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Nov 29, 2007 07:59 AM

Birthday / Engagement dinner in Paris

I am taking my girlfriend to Paris for her first time this January. The trip is for her birthday but I am going to surprise her with a ring on Saturday night, at or around dinner. I am not particularly wealthy (especially after I buy the ring) but I do want to go somewhere special. I would like to keep the bill under 150e (with wine) but would consider stretching it 200. There seem to be some real experts on this board and I could use your advice.

(p.s. I was considering Le Maceo in Palais Royale)

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  1. Maceo would certainly work, as would Clos des Gourmets, which is near the Tour Eiffel. Laperouse would be ideal but it might stretch your 200E limit.

    1. Unless the dollar gets completely flushed down the toilet, you should be fine at Maceo. I had a wonderful meal there last Saturday, ordering a la carte, that was 72 euros for everything.

      10 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Thanks; it was your two previous recommendations that led me to it. What is your opinion of Le Comptoir? I keep seeing good things about it and it appears to be reasonably priced and nearby (I'm staying in the 5e).

        While I have your attention, perhaps I can get a few more recommendations. We arrive on Friday noon and leave Sunday night for Strasbourg. My plan was to have steak Friday night at a good bistro. I am leaning towards Chez Denise, Chez Georges or Balzar.

        1. re: cstiv

          I'venot dined at Le Comptoir, but it sure sounds good! Of the other three, I've only been to Chez Georges. good steak frites.

          1. re: cstiv

            I love Le Comptoir but I fear you won't get in on Friday evening as it books out months in advance. However, it may be worth dropping in for lunch on Friday as you don't need a reservation (which is what I plan to do next Friday when I arrive). It isn't ideal for your plans on Saturday as they do the brasserie format which has no bookings (like Friday lunch), and packed tables - fun but not romantic.

            Personally I wouldn't go for the steak on Friday option, I think you can get far better steak in the US (and even the UK). The French like cuts with lots of flavour but they also tend to be a bit tough (unless you spend a lot). Instead head out for a good, fun local brasserie/bistro and enjoy the hustle and bustle of Paris. A good bet is "L'Ami Jean" in the 7eme. you need to book but it is good value and great food ( ithink the menu is slightly over €30).

            On Saturday Maceo will work well. Tell Mark Williamson who owns it (tall skinny Englishman who is usually front of house) that you plan to get engaged and see if he can do something nice for you.

            1. re: PhilD

              Thanks for the advice. Is Le Comptoir open Sundays? Any good recs for Sunday? We leave on the 1930 train.

              1. re: cstiv

                Yes it is open - again it has the brasserie format, so no reservations. I am not certain what time it closes but I have enjoyed a late afternoon snack there on a Sunday.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Thanks again for the tips. I have a reservation at Chez Denise on Friday night and Maceo on Saturday night. I wrote to my hotel concierge asking them to make reservations for me for Friday night and I asked in order of preference: 1. Le Comptoir, 2. Chez l'Ami Jean, 3. Chez Denise. They wrote back that Comptoir was booked and that no one was home at Ami Jean, so they got me a reservation at Chez Denise. Do you think that it would be rude to ask for them to try again for l'Ami Jean? Also, does anyone know if there are any places left where you can smoke, post-ban?

                  1. re: cstiv

                    i was at chez denise a few months ago, i would not go back, go to ze kitchen

                    1. re: cstiv

                      I would go back to them and get a late table at Chez l'Ami Jean, it is a buzzy, crowded, athmospheric place with good food at good prices. Bags of character and great fun. Go for the latish table (9:00 or 10:00) so you can tour some bars/cafes beforehand to soak up the Friday evening atmosphere in Paris.

                      The Marais is good (funky, young and gay), a tiny but good spot is "le Petit Feu à Cheval", or around Saint Germain (sophisticated, fashionable and arty), I used to love "La Palette" just behind the art college, it is full of art students and gallery owners.

            2. re: ChefJune

              ChefJune, was that 72 euros for one person or two?

              1. re: cstiv

                it was for one person, but I also ordered the single most expensive plat on the menu. and if I had chosen the prix fixe menu, the same other stuff, with a different plat would have cost $55 Euros.

            3. As someone said, it would be a stretch, but I can't imagine anything more romantic than getting engaged in a private room at Laperouse.