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Feb 23, 2008 11:11 AM

Les Restaurants de Constant

Does anyone have any thoughts or opinions on le violon d'ingres, les fables de la fontaine, les cocottes or cafe constant? I believe these to be near where we will be staying this summer and a couple were recommended by the place where we will be staying.

There are a few questions I have on any of them:
How is the food? Pricing? Easy to get a table or reservation needed? Are they kid friendly? Any info would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. They are all in the same block on Rue St. Dominique and are all different. The cafe and Les Cocottes are very casual, serving comfort food and don't take reservations. Le Violon and Les Fables both have a Michelin star and do require reservations, particularly Les Fables which is very small and all seafood of very good quality prepared with skill and imagination. Le Violon has transformed itself from a Gourmet restaurant to a gastronomic bistro; they have a €45 menu which is in my opinion one of the best values of any Michelin starred place in Paris

    6 Replies
    1. re: Laidback

      I have eaten at Violon many times, the first shortly after it first opened and had 2 stars, the last time a few months ago. It is now less formal than in the old days but the prices are half of less. The cooking is still excellent but the menu features fewer high priced ingredients than in the past. I took my 8 and 12 year olds there for dinner in December 2006, no problems at all. I have nothing but ood things to say about Violon. I would definitely reserve.

      Cafe Constant is even less formal serving very tasty but simple foods. It is well worth a visit.

      1. re: Laidback

        We will definitely check one of these out during our visit. Appreciate the opinions and practical info.

        1. re: lacapelle

          Some further advice. At Les Fables and Le Violin they have two sittings, go for the later reservation if you like to linger over your food as the first sitting can be a little rushed (they turn the tables in order to give good value).

          As others have said all four restaurants are very good, and all nicely different.

          1. re: PhilD

            Do you find children are welcomed at one sitting over the other?

            1. re: lacapelle

              French restaurants will generally welcome civilised children (is that an oxymoron). However, I would assume a late table (after 9:00) may be to late for them and they could get over tired and less patient as you will probably still be eating after 11:00..

              1. re: PhilD

                In many cases, yes, I believe it is an oxymoron. Our children do very well in public as we expect no less from them. I would anticipate an earlier seating for us would work better.

                Thanks again.

      2. We went to Cafe Constant just last week for lunch and had a very good meal. The atmosphere is casual and the restaurant is tiny, but the food is excellent. Sophisticated twists on down-home comfort food: for example a pureed bean soup that was enhanced with truffle oil and pieces of foie gras. A 2-course lunch was about 65 Euros for 2, including a glass of wine each. Regarding kid-friendly, there was a family sitting next to us with a 6-month old baby. The staff seemed to have no problem with this.

        1. I love Christian Constant's restaurants. We just got back from a visit to Paris and ate at Les Cocettes (twice), Cafe Constant and Fables (we'd been to both of those of previous visits) and they were some of the highlights of the trip. Especially compared to some of the other meals I had in France recently, which seemed to privilege creativity and presentation over flavor (aparagus with vanilla ice cream, anyone?), CC's places were an absolute relief--I've never had anything less than delicious at any of them. Do not miss the mashed potatoes at Cafe Constant. Or whatever vegetable salads they have as entrees--I've had mushroom and artichoke salads, and green bean and mushroom salads, there that were like crack. Unbelievably good. (They now have an english translation of the menu, which I was somewhat disappointed to see. Les Cocottes does not, and bring your menu translator if you can't read French-don't count on any english being spoken.) The gazpacho with grilled shrimp at Les Cocottes was fantastic. And Fables never disappoints--my husband had what he declared was the best piece of fish he'd ever had there. (I think it was sea bass with ginger sauce).

          I think Cafe Constant would be fine for kids (kids that can stay glued to their seats, that is--it's small, crowded and very busy). Les Cocottes maybe--all of the tables are high (bar stools), and the menu doesn't strike me as kid friendly, but maybe your kids are sophisticated eaters. A good thing about Cocottes for kids is that it's meant to be "fast food" so you could just order a plat and call it a day. I'd say absolutely not for Fables, though, unless we're talking about older kids that basically have adult manners in restaurants. Fables is very small and is the kind of place you'd take a date or maybe a business collegue, but not a family. (By the way, it's dressy--every man was in a jacket, though not a tie). The tables are so close together there is zero room for a kid that needs to move around.

          Also, if you can't read French, bring your menu translator to Fables. I was embarrased to see the waiters patiently reciting the entire menu to Americans who'd asked. Couldn't they have shown up a few minutes early and looked at the menu outside with their menu guide?

          4 Replies
          1. re: christy319

            not to steal the thread but I am going to Fables for lunch. I am assuming no jacket is required for that. True?

            1. re: Goofy Yno

              Don't worry jackets are not manditory.

              But it is a popular restaurant in quite a well to do part of town so it attracts customers who dress well. However that said I always found the standard of dress to be similar to most restaurants like this in Paris (i.e. Parisian have a sense of style).

              I have never been at lunchtime so I can't comment on what others wear.

              1. re: PhilD

                No jacket required.

                The only Constant place I'd recommend one, is at Le Violon d'Ingres, dinner for sure, for lunch, recommended especially during cooler months.

            2. re: christy319

              The exception to Christy's excellent post is that in good weather there are seats outside by the foutain which lend themselves well to children. The problem with this is, the weather man can't be trusted.