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Where to take classy American-in-Paris foodies?

Tara Aug 12, 1999 01:06 PM

My godfather, who is a diplomat, and his family are
coming to town from Paris at the end of the month and
I need a good place to take them to dinner. The
qualifications: they don't want French, Chinese, or
too shellfishy a menu (I don't think they eat it); it
must be quiet enough for lots of conversation; and,
preferably, downtown (they are staying in the
financial district). He picks up the check, so I
don't want it to be too pricey. They liked Home the
first time we went there, but the second time we had a
bad experience with service. Some kind of ecclectic
food would be best, but it has to be really good -
these people are hardcore and aren't afraid to

Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. j
    jen kalb RE: Tara Aug 12, 1999 01:48 PM


    17 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb
      Tara RE: jen kalb Aug 12, 1999 02:55 PM

      Am I wrong in thinking that Montrachet is both
      expensive and French?

      1. re: Tara
        jen kalb RE: Tara Aug 12, 1999 03:20 PM

        French inspired, perhaps; the chefs have always been
        americans, and to my taste it could equally well be
        called "New American", whatever that means. As for the
        expense, you are right, this may be on the high end,
        especially if you go for one of their lovely
        burgundies, but I don't think these folks are looking
        for a budget restaurant. Montrachet is not in the luxe
        category, and offers more value than many others in
        the same price range, a good dining environment for
        conversation, and a distinctly downtown ambiance.

        1. re: jen kalb
          Tara RE: jen kalb Aug 12, 1999 03:56 PM

          Thank you for your erudite response, that was just
          what I needed to hear.

          1. re: Tara
            Tara RE: Tara Aug 12, 1999 04:11 PM

            Crisis - Montrachet is closed on Sundays in August, as
            is Layla and Nobu. I need a Sunday reservation.

            1. re: Tara
              Gary Cheong RE: Tara Aug 12, 1999 05:08 PM

              I think most places in Tribeca are closed on Sundays.
              Try calling Canal House at the Soho Grand Hotel and
              ask them to fax you a copy of the menu. I think there
              was a chef change there recently, so I'm not sure what
              the food is like now. However, I think the restaurant
              should be quiet enough for your conversations (I would
              still ask about that when calling).

              1. re: Gary Cheong
                Tara RE: Gary Cheong Aug 12, 1999 06:54 PM

                Canal House has gotten pretty bad reviews. What about
                the same specifications, but in another area?
                Someplace easy to get to by subway from the Financial
                District (they're subway riders). Ithaka sounded
                good, but they have a private party that night.

                1. re: Tara
                  Gary Cheong RE: Tara Aug 13, 1999 01:35 AM

                  If they are subway riders, then maybe you should try
                  Gramercy Tavern. I'm not a big fan of it, but there
                  are many others who love it.

                  I think Tabla may also be open on Sundays now.

                  1. re: Gary Cheong
                    caroline RE: Gary Cheong Aug 13, 1999 04:33 PM

                    How about Dok Suni? Korean is *lousy* in Paris, and
                    it's trendy, a bit unbuttoned, not too expensive, and
                    pretty well-executed. This would be a very *downtown*
                    way to go, but then, they might appreciate that.

                    You'd never find kaiseki in Paris. Sugiyama is not
                    downtown, but it is lovely, and there was only one
                    tiny shellfish in my meal, though you are looking at a
                    $60 prix fixe per person, which is definitely on the
                    pricier side, even by Parisian standards. Elegant
                    setting, if a bit understated, with gracious service.

                    Certainly any Danny Meyer would do nicely--I would
                    choose the cafe area at Gramercy; it's a bit less
                    expensive, and the desserts are exquisite.

                    1. re: caroline
                      MU RE: caroline Aug 13, 1999 09:15 PM

                      Dok Suni is an awfully loud room, and while the food
                      there tastes pretty good, it's kind of Americanized.
                      If they've never had Korean and they want it you should
                      probably go somewhere else for an intro. (I like Cho
                      Dang Gol on 35th. Not downtown, though, or even
                      especially fancy, although it is affordable and not
                      too loud.)

                      How about Periyali? Are they open on Sunday?

                      1. re: MU
                        Tara RE: MU Aug 15, 1999 10:55 PM

                        So. I made a reservation at Babbo (before reading the
                        recent posting, even), although they have yet to fax
                        me a menu (despite three requests). What about
                        Odeon? I'm looking for a backup, as my godfather
                        seems to like having a choice.

                        1. re: Tara
                          Barb H. RE: Tara Aug 16, 1999 06:31 AM

                          You may be able to check the Babbo menu on
                          www.cuisinet.com. They have a good number of menus on
                          file for perusing.

                          1. re: Tara
                            Patrick Keilch RE: Tara Aug 16, 1999 09:19 AM

                            I would stay away from Odeon. The food was
                            inconsistent when I was there, and it isn't really
                            special enough for the kind of meal you seem to be
                            looking for.

                            It was a while ago that I was there, but I took my
                            grandmother to Clementine (she too will complain) and
                            we enjoyed it quite a bit. The room is a little bit
                            loud, but we did alright. It has (or had a year ago)
                            a "downtown" feel. I don't know about Sundays though.

                            Good luck. And I'll second the Dok Suni
                            recommendation, not authentic, but really tasty.

                            1. re: Patrick Keilch
                              j gold RE: Patrick Keilch Aug 16, 1999 10:23 AM

                              Hey--I like Odeon, especially late and for leisurely lunches. It's hard to top their ``country'' salad of endive, bacon and Roquefort, and the fries are top-notch. That being said, it probably isn't the right place for a celebratory dinner....

                              1. re: j gold
                                caroline RE: j gold Aug 16, 1999 04:46 PM

                                Babbo over Clementine any day. I wish I had known a
                                little more about what you meant by expensive. Also,
                                I should take back what I said about Korean in Paris--
                                just yesterday, a friend told me of a great place in
                                the sixteenth, near the Trocadero.

                              2. re: Patrick Keilch
                                JMinNYC RE: Patrick Keilch Aug 18, 1999 03:59 PM

                                Clementine is a very good suggestion. Good food,
                                reasonable prices, however, as you said - it is a bit
                                noisy. Ask for a quiet table and avoid the fountain at
                                all costs.

                  2. re: Tara
                    JMinNYC RE: Tara Aug 16, 1999 03:45 PM

                    Montrachet is closed on Sunday always.

            2. re: jen kalb
              JMinNYC RE: jen kalb Aug 16, 1999 03:44 PM

              Montrachet is pricey - VERY.

            3. k
              kate RE: Tara Aug 16, 1999 04:46 PM

              This may be a little pricey, and I'm curious to hear
              what other chowhounds have to say about it, but I
              think Firebird may be a good choice. The dining rooms
              are quiet and lovely, the food is interesting and very
              solid, and the service is impeccable. It's not
              downtown though, it's on restaurant row. I've only
              eaten there on one occasion, but I was extremely
              pleased. Any input from the masses?

              1. m
                Mara RE: Tara Aug 17, 1999 04:13 PM

                Babbo is wonderful but definitely pricey, and quite
                loud downstairs. I would recommend going there either
                early (mon dieu!) or quite late. Less pricey but
                consistently good is Grange Hall - nice atmosphere and
                a great spin on hearty American fare (I like it MUCH
                better than Home).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mara
                  debbie RE: Mara Aug 17, 1999 06:00 PM

                  I would NOT recommend Grange Hall. I thought the food
                  was nothing special and the service terrible. As an
                  American who has lived in Europe for 8 years, I can be
                  pretty sure your friends would NOT like it. I know
                  that Grange Hall has gotten favorable posts here, but
                  that is my opinion.

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