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Dining Idas for Picky Tween and Foodie Parents in Paris?

Bonjour! I have scoured websites, blogs, books, etc. and am reaching information overload as I try to plan our upcoming family trip to Paris. So, I thought I would simply ask the wonderful Chow people for tips. We would like to find places for lunch and dinner in Paris where we can count on delicious food for foodie parents but which will also be fine for the tween who thinks a totally plain hamburger and fries are the perfect food. Sigh. Merci!

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  1. I would agree with most of the above but not Parnassien's 60 year learning curve for Yankees - he is far too kind, I'd say 80.
    In my (too many) years of residence here, I've had kids and grandkids 3 months to 55 years old and nobody yet has left hungry. We eat where we want.
    Regarding hamburgers (hot dogs, fish n chips and cupcakes) - the problem is not their paucity but their overabundance. And Balsamic, and slate plates, and pumpkin soup, but don't get me started.

    1. The above are not a judgement on your children or your parenting. What they are trying to say (maybe not as diplomatically as you like) is that it is impossible to satisfy the "foodie" you/your husband and those of your children in the same restaurant. It is just that talented chefs do not put burgers on their menu, not even made with wagyu. Since your children are teenagers, for couple of meals, how about let them go on their own way for burgers and you and your husband can have a quiet dinner such as David Toutain, Septime, Spring (or any of the recommended restaurants on earlier threads). Hamburgers are a current fad in Paris and your children can have delicious burger at Blend or Coffee Parisien, both in very central Paris. If your children prefer Shake Shack or In-and-Out, there are plenty of similar places in Paris. Or put it in another way, either parents are going to eat burgers with their kids and skip all the great food in Paris or the kids will have to eat where their parents eat and find something on the menu .
      And I agree with the above posters in that your children are in Paris; use all your parental charm and bribery to entice them to experience eating something different.

      1. despite the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing....

        I'm the parent of a teen who is moderately picky (eats asparagus, lamb, and duck, but wouldn't touch a red bell pepper if life depended on it...)

        Most restaurants offer a steak, chicken, and even hamburgers.

        Since the menus are, by law, posted outside the establishment, it's not too difficult to find something everyone can at least abide.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sunshine842

          What she said.

          Rare is the restaurant that doesn't have something easily accessible on the menu. Steak, roasted chicken, hamburger, medallions of something browned in a pan with a simple sauce; sauteed potatoes or fries. Only the most aggressively gastronomique restaurants don't have something for your child.

          The reason is simple: every family has someone like that. On the French side of my family, we have a cousin who pretty much orders roast chicken or overcooked steak; if he has to pick a starter, it's pâté. Paris or Marseille, Lyon or Nice, we never have any trouble going out with him.

        2. I took my kids to Paris in 2006 (at that time 13, 14 and 17). We had no problems finding places that met all of our needs. I relied on Chow for guidance. That was a while ago, but here are some more current threads that may help. And for the record, our kids' favorite place was Chez Denise. I would still recommend it...

          1. Folks, if you have suggestions on where to eat in Paris to fit the original poster's requirements, please make them. But please don't turn this thread into a debate about whether children's preferences should be accommodated -- the original poster didn't ask for advice in that area, and it isn't on topic for a regional board.

            1 Reply
              1. re: mangeur

                I can't understand why the utterly horrible Paris-New York always shows up at the top of the list whenever there's a burger classification in the Paris mags. Don't go there. I mean it.

                Places like Blend or Le Camion qui Fume (a food truck, be warned) serve better stuff. However if I understand the OP's request correctly, she is asking for places where the Grown-Ups can actually enjoy "delicious food for foodie parents" (whatever that means) while the Offspring can feast on - well if not junk food, at least simple edibles. So burger places are not really an option.

                I'd suggest Dans les Landes, which is both foodie-friendly (with one of the most impressive lièvres à la royale in Paris, folks) and deceitfully simple (deceitfully means just that, there are solid culinary skills behind Julien's burger or fish and chips but everything is served in such a good-natured way that you don't have to notice them).

                I'd also suggest Youpi et Voilà !! on Saturday lunch, when the day's special is the Youpi Burger. Nuff said.

                Otherwise, any decent brasserie and a few restaurants will deliver steak-haché-frites, Frankfurters-frites, tartare-frites and even hamburger-frites or poulet rôti-frites. But if the question is : "where can we enjoy foodie stuff while our son can have junk food", the answer is "nowhere in Paris".

                1. re: Ptipois

                  Totally agree with the Dans Les Landes suggestion. It's one of my faves in Paris and I think it meets your requirements...

                  1. re: Ptipois

                    It comes down to what budget the parents are looking at. You can go pretty upscale and still be able to round up something simple (let's use that word instead of 'junk') for the less adventurous.

                    If you're looking to spend hundreds of euros per plate, well, it may be more difficult, but down in the orbit where the commoners dine, it's just not that difficult.

                2. It may be useful to give a bit of context to help understand the replies. First, French children generally eat the same food as adults so restaurants rarely cater for children specifically i.e. its not uncommon to see fairly young children tucking into oysters and other raw seafoods with a lot of enthusiasm. Second, restaurants tend to have fairly short menus and therefore you won't tend to see much variation across the styles of cooking i.e. if its burgers and sandwiches there won't be much else, or if its more sophisticated food there won't be a simpler section. Third, many restaurants don't change the make-up of dishes so you get whats is specified on the menu which is quite unlike the mix and match approach in many US restaurants.

                  So the best advice is to look for restaurants which will deliver a simple dish your children may enjoy - the good ones are discussed on the board frequently. You can almost guarantee it won't be a burger if you and your partner want to sample good Parisian food.

                  So you need to be flexible and go with the flow, either compromise your experience or take a chance with the kids choices. Pti's suggestion of Dans les Landes is a good one - amongst the duck hearts, chiparones and other fabulous treats there are some simple but no less palatable dishes.

                  1. I am not very hopeful for you. Paris can be problematic for picky eaters. Of coarse, go ahead and peruse sidewalk menus... the last rite of the desperate. You''ll find a million places with 'safe' food that is both awful and expensive. None of you will be pleased. Please do not follow this 'strategy.'

                    Give yourself a break, feed the kid some pastries or fast food beforehand, and see if you can't go somewhere interesting at least. Who knows, the kid might surprise you and try something good.

                    However, in the spirit of cooperation, if folks on this board can throw out one rec each, then you should have a nice list to start off with. Anyplace worth eating probably means making a reservation.

                    This is my choice, though it is not a personal rec. I will not be insulted if others disagree:



                    It has some simple choices and has recently made several 2013 'Best' lists. This is where I would want to eat, even without a picky eater. Tues. through Thurs. seems safest for the specials. No hamburgers, though.


                    1. I understand your situation. I've had a similar dilemma in the past. To provide useful suggestions, it would be most helpful if you could list a few venues that would absolutely be on your itinerary were you and your husband to dine alone, so that it would be possible to understand your likes and preferences.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Nancy S.

                        I haven't dared to look at the high-end restaurants that serve multiple courses over many, many hours. Even I would be antsy in that situation.
                        Our son has surprised us on many occasions. He is eating oxtail soup tonight, but he thinks it is beef stew. The reveal will be after the food is declared delicious and happily in his tummy. He likes stew, soup, roasted meat and veggies--not just pizza and burgers. He is a big fan of steamed broccoli, which makes many American kids gag. He did great in Italy, where there was ample pizza and pasta.

                        1. re: SuziHB

                          This is a completely different scenario than that that most of us understood. I would just concentrate on places that you and your spouse want to visit. It doesn't matter a whit if they call it oxtail soup and he calls it beef stew, he will do well in Paris. Enjoy and report back with all of your happy tables. :)

                          1. re: mangeur

                            yes, totally agree with Mangeur (of course)...just don't try to pass off the Andouillette as sausage ! :)

                          2. re: SuziHB

                            I'm curious as to what you like -- modern, traditional, olde worlde?

                            1. re: Nancy S.

                              We love food! My only concern ever is whether something is ridiculously rich in a greasy way. Love the fois! In the US, we eat food from Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Greek, Italian, and regions of the US. The French food we have had has been homecooked by a friend or of the many course/tastebuds exploding variety of The French Laundry in Napa or a small bistrot that serves casoulet and even burgers with brie. We live in the Pacific Northwest and have fabulous seafood and a strong Asian influence. Love the artisanal food movement here. Love cheese-stinky, creamy, aged, whatever. Only had a good croissant a few years ago and looking forward to that and baguettes. I have made macarons twice now. As to trends, I am not a fan of the foam frenzy, finding it to be a bit overwrought. My husband is a wonderful cook. We are looking for a pastry making class we can do together as a family, and which doesn't require the day.

                            2. re: SuziHB

                              Well then, there should be no problem.

                              1. re: Ptipois

                                Agree; problem solved, question answered.

                                1. re: Ptipois

                                  doubly so -- because as you're reading the menu, you can describe it to him in terms that won't trip him up...pot au feu would also be beef stew, poulet roti is then roasted chicken, etc., etc., etc.

                                  we did that with the slightly-picky one of mine. When learning to talk, all animal flesh was "chicken" -- so we just didn't clarify that the "chicken" was actually pork, beef, duck, or lamb...until kiddo was old enough to say "hey, this isn't chicken....", by which time he also understood that it tasted good, regardless of what it was called.

                            3. We like to take a mixed crowd (conservative/adventurous eaters) to Jeanne A (hear Jeanne B is even better): roast chicken and "cheesy potatoes" for the conservative eaters and more interesting fare for everyone else. Good luck!