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Paris in January: your advice?

My wife and I are coming to Paris for 6 days in January for a special birthday -- mine! We are foodies/wine geeks from Napa and devoted art museum goers ready for serious cultural tourism. Our preferred rhythm is to do one real restaurant meal per day (often at lunch, but can be dinner) and then find some bar food/wine bar for a lighter meal on that same day. So, your help would be most appreciated.

* If we go to just one of the Michelin 2-3 star type places, which do you recommend? Heard good things about Le Cinq. Went to Michel Rostang on a previous visit and enjoyed it. Still good? Never been to Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee. Loved l'Atelier Joel Robuchon in New York and Las Vegas. Have admired Le Grand Vefour from the exterior. If you have one to chose from these and all others, what would it be?

* For wine bars, we're collecting a good list from Departures magazine. Are there any "must" places we should visit? Do we need reservations for these wine bars or can we drop in?

* Cocktails? Any hotel bars we shouldn't miss or other cocktail bars worth a detour?

Our goal is to have a sanely paced, well edited eating experience rather than try every place in Paris. Your advice is most appreciated!

Thanks.

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  1. 'rather than try every place in Paris"

    Oh, lovey, I should live so long!

    11 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      Le Cinq for the lunch menu for sure. I like it much better than Rostang. I think it's the best value for delicious food, fantastic service, and a lovely room.

      1. re: plafield

        How much is lunch these days? Michelin says 78, but recent posters have suggested 85. Not that 8E buys much these days (half a glass of wine?).

        1. re: mr_gimlet

          78, and 90 with cheese and it is all very good. Be careful of the fancy water that adds a lot to the cost. Had my wife not immediately said "yes please!" before I could stop her, I would have declined it. The wine pairings by the glass were expensive as you would expect in a place of this calibre. I can't remember exactly how much but our wine cost quite a bit more than our food - we are boozy Australians though, so more sophisticated folk of Napa may be more restrained (on quantity if not quality).

          1. re: panaroma

            cheers for those insights

            mrs_g is also a boozy australian, but hopefully not on this occasion - did you order by the glass or get a bottle? As a side note, with the current exchange rates a meal in Europe is coming in a bit less than the equivalent in Melbourne so we're not holding back this year

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              We ordered by the glass (on Smr's recommendations) and I think our wine came to about 250 Euro. Pink bubbles (Lanson '99 - yum); Sancerre (great - can't recall the maker); an interesting oxidised (but not fortified) style wine (?! not my bag) with the foie gras ravioles; Nuits St George Burgundy (v.good but not spectacular - the table next to us also had it) and a CN de P (superb). All in all this meal was wonderful, and for the food, about the same as I paid at Cumulus last time in Melb!

            2. re: panaroma

              Actually, the lunch deal at Le Cinq just got significantly more expensive, going from 78 to 82. It was 85 before the VAT on restaurants in France was lowered but when it was, they changed the price accordingly.

              Also, not to push anyone to spend money, but those days, they have the pithiviers (or game pie), which is a monument, and they do a gauloise blanche with white truffle that won't cost you much more than one year of college, and is a wonder.

              1. re: souphie

                Thanks very much. Le Cinq at lunch it will be. Do I need to wear a tie?

                Also, do you recommend for or against l'ami Louis? I've been reading about it's fois gras, escargot, chicken, frites, etc for years but have never been. Should I make room for a visit?

                Lastly, to the boozy Australians, I envy your exchange rate and have no self discipline as to ordering quantities of wine. Perhaps my wife will carry a currency conversion table to help keep me in line!

                1. re: cortez

                  l may be alone with this opinion, but my meal at L'Ami Louis 2 weeks ago was the finest of my 6 week trip in Paris and France. The escargots, the mutton chop and the cotes du boeuf for two with potato galette, instead of the frites reached perfection as always. Sorry, find the chicken a bit dry and overcooked, Souphie's chicken is far better. But that is a very tough res.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I'm with DCM, L'Ami Louis has great food. They're kind and attentionate like Tony Soprano, the prices are equally friendly (but they're not unfair considering the quality and quantity they serve - any course actually serves four), but they probably have some of the best food in town, for those who are interested in huge quantities of wonderful ingredients. Not everybody is. In fact, most people aren't. Some like top ingredients (and, by the way, where can they go today?), some like lots of food (and Denise can do), but few appreciate both.

                    Chicken at Souphie's is not that tough a res, come on.

                    1. re: souphie

                      " They're kind and attentionate like Tony Soprano"

                      As though YOU were Tony Soprano? Or as though they were TS? Big diff, you know.

                  2. re: cortez

                    Le Cinq will require a jacket, its up to you if you wear a tie - I would suggest you take one and you can put it in a pocket if you feel overdressed

        2. <* For wine bars, we're collecting a good list from Departures magazine. Are there any "must" places we should visit? Do we need reservations for these wine bars or can we drop in?>

          From my experience, wine bars are drop in places if you want to sit at the bar. For a table, it is either/or. As always, to ensure yourself a seat anywhere, calling ahead (if only on your cell as you approach the door) is always a good idea.

          If you are a Napa wineaux, you are sure to appreciate the breadth of the selections at Willi's. It's one of the few places where you can get a glass of wine that is not French, should you so desire.

          1. I am a fan of Prescription Cocktail Club in the 2nd. Quite near Frenchie, so would be great for a pre-dinner drink (assuming you want to go to Frenchie, and can get a reservation).