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Paris Restaurant for dinner...don't need a michelin star, but something that might deserve one

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Perhaps one of you can recommend an excellent restaurant that is more or less centrally located (we'll be staying in St. Germain des Pres, although we don't mind moving around...too much). We're looking for something unique...perhaps an excellent tasting menu. We don't want to spend the money that 2 or more michelin stars require one to spend at dinner, but we do want something wonderful. Last year, I received a fantastic recommendation from souphie about Les Elysees du Vernet (and their lunch tasting menu). Thank you, Souphie, for that unforgettable recommendation. This time round, we're looking for something perhaps not as luxe, but certainly just as interesting. The day after this dinner, we'll be dining at Taillevent for a wedding lunch, so perhaps some of you can think of a place that would make a nice juxtaposition to that restaurant.

Thanks so much for all of your help!!!

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  1. I'll look forward to responses. A great question. We'll be in Paris next year and will heed all that expert advice :)

    1. Drat. I was hoping this would get some responses. I've never quite broken the code of what does and doesn't. I'll keep checking back.

      3 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        Probably a number of reasons:

        First, there is probably a bit of fatigue, it is the same/similar question that is raised time and time again: "we need a great, interesting, non-touristy, good value, centrally located restaurant". Remember the city of Paris (as opposed to the metropolitan area) has a population of 2.2 million but attracts over 16 million tourists.....so the ratio of visitors eating in restaurants compared to locals is high, therefore a great one off the tourist track is pretty rare.

        Second, Michelin in Paris is pretty strong and on top of new openings. Thus if a restaurant deserves a bib or star it is more likely that they will get one than not (so if they deserve one, they have one). Michelin is far from perfect and has lots of faults but is probably better in Paris than some far flung location.

        Third, I am finding it tricky to think of a non-starred restaurant that does a good value tasting menu, many will do set menu's but tasting menus are usually found in the 2* plus places as they have the ability to charge enough to support the large kitchen brigade required to do them.

        What would I do. I would head for a small bustling bistro to get the contrast to Taillevent, somewhere like Le Regalade (a short cab from St Germain) or Chez L'Ami Jean (a quick bus). Something slightly more up-market would be Gaya, or Les Fables de la Fontaine both quite close by, they have Michelin stars but are still good value.

        1. re: PhilD

          I have to concur with PhilD. The Michelin "Bib Gourmand" list is a good place to start. They all have prix-fixe menus for around 35E and the quality is consistently good, in my experience. What they lack are the fine touches; and the service staff will be limited. Some, like Clos des Gourmets, offer nicely spaced seating, but try for two turns in the evening. Others, like Le Regalade, are situated in low rent districts. There is almost always a non-financial price to be paid for great food at a reasonable price.

          1. re: Oakglen

            Amen, guys.

      2. Boy it took me a long time to find this thread where I might pin the tail on the donkey.
        I'm dreadful in predicting what places get stars - Right on Ze and Septime and Les Tablettes, Wrong on Spring and all those other places we go to and love - but I'll put money (say 5 E) on Le Lulli in the 1st. The place is elegant, with flowers and a garden and tablecloths (necessary for a star), mucho friendly English-speaking staff (a minor ding for the French-centric grey guys) and has a 2-course formula at 35 and 3 course menu at 42 E - with inventive food, interesting ingredients and the delivery of amuse gueules, entremets and mignardises that the MichelinMen so love.
        You heard it here first.