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Proposal Trip! Restaurant Lineup help needed for 4 days in Paris

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Hi, I've been a long reader of chow hound but just signed up so I could post for our upcoming trip to Paris this week. We're arriving this Sunday morning from nyc and will be in Paris until Wednesday night (from there we're going to London and will be in London until Sun morning so London recs are welcome too). I'm planning to propose to my girlfriend of 8 yrs in Paris so I am excited. After extensive reading on Chowhound and Paris by Mouth, I have the following lineup so far. All comments, suggestions, deletions, additions are much appreciated. we are staying near the arc de triomphe in the 17th district right outside the palais de congres.

Sunday lunch (light since we'll be jet legged from red eye): Breizh Cafe (could move to dinner)
Sunday afternoon snack: L'As du Fallafel
Sun afternoon sweets: Berthillion; Jacques Genin
planning to visit Notre Dame, Pantheon, St. Chapelle, Jardin Luxembourg
Sun night sweets: Pierre Herme
No plans Sun night yet, may be too tired: maybe Pho 14 or likafo?

Mon - so far lunch reservation at Le Severo because I want good steak frites but may cancel if we find a better option
Mon night - trying to get Frenchie but should probably give up hope
thinking of checking out arc de triopmhe, sacre coeur in montmatre, opera garner, champs elysees, galleries lafayette

Tues lunch: Chez L'Ami Jean at 12pm
check out eiffel tower before. will try to go to Versailles after lunch - is this too ambitious?

Wed lunch: Spring
going to the Louvre and Angelina's after

we are also considering these restaurants:
chez denise
le comptoir du relais
Le Chateaubriand
La Régalade Saint Honoré

should we splurge for lunch at Le Cinq?
Also, keep in mind my girlfriend usually tends to gravitate towards asian food, she tends to find Western food too heavy but will indulge on this trip since she will probably be disappointed by the Asian options in Paris
thank you very much!

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  1. Congratulations. Best of luck to you.
    First of all, I would not schedule 2 major meals per day. Overdosing is not enjoyable. You need both physical and mental digestion for a good meal, and that takes time.
    And you can consult this thread and do not come back with more questions.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701138

    4 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      thanks Parigi. Many of your posts helped me compile my list and I did read that useful thread before posting. We are definitely only eating one big meal a day (usually during lunch). Would you add, delete anything from the lineup? I'm happy with the reservation at L'Ami Jean. Wondering if Spring is a good choice as well. I hope to get a reservation at Frenchie but if not, would you go with Le Severo, Chez Denise, le comptoir du relais, Le Chateaubriand, La Régalade Saint Honoré or would you splurge at Le Cinq? Any asian suggestions/bakeries/sandwiches as smaller meals are much welcome. Thank you!

      1. re: arnage

        "would you go with Le Severo, Chez Denise, le comptoir du relais, Le Chateaubriand, La Régalade Saint Honoré or would you splurge at Le Cinq?"

        Le Chateaubriand, more inventive than the rest of the list.
        Régalade SH may be the weakest of the list.
        Le Severo and Chez Denis are very copious.
        Are you adventurous? If so, Cheateaubriand (which is my top pick).
        If not, Le Cinq, if for nothing else, just for the sheer beauty and starred service.

        Monday's sightseeing plans seem extremely ambitious. Did the 2 of you meet in a marathon? :-)
        Again all my best wishes.
        And don't be like Spybarnes. Write back. Share with us your happiness.

        1. re: Parigi

          How about on Sunday you have dinner at L'As du Fallafel and then head over to the Eiffel Tower and watch the lights, and perhaps pop the question! After your lunch and snacks on Sunday I think that would be enough (especially leaving room for champagne after the question is popped). Other than Sacre Couer you good definitely get all in on Monday but after a big lunch you might not want to. We went to La Regalade Saint Honore and loved it, service, setting and food. But that was my very humble opinion. Wednesday at the Louvre check out their site and get the walking tour of the best to see of the Louvre. And in London we ate simple, and the best is Ottolonghi, the restaurant off portobello has a communal table in the back and NOPI was lovely.

        2. re: arnage

          Your girlfriend might like Passage 53. The cuisine is impeccable and not heavy. Also, if you go to Briezh, make sure to reserve in advance.

      2. I would skip fallalfel after crepes and save my appetite for Genin, which is extraordinary, and Berthillon, which is also excellent.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Nancy S.

          thanks for the much appreciated advice everyone. we have made a reservation at Briezh and are looking forward to it and will probably have the gyro for dinner. I finally got through to Frenchie and was told they're booked solid until mid-Feb so that was a disappointment. Unfortunately it seems Le Chateaubriand and Passage 53 are not open sun/mon and unless we sacrifice Chez L'Ami Jean, it'll be too much to dine there in one day. Now I'm considering La Régalade Saint Honoré (mostly due to uhockey's glowing rec), le comptoir du relays, Chez Josephine Dumont, Saturne, le gaigne or perhaps just splurging at Le Cinq? Or should I just stick to Le Severo for steak frites? Perhaps supplementing lunch by visiting an Asian place for dinner such as Lao-Lane Xang, Kunitoraya or Lao Viet (all other suggestions welcome). Thanks again!

          1. re: arnage

            I would choose Saturne for Monday. I found La Regalade a bit ordinary and not all that delicious. Saturne seems more in line with your girlfriend's preferences as well.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              This Nancy agrees with Nancy S. :-)

        2. You have been well advised on dining options. I'd like to add a suggestion that you buy Paris Museum passes in order to maximize your non-eating hours. The wait to get into Sainte Chapelle alone can eat a couple of hours of your day. Not inexpensive, but cheap when you consider your larger travel investment and the number of sites you are cramming into 4 days. http://en.parismuseumpass.com/

          Remember that a lunch someplace like Spring can last over 2 hours, "eating" into your afternoon at the Louvre and visit to Angelina's. You don't want to spend another hour in line to get into the Louvre.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mangeur

            A tip for the Louvre: go early (preferably when it opens), ideally on Monday AM. If you go to the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center (entrance on Rue Rivoli) and take the escalators down, there are ticket machines there. Then enter the Louvre straight away from inside the mall, no waiting in line at all. Starting around 10am it gets busy, and in the afternoon the line is super duper long. Tickets are good all day so you can leave the Louvre for lunch and come back, so maybe plan a lunch nearby like at Spring or Angelina's and then go back in (with little or no waiting).

            I had lunch at Le Cinq last month, and while it was an enjoyable lunch with super-cute butter cloches, I didn't think it was amazing, esp. since some of the best mid-priced restaurants are offering similar quality food at a lower price point. That said, if you've not been to a high end French restaurant then it's probably a good choice to experience the service and see the room (and check out your fellow diners). If you do go, do NOT order the champagne unless you want to pay 48 euros for one little glass.

          2. Thanks, everyone, for all of the great input and thoughts on where to eat. We'll try to get a reservation at Saturne for Monday, and we'll report back.

            Do you know if it's possible (as untraditional as it might seem) to order plain hot (tap) water during a meal? The weather will be cold, unfortunately, so wanted to know if it's something that's typically accommodated. If so, how does one ask for this in French?

            Here's a list of the places we're planning to try with regards to pastries.. are we missing any others?

            Jacques Genin
            Pierre Herme
            Gerard Mulot
            Sadaharu Aoki
            Des Gateaux et du Pain
            Hugo et Victor
            Pascal Barillon (baguette, not pastry..)

            Lastly, and again, thanks for your help -- is there a particular place to go to try cheeses?

            4 Replies
            1. re: arnage

              Cheeses, all the branches of Beillevaire in Pars have a great selection and a very nice and patient English-speaking staff.

              Hot water

              I also drink hot water in the winter. At home.
              Europeans think this is too weird for words. More than one French person told me the idea made them want to vomit. Really.
              I who have even asked for a "doggie bag" a couple of times in restaurants that know me well would not order hot water.
              It is easy to tell you how to say hot water: de l'eau chaude s'il vous plaît, but you will be asked many follow-up questions, and we will need to tell you how to say yes, I said hot water; Paris is too cold; no, your restaurant is not too cold, it is well heated. It's not you, it's me. I am used to drinking hot water in winter. Yes please if you can accommodate us...

              Really do not worry, all restaurants cited here are truly well heated. :-)
              I was born in the Tropics and am very frileuse. But believe me, feeling too cold in a Paris resto because you don't have hot water will not be an issue.

              Once, upon being asked by well, the president of a (very cold, in fact snowy at the time) European country what I wanted to drink, and since we were being waited on by considerable staff, I allowed myself to say: hot water.
              He said: Hot water?
              His chief of staff: Hot water?
              The huissier: Horká voda?
              Every time I said yes, I felt less confident. In the end I was stuttering
              Finally I got my hot water, served in a glass, which, because of the heat, I could not hold. But I still had to "perform" drinking it because by then everyone in the room was looking at me aghast waiting for me to do this awful thAng.

              1. re: Parigi

                If it's of any consolation, the tap water here, unlike in NYC, is not iced but cool.
                Also, for Asian desserts, if your gf's craving really strikes, there's Aki Boulangerie on Rue St Anne that does standard Japanese fare, such as anpan and katsu-sando as well as various match and sesame flavored french pastries. Taiwanese bubble tea is another possibility, with a few dispersed around Opera and the most famous being Zen Zoo, you could make a break out of it in between shopping.

              2. re: arnage

                Dubois for vieux Comte, among other highlights.

                1. re: Nancy S.

                  I'm so sorry for the late report back on the trip. She said yes! The day after I proposed, my fiancé's wallet got stolen in the metro (good thing it wasn't the ring!) so we spent most of the day handling that. Then a day later, she got the stomach flu (or food poisoning) and we spent the entire day in the hotel. Sadly we had to cancel our much anticipated reservation for lunch at Spring due to her stomach ailment. Despite these hiccups, we loved Paris and would visit again. Here are the highlights of our trip in no particular order:

                  Lao-Lane Xang: one of the best meals of the trip. the crispy duck was amazing!!! the pleasant server spoke Mandarin (but not English) so my fiancée could communicate with her. (the entire menu was in french)

                  L'As du Fallafel: our culinary highlight. the falafel wrap was the best (better than the shawarma) we went back again the following day!

                  Breizh Cafe: great place to try out crepes. we split a savory buckwheat crepe and a dessert crepe.

                  Pierre Herme: after visiting 5 bakeries in Paris and eating too many macarons (including Jacque Genin, Gerard Mulot, Sadaharu Aoki, and Lauduree), our absolute favorite pastry is the Vanille Tart at Pierre Herme. We wish we had them in nyc. a must try, imo

                  Le Severo: we came here because I wanted to try steak frites and it was very good. my fiancée doesn't like steak so she ordered the pate. She was disappointed since it came as a more tendon filled, harder texture and she was expecting the creamy type. we ordered creme brûlée (or flan?) for dessert and it was good.

                  Chez L'Ami Jean: this was the disappointment of our trip. the Cote de boeuf was tough. my fiancée is not a fan of steak in general but even I was disappointed. (we went to Minetta Tavern in nyc a few months after and the cote de boeuf here was much better). she really wanted to try the foie gras but you can only order it for 2. however the restaurant brought her a generous slice to sample. that was a very nice touch. the highlight of the meal was the rice pudding (very, very good). as a side note, the restaurant billed us for one extra appetizer. (the billing mistake happened at another restaurant too maybe Le Severo, so remember to check your bill)

                  we went to a Japanese restaurant that was decent (forgot the name but it's on the popular street with all the Japanese restaurants), because my fiancee was homesick for Asian food. it was good comfort food but not extraordinary.

                  the paris museum pass was terrific and we were able to hit all the major attractions on it. our favorite place was the versailles palace. the gardens are breathtaking.

                  we are looking forward to returning to Paris in the future. next time, we'll have to try the other recommended places including le comptoir du relays, Le Chateaubriand and Spring. thank you again to everyone for making our trip so special.