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Coming to Paris in January. Looking for recommendation on one epic dinner

Hi all,
I'm making a quick 4 night trip to Paris in mid January. I plan on eating my way through the city, but am also interested in doing one dinner without worrying too much about budget. Similar to the French Laundry of San Francisco, the Alinea of Chicago, the 11 Madison or Per Se of New York City. I'm not too familiar with the options in Paris, and though I've done a lot of research, I'm having a hard time narrowing down my options.

Are there 2 or 3 restaurants that you would recommend for me to narrow my options down to? I'm a lover of all food, but I would love something that includes some meat dishes and not limited to seafood, and considering I'm in France, ideally a French cuisine.

There are too many options for me to pick from! L'Astrance seems intriguing, any thoughts on that?

Thanks so much!

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  1. " L'Astrance seems intriguing, any thoughts on that? "
    Yes, it's not 11 Madison-Park or the FL or Grant Achatz.
    Hummm, ask Parnassien, he's the only one here who has an expense account that I know of altho' Dean and Deluca seems able to reach.
    Me - I'm content with Lazare and the Cantine de Le Cigale at 1/5th the price.

    7 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      I'd be interested to hear some additional feedback from you. What are a couple of your favorites that you feel would be worth me trying?

      I'm more than happy to retract my expectations of an 11 Madison or FL if you have some other great suggestions. :)

      1. re: deylamian

        I'm not the person to ask about epic dinners; I've long since found dinners here, especially 20 course Gagnaire type ones to be more than I can handle in several senses of the word.

        1. re: deylamian

          Since I originally replied, we've had an epic meal at David Toutain's new shack which I judged an 8.4/10 for Lord knows how many innovative dishes; since then, Alec Lobrano and Rio Yeti have published reviews http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...

        2. re: John Talbott

          John -
          Just so you know, I ended up booking L'Astrance for lunch and Septime for dinner. :)

          1. re: deylamian

            That's fine, there's not much food at l'Astrance anyway.

            1. re: souphie

              Ah Soup, you've gotta feed the belly,

            2. re: deylamian

              Waiting to hear your thoughts on those two (and whatever else you manage to eat)

          2. Aside from wide differences in the food, Astrance does not share the service ethos of either FL or Per Se. It seems to garner a love or hate response. You might find it valuable to run a Chow search on it and see how you parallel the various writers.

            1. L'Astrance will certainly be epic, brilliant, and won't leave you half-unconscious. Gagnaire might be epic in the sense of overwhelming.

              1. "considering I'm in France, ideally a French cuisine"

                Interesting question:

                Do top-end restaurants like Astrance and Gangaire serve French Cuisine? Discuss.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Steve

                  I'd be interested to hear more on this as well.

                    1. re: souphie

                      This a discussion?
                      Bring in my idol Bernard Pivot, new président de l’Académie Goncourt, who knows from discussions.

                2. There are many threads, though none very recent, about the compared merits of the top restaurants in the city (but top Paris restaurants don't change that much, really). There are essentially two questions here:
                  1- What part of the experience do you value most (traditional service, fun service, extraordinary ingredients, virtuose cooking, creativity, wine list)?
                  2- What's your risk profile? (most of the really best are hit or miss -- because that's the nature of haute cuisine)

                  Now, here's the short-ish story, since we haven't discussed that in a while.

                  In my opinion, Ledoyen has the best food of them all -- the superlative ingredients and the extreme mastering and the good taste. Top location also, service not on par with the best. My pics: https://picasaweb.google.com/11007814...

                  Others like l'Ambroisie for that same perfect food factor -- it's much more like a sublime version of a bourgeois dining room and uses no molecular or modern technique at all. Some pics from our own olivierb: http://www.flickr.com/photos/45095140...

                  The other two leader for top food (meaning those that have the potential to redefine food) are l'Arpège and Pierre Gagnaire -- the first one for almost casual dining and vegetable centered cuisine, the second one for a swirl of bites and an always overwhelming experience.

                  For a safe, almost always fun experience, and still potential for unforgettable food, Savoy and Le Cinq are probably the leaders.

                  For superlative service and wine list, we're talking Taillevent (we used to talk le Meurice but Ducasse worked his wonder here which in my opinion means the good food is gone), the original Gusteau.

                  Some people love Pré Catelan, but why is beyond me.

                  1. Friends of ours had an "epic" lunch at Guy Savoy that they are still raving about . . . three years later. GS has a 5 course dinner, with matching wines, for 170E per person ($225 US $ pp) which is considered quite reasonable for dining in this stratosphere.
                    And they serve a number of meat dishes, including Bresse chicken which to me is pretty quintessentially "French."

                    1. you should go to places that are uniquely France or Parisian

                      l'Ambroisie is a good candidate especially during black truffle season, but you will not get the service level of per se or Alinea there
                      forget Savoy or Gagnaire for the time being because you can get them at US or somewhere else outside France

                      well, this may come down to these: palace-like restaurant serving delicious food in which you would be treated like royalty. my favorites are : alain ducasse and ledoyen
                      if the setting does not have to be wow - i always recommend for l'Arpege (warning: the price for dinner truffe noire tasting menu was insane, > USD 500 per pax) - instead go for the a la carte and split the dishes, also, here you get to eat (excellent organic) vegetables from chef's own garden that are not available elsewhere

                      lastly about l'Astrance - Barbot was Passard's apprentice so in some ways they're similar: lots of flavorful dishes via slow cooking, more intimate service but the decor was normal and not that spacious - not sure if you're ok with that

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bu Pun Su

                        Not sure how Gagnaire's other restaurants compare to his Parisian one. That said, I went to Pierre in HK, and while one could discern Gagnaire's style, it's not even close to being in the same league as the original one in terms or food, service, or wine menu.

                        1. re: olivierb

                          well, yes I get your point - it's too simplified
                          but still one can get a good sense of Gagnaire's food in tokyo, vegas, hk, seoul etc. - though they're not in the same league as the one on rue balzac

                          however, restaurants such as l'Arpege, ledoyen, l'Astrance and a few more - there are only available in the city of lights
                          the only other chance to savor their food - only happens when Passard or Barbot become the guest chefs overseas

                      2. If looking for a tasting/multi-course menu, you can skip L'Ambroisie (only a la carte, and no lunch specials). ( I really liked it).

                        I would go to Le Cinq, for both the food and the setting.

                        1. I thought this might be useful for you

                          Just select the restaurants located in Paris
                          The only drawbacks a few of the Parisian places could be irrelevant
                          For instance: I ate at Le Meurice when Yannick Alleno was still the Executive Chef; Ducasse Plaza was pre-Santaigne

                          At least you can get some ideas ...