Report Cards

This item appears on page 90 of the March 2008 issue.

On FRANCE, December ’07-January ’08. . .

After 20-plus trips to Paris, we continue to find excellent, unusual, inexpensive restaurants (in terms of euros, not in terms of the present dollar exchange rate). On our last trip, the following were noteworthy.

Casa San Pablo (5 rue de Sevigne) — in the fourth arrondissement, about midway between the Hotel de Ville and the Bastille, near the Place des Vosges and very near the St. Paul Métro stop. Open daily.

Casa San Pablo serves French/Basque/Spanish cuisine, including a wide variety of tapas. We shared a Sunday lunch of two generously sized tapas, pan manchego and croquetas de jamón, and one entrée, Basque-style tuna. Our bill of €41.40 (about $60) included a half-liter carafe of excellent Spanish wine and two coffees.

Oscar Restaurant (6 rue de Chaillot) — in the 16th arrondissement (the nearest Métro is Iena), near several museums, including the Galliera (fashion), the Art Moderne, the Guimet (Asian) and the Palais de Tokyo (avant-garde).

Oscar serves traditional bistro cuisine to a largely local clientele. Like many French restaurants, it features a 2-course special, with a choice of starter plus main or main plus dessert. As usual, we ordered one of each, in this case sharing the goat cheese salad and apple crumble.

Our delicious main courses were pork with mashed potatoes (the real thing!) and duck with potatoes au gratin (the best ever!). Adding wine and coffee to the €22 specials brought the total bill to €66.20 ($100).

Closed Saturday noon and all day Sunday. Michelin gives Oscar Restaurant its “Bib Gourmand” rating, meaning excellent value for the price. We definitely agree with that!

— Dave Fulk & Mary Rack, Overland Park, KS

From MELAZZO, Italy, Oct. 26, 2007. . .

Restaurant Ca’ di Facelli (15010 Melazzo Al; phone 0144 3410115) — located approximately two hours north of Genoa and near Acqui Terme in the Piedmonte region,

This one-Michelin-star restaurant is family run. The owner, Hugo Facelli, runs the bar, waits on tables and is a most gracious host, while his wife and two sons run the kitchen.

The food is outstanding and reasonably priced. Our prix fixe meal for four, including wine, a cocktail for me and an after-dinner grappa, was €147 (about $210).

The meal started with crostata di radicchio (a frittata), followed by frittelle al baccalà for the first course, followed by gnocchi and stimco di vitello cotto nel forro a legna (roasted veal shank) for the second course.

We had two desserts, served without our asking: torta bavarese alliaram (caramel creme) and semifreddo allo zabaione.

A great meal! Will answer any questions; phone 540/463-3395 or e-mail edandgloria@embarqmail. com.

— Ed Gorlin, Lexington, VA

From BANGKOK, Thailand, Oct. 15, 2007. . .

• I transited through Bangkok several times this month, with two overnight layovers. I stayed at the 2-star Queen’s Garden River View Hotel (38 Soi, Lat Krabang, Bangkok, 10520; phone +66 [0] 2 327 4188-21 9-11,, just a block outside the airport complex.

For $35 I had a clean room, good bed, air-conditioning, private bath (shower/toilet/sink), refrigerator and TV (with international channels) plus transfers to and from the airport. I communicated directly with them by e-mail and did not have to make a deposit.

The hotel is difficult for taxis to find, so use the hotel’s transfer service. They had staff at the airport with a sign that was easy to find once I cleared Customs.

Internet use was reasonably priced. The hotel restaurants have good Thai food, but I’d say skip the American.

I had a great massage from their recommended service (500 baht, near $17).

— Harriet S. Hughes, Alexandria VA

On CAMBODIA, October ’07

• For wonderful Cambodian food, I highly recommend Viroth’s (246 Wat Bo Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia; for reservations, phone 016 951 800) — located behind La Residence Hotel. Prices run $15-$20 per person for a 3-course lunch.

Angkor Century Hotel (Komay Road, Khum Svay Dangkom of Cambodia; phone [855-63] 963 777, fax 963 789, is an excellent 4-star hotel in Siem Reap. Room prices range from $220 per night for a single to $480 for a suite.

The hotel has several restaurants, and the food was very good. Meal prices range from $5 for a snack to $25 for a large meal with tablecloths.

• The silk training center Artisans d’Angkor (Angkor Silk Farm, Centre National de la Soie [CNS], Puok District; phone [855] 63 380 375, is a short drive out of Siem Reap and worth visiting even if you are not into shopping.

For top-quality handmade silk, it cannot be surpassed; however, the prices are not low. I purchased a silk tie for $26 and silk place mats for $20-$30 each and saw silk blouses for $75 (out of my price range) and silk purses for $15-$50. Open daily 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Harriet Hughes, Alexandria, VA