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Overwhelmed by Choice - Paris restaurant this Saturday night

I'm trying to find a place to eat dinner this Saturday night in Paris. Here's what I'm after:

1) A restaurant that's well known for its fantastic food - could be on par with St John in London or L'Atelier. Doesn't have to be super-fancy, but we don't mind dressing up or splurging!
2) French food! (rather than Asian)
3) Someone that will cater for vegetarians (dairy okay)

I've bought too many books and now can't figure out where to go!

We're quite new to the Paris food scene. We've been to Fish la Boissonnerie and enjoyed it. Tried to eat at Chez Janou but couldn't get a table!

Would appreciate any advice! : )

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  1. Chez l'Ami Jean, l'Ambroisie, Guy Savoy (food is not really fantastic, but totally worth it), La Grande Cascade, Senderens (a gamble for fantastic food, but it happens).

    Saturday night makes it harder, so does "fantastic food", which is a very high standard to live by.

    3 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Hi Sophie, Thank you for replying so quickly! I suppose what I meant by 'fantastic food' is that the food is more important than the ambiance. We're not too worried about Michelin stars or going to an expensive place...

      We also have Monday evening free if that makes a difference...?

      1. re: superdipti

        Monday evening offers some different choices such as Jospéhine, La Régalade, l'Arpège, Ledoyen, Rostang... I understand you're not worried about price or Michelin stars, and I suppose that works both ways, which is why I'm offering options on both sides, assuming you'll research them to make up your mind. There is a common prejudice those days, as exemplified in Ratatouille, that Michelin stars are all about being formal and chic and expensive and that a good bistrot is just the same if not better. I think this "view" is pretty much divorced from reality, a fantasy some people like to tell and believe in. Making fantastic food is expensive, adding decent service and a comfortable setting even more so. This is not to say that there are no good bistrots, of course. And there even are bistronomiques like La Régalade or Chez l'Ami Jean, who strive to deliver extraordinary food at the lowest possible price. In fact, I'm officially renaming the category "discount fine dining".

        1. re: souphie

          Really interesting observation. I definitely have that kind of view of Michelin starred places - this isn't really based on experience. Thinking back, it's true that some of the Michelin starred restaurants I've tried are neither formal or especially 'chic'... I'll have a look at your options, and see where I land. Thanks.

    2. My favorite would be La Regalade which is probably not in your neighborhood (I think it is in the 14th?) But it is a wonderful bistrot.....the place looks as though it was a model for every pictured Paris restaurant. Compared to places like Senderns and Savoy...it is a major bargain. I also had a nice meal at Ze Kitchen Gallerie which is near Saint Germain....not your usual French bistrot. Note: as I recall, it is one of the few places where the tip is NOT included. If you love oysters, try Regis.

      1 Reply
      1. re: witco

        La Régalade is closed on saturdays. Inclusion of service, 15%, is mandatory by law in France.

        Another place that I like a lot food wise and which is not often mentioned on this board is l'Acajou in the 16th.

      2. Maceo in the 1st arr has a vegetarian menu in addition to the regular menu. We also like Bon in the 16th and La Bastide Odeon in the 6th. For a splurge, though, you have to consider Arpege, if you can get a reservation. Vegetarian nirvana!

        1. I've held off for a while because I'm not a vegetarian nor vegan nor avoider of any food (unless it's bad), but for "A restaurant that's well known for its fantastic food" on Saturday night I'm stumped - Sorry.

          John Talbott's Paris

          1. We just had a lovely dinner last Saturday day night at Aux Lyonnaise http://www.auxlyonnais.com/index2.html close to the Opera. Great rollicking fun atmosphere, attentive service and wonderful food (make a reservation) and you can download the menu. Was recommended in lotilde Dusoulier's book on Paris. Try the Oeuf cocotte aux morilles, vin jaune et comté for a starter, it was ***divine***. You could have the Quenelles à la lyonnaise, sauce Nantua for a main, which was also great, although I'm not sure if you can have lobster or not, sorry....

            1 Reply
            1. re: frenchgirl

              I know you meant Clotilde not lotilde, it is indeed a wonderful book. A good combo of wisdom, local savvy and good advice.

            2. The closest to ethos of St John IMO is "Jadis", after my meal I felt they were following the St John concept of heading back to the traditions of French food and reinvigorating old classic dishes with a few modern twists. However, I am not really sold on St John and left Jadis with the same sense of "emperors new clothes".

              I would second Chez l'ami Jean, Le Regalade and Josephine, but only CAJ is open on Saturday. It isn't dressy, it is busy and it is cramped. However the food is good and hearty, but choose carefully.

              5 Replies
              1. re: PhilD

                Thank you for all of your responses! I think we'll opt for Le Regalade on Monday evening.

                On another note: I'm wondering why the notion of 'fantastic food' seems to have confused people! Is it just a cost of entry? Would love to know in case I post again sometime in the future.

                1. re: superdipti

                  "why the notion of 'fantastic food' seems to have confused people! Is it just a cost of entry?"

                  1. Am not aware of a cost of entry, or I got away without paying…
                  2. The notion of 'fantastic food' seems to have confused some probably because it is a, abstract term. I would not call it cost of entry. When you first post, the France forum regulars don't know you or, more importantly, your taste yet. It is hard to advise upon abstract terms. After a few posts, usually a poster's taste is better outlined.
                  3. Soup (not Sophie until he completes his sex change) has a vocab as exacting as his palette.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Thank you! Next time, I'll try to be more specific in my requests. By biggest issue with dining anywhere is ensuring that vegetarian options are available. I'd prefer to go a restaurant that doesn't specifically cater to vegetarians because I find that the food is better! (although there are a handful of excellent vegetarian restaurants, too...).

                    I'm so impressed by the level of detail and expertise on here. Very inspired to learn more...

                    1. re: superdipti

                      Super, it's not just you. It's hard to reply when the title/question is broad. I wish there was/were a way for Chow or OP's to revise thread titles so they would pin down the choices more precisely - such as, classic, classy. funky, meaty, veggie, old-school, new-school, gastro-bistro, mod-brasserie, simple, complex, foreign-influenced, dark and dirty, sexy, awesome, impressive view, weird decor, nice welcome, good price, sky's-the-limit, etc.

                      1. re: superdipti

                        If Vegetarian is the key do follow the earlier recommendation for "Maceo" one of the set menus is totally vegetarian with seasonal ingredients. It is a reasonable price in a very stylish room.