” specialties like gooseberry-slathered pork ribs.


p.s. is Le Fooding writing about just anything these days?


Behind the Scenes at Paris’ Best Baguette Competition

I’m what you might call a bread enthusiast. Not as bonkers as Steven Kaplan, the bread professor who showed Conan O’Brien how bread-making could be a “sexual act,” but a serious enthusiast nonetheless. I have Kaplan’s book, along with Nancy Silverton’s tome, on my nightstand. I teach tourists how to tell good baguette from bad. And I’ve been following the annual competition to name Paris’ Best Baguette with great interest for many years.

Imagine, then, how excited I was to receive an email from the Mayor’s office, inviting me to be a jury member for the 2013 competition. I confirmed my presence faster than you can say Grand prix de la baguette de tradition française de la Ville de Paris. I took the mission seriously and prepared myself (by eating a lot of bread) to help select France’s next champion baker. Here’s how it went down.

Baguettes await their judgement

On the morning of April 25, 204 participating bakers dropped off two baguettes each at 7 quai d’Anjou on the Ile-Saint-Louis. Only 152 bakers were accepted into competition. The rest were thrown out because they didn’t meet the strict size guidelines for a traditional French baguette (between 55-65cm and 250-300g).


There were three jury panels composed of professional bakers, prize-winning apprentices, bakers’ union bureaucrats, a few journalists, and previous winners. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Pascal Barillon who won the 2011 competition and whose bakery we visit on one of our Paris food tours. I felt confident in evaluating the baguettes according to aspect (appearance), cuisson (cooking), mie-alveolage (texture), odeur (smell) and gout (taste), but Barillon was able to explain the technical failures that might have been responsible when the crumb was “comme le chewing-gum.”


So what were we looking for? A good crumb should be elastic, with plenty of irregular sized and unevenly spaced holes, like the example on the right. The crust should be crunchy, not a wimpy millimeter like the example on the left.

Good crumb, bad crumb

The degree of cooking is more subject to personal taste. Parisians often indicate their preferred cuisson when ordering – pas trop cuit for a blonde and doughy baguette, or bien cuit for something well-cooked. I know bakers who privately seethe when their customers order under-cooked baguettes because the cereal notes haven’t yet had a chance to develop. But as you can see form the range of colors below, there’s no gold standard for coloration.

A wave of baguettes

Each jury tasted more than fifty baguettes – swallowing, not spitting – before the scores were tallied. The top ten baguettes from each panel advanced to a final tasting round and the extra loaves (each baker delivered two) were tasted and ranked by the other panels. In the final round, I tasted a loaf that I really loved, number 187, and had the foresight to snap its picture. It turned out to be the winning baguette. This is what delicious looks like:



As soon as the final results were tallied, the President of the jury tore open an envelope marked with the winning number 187. Inside, a small hand-written paper contained the following information: Ridha Khadher, Au Paradis du Gourmand – 156 Rue Raymond Losserand, 75014. She immediately placed a phone call to Mr. Khadher to share the good news. He responded by repeating “vraiment? vraiment!?” while the jury members applauded in the background. Our Assistant Editor Catherine Down raced over there as soon as I shared the address and found him fighting back tears, watching the line of customers grow down the sidewalk, telling her that he’d  been baking since the age of fourteen but never imagined that something like this could happen to him.

Ridha Khadher winner Best Baguette in Paris

Khadher will receive a cash prize and trophy, along with the contract to supply the Élysée Presidential Palace with their bread for the coming year. The resulting media coverage will guarantee a line of customers down the block for the foreseeable future.

Top 10 winners of the Best Baguette in Paris competition

As I write this, the other winners after Khadher haven’t yet been formerly announced. But I was able to snag a photo of the results, decipher the handwriting, and create this top ten list of the best baguettes for 2013. The #1 spot, which has been occupied by bakers from Montmartre for the past six years, no longer belongs to the 75018. However, a bakery near Chateau Rouge came in second this year, and there are two more top ten bakeries clustered between Place du Clichy and Blanche. A pretty strong showing for the Butte, even if the winning bakery is on the opposite side of town.

All in all, I’m thrilled to have dedicated three hours and three thousand calories to today’s tasting. The chance to talk about technique with Pascal Barillon was more than I could have hoped for, and the peek behind the scenes at this venerable competition was a dream come true. Thanks to the City of Paris for inviting me, and for continuing to support and celebrate artisanal bread-making with this annual event.

In closing, a few more pictures…

Bakers on break

Baguettes waiting to be tasted









First Look: La Régalade Conservatoire

La Regalade Conservatoire

Moments before walking into this newest member of La Régalade family, I read the following lines from a review by Alexander Lobrano:

Ever since he took over the original La Régalade in the 14th arrondissement from founding chef Yves Camdeborde in 2004, Bruno Doucet has continued to delight bistro-loving Parisians with his shrewd and technically impeccable modern French bistro cooking.

“Shrewd?” I wondered. “What’s he mean by that?” Then I sat down and saw the menu.

Is it shrewd for Doucet to hedge his bets, especially during an opening month, by serving a small number of his greatest hits? The marinated sea scallop starter, the cod and sea bream, the steak with beef cheeks, the pork belly – these are all things that the chef clearly loves to cook. I’ve enjoyed them at previous visits to his other restaurants La Régalade (2009) and La Régalade Saint Honoré (2010). Along with stalwart desserts like rice pudding, pot de crème and the Grand-Marnier soufflé, these repeats make up the bulk of Doucet’s menu at the new restaurant.

Pork belly 2013

Pork belly with lentils in 2013. Also on the menu in 2010 and 2009.

Dorade with fennel 2009

Dorade with fennel in 2009. Also on the menu in 2013.

Terrine at La Regalade Conservatoire

House-made terrine at every visit (and thank goodness for that).

I’m not sure that Lobrano was referring to any of this when he uttered the word. Nor do I mean to say that shrewd is bad. Doucet is serving a product I like – updated bistro fare based on fresh seasonal products – to an increasing number of people. If he’s consistent in his cooking, he’s also steady with his prices. The tally for a three-course prix-fixe meal has only risen by two euros from 33€ in 2009.

There are, however, disappointingly few surprises for someone who has previously enjoyed the Régalade bistro brand. The decor may vary dramatically with each new opening (the worn original is still my favorite), but there’s no detectable difference in Doucet’s cooking from one address or year to another.

Will I continue to recommend Les Régalades to visitors in search of good bistro food? Absolutely. Will I be back again myself? Probably. There aren’t many restaurants open on a Monday night, and it’s hard to argue with their prices, their precision, or that welcoming crock of house-made terrine. Perhaps in April, with the hope that Doucet might recycle one of my favorite morel mushroom dishes? Repetition may not be such a bad thing, after all.

Asparagus morels 2009

Morels mushrooms with aspargus, 2009

Morels and cream, 2010

Morel mushrooms in cream, 2010

For more details, including address and hours, see the page for La Régalade Conservatoire in Our Guide to Paris Restaurants.


Jacques Genin has stopped making pastry

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Today at Jacques Genin, atop the glass case which previously held his precious desserts, there was a sign. It read (I paraphrase) “chocolate is my first love… I want to give it my full attention… from this day forward, no more pastry.”

I had a visceral reaction to this news. My mouth went dry. My brain started rewinding through all of the desserts I had enjoyed in this room. A long-forgotten Sara McLachlan song crept up to provide the soundtrack as I considered: no more tarte tatin with the crackly burnt sugar top. No staggeringly priced wild strawberry tart to save up for in late Spring. Tarts with honey walnut, chocolate ganache, perfect raspberry, and LEMON. Oh God, that lemon tart, with variations like rosemary, tarragon and basil! And what about that towering, almost too-tall Paris-Brest with whole toasted hazelnuts spackled on top? Or his éclairs, shiny as a mirror and a different species altogether from the soggy grocery store éclairs of my youth?

Practically speaking, all is not lost. It will still be possible to have a made-to-order millefeuille in the salon. One can order larger desserts (for four or more people) in advance. And of course, the chocolates, caramels and pâtes des fruits will carry on.

However, the individual pastries that I have hysterically mourned are now on hold. Why? Word on the street is that Genin lost his sous-chef and many other hands on his pastry-making team. Rather than put out inferior pastry, he’s narrowing the focus for a time. And this breakup (because that’s what it feels like) may not be permanent, according to the last lines of his letter:

“Que les aficianados ne désespèrent pas ! La pâtisserie n’a pas dit son dernier mot. Gageons qu’elle saura, comme les rêves, réapparaître.”

“But do not despair! The pastry has not uttered its last word. I’m betting that she, like other dreams, will someday reappear.”

Update January 27, 2013: Genin is throwing us a bone, making one daily pastry in addition to the millefeuille. Phyllis Flick reported that she spotted the lemon tart last week.

RIP: Spring Boutique closes its doors

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Photos from the opening party for Spring Boutique, January 2010

Spring Boutique, the little shop run by Spring Restaurant, has effectively closed. The space at 52 rue de l’Arbre Sec opened in January 2010 and took various forms throughout its three years of existence: a wine shop featuring regular tastings, a wine club with bottle delivery service, a high-end epicerie, a lunch spot serving a bouillon that many of our readers still crave, and a place for the community gatherings, including the launch party for Paris by Mouth in 2010.

Chef/owner Daniel Rose sent an email today with the following explanation:

“In 2013 we hope to concentrate all our efforts on the restaurant. After some renovations, expect something new at the boutique space. We have always used it as a place to play and this trend will continue. As usual, we have more ideas than time to implement them! It is a Spring tradition. New arrival Johnathan Bauer-Ronneret (Best Young sommelier of France 2009) and his team, are happy to welcome you and advise you on the same selection of great wines at the restaurant.

Nearly all of our wines are available for take away at 50% off the restaurant list price, but it is as a service to customers. If they like something that they may want to bring home with them we can accommodate a bottle or two depending availability.”

Staffing challenges may be partially to blame for the closure of Spring Boutique. Two long-time employees departed in the second half of 2012 (one to open his own wine export business, the other to make wine in the Loire Valley), then their replacement left abruptly  in December. As a result, the Boutique was obliged to close just before the (potential) holiday rush. It never reopened.

Given my affection for their wine selections, I think it’s great that Spring will continue to let customers purchase the bottles they’ve enjoyed at the restaurant. I wish them luck in whatever they decide to do with that space and hope to return there to play again soon.

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Photos from the Paris by Mouth launch party at Spring Boutique in June 2010


Agapé Substance now a little light in the kitchen

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David Toutain, the chef star of Agapé Substance‘s open kitchen show, has left the restaurant. Contrary to an earlier report about the restaurant still “doing great,” we’ve heard that nearly the entire kitchen staff has left in the wake of Toutain’s departure.

The restaurant website is still promising Toutain and the prices haven’t dropped. They may very well rebound with a different chef, but in its current configuration, Agapé Substance is no longer among our picks for a place to drop serious money for food.

We wish them luck and look forward to the news.

UPDATE: Agapé Substance closed for good during the summer of 2014.

Pierre Jancou spanks magazine for “fradulent” free meal request

Pierre Jancou is many things: a lover of food, an ambassador of natural wine, and (as we learned this week) a former male model. He is also (as we learned from last year’s exchange with F-R Gaudry) a man with a temper.

On October 19, Jancou received an email from the secretary to Jean-Paul Ludot, the Directeur Général of Marie-Claire, announcing that Vivant had been selected to feature as his favorite restaurant of the month. This was paired with a request for the boss man (and a guest) to eat for free.

Jancou replied that he had never in 24 years invited a journalist to eat for free and that he found such a request to be “louche et frauduleuse.” Ludot himself responded that this was a “very classic approach to test restaurant menus and write articles.” He then cited the number of Marie-Claire readers and told Jancou that he would remove Vivant from their selection. “You are the only one to react this way… and as aggressively,” he continued in a follow-up reply. He went on to say that Jancou was “stingy.”

How do I know all this? Because Jancou forwarded the email chain to me (and many others) on October 21. I giggled and emailed him my reply, but another recipient, Bruno Verjus, published the entire correspondence on his blog Food Intelligence. That gave rise to stories in Le Monde, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Figaro, L’Express and other major media outlets.

In response, Marie-Claire has issued an official apology for Ludot’s “personal error.” Ludot himself has apologized for his “clumsiness” and assured us that his “attitude has been shifted.”

The greater shifts, however, are in the balance of power between old and new media, and between restaurants and journalists. Ludot’s boast to Jancou that “others have understood that it was an opportunity to put forward their establishment in a major magazine… with 500,000 readers” reveals an (unsurprising) unawareness of the fact that Jancou doesn’t need him.

Restaurants, if they are any good, have already been written and written about. Journalists have little to offer in the way of “exposure” to restaurants that are already full every night. The days of free meals, for the writer (and their bosses) are surely coming to an end. Maybe even for Pudlo.