Results tagged dining from David Lebovitz

Where to Find the Best Steak Frites in Paris

Alec Lobrano has been writing about the food in Paris for over two decades, and was the Paris correspondent for Gourmet magazine. When his book, Hungry for Paris came out, I immediately opened to page one and read it cover-to-cover. He’s one of the best food writers of our generation and each chapter tells the story of one of his favorite restaurants in Paris. And now, as a result, whenever someone suggests a restaurant for dinner, I’ll pull my copy of his book from my shelf and see what Alec has to say before I confirm.

steak frites

We recently dined together on steak frites and I was thrilled when he agreed to write up a guest post with his favorite places for steak and French fries in Paris to share with you. He not only did that graciously, but included notes about what cuts of meat to expect in a French restaurant, which many visitors will certainly appreciate. And for vegetarians out there, he listed a healthy alternative, too!

You can read more of Alec’s Paris restaurant reviews and recommendations at his site and blog, AlexanderLobrano.com, which I read religiously. Not only is Alec a wonderful writer, he’s a terrific guy, and I hope you enjoy his company as much as I do…-David

In Paris, Where’s Le Bœuf?

According to one of the cordial waiters at Au Bœuf Couronée, one of the last old-fashioned steakhouses in the Paris’s old slaughterhouse neighborhood La Vilette in the 19th arrondissement, they haven’t been so busy in years.

Pour quoi? It seems that these trying times have a lot of people craving meat and potatoes, or as the French would have it, steak frites, that infinitely Gallic and profoundly consoling combo of steak with fries or some other form of spuds.

If you’re one of them, I’m happy to share my favorite steak frites addresses in Paris (vegetarians please skip to the last paragraph), but first a couple of pointers.

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Fish & Farm

I don’t know why, but on my recent trip to San Francisco, I was having a really hard time remembering the name of the restaurant called Fish & Farm. Maybe it was the jet-lag, or all the chocolate and cookies that were coming at me from all angles.

chocolate-covered florentines

But I kept calling the restaurant Farm & Fish.

Or Fish Farm. Or Farm and Fowl.

Aside from having a hard time trying to find a listing for a restaurant about fish farming, because of the offbeat name, I thought the Fish Farm was somewhere in the outer Mission, one of the fringe neighborhoods of San Francisco. Not right downtown, in the gentle theater district.

tater tots

When we pulled up to the restaurant, I was surprised at how slender it was. (What was I expecting? A farm? A hydroponic tank?) But then I was glad, because it’s small size gave them the luxury of spending more time on the food for each guest.

tattoage

Doubly-inked chef Chad Newton sources as much of the food as possible as close to the restaurant as he can.

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The A-Z Guide to French Food

When I was taking pastry classes at Ecole Lenôtre years ago, they had a shop at the school filled with all sorts of great professional baking equipment. Aside from the room where the croissants were freshly-baked (and handed out) every hour, it was my favorite place at the school.

paris menu

PIled up on the shelf was also a stack of slender books: The A-Z of French Food. I flipped though it and was impressed by how much was in this comprehensive little guide, so I bought one. Since then, I’ve used it countless times, and it’s the book that I inevitably reach for first when I have any questions about French dishes, ingredients, or cooking terms, from the normal, to the obscure.

a-z-french-food.gif

In fact, I wished I’d had it the week before, when I was sitting in a restaurant and the waiter proudly presented me with a big, steaming cassolette, piled high with tripe. And there I was, thinking that I’d soon be digging into cassoulet, the classic Gascon dish of beans and duck confit. Quelle déception!*

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Nomiya @ Art Home

eiffel tower

I’m not much for trendy restaurants. And I don’t really care for chefs that are trying to show-off, especially when they don’t have les bourses to pull it off. I recall a particularly alarming meal…and the bill, at the end of it…at a very, very expensive restaurant where I was presented with half of a caramelized shallot which arrived in front of me with a blitz of fanfare, on a plate the size of a hula-hoop.

strawberries and caviar

I took a bite and it was good, but for what it cost, I wanted at least the other half. And look, I worked at a restaurant where nothing was held in higher esteem than a perfect, unblemished peach, so I don’t think it’s wrong to present food or ingredients simply. I just have a hard time swallowing a €55 bowl of tomato soup.

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The Trees of Provence Will Sleep a Little Easier Tonight

There’s a lot to be said for the street foods of Provence. I’m happy to snack away on scourtines, wedges of pissaladière, and socca…except when I make a beeline from the airport to my favorite socca shop in Nice only to find FERMETURE EXCEPTIONELLE in a note on the door.

It’s a fairly common occurrence in this part of the country, where life is far more laid-back than in Paris, and an afternoon lunch can turn into a game of boules, then a few more glasses of pastis or rosé, and by the time you know it, it’s time for la sieste.

And then—voilà, it’s time for dinner. And you wonder…where did the day go?

john dory fish salad

But when it’s warm, I agree that a long, lazy lunch is much more interesting than working. And that’s how we ended up at Les Bacchanales in Vence.

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Hidden Kitchen, Chien Lunatique, Spring & Frenchie

smoked trout

Three of the hottest, most sought-after tables in Paris are lorded over by les américains. A few are part of the “underground” dining scene, which seems to be a global phenomenon, another is a one-man show (for now), and the forth is a cozy little resto located in a back alley where a French chef, who trained mostly in America, is combining the best of both cultures.

Hidden Kitchen

When two young cooks moved to Paris from Seattle, they began hosting dinner parties in their apartment, which was stark and nowhere near as sumptuous as their current digs. I can’t tell you where it is, but once you reserve, you’ll be in the know soon enough.

Hidden Kitchen is now in a more luxe location and the open kitchen overlooks the dining table where a multi-course dinner is served, and ten courses isn’t unusual. The chefs head to the market beforehand to scope out what’s fresh, so you won’t know what’s on the all-inclusive menu until you arrive.

But the courses are small, impeccably fresh, and inventive. So you won’t leave feeling overstuffed. And multiple wines are poured to compliment the food. They’re booked months in advance, naturally, but you can also follow them on Twitter, where they post last-minute cancellations, if you want to be in-the-know.

UPDATE: As of October 2011, Hidden Kitchen is no longer operating. The owners have opened Verjus wine bar and restaurant in Paris, and you can visit them there.

Chien Lunatique

One of my most frequently asked questions is: “Hey David, do you know those two guys from Chez Panisse who….” and I cut them off right about there and finish the sentence for them, since I know what’s coming.

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Le Baron Rouge

I’m a big fan of wine bars. Not only because there’s nothing more I’d rather do than work my way through a large list of wines available to sip by the glass or pot, but because they’re some of the most enjoyable places to eat in Paris.

charcuterie

And with summer coming up, bringing warm weather and longer, lazier days, I find I’m more interested in eating simply, preferring to snack on interesting cheeses or share a slab of pâté, a mound of unashamedly fat-rich rillettes, and slices of chorizo and saucissons, accompanied by a nice glass of Sauvignon blanc or a cool, fruity-red Brouilly.

Le Baron Rouge is one of my favorites. With the wines on offer, you can make a more than decent meal with a large or small platter composed of various cheeses, or pile up some of their excellent charcuterie on a crust of baguette.

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A la Petite Chaise

foie gras

I have two strategies for finding good restaurants, which I use often—especially when traveling. I’ve never, ever been steered wrong using them, and I’m happy to share them with you.

One method I employ is to walk into a fish market and ask them where to eat. Fishmongers always know where to find food that’s impeccably fresh and those strapping young men never fail to steer me towards the best addresses.

The other method I rely on, if it’s lunchtime, is to walk around and see what restaurants are packed-full of older businessmen. Most often they’ve worked in the neighborhood for a long, long time and have their favorites—which is usually because of the good food.

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