Paris - Dec. 26, 27, 29 dinner
I am going with the family to Paris for Christmas. We will only be going to dinner 3 nights because the dollar is so f'd up. Fortunately we have a great apartment to cook in the other nights.
I have skimmed the other responses, but I am having a hard time telling what the barometer is for each poster.
We are looking for places to eat that are dynamic and exciting, with really great food. We've eaten at Taillevant and old bistros, this trip we want something fresh and new and great - but nothing trendy and shallow.
We are from San Francisco and Los Angeles. We think that places like Delphina, Zuni or Absinthe in SF would be good. In LA, I love Lucques, Osteria Angelini, Grace, BLD, Mozza, etc. (As much as we'd love to eat at places like Danko's, Michael Mina, etc. it will just be too expensive). We are looking for main course prices of 30 Euros or so. We'd like to eat with decent wine for $600 or so for five.
We are staying in the 6th, but we will go anywhere.
I had a very nice dinner recently at l'Os a Moelle in the 15th. Dinner for 5 with 2 bottles of wine, aperitifs, water, and coffee came to about $400. The menu is a 5-course prix fixe at 36 euros, with several choices for each course. You get an amuse bouche, soup, appetizer, main course, cheese, and dessert. The cuisine is updated bistro. I can't think of anyplace that offers better value.
Le Dome du Marais is also well within your budget, and has a stunning round dining room that was once an auction room, beautifully restored and gilded. That may sound formal, but it is actually relatively casual. The food is excellent and contemporary in style.
Ze Kitchen Galerie is superb modern French/Asian fusion. It should be within your price range also. Just do a Google search, they have a very good website.
When I used to get bored with classic French bistro food these are the places I would head for - good value, and fine food (not 3 star territory):
Gaya - rue du Bac 7eme - Gagnaires small fish bistro. Innovative and interesting, best to share 2 or 5 course between two to get a feel for the range. They do some classics as well as some twists.
Les Fables de la Fontaine - rue Saint-Dominique 7eme - this is Christian Constants fish restaurant, it is small and popular, Quite a few dishes are layered in glasses like Ice Cream sundaes. Interesting mix of flavours and textures.
Fish - rue du Seine 6eme - a popular wine bar owned by a Kiwin and Cuban. Good wine and fine food with a hint of east/west fusion. Can be a bit heavy on the Anglos. Willi's Wine Bar is another option in the same vein - different owner but similar and in the 1eme on rue des petits champs.
Spring - rue de la Tour d'Auvergne 9eme - a very small restaurant with 16 covers. Owned and run by an American (Daniel Rose) who has learned his trade at top Paris restaurants. Tricky to get a table as it is so small and in vogue.
Senderens - Place de la Madeleine - the old Lucas Carlton and quite pricey but a beautiful room and fine food. A restaurant with a lot of style.
I know "rrems" recommended "Ze Kitchen Gallerie" and it is a favourite of many on this site but it also has its detractors. They do an east/west fusion using some Asian spicing. To my taste the food was bland and lacked commitment (the room is also spartan). I come from Sydney so I think my expectation for this type of food is pretty high as it has been a common style in Australia for quite a few years.
One word of caution - I suspect many restaurants will be closed over the Christmas holiday. You will need to check carefully to see what is open. You may also find some of the top end food shops close.
We have definitely found that a lot of places are closed this week in past trips, but there are fine markets near the apartment we rent and we have always eaten pretty well.
If anyone out there is familiar with the restaurants I mentioned in SF and LA, I would particularly appreciate your input. Thanks for the ideas so far!