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Mar 8, 2011 07:09 PM

Upcoming Trip, 2 and 3 Star Advice Please...Le Meurice and Arpege Lunch?

I'm heading to Paris in May for at least a week, maybe more, and I am about to make some reservations. I've been to Paris quite a few times and I love L'Astrance (possibly my favorite restaurant in the world) and Pierre Gagnaire (though last time he was not there, and I wasn't as blown away, or maybe the novelty is wearing off a bit?). I plan on returning to both of these for lunch (assuming I can get in to L'Astrance). I am probably traveling solo, and I actually prefer the lunch experience when I am alone, both in terms of value and experience.

I would appreciate advice on choosing my third 2 or 3 star. I like Le Cinq a lot, and think their lunch is an extraordinary value, but I have never been to Arpege or to Le Meurice. What types of prix-fixe experiences do these two offer for lunch compared to say Le Cinq or Guy Savoy or Ledoyen (which I thoroughly enjoyed, though I generally prefer a little more contemporary setting and feel)? I have avoided Arpege before due to all the talk of vegetarianism, which is not my thing at all; though I understand this is not accurate?

On a more general philosophical note, I wonder if I need to return to L'Astrance and Gagnaire; I love them, but I have been many times to each, most recently 6 months ago to L'Astrance. Maybe I should drop one or both of them in order to enjoy a completely new experience?

Thanks for the help.

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  1. Have not been to Le Meurice, but Arpege was a disappointment for me. While most of this board raved about it, there were huge service gaffs ( e.g. sat for 20 minutes before anyone even approached us, waited again 30 minutes for wine to be brought). Went for 'bargain' lunch, one or two veg dishes were stellar, no protein was brought at all. If to do again would not do bargain lunch, but real lunch.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      If you're not wild about vegetables, don't go to l'Arpege at lunch.

    2. Glad to see the top restaurants are back in the discussion.

      Should you return to the places you love? I don't know but I think this is how we found out how much you love them. At least that's how my wife thinks.

      Prix fixe at Le Meurice is subpar. Now, it lets you appreciate the exceptional service and setting (especially since you're alone). But the food is not great, and there's not much of it (lets you enjoy some great dessert, though, as the pastry chef is one of the best in town).

      Arpège is vegetable centered, even when you end up having some fish and fowl and sweetbread and cheese at the end of the meal. The lunch deal value is not that great (except for friends of the house, who pay close to nothing for the whole tasting). It is a pretty unique restaurant and unique chef, and is sometimes wonderful. However, ingredients as well as cooking are not always what they should be. L'Arpège actually functions like a jazz band improvising -- there are quaks and there are bad days, but when it works, it's pure magic. And it's the only three stars that is so casual, feels so relaxed and simple.

      At both le Meurice and l'Arpège, you'll indeed have a better experience going ALC of tasting menu (which you can do for lunch of course, but then there's no value). Unlike Savoy, Le CInq or Ledoyen that do not offer much more in tasting menus than in the lunch deal (some ALC dishes at Le Cinq though, like the chicken, are pretty awesome. And don't get me started on Ledoyen's noodle castle or eel).

      8 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        As usual, your thoughts are illuminating and well appreciated. I have ruled out l'Arpege, and I am still thinking about Le Meurice; I am tempted to return to Le Cinq, though I am leaning towards trying something new (Le Meurice).

        Are there other options that are more like Le Cinq, Guy Savoy, or Ledoyen in terms of food quality for a lunch menu experience, all of which I have enjoyed very much?

        1. re: fishskis

          Lasserre, La Grande Cascade. No Table de JR no more, alas.

        2. re: souphie

          >> The lunch deal value is not that great

          this is contrary to what i've read -- could you elaborate?

          i've only done dinner ALC -- which i loved, but had become convinced that lunch tasting was the way to go on future visits.

          1. re: Dustin_E

            About le Meurice? Well, just try them. Le Meurice and Le Bristol have very sub par lunch menus, they're not really playing the game of the lunch menu, unlike Ledoyen, Savoy, or Le Cinq. Their lunches are actually very business-oriented: light, kind of bland, perfect for those who mostly want to sit in a prestigious place and not be distracted by the food. ALC (or regular prixfixe) and lunch menus are like two different restaurants.

            1. re: souphie

              i'm sorry i was unclear. I meant L'Arpege -- i was wondering why you thought the lunch menu at L'Arpege was not a great value?

              i've never been to le Meurice, but I'll take your word for it and only go there for dinner. thanks.

              1. re: Dustin_E

                No, I actually think lunch menu at l'Arpège is a good way to go. There are great experiences and disapoiting ones to be had at l'Arpège, but it doesn't seem to depend on how much you spend. And they're never good value anyway, be it 300+ for a tasting menu or 130€ for a few vegetables and a hint of animal protein.

                1. re: souphie

                  Do you have an opinion on the wine pairing with the l'arpege lunch menu? I usually don't drink with my fancy meals, but a friend of mine said it was really fantastic.

                  1. re: Dustin_E

                    I agree with your friend. In fact wine is for me (the teetotaler!) the main reason to go to Astrance.