There is a very popular local restaurant called Frenchie. Google it and it comes up in both French and Anglo press. One of the English language foodie sites even has a post entitled, Five Great Frenchie Substitutes. I’d heard wonderful things about what comes out of the kitchen and I was hoping to try it one day, but reservations are incredibly hard to come by (hence the need for a list of substitutions). Since Mr French is often out of town and we work late during the week, I rarely get to try places on the other side of town, or anywhere that requires any kind of advance preparation. Reservations are reserved for things like birthdays and three star restaurants.

There are so many great restaurants in Paris, that I’ve never felt deprived, but I am a curious girl and when the opportunity to dine there came up, I didn’t want to say no.

The restaurant is cute, with brick exposed walls and only about 20 place settings. Our reservation was for 19h, a bit early for Paris and I’d had to skip lunch to ensure I’d have an appetite.

It seemed like everyone had a 19h reservation, because a flood of people arrived at once. I was seated next to the toilette and every time someone went in my chair back would take a healthy blow, shoving me into the table’s edge. The waitress spoke perfect French and English, and was very nice about serving in either, or and both. We ordered at the same time as the other tables, were served at the same time as the other tables and were required to leave before 21H30. As a local girl, I found this military precision rather odd and it left me ill at ease through out the meal. There was none of the hustle and bustle of a local bistrot, and with everyone doing approximately the same thing at about the same time, I kind of felt like I was in a school cafeteria.

But I was there to eat and I was not disappointed by what was on my plate. Without taking notes, I remember having enjoyed some excellent smoked sea scallops on sautéed mushrooms with a meyer lemon cream. For the main dish there was a perfectly prepared piece of sea beam and dessert was a blood orange sorbet with slices of fruit and bits of cake. All of this accompanied by a glass of a simply delicious white wine from Greece.

The food was remarkably good. It was light and original; with flavours in foam, lovely textures and the best basic ingredients. And the wine, well after ten years here, I appreciate the opportunity to try non-French wines, this one was well worth being adventurous. I found the portions ridiculously small and as I did a bit of research this evening I found that I am not the only one. The Figaroscope review has a similar complaint, but argues their case with considerably more force.

I love a great meal, but after last night I realized how much I also appreciate a good scene, either fun and lively, or plush and romantic, depending on the soirée. Frenchie is neither and given the rhythm of the orderly service, the tiny portions and the great lengths it takes to get a table, well, I’d probably call a handful of other restaurants first; 21, Racines, Pinxos, La Table d’Aki come to mind.


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14 thoughts on “Frenchie

  1. I love the video for the restaurant.

    It’s really curious that everyone is seated at the same time but that also seems to indicate that the kitchen is set up in such a way that each course is prepared singularly, meaning, all the fish is cooked at the same time for that course, then the kitchen moves on to cook the next course, then the next. It’s a curious way to work a kitchen. It’s like being in a home for a meal rather than a restaurant, an that’s a new trend in culinaria don’t you think?

    • I think home meals, like the hidden restaurants are absolutely a trend, but this one didn’t feel like that at all. There was still serious lag from one table to the next and the kitchen was in another room. Foam and sauces like the ones at Frenchie’s remain resolutely restaurant cooking in my mind, although I know that some home chefs are going molecular.
      By comparison, we went to a place called Chez Janou this weekend and it really did feel like eating a friend’s. The staff was incredibly welcoming, there were little extras like a basket of fresh nuts with a nut cracker served with the coffee and a very special selection of hard to find liqueurs. At the same time, my sautéed mushrooms were seriously under seasoned and the grilled mussels over cooked. Which is something that could happen chez moi. During the meal, M French mentioned how much he really prefers this kind of restaurant to the more gastronomic options out there.

  2. I know I say I am not a foodie, but I do appreciate good food and I have constantly been disappointed by the hype that often comes around restaurants in Paris, which sadly is just an excuse for the place to put prices up. So now I ignore reviews. Sometimes I think there is an “emperors new clothes ” element to it. Am I the only person in the world who found Cafe Constant mediocre?

    Personally I feel that NOTHING justifies the prices some of these places charge for what after all is a plate of food and the enjoyment is subjective. I realise some chefs are artists, I realise this from watching masterchef, but please, their skill are no more valuable than a doctor or a person who is prepared to collect your garbage. …. but the such is the way of the world! (rant over)

    Sometimes I can have a good experience in a place, only for the next visit to be just the opposite, the chef may have a bad day, or a day off, or it just doesn’t work the second time. Or I am not in a receptive mood. Just like in any kitchen. Also somebody else’s idea of a good meal is not necessarily mine.

    My enjoyment is also dependent on the company I am with, how hungry I am at the time and lots of other factors, beyond the control of the place.

    Very astute analysis that ” I love a great meal, but after last I realized how much I also appreciate a good scene, either fun and lively, or plush and romantic, depending on the soirée.” influences your experience of a place. Some people like quiet and private, whist others like noisy and jolly!

    Love Denise

    • Hi Denise, I get the “emperor’s new clothes” feeling from time to time. At Frenchie the ultimate sovereign wasn’t exactly naked, but merely dressed in jeans and a striped sailor’s top.

      To be fair, this place is known for being very affordable considering the quality of the food; 45€ for entrée, plat and dessert. Not cheap, but only twice the going rate for the doctor’s office.

      IN defense of some of the really expensive places, they employ an entire army of staff and its not just a meal, but theater. I can’t afford it myself, and I can’t justify it either, but when I have dined in three star restaurants I have always been amazed at how much they differ from any other restaurant experience and I remember the really great dishes for ages.

  3. Sylvia, You’re my restaurant sister (as in soul sister). I had exactly the same feelings after eating at Frenchies. Even though the food was delicious, something felt off. Maybe it’s the two synchronized seatings per evening – we come, we eat, we go – that made the evening less than stellar. I don’t know. But I don’t expect that I’ll go back. As you said, there are too many other great restaurants in Paris. It’s just a pity that the Anglo food press seems to be obsessed with only a select handful.

    I did, however, really enjoy the vibe in Frenchies wine bar and would happily return!

  4. Hey there girlie! I was going to say the same thing MK said. I LOVE the wine bar and the food there, and really have no desire to be one of the Chosen Few who get into the restaurant! Maybe the three of us should go to the wine bar for dinner next week? Have to get there when it opens, though, for a good seat!

  5. Interesting to read all the comments!
    I enjoyed the aesthetics of the food and everything tasted excellent IMHO but I was rather distracted by the two hair-pulling kidlets in our party to notice the regimentation you mention. It did seem as if only Americans were eating there..They were pretty tolerant of our ipad-fighting youngsters. I suggested to my host to give the chef some of her wonderful artisanal candies and that hit the spot. I did feel badly for the newly weds nearby trying to have a ‘special’ night out…
    My pics here:

  6. I saw your posting on PBM. I have to say, I was disappointed in so many ways. The reservation process was horrendous. There are two seatings. Very regimented atmosphere. The food was good, but there are so many other places without all the hype that deliver the goods: ambiance, service, and great food and even at a lower cost, e.g. Le Casse Noix.

      • The numbers of disenchanted “ex-Frenchie” groupies has grown exponentially. The problem with American mentality, is that as a good friend put it, “What becomes hard to obtain, becomes more desirable…” I’ve had friends who’ve had absolute horror stories, but their stories don’t get told because certain groups protect Greg. And, will express their consternation that you have the gall to criticize him, afterall he’s an artist?!?!. So, trust me, you are not alone. By the Way Le Troquet de Dupleix is fantastic too, try Auxuria too. Friendly staff, down to earth, and not like some factory.

  7. No, you are not the lone peasant. I criticized them royally because of the poor treatments to me and my friends on several blogs. I agree, the food is good, but at what price? And, although several of my friends chimed in about their horrible experiences, I was singled out as having a grudge against them, and basically told to stop. I haven’t gone there in years. Too many other fabulous places. But like most die-hard fans, they can do no wrong. So, continue writing what you feel. I did noticed you were “hesitate” don’t know if that’s the right words, to be a little more blunt. On the other hand, I’m blunt, cause I answer to no one but myself. Chapeau!

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