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Aug 6, 2007 02:42 PM

10th Anniversary in Paris...

We are planning to visit Paris for our 10th anniversary. While I am giving myself a good deal of time to research, I am having a hard time wading through all the information out there. I was hoping to mine the knowledge on this board to find some true gems.

I am intensely passionate and demanding when it comes to dining. Lining up the right reservations can be the most important part of my trip. I want to put together an encompassing experience, including everything from a three Michelin star dinner to a low-key locals spot.

We will be spending 7 days in Paris before moving on to Barcelona. This is a short list of the restaurants I have come up with so far;
• Spring
• Mon Vieil Ami
• Le Comptoir
• Gaya
• Citrus Etoile
• l'As du Falafel
• Chez Omar
• Senderens
• Les Papilles
• Benoit
• Le Voltaire
• Chez Dumonet
• Le Café Constant
• La Butte Chiallot
• Les Bouquinistes

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  1. there are no 3 stars on your list. Of those listed I have only been to Cafe Constant and Papilles. I would trade Cafe Constant for Violon d'Ingres especially now that they have reformatted. Papilles is good, serving nicely done hearty and plentiful food. The wines there are a good deal too. I would also add a Basque restaurant such as Au Bascou to the list.

    2 Replies
    1. re: f2dat06

      f2dat06 - interested in the comment "I would trade Cafe Constant for Violon d'Ingres especially now that they have reformatted." What do you mean reformatted?

      I know that Christian Constant has a new restaurant "Les Cocottes" (making it four), but has this resulted in changes to the others? Cafe Constant was always casual with no bookings, "Violin" was more formal (with a Michelin star) and you needed to book.

      1. re: PhilD

        Like Senderens, Constant changed his fancy restaurant into a more casual one, and, like Senderens, lost one star in the operation. In my opinion, though, Violon d'Ingres is far for being worth one star cooking wise. It is a really pleasant place but nothing is top notch save the incredible souffle au caramel a la vanille. So I would argue in the opposite direction: trade cafe constant for les cocottes.

    2. Your list is great and I agree with f2dat06 (as friends call him or her).

      If you go to Violon d'Ingres, don't miss the soufflé à la vanille, caramel au beurre salé for dessert, one of the best I know. The whole Constant business is quite good but a bit overrated imo. I would not call it an intense experience, save for the soufflé, but a very pleasant one to be sure. A good way to enjoy it may also be les Cocottes, at the other end of the range. And it is open 7days a week, all year long.

      You have two Savoy addresses (La Butte Chaillot and les Bouquinistes, the later being the better) -- you may as well consider the lunch menu in the premium restaurant (Savoy bistrots are not cheap -- see for a Savoy review).

      Among three star restaurants, as often mentioned in this thread, the three best ones are l'Arpège, l'Ambroisie and Pierre Gagnaire, each with his own style (see other threads or

      Senderens is great mostly for wine-dish pairing. It used to be one of the top 5 restaurants in Paris, but then they changed chef (he went to La Grande Cascade but does not have the inspiration of Monsieur Senderens there, see review in French about both places on and since then the cooking is less perfect and mind blowing, so I would say it was downgraded but is still in the top 50, and still the most interesting in town for wine-dish pairing.

      I hate to say it, but considering l'Atelier (or la Table) de Joel Robuchon seems mandatory if you are passionate about dining and looking for intense experiences (review at Their sweetbread, imo, are among the best in town (eventhough we are talking three bites here). Stay away from desserts and bread and too simple dishes (ham, tartare) if my last experience is any indication, but this is grand restaurant's food without the grand restaurant's circus.

      Also, if you want to have your finger on the pulse, you should try le Chateaubriand, where new, pleasant things are happening (avenue Parmentier, see a video review at

      La Regalade, the former bistrot of the same chef Camdeborde is a very joyful alternative to le Comptoir too, say if you can't have a table.

      1. I have eaten at least once at over half of the places on your list and don't think the casual diner would go far wrong at any of them; however if you are indeed "intensely passionate and demanding when it comes to dining" you should look to Ambroisie, Pierre Gagnaire and Arpege. On your list I think that the best, most imaginative cuisine, hands down, is Spring, but it has zero decor, limited seating, and everyone eats the same thing at the same time.

        1. Thanks for the help. I think I have narrowed down my choices to the following restaurants;

          • Au Fil de Saisons
          • Le Comptoir
          • L'as du Falafel
          • Chez Omar
          • Gaya
          • Mon Vieil Ami
          • Benoit
          • Spring
          • l'Astrance
          • Pierre Gagnaire
          • Senderens
          • Violon d'Ingres

          This is quickly turning into an amazing week in Paris. I can hardly wait to hop on the plane.

          To top it off, we are spending a week in Barcelona before returning to the US.
          Any comments on El Bulli? Is it worth an overnight trip up the coast?

          Thanks again.

          4 Replies
          1. re: VegasLata

            El Bulli is certainly worth the trip from anywhere in the world; however don't expect to walk in just like that. I had to book 12 months in advance.

            1. re: Theobroma

              I hope this doesn't make me look like a complete control freak, but all my planning is going toeard a trip next May.

              I realize that is a good ways away, but I hate being dissapointed.

              1. re: VegasLata

                Still unlikely that you get a table at el Bulli, but you're safe for the others, if you call on the right day (usually they only accept reservations one or three months in advance)

            2. re: VegasLata

              benoit a few months ago was not fun. despite french-speaking comrades, we were sent off to American Siberia, the little room in the back, with all the other gringos. service was off-hand, my cassoulet was from yesterday, the "ducasse" champers was unworthy, and we felt the place was a vastly over-rated stage-set.

              for a fancy meal, give a thought to Ledoyen: warm, welcoming, and a fine mix of tradition plus adventure; or of course Guy Savoy: a total pleasure trip.

            3. VegasLata,

              I am planning my 10th anniversary as well--For May of next year. Like you I have been obsessing over restaurants for the last month. Your list and mine are almost identical, although I am also looking for some more "casual" places near our hotel in the 7th. We've got our reservations at Comptoir and are waiting to call l'Astrance. Can't wait for it to get here.

              3 Replies
              1. re: hoiya


                I'm a little cocnerned that I am being overly ambitious with my restaurant choices. We might have to be rolled out of town by the end of it all. However, I can't imagine going to Paris and not visiting every eciting and delectable restaurant possible.

                I have not had much luck finding casual places that I am excitied about visiting, but would love to hear your suggestions. So far Chez Omar is the only "casual" place for whichI have found multiple recomendations. However, I would love to hear any of your suggestions.

                Congratulations, and have a great trip.

                1. re: VegasLata

                  L'as du Falafel is definitely casual.

                  It is a fine line in Paris between eating at as many different restaurants and have as much great food as you can and over doing it. I have found that it is better to have more big lunches than dinners, and always try and plan for a later reservation dinner on days that I know lunch is going to be one of those epic 3-4 hour occassions.

                  Do you know about Hidden Kitchen Paris? My friends and I were in Paris in September and our evening at Hidden Kitchen was one of the best meals and definitely the most relaxing evening we had. And the price is very agreeable.

                  Here is a link to their website:

                  Also, must agree with other posters, securing a reservation at El Bulli without some kind of in (ie. call to Mr. Adria from another famous chef, owning a world famous vineyard, or dine with a celebrity) is a very big longshot at best. Good luck.

                  In Barcelona do not miss Restaurant Passadis del Pep (not to be confused with Cal Pep). If you like seafood you will not find a place that offers up such variety, quality, and fresh product. Best of all-there is no menu. As soon as you sit down a bottle of excellent sparkling wine is opened and poured and soon after the orgy of food starts arriving to your table. What the chef chooses to cook is based on what looks best in the market that day. Huge prawns, sea snails, tiny fried anchovie, whole fish, razor clams, cockles, perfect langostine, squid, baby octopus, and on and on. All of this does not come cheap (don't hold me to it, but I think we spent about 150 euros per person including wine & tip), but it is a memorable experience.

                  1. re: VegasLata

                    What do you mean by "casual"....?

                    L'as du Falafel is more of a takaway than a restaurant so that is definately casual in anyones book.

                    I have never really found Gaya, Le Comptoir, Mon Viel ami, Benoit, or Spring to be very formal, I find them all to be relaxing restaurants. OK I never wear shorts/t-shirts at them but neither do I dress up.

                    The would suggest the more formal restaurants on your list are l'Astrance, Pierre Gagnaire, Senderens, and Violon d'Ingres. At these I tend to make a little more of an effort to dress up (but not a suit and not a tie).

                    Having to make a booking at a restaurant doesn't really help to differentiate between formal and casual. Bookings simply mean it is good and popular. Take places like Fish, or Willi's for example - both very casual wine bar/restaurants - but sensible to book both a few days ahead (and both often featured on the board).