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Feb 9, 2010 08:53 AM

Two over the top dinners in Paris-dining solo-overwhelmed with all the choices....

I will be traveling to Paris in April with my daughter and husband and we have decided to split up a few nights so that we can do things that we wouldn't be able to do with our 3 year old. I have chosen two over the top solo dinners and my husband a night at a jazz club. Any ideas would be appreciated as I have been looking at posts and the more I look the more confused I am. It is my first time in Paris so I am not familiar with any of the restaurants mentioned except for the ones with Vegas outposts:) i.e. Alain Ducasse-Mix....

I don't mind rich food and enjoy lighter fare as well. My only food pickiness is that I prefer not to eat pork, veal, or foie gras so as long as there are other choices I am good. I love and prefer to eat fish and chicken, and sometimes order the vegetarian option. And I prefer that any meat, fish is free range, organic and sustainable but my understanding is that in higher end restaurants they only use these anyway?

I like to dress for dinner and like the idea of going somewhere that is not overly stuffy/quiet but has fancy/trendy/beautiful surroundings. For example, my favourite restaurant in Vancouver where I live is Market by Jean Georges Vongrichten. I believe you have one in Paris so I thought that would give you sort of an idea of what I like.

Thank you in advance for your replies.

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  1. Indeed that leaves many of the high end options open (though Paris' "Market" is not a restaurant I'd recommend). I would advise that you read blogs (such as mine, Chuck's, FoodSnob's, Lizziee's -- apologies to those I'm not listing) to make up your own mind.

    The safest bets for a great night are Guy Savoy and Le Cinq. The restaurants with the most exceptional food are l'Ambroisie, l'Arpège, Pierre Gagnaire and Ledoyen, but they disapoint sometimes. The most creative are Gagnaire and l'Astrance. The most exceptional service is found at Le Meurice, Le Cinq, Taillevent. To feel like you're at Gusteau's in Ratatouille, Taillevent, Le Grand Véfour are good. La Grande Cascade has very impressive food and setting, professional service, good value, yet they don't manage to stand out.

    I don't know about the Vegas outposts, but I suspect that assuming that two restaurants offer similar experiences because they have the same name or the same chef is a mistake. Fine dining in France is fundamentally a cultural experience, and I suspect that sets it apart from restaurants somewhere else in the world.

    3 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Sounds like Le Cinq will totally fit your bill if you can spend the euros to go for dinner. Gorgeous setting, many fantastic choices of all kinds of top, top quality things on the carte, excellent service, very friendly and welcoming to solo diners. One of my best meals on all fronts in Paris. But do read the blogs for details as there are many really fantastic places that you would certainly enjoy!

      1. re: plafield

        I have made reservations for Le Cinq (requested Fri at 9 pm) and L'Arpege (confirmed for a Wed 9 pm). I am so excited and will report back upon my return in May. I have a growing list of places to eat with my family from reading posts from other chowhounds/ny times: Cinq Mars, Fish, Da Mimmo, Chez Janou, Le Gaigne, Itineraires, food court in the Louvre (because it'll be easy), the restaurant in the pompidou, the less expensive restaurant in the eiffel tower, and the Ritz for Sunday brunch.

        1. re: selena03

          Those are two great choices, very different. Don't be overwhelmed by the choices: you'll miss the quasi totality of the good places anyway. Leave some room to play it by ear, listen to your envies and your appetite, and you can start planning the next trip.

    2. Thank you for your replies. I just went through all of your rec's Souphie and liked Guy Savoy, Le Cinq, Taillevant, and L'arpege the most. I will look at the blogs and start making reservations-hopefully I am not too late.

      Souphie, on a side note, do you have any recommendations for lunches/dinners out with my daughter? She eats at nice restaurants here in Vancouver but I realize that some restaurants will not want to have younger diners at their restaurants which I of course understand but would still like to enjoy good food/wine. We are not looking for Michelin starred, just good food in a nice atmosphere where we will feel comfortable having our daughter dine with us. Thank you.

      10 Replies
      1. re: selena03

        You sound like my food soul mate! Too bad my husband and I are going in June, not April, or I would suggest we dine solo side by side! : )

        Our daughters are almost the same age, so i am curious to hear answers.

        In my experience, hotel restaurants sort of have to accommodate children if they are guests, so I would think that they will be prepared to offer children's menus. In my research, I know Le Meurice and the Ritz are very eager to please children. Both have less formal restaurants. We are going to Le Meurice for afternoon tea because the pastry chef is supposed to be so extraordinary, but it this board has heard differently, please advise. The Ritz Sunday Brunch has a big presentation for kids that could be a special treat, too.

        But this is just from research. I have not been yet.

        1. re: hbfoodie7

          Hi Hbfoodie 7,
          Yes, that is too bad:). I read your post about 2 lunches; congrats on your trip-it sounds amazing!
          Thanks for the tip on the Ritz brunch. Kids menu's are not a must for me as my daughter is usually allergic to whatever is offered on them anyway. I usually just order her a fish entree and save the rest for lunch the next day....eating at hotels would be a great option but I am worried about the cost for lunch and dinner everyday so am looking for options at are more moderately priced for family dinners. Some places I am curious about are Cinq-Mars, Da Mimmo, Foquet's (in my daughter's Eloise book-she would def get a kick out of that:). I am also curious about afternoon tea at Laduree? Are children welcome into those environments? Someone should really write a book on taking kids to Paris. It would do very well. We bought the Fodor's guide to going with kids but I didn't find it very helpful.

          1. re: selena03

            Do not fear, restaurants in France are very child friendly, children are expected to behave and generally French kids do as they are quite used to restaurants. I don't believe you will have any issues so no need to stick to expensive hotel restaurants. Laduree will be fine as well. Not surprised Foders didn't help, it is really a non-issue.

            One word of advice restaurants are small so large strollers and all the associated paraphernalia may be a problem so leave them behind when you go out to eat.

            1. re: PhilD

              Thanks PhilD,
              That is a relief. I have been trying to research this for a while but have never been able to come up with a good list. If you have any ideas for moderately priced (40Euros pp inc wine) restaurants where children are treated well, I would love a few ideas. A larger menu works better for us because of our daughters allergies. Thanks much!

            2. re: selena03

              Selena, the food at Fouquet's is pretty awful, but their hot chocolate is delicious. I'd suggest taking her there for a mid-afternoon treat. The people-watching on the Champs Elysee from their windows is fine. ;)

              1. re: ChefJune

                With regards to hot chocolate, is it possible to have soy milk instead of dairy in cafe's like Foquet's?

                1. re: selena03

                  I have no idea. Souphie? John T?

                  BTW, it is FoUquet's. Pronounced foo-KETs.

                  1. re: selena03

                    It is easy to buy in supermarkets but IIRC quite uncommon in cafe's.

                    1. re: selena03

                      I would be very surprised. But there is a Starbucks on rue de Berri and one on rue de Ponthieu and one at Saint Philippe du Roule.