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Info, please, on Paris' Plaza Athenee Restaurant/L'Arpege/Ze Kitchen Galerie

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I have reservations at Ducasse's establishment and L'Arpege later this spring. I'm ready to lay out beaucoup bucks but would also like a rough idea of what I can realistically expect to spend for dinner? And if I had to make a choice between the two, which should I consider? I don't want to lose my mind!
Also, can anyone confirm for me if Ze Kitchen Galerie only accepts reservations exactly one month in advance of the appointed date? Has anyone made them earlier?
All info greatly appreciated.

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    Elaine (Snutteplutten)

    AD offers two menus, one at 200E pp, one w/ truffles at 300Epp. Expect to spend AT LEAST 200E pp on food if you go a la carte. With wine, the sky is the limit and depends on your tastes and how much you drink. I think reds start at around 150E the bottle.

    L'arpege is about the same price wise, 250-300 E pp on food, booze at your (expensive) pleasure.

    Of course, what those prices mean for Americans depends largely on our wimpy dollar.

    I think the food is better at L'arpege, but I can't separate my feelings about Alain Ducasse's overexposure from that. I'm sure a case could be made for either one. The good news (for those of us who are not vegetarian) is that Passard is reembracing meat and fish, so you no longer have to wrestle with the intellectual problem of dropping $650/pp to eat a vegetable meal.

    1. We had our hotel make reservations at Ze Kitchen Gallerie about two weeks before we were there because there were 6 of us and we wanted to be sure to get a table. I don't think it is necessary to make them more than a month in advance. If for some reason, you can't make the reservations yourself, have your hotel make them at the appropriate time. We thought the restaurant was great.

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        livinginparis

        I went to L'Arpege for the first time several weeks ago. Total cost for 2 including drinks: 750 euros.

        But it was truly amazing. We did the vegetable first course selection, which is 8 little first courses, if I remember correctly. Many things sound so simple, like a salt-roasted beet, but Ducasse grows his own vegetables and pays extreme attention to detail. Weeks later I'm still fantasizing about that beet... Another highlight was a plate of sauteed spinach with a carrot/orange puree. The spinach was spectacular! Just sauteed spinach. I like to cook, but I would never be able to do that at home - Ducasse picked the best spinach and then knew the exact moment to take it out of the pan. The pairing with the carrot/orange puree worked quite well. I think there was just a touch of ginger in the puree.

        We wanted to do different wines throughout the meal, which I thought would be more expensive than by-the-bottle wine. It was actually cheaper than ordering the bottle(s) of wine we otherwise would have gotten. We talked to the sommelier and he just gave us glasses of wines he recommended throughout the meal. We drank 8 glasses of wine between the 2 of us, and the by-the-glass prices were the same or less than 1/4 of the by-the-bottle prices on the wine list. And they were generous glasses, as proven by my trouble getting into the cab after the meal! haha!

        Have you been to French Laundry in Napa? In terms of vegetables, Ducasse and Keller have somewhat similar philosophies (that vegetables are challenging and interesting to a chef and worth an entire menu of their own). L'Arpege is more expensive than French Laundry, especially if you're paying for L'Arpege in dollars. But it was really a fantastic experience. Ducasse himself stopped at our table to chat several times.

        One thing to note: it's closed on Saturday and Sunday

        4 Replies
        1. re: livinginparis

          Hi! Read your posting with interest. However I'm a little confused. L'Arpege's chef is Alain Passard whilst Ducasse is chef at Plaza Athenee. So, are you describing your experiences with Passard's cooking or Duccase's cooking?

          1. re: livinginparis
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            Elaine (Snutteplutten)

            Surely you mean Passard? Alain Ducasse's empire is large and ever growing but I don't think he's taken over Arpege yet :)

            1. re: Elaine (Snutteplutten)
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              livinginparis

              YES! ahahahaha! sorry, I was reading a Ducasse article right before typing.... losing my mind!

            2. re: livinginparis

              I ate at L'Arpege last summer (2006), and the cost was in the neighborhood of 700 euros for two. I never felt so cheated in my life. Most of the food was mediocre at best. And despite its reputation as a place that features vegetables, almost every dish includes meat or meat stock. The one strict vegetarian in our party was very disappointed.

            3. I just showed up at Ze Kitchen Galerie without a reservation - they were able to accomadate 30 mins later - it was by far my first and most amazing meal in Paris

              1 Reply
              1. re: S Sheets

                hotel made reservation for us at ze kitchen galerie about a month before we arrived. it was thoroughly enjoyable. we were a party of 7 and were well cared for though i always think its far more problematic to serve such a big group than 4 or fewer. we had the best gazpacho any of us could remember and dinner with wine ran about 70 euros a person. not one of the 7 complained which certainly demonstrates a versatile kichen.

              2. I know this post is old, but here's my opinion of a recent dinner at L'Arpege.

                We were in Paris in August 2007 (a VERY bad time of year for restaurant availability), and L'Arpege was the only one of the 2007 Michelin 3-star restaurants that were open when we were there. So by default, it was the choice. Having had meals at other 3-star restaurants in Paris, my hopes were high.

                Unfortunately, L'Arpege did not live up to my expectations. In spite of the price 325E, I think), I decided to give the chef's tasting menu the chance to wow me. While 2 of the dishes did (the turbot and the dessert tomato were amazing!), the others were merely fine. Nothing to complain about, but nothing that was transcendant either. After spending a total of almost 1000E for 2 people, I felt like I had had a very expensive but not memorable meal. In my opinion, the chef should spend less time in his vegetable garden and more time being inventive in the kitchen.

                The dining room decor was simple, modern elegance. And the service was quite friendly and attentive. It could have been the time of year we were there, but only 2 of the tables in the restaurant were French. Everyone else was a tourist.

                All in all, if I had paid $500 for this meal for 2, I would have left with a positive opinion (although it would still not outshine Per Se or Jean-Georges). But at $1400 for 2, I felt robbed. Granted, about $350 of that was for what turned out to be a mediocre bottle of wine, but still -- for that much money, I should walk out in awe.

                Next time, I'll go back to Alain Ducasse instead.

                1 Reply
                1. re: edwardspk

                  I understand your frustration and anger, but Ducasse? Don't do that to yourself. You've been robbed one, didn't you learn your lesson?