Does Anyone Go to Le Voltaire?
This has always seemed like one of the more club-like restaurants in Paris: not in the Michelin, art dealers at lunch, British aristos and American plutocrats at night. I ate on the restaurant side once; the welcome and the food were pleasant, but haven't had any inclination to return. The cafe side is good to remember for a light meal when in the area (retro menu, such as oeufs mayo, soupe du jour). Any thoughts?
Voltaire is a fine restaurant, especially now that smoking is banned. The menu is traditional French dishes; quite alien to that of most of the bistrots etc favored by Chowhound posters. The clientele are local business types, all on expense accounts ( I admit to never picking up the tab here). My former business associates loved this place, but in the late evening you could hardly see your plate due to the cigar smoke. Voltaire is one of the few high-end Parisian restaurants that does not depend on tourist revenue; good luck getting a reservation.
Le Voltaire was recommended to us some dozen years ago by a very suave and cultivated wine dealer. He described it as the quintessential small Parisian restaurant. Our hotel also recommends it. I did not have the feeling that it was a difficult reserve with the exception perhaps of weekend nights when the sidewalk is cluttered with mercedes, bmws and bentleys.
This is my favorite restaurant in that neighborhood, not far from the Musee d'Orsay. Although I like the restaurant, I prefer the atmosphere on the bar side (and also the lower prices). Theoretically one could order the oeufs mayonnaise and a carafe of water and spend only about 2 euros. I have never had the nerve to do this though.