Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Jun 9, 2009 09:16 AM

Flying to Paris For One Blow-Out Meal

A friend tipped me to a company called SIGA a few years ago when its stock was $2/share. I had very high hopes for it. And I bought an extra $500 worth, and told my friend that if the stock ever went to $10/share, I'd use that stake (which would have grown to $2500) to buy him dinner in Paris by way of thanks.

Well, the stock price is now near $9 (if curious, read about it in my Slog....URL is in my profile page), so it looks like I'll soon have to pay up.

Assuming airfare will cost about $1000, that leaves $1500 for hotel and dinner. My friend is a big wine connoisseur, so we should have no problem spending it all. Can anyone recommend a really great venue to suit this bill? Preferably with nice lodgings close nearby? Little gems would be as suitable as big name places. And we're not looking for ostentation to justify the price. We're both chowhounds. We want as much deliciousness as money can buy, period.

We don't want to do multiple venues....will definitely stick to one restaurant for the night (though breakfast tips for the next morning would be appreciated).

I don't want to screw this up, because I've, obviously, never done anything like this before...and may never again! Actually, I've never eaten a real dinner in France (just scarfed sandwiches backstage before lots of jazz festival gigs). And have never eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe. So this is sort of a big deal....

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Probably should defer to Souphie on this one, but for wines, any of the 2 or 3 stars Michelin will dazzle you, especially 3 star Taillevant, or 2 star Tour D'Argent. Food, different, loved Le Cinq, wine list was very good but not as deep as others mentioned.
    If you were taking me, as l have not been there would try Arpege or L'Ambroisie.

    1. Would agree that if the wine is the most important part of the meal, the now two-star Taillevent can't be beat. A small selection of their wine list can be seen on their web site, and the prices for older bottles are more reasonable than elsewhere. They do an excellent job of making Americans and newcomers to the Michelin experience feel comfortable.


      1 Reply
      1. re: rswatkins

        Actually, Taillevent has a much different reputation concerning Americans: It has been known to keep a quota of foreign guests, especially americans. In addition, you can get a much better experience at most of the other 2 and 3 star restaurants in Paris.

      2. Sounds like fun! The greatest concentration of deliciousness I've ever come across is L'Ambroisie, where I've dined several times. It's located on the beautiful Place des Vosges, just across from Pavillon de la Reine, a hotel regarded by most as charming as well as luxurious (I've never stayed there--I save my money for restaurants!).

        1. First, I'm not sure the best use of your money is one one splurge meal. If I was flying to Paris with that budget, I would probably forget about great wines, and get one fancy lunch and one or two excellent lower-range restaurant. At Joséphine you can have Doisy-Daësne 1969 for less than 100eur. At Chez l'Ami Jean, there are also extraordinary bottles (Pétrus, DRC) whose prices I don't know. This is probably the best value for deliciousness. But it's a packed little bistrot with no elbow room.

          Excuse my bluntness, but 1500$ (1100eur) don't buy you a once-in-a-lifetime-never-again-never-before meal for two. It buys you a standard meal at l'Ambroisie, l'Arpège or Le Cinq or another top restaurant in town, assuming you don't go for prixfixe, which some don't really have. Tasting menu at l'Arpège, for instance, is 360eur, which basically leaves some room for one very good bottle, not an extraordinary one.

          To give you an idea, Il Vino has an exceptional wines menu -- with Yquem, Romanée-Conti, Pétrus... for 1000eur pp.

          La Tour d'Argent has the best wine list in the world. Taillevent is good too. Both are spectacularly Parisian. None of them can be considered a top restaurant food wise.

          I'll tell you what I tell everyone: the best compromise is probably Le Cinq, or La Grande Cascade. The places with the highest potentials are Gagnaire, Arpège and Ambroisie (in no particular order) but they're extraordinarily expensive and always a gamble.

          9 Replies
          1. re: souphie

            It's funny how relative everything is! To some people (and yes, I excuse your bluntness), $1500 for dinner's mid-range. To others, my having put aside $500 to finance this whole thing in the first place sounds unthinkably regal!

            For me, this is going to feel like unbridled luxury even if I have just a few bites of exquisite foie gras, a tender, perfectly browned, richly-flavored half roast chicken, and an evocative few glasses of $400 Bordeaux (emphasis, of course, being on the adjectives, rather than the nouns).

            The whole point of chowhounding is to aspire to make out smashingly under whatever the given circumstance and budget. So...thanks to you and the others for the advice!

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Jim, I think what Souphie is saying is that you still need to be careful with that budget and relative expectations in Paris. It is a very, very expensive city.

              You have approx €1,000 to spend; B&B in a top hotel like the George V hotel is €830 for a "moderate" (their words) room, and even the Le Meridian 's basic room is €200. If you then allow €100 each for two good but average priced bottles of wine that leaves you €300 each for food, you will get a great meal for that money, but it won't be dinner at a 3 star restaurant.

              IMO Lunch is by far the best option, as it usually gives you a more cost effective menu, and allows plenty of time to savour the wine. You can then head off to some of the better wine bars to continue sampling and have a light supper.

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Just trying to give you an idea of your actual choices, Jim. Of course you can have a great meal for the 800eur or so that you budgeted. The question for you is whether you'd like a place with extraordinary food that won't let you money for great wines, or something else -- and if so, what? If wine is important, as you suggest, then the choice is different and there are many places that have extraordinary wine and decent food, in different situations of comfort. Also mark-ups are very different from one restaurant to the other, so a 400$ bottle of Bordeaux is very different at l'Arpège and at, say, Joséphine or Taillevent.

                What I would do with your constraint is eat at Joséphine. It is typically Parisian, excellent, ridiculously generous, you'll pay less than 200eur for food and can go to town on their extraordinary list of Bordeaux.

                1. re: souphie

                  Jim, I am by no means an expert on Paris, but recently spent 16 days and did lots of eating there. I would strongly second Souphie's recommendation of Joséphine - Chez Dumonet. I had my most memorable dish there, a pigeon mille-feuilles, which was tender rare pigeon layered with crispy potatoes in a delicate brown sauce. To this day my mouth waters just thinking about it. (Sorry I can't be more descriptive. In my dreams I can still relive my delight with every bite.) My husband had a luscious beef bourguignon. The beef was fall-apart tender and the sauce was rich and flavorful. I don't know a lot about wines, but we had a wonderful bottle, and the servers were perfect - polite and friendly but very, very French. To me it seemed the quintessential bistro taken to perfection. And as it is located in the 6th, you should find plenty of affordable lodgings in the vicinity, as well as numerous boulangeries to get your morning meal of baguette or croissants. After 24 hours here, you will know you were in Paris.

                  Let me add another suggestion, if you are looking for Michelin starred: Guy Savoy. It was to me less pretentious than many higher-end restaurants, lots of great food, great wine, and a fabulous staff. Every bite of food was a delight, and if you reserve online for lunch, they have a 100 euro special, which allows you to get an incredible bottle of wine. I'm not sure this is what you're looking for, but it's worth considering.

                  I will disagree with the recommendations for La Regalade, based only on my experience (of course, what else could I base it on?). The atmosphere was everything we expected - closely spaced tables, delightful service, generous terrine of country pate placed on the table as a starter, but the food was just so-so. I ordered the highly touted pork belly, and what I was served was just fatty pork. There was no searing, no soft, delicate fat. It was just fatty pork, with very little flavor. The rest of the meal was just not memorable. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was the last day they were going to be open before the holidays; maybe it was just an off night for some other reason. Based on my experience, I would not recommend La Regalade if you plan to only have one meal.

                  Whatever you decide, I am sure you will make the most of your windfall and enjoy to the fullest.

                  1. re: lisavf

                    Thanks, yeah Dumonet does sound good!

                    OTOH, the stock price, since I started this thread, has plunged to $7.23! I'm starting to wonder if maybe this cursed it! So...this all might be a tad premature after all....

              2. re: souphie

                The Vin Carte at Vin Sur Vin is quite impressive, And Tan Dinh has a hugh collection and prices to match.

                1. re: Oakglen

                  I thought Vin sur Vin closed a few months ago. Has it reopened?

                  1. re: fanoffrance

                    Vin sur Vin never closed. Some incompetent journalist noticed that Firmin le barbier opened at the same address and therefore announced that Vin sur Vin had closed. That just never happened (there's one restaurant on each side of the door).

                    That said, my opinion is that it is utter expensive crap and that you'll have a considerably better and better value experience a few meters away, at Au Bon Accueil.

                2. re: souphie

                  I firmly agree with Souphie and PhilD's recommendations/advice. Your dollar will stretch further by having a blow-out lunch (which is the strategy I took during my 3 weeks there 2 years ago), and that food trip still cost me an absurd amount of money. Worth every penny however.

                  Josephine would be the place to go if not choosing a Michelin starred restaurant.


                3. How about a great bistro like La Fontaine de Mars in the 7th..its where the Obama's just dined at last week..its a classic can stay at the quaint and lovely Relais Bosquet hotel and shop at the famous Rue Cler..great farmers market and a crepe maker.
                  fly out on Friday morning and leave on Sunday..$1,500 would cover the 2 rooms, food and wine for the weekend!
                  Definitely go to Jazz Club Lionel Hampton in the 17th.


                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Wow, Presidential endorsement turns a mid level bistro into a must go gourmet destination....!

                    Isn't it strange how this influences people in different ways. Whenever I eat at a restaurant with picture of renowned politicians on the wall my heart tends to sink a little.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      La Fontaine de Mars is a nice bistro, with plenty of Parisian charm, and it provided a nice night out for the Obamas, but I would agree that in terms of cuisine, it is strictly mid-level. As I mentioned in another thread, the reason the restaurant was chosen for the presidential outing was only partly based on the food.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        It's even worse when they're actually in the restaurant. I was once trying to really get down with a soulful plate of feijoada in Manhattan when Madonna walked in and sucked all the air out of the place. Pretty upsetting, though the other patrons seemed thrilled.

                        One exception to your photo rule: Bernadette Peters. Places with photos of Bernadette Peters are always real good. No idea why.

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          Note to self...Never offer Jim Leff advice again!

                          FYI..La Fontaine de Mars has been around since 1908

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            ....and it was closed for approx 6 months 3 years ago for a complete refurbishment. Every time we walked past it looked like they were ripping out the old interior and were putting a new one in. It may have the patina of age but everything is not as it seems.

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              Beach Chick, sorry, I wasn't rejecting your tip, just riffing, generally, on the celeb-in-restaurant thing. And your lodging/shopping/clubbing advice was great and well-noted....I just hate to clog up threads with personalized "thank yous" in reply to each posting.

                          2. re: PhilD

                            It is, unfortunately, not strange or uncommon but it is still very sad, every time.
                            This is why I am not a proponent of every voice. What good is a judgement if the judge is clueless?

                            BLOWOUT EXTRAVAGANZA MEAL IN PARIS=..I cannot even repeat it

                            I hope instead of becoming defensive about an answer that is completely off, one would learn to improve their knowledge base.

                            Unfortunately for J Leff, it is as Souphie and later, PhilD,say. A true blowout would be more than the budget in Paris. That should not damper anything since $1500 is enough to have quite the meal.

                            Why would one eat feijoada in Manhattan? Unless you are making your own.