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70th Birthday Celebration Dinner in Paris

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micheline1 Apr 19, 2010 05:13 PM

My friend is going to be 70 in October and is happily inviting about 12 of his friends to come to Paris for a few days (don't get too excited, we pay our way there--which is still pretty great). I have volunteered to help find a terrific restaurant for the 12 of us (who range in age from 50-65) to have dinner on a Saturday night this October.

I have been researching for several days and have found this Chowhound to be very informative. I know there might be an issue with the number of people and perhaps a private room might be the only solution, but I hope not. Half the fun of eating at a restaurant is the ambiance!

All of us are experienced foodies. I know he would like a more traditional, brasserie/bistro atmosphere (rather than a haute/minimalist look). Any suggestions at combining great food and old school atmosphere? Budget can go up to about $80-$90 per person.

I was thinking about Comptoir Du Relais (assuming I can get a reservation), but I'm not crazy about the take it or leave it menu? Any thoughts?

By the way, I've been to Paris many times, (my niece lives in the 18th) so I'm a somewhat familiar with the arrondissements.

thanks very much.

  1. John Talbott Apr 19, 2010 06:05 PM

    Congrats to your friend - so young tho'.
    One question - wouldn't you rather have a private room in a brasserie (Terminus Nord has one in a Tiffany-esque room for 20) or upstairs place (Petit Colombier) or downstairs room (Les Papilles) than out among the great loud, unwashed? If you're dead set on the principle that "Half the fun of eating at a restaurant is the ambiance" Ok, but.........
    How about another idea - renting out the whole place, like the Jeu de Quilles, Zinc Caius or the dazzling new Spring?
    If you insist on a venue with one table in a sea of others, I guess I'd go for Grande Cascade or Drouant.
    Not much in the 18th where I too live when I'm not fighting volcano ash.

    John Talbott's Paris

    17 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott
      mangeur Apr 19, 2010 06:30 PM

      Hey, John. Petit Colombier is adorable. You've been holding out!

      http://www.restaurant-petit-colombier...

      1. re: mangeur
        John Talbott Apr 20, 2010 08:26 AM

        Nah, I just think of it mainly around game season.

      2. re: John Talbott
        m
        micheline1 Apr 19, 2010 08:43 PM

        thanks, John. No, I'm not dead set on staying in the main room. Terminus Nord's room sounds great. I'll check out the websites of all of your suggestions.

        I, too, thought of renting out a whole place-- but didn't know where-- it would be nice if it were a real belle epoque style, small bistro a la Paul Bert (but, not there. I went there for lunch the last time in Paris on my search for a bistro and i was very disappointed.)

        1. re: micheline1
          p
          parisjo Apr 20, 2010 04:47 AM

          John, is Daniel already taking reservations for his new place? I was going to try to book a September or October meal by visiting his boutique while in Paris next month, will it already be too late?

          Jo

          1. re: parisjo
            John Talbott Apr 20, 2010 08:27 AM

            I do not think so, but you can call or visit the boutique and ask Marie or Josh. I may go tmrw afternoon and if I think of it I'll ask.

            1. re: John Talbott
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              Nancy S. Apr 20, 2010 11:03 AM

              Interestingly, I had the same question. My parents will be in Paris in June, and I was hoping they would be able to secure me dinner reservations for September, so I too am curious as to your findings.

        2. re: John Talbott
          m
          micheline1 Apr 20, 2010 06:53 AM

          you didn't comment about Le Comptoir du Relais? is the food really good at Terminus Nord?

          1. re: micheline1
            John Talbott Apr 20, 2010 08:29 AM

            I'm taking a leave from Comptoir for reasons that are hard to explain. TN is OK when you're straight off the Chunnel but otherwise unh unh.

            1. re: micheline1
              PhilD Apr 20, 2010 02:17 PM

              I am a fan of Le Comptoir but I don't think it will work. They may be able to squeeze a table for 12 in but it will be very tight as it a small oddly shaped space. It is also a tricky reservation even this far out, they hold tables for the attached hotel so the number of bookable tables isn't high.

              The menu at dinner is a set meal,and I doubt you would have much luck trying to influence it. I find it is generally very good and always enjoy my meals there.

              I did hear they are dropping the formal dinner service later this year so it may be a "no booking" brasserie by the time you get here.

              One suggestion is to look at Benoit, it has some wonderful rooms upstairs, and I like the food, not cheap for a "bistro" but it has great old world charm and it is central. If you are looking for something more "real" head to Le Baratin in the 20eme, traditional room, quite basic and great food.

            2. re: John Talbott
              m
              micheline1 Apr 20, 2010 07:10 AM

              and what about Drouant? I have a feeling the budget may have to go to 100E/person--which i'm sure he'll do.

              1. re: micheline1
                John Talbott Apr 20, 2010 08:30 AM

                Haaaa, the bargains are at lunch or after 10:30 PM, but a la carte is 70-90 so it's doable.

                1. re: John Talbott
                  m
                  micheline1 Apr 20, 2010 09:22 AM

                  so is Drouant delicious?

                  1. re: John Talbott
                    m
                    micheline1 Apr 20, 2010 09:30 AM

                    or le violon d'ingres?

                    1. re: micheline1
                      John Talbott Apr 21, 2010 10:02 AM

                      By me it is and (why do I keep dragging others in?) by Christian Etchebest who sat at the common table and Bodge Duvall who loved it.

                2. re: John Talbott
                  m
                  micheline1 May 11, 2010 10:15 AM

                  Ok. So, for days now I've been reading Chow and Frommers and Zagat and Trip Advisor. I am MUCH more well versed than when I originally posted.
                  I've been going through the restaurant sites with my friend and his wife and they've, thus far, opted for Michel Rostang. Decided upon because of food, ambiance, accommodating a party of 12, open Saturday night, etc. What are your thoughts? and Souphie (or any others) I would value your opinion too.

                  On the Friday night before the birthday night, they wanted something much more casual and fun-- how about Chez Denise?

                  1. re: micheline1
                    souphie May 11, 2010 12:28 PM

                    Denis is fun. Rostang is great, but what you won't have there is very subtle, artsy, suprising food. It's a place for food lovers, a lovely experience, very professional staff who's been there for as long as I've been, and we're talking decades, spectacular wine list. It's not about the refinement, it's not about feeling rich and fancy, even though its ure is rich and fancy. I love Rostang, but this is where I want to be with dear friends sharing my passion for food.

                    1. re: souphie
                      m
                      micheline1 May 11, 2010 06:52 PM

                      thanks so much, Souphie. As you describe it, Rostang actually sounds like what they're looking for-- they're an intimate circle of friends who are wine connoisseurs and foodies. although there may not be surprises it seems, from what you say, it will be delicious.

                3. hychka Apr 20, 2010 09:52 AM

                  Hidden Kitchen has room for 12 and you could lock it up if you wrote ahead early enough. www.hkmenus.com/english.html We have been there several times and will go again next month, volcano willing! The place is a treat and a big bargain.

                  Whatever you decide, I do like John's idea of locking up a small place. It will make the birthday guy feel really special!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: hychka
                    m
                    micheline1 Apr 20, 2010 01:03 PM

                    isn't Hidden Kitchen run by 2 Americans? not sure we would want to do that--

                    1. re: micheline1
                      hychka Apr 20, 2010 05:57 PM

                      Yes.

                      But, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Finding a place that will serve just your party will be a very special thing to do for your friend.

                      1. re: hychka
                        m
                        micheline1 Apr 21, 2010 06:07 AM

                        Under normal circumstances, or if we were staying in Paris for a longer period of time, you would be absolutely correct. Unfortunately, with just 3 or 4 nights in Paris, we will want to hear, eat, smell and see Parisian. We've had American chef meals prepared for us here in New York, some in our own homes. thanks anyway.

                        1. re: micheline1
                          John Talbott Apr 21, 2010 10:08 AM

                          Well before you throw Laura and Braden and Daniel off the cliff, and I know I don't want hamburgers and brunch here ether, Americans cooking with French ingredients and equipment and such do produce some great stuff.

                          As just one example, Thai food here is different than it is in Bangkok as well as is pizza which Italians moving across the border suddenly lose the ability to make well.

                          1. re: micheline1
                            hychka Apr 21, 2010 07:10 PM

                            I don't own stock in HK and they don't owe me money...go, don't go...fine with me.

                            What I was trying to re-enforce was your idea of renting out an entire place. As a 66 yearold thinking about being 70, I'd REALLY like having someone find and rent out a WHOLE place in Paris for my birthday. Finding such a place may be tough, but I hope you do.

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