Cobéa, Paris, 11/30/18

exterior
exterior

Cobéa is a smallish place that was really busy.  The setting is white clothes and napkins covering the small close tables, lowered lighting, no music, a wall of barred windows overlooking the garden and a small window serving as a pass through area for the kitchen.  The staff kept a frantic pace but seemed to be fairly inefficient in their service in spite of that, however it did leave me feeling rushed and yet I wasn’t.  There was lots of carrying things to and from the kitchen and the pacing quite variable, in addition the explanations of the dishes was poor.  The menu lists the items and you pick 4, 6, or 8 courses with the items already selected for the number of courses you pick.  There was little price difference in the tastings.  We chose the 8 course menu which featured both of the protein options.  Portion control was all right.  They have a one Michelin star rating. Continue reading

Le Clarence, Paris, 11/30/18

exterior
exterior

Le Clarence has been around about 3 years and is in the private mansion of Prince Robert of Luxembourg, who is also President of a wine estate in Bordeaux, Domaine Clarence Dillon.   The building has been meticuously restored and decorated to provide a ‘lived-in’ feel while still being quite elegant.  There are three small dining rooms, each with a different decor, and a large area upstairs lounge to relax and have cocktails or after dinner drinks if you prefer that to sitting at the table.    There are also some private party rooms.  Some rooms have windows to the street and other have windows looking over the courtyard toward the glassed in kitchen area.  Beautiful carpet is on the floors topped with large widely spaced tables draped with pale green satin underskirts topped with white cloths whose color scheme perfectly mimics the charger plates on the table (marked with the CD logo).  Chef Christophe Pelé works some 2 star Michelin magic on the 3 different tasting menus that are offered.  Wine pairings are available.  There was also a truffle supplement offered the day we were there but we opted to just have their longer tasting, Menu Le Clarence. Pacing and portion control were great as was the service.  Every need was happily attended to and afterwards they showed us around some of the other rooms as well as having a printed menu of what we had for me. Continue reading

Le Vent D’Armor, Paris, 11/29/18

building
building

Le Vent D’Armor has been in business for 3 years and offers a surprise tasting or an a la carte menu.  It’s a small place with windows opening to the street and the other walls are decorated with cut out circles filled with various fabrics.  Music plays in the background, the lighting is low, the floor is a wide wood plank and white tableclothes and napkins are on every table – even the outdoor ones.  A middle column was cornered in copper as was the ‘wainscoating’ on the walls.  The noise level kicked up a tad when the room filled but the tables are set widely enough that it was never a problem.  The only odd touch was the use of plastic chairs but however weird they were to touch they were quite comfortable.  It’s a cozy place where we felt very welcome and enjoyed a fine meal.  The co-owners (who previously worked together as head chef and sommelier at Le Divellec) split the duties of the place with Nicolas Tribet  serving as chef and Olivier Friant managing the front of the house.  We chose to order a la carte and pacing was wonderful with the portions being generous.   The food was honest and very tasty and it’s a place I recommend you try. Continue reading

Guy Savoy (update), Paris, 11/29/18

entrance
entrance

It’s been 3 years since we were at Guy Savoy, a large 3 star Michelin restaurant.  Not much had changed in the physical structure but the feel was definitely of a tourist driven  machine.  We were in a room with mostly non-French speaking people and it was unsettling to hear the same “witty” remarks delivered to each table, like they were something new and personal.  Nevertheless service is well done with no need is too much to ask for.  The lunch special is not as good a deal now.  You are limited in your choices with it and the various lunch compilations did not appeal either, so we ordered from the regular menu.  Interesting enough the menu is printed in about 6 languages.  Chef Guy Savoy is still in house and makes the rounds of the tables but leaves early enough that I seriously doubt he was doing any cooking –  he is there just to be seen.  If you need to see him then I urge you to go but even though the food is really good you can eat better at a better price any number of other places. Continue reading

L’Arcane (update), Paris, 11/28/18

exterior
exterior

We visited L’Arcane for the first time about 18 months ago and they hadn’t been open long (opened June 2016).  On this re-visit pretty much every thing that bothered me about the place has been corrected and food remains outstanding.  Get it on your list as soon as you can.  The tables are still small but well spaced and the lighting is at a good level.  Soft music is in the background and some decorative changes, like wide planked wood floors and nice artwork, have been made that are all for the better.  They now have a well deserved one Michelin star rating.  Chef Laurent Magnin is now married to Sophie Keller who runs the front of the house.  They offer a tasting menu only with the option of 3, 4 or 5 different courses, but there are a couple of amuse bouche to add to it.  There is no printed menu.   Portion control was good and pacing on the slower side but nicely regular as opposed to having long gaps. Continue reading

Le Radis Beurre, Paris, 11/28/18

exterior
exterior

Le Radis Beurre is a small place that holds about 30 people with no music, small close tables and a corner service area.  The dark, bare wood tables were decorated with various squash and there were pictures of chickens, wine and radishes on the walls. There were 2 windows to the street which let in lots of light in the daytime but the lighting was not overly bright otherwise.  The service people seemed to know many of the patrons and mostly French was spoken by the guests, i.e. not a big tourist spot.  However they were very welcoming and helpful with selections.   It felt cozy inside and there were a few small tables outside if the weather permitted their use.  There is no English menu only a chalkboard of options in French, with first, main and dessert courses being priced the same or a price offered for 2 or 3 courses.  Some items did have a supplemental charge.  A truffle option had a sign but they were out of it that day.  There was another menu on a mirror but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. Continue reading

Smyth, Chicago, 11/17/18

exterior
exterior

Smyth has a large open kitchen (with a wood fire), a small waiting area and 2 Michelin stars.  Upstairs from it is a ‘sister’ restaurant with a more casual mode.  Lighting is lower with plenty of candles in the room.  A variety of music plays in the background, including rap, on a real turntable.   The polished wood bare tabes were well spaced and set on a concrete floor with a wood ceiling overhead.  A couple of large wood columns are in the room, but they appeared to be structural.  It serves only a tasting menu which you designate the length of when you make your reservation.  Ours was the Omaha tasting.  Wine pairings were available, as are non-alcoholic pairings, but we ordered our own wines.  Service was excellent and friendly and pacing was good.  This meal started strong and never let up the quality – put it on your list if you’re in Chicago. Continue reading