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Jan 21, 2014 03:41 PM

a week in paris with 2 year old

My husband and I are traveling to Paris for a week in February with our 2 year old daughter and were wondering if we can get some suggestions!
We live in Brooklyn, NY and and take our daughter to restaurants all the time where the restaurants are pretty much all kid friendly, most of them with highchair it's easier for us.
We are staying in a hotel around Opera for a couple of nights and in an apartment for 4 nights in Marais.

We are thinking about the following for lunch:
Septime (made a reservation)
Pirouette (made a reservation)
Rose bakery
Pascade (not priority, but since it's right by our hotel)
Marche richard lenoir

and for dinner:
Huitrerie regis
gyoza bar
west country girl

and maybe:
chez omar
chez h'anna
au bon pho

I don't think my daughter can sit through a long prix fixe dinner so it has to be something quick and very casual. I actually made a reservation at Frenchie for dinner a while ago but after reading some reviews about the place being small and quiet, I cancelled it. Was it a bad idea?
Also, I am originally from Japan and would love to go to one of the restaurants with a Japanese chef. I called Abri about 50 times without success and wonder if they scan international calls...?

Since we are staying in an apartment, I am not opting out of the option to cook at home for dinner either. I would love to get Bordier butter and Mont D'or cheese for example. So if you have any quick and easy recipes with seasonal and regional ingredients, I would love to know as well.

If you have any recommendations, please send them my way!!
Thanks in advance.

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  1. No longer 100% accurate but still a great place to start thanks to the super hard-working Dr. T :

    Caveat that some of these are more formal and/ or have longer prix-fixe formats (Sola, Kei, passage 53, Table d'Aki), so perhaps not what you are looking for.

    My current favourite is Encore in the 9th, a relatively new opening (2013, I think). I like that many of their plates come to the table with very vivid herbal or vegetable garnishes - had a particularly memorable combo of sweet shellfish in a bitter/ vegetal radish-top broth, unusual and delicious. And the desserts are great - more like the feather-light seasonal ones which close a kaiseki/ kappo meal, than a traditional French dessert. Thoughtful wine list too. It will be fairly similar to Septime or Pirouette in terms of pricing, formality and child-friendliness.

    Btw I doubt if Abri is screening calls - they are just a very small resto, likely relying on the regular staff to pick up calls in between service. For Encore, it's unlikely to be a tough booking, not at lunch anyway. You could just ask your hotel to call once you're in town or else it is not that far from Opera - you could walk over, check it out and make your booking in person there and then if you like the look of it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: shakti2

      Thank you so much for your recommendation. Encore sounds great!
      As far as other restaurants with a Japanese chef, what do you think about Vivant and les enfants rouges?

      1. re: ratsudy

        I only know Les Enfants Rouges as a old-school bistro, replaced by the current operators in the later part of 2013. Give it a go and report back ! It is on the edge of the Marais although maybe a bit hard to find - I recall access is either down a very narrow alley or through what looks like a private courtyard.

        Vivant I've had a variable experience - have been maybe 3 times in 3 years and each time there's been a slight re-formulation of their format. The big change was the original wine bar shifting to make room for a sit-down resto, but the food offering at the wine bar has also had its ups and downs. I've had some memorable small plates but have also left early after a single glass of wine when confronted with a dull list of low-effort charcuterie/ burrata type preparations. Different chefs I think. Haven't eaten at the more ambitious sit-down operation and have a vague impression that there is more change underway at the moment (new owners ?)

        Incidentally the market round the corner from les Enfants Rouges resto, also called les Enfants Rouges, is handy for casual meals or takeaway.

        1. re: shakti2

          Paris restaurants love children who are restaurant-friendly. This is something I see over again and again. I explain later.
          To help a child be restaurant, parents should consider whether the place and the time are a good fit for the child, and not just think in terms of their food experience.
          Dinner time in Paris is quite late. No restaurant serves before 7:30pm.
          A meal-time can be long. It is considered bad service to hurry the diners. All the good eateries program in "dinner-chat" time between courses. A two-hour dinner is standard. It is often longer.
          Some restaurants on your list are smallish bistros. It may not be fair to expect him to be immobile and well-behaved for 2 hours past bedtime in a small space.
          But I have seen such children. It is always the case when the adults have brought color books and quiet games to keep the children entertained and happy and quiet.
          I have also seen many excellent parents who take their children out immediately when the children demonstrated that they literally needed some space. I have also seen parents who show Zen oblivion as they continue to stuff their face while their children scream, spit on walls and run amok and in general ruin the life of all the other diners and the staff.
          In those cases, it is not the restaurant that is child-unfriendly, it is the child, and his parents, who are restaurant-hostile.
          I was once with a 5-year old Antichrist, the daughter of a friend. As the parents yakkety yakked on, after taking the child out all day, I mean all day, to a series of museums, the child turned into a terrorirst, spitting all around her and runing all night into the path of waiters cdarrying food in the small bistro. Seeing no reaction from the parents, I volunteered to take the little Jihadist out for a walk between courses. The second she was out on the street, she was charming, curious about her surroundings, and her voice dropped 8 decibels.

          1. re: Parigi

            I totally agree with you.
            We are pretty easy going and do respect fellow diners. I think it would be easier for us to do a sit down lunch than dinner considering the time and we will always try to get to the restaurants right after opening and get out before they get crowded, also leaving the option open to cook in instead of eating out and being flexible as the day goes by.

            1. re: ratsudy

              Enjoying your major meal mid-day provides insurance that a late afternoon or early evening meltdown won't detract from the main event or leave you day with a huge hole in it.

              And I'm not just looking at your 2 year old. Lots of adults wind up cancelling ambitious dinner plans because they have just run out of steam.

              "Dine" at lunch and lock in a great meal.

            2. re: Parigi

              Agree 100%. Another thing that works wonders is to include the child in the conversation. As soon as the child can speak make it known that dinner is a convivial time with pleasant conversation (in "restaurant voice" of course).

      2. First, I have to commend you for good analysis of your dining options and for proposing rather reasonable rooms. Realize that Parisians don't normally bring their kids to dinners out, so restaurants aren't normally equipped with high or booster chairs. Realize also that tables are very close together, diners often knee-to-knee, so the possibility of cramming a pousette under or between tables is close to nil. That said, you have proposed the most difficult seatings at lunch service which will probably work for you. And your dinner suggestions are, as you say, order, gulp and go places where your daughter's patience will probably not be taxed. It is a pleasure to read someone who has done such homework.

        Most on this forum will not criticize you for cancelling your Frenchie res.

        Yes, buy butter. In February, I would buy scallops, quick to cook and partners of butter. And, yes, go to the Marche Richard Lenoir, and any other street market you fall over, and bring home whatever excites you. That's the fun of it all. Do you do foie gras?

        You sound like you're on the right track. Enjoy it all.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mangeur

          Thanks for assuring me that I am on the right track!

          I haven't had foie gras for a few years but would love to try it when we are there! Any suggestions?

        2. " I called Abri about 50 times without success and wonder if they scan international calls...?"
          Abri and Aki are both really small places and not terribly good about picking up the phone. Don't take it personally.
          I agree with all the prior responses - if you want my take on the new Enfants-Rouges it's here

          25 Replies
          1. re: John Talbott

            I have the same problem with Abri. I am afraid it is learing the Frenchies gimmick.

            1. re: John Talbott

              Thank you John for posting your review for Les Enfants Rouges. I read great reviews on some Japanese websites but some of them seemed to be friends of the chef so I wasn't sure one way or the other...

              1. re: ratsudy

                As long as you can can read Japanese, I'd use Japanese websites a lot. It's amazing how clued-in Japanese visitors sometimes end up at some of the best new restos long before Anglo-Saxons do.

                And following the Japanese theme mixed in with your cheese curiosity, try Salon du Fromage Hisada on the rue Richelieu near the Palais Royal for lunch... probably quite convenient when you are staying at your hotel near Opéra. Great intro to French cheese and Hisada seems to have lots of recipes that she can share.

                And speaking of sharing, try Mamie Gâteaux on the rue du Cherche Midi in the 6th... a delightful salon du thé/ lunch cantine with a French-Japanese couple at the helm... the Japanese wife makes all the French pastries/ quiches and the French husband helps all the Japanese clients find the best flea markets.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  Salon du Fromage Hisada and Mamie Gateaux both sound great! Cute little places. Thanks!
                  As far as I can tell, Mamie Gateaux is now closed for renovation so I will definitely go there if they reopen before we go to Paris. We were going to go to Rose Bakery in Le Bon Marche just because of the convenience but now Rose Bakery opened in NY that I was looking for another option.

                  1. re: ratsudy

                    I can't figure out why Rose Bakery gets the attention it does. So many better choices in Paris so it's a good thing that it's off your list. When you install yourself in your rental in the Marais, you will have lots of opportunity to compare and contrast... there's a Rose Bakery on the rue Debelleyme in the 3rd but, even better, Jacques Genin on the rue Turenne, Boulangerie RdT on the rue Turenne, Popelini on the rue Debelleyme, Pain de Sucre on the rue Rambuteau in the 4th, L'Eclair de Génie on the rue Pavée in the 4th, La Petite Fabrique inside the Marché des Enfants Rouges on Sunday morning, the boulangerie stalls at the Marché Popincourt on the boulevard Richard Lenoir @ rue Oberkampf in the 11th on Tue + Fri mornings.

                    BTW, the "Marché Richard Lenoir" that you include in your original post is actually the Marché Bastille (on the boulevard Richard Lenoir near Bréguet-Sabin métro) on Thu + Sun mornings. Dunno why so many Chowhounders and American food writers call it Marché Richard Lenoir, especially since there are two different markets on different days on two different stretches of the bd Richard Lenoir.

                    1. re: Parnassien

                      ...and if you should happen to pass a Gerard Mulot shop, be sure to check out their savory take out goodies. We had one of our most satisfying dinners in Paris last year bc we happened to pass the shop and decided to peek inside.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Oops, I forgot Gérard Mulot off the Place des Vosges. I have a dislike (admittedly irrational and rarely shared by others) for Mulot and tend to keep on walking to Carette down the street if I happen to find myself in this area.

                        So ChefJ, we've added even more options for the OP.

                        1. re: Parnassien

                          Carette is definitely a notch above Mulot.

                        2. re: ChefJune

                          And I'd walk the 10 extra minutes to Pain de Sucre.

                          1. re: Nancy S.

                            So many choices, so many different personal preferences that can be accommodated, so many accidental discoveries are what make Paris such a magical place.

                            And Pain de Sucre is indeed very good.

                            1. re: Parnassien

                              I'm actually a creature of habit and will make the 30 minute walk from my flat to Pain de Sucre if I'm planning on lemon tarts for dessert.

                              1. re: Nancy S.

                                Nancy S....If I happened to be near Pain de Sucre, I might buy lemon tarts for a later snack. But I would never make it the purpose of a 30-minute stroll. There is so much quality in Paris that one can improvise by what's convenient (and still excellent) rather than be motivated or fixed by a single purpose. Even if I had a yen for Pain de Sucre's lemon tarts, I'd "make do" with an inside-out éclair from Pierre Hermé or something magically chocolatey from Hugo & Victor depending on which happened to be closer or fitted into my activities that day. There will be another day when lemon tarts from Pain de Sucre will more naturally and easily slide into my life. Fortunately, both your purpose-driven ways and my whimsical lazy ways work equally well in Paris. Of course, my parisien ways are more enjoyable (just teasing). :)

                                1. re: Nancy S.

                                  Thank you all for sharing so many great places! I am pleasantly surprised by this overwhelming choices in just one neighborhood.

                                  I am a sucker for sweets with green tea flavor so I was looking at matcha opera cake from Sadaharu Aoki, but Mori Yoshida sure looks great as well.

                                  I also have a thing about lemon/lime tart and I made a note that Sebastian Gaudard and Gerard Mulot both are supposed to have good lemon tarts. Now Pain de Sucre (I think it's really close to where we will be staying), just too many great choices!

                        3. re: ratsudy

                          I tend to confuse Rose Bakery and Bread and Roses (on rue Madame in the 6th). The latter bakes a brilliant brioche. I've searched the city and this is my favorite.

                          Also, Des Gateaux et du Pain opened a second shop on rue du Bac -- their croissants are excellent as well as many of their pastries.

                        4. re: Parnassien

                          More sharing : Mori Yoshida pâtisserie in the 7th if you have a sweet tooth. And if you don't, their super-elegant deeply-flavoured but-not-too-sweet tea-flavoured pastry 'Beige' may be for you ...

                        5. re: ratsudy

                          "some of them seemed to be friends of the chef "
                          The day I went (its official opening date - it had a week of soft openings) my feriend and I and one other couple were the only non-Japanese there - so the word had certainly gotten out. And many were indeed friends of the house.
                          "I'd use Japanese websites a lot."
                          I'm envious Parnassien; despite my long convalesence in Japan I retain few kangi in the memory bank. But I agree they know places (here and and say NYC).

                          1. re: John Talbott

                            JT, I don't speak Japanese either... but I wish I did so I could take advantage of the superb foodie intelligence that the Japanese seem to have. But then they also seem susceptible to making some places almost cultish... like Le Pré Verre. But Americans do the same i.e. Frenchie.

                            1. re: Parnassien

                              Le Pré Verre became cultish with the Japanese because the founding chef (Philippe Delacourcelle) had travelled extensively to Asia and particularly Japan. He did a tour of Japan working in different kitchens during several months before he created the restaurant. From the beginning, the place was frequented by many of his Japanese friends. Later, he created a Pré Verre in Tokyo, identical to the Paris one. Also, Philippe was one of the very first Parisian chefs who staffed his kitchen with Japanese cooks. Hence the word-of-mouth. In this case, the foodie intelligence was mostly chef-induced.
                              A more speaking example might be Chez Hamadi, arguably the best couscous in Paris, more famous in Japan than in Paris while the place is little more than a hole in the wall.

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                Pti, can you get chef Delacourcelle back from retirement ? Le Pré Vert was probably worthy of a cult but now it just seems like false idol worship.

                                It used to be one of the best value lunches in Paris but now mes potes just roll their eyes when it's mentioned. No recent experience of my own though to verify.

                                1. re: Parnassien

                                  I wept for some time and went back just to check, and wished I had never gone back. The meal was lamentable.

                                  I wish I could get Philippe back from retirement but it was not an easy decision for him. Health and family-related problems. I miss him as much you do.

                                  Philippe is (rather than was) one of the most able and creative chefs I know, but (as a hint to the Michelin discussion on another thread) also one of the most humble and absolutely not thrilled by the Michelin race. He did not need that. All he wanted was cook great food, enjoy cooking it, and travel wide and far to feed his inspiration. My kind of chef.

                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                    "absolutely not thrilled by the Michelin race"
                                    See that's what I was trying to say.
                                    There are places than can not and should not compete in that race - it's like downhill and snowboarding.

                        6. re: John Talbott

                          John, do you know what days Les Enfants Rouges is open and are reservations hard to come by? We are coming in May and the restaurant sounds wonderful.

                          1. re: macdog

                            It is very noisy, and if the cooking has improved, the wine list has become less interesting. Good points: the price haven't increased. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

                          2. re: John Talbott

                            Hi John, just to say thanks for locating the old Enfants Rouges folks on your blog ! Had assumed Madame was retiring for good and am glad to know otherwise.

                            1. re: shakti2

                              Dany (sorry Parnassien, everyone calls her that) looked young and vigorous and as always was very warm & welcoming.

                          3. We spent 4 days in Paris with our 1 1/2 year old in October (we're also from brooklyn). We ended up having one really nice lunch at itineraires and one really nice dinner at ze kitchen galarie. At both places, our daughter was welcomed with open arms - in fact, at both places, the chef came out and asked if it would be ok if he cooked for her specifically. Of course we said yes (they made her an incredible vanilla mashed potatoes and fish at itineraires and a gorgeous puréed carrot and broccoli soup at ze kitchen. In fact, at ze kitchen, they ran out of the restaurant and grabbed a high chair from a neighboring hotel for us to use.

                            So, short story, don't worry about bringing your kid. We just made sure to ply her with coloring books and if absolutely necessary our iphone. The only tough part was the late dinner times, but our daughter got use to it quickly.

                            We filled in the rest of our meals with take aways from some shops, some small restaurants near our hotel, and whatever pastry looked amazing at the time we passed it.

                            Have fun!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jon

                              Thank you Jon for sharing your experience. It sounds like you had amazing time and good to know you had such great experiences at both restaurants.

                            2. ratsudy - it would be great to get the low down of your experiences at your selected restaurants and whether they were amenable to children. i am going in June with a 2 and 4 year old.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sewkim

                                Dress them up, teach them to smile and say Bonjour, Bonsoir, S'il vous plait and Merci and you won't even be handed a bill at the end of the evening.