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Oct 12, 2011 12:44 PM

Looking for a special occasion restaurant in Paris, Le Grand Colbert?

I am lucky enough to be celebrating my birthday in Paris next week and am searching for a somewhat fancy, delicious, restaurant to make a reservation at. Am looking for a meal that doesn't cost more than 200 euros (is this possible?), isn't full of Americans, with a celebratory/romantic/Parisian atmosphere. Any advice? And what do folks who have been there recently think about Le Grand Colbert? Thanks very much for your feedback!

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  1. As has been discussed many times, this beautiful old style restaurant with a great bar has really not great food. Tourists go to see the bar from variety of movies. Is that 200 euros pp or a couple,
    does it include wine. Where are you staying, how far do you wish to travel. Do you want high level or a bistro style ?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      We are staying in the 14th arrondissment, travelling around the city is no problem but obviously something near there would be ideal. Would like to stay in the ballpark of 200 - 250 euros for two people with wine, either bistro or high style would be fine. Would like to make a firm reservation in advance. This will probably be our only real "fancy" meal while we're there. Thanks so much for the help!

      1. re: Lulu95819

        You might consider Le Cinq for their ' bargain lunch ' Read my review . If you just have one wonderful bottle of Ravaneau, you will be right on your price target. The advantage of a lunch is the ability to take a long walk afterwards to aid digestion. After lunch at Le Cinq on Monday, l did not eat again until Tuesday evening.

    2. Lulu, I haven't been there recently, but I wouldn't go there again. The
      "scenery" is movie worthy ("As Good as it Gets!") but the food was, frankly, horrid.

      There must be hundreds of charming restaurants in Paris with better food, and I hope you'll choose one. We love Maceo, which is just around the corner from Le Grand Colbert. Beautiful historic room, really good food at reasonable prices. I've celebrated two birthdays there, and am planning on another this December.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Thank you ChefJune. That is very helpful. We definitely do not want to spend our precious time in Paris at a touristy place with bad food! The online reviews of Le Grand Colbert are so mixed - I had hoped for more reliable feedback here. Maceo looks really lovely and like an excellent option for us!

        1. re: Lulu95819

          june is right, maceo will be much better food.

          if you want to experience the grand colbert go early for a plate of oysters and a coupe de champagne on the way to your dinner elsewhere. the room is classic and service is excellent. they can't screw up raw oysters.

          two other very good restaurants are nearby. bistronomes is more modern and smaller than maceo but the food is good and it is just a couple of blocks past maceo on rue de richelieu. food there is excellent. the restaurant du palais royale, in the palais royale where else, has excellent food including some of the best calf's liver i have found in paris.

      2. La Grande Cascade has an 85 euro prix fixe menu that includes 3 courses, 2 glasses of wine, mineral water, coffee and all the little extras (amuse bouche, mignardises, bread service). We celebrated hubby's 50th birthday there last year and had very gracious service, beautiful old world surroundings and a deliciously special meal. It's in the Bois de Boulogne so cabbing it is probably the way to go. There's a champagne trolly if you want to start your celebration with a bang.

        Happy Birthday......can't think of a better place to spend it than Paris.


        1 Reply
        1. re: parisjo

          Thank you for the terrific suggestion -- La Grande Cascade also looks great. And thanks for the birthday wishes! I am very lucky : )

        2. After making my short post I have given your original request more thought.

          I get the sense that you may not get to Paris often and that you may not be quite as passionate about food as many of us. If that is true you may be well advised to stick with your original plans and go to Le Grand Colbert. Maybe not for your dinner but go for pre-dinner. My wife and I are passionate foodies and we have been going to Paris annually (sometimes thrice annually) for the past 25 years. We still go to the Grand Colbert almost every trip. We love the classic room and classic service. We seldom eat dinner there but what we do is order a dozen oysters, which are reasonably priced and always good, and a bottle or glass of Muscadet or Chablis. I only suggested Champagne in my previous post because of the celebratory nature of you evening. Muscadet is my choice for oysters. We go a bit early and then proceed to our dinner elsewhere.

          If you choose to do that I recommend you walk to Maceo (all of two minutes) and dine there. The room and the service are impeccable and the food excellent, approaching one star quality. The wine list is also excellent. You should be able to do both within your budget.

          If that doesn't suit you for any reason you certainly have a lot of very good advice from people who know Paris better than I in this thread and many others.

          Joyeux Anniversaire.

          9 Replies
          1. re: jock

            Thank you Jock for your insight. We have been to Paris a couple of times in the last few years and do love a good meal. However, on our past trips, we have meandered in and out of markets, bistros, etc. which has been wonderful. For this trip, we are looking for a more specific experience for birthday dinner. On many other websites, the reviews of Le Grand Colbert are very split - half say it was wonderful, have say it was awful, which is what brought me to this site for some more reliable feedback!

            We were originally planning to go to Le Cinq, but a bit more research determined that dinner there wold blow our budget....Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions. By all accounts it seems like the best approach is a cocktail at Le Grand Colbert to enjoy the atmosphere and then on to dinner elsewhere.

            Merci beaucoup!

            1. re: Lulu95819

              You will certainly enjoy your time at Grand Colbert. Everyone should experience it at least once.

              1. re: Lulu95819

                I agree with Jock that you are likely to have a very enjoyable evening at the Grand Colbert.
                In a brasserie, I would order "defensively", which means nothing too challenging or too sophisticated. One can always count on nice fresh oysters. And a nice saumon à l'unilatéral. Things like that. The service is always impeccable. Jocks explained its "usage" excellently, and, Lulu, I hope you don't think there is anything condescending in our "qualified" recommendation. We won't recommend something we don't enjoy ourselves.

                1. re: Lulu95819

                  I don't find Grand Colbert awful. It is a brasserie and offers standard brasserie fare. If you stick to that and order defensively (which means not to orders sophisticated things), you will have a good meal and a great experience what with the setting and the good service. Oysters are indeed a great option there.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Véfour or Colbert ? The former strikes me as rather more ambitious than a brasserie, even if loosely interpreted ...

                    1. re: shakti2

                      Le Grand Véfour is a gastro, not a brasserie. Le Grand Colbert is a brasserie so I suppose that was a mere slip of the keyboard, as we all experience that at times.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Or if we can order entrecôte-frites at Le Grand Véfour, by all means let's go quick! Wine's on me!

                  2. re: jock

                    There has been a chef change a Maceo - and reports about the new man in the kitchen?

                  3. Let me come to the defence of Le Grand Colbert... certainly it's not a place for hardcore foodies but, thanks to its buzz and "cadre", remains firmly in the orbit of Paris's chattering classes ... admittedly, i've never had amazing food there (and would not expect it at any brasserie) and I would not surprised to get something "horrid" one day ... it's just one of the risks of brasserie fare (continuous hours, menu packed with somewhat boring classics, rotation of kitchen teams, high volume etc) ... nevertheless, for me, the ambiance (especially après-théâtre) is so sparkling, that the overall experience is always enjoyable.

                    Since you are in the 14th, a (similarly unjustly maligned by hard-core foodies) option might be la Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard Montparnasse near l'Observatoire. Because of its history as a Hemingway hangout, it's often dismissed as a tourist trap (and in high season it does get lots of tourists) but yet has loads of stylish Parisiens in a celebratory mood. It's a 3-in-1 place... brasserie, more expensive restaurant and very enjoyable piano bar filled with witty (French) conversations.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Parnassien

                      Agree with the recommendation for the bar at the Closerie. Comparable in quality to the palace hotels, with more locals, and at a third of the price.

                      1. re: Parnassien

                        CD Lilas also has an outdoor bar section that allows cigars. My GF and l smoked there last spring.