Here are some notes about some of the more memorable places we dined in France (in addition to the steak frites place). I'm not a food critic, so this may be boring, but maybe it'll be helpful for people looking for places to go in Paris or in the Southwest.
Paris, Le Dauphin, 167 rue Saint Honoré (1st)
A pleasant casual restaurant specializing in Southwest cuisine. I had a very satisfying cassoulet. They're open Sundays, a rare thing.
Paris, Le Verre a Soi, 11 rue d'Armaillé (17th)
A new restaurant owned by a friend of mine. Very casual neighbourhood place, simple food for a fair price. Interesting wines, too. If you're feeling tired of speaking French, Evelyne is very friendly and speaks great English.
Paris, Le Petit Prince, 12 rue Lanneau (5th)
Near Panthéon, this place has been around for at least twenty years and has been known as a gay place. There's still a vestige of that (the staff, later diners), but good cooking and good reviews in Zagat have turned this into a very popular place. Good basic French cooking.
Paris, Carré des Feuillants (1st)
Ken and I wanted to go for a fancy blowout dinner in Paris, so we walked through the Michelin and picked this two star place for being just down the street and with a table available. We were disappointed, though. The food was excellent but a bit too technical for my tastes. The service was really off and the room was unpleasant. I've had bad luck with the fanciest places in Paris, I didn't care much for Taillevent either. So maybe the problem is me.
Paris, Au Relais 48 rue Lamarck (18th)
The worst meal I had in Paris. We wanted a non-touristy bistro near Montmartre, no mean feat. This fit the bill, and I'm sure it's lovely if you're French and in a hurry and want something cheap and simple. But I'm not. Started off badly with me saying "bon jour, madame!" in my friendliest voice, only to get a look of scorn on the wench's face and an indignant "non! mademoiselle!". She shouted loudly back to the kitchen for menus for "étrangers" and it went downhill from there. Food was OK, but boy did I feel unwelcome. But it wouldn't be Paris without a surly waiter experience.
Paris, Musée d'Orsay Restaurant
More than an expediency, the museum restaurant is worth planning a lunch around. The room is fabulous, a restored belle epoque hotel dining room. And the menu was quite good, if a bit uneven. We had the best salad we had the whole trip, but Ken's confit wasn't cooked right. Bad luck.
Carcassonne, La Barbacane, Hôtel de la Cité
A one star place in the middle of the old city of Carcassonne. Beautiful room with excellent classic service and an excellent menu. The staff took it well when I laughed at one of their dishes: a "spaghetti bolognese" that was done up to look like a sushi roll (spaghetti rolled like the bamboo matt around the veal). This was the first meal I truly enjoyed on our trip. It was like coming home, where home has black tie waiters and forty cheeses to choose from.
Mercuès (Cahor), Chateau de Mercuès
My favourite hotel on the trip, a fabulous 17th century restored Chateau. The dining room is excellent, with one Michelin star and a very beautiful room. Excellent food, very comforting and complex, if a bit heavy. Great cheese selection. The hotel also doubles as a winery, although I'm embarassed to admit we drank other Cahors instead of theirs.
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Hôtel du Centenaire
This dinner was the nicest we had, a two star place in the middle of Cro-Magnon country. Very extravagant and carefully prepared food, lovely service, all in all excellent. The chef has a light and subtle touch, something welcome particularly in Perigord.
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Restaurant Au Vieux Moulin
Our second dinner in Les Eyzies, because we couldn't face the complexity of Centenaire two nights in a row. A very lovely restaurant attached to a nice looking hotel, down by the stream with great outdoor seating. Very friendly people with elevated country cooking; the only downside was every dish had the same foie-gras/truffle sauce. I'd definitely go back.
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Pizzeria Mentalo
A fantastic roadside place for a quick tourist lunch. They've got it all, but what's best is their fresh made pizza. I had the pizza mentalo with smoked duck and cabecou, it was lovely.
Sarlat la Canéda, Auberge des Lys d'Or, Place André Malraux
One of my favourite finds for lunch, an honest little place in the middle of tourist Sarlat. Very comfortable and well made local food, finishing with a fantastic tarte aux noix. I'm sure you can dine very poorly in Sarlat, so I was glad to find this place.
Toulouse, Restaurant Dominique Toulousy, Place du Capitole
Absolutely fantastic (one star) restaurant in the middle of Toulouse. Toulouse drove us crazy, the hotel and restaurant in the middle of Capitole was a welcome oasis of calm. Excellent menu of regional food prepared very delicately and beautifully. Ken had the famous foie gras ravioli, which were awesome, and I had the carpaccio of oysters which were also awesome if very, very oysterish. The whole meal was fantastic. The place seems entirely overrun by businessmen on expense accounts, too bad because the food deserves more attention than that.
  2005-06-19 21:50 Z