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High End (Michelin) Restaurant Recs for a Veg and non Veg eater in Paris

  • j

Hi Chow Paris!

I am taking a trip to Paris first week in March, and I am very excited about going to some fabulous restaurants. I will be there for 5 nights, and I would like to dine at atleast 2 2 or 3 Michelin Star restaurants, mixed in with some other great restaurants. I think for the amount of nights that I will be in Paris 2 Michellin restaurants will be good so I don't get food overload - however I may consider a third if it is on the lighter side. I would prefer to dine at the Michellin restaurants at night and save the days for wandering around the cities, checking out musuems, doing shopping and experiencing Paris (again if you can convince me otherwise I may indulge in a lunch).

I have done a bunch of research prior to posting, but I am looking for some guidance based on my top picks, and I would also like to hear your thoughts about some that I might be forgeting or missing.

Please keep these considerations in mind. I do not eat pork or shellfish (lobster, mussels, clams etc), fish preferably but meat and chicken is fine as well. My travel partner is a vegetarian, so the restaurant would need to be amenable to accommodating both of our requests. Typically I prefer restaurants where it is not a marathon - i.e. 5 hours, with 12 courses... I would much rather prefer a slightly shorter meal with about 4-7 courses... Price is no object, and we are in our mid 20's so a great atmosphere is a consideration but not a must. Lastly I do appreciate great service and the overall dining experience.

Here are the places I am thinking of...

--Pierre Gagniere: everyone has said that I absolutely must try... can they accomadate my dietery requests? I have also heard some mixed consistency reviews on the board...

-- Cinq: This one for me is a must. I am not staying at the George V but I would really like to experience the restaurant, and from what I have read it seems like an excellent experience both in food and service etc...

-- L'Arpege: I am interested in this one because it seems like vegetables dominate on the menu. Some have said the atmosphere is lacking though... maybe lunch would be an option.

-- L'Atellier de Joel Robuchon: I would be interested in eating at the counter. Only hesitation is he has one in New York, and I could probably eventually try that one...

--Ledoyen: ?

--Frenchie: would this be a good option for more of a low - key night?

-- Ze Kitchen Galerie: An alternate to the Michelin line up?

--L'Ami Louis: Will my vegeterien girlfriend be able to figure out something here... salads vegetables?

Thanks so much, and I am greatly looking forward to your replies. I want to get the Michellin "heavy hitter" restaurants decided first so I can have the concierge make those reservations , and I can fill in some other choices, as I get closer to March.

Lastly, let me know if I am missing something.

--Jake

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  1. I will allow the experts of this board to guide you but one note, when you say "price is no object", do you mean that? I do not know your situation and I am not doubting it but many people just make statements that are limitless or very extravagant while that math does not work for their actual wallets. Dinners can easily be $500+/person. And if you drink well, much more. This will be the biggest reason to consider lunches. Repetitive posts on the boards about great options(Le Cinq for example) for 80-100EU for the lunch menu instead of a multiple of that for dinner. Hey, if you are truly going no object for pricing, great. Again, the experts will chime in shortly to respond.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dietndesire

      Regarding price, I did not want anyone to not mention a restaurant for price alone... that was my intention for what I said.

      1. re: jwurz

        Just to make certain I understand you. "I did not want anyone to not mention a restaurant for price alone: means that you thought you may get recommendations simply because it is an, or the most, expensive restaurant?

        That is fine but it is wise to echo the caution on prices. At our lunchtime visit to Le Cinq we ate the menu at €85 pp, but we still managed to get the bill for two above €500 ($750) when we added in cheese, wine, coffee and water.

    2. Well, if you're in your 20s, you should definitely to what your mother has to say -- and in that case, that seems to be dnd :D

      Gagnaire: consistency is not mixed, it's bad. Meals can be wonderful, but they often are not. They are, however,always original. I you want no marathon and no 12 or 45 courses, this is not the place to go, as one course is already five or six different plates.

      Le Cinq is a must, can accomodate vegetarian and any request. Speaking of which, you say your friend is vegetarian but you don't specify how vegetarian. If it's a no dairy no eggs vegetarian, then you seriously need to warn ANY restaurant well in advance. If dairy and eggs are OK, le Cinq, l'Arpège are OK. But warning upon reservation is always smart.

      L'Arpège -- like Gagnaire and like the best restaurants in town, it can be wonderful but it's not always. I don't know if the room lacks amosphere, see pictures on the blog to make up your own mind. But there's no doubt that the most expensive restaurant in town is also the most casual of the three stars by an large.

      L'Atelier, Frenchie and ZKG are obviously not in the same league as your other choices, neither money- nor food-wise. Haven't been to Frenchie and don't like ZKG but they definitely are alternatives to your other choices. As for l'Atelier, I think that, despite identical concepts and different recipes, the Robuchon joints aer very different from one another as their chefs are very different. Incidentally, the NY one used to be great when Suga was the chef, I don't know how it is now. In Paris, l'Atelier is great if you focus on... roast meat and offals. So maybe I would advise against it with your vegetarian friend.

      Ledoyen -- a restaurant with quite extraordinary food and setting. I'm sure they'll accomodate veg no problem (if you warn)

      L'Ami Louis: forget it for a vegetarian. Never saw a vegetable dish on the menu except in Aspargus season.

      Lastly, I would advise against using your concierge for reservations, especially if you have specific requests -- too many disapointments there. I would pick up my phone and call those guys, they all speak English. You can do belt and suspenders and let the concierge call but then call to confirm.

      I don't know if they would do it, but if I could have a vegetarian meal at l'Ambroisie, I would strongly consider it.

      You can see pics from all these restaurants in my Picasa gallery picasaweb.google.com/zejulot and reviews on my blog.

      46 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        Thanks Souphie for such an insightful reply! I was looking forward to your post.

        Regarding the vegetarian- she won't outright eat eggs/milk but if it is mixed in the dish or recipe that will prevent her from eating it, although she would probably lean away if there was another option. She also eats cheese.

        - Cinq, based on what you say is a definite.

        - I am surprised about your comments regarding Gagniere... so do you definately think I should stay away. Some say it is a can't miss. Regarding courses, I guess I don't mind multiple plates as long as the pace of the meal is not slow and tiresome.

        - Assuming I am going to do two Michelin restaurants for dinner, (Cinq) included what would be your second choice... very memorable dinner great food service, atmosphere etc. Is Ledoyen the one? The restaurant at Bristol? How is Guy Savoy?

        Regarding Joel Robuchon... what is the difference between Atelier, and Le Table?

        - L'ambroise was not initially on my radar, but now it seems interesting. Any additional thoughts?

        Lastly.... regarding lunch, I think I prefer having dinner be the evening activity, since in
        Paris there is probably more to do during the day then at night - but would you recommend lunch somewhere and if so where? Typically how long does lunch last?

        Thanks Souphie (great website) and anyone else please chime in.

        1. re: jwurz

          Good food takes time, so fine dining always has a somewhat slow pace. It's mostly noticeable when you're not having a good time. Then everything is too slow.

          Gagnaire is a must. But he's original and exuberant, sometimes not good, sometimes life-changing. Even when it's not good, it's still a Gagnaire experience -- tons of food, very different, impossible to remember all.

          Ledoyen is for food and setting, both truly exceptional. Service is nice but not if you expect high performance (absolute discretion, total efficiency). Bristol is a lovely place, but in my opinion the chef lost its way looking for (and finding) the third star, so I'll only recommend a few dishes (the chicken for its delicious sauce and precise cooking, the sweetbread, the lièvre if they have it) and stay away from any of their "modern" ideas. Guy Savoy is always a wonderful experience, particularly expensive for dinner, modern, making you feel special, festive. But the food is not up to three star standards (it's no big deal but you don't go there for food perfection). In that sense, it's the polar opposite of l'Ambroisie: modern art vs 17th century, food perfection vs approximation, party vs temple.

          I wrote a whole text about the difference between Atelier and Table a while ago, so I'll direct you there: http://www.julotlespinceaux.com/2008/...

          The reason to go for lunch is value, and light if you take pictures. Otherwise, lunch is same as dinner -- three hours if you go for tasting.

          1. re: souphie

            Thanks very much Souphie.

            So it seems that Le Cinq, and Ganiere will be my two choices... assuming Gagniere can do vegetarian for my girlfriend, and avoid pork and shell fish for me. For a backup choice - l'Ambroisie or Ledoyen... what do you think?

            Great write-up on L'Atelier v. Table. I definately would like to try one - we will see....

            Approximately what is the price per person for dinner at Gagniere.

            1. re: jwurz

              Gagnaire prices from Michelin: 105€ (déj.)/255€ - Carte: 230€/449€

              You probably won't need a back up choice. Ledoyen is less expensive and less risky, L'Ambroisie has the potential for food orgasm, but no warranty. Also, check out the pictures online -- the characters of the places are very different, though both share a common philosophy of extraordinary ingredients, technical simple cooking, staff that won't go out of its way to please you, and unfriendly bills.

              L'Atelier is great for an impromptu snack -- before or after theater for example.

              1. re: souphie

                Souphie, does either L'Ambroise or L'Astrance have only one menu choice per evening, meaning that you cannot select from various choices within each course?

                1. re: jwurz

                  L'Astrance does not have a menu per se. Tell them how many courses and what you don't eat, and they'll cook something for you. There is a fixed price for the meal depending on the number of courses, one with and one without wines. On the contrary, l'Ambroisie has no prixfixe and just their expensive menu.

                  1. re: souphie

                    For a different dining experience from Le Cinq, would you recommend L'Astrance, L'Ambroisie, or Gagniere? Taking into account food, service, and ambience. I assume at Le Cinq ambience and service are supreme, so I guess food would be the deciding factor for the second night, but I don't want to feel like I am paying a ton of money but not getting a great dining experience.

                    1. re: jwurz

                      All three are high risk, high reward, high price, and highly individual. I would advise that you browse the blogs and the pictures so as to have an idea of which one you feel most attracted to and why. All three are pretty different from le Cinq but I have to say the most different one would be l'Astrance -- it's a really different three star restaurant.

                      1. re: souphie

                        Soup: You and I and perhaps all of Chow should discuss what the strategy should be; eg high risk-high gain vs steady solid. It's one thing when deciding on which students to accept to a program and another regarding one's 3 meals in Paris. Like good ethics cases, I have no 100% answer, I do both, but it's worth more discussion. Yes?

                        1. re: John Talbott

                          It is an interesting question, I tend to mix and match and will always include a high risk one to balance a dead cert. My high risk's tend to be new openings, and these don't risk a lot of cash. I am not certain I would be comfortable taking a big risk at the €600 mark though.

                          However, what is risk in this case. At a new restaurant the risk is the hype doesn't match the delivery. But is that true at a 2 or 3 star? Here I think the risk is more about personal taste rather than execution. A conservative diner will always be happy at a low risk place like Le Cinq, and the same conservative diner may be very happy at Gagnaire if they chose appropriately and the menu description and dish matched faithfully. But equally they could be disappointed if the dish was deconstructed with lots of MG techniques, and foams and gels.

                          So, two sorts of risk. One of delivery and quality, the other in personal taste. I know in the latter I like to try new things and it is a risk I enjoy taking, I also know I won't love all the dishes as some will be too extreme. However, for me the balance comes in the ones that are extreme that are great, thus it is a risk worth taking. But for the former, I do try and eliminate all risk, patchy quality isn't something that deserves my hard earned cash.

                          So for diners coming to Paris some a insight into their personal food tastes is a pre-requisite which will help reduce risk.

                          NOTE: I don't use the word "conservative" in a pejorative way. Conservative eaters are great as long as they understand that is what they are, but I do find it odd when a conservative eater goes to a leading edge restaurant then criticises it because they didn't like it.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            On your note, is this not the same as people with poor taste? Personally, some people do not care for some fine food because they are just so used to pure rubbish. Not implying that you meant conservative as poor.

                            1. re: dietndesire

                              D'n'D it is an interesting point, but I think the inexperienced diner can still get wowed by fine food The main issue is they tend to overate average restaurants. However, if inexperienced they also tend to be conservative, a narrow range of experiences will mean they tend to understand/appreciate "conservative" food the most, and thus respond best when in their comfort zone.

                              Where would I place myself? I know I am still learning/struggling with the extreme textural components of food ("mouth feel" as seen in Chinese food). Some top chefs are now experimenting with these concepts and that is sometimes tricky. I found Adria was doing that at El Bulli last year, and to extent you see it at Le Chateaubriand in Paris with the texture of the ingredients as important as the flavour. If texture/mouth feel isn't your thing some of the dishes will leave you cold.

                              Souphie: it does surprise me that you say these three stars are delivering poor quality dishes "mediocre ingredients and/or are poorly cooked". That does firmly put them in a high risk category for me. However, could it be they are pushing the boundaries that stretch your personal boundaries? My sense is that you prefer classic perfection to avant-garde food (and classic in this sense includes the modernisation of French food since nouvelle cuisine). Could it be that mediocre ingredients and poor cooking you experienced are instead avant-garde techniques and preparations that push the boundaries of mouth feel and texture? Whilst the sublime moments are down to the classic execution of classic dishes?

                              1. re: PhilD

                                True that the inexperienced are usually also conservative.
                                Personally, I do not believe in the "all opinions are correct" mantra and that everyone should speak their mind. At some point, there has to be a right and wrong or you just end up with the lowest common denominator which is disgustingly low these days. Also true that they overrate average restaurants. The problem is that the average on a relative scale is poor on an absolute scale. You are far kinder in your description than I would care to be but the mods would not let my tongue fly completely freely.

                                So, what was your trick to secure that El Bulli res?

                                Uh oh, questioning Souphie, the most revered of the board posters.
                                I smell a trouble a transpirin'.

                            2. re: PhilD

                              When I say high-risk, high-reward, I don't mean it in subjective terms. At l'Arpège, at l'Ambroisie and at Gagnaire, some unworthy dishes are served, that have no interest, rely on mediocre ingredients and/or are poorly cooked. It's not a matter of taste -- I don't think people that are disapointed by Gagnaire, as I have been six out of seven times, are disapointed because they don't like the style. Just because it's poorly done.

                              But when these restaurants deliver, they deliver life-changing experiences. WIth a 400€ pp ticket, those are pretty costly failure, even if the food is still decent or even good. This is why I think of these places are the truly expensive ones. Not because of their prices (that are high), but because you need to be able to afford to go quite a few times in order to enjoy them for sure. And these restaurants indeed live on regulars that are very happy but also don't have to care about the check so much for one reason or the other.

                              Then I'm not sure I would not classify food at le Cinq in that same category food wise -- it reaches for the stars and falls short every other time on average. But I think le Cinq seriously hedges with your bet with the great value of the prixfixe, the superlative service, the gorgeous room, the overall generosity, and the technical proficiency (cooking wise).

                              To me those top restaurants are just like opera or theater: too often boring and lifeless, more social mirror than art, but life-changing, life-enriching when well made.

                              1. re: souphie

                                Souphie: Does this mean you only recommend Le Cinq for the prix fixe lunch?

                                1. re: souphie

                                  Well, the standard of the arts has been sliding down the slippery slope to the alarmingly low level of today. Both the best of the best and the average put out to the public.
                                  Do you think the top food has done the same?

                                  1. re: dietndesire

                                    I think that in the 1990s, there was a quest for perfection in top restaurants, a race to the most wonderful ingredients, hyper-perfect preparations, very committed chefs. Under many influences, this has become much less important in the way restaurants are rated and considered. Now there is an emphasis on many other non-food factors (not that they were not always important) and the fantasy that eating avant-garde makes you a sophisticated person. I don't think it's about avant-garde vs conservative. I think it's about well made vs not well made.

                                    PhilD: am I really suspect to criticize l'Ambroisie, or even l'Arpège, because it's too *avant-garde* for my taste? There is a technical objectivity to those things: the quality of ingredients, the precision of cooking, even the balance of flavours. This is not to say that the quality of a restaurant boils down only to those factors. Clearly in some restaurants the quality of ingredients is less important than in others (eg l'Ambroisie vs Bocuse). In fact, in places like l'Arpège and l'Ambroisie, ingredients and techniques are the only reasons to go, so that you find yourself very hurt when they don't deliver.

                                    The sublime moments are not down to the perfect execution of classic dishes, especially if by perfect you mean soulless. On the contrary, they require a grace that only happen with excellent chefs. But they don't happen when people believe that food is about ideas, and that having good ingredients and technical proficiency is for losers and conservative.

                                    Now, I don't think that this is only due to negligence or indulgence. As I said, it's like opera or theater. If you want to make something exceptional and you fall just a little short, it does not work. So the model is not one where you pay for a service -- it's one where you pay for the possibility of a wonderful moment. It's more a subsidy than a payment, come to think of it: when it works, it's worth much more. When it doesn't, it's ridiculously expensive.

                                    Parislovernyc: Le Cinq prixfixe are all great value, for dinner too. But the Carte is as expensive as any restaurant, in line with what you'd expect when you enter the room. I would not advise against dinner or ALC at le Cinq, but build expectations appropriately. I for one really cannot afford a 400€ meal too often, while 100/150€ is more manageable for me.

                                    1. re: souphie

                                      I always worry when my comment is interpreted as "avant-garde vs conservative" as I don't see it as a right or wrong, simply it is a way of defining a persons tastes. I also don't think it is correct to view a person with a taste for the avant-garde as sophisticated; anyone with taste can be sophisticated, it doesn't matter whether it is conservative or avant garde.

                                      Thus I think a "sublime moment" is going to be a very individual thing, my sublime moments may not be an others. I know my partner and I can have completely different sublime moments during the same meals, complete extremes where she loves something that I don't get or care for.

                                      Good restaurants often divide opinion, not necessarily because they deliver bad food to some people, but often, simply because tastes differ. I think you implied it yourself when you commented on Claude Colliot.

                                      IMO all criticism is valid, and I didn't intend to offer criticism of your thoughts on L'Aperge etc, however it is up to the reader to understand the critics perspective and follow those tuned into their taste.

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        My daughter calls it l'Asperge too. ;-)

                                        Just one thing about Colliot: I did not say the restaurant was bad, just that I did not "get" it, which is why I made no pronouncement. If I had had some poorly executed dishes, whether to my taste or not, I would have said so. So while I agree that people take their pleasure in different ways, I still maintain that there is a very objective component to the assessment and description of a restaurant, in particular of its food.

                                        1. re: souphie

                                          Yessir, at some point, there has to be a proper and improper, a better and worse. The point on individuals' tastes is noted but if that logic is applied out indefinitely, then the most horrid chain could be said to be great, or maybe even just as great as a multi star. Yes, I have heard of people who "love" chain X restaurant and not as a guilty pleasure, that is is their favorite, period. I am sure if they dined at L'Arpege, they would deem it worse than their fave since I am sure they would not care for the former. So, are we to listen to their opinion? I say no, they are just wrong and ignorant. The example is extreme but it is merely to show where the thought process leads. Of course I allow for some differing opinions and tastes, some gray area, but there must be a black and white section, as well.

                                          1. re: dietndesire

                                            D&D/Soup: yes I understand the point about objectivity, and there is a clear difference between quality restaurants and other restaurants.

                                            However, I maintain a person needs to be experienced to be objective. Think of Chinese food, to really appreciate the cuisine you need to understand/enjoy the concept of mouth feel: slippery, chewy, crunchy, rubbery, bouncy, gristly and gelatinous. Many of these textures are outside of my (our) western paradigms for food and thus it is challenging to initially enjoy the food, and secondly it is difficult to discern quality. For me a rubbery ducks tongue with gristle and cartilage is not good; to a Chinese gourmet it may be superb, and the gourmet will tell you which restaurant is good and which is bad.

                                            Is this relevant to Paris? I think it will be as chefs push frontiers, I believe we see it at Le Chateaubriand, which in turn is picking it up from Spain (Adria and Aduriz are definitely leaning this way), and it may start to be seen in the more avant-garde 3 star dining rooms in Paris. Adria acknowledges the greatness of Chinese cuisine (which he has said would be dominant if it hadn't lost a lot of its heritage in the cultural revolution) and my guess is that his two year "sabbatical" from El Bulli will see him travel in China/Japan to bring more of these influences into his repertoire. Where Ferran goes others will follow.

                                            We may be objective, but if we don't have the understanding to assess this food, we may miss out, and may not understand the point of the dish, and thus not appreciate its qualities.

                                            That said I personally struggle with some of these textures, although my wife is much more receptive and really enjoys the mouth feel of certain foods. As a result she loves dishes I don't enjoy, and I freely admit I don't have the knowledge and experience to judge them in the same way she does.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              I agree that experience can be relevant. That said, I also think that, when food is absolutely superb, you don't need much experience to enjoy it, no matter how original it is. For instance once you've had truly excellent offals, you know what makes offal good and you can discern in less stellar products. The example of the chicken is also telling: most inexperienced palates think high end chicken are too firm and chewy and prefer more average chicken.

                                              But the experience factor does not explain the risk issue: if my meals at Gagnaire are once great, six times bad, it's not because I did not "get it" the six times, just because I got unlucky. If every other meal at l'Ambroisie, or l'Arpège is disapointing for non regulars (or non identified as such) like me, it's not because of the adequation of culinary style and the diner -- it's because sometimes they deliver, sometimes they don't, especially when they don't really care about you.

                                              And beyond possible indulgence, the reason they don't always deliver, in my opinion and experience, is because what they are trying to achieve is extremely hard and not reproducible, and no one can guarantee it will happen, just like no one can guarantee that even a Rostropovitch concert will be wonderful.

                                          2. re: souphie

                                            " I still maintain that there is a very objective component to the assessment and description of a restaurant, in particular of its food."
                                            I hope we can all agree on this.
                                            Two friend/food critics also didn't "get it;" one other and I did. Go figure!

                                            1. re: souphie

                                              Soup: sorry my bad sentence construction, I realised you were not making any comment on the quality, but rather I took your comment to mean that a restaurant like Colliot was out of your usual paradigm.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                Well, one that is not out of my usual paradigm was Adrienne Chez La Vieille, from which I'm just back, and that I liked quite a lot. I'm posting here because their lamb dish exemplifies what I would call high-risk cooking: it has nothing to do with the recipe or the style. It's nothing more than a roasted lamb shoulder. The juice is not even based on a fonds of any sort. The side is just plain roast potatoes. You have to be pretty sure of your ingredients and your skills to send that basic a dish and still impress with it. Now, that's my kind of cooking. (As usual, pics on my Picasa Gallery at picasaweb.google.fr/zejulot )

                                                1. re: souphie

                                                  Interesting you call it "high risk" cooking because I just wrote an article discussing said lamb shoulder using a play on the word simple as in Simple Man versus a simple dish.

                                                  1. re: souphie

                                                    mmmm Adrienne, Chez la Vieille! haven't heard that name in ages. My Chocolate Mousse recipe comes from there. ;)

                    2. re: jwurz

                      a few impressions about my meal at Arpege last week... not worth their own thread:

                      service was prompt and attentive throughout; all the waiters/waitresses appeared to be in their twenties.

                      black truffle shavings were generous

                      the desserts were somewhat vegetable themed; the petits fours with the coffee were more or less savoury

                      the vegetable dish of the day was green and white asparagus with parmesan sauce and a smoked egg: delicious

                      unlimited bread was very nice

                      attached picture is the 'robe des champs "arlequin"' which is a selection of vegetables [and confit mejdool date] on a parmesan sauce, topped with semolina

                      costs
                      bill for two: 592 euros [147 drinks; 445 food]
                      black truffle supplement: 40euros
                      ALC starters approx 60 euros; mains 100 euros; desserts 40 euros
                      index prices: house aperitif*: 36 euros, badoit 7.5 euros, coffee 6 euros

                      *billecart-salmon blc prestige champagne

                       
                    3. re: souphie

                      Arpege - you said it was the most expensive... what is the price for lunch and dinner excluding wine per person?

                      1. re: jwurz

                        I'm not sure why it's meant to be the most expensive restaurant in Paris. Sure, it doesn't offer cheap options (lunch menu is 135EUR, IIRC, but the dinner menu is 370!), but if you're going to order à la carte, I don't find it much more expensive than, say, Le Cinq or any Parisian 3* I've been to.
                        What is truly expensive there is the wine...

                        1. re: olivierb

                          Yes but who orders ALC at le Cinq? And the cost of ingredients, let me tell you, is not the same. I mean you're right: L'Arpège only charges you 70€ for a plate of onions, which is not expensive for a three star course.

                          1. re: souphie

                            I did order ALC at Le Cinq last time I went, but that was for a very specific reason.

                            Of course, the value is clearly not in favor of l'Arpège, but anyway, I guess (or hope) people going there are aware of what they're going to see in their plates, so they're happy to be ripped off.

                            1. re: olivierb

                              So then L'arpege is about 370e for dinner and 135e for lunch. And I take from the above, that I should order Prix Fixe at Le Cinq when I go..

                              1. re: jwurz

                                Prix fixe at Le Cinq is only for lunch (I think).

                                I went to Le Cinq couple of weeks ago, and planned to get the prix fixe menu, but I was there, sitting down, and because of the location and the mood I was, it seemed to be more oriented to business lunch clientele; and it was not what I wanted to eat anyway (cannot remember what it was), so I got the winter menu (160e) and it was worth every euro (in quality and in quantity); but not really a veggie oriented menu.

                                1. re: Maximilien

                                  You have two prix fixe options at Le Cinq, be it for lunch or dinner.
                                  Lunch: you chose between the lunch menu (78 EUR) and the seasonal menu (160-ish).
                                  Dinner: the seasonal menu is still available, same price, and a full tasting menu is also available (230-ish).
                                  ALC: starters around 90 EUR and mains around 100 EUR each. If you need dessert, it's 30 EUR.

                                  The winter menu indeed looked wonderful, and I would have particularly liked to taste the truffle dish.

                                  1. re: olivierb

                                    You mean you're looking forward to tasting the truffle dish, right?

                                    1. re: souphie

                                      I can't say I'm not tempted. Let's rob another old person first...

                                      1. re: souphie

                                        FWIW, we had lunch at Le Cinq with the winter menu. It was a fantastic experience and I don't regret the amazing amount of money we spent; however, the truffle dishes were the only disappointing part of the menu. Particularly on the roast vegetables and truffles, the truffles were almost aroma less and flavor less. What saved the dish were the tiny dots of intense truffle emulsion (and foie gras never hurts in my book).

                        2. re: souphie

                          Souphie - any comments based on my Jan 20 9:32 am post regarding your original thoughts. I highly value your opinion.

                          1. re: souphie

                            A quick update on Soup's note: F. Simon ate at l'Arpege where the vegetarian meal was "monstrously expensive" - 467.50 E for two - http://www.lefigaro.fr/sortir-paris/2...

                            More sensibly-priced offerings (16-60 E) were presented in today's Figaroscope Dossier: http://www.lefigaro.fr/sortir-paris/2... vegetables

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              Francois Simon being probably the only food critic in town who actually pays at l'Arpège, he for once has a very sensible point. Though I'd expected an even worse bill, to be honest.

                              1. re: souphie

                                Yesterday at l'Agrume 2 (unrelated) food critics paid for themselves. If I know which writers eat on the cuff, I suspect so does every chef or owner.

                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  It's not about the writer -- it's the restaurant.

                                  1. re: souphie

                                    Hummm, interesting point.
                                    I know for instance, that Daniel Rose with 16 covers cannot/does not comp anyone, including the Secretary of the Treasury, the President of the (our) Republic and movie stars, whom I'd comp.
                                    There's a great sign at Ben's Chili Bowl in DC (where I took a couple of wide-eyed, astonished French colleagues last year) that says something like "Who eats free at Ben's: Bill Cosby. The Obama Family." It is said that the President of the other (FR) Republic ate there with Carlita this week and loved it - Ref http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/richa...

                          2. As for Frenchie, their menu is very limited; you have to choose between two choices per course if my memory serves me right. And if it's your unlucky night, those two choices could be pork and shellfish. You could ask upon your reservation if they can accommodate your dietary needs and see what they say.

                            1. Hi Again Everyone,

                              My trip is soon approaching and I wanted to update everyone on my choices best on your recommendations. I have reservations at the following restaurants. Please give me your final critiques and alternates based on these reservations...

                              Tuesday - Le Cinq or L'Violin d'Ingres or L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
                              Wednesday - La Societe ( change to Hotel Costes ?)
                              Thurday - Spoon (lunch) Voltaire (dinner)
                              Friday - Pierre Gagnaire (dinner)
                              Saturday - Cantine Du Fauborg or L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon or L'Violin d'Ingres or Felini.

                              When making your suggestions and comments please keep in mind the dietary requirements from above.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: jwurz

                                Went to le Cinq and loved it, a luxurious experience.
                                Went to Spoon for lunch (with my parents) and loved it (except the desserts), much lighter and diverse cuisine, a nice break and offer more varied vege options (as far as I remember).
                                Went to L'Atelier last year, loved it also; be aware (maybe you already know) that they only take reservation for the "first" serving @ 11:30am and 18:30pm, and after that it's first come first serve; also they have a varied "tapas" menu, and you can find a some vege options.

                                1. re: jwurz

                                  I also forgot to mention that Mon Viele Ami - has been highly recommended to me and as well Alain Ducasse said that it was one of his favorite restaurants in Paris. A quick search online revealed lots of veg options and good reviews what are your thoughts. Dinner or Lunch?

                                  1. re: jwurz

                                    With MVA you are heading into mainstream (albeit rich) tourist territory. It is loved by some, whilst others think it is formulaic and bland. I am in the latter camp, even though I like Ducasse.

                                    I would take Le Cinq over L'Violin, I thought L'Violin was fine but not special. My partners medley of mushroom at Le Cinq was divine (and I think vego).

                                    I like Atelier but I am not convinced it is good for Vego's. Certainly it has veg dishes but I believe it excels in its meat options. It is also tricky unless you want to eat early 18:30.

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      What Phil says.

                                      Except, last I was at MVA, it wasn't formulaic and bland, it was bad. But others tell me it was an off night so I'm willing to give it another try. When it opened and Westermann was involved, it was indeed very good, but a lot changed since then. I also remember it being too warm and cramped, with lovely service.

                                    2. re: jwurz

                                      Too inconsistent; like the girl with a curl in the...........

                                    3. re: jwurz

                                      I would also like to add that in addition to Gagnaire, I had a reservation at Arpege, and heavily weighed and considered this option -eventually deciding on Gagnaire. Based primarily on the fact that people said it would be absolutely mind blowing or at least could be. This was difficult because of Arpege's focus on vegetables and simple light cooking which I like. But I had to make a decision because my dining companions only wanted to do one very long multi course meal. My only hesitation even now is that Gagnaire could be too molecular, and not enough "real food", and might leave me feeling chemical overload. If I am off base let me know. In other words am I still going to get french cuisine just done with a modern approach as opposed to a bunch of chemistry experiments. I could potentially still change to Arpege is someone makes a compelling argument.

                                      1. re: jwurz

                                        Gagnaire will leave you overload, but not chemical. Too many dishes, too many ingredients, too many ideas. But no chemicals. L'Arpège can be life-changing -- sometimes. If the goal is to live something unique, then Gagnaire is safer. It might not be good, but it will be unique.

                                        1. re: souphie

                                          @ Souph - That is what I was looking to hear. I got nervous for a second that it would be to "El Bulliesque" and I just read an article on how chefs using a bunch of chemicals sometimes leave guest feeling sick - so I am glad this is something I will not experience at PG.

                                          Definately Arpege on my next trip to Paris!!

                                    4. Hope you went to l'Arpege. One of few high-end places in France that don't look at you like you have a 3rd eye if you say you're vegetarian!