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Mar 7, 2010 07:12 PM

Looking for restaurants in the Left Bank close to Jardin du Luxembourg for casual family dinners

Our hotel is very close to Jardin du Luxembourg. I have posted a few times before but with 5 weeks left in planning have realized that many restaurants will not accomodate our very food allergic child who is anaphylactic to dairy eggs and nuts. For example, I emailed Le Gaigne and they said that they would not be able to make any dish for her without these things. I understand but this means I really do need to plan where we eat instead of winging it. My husband and I have been taking French lessons from a woman who recently moved here from Paris and she said that it was very important to email any restaurants before going to make sure that our child will have something to eat. Anyhow any rec's with emails close to our hotel would be greatly appreciated as I am also finding it very hard to find email addresses to many restaurants. I would also appreciate recs/emails near tourist attractions such as Eiffel Tower, Pompidou, Louvre Orsay Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Galleries Lafayette. Thank you in advance.

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  1. Most restaurants in Paris, even if they have email addresses, won't read their emails anyway. Telephone is the preferred way of communication.

    A daunting problem, sounds like. Perhaps your hotel could intervene for you, and make some phone calls.

    Sounds like a very difficult issue at any restaurant anywhere, and especially in a foreign land where restaurateurs are fairly set in their ways, and not particularly malleable to customers' special needs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: menton1

      Jardin du Luxembourg is pretty large.

      If you're near the northside, you'll have La Ferrandaise and Maison du Jardin, both on Rue de Vaugirard. You should find exact address and phone numbers by searching here.
      If you're rather on the southside, it will be close to Montparnasse (Vavin area). you'll have Le Parc aux Cerfs, Rue Vavin) and lots of brasseries like La Rotonde, etc.

      1. re: Dodo

        Thanks Dodo,
        I found emails for 2 of your suggestions and hopefully they email me back.

    2. I would find it surprising, given liability issues, if many restaurants would give an unqualified written (email) guarantee to provide the food you require.

      1. I am afraid the allergy problem is going to be tricky. Any French restaurant will use butter, cream and eggs in much of their cooking and so it will be incumbent on you to order very carefully, but even this is tricky with butter being used in potatoes or vegetables, and cream in a lot of the sauces, eggs and nuts are quite common in salads (I am allergic to tree nuts), and obviously all restaurants serve cheese.

        I was trying to think of what else you could try that is common in Paris: Asian obviously uses lots of peanuts but Japanese may be OK. North African food may be a reasonable bet, but beware of almonds, and yoghurt in some dips, I assume sesame pastes are OK (tahini) although I know some people with nut allergies are also sensitive to sesame.

        I don't agree with Mangeur about the liability issues, France isn't as litigious as the US probably because the level of damages in civil cases is quite low. Instead I suspect restaurants are not really tuned into allergies as they don't seem to be a "headline" problem in France. Certainly people have allergies but given the low profile I wonder if the incidence in France is lower than the US/UK.

        That said, I think it will simply come down to careful selection on the day, and careful questioning of the waiters. The best bet maybe to choose good places (not tourist traps) where the staff speak very good English, "Fish" in the 6eme may be a very good bet, and the chef is English so he will fully understand.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          "The best bet maybe to choose good places"

          I agree, especially when the better restaurants will have prepared everything sur place, while lesser restaurants may buy prepared sauces, in which case they can't even tell you witih any degree of reliability what the ingredients are.
          I would also hesitate about Japanese restaurants; many are run by Chinese who also like to use prepared sauces and partial preparations from elsewhere. Also, with a compounded language barrier, they may not understand well your allergy issues.
          It may be too late for this suggestion: If you (or family members) have a serious allergy issue, the best is to not to stay in a hotel but in a rental with a kitchen, so that you have some reliable knowledge and control about what you eat.
          Hope things work out for your family...

          1. re: Parigi

            Parigi, thanks for the added comment, I was intending to say that but the thoughts didn't reach my fingers.

            I think a lot of people would be surprised by how much food is bought in by small restaurants, bistros, cafes and bars. e.g. you can almost guarantee that 100% of the desserts come in pre-prepared. In any country these days a lot of food is prepped by big companies and shipped in chilled or frozen. In France we have the romantic idea that that doesn't happen and all food is cooked from scratch by a chef who is steeped in generations of cooking lore, unfortunately the reality doesn't match the image.

            Pay more, choose better quality restaurants and there is a far better chance the chef has prepped and cooked the food and can adjust recipes*, or at least have a good understanding of what went into a dish and advise about what to avoid.

            * We should also be mindful that standard practice even in top kitchens is that lots of food is pre-prepped and semi cooked a long time before it is ordered: the final assembly and cooking is done when the food is about to be served. A chef may be able to omit a garnish, or a component of the dish at the assembly point, but will find it impossible to cook many dishes from scratch.

            1. re: PhilD

              I would add "peanut oil", and to a lesser extent all of the nut oils that may appear in salad or appetizer preps.

        2. It may be too late for this suggestion, but I wonder if renting an apartment might be a better solution for your situation. I prefer to rent an apartment, even for short stays so that I can take advantage of markets, local bakeries and other food and wine shops, in addition to eating out.

          4 Replies
          1. re: souvenir

            Thank you for all the suggestions. We have rented apartments in places we have made return visits to but because we have never been to France before thought it would be better to stay in a hotel so that we have the services of front desk/concierge staff.
            I actually ended up taking a prepaid phone card to our local French Cultural Community Centre yesterday and paid someone there to call a list of restaurants and explain our daughters allergies to see if dining at their establishments would be an option for us and all but one said yes it would be possible-this has lifted a big weight off of our shoulders! Here is the list in case anyone else is interested: Chez Janou, La parc aux cerfs, Le phamplet, Cinq Mars, La Cagouille, Ze Kitchen Galerie and Balzac. I have also emailed Fish, La Rotonde, and La Ferrandaise, and Le Relais Gascon and am waiting to hear back. I am going to have my husbands colleague (who speaks French but wasn't available this week) call Rose's Bakery, Lina's Cafe, and Aux Lyonnais next week and then I think we will have more than enough to choose from wherever we are in Paris. BTW what do all of you think about these places?

            1. re: selena03

              FWIW, La Cagouille is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. ;)

              1. re: ChefJune

                I got the idea to go there from one of your posts:)

              2. re: selena03

                Just an idea from one mom to another, I would have my French speaking friend draft a very well written and clear letter in French that the waiter could take back to the kitchen. There would be less chance of a misunderstanding, and you would not be made to feel so much pressure speaking a language you don't feel really comfortable with yet. A French speaker would write the request with the right nuance, too, so that it didn't rub someone the wrong way.

                I had a bad experience where I was merely trying to help a vegetarian friend order something in Paris, and I think my way of asking in French if there was any meat used must have offended the waiter. We are more direct with language, so those types of customer service requests can be difficult.