Destinations Magazine

FAQ: Don’t You Ever Go to Expensive Places?

By Johntalbott

Just a few days ago I was asked “Don’t you ever go to expensive places?” and reacted very defensively (at least in my mind and l’esprit d’escalier).  Now of course, my incredible information system, feedback loops and focus groups, not to mention pointed emails, remind me that my readership is not one with unlimited resources and that while my readers enjoy the occasional blow-out occasion, none of us eats at two three-star restaurants a day in a row for a week anymore.

And when people say “Have you ever been to Pierre Gagnaire (substitute Taillevent, l’Ambrosie, Arpege, Lucas-Carton/Senderens, Ledoyen, Pre Catalan, etc.), I say “sure, 10, 20, 40 years ago.”   And some like Gagnaire, Arpege and Senderens I went quite a few times.  But no more.

And I no longer frequent certain chefs, who quite deservedly move downtown (Eric Frechon) or go upscale (Catherine Guerraz for her short stint in the 8th) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love them in their prior incarnations.

As readers have figured out, I’m a print as well as web-review addict and certain places never make it to my famous “list” when I spot their prices, such as:
70 E at Les 110 de Taillevent
110 E at Raphael Le Restaurant
50-100 E at Helen
40-80 E at Arola
Well, you get the point.

But then there are places whose prices look scary at first, such as
92 E at Coq Rico for a chicken
50-70 E at A La Marguerite
35-100 E at L’Ecailler du Pichet
Until you dig deeper and figure that chicken is for two, A la Marguerite has a 29 E 2/2/2 lunch and L’Ecailler du Pichet has plenty of types of seafood who prices are not vertiginous (or as Rubin said the other day in a phrase I loved – “cactus-like.”)

A further note and one I’ve repeated ad nauseum, great prices do not ensure great food, evidenced by the experience Colette and I had eating during our first sabbatical here at the then three-best restos in Paris on others’ expense accounts.

But I must admit I do sometimes break down and wonder what it’s like on the dark side, so it’s off to the Tour d’Argent after almost a 60 year absence, Les Ambassadors after a 20 year one and Thierry Marx after 15 years.

But in general, I now find it’s much more fun to find a new place than revisit an established one – “chaqu’un…..”

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