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Aug 6, 2012 07:49 AM

Need etiquette help!!!

My husband & I will be traveling to Paris over the Christmas holidays for 4 days. In our 30's, we used to live in New Orleans & could easily eat numerous courses. Now, we are many years older & have changed our eating habits & cannot eat the way we did in the past.

Usually when we go out to restaurants, we order 2 apps & split an entree or we split an app & have 2 entrees and we split 1 desert. Often, we can't even finish all of this. Can we split dishes in Paris or is that frowned upon? After reading numerous trip reviews, I am struck by the numerous courses. There are a couple of restaurants with tasting menus that I am considering, but we would only be able to take a couple of bites of each dish. How can we convey that we are enjoying the food, but just cannot eat everything?

Thanks for any help! We just want to be respectful!

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  1. The reason many restaurants around the world are initiating prix fixe menus with 6-15 courses with a portion control slant is too many people stop in and get an app or two, a glass of wine, and leave, their words not mine but l completely understand their point. If they give a 4 top a res and it spends 50 euros when other tables are spending 150-200 euros for their res, they lose their profit margin.
    l feel as you do and do not want a zillion courses of things that are there to fill in the menu, so what to do. If l like the resto enough l suck it up and just do the prix fixe, as Saturne. Generally, however l order a la carte, thus at my fav, L'Ami Louis with enormous portions, for a 2 or 3 table
    l split the dozen escargot three ways, and get a cotes de boeuf for two to serve three. Also no dessert. Do they complain, no; are they thrilled, nope. It is what it is.
    l suspect 10-20 years from now most fine restaurants will be only serving a fixed menu for the above reasons, so do it while you can.
    It is your appetite and your money, just stay in control and do what you wish.

    1. As a rule, I would split - if I must - starters and desserts. I would not split the main course.
      And before I order the splitting, I ask the waiter if the portion lends itself to this arrangement.

      1. Could you manage no appetizer, 1 main course each and 1 dessert each? That is the common formula light eaters get away with.

        Many prix fixe bistrots offer three formulas: Entrée-plat-dessert (appetizer, main course and dessert), Entrée-plat or Plat-dessert. Generally the former is a few euros more expensive and the two latter are the same price.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ptipois

          Thanks for the info. Do most restaurants do the entree-plat-dessert option?

          1. re: topeater

            All of them do (as a rule), it's called à la carte or carte-menu, and some also offer tasting menus which are a more complex affair.

            The ones offering the entrée-plat-dessert combinations of 2 or 3 are usually moderate- to medium-priced bistrots, and you'll often see that offer on chalkboards.

        2. You'll also find that serving sizes are considerably smaller in France than in the US (this is a good thing) and that 2 courses leaves you comfortable; 3 leaves you full but not uncomfortably so.

          I usually choose the 2- or 3-course menu and am happy with that -- I can't finish even a single main dish when we go back to the US for a visit.