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10th Anniversary Dinner in Paris Oct 2010 - Still searching for just the right 'fit'...

Hi everyone,

I have been reading and searching this board for a while now and have also been reading Alexander Lombrano's "Hungry for Paris" to help research restaurants to eat in when I will be in Paris this fall. We will be there for 4 days and one of those days will be our 10th Anniversary.

I have found a lot of ideas for dinners and lunches, however I am struggling to find just the right place for our anniversary dinner. We are comfortable spending around 300 E for the both of us for this special dinner.

From my research it seems that restaurants that have that special and unique ambiance (i.e. Le Cinq, Le Bristol, Le Meurice, Le Pre Catelan) are just way over that for dinner with wine. On the other end of the spectrum is restaurants that get rave reviews for food but just don't seem to have the atmosphere for a special romantic anniversary dinner. From what I have seen by Googling pictures of places like Aux Lyonnaise, D'Chez Eux, Ze Kitchen Galerie - they are either too modern for our tastes or the lighting in them is so bright it is like eating in a cafeteria. (Mind you the photos on the internet are usually taken in full light and never in the evening)

Am I missing something or is there no place where we would find a match between price, good food/value for the price and an ambiance that would lend itself to dropping 300 Euro on a meal for a special occasion?

Le Train Bleu was one of the first places I found and thought the atmosphere/grandure was amazing and someplace like no other. However not sure if in the evening it has the right atmosphere. Anyone eaten there in the evening? Also I was a bit turned off by the fact that apparently you can hear the calls for train departures - not sure if that will lend itself to an anniversary dinner.

While I would love to do 'grandure' since if you are going to go to a restaurant like that Paris would be the place to do it - but I just can't bring myself to drop twice as what we have budgeted. So I am leaning toward a nice cozy and romantic bistro where you aren't sitting right next to someone else, but where the lighting is dim and you can enjoy a gourmet meal.

La Regalade/La Regalade St. Honore - is on my list but I can't seem to find interior pictures. Any help there? Would that fit my criteria?

I would also probably lean toward traditional french cooking and any restaurants that serve a fantastic steak tartare (our favorite) would also be a bonus.

Thanks for your suggestions!

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  1. If you want the luxurious-Michelin-starred-place feeling, La Grande Cascade has a 85 EUR all inclusive menu, even for dinner.
    You can have a 150 EUR all inclusive dinner at Rostang (but you have to be specific about it when making the reservation). The setting is more like an old house/club. There is less luxury, but more warmness to be found here.
    If you want to experience what's like being a Parisian bobo, le Petrelle would fit the bill. A la carte is about 60 EUR per person, and they have a fantastic wine list, that is not expensive at all. You can find excellent wines in the two digits range, and very old grand crus if you're willing to spend a bit more for the occasion. The ambiance is quite intimate, food is unspectacular but very good nonetheless. They may not have tartare, but their beef is truly fantastic by French standards. Possible drawback: some people may not like the fact that a cat and a dog wander through the dining room during the service.

    The original Regalade is fantastic, but it's very crowded, and the service, which was adequate only seemed to deteriorate (that's based on my two last experiences, which are now 6 month old, and pre-date the St Honore opening).

    I've never been (I know...), but I believe that Joséphine could fit the bill, too.

    7 Replies
    1. re: olivierb

      Thanks Olivier,

      I have found that trying to actually find prices online for some of these top restaurants is difficult too. Which of course doesn't help when I am trying to make a decision based on price. (Le Cinq for example doesn't list prices so I have no idea what we would expect to pay).

      The 85 Euro at the Grande Cascade is very reasonable - I may have to add that to our list then.

      I will check out Rostang.

      le Petrelle sounds wonderful - although my husband is allergic to cats! Not sure if that would make for a nice dinner - but he could come prepared with some anti-histamine. I will also give that a search (it is in Alexander's book - so that too is a bonus).

      Josephine is on my list and probably my top pic so far out of the bistro's I have researched, so I will definately keep it there.

      Thanks!

      1. re: parisdreamer

        I've answered about Le Cinq prices in the other thread. To put it shortly: unless you're teetotalers, you'll spend more than 300 EUR for dinner at Le Cinq.

        1. re: olivierb

          but if you're willing to celebrate at lunch, Le Cinq has that amazing 78 E prix fixe menu.

        2. re: parisdreamer

          Petrelle has a very big cute cat always holding court. The restaurant also has a lot of heavy curtains and cushions. Very charming, but may store a lot of cat hair-allergens. -- Often antihistamines and wine do not mix. I love Pétrelle but these are things to consider.

          1. re: Parigi

            Good point thanks. Will let hubby decide. That is too bad that the only thing that could stop us from having the perfect dinner in Paris is a cat!!

            1. re: Parigi

              I went to the Petrelle website and it isn't very helpful - just lots of photos - but no menus or prices etc. Any help in that regard?

              1. re: parisdreamer

                There's about 3-4 items to chose from for starters, mains and desserts. A la carte adds up to about 60 EUR per person beverage not included. There also is a 35 EUR or something menu.

        3. Do not go to le Train Bleu at dinnertime expecting romance. The lighting is anything but romantic.

          6 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            Buttertart - that is exactly what I was thinking too - thanks for confirming that!

            1. re: parisdreamer

              We went with friends after getting back from Lyon on the TGV. Lighting was a bit on the hospital-y side.
              How about the Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower? We've been there for dinner (friends' anniversary) and lunch (just because). If you can get a window table it's quite heavenly. Food is much better than you would expect (at least it was when we were there).

              1. re: buttertart

                However Jules Verne's dinner menu is €200 a head without wine, and ALC there is not cheap.

                And isn't Rostang's dinner €169 a head without wine, it only includes wine at lunchtime.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Oops didn't remember that. Maybe more of a 25th anniversary thing, then?

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Yeah I guess so then! Better start saving for our 25th!

                  2. re: PhilD

                    Rostang's has the 150€ wine included for at both dinner and lunch if you book it through lafourchette.com and click on "book with promo". The restaurant's official website doesn't have this listed. However, this is only available until the end of September, and OPs are here in October. Zut!

            2. We have celebrated several special occasions at Maceo. Have you checked that place out?

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChefJune

                Thanks Chef June I will check it out.

              2. Prices for restaurants can be found accurately at viamichelin.com . That is, only for Michelin rated restaurants, of course, and they now exclude Chez l'Ami Jean and Joséphine.

                What you seem to be looking for is a mid-range restaurant. You're right that fine dining is out of your price range, unless you settle for a lunch (the food is the same, the compromise is only about the time). Places like Pétrelle, Quincy or Joséphine are in your budget, but they really are "friends" place, and not really celebratory. Pétrelle is my wife's favorite, but it's a very particular place (check out my pics at picasaweb.google.com/zejulot ).

                If you want to feel a bit more special and stay within your budget, I'd argue that your best option is l'Angle du Faubourg, or Gordon Ramsay's véranda in Versailles, if indeed it has not become as bad as some recent reports suggested (especially fanoffrance's, which was very worrisome).

                What the hell, I'd say it: for a celebratory dinner with your budget, I'd go for a fancy Chinese (eg Tse Yang, Diep, Passy Mandarin) or Italian (Pasta e Basta)

                20 Replies
                1. re: souphie

                  Must go to Pétrelle next time there. That is a gorgeous website. Animals a plus! Only open Tues-Sat from 8 to 10 pm (!) - how far in advance must one book?

                    1. re: souphie

                      Just because I'm opposing to each and every souphie's posts today, I might say that I got a reservation two days before a few weeks ago, for a Saturday evening. But this is July I'm talking about, so...

                      1. re: olivierb

                        I'll make arrangements well before but also have a very persuasive French friend who is great at wangling last-minute bookings for me!

                        1. re: olivierb

                          Man, I'll never make a reservation one month ahead for me, anywhere. I was just saying if you call earlier than one month, they'll tell you to call back later.

                          1. re: souphie

                            If you can't go the same day you book, go elsewhere young man.

                    2. re: souphie

                      Thanks Souphie,

                      I don't mind the look of Petrelle and Josephine as they aren't something you would find here in Canada and so that intrigues me. I looked at L'Angle but it looks like it could be in any other city in the world and somewhat sterile looking atmosphere. While we both love Gordon Ramsay and would adore seeing if his cooking is up to all his 'chatter' Versaille is just too far away and no time to add it to our itinerary.

                      So I guess what I have come to realize is that it doesn't really matter if the atmosphere is grand or elaborate but that it is different and somewhere you could look back upon and say - "that looks like somewhere in Paris".

                      Here in Vancouver there is lots of Chinese and Italian restaurants so we probably wouldn't be up to that for our anniversary - but good thought.

                      I think that I am going to present Petrelle and Josephine to my hubby and maybe Le Cinq and see if he is willing to up the budget if that is the experience he really wants to have there. I am ok with the other two I think they would be perfect for us.

                      I am now just worried that since everything is closed in August that I won't be able to reserve a table for Oct 7th (that is our anniversary date). Also do most restaurants have 2 sittings or do you just tell them what time you would like to come? What time is the 2nd sitting or is it different for each restaurant?

                      Thanks again everyone this has really been helpful!

                      1. re: parisdreamer

                        Pétrelle, Joséphine and Le Cinq don't really have two seatings. Joséphine does, but the rule is that you tell them what you want, and they tell you if they have a conter-offer. Second seatings usually start 10-ish.

                        1. re: souphie

                          Perfect thanks.

                          Dress for Petrelle or Josephine? (I think I can guess for Le Cinq).

                          1. re: parisdreamer

                            Casual (but the world tends to be nicer to those who don't look too tourist-sloppy, like baseball cap, mineral water bottle accessory)…

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Yes of course - we wouldn't dress like that but more for my husband's sake I wonder if he needs a jacket?

                              1. re: parisdreamer

                                In the summer, no. But a shirt would be nice. You sure he can do the cat?

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  I mentioned it to him and he didn't seem too concerned...maybe just less wine since he will have to pop an anti-histamine :)

                        2. re: parisdreamer

                          If you get a chance for a lunch or whatever, also suggest L'Angle du Faubourg. The restaurant is rather impersonal in appearance but service and food are both exceptional. I had one of the desserts of my lifetime there (a meringue with wild strawberry sorbet and wild strawberries on top - it was in early June).

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Sounds great appreciate that suggestion.

                            One last question - is there a way to book Le Petrelle or Josephine via the internet or do we have to phone for a reservation?

                            1. re: parisdreamer

                              You have to phone!
                              Don't know about Josephine, but very good English is spoken at Le Petrelle, so no worries.

                          2. re: parisdreamer

                            You might consider keeping La Grande Cascade on your list too-- I think they have 3 menus at varying price points and it's a nice atmosphere for a celebration (and you can make reservations easily through toptable.com).

                        3. If you are ready to spend 300EUR, lets go for one of the best in Paris : Le Meurice by Yannick Alleno (my favorite 3 stars in Paris) :
                          http://www.meuricehotel.fr/portraits-...
                          If you want to spend less, you should consider the Cristal Room restaurant by Baccarat, not a great food, but a good place:
                          http://www.baccarat.com/en/the-world-...
                          Otherwise, if you are looking for a good and chic italian, but not too exepnsive (less than 60 EUR/guest), go to Findi avenue George V :
                          http://www.findi.net/english/

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lionelparis

                            Thanks for the suggestions Lionel!

                            When I went to Le Meurice's menu the prices seemed like we couldn't do it for 300 Euro. The prix fixe menu alone is 220 E pp. Maybe for lunch?

                            Cristal room is lovely - not sure my husband would go for the pink room though. ;-)

                            Findi looks lovely - but we are not big Italian food fans.