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Aug 1, 2010 07:48 PM

Lunch at Le Bristol and La Grande Cascade (and L'Astrance)?

I am taking a last minute trip to Paris in a couple of weeks and I have booked Le Bristol for lunch, but I really have no idea what to expect. How does it compare to Guy Savoy, Le Cinq, and other 3 stars? I am quite familiar with the hotel, having stayed there many years ago with my family; not a bad first taste of Paris. But other than having one or two breakfast meetings there over the past few years, for some reason, I have never considered trying their restaurant.

Additionally, I am considering trying La Grande Cascade; do they have a prix fixe lunch offering similar to most other 2 and 3 stars? Would you recommend it for lunch dining solo?

On a related note, does anybody know when L'Astrance is reopening in August; I really love it and have not been in a few years. I will be in Paris until the end of the month, and I would love to try to sneak in if they are open.

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  1. Le Cinq has only 2 stars and is substantially inferior to Le Bristol in my opinion. Wine lists at both are excellent. Guy Savoy is excellent but I slightly prefer Le Bristol. Wine list at Guy Savoy not as good as the others. Of the three Le Bristol is the only one I regard as soigne..

    1. Just for the record, I disagree with amrx on his assessment.

      Guy Savoy is a great, great restaurant but the food is very often barely worth one star, because it is not well made. It's a place where you go for a great time, but not for great food.

      Fréchon (at le Bristol) too is a great great chef but he lost himself while finding the third star and does barely offer the food he does best, because he wants to distinguish himself. Cooking is indeed "soigné" but recipes are not wonderful and ingredients are not up to the standard. More importantly, their lunch deal is very subpar compared to their regular food, which I just described.

      Almost the opposite is true of Briffard at le Cinq. In my experience, there just is no point in taking something else than the lunch menu. Ingredients are chosen with great care, the chef is a plain genius, more so than the other two, but there is no question that there are consistency issues. The room and waiting staff, however, more than make up for it. So I would agree that, if you spend 500€ pp, you can hesitate between Le Bristol and Le Cinq. I would. But not if you are on a lunch menu plan -- then Le Cinq is substantially superior.

      As for l'Astrance, just call them. I doubt they will reopen before very late August, and I'd be surprised if you get a table even then. But only they can tell.

      5 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        I didn't care for Legendre either at Taillevent or Le Cinq. I liked Briffard at the Relais Plaza and L'Elysees but have been disappointed at Le Cinq. But then I'm just a client, not a food professional nor a friend of Briffard or any other chef. Soigne refers to clientele and ambiance as well as food.

        1. re: souphie

          Re; "In my experience, there just is no point in taking something else than the lunch menu"
          Granted, I've only had the lunch menu once, but while excellent in itself and in terms of price/quality ratio, it seemed like there may be less impressive Briffard action there. I mean, what's really fantastic about him is the way he puts 100 ingredients together in one plate, and make it taste perfectly natural, with every taste still being well-defined, and it looked like the lunch menu did not demonstrate this skill as well as the other options.
          But that was lunch menu in november 2008 vs. the real good meals (off the more expensive menu and a la carte) taking place one year later.

          1. re: souphie

            Souphie, I've read a lot of your posts lately and enjoyed them. I'll be in Paris for a few days in April, and although I lived for years in Paris and was at one time a frequent CH poster on its restaurants, it is shocking (to me) that it is now nearly 4 years since I last had a meal there and I feel a bit at sea.

            Anyway, one of my nights is a Sunday, and I have never been to the Bristol, and yet have aways wanted to try Frechon's food -- price is not really an object given my limited time in Paris. But while I want to try Frechon's food, I also want every meal to be great.

            So -- if you could spend 500E pp, and you were hesitating between Le Bristol and Le Cinq (as you posit above), which way would you jump? Or would you jump for La Grande Cascade, which I've seen you praise considerably on these boards? Or some other Sunday thing! Thanks!

            1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

              Dudette, that's a tough one. If price was no object, I would go back to le Bristol and eat ALC -- sweetbread and chicken for instance. I would also go to Le Cinq, and also have their extraordinary chicken, and kidneys if they have them. And La Grande Cascade rocks too, and is less expensive. Foodwise, I'd say Le Cinq has the best chef, La Granda Cascade the most perfect execution, and Le Bristol feels very luxurious. There's the setting too. La Grande Cascade is in the woods and there is a lot of room. Le Bristol has the oval wooden dining room that used to be a theater in the winter, and the veranda in the summer, in their garden. Le Cinq has the best service. The palaces have the best wine lists, but they're different in that regard, though I'm not sure I know how to explain this. If that means something to you, Le Bristol is Senderens-inspired, while Le Cinq is much more Robuchon-inspired, in terms of wine.

              1. re: souphie

                Souphie -- you are not making my choices easier -- just making me wish I had more days and a bigger stomach. I'm leaning to le bristol and ALC -- will let you know how it turns out.