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Oct 28, 2010 09:52 AM

Sunday b'day dinner for Vegetarian boyfriend

I know that sounds like a trick question...but I'm seeking a restaurant that would be able to cater to my vegetarian boyfriend this Sunday night. We will be a party of 4.

He eats cheese and egg and doesn't mind if others are eating meat all around him, but he doesn't eat fish. As NYers we appreciate excellent quality food and ambiance. Our preference is not fancy classic French, we are open to funky, new-wave French, other cuisines too.

Friends had recommended La Derrière. If we can't get in here, where else would you send us?

Spots we've enjoyed are: Le Timbre, Glou, Briezh Cafe, Bob's Kitchen, Rose Bakery, etc.

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  1. If you search using the open window above with the word "vegetarian," you would find about a dozen discussions on questions about restaurants in Paris vegetarians might enjoy. After you check these out you might refine your inquiry by asking some specifics about restaurants of interest. That should entice responses or maybe you will have learned all you want to know.

    1. This happy carnivore has no recommendation except for Krishna Bhavan and Tien Hiang, neither of which is French.
      But I respect your boyfriend for being the first real vegetarian on this board - well, indireclty. All the others are "vegetarians" who eat chicken, beef "sometimes".

      14 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        People who eat chicken and call themselves vegetarians? I wonder why they would do that... Is there a snob appeal to wrongly calling oneself "vegetarian"?

        1. re: menton1

          I can't agree more. As I said, it's like saying you're hetero except wednesday night.

          1. re: Parigi

            It is so good to get a real veggo asking for recommendations in Paris.

            I know Parigi's point was a little "tongue in cheek" but all too often we see people labeling themselves vegitarian when they eat chicken or fish. Not eating red meat is fussy eating it isn't vegitarianism.

            It is also really easy to eat fish or chicken in Paris you don't need a special recommendation for that, however vegitarianism in Paris is far from easy, and posters confusing the question by mis-labelling themselves is far from helpful. Paris (France) is isn't a Vegitarian friendly country and it is tricky to find good restaurants that deliver genuiine vegitarian food.

            Yes many places serve lots of vegtable dishes but many have meat based stocks to give them body so a no-no for someone with vegitarian beliefs (religous) and/or principles or ethics. For example I know L'Arpége does great things with vegetables but are these vegetarian dishes? It is interesting that some of the more reliable (mid level) vegetarian friendly places like Maceo and Fish La Boissonnerie are foreign owned; does anyone know of any French, French restaurants doing the same?

            I am a happy omnivore so Paris is a garden of delights for me, but I have sympathy for the veggo foodies who struggle to find a decent feed in such a wonderful city.

            1. re: PhilD

              Yes-- we're finding it to be very difficult. Just came from dinner at Quai Quai tonight. My veg boyfriend explained he was a vegetarian (clarified no meat, chicken, fish, etc) and ordered the lentils with poached egg followed by a vegetarian main plat (the waiter said the chef would put something together). The lentils arrived with huge chunks of bacon and the special vegetarian plat was a mound of the side veggies that came with my fish.

              It baffled us that the waiter could fail to mention the bacon, also that there are no additional vegetables on hand in the kitchen to make up an inventive main without meat.

              We live in NYC where we find vegetarian main courses on the menus of every restaurant we go to (and we do not limit ourselves to hippie macrobiotic or ethnic spots). I'm not trying to be the ugly american who wishes for everything to be the same as "at home" but I'm surprised to find so few options for "veggo foodies" as PhilD so aptly puts it.

              Any recommendations would be welcome...even if we can't visit them on this trip, it'll at least make another trip to Paris a possibility for us.

              1. re: syb

                But are you ready to make the sacrifice of going to a vegetarian resto - such as the 2, both non-French - that I had recommended?
                Either all of you eat veg in one of those exclusively veg restaurants, or your boyfriend risks those risks that we have been telling posters nearly every day.

                If you don't want to give up meat yet want him to come along to your restos, you have to accept that French cuisine uses meat broth right and left, not that restaurateur tries to cheat you really. Wanting things to be otherwise is to want French cuisine not to be French cuisine.

                I do respect real, not the chicken-chomping - vegetarians. In France the safe thing is for them to go to a vegetarian resto. They can't expect a meat resto to be veg-friendly, no more than one can expect a veg resto to be meat-friendly.

                1. re: Parigi

                  "In France the safe thing is for them to go to a vegetarian resto. They can't expect a meat resto to be veg-friendly, no more than one can expect a veg resto to be meat-friendly."

                  Yes. In fact, I misinterpreted the OP's question, reading that she was looking for a venue that reflected the preferences of the BF.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    I'm willing to make the sacrifice but didn't think I had to, that's all. I'm not used to vegetarians being relegated to their own category of restaurant, never to dine in a "normal" establishment. I wonder if the day will come when omnivores and vegetarians can dine side by side (as equals) in the same spot in Paris? Places like Rose Bakery (granted, an English import) and Breizh suggest this might be in the cards.

                    I have lots of respect for the French culinary culture and would never suspect a chef of trying to cheat a diner. That said, I was surprised the waiter at Quai Quai didn't mention the bacon when he knew he was dealing with a vegetarian. My boyfriend is veg for ethical reasons-- he doesn't suffer from an allergy-- but imagine if he did. I don't believe the waiter was motivated by malice, he was just oblivious.

                    Thanks for your suggestions, I've noted them for future visits. And feel free to suggest some of your favorite places for when I come back for a girls trip with my omnivore girlfriends!

                  2. re: syb

                    Do try "Fish" at 69 rue de Seine 6eme. It is a wine bar not a fish restaurant and the veggie dishes are clearly labelled with a "v". Good French based modern cooking in a casual atmosphere. It can be a little "anglo" however there is quite a strong "bobo" presence especially later in the evening.

                  3. re: PhilD

                    We wanted to go to L'Arpege on this visit but it's closed for "maintenance". Do they really use meat stocks? Say it isn't so! I have veg friends in NY who raved about L'Arpege and would be really upset to find out. Can you confirm this is true?

                    1. re: syb

                      "Do they really use meat stocks?" - I don't know the answer, I am very confident L'Arpége doesn't, given their focus on flavour and incredibly high standards. Here is a good review: http://avegetariangourmand.blogspot.c...

                      However, in France, it is a big assumption that a vegetable dish is a vegetarian dish, and therefore it is a sensible question to ask especially in restaurants that don't have the pedigree and dedication of L'Arpége.

                      1. re: syb

                        They don't use meat stocks -- it's way too much work. They do make very ample use of butter, though.

                        1. re: souphie

                          A few chefs mentioned to me that they would make a meat carcass-based broth on spec, before their menu was even fully planned out.
                          It is not that time-consuming. You can have a basic broth ready - with carcass carrot onion turnip - in 30 minutes. Soup, your carcass goes directly to Vegas; maybe that's why you have less vécu with this.

                          However, Soup being Soup and me being me, Soup must have met more chefs than I have fingers and toes.

                          1. re: souphie

                            One would hope it isn't too much work to use meat stocks and demi-glaze in meat dishes though - after all it is a 3 star. But it is good to have confirmation the veggie dishes are pure.

                            And in some respects that is the problem for vegetarians in other restaurants, if the restaurant has invested the time and effort in making a rich, intense stock, it is quite tempting to boost a vegetable dish or a soup with a little to give more body and depth of flavour.

                            1. re: PhilD

                              I'm no chef, but stocks and fonds are in play in my kitchen daily. Once hooked...

                  1. re: mangeur

                    Thanks for the ideas...part of the reason why I posted is because i've searched "vegetarian" already. I try to list the types of places I like in hopes someone will relate to my taste/aesthetic and be able to suggest other ideas based on my preferences.

                    We are at home in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 10th (or downtown nyc) and enjoy funky design places with food that isn't strictly vegetarian (I adore fish and would like to eat it even if he won't!) While we enjoy haute cuisine every now and then, we're more casual and not looking for the "typical" parisian formal experience.

                    Hoping additional info helps!

                  2. Syb, I think you have a tricky combination of veg, Sunday and funky/new wave.
                    My best suggestion is Maceo which isn't staid i.e. a favourite with the fashion cognoscenti at show time (but not new wave food), isn't open on Sunday, but does have a real veg menu that is a feature rather than leftover veggies or the pasta of the day. The other menus on offer have plenty of meat and fish so all can be happy. For the style and quality of the place it is good value. Here is their current veg menu:

                    Asperges en velouté glacé & en tartare ou
                    Bouquet de légumes printanier, semoule couscous ou
                    Caviar d'aubergines, graines germées aromatiques & chèvre moelleux
                    Riz Arborio cuisiné aux morilles fraîches & parmesan ou
                    Petit bouillon 'asperges - artichauts', polenta grillée ou
                    Fine brioche, légumes confits & betteraves & Ossau Iraty
                    Fromages & Desserts

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: PhilD

                      Thanks for the wonderful suggestion, we'll try it another night. It is a pity we've hit the trifecta of Sunday/B'day/Veg. But since that can not be changed, the question remains, where should we go?

                      I've done some more research, perhaps you can help me choose between these:
                      - Bouillon Racine
                      - Glou
                      - La Derriere (is the food any good here or is it all just a scene?)

                      ...or suggest another spot that might be open tomorrow night.

                      Would also love a suggestion for a good bar to have a drink at. We're not smokers so we don't need to sit outside on the street somewhere.

                      1. re: syb

                        Serving inoffensive but unmemorable food, the Derriere is overpriced for what it is. You're not a smoker, but along with the ping pong table, the smoking room there is one of the few remarkable things there.

                        For a drink, and fashionable/beautiful/hip people watching you could try the La Perle in the 4th, on the street of the same name.

                        1. re: vielleanglaise

                          Thanks for your honest assessment, I'll adjust my expectations accordingly. And maybe pickup smoking and ping pong... I will report back!

                          1. re: syb

                            Le Derrière was perfectly described by vielleanglaise. The food is indeed inoffensive and unmemorable but let's say I've had worse. The fun atmosphere and boho people-watching kept us sufficiently distracted from our meals. The party of 6 next to us spent more time in the smoking room than at the table...I guess that's the best way of enjoying it.

                            Well I'm back in NY now, with a longer list of veg friendly restaurants in Paris for my next trip. Thanks for all who made suggestions and feel free to contact me if I can be of help if you're ever in NYC.

                        1. re: menton1

                          Thanks for these links. I've already been relying heavily on David Leibowitz's site and suggestions (incl the veg link). The other two sites are a welcome addition. I was hoping there was some intelligence out there about "normal" restaurants that could accommodate vegetarians...

                          1. re: syb

                            If an avowed vegetarian simply asks that he not be served meat, fish or poultry, while not vetting that every ingredient in every dish is "meatless", he should be accommodated just about anywhere. The problem is with the kitchen mis available in a "normal" restaurant. Most would not have composed separate prep for strict vegetarians.

                            We, in fact, spent a week in Paris dining with a gentleman who ate nothing "that had ever had a face". Every kitchen provided him with interesting and delicious meatless plates. However, he was fooling himself to think that there were no meat products in his meals as he lapped up soups and sauces. .