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May 10, 2011 04:37 AM

Paris weekend with pregnant wife

Yes, it's yet another "where should I eat in Paris" thread. Apologies in advance...!

My wife and I will be in Paris for Saturday, Sunday and Monday night at the end of May. I've been searching around the forum trying to put together a restaurant plan, but obviously the days we're there makes things a little difficult. Added to this is the fact that my wife will be 25 weeks pregnant or thereabouts, and our menu options will be somewhat more limited.

Now, I know that pregnancy food rules in France don't necessarily mirror our own (Irish) views, so I'm a bit worried that many of the "so hot right now" places seem to offer a) limited or no choice menus (Spring, for example) and/or b) menus chock full of raw fish and paté. I have a feeling that this rules out some of the more popular restaurants at the moment. Would this be a fair assessment?

Anyway, at the moment I'm thinking
- Wherever we find for Saturday lunch (we'll be just off the plane, so I'm not inclined to book a specific time)
- Le Violon D'Ingres for Saturday dinner.
- Le Cinq for Sunday lunch.
- Some sort of wine bar or restaurant with light nibbles for Sunday evening (any recommendations?)

Monday is still open to ideas, and at the moment I'm thinking one of
- Regalade St Honoré
- Saturne
- Frenchie (in the highly unlikely event I can get a booking), or
- Ze Kitchen Galerie

Any thoughts? Is there anything I should change? Should I move Le Violon D'Ingres to Monday night and go somewhere else on Saturday that isn't open on Monday? I'd be grateful for your opinions.

PS I promise I'll report back afterwards!

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  1. For the sake of completeness of the thread I can report that we booked:
    - dinners at Le Violon d'Ingres and Regalade St Honoré
    - lunches at Ze Kitchen Galerie and Le Cinq.

    The only loose end remaining is where to go on Sunday evening for something light (post lunch at Le Cinq). As always, any recommendations gratefully received.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Diapason

      Honestly, do you really need to do a full on restaurant for the light meal? There are so many fine items to be had from vendors, you could snack forever. Even if you have a hotel, you could probably store a few in your mini bar fridge, if necessary, supposing you had bought them earlier. Just a thought. If the weather is right, more time to take in the city with a picnic of sorts and if you are spent, relax in your room. I will leave the choosing of that final restaurant to the search function and the much greater expertise of the other board regulars though what you have selected seem fine. This was the point on that other post, it was not so hard to make this list was it? Looks like you did a fair job of it, anyway.

    2. After reading your reply to another thread, I reread this thread just now.

      For Monday, Saturne is a good choice and it is not a gut-buster. And Saturne is one of very few good restos open Monday. I find its food consistently better than La Régalade SH.

      I agree with dietndesire that you don't need so many restaurants in such a short time. It does not sound enjoyable. One good restaurant meal a day is quite enough. The other meal can be a lighter fare like a picnic. Again, this point is purely about enjoyment and not about budget.
      I am not at all knowledgeable about Irish pregnency food rules so I cannot answer you in more detail. If you have food restrictions, do not go to Spring; it does not have much choice.
      And wherever you go, do as you would at home: tell your waiter about your food restrictions.
      And congratulations on your wife's pregnancy. Please report back.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        Thank you all. For the most part, we have indeed just booked one meal per day, the exception being the last day. I must admit, I've had the experience before of wandering round Paris trying to find somewhere good to eat, and I've found it tricky enough, so I like to be prepared before I go. That said, if 2 restaurant meals on Monday looks like too much I may reconsider. Some picnic time appeals to me, and maybe Ze could be dropped in favour of a baguette. To be honest, eating out is generally the highlight of our day, and we're not good at figuring out what to do in the evenings if we don't have a restaurant to go to! We've been to Paris enough times to have done the touristy stuff, this time we're concentrating on food while we still can pre-baby, hence the tendency to overload perhaps.

        I absolutely *don't* want a full-on meal after le Cinq, that's why I'm looking for other options. Is there a Paris equivalent to a tapas bar or something? The search function hasn't yielded many suggestions, especially given the Sunday night aspect. I had though Le Dauphin might be ideal, but it seems to be closed on Sundays. I'm happy enough to leave it to chance if nobody has any specific recommendations, but I just thought I'd throw out a feeler.

        Irish pregnancy rules are broadly the same as UK/US (no raw meat/fish, no raw eggs, no young unpasteurised cheese, etc) but I have been told that, for the most part, these "rules" don't really apply in France. I've also been told that it can be difficult to explain this sort of thing to French waiters if your French is limited (as ours is) and besides, we're not the sort of diners who expect the kitchen to go over and above the call of duty to cater for our whims, so if there isn't much choice on the menu I'd prefer to just avoid the restaurant. Thanks for confirming my suspicions about Spring. As I mentioned above, so many recent reviews of currently "hot" restaurants (both here and on John Talbott's blog) mention raw fish or other no-go areas. Obviously, we need to avoid that!

        Finally, thank you for responding. It was not my intention to ruffle feathers on the other thread, I had searched the forum and lurked for several weeks before posting, and I really wanted to avoid the "where should I eat in Paris" general question. That said, it genuinely is and was difficult to get a flavour for whether there's much menu choice suitable for pregnant women. A search for "pregnant" on the forum yielded very few results indeed! I genuinely appreciate the time taken to respond to this thread, and I also appreciate the multitude of posts and threads on this forum that helped me arrive at the list above.

        So, sincerely to all posters on the French board, thank you.

        1. re: Diapason

          My pregnant wife and I visited Paris, Lyon, and the Champagne area a few months ago. At this point, the baby has born and he's healthy -- keep this fact in mind as you keep reading.

          The super-cautious pregnancy dietary restrictions in the UK and US are not widely understood in France. Thank God. We didn't understand those dietary requirements either, which led to all sorts of mildly hostile interactions in American restaurants and stores whenever my wife dared to eat a piece of unpasteurized cheese, a drop of alcohol, or a sliver of pate. In our minds, moderation is key. We're not heavy duty boozers, but we like a glass of wine with dinner, so we didn't stop doing that from time to time. We are heavy duty cheese eaters, so there was no way we'd stop eating unpasteurized and blue cheeses. In France, nobody objected when we did these things. Further, I don't think most people in France would have even been able to understand our questions if we interrogated them on the ingredients of various dishes or asked for substitute ingredients. It would be a lesson in futility, frankly. My advice would be to eat these foods because they are wonderful, healthy, natural foods. If they were so risky to pregnant women, then I'd think we'd be hearing about the scores of French miscarriages. But we don't hear about that.

          1. re: glutton

            Glutton, I *completely* share your views, but the fact remains my wife is erring on the side of caution. She'll certainly be having the occasional glass of wine (we are Irish after all!), and while she may indeed have a bit of pate (or foie gras) I imagine she'll be reluctant to eat runny cheeses, for example. We both know the whole thing is probably ridiculous, but she's happy to make the sacrifices and I'm not going to push the issue. In any case, I know she'd feel uncomfortable eating a meal that was heavy in these ingredients, and that would spoil her enjoyment.

            All that said, I think the hysteria about listeria is ridiculous.

            1. re: Diapason

              The "issue" with cheese is pasteurization. Some runny cheeses are actually pasteurized. And some hard cheeses are unpasteurized. Parmagiano reggiano, for example, is unpasteurized, but I still see pregnant women eating it, blissfully ignorant. Silliness.

              If she's trying to avoid listeria, then I'd avoid restaurant cheese plates -- they know little about the cheese, their hygiene standards are often below a cheesemonger's, and you dot ave much control over what is served.

              1. re: glutton

                Actually, my understanding of it is that unpasteurised cheese is fine if it's aged long enough to kill the relevant nasties, so parmigiana and comte etc. are fine. I'm certainly intending to include the cheese trolley in lunch at le Cinq!

          2. re: Diapason

            "many recent reviews of currently "hot" restaurants (both here and on John Talbott's blog) mention raw fish or other no-go areas."

            The hot restaurants mentioned here and on JT's blog are not raw fish exclusive places, except for the sushi restos, which are easy to avoid (and which JT would not recommend over his dead body anyway). I think you are seeing what you want to see here and are helping yourself freak out. All the restaurants you mentioned may have raw fish once in a while but would not be serving you raw fish starter, raw fish main, raw fish dessert, their deliberately short, market-driven menu notwithstanding.
            In my memory:
            - Violon D'Ingres: no raw fish.
            - Le Cinq: : no raw fish (but I don't eat there every day :-) )
            - Regalade St Honoré: no raw fish.
            - Saturne: no raw fish.
            - Frenchie: no raw fish.
            - Ze Kitchen Galerie: maybe one sub-dish of something raw out of the extensive dégustation menu. If you don't want to déguster, you can order à la carte.

            Not on your list but...
            Had a heavenly shrimp ceviche at Spring once - even a freeby. If I were a fetus, I'd be so happy to taste that that I'd love my mum to bits.

            Please relax and enjoy your holiday and enjoy all the wonderful fresh healthy food, the way glutton so fully did.

            1. re: Parigi

              Good Lord. I'm not suggesting for a moment that they're exclusively raw fish restaurants, and I'm not freaking myself out at all, although I'm certainly starting to get exasperated with the chowhound experience! I'm aware of the difference between French restaurants and sushi restaurants, but it seems that quite a lot of restaurants are incorporating Asian influences, and I wanted to find out how far that stretched. I thought it a potentially interesting observation that in many of the reviews I read of currently recommended establishments, raw or very lightly cooked fish seemed to be mentioned. It caught my eye, I thought I'd share, it wasn't a definitive statement. Reviews of Spring seemed to mention it, reviews of Saturne seemed to mention it, reviews of Passage 53 seemed to mention it. One of my questions was whether these research findings were accurate, as this would be a pretty unusual state of affairs where I come from. Apparently my findings were not accurate, and that's great to know.

              Perhaps you were confused by my manner of expression: by "chock full", I didn't actually mean completely full, it's just a vaguely humorous figure of speech in my part of the world.

              Lest there be any further confusion, I fully intend to "relax and enjoy" my holiday, relaxing and enjoying myself being one of my specialties! However, I don't intend to eat at restaurants with no-choice menus, nor at restaurants where a large proportion of dishes are out-of-bounds to my wife, no matter how wonderful and healthy those dishes may be. You may consider that an unnecessary concern, and that's fine, but I don't. Hence trying to find out in advance where we're likely to have issues, rather than finding out when we're there.

              If I were recommending a restaurant to somebody in Dublin, and they said "my wife is pregnant, does that change things?" then I might have some different recommendations. I wondered if the same was true with Paris.

              I feel like I've gotten off on the wrong foot here, which is frustrating.

              Edit: Parigi, I see you updated your post after I started typing, so thanks for the extra info. I also see that the comments we're referring to in the other thread have been deleted, so now I really don't know what to think about this forum. Very strange. At this point it may be best if I bow out gracefully and go back to lurker mode!! In any case, thank you again for your recommendations and comments, rest assured I'm really looking forward to the trip!

              1. re: Diapason

                The highend cafes,like Cafe Constant (open on Sunday) can be the perfect answer when you want to eat lite. As are the bar/cafes at many of the luxe hotels (Meurice, Ritz etc).

                1. re: Oakglen

                  Thanks Oakglen, that's not a bad idea. Plus, I could tell everyone I ate at le Meurice... ;)

                  1. re: Diapason

                    Bar 228 at the Meurice has live jazz in the evening, great martinis and a superb Club Sandwich. Viewing the tab could be hazardous to ones health however, so just keep saying to yourself, "Hey,It's Paris!".

                    1. re: Oakglen

                      Yes indeed. I'll see whether I'm still hyperventilating after le Cinq bill.