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Sep 23, 2013 07:13 AM

40th birthday, group dinner in Paris

We will be in Paris in mid-October with some friends to celebrate my boyfriend's 40th birthday. I'd like your help to find the "perfect" restaurant for our group dinner. I know there is no shortage of fantastic dining options in Paris, but many are not ideal for this occasion. Here are the general criteria we have (just as guidance; all except the day and number of people are negotiable):
- Open for Saturday dinner
- Can accommodate a group of 10 people
- Menu/food price should not be more than ~30-50EUR/person, exclusive of wine/alcohol
- French food (of course!), ideally would be somewhere that has a mix of innovative and traditional
- Lively atmosphere; wouldn't mind somewhere that feels a bit "swanky" or special, but doesn't put style over substance - food comes first :)
- Well-located. Our hotel is in the 1er and happy to stay in that general area for dinner or to travel by taxi/metro. If we don't go somewhere near-ish to where we're staying, we would like to be in an area that has some fun bars/nightlife nearby for after dinner.

Some suggestions I've already received:
La Pirouette - could be a contender
Mama Shelter - discarded; looks like interesting atmosphere but food isn't very French, also seems to present high risk of feeling "old"
Le Fumoir - discarded; looks very touristy
Bistro Volnay - discarded; looks nice but food and service don't seem to be the top priority
Bistrot Paul Bert - contender? (Traditional) Food looks great but worried that it will be too "cozy" with all of us and quite heavy for a Saturday night meal

Many thanks in advance for your comments on the above and/or recommendations!

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  1. The problem here, which we've discussed before, is that a party of 10 Anglos, even well-behaved, will either disturb or be disturbed in a place as good as it is such as the Bistro Volnay (not discarded by me), Pirouette or Paul Bert (Mama Shelter, faggedaboudid).
    I'd suggest you find a private room even if it's not a darling of the Chows, where you can talk, have fun, celebrate and you know....
    The downstairs at Spring or Les Papilles, the upstairs at the Bastide Odeon or a real un-CH Minimes or a fave of Pti et moi - Charbon Rouge (meat meat meat).

    3 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Thanks, John. Was hoping to avoid private rooms, as I feel you don't get to experience the true ambience of the restaurant. Trust your judgement, however, and certainly don't want to prevent others from enjoying their meals! (well behaved as we may be :) ) Will look into your suggestions for those (and keep in mind your other endorsements for the next Paris trip.) Thanks again.

      1. re: Poffertje

        John is quite right. When one goes to a restaurant with 9 others, one is not going to experience the true ambiance of that restaurant. Actually, like a forest fire creating its own wind force, that group will in fact change the ambiance of the restaurant. It has nothing to do with being well or not well behaved. It's just too large a table to communicate (much less celebrate) quietly.

        Do find a private room. Go to that quintessential little restaurant at another time as a twosome and you will experience that special ambiance you are looking for.

        And felicitations to the birthday boy wherever he eats his cake!

        1. re: Poffertje

          Oh, also to help you; you can cross-reference Private Rooms pages 1211-1212 and open weekends 1213-1215 in the Michelin or at least in the one sold in France.

      2. I think that "Saotico", on Rue Richelieu in the 2nd, reviewed already on this forum, would be in keeping with your requirements. It also has a nice room upstairs for larger groups. Sat. Night might be a problem, but they state weekends according to reservations

        1. I absolutely agree with the comments about parties of 10 changing the feeling of experiencing a restaurant. It's just the nature of the size of the group and the logistics of communicating in such a group. I never thought about it before, but it's definitely true!

          Restaurants aren't really built to support groups of 10. I would say 6 or possibly 8 max.

          I agree, get a private room. Experience these restaurants in a smaller group for the real ambience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lemarais

            Indeed, lemarais. I know of which I speak. ;)

            We hosted a table of 10 for an anniversary dinner. All "mature", "top drawer" adults. We shared a semi-private room with two other tables. While conversation broke into small groups, every so often the entire table would erupt in a "Whoop!" and I noticed a few "over the top of the specs" glances from the other tables. It can't be helped with a group...larger than 4, truth be told.

          2. Maceo in the 1er is lively, has a young vibe, fits your price requirements, AND has a private room in case...

            Food is excellent and there's always a vegetarian option in case one should be desired.

            1. Thanks to all for the suggestions, advice, and well wishes. I will report back on the final decision and experience.