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Mar 6, 2009 03:31 PM

Please Help Me Celebrate My Paris Birthday

I know.. too many similar questions so I'll try to be specific.
We're staying in the 8th but I'll ask for restaurant suggestions there in another post. Close by is nice but not necessary.
I don't eat much shellfish, only shrimp and am limited to frois gras when it comes to offal, but I love that.
I prefer a restaurant that isn't "stuffy", but more fun although I am in my 50's so I'm not looking for a "scene".
Probably prefer to keep things in the 50- 75E per person range. I love wonderful sauces and would like to keep this quite French.
I live in the SF Bay area and set the bar high.
And I greatly appreciate your thoughts and help.

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  1. Lunch at Le Grand Vefour at Colette's table will cost you for lunch @ 225-250 total with a bottle of wine for two and will be an ocassion you will not forget. Spent a birthday there a few years ago, and remember it very fondly.

    1. If you want something comparable to Aqua and Boulevard, two of my favorites, you will have to double your budget at lunch and tripple it at dinner. A number of the Michelin starred restaurants in the 8th have prix-fixe luncheon menus for under 100E. Most have been reviewed on this site; Lasserre would be my choice.

      1. I don't see why you wouldn't focus your attention on lunches at Lassere or Le Cinq. It's a bit beyond your budget (resp. 75 and 85 lunch menu -- add beverage) but it's considerably better.

        8 Replies
        1. re: souphie

          Thanks for your replies.
          I don't know if Michelin stars are necessary. Perhaps you can tell me!
          I'm afraid I don't care for either Aqua or Boulevard but prefer a restaurant such as Bar Tartine in San Francisco or Quince, although I find that a little pretentious (hate the personalized menus). Hope that's some use for the Bay Area crowd.
          When we travel we often find we're on the go to such a degree during the day that dinner makes more sense instead of an elaborate lunch.
          I'm always uncomfortable with very expensive meals, but on this trip in particular. The economy makes me nervous. I'll be watching my Euros.

          1. re: Oakland Barb

            I too was looking for a restaurant for a birthday celebration and since I'm paying, I didn't want the total bill including wine, water, and coffee to go over 150 euros for two. I was also looking for something comfortable as opposed to stuffy as I didn't want to pack a dress and matching heels just for the occasion.

            We're staying in the 9th this time around but we travel for food so distance/area was not an issue. On my last visit in January, we tried L'Ami Jean (a bad match for us as we don't eat meat or poultry ) and L'Ecailler du Bistrot (nothing to complain about but yawn). Places I looked into for April were:


            - decided against it since he basically serves meat only for main course

            La Régalade

            - we might still go there too, depending on what's on their lunch menu.


            - sounded interesting but getting quite a bit of mixed reviews and when it's off, it sounds really off so waiting to see how it settles down

            As of now, I think we are heading to Jadis since I was quite intrigued by the description 55 euro dinner menu as reported on egullet forum:


            1. re: Oakland Barb

              If Bar Tartine and Quince mean that the restaurants is small, informal, chef own and use good ingredients, you would do well with many of the bistros recommended on this board: L'Ami Jean, La Regalade, Beurre Noisette, Le Troquet, Le Pamphlet, etc. In atmosphere, these bistros will be more like Bar Tartine (bustling, even more closely packed tables with good informal service, better food than Bar Tartine). I think Quince is in a somewhat different mode: little more expensive, quieter, food more meticularly cooked and fine tuned casual service. This type of restaurants are more difficult to find in Paris. Maybe Au Trou Gascon ( the food is little too Southwest France?), Maceo or L'Angle au Faubourg might work. I agree with Souphie's opinion that this catagory of restaurant are not the best value for Paris. I would rather splurge a little more to take the prix-fixe lunch menu at one of the top restaurant though the service will be more formal (not stuffy) than either restaurants in San Francisco.

              1. re: PBSF

                Great to have this specific reply.
                Two nights here in Paris and the first required us to "eat in" waiting for a missing suitcase and last night was a quick brasserie as the only reservations we could find were very late and jet lag had set in.
                I'm ready for something great!
                So, if we did do the lunch meal next Friday (my birthday), PBSF, given your knowledge of the Bay Area, what do you suggest for more of a splurge?
                I've read a few less than positive posts on Le Cinq. Should they be ignored? Other thoughts?
                Our one dinner idea has been Dominique Bosquet.
                Opinions from anyone?

                1. re: Oakland Barb

                  I think it is unfair to compare Paris with the San Francisco Bay Area. These are two very different restaurant cities. The SF Bay Area's strength are the medium priced mostly Mediterranean influence restaurants and the inexpensive to moderate ethnic places. French good is not its strength, though certainly French cooking technique influences many of the better kitchens. Also the service tends to be less formal. When I am in Paris, I tend to either eat at the "modern' bistros such as la Regalade, L'Ami Jean, Beurre Noisette, Le Troquet, La Bastide d'Odean, Le Pamphlet, L'Ardoise, L'Oulette (there are at least a dozen more that fits this mode), or the more classic Chez Denise, Moisonnier and Au Moulin a Vent. Most are these have been covered in various posts. These place are bustling, frequently cramped, with very good food that offer excellent value. To me that is celebratory enough. I also like to splurge some and take advantage of the prix fixed "cheaper" lunches at high end places that Paris is famous for. For lunch, I can vouch for Le Cinq, Guy Savoy, Le Meurice, Lasserre, LeDoyen, Carre Des Feuillants. I love Pierre Gagnaire but that is a very controversial restaurant. The service at these restaurant will be more formal then any place in the Bay Area but not at all stuffy. As for cost of the prix-fixed, it runs about 70 to 95E. Be careful of the extras such as wine (which is usually 20 to 25E a glass and coffee is 8E). But for a great food experience, I like them better than any place in Bay Area (French Laundry, Cyrus, La Folie, Gary Danko, Michael Mina). When in Paris, I rarely go to "in-between places" because I don't find them to be a great value. Exceptions might be Au Trou Gascon or Maceo which tends to be very quiet and sedate on weeknights.
                  I assume you are referring to Dominique Bouchet which I have never been though I have eaten at Les Ambassadeurs when he was heading that kitchen. I thought the food was very good but not truly memorable. He would be a step up from the bistros and not quite as expensive as the 'high-end' Michelin starred places. A general bite of advice is to keep the 'expectation' realistic. Even at the very best restaurants, some of the food will wow, some will be merely very good. Unless one is a food critic, the point to enjoy the meal and have a great experience.
                  Paris restaurants are uniquely Parisian. For me, I don't try to equate them to anything the SF Bay Area where the Chez Panisse/Mediterranean influence, for good or bad, is so pervasive.

                  1. re: Oakland Barb

                    If I may, about le Cinq -- after many, many great experiences (though not always as good as les Elysees were), I finally had a meal matching the description of those who were disapointed and that was because Briffard was on holiday that week and I hadn't asked. Therefore, I confirm that you need to check if the chef is here, which is usually the case all week long.

                    1. re: souphie

                      Is this type of situation normal? I mean, don't other restaurants manage to maintain quality when the head chef has a day off? After all, he can't prepare every dish with his own two hands, even if he is in the kitchen. It's certainly not very practical, considering the fact that reservations might have to be made before the chef has decided on his vacation plans! I was thinking of giving Le Cinq a try on the first Sunday in April--do you think I should go somewhere else, since I assume Briffard doesn't work on Sundays?

                      1. re: fanoffrance

                        He's often there on sunday nights. That kind of situation is the case with every particularly talented chef. The quality is maintained when Briffard isn't there, but not the talent and subtlety. Now some chefs have a style easy to reproduce and implement, but Briffard is not one of them.

                        This is a structural problem -- great chefs can't make it on their own so they have to put up with the demands of a palace restaurant -- in that case, opening every day.

                        Also, Briffard has only been here six months -- you have to leave him time to turn the boat around. 90+ cooks to mange.

            2. Hi Barb,
              There are plenty of great and lively places where you can celebrate without breaking your 50-75 EUR budget. On the left bank near you, I agree with the previously mentioned La Régalade, Christophe, and Itinéraires - I'd add Le Timbre, Le Caméléon and (one of my personal faves) La Cantine du Troquet. In Belleville, both Le Baratin and Le Chapeau Melon are great fun, but they're a bit of a hike from where you're staying in the 8th.
              Have a great birthday!