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Nov 13, 2010 05:42 AM

Le Voltaire: what a disappointment!

I recently hosted a birthday dinner for a friend at Le Voltaire in Paris and I was greatly disapointed. I had eaten at Le Voltaire over the past 30 years always with the greatest of confidence of enjoying a consistently good classical French cuisine. Alas, nothing stays the same forever and Le Voltaire has not changed for the better. Gone is the dedicated, discrete and committed maitre d'hotel to be replaced by a simpering, fawning clown, who did nothing other than draw attention to himself. The food was French but the quality was gone. We started with a vertiable slab of foie gras, splat in the middle of a smallish plate with none of the traditional condiments. Champagne was served in a chilled small wine glass. The toast was rock hard and the rest of the bread was ordinary, a bit stale. I had tasteless quenelles with a sauce that had spent to long under the salamander. I bowl of MacDonalds style chips was plunked in the middle of the table but these were definitely not potatoe but that ubiquitous starch mixture in chip form. I had a bland and unattractive assortment of vegetables garnished with a single cherry tomatoe. My companions also had fish which was eaten and proclaimed 'o.k.' but the comfort factor of tradition, quality and the utmost commitment to the enjoyment of the guest was absent. Horrendously expensive. I won't be back as there are better options in Paris. Good-bye Le Voltaire.

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  1. simpering? fawning clown? splat? plunked?
    Does not sound like an objective report.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi

      ....its in line with all their other comments.

    2. So sorry to hear of your disappointment after 30 years of satisfaction. Le Voltaire has always been favorably reviewed by Oakglen, a CH favorite. I think Fran├žois Simon also gave it a decent write up this year, but after your experience I will await further feedbackbefore going, thanks. Have you been recently, Oak?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Laidback

        Laidback, I haven't been back to Le Voltaire recently, but Parisian friends still use it for business meetings; no complaints that I have heard. It's one of a number of restaurants that rely on locals on expense accounts (government types, antique dealers etc). I'm sure regulars get preferential treatment; and I am equally sure that the place would fold if the above review could be believed.

      2. I dined at Le Voltaire for the first time for lunch as a guest of a colleague at the end of September. It has a club like atmosphere and the food was classic French. We shared a piece de boeuf for two. My colleague was clearly known and service and food were fine. The restaurant was not full. Tables are close together so I was thankful for the no smoking regulation. The experience was not memorable.

        1. Had a great lunch there last Saturday.
          Service was excellent and friendly.
          Lunch consisted of hareng a l'huile, sandre souffle (outstanding) and entrecote.
          Wine was good and reasonably priced.
          Hard to understand the complaints.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jehflyer

            Does anyone here give prices anymore whether it's great or dreadful?

            1. re: John Talbott

              i concur. giving prices is of utmost importance. it helps to decipher value, especially with euros ;)

            2. re: jehflyer

              I just finished reading Lobrano's re-edited book "Hungry For Paris", he too had kind words for Le Voltaire, althought he called it "a bistro wearing Mary Janes". I am clueless about that. Lobrano also had positive words about Brasserie Balzar; imagine that, a respected critic saying good things about a brasserie! Ok, so it it isn't what it was, back in the day, but neither are we. A good read; highly recommended.

              1. re: Oakglen

                So Oak, reading between the lines tells all.

            3. For me, it's always been rude, expensive and touristy. No surprise there.