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Paris - innovative - moderately priced?

I've searched, but not yet found a previous post that specifically addresses what I'm looking for:

A restaurant in Paris where I can have dinner at a moderate price, say, under 50 euros including a single glass of wine and no other beverage, and where the emphasis is on innovation more than traditional cooking done extremely well. And since this is for next weekend, it also can't be one of those places that requires reservations months in advance.

From what I've read, Ze Kitchen Galerie or KGB sound like just what I'm seeking, if I could take advantage of the lunch "menu." But I've read here that both are a la carte and expensive at night. ZKG's web site recently implied that their "discovery menu" (about 36 euro if I recall correctly) was available for both lunch and dinner. I emailed them to ask about this, and their prompt reply confirmed unambiguously that it is available for both seatings. However, now their web site lists only a 80 euro "tasting menu." So if someone could confirm that the 36 euro menu for dinner is still an option, that's one place I'd go. Spring also looks interesting, but does not meet my budget or reservability restrictions.

In the past, the place that has so far been the best fit for what I'm seeking has been L'Affriole, almost next door to the revered Chez l'Ami Jean. In June I had one of the most amazing dining experiences of my life there, as has generally been the case on each of four different visits. But admittedly, my friends' main courses were not nearly so spectacular this time. Because I've been to L'Affriole 4 times already and only have two evenings in Paris on this trip, I'd rather spend both evenings broadening my horizons.

Other standouts from my previous experiences in Paris include La Regalade (the old one, once under Camdeborde and once more recently), L'Os a Moelle, Chez l'Ami Jean, whatever Eric Frechon's debut restaurant was called, and I also fondly remember a couple of wonderful meals at Philippe Detourbe, which has been closed for some time. But among these, the only ones that were as innovative as L'Affriole were Detourbe and Frechon (who is now well beyond my budget).

What advice would you offer given the guidance above?

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  1. Le Chateaubriand - menu is approx €45 for 5 courses. It is a chefs restaurant (like Mugaritz in Spain) hence its 11th place in the "Worlds Top 50 list", often too innovative for many people and like all chefs who are at the leading edge he occasionally falls off. But at €45 I don't see it as a big risk. If you can't get into the first sitting I believe you can turn up at about 9:00 and put your name down.

    I personally don't ZKG that innovative, OK is is different for Paris, but for me it is quite routine east/west fusion i.e. fairly standard dishes with Asian herbs/spices.

    Here are some of good Chateaubrian blogs which gives you an idea of the style of food:

    1. Is Le Bistral too edgy for you? http://www.lebistral.com/Bistral_Body...

      Our single meal there was very good. It is a tiny and cramped room, but service was attentive and the plates were original and delicious.


      1. I agree that Ze, KGB, MBC (and by others Chateaubriand) are innovative but out of your price-range at night.
        Jadis is creative in a retro way, I think Le 122 is inventive in a forward way (but it generates no support here) and if you liked Bruno D at the old Regalade, I think you'll find the new one on StH much to your liking.
        I suggest you break your lunch or non-innovative taboo.

        2 Replies
        1. re: John Talbott

          Oh, it's not a non-innovative taboo. I've enjoyed traditional meals a number of times, but this time I'm more in the mood for innovative. Unfortunately I'll only have Saturday lunch on this brief visit, and will probably be to busy at the Centre Pompidou to take a couple of hours for lunch.

          Le Chateaubriand looks good, though it might stretch my budget just a bit with a glass of wine included. I can't quite tell about Le Bistral from their web site. Jadis definitely looks good. I'm thinking that one might be one of my choices. I had also considered the new La Regalade, and have not written it off yet for this trip.

          1. re: beauxeault

            Sigh. The old Affriolé. This thread brings back fond memories.

            Just dined at La Régalade SH and had a starter that evoked shades of the old Affriolé, with the light touch, the surprising aromaties. In fact it was foie gras but the preparation managed to make it taste light (!) Il faut le faire. The rest of the dinner was more traditional bistro, but doesn't mean it wasn't good! It was very good.

        2. The place you are describing sounds exactly like Carte Blanche on Rue Lamartine...innovative, under €50.

          The Parigi's and I enjoyed it last spring and will again this fall.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Laidback

            Interesting. We really wanted/expected to love Carte Blanche. However, we found the flavors scattered, not concentrated enough to get a handle on the chef' intended statement. We left without enough interest to return.

            1. re: mangeur

              I initially loved it (Carte Blanche) but took friends and we all we disappointed.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Since you insist: (here are the first ones from elsewhere, no such record of the last):
                  Nov 05 7.5 - Wow, Carte Blanche, 6, rue Lamartine in the 9th,, closed Saturday lunch and Sundays, far exceeded my expectations even after Demorand, Simon and Rubin had elevated them (the front man is ex-Gagnaire; the cook ex-Beauvilliers). It’s one more terrific destination (along with Chez Jean + Georgette) in this former culinary waste-land north east of Notre Dame de Lorette.) It looks ordinary enough, but the ardoise suggests a bit of talent and some “stretch.” It has about six firsts, mains and desserts and 20 wines (running 21-60 E). You get two dishes for 25 and three for 31 E. My French companion and I went for three and three, despite her reluctance to do dessert (she didn’t leave a smidgen). The firsts we chose were unlike anything I’d seen before; a ring (called a declinasion) of slightly warmed celery stuff and chips of what (apple maybe) and microtomed raw scallops set on a bed of granny smiths and mangoes; followed by two spectacular dishes; confited pork, almost sausage-like, in a casserole of fall veggies and a rollatine of veal with veal kidney inside and “smoked” mashed potatoes; finished by a “moelleux” of caramel on top of chocolate and huge “bonbons” of rolled chocolate in a crusty wrap. And the coffee was terrific. If you go, ignore the names, it’s a bit like l’Angl Opera, the names are just there to confuse you. I will give this place until Christmas until the dreaded “tourists” discover it and there it goes, prices, reservations and language – but until the guidebooks appear – enjoy it! Oh yah, the bill, how does 86 E for two sound to you? (Boy, I’m going to get in trouble for this, but my meal the day before at the Meurice, while scoring at 8, of a langoustine/mussel soup a la Detourbe, an extra dish of scallops/shrimp with a fluffy mousse, St Pierre with lentils and a dessert of mango three ways, was fine, but nowhere near as interesting, imaginative, or challenging as here; and compared to 112 E for one at le M., the difference in the price/quality ratio of these two places is astounding).
                  Jan 06 I must also report that Chez les Anges, Mon Vieil Ami, Carte Blanche, Thierry Burlot, Pinxo + Le Tяuc held up to my last visits, indeed TB is better than ever.)
                  Nov 07 My pal Atan (the "awesome") and I ate there again today and it is holding up very well indeed. Not at a level of Ze but pretty darn close. And to be able to walk there during the strike and get out for under 100 E a couple is nifty.

          2. I was going to recommend La Folle Avoine, located at 91 Rue de la Grenelle, but the restaurant's link ( http://www.lafolleavoine.fr/NosFormul... ) does not appear to be working right now. The link was working when I recommended the restaurant on this Board in February 2010, and when I recommended the restaurant to some friends last fall.

            Did La Folle Avoine go out of business? I hope not. My dinner at La Folle Avoine was the best moderately-priced dining experience I have had in Paris!

            6 Replies
              1. re: beauxeault

                Nice looking menu; and at those prices, a real bargain given the tony area.

                1. re: beauxeault

                  Thanks for posting the new link! I'm happy to learn they are still in business and that they just changed their website address.

                2. re: phoenikia

                  Interesting: I ate there in 2008 and gave it a 5.5 saying it had "No pretensions, no frou-frou, just good chow and great service." but I never have been back. Too many opportunities I guess. http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    John Talbott,
                    Your comments in 2008 are what led me to add La Folle Avoine to my shortlist. One of the reasons I tried La Folle Avoine was that it was still open in the middle of August, when several of the other restaurants on my shortlist were closed.

                    I was very happy that I had done some research before that trip. The meal at La Folle Avoine was much bettter than the other meals I had in the 3 course prix fixe for 30 EU pricepoint.

                3. Claude Colliot, on rue des Blancs-Manteaux.
                  Le Châteaubriand.
                  Gilles Choukroun's MBC, rue du Débarcadère, 17e (Porte Maillot).

                  And not much else IMO as really interesting "innovative" goes in Paris.
                  Totally agree with PhilD about Ze Kitchen Galerie.
                  Slightly less innovation-oriented but still fitting the bill, Le Pré Verre (rue Thénard), Le Bistral indeed, Carte Blanche I went once and liked it, without much of an impulse to go back. Spring of course!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ptipois

                    MBC looks interesting, and is just around the corner from my hotel (unfortunately). It seems to exceed my budget in the evening, but I found a promotion for an evening 3-course menu at 35 euros by reserving via lafourchette.com . Others report success with the lunch menu, so I hope the dinner menu will not be too far off from the A la carte experience. Or am I deluding myself?

                    1. re: beauxeault

                      I don't know. I've only been at lunch and only several times.

                  2. Herewith are this year's results:

                    Methodology: The numbers below represent a ratio of my rating(s) of a resto on a scale of 0-10 divided by the price per couple of a luncheon(s); higher is better, lower is a worse deal.

                    Warning/beware/attention: Price/Quality Qualité/Prix all depends. For example December 10th, a good eating pal and I ate at Monsieur le Prince in the 6th. Now, were we calculating the bill as my Mother and her crowd did at Schrafft’s in the 1950’s, instead of a bill of 88 E in a restaurant I rated as a 5.2, earning it only a 59 on the prix/qualité index, his meal at 23 E would merit a 113 and mine a paltry 04. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” indeed.

                    Of my top 11 new places:
                    92 Jeanne A.
                    81 Les Grandes Tables du 104, aka Street Food
                    80 Saturne
                    75.5 Mini Palais
                    74 L’Agape
                    73 La Regalade St Honore
                    69 Concert de la Cuisine
                    68 Spring
                    67 Moustache
                    (63 Chez La Vieille – Adrienne – which exists differently today)
                    57.5 La Regalade (original)

                    The next 12:
                    79 Philou
                    78 Le Pavillion du Lac
                    77 L’Agrume
                    76.6 Chez Grenouille
                    74 Casse Noix
                    61 Villa Victoria
                    60 Chalbens & Tico
                    58.5 Bistro Volnay
                    50.6 Chez Georges
                    45 Desserier
                    41 l’Agape Bistro
                    A few more (both outliers) thrown in for fun:
                    126 – l’Alcove – best deal of the year – rated 5.3 but only costing 42 E a couple
                    26 – La Tour d’Argent – worst bargain of the year – 5.5 costing 208 E a couple
                    And the 13 Golden Oldies where we still eat:
                    107 Astier
                    100 Le Repaire de Cartouche
                    95.23 Frenchie
                    91.8 Le Marcab
                    82 MBC + l’Agape
                    77.7 Bistro Paul Bert
                    74.6 Ze Kitchen Galerie
                    69 Fines Gueules
                    67.3 Le Gaigne
                    65.5 Le 122
                    64.8 Rech

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: John Talbott

                      Great list. I'm confused with one part, though. L'Agape is rated as 74 in your "top 11 new places" but also as 82 in your list of "Golden Oldies". Is this due to a more expensive recent meal?

                      1. re: Nancy S.

                        Exactly.- this year was after whatshisname left.

                    2. "I also fondly remember a couple of wonderful meals at Philippe Detourbe, which has been closed for some time."
                      Interesting update beauxeault, Detourbe has resurfaced in of all places, Yerres, on the grounds of the Caillebotte Museum/Property/Family Estate where there is a simply spectacular exhibition of Caillebotte's of the Park and River (until July 20).
                      So his new (2008, but I only figured it out this week) place is in my small opinion, not up to his prior places in the city, but do go to the Caillebotte and dine as well.