Is financial crisis affecting gastronomy in Paris?
When I was making my last-minute reservations for Friday and Saturday night for 1 or 2 M.star restaurants in Paris a week ago, I was really afraid that I won't get in anywhere.
I was very far from the truth.
In fact, all the 10 restaurants that I contacted, were able to offer me a table for 4 for the date I requested, i.e. Friday or Saturday night! Only one week in advance! How is this possible?
Are people really eating out less even in Paris? Or is it that the tourist season is not yet in its full flow? Or was I just plain lucky?
A few years ago when we lived in Paris we generally found we could book most places a week in advance. There were some exceptions (like Spring, or Le Comptoir) but most were OK. At more popular ones we may have needed to eat late but we like that anyway. I think that the sheer volume of restaurants in Paris means you only have to book a long way in advance for the really hot/fashionable ones.
It is the financial crisis, yes. Restaurants are way too expensive for regular people, and the clients of restaurants, at all levels, are higher-middle class and higher, and a lot of expense accounts. And of course restaurants is one of the first cuts of everybody in tough times. Even restaurants that are hard to get to have a much shorter waitinglist.
I was at Balzar for dinner last week (May 7, 2009) and the place was only half-full. I've probably eaten there 50 times in the last 10-15 years and I've never seen it that (relatively) empty.