Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
May 5, 2013 08:35 AM

Four lunches Six Dinners in Paris

So after lots of research chatting it up with friends and on line at trip advisor I thought I would post the results over here............

we are a family of three with our fairly sophisticated 14 year old boy - since early on our focus for the most part is on the brasserie - we dabbled with trendy du jour but heard too many negative anti american comments on places like josephine chez dumont and that the constants are full of themselves lol.

we were influenced by geography/planned itinerary a little and were of course hugely impacted by the fact that we are there in august which knocked out some and very disappointingly so - especially places like Les Bouqinistes and 6 New York..........ah well next time!

We are also getting joined by friends on the weekend and one couple will have their little one year old with them - so price and the ability to handle our group - along with wanting to be close to our hotel the friday night were all considerations for two dinners.

So here goes:


- Le Cuisine de Philippe
- Le Train Bleu
- Le Voltaire
- Les Etangs de Corot “Café des Artistes”


- Brasserie Thoumieux
- Le Pharamond
- Le Grand Colbert
- Chez Flottes (with group)
- La Coupole (with group)
- Epicure / Le Bristol - last night of a wonderful 3 week vacation - going out with a bang!

Would be curious on comments - the list has pretty much been vetted on TA but interested on the take of this forum.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. nothing??? was hoping for some feedback on misses wins etc??!!

    1. Most of your list is a pretty conventional tourist restaurant circuit that might turn eating into a sort of gastronomic groundhog day.... very similar cuisine at most of your choices... brasseries do tend to have great settings but the food is often simply decent at best. Although you won't get validation from TA, some of of the newer non-trad eateries offer a great sample of modern French cooking that will easily relieve the monotony of brasserie fare... and many also provide a sample of real-life Paris that the largely touristy brasseries cannot.

      But a big thumbs up for la Cuisine de Philippe. Food is excellent, setting and ambiance are delightful, prices are sweet.
      Le Train Bleu, great setting, above-average brasserie fare, not very good price/quality ratio.
      Le Voltaire, great setting, very "tous Paris" but not very welcoming to tourists, classic bistro fare, over-priced.
      Les Etangs de Corot/Café des Artistes, only been once, lovely terrace, can't remember the food at all, not very convenient location (count on a least an hour by public transport from central Paris via the L suburban line from the Gare St-Lazare).
      Brasserie Thoumieux, flashes of brilliance but also a very worrisome inconsistency, nice re-done space
      Le Pharamond, lovely historic setting, now very touristy, average brasserie fare ... would suggest Chez Denise as a substitute
      Le Grand Colbert, great buzz, liked by locals as much as tourists, but need to be careful choosing from menu (some items are very good, others are pretty bad)... best vibe after 10pm when the after-theatre crowd arrives.
      Chez Flottes, a good choice if you happen to be stranded in this otherwise boring part of the 1st, the quality is a cut above the average brasserie, but still a wee bit overpriced.
      La Coupole, quite a happy place, decent to good but not great brasserie fare, avoid the choucroute... and for a lovely end to the evening, lose the the couple with the baby and stroll down to the Piano Bar at the Closerie des Lilas.
      Epicure / Le Bristol, "last night of a wonderful 3 week vacation - going out with a bang!"... and the bang means lots of bucks... but will be memorable

      20 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        Parnassian has picked out all the flaws - mainly price-quality ones, but I think I've been to the Etangs de Corot 4-5 times and found the trip not exhausting (it's 10 min from Versailles) and the stroll around the ponds and park wonderful in good weather. The three restaurants there are quite acceptable and can be searched about easily.
        I would downgrade the Train Bleu and Grand Colbert though. They were great in their day and have nice decor, but......

        1. re: John Talbott

          etangs is up in the air at this point and just an option.............was trying to get away from the touristy versailles restaurants so may still do it - will see how the baby does!

          love chez denise so pharamound out!

          john le grand colbert was the second to last in and a replacement from josephine chez dumonet

          any suggestions on a replacement?

          fyi I am now leaning to eating in montmarte at chez plumeau before we get over to the 7th and pass on le voltaire

          thanks again for taking the time

          1. re: davidcotyalex

            Why on earth would you choose to sub Le Grand Colbert for for Chez Dumonet? Le Grand Colbert was lovely in the movie, but in person it's really not worth the time and money. go for a drink... OTOH, Chez Dumonet is currently my favorite place in Paris...

            1. re: ChefJune

              I have seen way too many negative anti american comments on chez dumonet............

              1. re: davidcotyalex

                You have been reading the wrong sites. Many Americans, those who are serious about food and who are open-minded travelers, have had great experience at Joséphine chez Dumonet. I too was scratching my head that anyone on chowhound - a site devoted to the quest of finding good food - would chose the Grand Colbert over JcD.

                1. re: Parigi

                  well it was this thread which cemented the notion of passing on jcd - after re-reading it again in detail I think I remain on the we will have the 14 year old in tow - who doesn't eat foie gras


                  with respect to molly on her June 2011 visit - that was before the bon appetit article of may 2012 - my sense is that over the last year A LOT of americans and tourists have descended on this place because of that and there genuinely seems to be some backlash because of it

                  any way not such a foodie as to not care at all about service/ambiance.................and plus I am beside myself again with options and limited days to squeeze them all in!

                  1. re: Parigi

                    (raising my hand) I actually like le Grand Colbert a lot and if I wanted excellent shellfish nosh (after a concert or something) in a place where I'd likely run into old friends, I'd opt for le Grand Colbert, not Joséphine. If I wanted very good, somewhat expensive,and very classic cuisine with lots of tourists, yes Joséphine is fab. Even so, I'd probably head to Chez Denise for my fix of trad cuisine.

              2. re: davidcotyalex

                I am an American and I had a delightful experience at Chez Dumonet--one of the most delightful evenings of our week in Paris in June of 2011. The chef sat down at our table with us at the end of the evening and we had a lovely conversation with him about the souffle, in our bad French and his bad English. And this I also know -- this site will not steer you wrong, not about food in France. It's the best resource out there for the traveling foodie.

            2. re: Parnassien

              thanks parmassien - very helpful!!

              le train bleu - absolutely understood on all your points - my son and are simply big fans of train station palatial architecture so we are going in knowing all that

              les etangs - idea was to stop there on the way back from versailles as we will have a car and driver - and now getting counsel we may be better off just doing a picnic in the gardens (which may actually be preferred by the couple with said baby)

              fingers crossed on thomieux I guess - agreed on the space and that had something to do with our selection

              going to research chez denise as we speak! pharamound was the last one not at all wed to the idea

              may push the rez back at le grand colbert thanks - are the dogs there every night?! (have been told dogs hang out at the owner table)

              chez flottes.................yes it is just down the street from our hotel - just looking for an easy option where our expanding group can convene for the night as unfortunately the hotel restaurant is closed in august

              la coupole - yes lots of considerations for this one and generally happy with the feedback - noted on the choucroute and hilarious on ditching the couple with the baby!

              after what this trip is costing us I figured what the hell on epicure - lots of the three stars closed in august (and this is for a sunday night) so glad it will be memorable

              appreciate the time to comment!!


              1. re: davidcotyalex

                "les etangs - idea was to stop there on the way back from versailles as we will have a car and driver - and now getting counsel we may be better off just doing a picnic in the gardens (which may actually be preferred by the couple with said baby)"
                Cool. Very good idea, bring the stroller.
                "john le grand colbert was the second to last in and a replacement from josephine chez dumonet. any suggestions on a replacement?"
                Sure: looking at your suggestions - I'd go for something newer like Les Saisons or Premices or 6 Paul Bert?
                But, what's wrong with josephine chez dumonet.?

                1. re: davidcotyalex

                  If you have car with driver, a stop off at Ville-d'Avray would be a perfect antidote to the inevitable touristitis that comes with a visit to Versailles. Although I've only been to les Etangs de Corot once, I am a frequent visitor to the area for long rambles and picnics... more so than at Versailles itself... just more intimacy and authenticity, I guess. Having said that, you might opt for a picnic in the Versailles gardens just out of sheer convenience. If so, you can drop off at the wonderful Marché Notre Dame just off the avenue St Cloud in Versailles to pick up some fixings for a picnic... the market will be somewhat reduced in August but still one of the best in the Paris region... tell the driver that there's parking right under the Carrés Notre Dame with access from the odd number side of rue Maréchal Foch coming from the bd de la Reine or the rue Paroisse.

                  re Chez Plumeau. It's not a destination resto ... but makes a delightful retreat from all the tackiness and tourist hordes around Sacré Coeur and the place du Tertre. The newer Clocher de Montmartre on the other side of Sacré Coeur is another option much liked by some Chowhounders but when taking foreign friends to do the Sacré Coeur tourist thing I do prefer hanging out at the ultra-charming hidden-away Chez Plumeau waiting for them to get fed up with the crowds, pushy souvenir hawkers, and the contrived Frenchness of the place du Tertre. But, with French friends, eateries on the rue des Abbesses (i.e La Mascotte, Coquelicot, Cave des Abbesses) and rue Lepic (i.e Jeanne A) are much preferred.

                  1. re: Parnassien

                    Parnassien - continued great advice - nail in the coffin on jcd

                    will investigate Aville-d'Avray thanks - really going to come down to my friends with the baby I do think - and great suggestion on the market!!

                    I think chez plumau is right up our alley - what do you think of La Cremaillere? I have to think that one as well would be well suited for the 14 year old and another respite for him............

                    1. re: davidcotyalex

                      Oops, I don't think about la Crémaillère at all. I'm a Parisien and so feel embarrassed and out of place on the place du Tertre. I presume that la Crémaillère is the usual tourist-only mediocre-food sort of eaterie that you find on the tacky place du Tertre. Chez Plumeau despite its proximity to the place du Tertre retains a certain charm and authenticity and would be my one and only choice in the immediate area. A little further afield, I might be tempted by Clocher de Montmartre if I feel brave enough to run the gauntlet of souvenir hawkers to get there.

                      1. re: Parnassien

                        merci - this darn thing is like an incredibly difficult jigsaw puzzle!!

                        current thinking - Brasserie Thoumieux out and replaced by Chez Denise - that first day should be a real intro to french cuisine as lunch is cuisine de philippe :) and I am really after a great steak frites so sounds like this is where I want to hunker down over a good bordeaux

                        maybe head back and do a casual dinner at chez plumeau and still have lunch over by Htel des Invalides - in that case stick with le voltaire or change to Cafe de l'Esplanade?

                        i am also thinking about the continued reminder of the cons at le train bleu and am increasingly thinking we pop by for a drink and so am not thinking we sub Pharamond for that lunch? Locationally it works as that afternoon the plan is place de la bastille and carnavalet....

                        last question - the infamous tipping subject - so is the answer a) absolutely not tourists are polluting the long standing cultural norm and denegrading the nature / perception of the professional restaurant trade or b) what the hell it doesn't hurt to throw a few extra bucks to the server as a token but it certainly isn't necessary? I am beginning to think a) but am hoping to hold on to b) as it kills me not to tip generously as a former waiter and chef concierge!

                        thanks a million for all

                        1. re: davidcotyalex

                          I tip, and will continue, even at West Counrty Girl. Esplanade seems best only for a coffee outside.

                          1. re: Nancy S.

                            Oh I am liking both of your answers Nancy - not only for the nostalgia but this very cool idea of West Country Girl!!!

                            I think that just made the list..............screw le train bleu and pharamond lol!

                      2. re: davidcotyalex

                        JCD was sure great last night, but do what you want not what we want

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Whether Joséphine should be a choice for this OP is academic. He will be here in August when it's closed.

                  2. Hi. Just wondering if you could give us your experience on Epicure. Thank you!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: cys19

                      I haven't been for dinner, so I can't speak to what I'm sure was a giant bill. But I've been to Epicure for lunch, and that is much less expensive, and I really enjoyed it. It was in July, and we sat outside on the terrace, which was beautiful. The dishes were all beautifully presented, service was great, everything felt special, and the cheese cart had a wonderful selection. The dishes were light and very well done, more on the contemporary side, but I didn't roll my eyes into the back of my head or anything.

                      To be honest, of the 3-star restaurants I've been to in Paris (Epicure, Pierre G, Arpege), I would choose Arpege first (I've been back several times even with the high price tag), Pierre G, then Epicure. I've heard that Ledoyen is not worth the price from friends who went recently.

                      For the special experience, though not 3 starred, I think Le Cinq and La Grand Cascade are great choices in terms of getting that special experience. LGC has a great deal at lunch, but it's definitely a special atmosphere that seems to take you back in time a little. I saw a painting on exhibit at Musee du Carnavalet of a horse-drawn carriage in front of La Grande Cascade, with everyone dressed to the nines within in top hats and gowns. I have no doubt it was just that way, and it's fun to think about when you're there.

                      Le Cinq I have not been to in over two years, and the chef has since changed, but the dining room remains the same, beautiful as ever. It depends on whether you seek specifically the food or that overall experience.

                      I thought PG service was the best, Arpege food was the best, and Epicure surroundings were the best. (But would choose Le Cinq & LGC for surroundings over Epicure in the end). I want to go back to Le Cinq, and am fine not returning to Epicure.

                      Some people find Arpege a disappointment because of being primarily vegetable driven, and are also put off by the fact that Passard does not experiment or change much, thinking he rests on his laurels. After having been many times now, I agree that it's disappointing to return a full season or two later, thinking the menu will be mostly new, to get so many repeat dishes. I get that you should keep your signatures - Arpege egg, beet sushi, etc, but I would just love to see more of what he can do. Maybe I need to go a la carte instead of the tasting menu. The fish and/or meat course has always changed, though, and is always terrific. Plus his staff brings vegetables from his organic garden in Normandy, and they often say that whatever we happen to be eating was on the vine that morning. There is something to be said about that kind of quality.

                      Also, I just freakin' love Alain Passard. He has such a fun loving personality and is really generous. He is the primary reason I return, alongside the meal itself. He'll come out into the room during every service, with some crazy striped pants on under his chef smock, and maybe sandals, and sit down and have a chat. I just love it.

                      Once again, planned to respond with one paragraph and wrote a novel. Whoops.

                      1. re: juliemarie8

                        Excellent reply. Thank you! Will look into these recommendations.

                        1. re: juliemarie8

                          Blindly feeling a different part of the elephant. L'Argège is my least favourite 3-star. Maybe it's because I'm not a veggie kind of guy but mostly because I'm shallow and superficial and like a bigger show for the big bucks. Despite Passard's affability, the few times I've been for lunch or dinner (expense account and not by choice), the mood of the rather austere dining room has been suitably earnest and reverential.

                          Guy Savoy, I find much better as a total experience... food, ambiance, well-drilled waiters capable of charm, a great lunch "bargain"... maybe an even bigger bang for the buck when the restaurant moves to a more impressive space in La Monnaie in a few weeks.

                          Totally agree about the delights of La Grande Cascade... and, for the quality, an amazing value.

                          Too new for any star, Le Gabriel in new mega-bucks boutique hotel La Réserve near the Elysée palace might be worth a look. Eminently star-able for the decor, setting, service and cuisine and, for the time being, reasonably priced. There is a Chowhound review if you search. I've been twice (although I haven't reviewed it) and have been delighted each time.