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May 9, 2008 09:15 AM

Weekend getaway in Paris - looking for help...

Hi all, looking for advice on a three day weekend:

My girlfriend and I land in Paris on a Saturday morning , end of June – a quick description – we’re both foodies – much of our travel is centered around our meals, and much of the planning is spent on which restaurants we’ll be eating at… so for us, the meals will definitely be the highlight of our weekend… We don’t care for “grand” rooms – in fact, I’d rather avoid them if possible, and I’ve been saving for the last few months, so price isn’t a concern…

Our first night we’ll be having dinner at a casual restaurant with friends – so nothing too heavy, or too fancy… The following night, as long as we’re able to get a reservation, we’ll be eating at Pierre Gagnaire – which we’re very excited about. We’re aware of the mixed reviews – but for us, our first trip to Paris together has to involve a meal at Gagnaire…

The third night is our big question mark - is a tasting menu too much? Of the restaurants that I think we’d enjoy the most (Guy Savoy, l’Astrance, l’Ambroisie) are any of the tasting meals lighter? – and is there an option of not having a tasting menu, and simply ordering entrees? Obviously lunch will be light that day, and we will be walking around all day – but I’ve never actually done back-to-back tasting menus, so I’m not sure if it would be too much… Also – this last night is a Monday – the restaurants here in Toronto are often closed on Monday’s – is it the same in Paris?

I’ve spent a lot of time on these boards, and have really enjoyed the back and forth – particularly from Souphie – any advice we receive is greatly appreciated… Andrew.

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  1. There is no requirement to order a tasting menu. By entree I guess you mean main course which = plat in France, In my opinon going to a 3 star and only ordering a main course is kind of a waste of time, something like having a flight layover in a city and saying you have actually visited there.

    On the other hand, 3 star dinners on successive nights are somewhat challenging. When I have tried that before I think the second of the two nights is highly short changed. That level of eating just constitutes too much of a good thing in too short a time. Actually I have only ever done 2 stars on successive nights but I am sure the outcome would be the same.

    1 Reply
    1. re: f2dat06

      This really depends on individual appetites. When we were in Spain last fall, we had a 3-star lunch (tasting menu) and a 3-star dinner (a la carte, multiple courses) in one day. The next day we had a late lunch of tapas, then another 3-star dinner (tasting menu, MANY courses), and the following day a casual 3-course lunch, then another 3-star dinner with huge tasting menu. It was fabulous, not challenging at all (we did skip breakfast though).

    2. Many, if not most, of the top restaurants in Paris are closed on weekends. Some close on Monday. The Michelin guide is your most reliable reference for closing days and times.

      1. Monday night is tricky. You have the 7/7 (Le Cinq, le Bristol, Senderens, Robuchon...), Taillevent.

        I think that you need to exercise and take good care of you during the days between your stuffy meals. When I have to do several restaurants in a row (poor me), I would only eat almonds and fruits in between, if anything, and have a lot of rest and exercise. Otherwise, you might find that restaurants are worse and worse, no matter how good they are. Especially after Gagnaire, who is usually not worrying about your digestion so much.

        I am not going to comment on the tasting menus you mentioned since none of them is available on monday nights. But if you opt for Robuchon (which would not be a bad choice) for example, then tasting menu is manageable. Unfortunately it is probably not the best way to enjoy their art.

        Actually, tasting menu at Gagnaire is not a good idea. Gagnaire is better à la carte.Tupac might back me when recommending the langoustines and the duck.

        I disagree with f2dat06 that having only one course in a top restaurant would be a bad idea. They will bring many extras anyway. The real problem is then how do you chose what you taken, because if you are foodie, you are gonna be tempted by a lot of things.

        If money is no option, I would say that your best monday night option is le Bristol, make sure to have the poached poularde and maybe the cinnamon sweetbread if you are strong enough.

        1 Reply
        1. re: souphie

          Agree 100% on the langoustines and the duck at Gagnaire. The latter, in fact, was one of the most enjoyable dishes I've ever had. The descriptions:

          En tartare à la mangue verte, feuille de nougatine.
          Grilleés, beurre fondu relevé de poudre de carcasse.
          Poêlée à la coriandre fraîche, Sketch up. Bouillon de santé voilé de farine de maïs.
          Juste écrasées à la spatule, servies sur un toast chips au lard ibérique.
          En consommé glacé cendré de caroube.
          En mousseline ; soja frais et pousses de moutarde.

          LE CANARD
          Petit canard Pékin rôti entier à l'étouffée, aux aromatiques :
          Les filets sont taillés en petits pavés ; carottes multicolores ; feuille de datte sèche aux mûres.
          Scarole, parfait glacé de brebis et sirop de pétales de coquelicot.
          Betterave rouge comme un condiment.

          1. Thanks for your help everybody - i really appreciate it - especially the advice regarding Gagnaire - and avoiding the tasting menu... Duck's a favorite - will definitely order that... Will decide today between Le Bristol and Taillevent for our last night... with some exercise, and walking around all day - I'm going to presume I can handle the back-to-back big meals...

            1 Reply
            1. re: andyb99

              If foodie, pick Le Bristol, by and large. Did I mention the poularde en vessie?