$500 - $600 special dinner in Paris
Hi, my fiancee and I are headed to Paris as the last stop on our honeymoon. We had originally thought one of the top Michelin starred places would fit the bill but the $1500 price tag pre-wine seems outrageous to us. We'd also much rather walk the streets of Paris with a baguette during the day then have a formal sit down lunch.
It also seems like Paris has a huge gap in restaurants, there are fantastic bistros with amazing food for under $300 for 2, then there are the palaces of culinary genius for $1000+ but nothing in between. We have the bistro fare covered with reservations at Frenchie and some other great recs from friends. However, we've yet to find that one really romantic meal with great service and wine for $500 - $600. Any ideas?
Go for lunch. Most of the top starred places have lunch prices that fall into the $500-$600 price range. Its not quite what you would get for dinner, but pretty darn close. Ones that come to mind are Guy Savoy, le Cinq(my favorite), Taillevent, Michel Rostang and although it doesn't still have the stars la Tour d'Argent. I actually prefer lunch because it gives you time to digest the large amount of usually rich food you will be eating.
As stated Guy Savoy has a 110 Euro lunch special that is great. The guinea hen for 2 may have been my fav poultry ever. Watch their wine costs though, great list at not so great prices. There a few months ago for lunch and check for three was 1600 euros due to wine
Le Cinc is indeed another great lunch and my favorite as well. @ 90Euros/pp and their wine list is far more accessible pricewise. Avoid the champagne by the glass cart, it will astonish you with its prices. Was there last in June and check for three was 575 euros with three bottles of wine.
l find the quenelle and potatoes dauphinois at Michel Rostaing very, very good, but weak first course and very weak dessert makes it a pass for me.
We had an amazing meal at Spring. It's not that expensive, more like 300 euro/couple with wine pairings and cheese course, but it was one of the best meals I've had anywhere and the service was superb, very welcoming.
There is quite a lot of choice between the 300-for-2 and the 1500-for-2. Only they are not necessarily the places that come up the most frequently in guidebooks and forums.
Just off the top of my head:
The "small independent gastros":
Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos
Le Sergent Recruteur
Ze Kitchen Galerie
Chez les Anges
L'Auberge du 15
The budget gastros:
Amandine Chaignot at Le Raphaël
La Grande Cascade
Actually, there are several possibilities that should fit into your price range. I think the number one choice these days for both a spectacular, romantic ambience and fine cuisine would be La Grande Cascade in the Bois du Boulogne. The price/quality ratio is really unbeatable for this level of dining.
Next,I'd suggest Le Restaurant in L'Hotel in St. Germain du Pre. L'Hotel, of course, is the famous last quarters of Oscar Wilde, and is said to be a favorite of Mick Jagger's when he is in Paris.
Also you might consider either Restaurant Le Paris in the Hotel Lutetia or Le Diane at Hotel Fouquet. Both feature beautiful rooms with cuisine that is generally very, very well regarded.
Please investigate the websites for these spots for pricing, but I believe they all would fit your $500 to $600 budget, and any one of them should afford you a memorable evening.
"Actually, there are several possibilities that should fit into your price range. I think the number one choice these days for both a spectacular, romantic ambience and fine cuisine would be La Grande Cascade in the Bois du Boulogne. The price/quality ratio is really unbeatable for this level of dining."
Totally second that. La Grande Cascade is *the* place when you want affordable haute cuisine. It was sure to be on my list. In the same category but in a less romantic setting, I highly recommend Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos.
(Sorry to differ about Le Paris where I always had terrible food, but the last time I went there was rather long ago.)
Never been at Le Diane at Hotel Fouquet but you are quite right in directing the OP to small luxury hotels for elegant but affordable food. That is what you'll get at Le Raphaël (where Amandine Chaignot is still cooking I believe), and - if my sources do not betray me - at Le Restaurant, at L'Hôtel, rue des Beaux-Arts.
And do not forget La Maison de l'Amérique Latine. I haven't been there for quite a while but I still hear good reports.
Also, l'Arpège at lunch when the menu is 130 euros per person. Well-priced wine list for that category of restaurant. Including a good bottle of wine, you would have change from $500 (remembering that you don't need to tip.) I know it's not dinner but there's really nothing quite like a Parisian three star, lunch will last a long time, and you'll have eaten enough that you won't need dinner afterward. You could walk around in the evening instead, go to a few wine bars.