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Jan 15, 2014 08:30 AM

The dreaded group dinner question (Paris)

As an ex-pat resident of Paris, I have been charged with the task of finding a suitable place for dinner for a group of 10-15 visitors (final count still uncertain) for a Saturday night. On top of this I have the impression that people are expecting a restaurant which is trendy yet somewhat below the radar (ie.where a Parisian would go not just tourists and since this is a group in the design industry, a little “buzz” is always appreciated). For my own snooty sake, I also would like to go somewhere with legitimately very good food and wine. Finally, the restaurant should be centrally located (1eme-7eme). I have a number of ideas based on my own dining experiences as well as online reviews and this board, although I could use some help determining what could be a good fit.

My number one choice would be Pirouette. I fell in love with the resto when I dined there this past summer and I think it has the perfect combination of ambiance and delicious cooking. I sat on the bottom floor of the restaurant, which I think would be too small, but was unsure if the top floor may contain room for a large group. Any idea?

Some other choices which I would love to go but fear are too small. Please confirm or deny my size qualms:

-Les Enfants Rouges
-Terroir Parisien (either location. I have eaten at the one in the 5th, but do not particularly remember it as being large)
-Bistro Volnay

Restaurants I am pretty sure are large enough but I am personally unsure of quality/price. These are the restaurants I often hear are “great for groups” and so I fear food quality may be secondary (if not tertiary…). I am shooting for 60-80 EUR per person including wine as well as the option to order a la carte, so please no “menu only” spots.

-Le 122
- KGB ( I am well-aware of this resto’s accolades just unsure of average prices)
-La Bastide Odeon

Ok, thank you for bearing through this long post and any advice or opinions would be MUCH appreciated. Merci d’avance y’all!

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  1. My opinionated opinions:
    Pirouette is big enough but 10-15 no matter how well-behaved will overwhelm the place and although I've only eaten downstairs, friends report upstairs is impossibly noisy
    Now that I think of it almost any place that doesn't have a private room or upstairs (Bastide Odeon, Les Saisons) or downstairs (Les Papilles, Spring) will be overwhelmed - and that goes for Les Enfants-Rouges (20 covers), Bistro Volnay (30+ covers), Moustache, Le 122 (has an upstairs but like Pirouette it's not enclosed), KGB (has a side-room that might work for 10-15), even Terroir Parisien Bourse (which is huge).
    Why not downstairs at Spring (negotiated with Daniel, but fixed menu which you don't want) or Les Saisons (great food, undiscovered by the NYT, all locals every time I've been).

    5 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Les Saisons is an excellent pick. Good food, within budget, isolated space upstairs, in the hip rue des Martyrs area.
      I agree with JT.
      sch89, please don't take this the wrong way: Please choose a restaurant with an isolated room and don't mix with the general population. Why o why would I want to recommend the kind of charming smallish bistro that I love - like Pirouette or Enfants Rouges - and subject the diners there with 15 partying trendoids ? This is suicide recommendation.

      1. re: Parigi

        "hip rue des Martyrs area"
        Who's hip there but you?

        1. re: John Talbott

          I just spit my red wine on the screen.

        2. re: Parigi

          Isolate ourselves? But we are all such well-behaved adults...Just kidding, throw enough wine into the mix and no one is truly "well-behaved." I understand if fellow diners do not want to bask in our loud American glory so point taken.

          1. re: sch89

            LOL. When I party, I don't want to mix with ME !

      2. Trendy, below the radar, buzzy, 60-80€ including wine AND a la carte for 10 to 15 people is indeed a quest, if not a Quixotic one.

        I'm with JT on this one. Realize that a fixed menu for the table comes close to necessity in your situation. Even the ordering process boggles the mind as each of your guests considers his options. I have seen tables of 8 fall into disarray.

        Daniel offers an enticing option.

        1. How about Mini-Palais in the Grand Palais?

          Or, since it's a designy bunch, follow the Fashion Week trail to Monsieur Bleu in the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th for some above average modern French, Miss Ko in the 8th for a huge dose of style and Asian-inspired but not always memorable small plates, and Wanderlust in Les Docks in the 13th for surprisingly good trendy fare in an oh-so-artsy venue.

          And, of course, Pierre Sang Boyer in the 11th... usually a no-rezzie place but will book parties of 10 or more... I imagine large parties are consigned to the lower dining area where their impact on the rest of the resto is minimized... mostly set menu but the chef is a master of improvisations

          Please note that I am ignoring your self-defeating arrondissements 1 à 7 requirement.

          1. Fortunately the organizer on the the other side has let me know that a prix fixe menu (as long as there is some choice so not set) at max 65 EUR a head before wine is fine. This is great since we can now avoid the nightmare that is 15 people ordering a la carte. I know places like Bastide Odeon, Maceo and Alcazar do have private rooms, any opinions on the food at these places?

            I will look into Spring although I fear with this dinner a mere week and a half away, securing reservations may be impossible. I have eaten at and really enjoyed Mini Palais so I will put that on the list.

            I also had a very positive experience at Les Saisons, although that is a little less central than I would like it to be. There will be a bunch of industry events going on in and around St Germain des Pres during the evening so I think people want to stick around the area in order to attend cocktails and such before and after the dinner.

            I appreciate all the advice speedy replies! I have been stressing about organizing this thing for the last couple of days so everyone has been a huge help!

            5 Replies
            1. re: sch89

              I haven't been to the Bastide in quite a while and ChefJune can rave you about Maceo but I did eat (again) at Les Saisons just last week and it was superb and it's rather central no? ND de Lorette. Well for me living in the 18th that's central. As for Spring, i suggest you or your contact call immediately to negotiate with Daniel (as I suggested above) because it will take some talking.

              1. re: John Talbott

                La Bastide Odéon gets high-marks for setting but middling grades for the food. Yet, judging from the large tables of senators who eat and conspire there, it can easily handle a group.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  "the large tables of senators"
                  Humm, new thought. The last few times I've been at the Restaurant of the Maison Des Polytechniciens, now called Le Poulpry, at 12, rue de Poitiers in the 7th, I saw 10-15 sized groups of pols going into side rooms - maybe you could catch the first lady and first mistress in separate rooms. The food was rather good; look it up.

                2. re: John Talbott

                  From Les Saisons, it's 10 minute walk to the Opéra Garnier, 20-minute walk to the Louvre, of course much much faster by metro. 15-minute metro ride to rue du Back station. But visitoirs have their own mysterious sense of distance.

                3. re: sch89

                  haven't been to Bastide Odeon in years, so would hate to hazard a guess.

                  Maceo is one of my favorite places anywhere. Food is very good, not to mention a very good value, and their private space is lovely. the whole restaurant is lovely...

                4. Since the big dinner took place last Saturday night, I thought that I would give a quick update on how the whole experience went. I emailed and called a number of restaurants asking if they could accommodate a group of 12-14 people. Of the restaurants I contacted (a main criteria was that the restaurant had to be in or near the 6th), the ones who responded positively included:

                  -Le Terroir Parisien (both Maubert Mutualité and Bourse)
                  - Le Vin Qui Danse
                  - Aux Verres de Contact
                  -Les climats

                  Ideally I would have liked to find an interesting prix fixe, however restaurants either had set, no-choice menus (KGB, TP Bourse, Les Climats) or prix fixe menus that looked uninspired (Aux verres de Contact and le Vin Qui Danse). Although TP MM can provide a prix fixe menu, they also allow large groups to choose off the normal menu, so I decided to take the plunge and go a la carte there.

                  I had been to Le Terroir Parisien before and enjoyed it, even if it didn't knock my socks off. I must say that Saturday night’s experience was much different. I really need to give an immense amount of credit to the staff who were wonderful. Even when an extra 15th guest decided to show up, they did not bat an eyelash and provided a new place at the table. Although there was some initial uncertainty when they learned that 15 people were going to be ordering a la carte, the dinner ended up being nothing but smooth sailing. Service was fast and efficient and no wine glass stayed empty for too long. Kudos to the TP staff.

                  I was also pleasantly surprised by the food, it seemed that everything (at least on my side of the table) was a hit. For entrees the Onion Soup, Celery risotto and bone marrow were three different but equally excellent starters to the meal. For plats, the scallops with a puree maison, “Christmas” boudin blanc, duck pot au feu and steak in a pepper sauce all received rave reviews. To finish, most ordered the Brioche Nanterre ( a delicious pain perdu which will spoil French toast for you forever) and creamy chocolate tarts. The wine was excellent as well with a nice Sancerre for the white and a pinot noir from Bourgogne for the red.

                  As for the large party annoyance factor, the room is very spacious and so we were well distanced away from other tables. I never got the impression that other diners were bothered and the noise levels were never too high (I actually took a brief tour around the restaurant to check these factors).

                  To make things easier, we split the check 15 ways and given the amount of food, wine, sparkling water and coffees ordered, it came out to an outrageously reasonable 63€ per person (although after a very generous tip it ended up being a little more).

                  Between the professional staff and the delicious food, I can recommend Le Terroir Parisien Maubert Mutualité as an excellent choice for any large (or small for that matter) group dinner.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sch89

                    Thank you so much for reporting back. You share very valuable information. You are verye thoughtful.

                    1. re: sch89

                      Wow, Sdh, good news after the iffy reports on TP#1.

                      1. re: sch89

                        Great positive report. You have inspired me to give this location another try. Our first dinner here was similar to your first time; not bad, but didn't meet expectations.