Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Jun 20, 2010 05:30 AM

Pls Help to Pick 2 From These Star Restaurants in Paris

It's been months for us to decide on which perfect restaurant that we should celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary... and we still can't make any pick yet! It's really tough, please help!
We'll be visiting Paris (as part of or Europe trip) by end of July this year. It's my 3rd visit, and 1st for my husband. We are michelin stars suckers kinda! (lol) but we haven't been to one in Paris before...
While we'll have our anniversary lunch at Pierre Gagnaire, we want to have our dinner at the one that has beautiful period classic interir setting.
Our dinner choices are:
- Le Bristol
- Le Cinq
- Les Ambassadeurs
- Ledoyen
- L'Espadon
- Le Meurice (but too bad, I just got a reply from them that they'll have their annual clossure on days we visit).
As this would be our anniversary treat - so we really need to decide carefully to pick the best one to celebrate it.
So please kindly help us to pick 2 restaurants from our list above with your oppinions - or you may rank them all based on your preferred rating? Which are the better ones among those in overall rating for their food and beautiful setting that really worth the price!
We really do appreciate for your kind help to top it off!
Thanks so much!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Les Ambassadeurs has changed chefs since I was there; the setting is magnificent, topped only by Le Meurice. I enjoyed it last time and plan to revisit next week.

    Ledoyen looks like a museum of Napoleonic interiors in need of restoration; the food is passionate but might challenge your tastes--although you must be pretty adventurous to choose Gagnaire ;-)

    Le Cinq has a traditional classic interior such as one might find in the USA; the food is usually excellent and aims to please.

    Le Bristol has a much less grandiose setting, although elegant; I found the food rather boring in taste while ostentatious in appearance, but some love it.

    (I've never been to l'Espadon.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: fanoffrance

      FOF is right, and I'm surprised he doesn't raise l'Ambroisie in the process, which definitely has beautiful classic interior and exceptional food.

      There is no doubt that le Cinq is the safest choice in your list. Ledoyen's food, though based on superlative ingredients and techniques, can be somewhat boring if you're not in the mood, and the falling apart character of the place, in addition to his only fair service, makes it more likely you won't be in the mood.

      Le Meurice has the most gorgeous, Versailles-like setting, and the most talented chef, but their food offering is kinda boring until they know you well enough, it's not generous, desserts are wonderful.

      Le Bristol has some great dishes -- the old ones (chicken, sweetbread) and a general offering that is more of a testament to the kind of compromission it takes to get three stars this day. Gorgeous dining room in a courtyard/garden that time of the year, probably doesn't qualify as beautiful classic though -- it's a magnified tent.

      I would also take that chance to disagree with those who classify le Cinq as comfort food. While I think that there is a quality issue, which is unsurprising when you have to manage 100 cooks, judging their food from a bad night and calling it unchallenging is erroneous. What these recent reports actually say, is that, on a bad night, le Cinq serves what feells like delicious comfort food. I think that's not bad and more than l'Ambroisie, L'Arpège, or Pierre Gagnaire can say. Let me state that, on a good day, they serve food that is on par with the best and whose specific genius has to do with symphony: the way Briffard can bring twelve ingredients together and make them sing the same song.

    2. For an anniversary celebration, L'Espadon and Le Cinq will provide the best photo ops, and Le Cinq knows how to make you feel special. M.E. would chose Lasserre, but I find them a bit stiff and formal (nothing like L'Ambroisie however).

      1. I've eaten at all six that you list strictly as a client. I like the L'Espadon room most but the food least. Contrary to Souphie I have been very pleased with Le Bristol. However the new chef at Les Ambassadeurs, from recent writeups, has intrigued me. I hope to dine there later this year. You shouldn't omit L'Ambroisie from your list if food is paramount. The wine lists at the hotels are superior. You ought to go to your choice a day in advance and discuss the menu. I was staying at Le Meurice and checked the menu the day before my reservation. I canceled the reservation and went to Le Bristol instead and found it superior to previous meals at Le Meurice.

        8 Replies
        1. re: amrx

          Wow!! Thanks so much to all of you FOF, Souphie, Oakglrn & Amrx for your excellent reviews! Pardon me, I just back from my China business trip for 2 wks, and just got the chance to reply. So now I've learned more. Now, after I contacted them - new problem for me, those restaurants from my list will be closed in August, the month of our visit; Le Meurice, Les Ambasadeurs; Ledoyen, and Pierre Gagnaire. And I found out from both restaurant’s website and ViaMichelin website that most of those starred restaurants are closed in August as well – should I trust their information regarding the opening times or should I just contact them directly? I decided to have our dinner at Le Cinq instead of PG, and booked already. After I read some reviews, and saw their online menu, I think I might cross out Le Bristol and L’Espadon from the list, and will try to find other options – any suggestions, please?

          List of the restaurants that are open in August:

          1. Guy Savoy

          2. La Grande Cascade. Is it a bit touristy and worn out ambiance or should be fine? Because I found the reviews are quiet equally between pros and contras…

          3. Michel Rostang

          4. Le Jules Verne. Is it still good?

          5. Le Pergolese

          Btw, mentioning about L'Amboisie - in fact, it also hit my mind but due to the budget concern as they don't have prixe fixe menu - thus I have to eliminate it from the list. In addition, they will also be closed in August!

          Guess, at the end of the day… now I should be more flexible to take the restaurant’s décor into account… don’t have to be in grandiose (luxurious comfort) ambiance anymore - but as long as in category of high comfort to very comfortable level (Michelin guide) will do while the quality of the food should be better! At least, I will need 2 more starred restaurants for lunch – or should I be more compliant to any other great non-starred restaurants? My budget for lunch would be EUR100/person (without drinks).

          I’m almost running out of hope to find the perfect restaurant that is open in August. Please do kindly help me to find one coz I can only put my faith in this one and only reliable food blog Chowhound by the brilliant Chowers! Salute to you all… Many thanks!!!

          1. re: luvylux

            How about Chez L'Ami Jean or Les Elysees at Hotel Vernet?

            1. re: luvylux

              You definitely should call those restaurants to make sure they're actually open in August. I find your it suprising that Savoy and Rostang, for instance, would be open in August.

              Chez l'Ami Jean definitely is not open in August. As for les Elysées, I don't know whether they're open, but, while the setting is still quite lovely and special, the chef went to Le Cinq two years ago, so les Elysées is not a food destination anymore. Unfortunately, food at Le Cinq hasn't reached the standards it had at Les Elysées yet. But sometimes it's wonderful and they always make up for it with great service and room.

              I don't think la Grande Cascade is tired, even though it is old style. The chef, Frédéric Robert, is definitely one of the best technicians in town. He recently lost his sous chef who went to run les Ambassadeurs at Hotel Crillon, about which someone here wrote very positively recently.

              Le Jules Verne: of course it's good, and of course it's not super good: it's Ducasse. The industry of luxury.

              1. re: souphie

                Hi Souphie, thanks again! I just can't be amazed more w/ all of your explicit and brilliant review on each and every post in this blog as well as yours! Btw, I have emailed Guy Savoy and found out that fortunately they will still be opened on the date we plan to visit in the first week of August.

                Thus, if I need to pick 2 (two) restaurants for our lunch, which you would suggest me to pick for overall great food and ambiance between Guy Savoy, Le Jules Verne, La Grande Cascade and Michel Rostang (which also open in the first week of August)? Please list them accordingly to your preference - and I'm still open to any other suggestions...

                Btw, I was just wondering if it’s quiet far from our hotel, Le Meurice, to La Grande Cascade – how far? What is the best transportation to go there, a cab?

                In addition, please kindly advise me for any recommendations for casual meals/great bistros or cafés that I shouldn’t miss while in Paris?

                Million thanks to the fabulous Chowers who can always make “deciding” easier!!!

                1. re: luvylux

                  Oh! One more thing... any recommendation for the best foie gras, souffle and dessert (other than Laduree and Pierre Herme) that shouldn't be missed? From those restaurants that already mentioned and recommended previously - which restaurant that has the best foie gras amongst all? Thanks again!!!

                  1. re: luvylux

                    Best foie gras? I still haven't had the one at l'Ami Jean, but I believe you'll get a ton of people telling you to go for it. At Le Cinq, Briffard usually has a foie gras preparation in the menu, and it's usually excellent (had what was probably the best ever at one of my best meal ever there last November...).

                    Desserts? If it has to be in a restaurant, going to Senderens is a no brainer. You don't even have to actually have lunch or dinner there. Popping by and telling them you just want a dessert works (be specific and tell them that you want a dessert from the restaurant, not the bar menu). Calling beforehands would be more polite/safe, though.
                    Also, there is Genin, probably the most awesome pastry/chocolate/candy shop in town. Constant is also fantastic, and so different from what most shops have to offer.
                    Skip Ladurée altogether. Hermé, however, I believe is the perfect spot when one has cravings for something too heavy and too sweet and too this and too that. If you'll pardon my french, "putassier" might well be a good word to describe his style.

                  2. re: luvylux

                    Savoy is the ultimate party place, and it should feel even more so in the middle of summer in Paris, when no one is here and those who are are in a fooling around mood. Now, the other places you list are great (well, not Jules Verne, it's Ducasse). Cascade has brilliant food and spectacular setting. Rostang has generous food and a unique club-like feeling.

                    From Meurice to Grande Cascade, all depends on traffic. It's less than 10 minutes with a cab in good traffic. Even in bad traffic, it should be OK because it's just a few big avenues that are almost never totally stalled.

                    As for bistrots, the board is full of it, and I defer to those who are committed to it. I'm partial to Chez l'Ami Jean, La Régalade, Joséphine, Bistrot d'à Côté, Rotisserie du Beaujolais, Bistral, Fish, l'Auberge du Quincy, Chez Georges porte Maillot, Chez Denise, l'Auberge Bressane, but that's me. I haven't tried Table d'Eugène or Bouclard yet.

                    Foie gras: depends how you want it (I'm pretty sure the question was raised recently). For terrine, the ones at Joséphine and at l'Ami Louis are pretty awesome. For warm foie gras, there are other options -- Le Cinq is phenomenal, so if the whole foie for two Chez l'Ami Jean.

                    Soufflé -- A few places are specialized: le Soufflé, Cigale Récamier, and another small bistrot whose name (or place) I can't remember right now.

                    Desserts -- many shouldn't be missed. The ones at Le Meurice are definitely among them. Christian Constant, La Patisserie des Rêves and Jaques Génin are pastry shops that should not be missed. In restaurants, again, I'm partial to the riz au lait (rice pudding) at Chez l'Ami Jean or La Régalade (they're very similar, both coming from Camdeborde...), but there are many many sweets not to be missed in this town.

                    1. re: luvylux

                      You don't have to walk far from the Meurice to find a number of fine cafes and bistros. Chez Flottes, Souffle, L'Ardoise, Le Castiglione; all priced for real people, not the expense account, Intl. businessmen crowd who tend to dominate this part of the 1st. Even Carr's serves fine draft beers. Not far away are about a dozen Japanese restaurants; I have yet to find one that was much good. And don't forget about the bar at Meurice; they have a quality menu at obscene prices. Great Martini though.