NY foodie in Paris. Help
my husband and I will be spending five days in Paris next month and I am overwhelmed with restaurant decisions. I think we will eat mostly at small neighborhood places but I would like one or two special meals. Unfortunately I don't want to spend much more than $100 pp for the meals. Is this possible in the better Paris restaurants? Is lunch cheeper? And where should we go? (neighborrhood does not matter). Merci beaucoup.
We need to know where you are, what you want to eat, and so on. Lunch at an average Parisian restaurant will be the same price for lunch and dinner.Sometimes less but only sometimes. l will give you price example of one of my favorite restaurants. It is not fancy by any means, very working class in fact, with excellent food and is priced very fairly. Entree @ 11 Euro, Plat @ 25 Euro, dessert @ 10 Euro, wine is house Brouilly served by the liter at @ 25 Euro, you are charged for what you drink. Thus if you split an entree, each a plat, and split a dessert with a liter of wine total, your total will be 96 Euro, splitting to save you funds, doubt the restaurant will be thrilled with the splits; 96 Euros in American with a little tip will be @ $ 140, without a split of the two courses, it comes out to @ 170. This is at Chez Denise, anything but a fancy restaurant or 'special ' as you call it, just a very good meal in a congenial spot, the perfect bistro. l might think less about whether you spend a few 100 Dollars extra or not on your trip and concentrate on having a great time, later you will not remember the extra money spent, but the wonderful memories of a great vacation. Yes you can find restaurants that have a prix fixe of 30-35 Euros and then add wine and coffee, and maybe water and the total rises as well, but if you limit yourself you may miss the evening of your life.
Since you're willing to spend 100 euros per person, you will find several wonderful places to eat. Lunch at the multiple *s is cheaper than dinner, since they have special menus, but 85 euros is about the cheapest at the *ed. With a glass of wine you're probably going to go slightly past your limit. I highly recommend Agape Substance (see my post on that) for lunch. If you each order different 3 courses, you'll taste a lot and be wowed. It's somewhat similar to Momofuku Ko and Brooklyn Fare.
100 dollars per person is very different from 100 euros per person but even at 100 dollars (about 70 euro today) you can have a very lovely meal depending on how expensive your taste in wine is. But we will need more details on what your definition of "special" is. If special means Michelin stars, while many of those restaurants do have lunch menus that are much less expensive than ordering a la carte, you still can't stay under $100 PP especially once you factor in water, and coffee, never mind wine. But there are many other places to have a "special" meal, especially lunch, depending on what would make a meal special to you.
Do tell us more specifically what kind of food, ambiance, etc would make a meal special vs what you're calling a "small neighborhood places." Many folks on the France board are familiar w/ the NYC dining scene as well so even some comparative places might help.
What do you mean by "small neighborhood places" versus "one or two special meals?"
There are a number of small neighborhood places that serve excellent, even special, meals.
When we were n Paris in July we dined at Chez Louis L'Ami, Les Regalades and Les Papilles, all of which can be described as "small neighborhood places" and the bill for three courses plus two glasses of wine came out to 50 euros per person, so within your budget. The food was fabulous, the setting lovely and the service excellent. If you don't mind not having alcohol, the bill will be even less, as low as 35 euros/head.
There is indeed a level of restaurants of very high caliber where the bill starts running into the multiple hundreds - per head. Is this what you mean by "special?"
In my admittedly limited experience of restaurants in Paris, true and tried places that charge between 35-50 euros for a fixed price meal (sans alcohol) are generally worth the money, whereas more expensive than that isn't quite so much a value until you get to the stratospheric range where the dining experience becomes something completely different, an art form even.
For $100 pp, you can definitely have a nice, special meal in Paris; granted, "special" is as undefinable as "romantic". I recently refrained from recommending a wonderful restaurant that has great food but not what I would call romantic setting, a hound wrote back to say that she had a most romantic enchanting dinner there ! Within the unspecific vocabulary, "special" is even worse than "romantic".
So I will give an example. I had a 3-course lunch - all à la carte - at Vivant for 45-50 euro, a glass of wine included. The restaurnat is small, the setting lovely, the service impec. i would call it special. Other good restaurants of that price range include: Saturne, Septîme, Chez Casimir. One quarter of a notch down are: Dans Les Landes, Café des Musées.
Oh and the very doable set-menu chez L'Ami Jean.
"What do you mean by "small neighborhood places" versus "one or two special meals?" "
LOL, I also wondered. There is no such distinction really in Paris. My 'hood places are Pétrelle, Guilo Guilo, Frenchie, Saturne, Vivant, Passage 53, the 1-star (non-Ami) Jean.
Maybe you mean restaurants that you would cross town for, and the others? Then we would need to know where you are staying, and where you plan to visit everyday. In any case, all the above restaurants are within your $100 per-meal budget.
Even though I agree that everyone has a budget, Queen Elizabeth has a budget, I also agree that since you are in Paris, enjoy yourself and enjoy the rare occasion to the fullest. If you are in the restaurants above and you see a dish or a bottle that exceeds your budget by 10, 15 euro, do it. What stays in your memory will be the unforgettable taste experience, not the 15 euro extra.
Thank you for all of your replys already and I am sorry for being so vague in my post. I guess I am not sure what I'm looking for and am feeling overwhelmed. For neighborhood places, I would probably not make advanced reservations and I am thinking they would be no more than 35 euro pp. As for "special" I will go up in price and try to make reservations ASAP. I am thinking that the whole trip will be romantic so I am not worried about that. I just want some experiences that I can't get in NYC, other than that I'm open. But I was put off by the "stratospheric" (good word) prices I noticed at many of the recommended restaurants (35 euro plat). We will be staying in Montparnasse.
I find there are any number of great places with a 35E menu (entree, plat, and dessert) and that the good ones need to be reserved at least a few days in advance if not weeks. "Special" doesn't always mean super expensive. One such would be La Regalade, 49 av. Jean-Moulin, 14e 01-45-45-68-58 Fantastic food, 35E menu, reservations necessary. Many would think of this as a small neighborhood place but it's well worth traveling across town for and many do, but for you, staying in Montparnasse, it's not far to travel.
I suggest a real splurge and do lunch at Le Cinq. They have an 85E lunch menu (+ beverages) so it's over your $100 pp budget, but the ambiance, service, food, and experience is killer. Gorgeous setting and they will fall all over themselves to make it special for you.
I agree with plafield. Last time I was in Paris (too long ago, and now I'm hankering to return), I sought a diversity of dining experiences. So occasionally I spent more and other times less. Had excellent, rather "splurge" for me lunches at Le Cinq and La Grande Cascade, lower-key dinners at Le Chateaubriand and Le Gaigne, and otherwise just took things as they came. However, I did reserve.
In any case, I hope you enjoy your trip--and everything you eat and drink while on it!