Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Apr 15, 2013 01:42 PM

Michelin Mistakes?

Hello to people who know way more about food than I do! My husband and I are spending a few days in Paris for the first time this July, and we've got 5 precious meals to eat there - 2 dinners & 3 lunches.

We are planning on one "money is no object" dining experience and four solid choices that won't force us to sell our house to fund this trip.

My question is this: Am I making a mistake in thinking that the "money is no object" dinner should be one of the two or three-star Michelin restaurants? With so many choices, having a limited list pleases my neurotic, haphazard soul, and I'm tempted to simply choose from that list alone and trust that the experience will match the price. OR am I a putz who is falling for name alone and missing out on more superb French dining with this approach?

Any thoughts on the Michelin restaurants/big name chefs (and heck, any of your MUST go-to places) would be so welcomed. Many thanks in advance!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am reminded of Frankie Peligrino's standard pre-ordertaking question at Rao's in NYC: "What's good? It's all good. So whaddaya like ta eat?"

    Are you dreaming of top of the line haute cuisine or hearty classics done perfectly or outre modern fantasies? Three completely different avenues of approach...

    4 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      That's a great question! Our "no budget" London meal involves ludicrously modern food, so for Paris, I really would love the French classics done perfectly (though haute cuisine is a super close second - I hope to experience both through the course of our five meals!) The only other important details to know about my palette are these: I *loathe* Indian food and tomatoes (I'm pretty sure the devil created them.) Other than this, it's game on for anything that is just damn fine food. :-)

      1. re: foodieinmyhead

        Okay. Under hearty classics done perfectly, I'd nominate Josephine Chez Dumonet. It will be a big dinner. One down, one and three to go...

        What I worry about is the scale of your meals. I, personally, couldn't handle 3 large lunches between 2 grand dinners. You certainly may be able to.

        1. re: mangeur

          This is a perfect observation. While I pride myself on being able to throwdown when it comes to food, you're totally right to note that in three days we can probably count on three awesome meals...and the rest may be just tiding us over in between! I'm so glad to hear that you'd recommend Josephine Chez Dumonet; that was literally the only one that I'd written on the "must" list. :-) Thank you *so* much for helping us!

          1. re: foodieinmyhead

            Here's a second vote for Josephine... I LOVE it.

    2. I would suggest luncheon at Le Tour D'Argent. It is an elegant local and while many chowhounds regard it as passe it is well worth 75euro for a 3 1/2 hour experience of being well taken care of. Peruse the wine list (all 8 pound of it) but discuss your preferences with the somollier You will be suprised with some of the treasures that are available.
      L'atellier Joel Robuchon has reservations available fo the early seating and has magnificent choices for a variety of small plates for all tastes. Regalade Saint Honore is not elegant but there's no better meal in Paris unless you want to spend 'beyond the dreams of avarice".

      3 Replies
      1. re: UPDoc

        LTD'A seems to be coming back into vogue with rumours the kitchen is getting back on form and starting to regain its reputation. It will be interesting to see how it develops especially if it gets on the CH rotation.

        1. re: PhilD

          I could totally be talked into a 3 1/2 hour lunch...especially if it's only 75euro (it's funny how that starts to feel like chump change after perusing the upscale tasting menus for my "real life" I'd laugh at how absurd that rationalization is, but for our once-in-a-lifetime trip, bring it on!) I'm looking at Le Tour D'Argent right now. Thanks so much to both of you!

        2. re: UPDoc

          "while many chowhounds regard it as passé"
          I think it is important to note that this is in many ways not your father's Tour d'Argent.
          André Terrail, educated at Babson, took over around 2006 and brought Laurent Delarbre as chief chef back. While still featuring the same items, to me, after a 30-year or so gap, it seemed both new and old.

        3. Depends on your expectations and your personal "foodie" experience.

          Have you ever spent several hundred bucks on a meal ?

          The classic 2 and 3 stars offer a luxurious experience that can be rarely matched elsewhere (IMO); places like "Le Cinq" is at the same time very intimidating and at the same time it is quite relaxing because of the quality service; and the way the wait staff make you confortable.

          Yes, there are some "big name" chefs (ducasse, robuchon, gagnaire, ... ), but some of the 2 and 3 stars chefs are not well known but offer the same high quality (Pacaud from L'Ambroisie comes to mind).

          There is a certain vanity in going to those high-end restaurants, and I am guilty of that.

          The thing is that you must accept the fact that if you decide to go to one of those restaurant, you might not like it for various reasons, and that can be costly experience.

          You would be making a mistake if your only criteria for going is the "big name" chef.

          Good luck.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Maximilien

            We've done a few meals in NYC that were in the costs-more-than-an-iPad range...and we've never regretted it. We decided on this ten-years-delayed honeymoon that we'd allow ourselves two meals (one in London and one in Paris) that followed the same wallet-be-damned mentality.

            Le Cinq is near the top of my "could it be the one?" list, but I'm also pulled to Robuchon because we've never dined in any of his restaurants (but there I am, looking at the name only!) Will check out L'Ambroisie! Thanks so very much for helping to guide us!

            1. re: foodieinmyhead

              Remember if you do Le Cinq and Atelier, at least the Atelier in the 8th, the prices for lunch are much lower than for dinner.
              Le Cinq will run about 3x for dinner over lunch, plus beverages. Avoid the Champagne cart.

              1. re: foodieinmyhead

                I would strongly second l'Ambroisie. It's important to go there with a certain obliviousness to the expense, as it's extremely expensive and you don't want to dwell on that. You might want to look up what A Life Worth Eating wrote and photographed from going there multiple times. Also Gastromondiale is very good on evaluating that kind of classic/nouvelle cuisine cooking and has done a number of informative write-ups. We particularly like the scallop and lobster preparations. And the tarte fine sablée au cacao amer. Meals there are not tasting menus but rather good-sized starters and main courses, which I think is harder to do. Their menu is on their website.

            2. My answer is a big yes if your question is truly literal i.e. a money no object dining experience. A three star will deliver a really unforgettable experience. They are grand palaces of gastronomy with faultless service and presentation. You can choose old historic rooms, or more modern cutting edge places. Paris 3 star dining is horribly expensive but also unique.

              There is lots of discussion on the board already about each three star and what their strengths are and what type of meal they deliver. Each is a very personal decision based on style of food, formality, style of room etc etc.

              Best advice to make it more wallet friendly is to try lunch rather than dinner. Use the dinners to balance the portfolio of choices like Mangeurs recommendation for Josephine.