Birthday lunch in Paris--please advise!
Hello--we are planning a birthday lunch in Paris next October. We decided to have a lunch rather than dinner because I want a long, elegant, multi course, beautifully presented meal--and with jet lag from California, I am not sure I can handle an evening meal like that! And, of course, cost.
I am looking at Taillevant and Le Cinq, because I want a "dress up" kind of experience. We have plenty of superb food, casual setting in California.
We ate at Arpege on a previous trip and loved it, but the atmosphere is too subdued for what I want.
I see that you want to make it special.
There's a place in Montmarte where the host is a guy in drag.
Didn't look past him to see about the waitstaff. The price should be OK. I'll try to remember the name for you. Help, anyone?
I recall a great birthday lunch at Taillevent where M. Vrinat brought me a beautiful birthday cake and stayed to sing Happy Birthday. That said, these days, I would choose Le Cinq.
What is the cost constraint? Le Cinq is probably the wise choice no matter what, but it's all about what you really like and what moves you -- at that point we know you want multicourse and less subdued than l'Arpege. As VV illustrates, there are many ways to have a special experience, let's discuss what you'd like.
I am thinking 150-200 pp with wine--we are taking another couple. What I want is a leisurely meal, a delicious tasting menu that is French in feeling, not a meal I could get easily in the US. Last year we had lunch at Jean George in New York which was wonderful--excellent food, attentive service, the feeling that everyone wanted us to be delighted!
No offense, but I hear that a lot. No starred restaurant in France is like fine dining in the US, even when the restaurants seem to be the same (eg Robuchon, Savoy). This is why I always recommend at least one fine dining experience to anyone visiting.
Le Cinq lunch still looks like your best option. I would candidate La Grande Cascade as an interesting alternative. The budget is a bit tight for a fine dining tasting menu -- it would be a perfect match for tasting at l'Auberge du 15, but the place is more casual than liar pegs (which is auto correct for l'Arpege, fits them well methinks).
If you feel like giving an outsider a chance, try Relais Louis XIII. It sure is uniquely French, starting with the very old building, and continuing with the very technical, fairly traditional food.
Also in the historical treasure category, Lasserre is very unique. Built I don't think it fits your budget.