Sunday, August 26, 2018

Here's to many more! gives us incentives to go beyond our normal comfort zone.  It grants points, called "yums," for every reservation I make using its service.  We dine out often, and so my points have accumulated to the level where some of them will expire at the end of the year if we don't use them.  Only some restaurants accept the points.  So to use these points, we have to go where those restaurants are located.
The Square Adolphe Chérioux, on our way to Place Falguiere Le Bistro, yesterday evening.

Many of these restaurants are highly rated.  Those are the only ones I consider.  So we have now used yum points at two places this summer -- Les Truffes Folies (7th arrondissement) and L'Entente (2nd arrondissement).  Tomorrow we will dine at Le Lutin de Jardin in the 6th arrondissement.  At each place, we received a 25-euro discount (costing 2000 yums each), on top of a discount of 20 or 30 percent (on food items only, not beverages).

So if the normal tab for food items is 90 euros, we can get a 30 percent discount, bringing the total to 60 euros, and then another 25 euros off, bringing the final total to 35 euros (food only).  Not bad, eh?

Square Necker, with rare privets and a bandstand gazebo.
Not all restaurants on offer 20 o 30 percent discounts.  Some offer more.  An increasing number offer no discount at all.  But Lafourchette is still worth using for reserving at those places, because the customer still accumulates yums and the online reservation system is such a breeze to use.  Another benefit that I appreciate is the record of all my past reservations.  If I cannot remember the name of a place where we dined two summers ago, I can just scan through the list of my previous reservations until I recognize it.  That's handy, especially for a blogger.

Now, you may wonder why I use instead of its English-language version,, which is based in the U.K.

There are three main reasons, in no particular order:

1.  We prefer that the restaurant's staff knows that we speak French when we make a reservation.  This relieves the staff of some anxiety; we want to put them at ease.  Nobody wants to appear foolish in speaking another language badly, and that includes the French who aren't confident of their English language skills.

2.  On, I see reviews written by French speakers.  On, I see reviews written by English speakers.  I find that our criteria in judging food, service, ambiance, and location are much more aligned with the French speakers' criteria than with the English speakers' criteria.  That is probably because we've been summering in Paris for 21 years.  It may also be because I am a somewhat serious cook (as was my husband Tom, once upon a time).  And some things that bother British or American tourists in Paris don't bother us at all; some things that British or American tourists don't even notice are important to us (and the French).

3.  Lafourchette's sample menus in French are understandable and clear to us; but just like the menus in the restaurants, the English translations are usually woefully lacking -- in some cases, comically so.  Generally, it is just much easier for us to understand the menus in French.

Lamb shank at Place Falguiere Le Bistrot

I find the reviews to be very helpful.  I do glance at the number of reviews that a customer has submitted; if they are not "experienced" diners, I don't give much credence to the review.

Numbers matter:  if a restaurant's rating is 8.8 (out of 10) or higher, and there have been a significant number of reviews submitted for that restaurant, that catches my attention.

Poached salmon with homemade pasta and Carbonara sauce at
Place Falguiere Le Bistrot
Tomorrow, for example, we will dine at Le Lutin Dans le Jardin, which has an 8.9 rating on with over 8,000 reviews submitted.  On Tripadvisor (which now owns Lafourchette/TheFork), this restaurant has a 4 (out of 5) rating, with 279 reviews submitted.  Lafourchette reviews carry more weight, in my opinion, than Tripadvisor's because you have to have completed a reservation before you can submit a review on Lafourchette.  That prevents people from "padding" a restaurant's rating with fake reviews (positive or negative) when they've never set foot in the place.

The discount offered at Le Lutin is unusually high, at 50% off food items.  But the prices are higher than average, too.

So tomorrow, we will get 50 percent off, and an additional 25-euro discount.

Another reason to go to Le Lutin, besides its good reviews and value, is the experienced chef, Stéphane Cauet.  According to the restaurant's web site, this 40-something-year-old man from Picardy apprenticed at the Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table et de l'Hotellerie and at the Auberge d'Armaillé in Issy Les Moulineaux [just outside of Paris, near the 15th] with Patrick Bassement (restaurant Au Menil a Savigny Sur Orge, for 20 years), a student of Paul Bocuse and Michel Guerard.  After 20 years of experience during which he worked for several restaurants and participated in creating a number of different restaurants in Paris, Stéphane then decided to create Le Lutin Dans le Jardin.  It opened in 2007.

Knowing all this before we dine at a restaurant makes the dinner a richer experience.   Online information, offered by the restaurant web sites, restaurant reviews, Lafourchette and Tripadvisor are good resources.

At this point in time, I have submitted 255 reviews to, and 65 reviews to TripAdvisor.  Here's to many more!

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