Vegetarians *and* foodies
I know the subject heading sounds like a paradox, especially when traveling to Paris, but it's the reality. My partner and I are going/coming to Paris at the end of January, and are seeking advice. I've read many of the postings here, and many good ideas have been gleaned, but I remain in a slightly circumscribed spot:
My partner and I are both vegetarians, but we eat seafood and dairy. My partner is a very good cook, a complete food hound, and decidedly uninterested in any poor-quality vegetarian lentil mash and the like. She always and only cares what people ate on vacation, and has declared (although I doubt the full truth/pleasure of it) that she would happily indulge in meat if it was laid before her in a 5-star French restaurant. Given the fact that we cannot afford such an indulgence and I don't feel like testing her claim, I seek chowhounds' advice.
We have three nights to achieve excellent dinners in Paris. The first night (with jetlag) is wide open; the second night we would love to wallow in good wine, good cheese, and good dessert (I know, a tastey main course needs to be in there too); and the third night I am going to try to make a reservation at Gaya Rive Gauche for seafood.
The reason I haven't simply followed guidance from previous postings, is that I'm a little worried about a lack of non-meat options (I know, I know, our meat eating friends constantly make clear to us that is a near unforgivable foodie fault). For example, Au Fil des Saisons sounds amazing but all about the meat.
So, guidance and recommendations?
Oh, not that it matters much (feet, the metro, and taxis exist), but we are staying in the 1st A. Finally, we are open to options like Asian fusion, etc., but we're coming in from NYC, so, obviously, French-infused culinary adventures would be most exciting.
Thanks for your suggestions--I look forward to the treasure hunt!
"My partner and I are both vegetarians, but we eat seafood and dairy"
You are not vegetarians; you are pescetarians.
Meat isn't as big a deal in western Europe as it seems to be in the USA - you will have no problems finding suitable food to eat except maybe at places specialising in meat - and even then there will usually be at least one seafood option (and geneally one vegetarian option too).
As you are both fish eaters then you should have few issues, all/most traditional Paris restaurants will have very good fresh fish on the menus (obviously avoid those famous for game/meat). You do need to be slightly cautious as some fish dishes could have meat included in the dish especially if it is a more complex preparation, but you should easily be able to eat both fish for both starter and main course.
There will also be some good vegetable starters like soups - for example we were there at the weekend and they had great chestnut soups in two of the restaurants we visited. Also don't pass on classics like egg mayonnaise, when done well it can be very good.
Pure vegetarian restaurants are few and far between in Paris - good ones especially - Gordon Ramsey's latest series of "Kitchen Nightmares" features one that thankfully failed.
A couple of ideas. "Maceo" is in the 1eme (http://www.maceorestaurant.com/Home-e...), is quite elegant, nice room, and a separate vegetarian menu with some interesting dishes (on the web site). Maceo is part of a loose group of winebars/restaurants that are owned by expats from the UK/NZ - probably the reason why they cater for vegitarians. These include "Fish" in the 6eme and "Willi's Wine Bar" and "Juveniles" Wine Bar from memory all three have dishes marked for vegetarians (a well as fish dishes). The food and atmosphere in all these is pretty good.
I would give Asian fusion a miss in Paris I personally find that it is quite badly done. The strength of French food is is deep seated traditionalism and French palettes don't really go for spicy/exotic flavours. I come from Sydney where it a strong culinary force so maybe that colours my judgement.
...also forgot to mention - Gaya is pretty good. It is one of our favourites. Another good "funcky" fish option is "Les Fables de la Fontaine" in the 7eme. All these restaurants are OK to walk to from the 1eme....Fables is probably the furthest but quite pretty as you walk across the river from the Grand/Petit Palais towards the Invalides.
I agree with Phil about Asian Fusion in Paris.. but I don't generally like fusion food.
I was just at Maceo for dinner on Nov. 24. They had a very attractive sounding vegetarian prix fixe for 30 euros. I didn't have it, but there are also great fish choices on the menu. The atmosphere is fine dining, but the prices are all moderate. They always have an interesting vege menu.
I recommend you look into Le Soufflé, 36, Rue Mont-Thabor, 1st arr. A wonderful soufflé place. Reservation a must.
Some small places with 3-course meals will be happy to let you have two vegetarian starters and a dessert.
Most places will offer at least one seafood dish within the choice of the main dishes.
Cafés will always have omelettes, croque-monsieur/madame and mixed salads (with hot chèvre) on their menu or ask for 'une assiette de crudité' (a mixed salad) to go with.
Other than that, you'll find lots of suggestions here: