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5 dinners in Paris with a vegetarian!

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My wife and I are staying 5 nights in Paris. The problem is she is a vegetarian, I am not. We're looking for low key places, nothing too fancy. Maybe 20-30 euros per person. After some research, I've narrowed our dinners down to:

Verjus bar a vins
L'Avant Comptoir
Frenchie Wine Bar
Breizh Cafe
Candelaria or Saravanaa Bhavan if we need a break from french food.

Any thoughts? I also am considering Les Papilles or L'Office (as I've heard they may provide a vegetarian option for the price-fixed menu with advance notice). I am open to replacing any of the restaurants, but obviously there need to be vegetarian options on the menu (with some meat options for me). We are willing to take the metro for dinner, but preferably not too long of a ride from Opera or Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette (closest metro stops to our hotel). Thanks!

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  1. The first three are wine bars with snack like food. you can certainly build a meal if you want to but its a meal of bar snacks not the best representation of a Paris meal. Verjus (when I went) was pretty meaty and as there are only a few options that may be an issue. L"Avant Comptoir is very meaty (and no seats) - its a bit of a piggy paradise. Frenchie does have some really good salads and you can avoid meat - its probably the most meal like.

    Understand the desire to have a non-French option but you don't have many true traditional French options to start with apart from a crepe cafe (which again is snacky food). Verjus is definitely American, Frenchie is French but quite international, and L"avant Comptoir is Basque (I know is French basque but its not trad French)

    My advice is to simply choose from any of the decent places recommended on the board, double check the menus and avoid any that have a USP based on meat (Hugo Desnoyer for example), you can almost guarantee that menus will have good options for a non-meat eater. So bottom line is neither of you need to compromise.

    Three cautions: "Named" salads can often have undeclared meat as that is the traditional recipe - best to double check. Soups are often meat stock based - again ask. And finally you will struggle on that budget - and this includes the wine bars you name as they are not really that good value (and remember if you go to a wine bar they sort of expect you to order wine).

    1. Several years ago, well before it became more common, we travelled and dined out with someone who "ate nothing that ever had a face". To guarantee his comfort and to simplify things for the restaurant, we booked every dinner and advised the restaurant in advance that one of our party at no meat, foul or fish. To a place, we were welcomed warmly and he was served interesting plates, often unusual, but always appealing looking and delicious. In other words, we did not visit or not visit any restaurant especially because of the vegetarian in our group.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mangeur

        Thanks for the tips. I should have clarified, 20-30 euros per person not including wine/drinks. I definitely will book a few places and advise in advance that one of the party is a vegetarian. Any thoughts on places that do a particularly good job of this?

      2. Macéo -- 15 rue des Petits Champs in the 1er -- always has a vegetarian option, but it might be above your everyday budget. However, food is delicious, and I think you'd like the place.

        If you read this article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/mag... you might not want to go to Saravana Bhavan...

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChefJune

          Wow. That is quite a story.

        2. When we ate at Pierre Sang Boyer the other night, a woman nearby was a vegetarian, and we watched (from the counter at the open kitchen) while they modified dishes for her. I believe she ate well (it was her choice for her birthday). At dinner, six courses are 39E, but there are smaller/cheaper lunch options, and it is six metro stops from your hotel.

          North African (Mansouria, Chez Omar) and Lebanese are also done well in Paris and will offer vegetarian options.

          1. Based on the recs, I made reservations at L'Office and Semilla (and asked them to accommodate a vegetarian). I'll probably keep Candelaria and Breizh Cafe on this list. Thanks for the help!

            1. In our gang of 12 we have one and she never has trouble.

              12 Replies
              1. re: John Talbott

                Another thought that occurred to me during my meal today at the quite honorable Brigout in the 2nd was to order a full portion of a salad I only had an entree-portion of, containing avocado, grapefruit, cherry tomatoes, lots of mesclun and some salmon and shrimp.
                http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...

                1. re: John Talbott

                  Good point. Expanding it, one can always order a double order of any entree, many of which are perfect veg fare.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    If it had salmon and shrimp in it it ain't vegetarian.......

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Vegetarian on the France board has included chicken and beef. It just means any carnivore who for some reason hates to call himself so.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Parigi: You forgot bacon every other Thursday.

                        1. re: John Talbott

                          Bacon is not meat. It is a basic food group.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            Biizzz; Wrong answer; as our friend S. aka Paga taught us, the five basic food groups are syrah, cabernet, zinfandel, merlot and chardonnay.
                            Next question?

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              Only in California, John.
                              Elsewhere it's whiskey, cream, coffee, sugar, Apéricubes, and bacon.

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                I love Rieslings as well.

                      2. re: John Talbott

                        Yet another thought occurred to me at the Bistrot Quai in Neuilly today where they served me a ton of very good Spring-early Summer veggies with my 7-hour lamb - one can easily skip the lamb and double up the vegetables.
                        I'm following this thread faithfully since my beloved eldest grand-daughter is doing a semester in London this fall, but a Eurostar distance away.

                        1. re: John Talbott

                          I take it that she is a vegetarian?

                          How lovely that she will be just a short railway trip from you. John, you know that what she would love in Paris is the wonderful markets. I do hope she isn't a vegan...

                          1. re: lagatta

                            Not vegan. No. And she's the one who called last July and asked me if the Gardienne had the key to our flat so she's fully capable of negotiating the way having been on the street with us since age 3.
                            On the other hand, my wife and I are figuring out how we can make up excuses to be in London & Brighton as well.
                            We will not starve wherever.

                    2. Just wanted to report back after our fantastic trip:

                      Our first dinner was at L'Avant Comptoir - delicious small plates! Even though there are a lot of meat dishes, there are plenty of vegetarian options as well. We had mushrooms with an over easy egg, Camembert cheese, plenty of Bordier butter with bread, pimiento padron, and creme brulee. (I also had some jambon). Very full and satisfied by the end.

                      Second dinner was at L'Office. Servers were very accommodating, and helped translate the french menu. Appetizers were egg with asparagus - delicious. For the main course, I had volaille (chicken breast) with creme sauce (not as flavorful as I'd like), and my wife had a plate of veggies. The veggies tasted good, but in the end, they were just veggies. No protein, and not much of a choice. I wish restaurants could get a little more creative with the veggie options. We've often had just a plate of veggies as a main course (we did let them know in advance that my wife is a vegetarian).

                      3rd dinner was at Semilla. This was our best dinner of the trip. Appetizers were a plate of asparagus and burrata, and I had a fantastic ceviche. My main course lamb dish was amazing, and they made my wife a delicious main course of arancini and risotto.

                      4th dinner was at Saravana Bhuvan. All vegetarian south indian food. Very good and nice change of pace (although I read the article posted above afterwards - that's crazy!)

                      5th dinner was Breizh Cafe. Amazing crepes, and cider. Lots of veggie options here as well, and they were very accommodating about switching out meat for veggies in the crepes. Dessert was sublime - salted caramel ice cream crepe.

                      Thanks for the help!

                      91 Replies
                      1. re: soccerfan80

                        "The veggies tasted good, but in the end, they were just veggies. No protein, and not much of a choice. I wish restaurants could get a little more creative with the veggie options."
                        How many vegetarian restaurants have creative options for carnivores ? Or options period ?

                        1. re: Parigi

                          If you go to a "vegetarian restaurant" you generally go knowing there will be no meat. I would hope that when you go to a "french restaurant" you don't have to expect there will be no vegetables.

                          The main course of veggies at L'Office was good. We just expected something more than just vegetables when the appetizer (also made special by the chef) was so good.

                          1. re: soccerfan80

                            "I would hope that when you go to a "french restaurant" you don't have to expect there will be no vegetables."
                            There ARE vegetables. I don't know a French restaurant that is vegetable-free.
                            You answered your own question: when you go to a non-vegetarian restaurant, vegetable is served but is not the focus. If you want vegetable to be the focus, you have to suck it up and follow your wife to her restaurants.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              "How many vegetarian restaurants have creative options for carnivores ? Or options period ?"

                              If you go to a vegetarian restaurant, you cannot expect meat. Whereas if you go to a French restaurant, you can expect good vegetables, and possibly some vegetarian options. While vegetables may not be the focus, many french restaurants are still able to put out creative, satisfying vegetarian dishes (like the ones we had at Semilla and Breizh Cafe). While the main course at L'Office was good, it was not up to par with the vegetarian main courses my wife had at Semilla or Breizh Cafe.

                              1. re: soccerfan80

                                "If you go to a vegetarian restaurant, you cannot expect meat. Whereas if you go to a French restaurant, you can expect good vegetables,"
                                yes
                                "and possibly some vegetarian options."
                                Possibly. Not often, not in restaurants in France. In order not to be disappointed, you had better stick to vegetarian restaurants in France.

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  Correct. I have written that we have traveled to Paris with a vegetarian who was quite satisfied with the plates he was served at ordinary restaurants. We did advise them at booking and at seating of his needs. He was served plates of... vegetables. Whatever was in the kitchen. He was satisfied, realizing that he was swimming upstream and that they were catering to him as it was.

                              2. re: Parigi

                                "I would hope that when you go to a "french restaurant" you don't have to expect there will be no vegetables."
                                As an historical note from the oldest guy left standing here, after the war, vegetables were not plentiful in Paris but were more available in the countryside and I think - or guess - that the current stereotype of French meals being veggie-less, stems to/from those days of deprivation.
                                A wonderful book soon to appear (August) by Ronald Rosbottom entitled When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 describes one family's pushing their wheelbarrow kilometers back to their home in Deauville to harvest their vegetables which were untouched by their neighbors and German occupiers alike.

                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  "the current stereotype of French meals being veggie-less"
                                  Stereotype it is.

                                2. re: Parigi

                                  Luckily today we have outgrown the hippy vegetarian restaurants of the '70s that tried to compensate for meatlessness with heaps of grains and overly rich and heavy sauces and cheese. Today, vegetables are allowed to shine on their own and in combination, the best being simple and quintessential.

                                  1. re: mangeur

                                    Many still have the kitchen-sink approach toward salads. Someone not long ago complained that when one orders a geen salad in France, one gets - gulp - a green salad.
                                    The "vegetarian" restaurant downstairs from me back when I lived on rue La Vieuville had an astro-turf carpet. Need I say more.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      I am headed to Paris in early June for three nights and i don't eat any meat; no chicken, pork, turkey, or beef. I do eat fish though i don't want my veggies or food made with chicken stock. I have booked after careful research due to where my family is taking in certain landmarks, the following places. I'd love your opinion if they have good food, and if you think i'll be able to eat without the meat stock.
                                      First night Le Billebaude ( we are seeing Eiffel Tower)
                                      Second night Vagenende
                                      Third night our splash out is Itineraires
                                      Last night we are eating at extending family's house and I may try to nibble somewhere before hand so i'm not rude when i don't eat their main course.

                                      My favorite place here in LA is The Bizaare where i can get delicious gastronomic food that is meat free but soooo interesting. I would love to do that there but i fear it will be too expensive. The above were chosen for pretty rooms, and to expose the teens to traditional fare done well.

                                      I have one more night when we come back through Paris i haven't booked if you have any suggestions. The rest of my family are carnivores!

                                      Thanks!

                                      1. re: celticfoodie

                                        The pin in your hand grenade is your restriction " i don't want my veggies or food made with chicken stock."

                                        This is close to impossible to screen.

                                        The Bizaare sounds wonderful! But Paris is not LA. There are many small restaurants in Paris that spotlight produce as a part of their plates, but in no way try to keep meat and meat products out of their cuisine.

                                        1. re: mangeur

                                          "chicken stock"
                                          Shhhh, plus don't mention duck and goose fat.

                                        2. re: celticfoodie

                                          Vagenende? Nobody eats there anymore. The food is beyond description. Aside from the fact that the setting was spoiled beyond recognition.

                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                            @ Pitpois Really? Can you elaborate how the setting was spoiled? I wanted a gorgeous bistro or room and we are staying in the 6thA and seeing the Lourve that night.

                                            @Mangeur: Should i assume the veggies have meat stock?

                                            1. re: celticfoodie

                                              " Should i assume the veggies have meat stock?"
                                              Safe assumption.

                                              1. re: celticfoodie

                                                Previously Vagenende was a gorgeous, though a bit run-down, Art Nouveau brasserie with lovely mirrorwork walls and bad food. Now they've restored the mirrorwork but ruined it with flashy lighting which destroys the whole visual effect. That sort of setting demands more subtle lighting.
                                                And the front part now looks absolutely horrible and in utter dysharmony with the inside.

                                                Now Vagenende is a sorry, completely ruined ex-Art Nouveau brasserie with bad food.

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  Wow, i kept checking Trip advisor and had not seen anything like this info. I may have to find somewhere else now that is a pretty historical place with good food! :)

                                                  1. re: celticfoodie

                                                    "Trip advisor" is not the place to go for French restaurant advice - here be it!

                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                      Okay, about to leave for work but is there somewhere either near Louvre or in the 6th that you would suggest that is beautiful and has good food?

                                                      I don't know if i'll get in since it's coming up fast, but i could try! I thought Le Procope would be very pricey and not good for dinner. Since we will be jet lagged i wanted to go somewhere i can book. Cafe Marly seems absurdly high as well since i have four people.

                                                      1. re: celticfoodie

                                                        "beautiful and has good food?"
                                                        AND no chicken broth ?
                                                        Even with chicken broth, Café Marly does not have good food.
                                                        Procope has ok brasserie food.

                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                          Wouldn't celticfoodie have a good chance of getting food without chicken stock if he/she were to stick to restaurants specializing in seafood?

                                                          1. re: bcc

                                                            Not necessarily if he/she also ate the vegetables or starches. Meat juice can go into polentas and risottos, even vegetable purees. And as John Talbott points out, the potatoes may be fried in duck or goose fat.

                                                            1. re: mangeur

                                                              Yes, but in a seafood restaurant, would one also find chicken stock in the preparations? By the way, for me chicken stock does not present a problem!

                                                              1. re: bcc

                                                                I understood your point, bcc. It would of course depend on the restaurant. If your seafood restaurant dealt only with seafood and never introduced meat into its kitchen, you could assume that the vegetables were prepared without meat products. But once you introduce meat into the kitchen, it is posslble and in fact likely that some jus or broth would be used in vegetable dishes.

                                                                We learn here that there is a continuum in vegatarianism, from vegan to those who will tolerate unseen and unidentifiable meat products in their food and beyond to those who claim to be vegs but who eat fish or only abstain from red meat. The latter are easy to serve. Those who want to know about what they can't see or taste are harder to seat.

                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                  I wasn't asking with regard to vegetarianism. I just assumed that a fish restaurant would flavor its food with fish stock. But I'm sure that you are right.

                                                                  1. re: bcc

                                                                    I think we need to clarify something here.
                                                                    Not to be rude, but France is a bit different from Northern California (sorry Mangeur) or Brooklyn (sorry weinoo or whatever you are on CH); there are pots of stock (in good places) and they may have reminants of crustaceans, ducky things and goosey things and even bovine things.
                                                                    I imagine one could ask if the pot has ever seen seafood or fowl or cow-things but I doubt if they would know.
                                                                    I think if people really want vegetarian food, they should go to a vegetarian or Indian place; otherwise - who knows?

                                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                                      "would know.
                                                                      I think if people really want vegetarian food, they should go to a vegetarian or Indian place; otherwise - who knows?"
                                                                      What I was sayin

                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                        Not certain I agree. Why can't a restaurant serve something interesting for a vegetarian. Lots of options these days so an inability to do so is a bit lazy or even contemptuous.

                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                          In no way is it impossible. But when you consider the fragile margin that some of our favorite small rooms try to maintain, in no way would I ask them to stretch to serve a different client than now keeps them full.

                                                                          Think about it. Maybe two guys in the kitchen. A fixed menu. Plates coming out table after table. Then, a veg order. Axe tossed into the wheels. Pull ingredients X, Y and Z out of cooler. Integrate cooking, composition and plating into kitchen drill. And then your, omnivore table begins to wonder why their next course is so late in arrival. In a perfect world, the veg diner would stand up and cheer the kitchen's efforts. Or they may write that their plates didn't come up to the deliciousness of their omnivore tablemates.

                                                                          As a chef, would you go there?

                                                                          I need to add that over my many decades I have at times been a vegetarian. But I always just scoped out the menu and learned what I was comfortable with and what violated my drill. I never worried about going hungry or mal-nourished.

                                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                                            Once again, Mangeur aka Mme Sagesse has it right. It's simply a matter of practicality and economics in most Paris restaurants. And, except from tourists, the demand simply isn't there. Vegetarianism is just not as common in continental Europe as in English-speaking countries and in Asia. I would hazard a guess that vegetarians in Paris (excluding Hindu and Buddhist immigrants who are most likely to eat at ethnic restaurants) are even rarer than church-goers (which makes them pretty uncommon indeed). For what it's worth, local vegetarians have the same-- and very vocal-- complaints about the paucity of choice and the difficulties of dining out.

                                                                            1. re: Parnassien

                                                                              At least not in southerly or Latin-speaking Europe. Quite a few in northerly, Germanic-speaking Europe.

                                                                            2. re: mangeur

                                                                              I think you are being too soft. If they have talent they can adapt, and if they care they will have something up their sleeve that shows their talent. And remember a lot of great food these day isn't meat and two veg, but far more nuanced and balanced.

                                                                              I understand the economics but lets not forget the cost of meat that can be substituted. For a talented kitchen this should not be an issue.

                                                                              And OK France has a lower number of veggies but Paris is a world city so it's shameful it doesn't reflect world tastes. And despite having so few veggies it has some of the worlds greatest veg chefs.

                                                                              PS - I am firmly an omnivore but my wife appreciates vegetable dishes. And has chosen vegetarian tasting menus more than once with very satisfactory results.

                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                I also appreciate vegetable dishes, and so do the chefs in France. But are we talking about vegetable dishes or vegetarianism ?
                                                                                What French chefs - or French society in general - are NOT interested in is the tweak-this-tweak-that culture of entitlement.
                                                                                Many have accused me of receiving special treatment from The Restaurant That Dare Not Speak Its Name. If I do, it is because I make it very clear to the chef that I will always slam the menu closed and eat anything where his inspirations lead us. This is my secret of eating exceptionally well in restaurants in France: don't get into the tweak-this-tweak that entitlement mentality. Let the chef do his thing. There's a reason why Daniel Rose / Aziparte / Jégo / Rabanel etc. are who they are, and we are not.
                                                                                You can argue that if vegetarianism is not focus, then it means French restaurants are not flexible or whatever. As for me, I am thankful.

                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                  Rose definitely tweaks - recent post about it. I bet the others do as well. You and I don't see it as we eat most things and trust the chef.

                                                                                2. re: PhilD

                                                                                  "If they have talent they can adapt,"
                                                                                  Agreed. Today at Alain Dutournier's Mangetout in the 6th, it was very clear, in a place with only 30 covers, that the three chefs (and 3 front-folk) could easily handle, for instance, a cocotte of vegetables, leaving off the slab of daurade which the rest of us got (having a "California kitchen" one could watch the plating).
                                                                                  It's on my list when I host my darling Victoria this Fall.

                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                    The "leave the slab of daurade" vegetarian is a problem to few kitchens. It is the "no animal broth" in any part of the preparation that can make satisfying a vegetarian diner problematic. Of course, if the diner is of the "don't ask, don't tell" ilk, there is no problem.

                                                                              2. re: PhilD

                                                                                I'm not so sympathetic to the demanding diner. Would you go to a Hindu restaurant and demand a beef steak, or pork at a Muslim one? Expect kosher observance in other than a Jewish kitchen? A slab of prime rib at Aki?

                                                                                After working his way through every station, sometimes for years, in someone else's kitchen, a guy opens a little restaurant, thinking that for the first time he can do things his way. But no? He is asked to be something that was never his intent, to satisfy the dining quirks of a handful of various diets. Some chefs may well want to do this, to be universally approachable, to offer a sock-knocking experience to every diner who enters. But for others this is not their calling or purpose. The book is full every night with guests who are thankful for his normal fare.

                                                                                An undiscussed consequence of NYT and blogger rave reviews is an indiscriminate stampede for tables that are not at all suitable for every diner. Discerning appropriate venues is tricky for all of us. "It is not written" that every diner will enjoy or even should try to experience every restaurant.

                                                                                I take this stand from the point of view of someone who has traveled broadly as a vegetarian. My dining style was my choice, not that of my host, therefore my responsibility, not his. I went to dinner parties and ate well if not of everything. I never asked for a special plate and I never starved.

                                                                                I may think that I am special, but I've lived long enough to realize that the rest of the world has little interest in catering to my convictions much less my whims.

                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                  How has being able to cook a vegetarian dish become a proxy for a "tweak this tweak that" I think you have both developed a straw man argument rather than think about the reality.

                                                                                  Clearly specialist restaurants should not be expected to serve something that is alien to them. But in a restaurant serving French food it's not difficult nor is it radical.

                                                                                  So why such an anti- vegetarian stance?

                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                    I hear you, Phil. And in a full service kitchen, I couldn't agree more. I guess that we have just moved toward tiny no-choice menu restaurants where any kind of adjustment to what is offered requires a major diversion from the norm. I sit and watch the chef and his single sous dance a frenetic ballet in a closet sized kitchen, trying to cook and plate the fantastically sophisticated courses that we enjoy. They always ask about allergies or serious aversions. Beyond that, I think that at their absurdly low price points, additional tweaks are not reasonable.

                                                                                    What I said applies equally to me/us. I would never return to Le Grand Pan and ask for the kind of veg centric plates that I prefer. I should/will just go to a different restaurant. Fortunately, Paris restaurants are not one size fits all. There is something for everyone and regardless that we are told "don't miss" this dining room, there are some that some of us should.

                                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                                      We've grown so accustomed to small places offering "no choice" menus that we now forgot why they did it in the first place... Not to piss us off, not to pretend they are artists, but as Aizpitarte explained when he opened Le Chateaubriand : because it is the only way they can offer this quality of dishes for this low price...
                                                                                      This is not only true for no-choice, but also for all the numerous places offering "a couple" of choices for entrée-plat-dessert, but no more...

                                                                                      I would think that creative or not, in those type of kitchens, accepting to cater to the specific demands of a vegetarian would be pretty difficult. Not impossible, just difficult.

                                                                                      And as always, it is best to ask humbly if something could be done to accommodate the request, rather than act as if "it should be normal".

                                                                                      It has been said many times on this board, but in France, the client is not king (although we do have this same expression).

                                                                                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                        We do have this same expression but the meaning is slightly different. It does not mean that the customer is entitled to get anything that goes through his head. It means getting the best possible quality and service within the limits of the seller's abilities and responsibility.

                                                                                        As I heard recently in a different context, "when someone buys the services of a specialist, he buys a certain savoir-faire, and he should respect it."

                                                                                        Not that it applies absolutely to what we're discussing about right now (it would be possible to debate the very nature of "savoir-faire" and whether it includes going out of your way to cater to vegetarian demands), but it does describe the notion.

                                                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                          I understand and agree with all the points - but only to a certain level as I think a little flexibility and creativity can help.

                                                                                          I think the point about "savior-faire" actually sums it up - the chef is a specialist and it usually just takes a minor tweak to adapt a non-veg menu....I am not suggesting they run two separate menus but a little forethought may easily address the need.

                                                                                          And given that vegetarians are reasonably common, and well cooked vegetable dishes a sign of a skilled hand in the kitchen, then why not?

                                                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                                                            Well, it is true that doing a few vegetarian dishes right is a honorable challenge for a good cook. But to me the problem lies in that contemporary form of entitlement that leads some to expect that any restaurant "owes" them vegetarian dishes. Well, no to that.

                                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                              I'm till waiting for vegetarian restaurants to have meat dishes to humor me. I am entitled.

                                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                Ah, but do you eat ALL meat?

                                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                  No, I'm not a meat fundamentalist.

                                                                                                2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                  Sorry that's a non-argument it's like expecting Chinese food in an Indian restaurant. Specialist restaurants are specialist restaurants we are talking about more generic ones.

                                                                                                3. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                  I don't like the all about me, entitlement culture at all, but I see vegetarianism as different. It's not a fad like so many of the diet "issues" and I do think mixing the two is a little insulting to vegetarians.

                                                                                                4. re: PhilD

                                                                                                  Why not, indeed. Having been there as a vegetarian diner, I'm not sure that just having a veg menu available to me would have been all that salutary. I mean, I may have been a veg but that doesn't mean that I wanted to eat just anything and applaud the chef.

                                                                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                    Totally agree many veg only menus are poor, and very very few vegetarian restaurants are any good. And that's why the anti vegetarian in a decent restaurant seems odd to me.

                                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                      It is not at all odd, Phil. It is more than I would ask much less demand.

                                                                                                      Perhaps my current stridence stems from the imperious, eye-lash fluttering woman at an adjacent table who just plunked herself down and demanded a veggie plate. Bad form, but nor worse than her loud self-absorbed conversation throughout the meal. Bad her, but I am wrong to broad brush other and all veg diners. Still, a very bad taste.

                                                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                        Don't worry I would have take umbrage as well - I dislike the sense of entitlement and resulting poor manners.

                                                                                                  2. re: PhilD

                                                                                                    I agree with your point of view PhilD. I am a classically trained chef who has been educated in both Canada and France and I have also worked in kitchens in both countries. Having worked in tiny kitchens with just the chef and myself handling the entire workload, including the shopping first thing in the morning, to heading large pastry kitchens in Relais & Chateaux kitchens I have to say that accommodating vegetarians is truly a minor tweak for experienced chefs. We are used to it, and in fact, expect there will be vegetarian requests each day. This is part of our training, and vegetarian requests are an everyday occurrence.

                                                                                                    For example, even a small kitchen will often use a vegetable stock in their soup, especially if there is just one on the menu, to ensure that everyone can eat it. There are always vegetarian switch outs to replace animal proteins, sometimes it is just a "meaty" vegetable like mushrooms, but often is something that already exists in the kitchen mise en place.

                                                                                                    Chefs are trained to deal with a myriad of food requests, and vegetarians are quite easy to accommodate. Even as a pastry chef, it is not uncommon to be asked for a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, ...etc. dessert. Of course, this is much more complicated, and much easier to accommodate in a large R&C kitchen, than a two person bistro.

                                                                                                    I'm not sure why people would choose to eat at no choice, set-menu bistros when they have many food issues to contend with. Vegetarians are quite easy, but vegans, ... next to impossible in a traditional setting.

                                                                                                    1. re: francaise

                                                                                                      "I'm not sure why people would choose to eat at no choice, set-menu bistros when they have many food issues to contend with."

                                                                                                      My point exactly.

                                                                                            2. re: PhilD

                                                                                              The only answer I can think of is "why not?" Why should all Paris restaurants cater to vegetarian demands when clearly they're not "into" that and are not very good at it anyway?

                                                                                              As Mangeur rightly said upthread, a vegetarian diet is the diner's responsibility, not the restaurant's.

                                                                                      2. re: John Talbott

                                                                                        weinoo?

                                                                                        1. re: bcc

                                                                                          Obvious that you are a young tyke. :)

                                                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                                                            wish I were!

                                                                            3. re: Parigi

                                                                              "beautiful and has good food?" between the Louvre & the 6th?
                                                                              Ze Kitchen Galerie

                                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                My then vegetarian daughter and I ate deliciously at Ze Kitchen Galerie a few years back (she, with a string of fully veg dishes I with a mix - we sat next to an Indian Food writer who was served 6 or 7 veg courses from the menu. She shared tastes as well. While I cant remember the specifics it was all delicious.

                                                                            4. re: celticfoodie

                                                                              What are your requirements now? Beautiful with good food or somewhere you can be reasonably sure of finding meat-product free food?

                                                                              Hey, how about Maceo?

                                                                              http://www.maceorestaurant.com/parisi...

                                                                              http://www.maceorestaurant.com/maceo_...

                                                                          2. re: celticfoodie

                                                                            Try "Maceo" it has historical rooms, and always has a vegetarian menu and the kitchen understands the needs if the meat free.

                                                                            Not certain I agree that all vegetables have stock added in Paris but it is trues a few will depends on how cooked. I am also pretty certain if a sauce is for fish it will use fish stock if the place is decent.

                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                              Perhaps in "Classic French" venues, it is often true that a sauce for a fish dish will contain fish stock, and not another type, but in a more modern restaurant, that type of technique is not necessarily practiced. I've enjoyed countless examples, in NY, Paris, London, Belgium, etc.

                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                Well, this has been an eye opening thread, because it frankly didn't occur to me that the veggies would have chicken or duck sauce etc. While I can appreciate I should just go to a veggie restaurant, i think my teens would rebel!
                                                                                I will aim for a fish place or historical room that has decent food and try to eat a fish dish and maybe steer clear of the vegetables!

                                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                                  What do you think of Bouillon Racine? It's a bit less pricey than Maceo and looks stunning and a visual treat for my teens who have never been to Paris.

                                                                                  1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                    Depends how veggie you want it, Maceo no issue, boullion Racine will have the usual French veg challenges.

                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                      I'm trying to balance a beautiful room experience for the rest of my family as well. As long as i can order some fish, ( i've not eaten meat in 26 years but had to add fish two years ago) then i'll be fine. I've learned here the veggies may be flavored with stock of indeterminate source so i'll deal with that by avoiding them.

                                                                                      1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                        Here is the Bouillon Racine menu:

                                                                                        http://www.bouillon-racine.com/en/men...

                                                                                        There are several seafood options in both starter and main categories.

                                                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                                                          One very good seafood-focused restaurant with a very nice interior, which does not get the Hound attention it deserves, is L'Ilot, in the very hip Haut Marais on rue Dupetit Thouars. -- Actually on rue de la Corderie.

                                                                                          If we are talking about good food and never-mind interior, I would recommend the excellent St Quentin market, which now has tables and chairs in the middle of the market, making it a fabulous "food court". Vegetarians or fishatarians can get vegetarian lasagne, heated, or the daily pasta dish, often meatless, at the excellent Italian traiteur Mercato. Fish fundamentalists can get top oysters from any one of the 3 fishmongers there. Carnivores can get one of Paris's tastiest roast farm chickens from Marcel.

                                                                                          Plus, dream come true for those who are reservation-phobic: you don't need rezzie for this Marché Saint Quentin food court.

                                                                                          OK it does not have an art nouveau interior like many of the brasseries (all with crappy food). But is it just I ? I find that markets in France (and Spain and Italy) always have their unique beauty.

                                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                                            "L'Ilot"
                                                                                            I love it but the stools and high tables are not for everyone.
                                                                                            Clamato, on the other hand has tables but one must show up early because they take no reservatons.

                                                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                              Weather permitting, L'Ilot does set up tables outside.

                                                                                              And after years of recommending this place, I think that no more than 1 or 2 Chowhounders have actually been. Shame.

                                                                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                I agree.

                                                                                            2. re: Parigi

                                                                                              Parigi, is l'Ilot all cold/raw bar? Or do they now also hot fish plates?

                                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                (i'm pretending to be Parigi) there's usually one cooked special of the day... certainly for lunch, not so sure about dinner.

                                                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                  Thanks, Big P! Is this the kind of place one might expect to stay open in August, or are they off to the Coast?

                                                                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                    No one knows. They probably don't know.

                                                                                                  2. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                    But in fairness, it's largely cold seafood. And I would never pretend to be Parigi, esp. facing June 4th.

                                                                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                      Very good idea. On my next assignment I will tell everyone I'm John Talbott.
                                                                                                      Yes I had only cold stuff. But I seem to remember some hot seafood tapas-y things.

                                                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                        Parigi, la venerabile!

                                                                                              2. re: mangeur

                                                                                                I booked this place. I still wonder why no one goes to Vagenende if the reviews are good on TA and the room is so beautiful. I wanted to try Spring and other more adventurous places, but between Itineraires and Le Billebaud i wanted to give them the gorgeous historical room without the price of Le Blue Train.

                                                                                                I will try L'llot for lunch or when we come back through for a day. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                                  Thank YOU. Please come back and update us on your experience.

                                                                                                  1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                                    "I still wonder why no one goes to Vagenende if the reviews are good on TA"
                                                                                                    A bit back, a chef, much lauded here, said to me "How can Bistro X be #9 on TA when I and you have never heard of or gone to it?" It bothered and/or vexed him that sites guided by popularity contests determine decisions. (As, I might add, the popularity polls at Zagat's do.)
                                                                                                    I think (as has been said here many times before) if I'm going to Crete, I'd be guided by TA for a hotel. But for a resto, when you've got CH?

                                                                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                      The focus of TA is not food but tourism, and already it's hotel reviews are not reliable.

                                                                                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                        I agree, but this conversation has really veered off course. I have been a vegetarian and then pescetarian for about 26 years, and i don't ever travel the world and expect a small kitchen in a buzzy restaurant to cater to me.

                                                                                                        I don't expect the small kitchen to have the resources, staff or time to make a super interesting vegetarian entree.

                                                                                                        That being said, it's informative to know certain cultures do bathe the vegetables in meat or game stock. I admire great cooking and i want to be close to it, and if i can partake i'm grateful but if not, I'm still appreciate what they do. I don't think you can paint all vegetarian's as demanding you cater to them in small Paris restaurants.

                                                                                                        This board is about people with specific food needs asking questions to find the best places for them so they don't waste their time, money and limited travel days. Any question they ask shouldn't be subject to such ridicule that they asked it.

                                                                                                        End of rant.

                                                                                                      2. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                                        Why wonder why no one goes to Vagenende? Is one kidding? Some of the most dreadful food in Paris is served there.

                                                                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                          Okay but if that is just your opinion then it's worth noting other's are giving it good reviews.

                                                                                                          1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                                            When you ask for opinions, you get opinions.

                                                                                                            1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                                              It is dreadful beyond opinion. Not my fault if the Internet is full of people who couldn't tell a bad meal from a dead hippo.

                                                                                                              Plus, the magnificent setting has been ruined beyond recognition. Would be better off now adjoining a Saint-Tropez swimming-pool with champagne bottles swimming in it. It's that bad.

                                                                                                              1. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                                                Celticfoodie, TA and Chowhound each have fortes.

                                                                                                                TA is fabulous for gleaning tips on how to buy SNCF tickets, navigate the Metro, outfit your phone with a French SIM card, rental car caveats, pickpocket avoidance. But the majority who contribute there do not give food a very high priority in their planning or budget. Their interest and energy are dedicated to sight-seeing, not dining. Their interest and energy at home may not be directed toward food.

                                                                                                                Hounds think about food. All the time. They want quality for their money at every level and every meal. They make judgements and comparisons out of experience. They are opinionated and have different palates, but each is dedicated to eating well and not wasting an opportunity at the table. They happily share their individual wisdom but will take on each other, as you have seen, over differences of opinion, all to readers' benefit.

                                                                                                                Each forum has its uses. Chowhound is where you research food.

                                                                                        2. re: celticfoodie

                                                                                          I agree with Mangeur. Besides, chicken broth is the basis of so much of French cuisine. This restriction pretty much rules out all non-vegetarian restaurants.
                                                                                          Best of luck.

                                                                            2. Jeanne B Lepic, which is becoming my go-to bistro, has many vegetale options.
                                                                              Café des Musées has a vegetable main course.
                                                                              I vaguely remember that Le Mesturet also has a vegetable main course. I can't tell you if the vegetable-only dishes are any good. I like vegetables but have no ambition to be a vegetarian or vegan. But the vegetables accompanying my meat dishes are always very tasty.

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                Sorry to ask, if this is out of the question, but I wondered if French cafes/restaurants would let one order the 'fixed-menu'-price for Starter+Dessert in place of a Main+Dessert because while planning my trip I often see great vegetarian Starters. (Or would that not make sense since they would be cheaper to order separately?--In the US, the prices don't often show anyway)

                                                                                1. re: GraceW

                                                                                  "would let one order the 'fixed-menu'-price for Starter+Dessert in place of a Main+Dessert"
                                                                                  Well, usually it's X Euros for starter & main or main & dessert but why not try.

                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                    Thanks. I cannot speak any French--so people told me to expect 'No' to everything, but I am going to be optimistic.

                                                                                    1. re: GraceW

                                                                                      Grace, you could even order two entrees and dessert instead of the suggested entree-plat-dessert. And, yes, this is often a great vegetarian option. Better still because sometimes the restaurant's best efforts are among its entrees.

                                                                                  2. re: GraceW

                                                                                    I don't think asking for starter + dessert as the prix fixe would work at all. I wouldn't dare ask that.
                                                                                    2 starters + dessert sound more feasible.

                                                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                      I often do just that, and I'm accommodated for the same prices as the full three course menu.