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Michelin star lunch in Paris:what do you recommend


jml3
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This is my first post on Egullet! I've been reading this board avidly for quite some time now and so appreciate the expertise here!

I've read many posts on this topic on this and other boards and have also read many reviews of the various 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants and I am still undecided about this! I'll be in Paris for 10 days in May and at first I thought we'd definitely have a lunch at a 2 or 3 starred place as many of them offer a less expensive option. I know we don't want to break our bank on a Michelin meal since there is so much fabulous food to be had in the city for reasonable prices, so I'm only considering places with a special lunch menu.

We are serious about food and have eaten at many great restaurants (Jean George, Bouley, Citronelle, French Laundry, Charlie Trotters etc) and I would describe our taste as leaning toward more classic flavors (preferred Bouley over Jean George, so probably wouldn't choose Pierre Gagnaire even if they had a lunch special.) We were seriously considering Taillvant, because we do like the idea of feeling sincerely welcomed even with basically no French language skills other than "food French." Many seem to love the food there as well as the service, saying they have a lovely new twist on classic French food and did not deserve to lose their third star. But too many folks who seem quite serious about food seem to be saying that the food isn't interesting, is not multidimensional and falls flat. If that's true, why not pass on the stars and eat at one of the many great little finds in Paris for way less money?

So I'm wondering about les Elysées or Les Ambassadeurs. Or even Le Muerice. Do you think the food and experience of the special lunch menu at any of these places is outstanding enough to warrant spending a huge chunk of time in the middle of the day and 250E (special menu but I assume we'll have wine and coffee!) and if so, which one would you recommend?

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This is my first post on Egullet! I've been reading this board avidly for quite some time now and so appreciate the expertise here!

I've read many posts on this topic on this and other boards and have also read many reviews of the various 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants and I am still undecided about this! I'll be in Paris for 10 days in May and at first I thought we'd definitely have a lunch at a 2 or 3 starred place as many of them offer a less expensive option. I know we don't want to break our bank on a Michelin meal since there is so much fabulous food to be had in the city for reasonable prices, so I'm only considering places with a special lunch menu.

We are serious about food and have eaten at many great restaurants (Jean George, Bouley, Citronelle, French Laundry, Charlie Trotters etc) and I would describe our taste as leaning toward more classic flavors (preferred Bouley over Jean George, so probably wouldn't choose Pierre Gagnaire even if they had a lunch special.) We were seriously considering Taillvant, because we do like the idea of feeling sincerely welcomed even with basically no French language skills other than "food French." Many seem to love the food there as well as the service, saying they have a lovely new twist on classic French food and did not deserve to lose their third star. But too many folks who seem quite serious about food seem to be saying that the food isn't interesting, is not multidimensional and falls flat. If that's true, why not pass on the stars and eat at one of the many great little finds in Paris for way less money?

So I'm wondering about les Elysées or Les Ambassadeurs. Or even Le Muerice. Do you think the food and experience of the special lunch menu at any of these places is outstanding enough to warrant spending a huge chunk of time in the middle of the day and 250E (special menu but I assume we'll have wine and coffee!) and if so, which one would you recommend?

I know I am in the minority on this board but I would stay away from Taillevant. I did not enjoy a dinner I had there last june. The food and service were suboptimal compared to the other three star restaurants in Paris and I was not at all surprised when they lost a star in the subsequent Michelin Guide. My meals at Les Ambassadeurs were spectacular, (there is a recent post about the prix fix lunch there on this board). Yes, in my opinion, a lunch at a wonderful restaurant in Paris is a great way to spend an afternoon.

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As I said somewhere else, would vote against lunch menu at le Bristol or le Meurice, which I find very sub par compared to their "usual", very expensive, food. Apart from les Ambassadeurs, would strongly advocate Les Elysees and l'Arpege, who really play the game of the value menu for lunch, not compromising on taste and quality. Less exceptional food but great restaurant experiences also, offering lunch menu which is not an ersatz of their usual cooking: Savoy, Rostang.

Anyone tried the lunch menu at Le Doyen? Anyone want to?

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Seth, I don't know if you're in the minority...I've read numerous posts on this board and others saying Taillvant is not up to snuff in the food department.

I'm deciding between les Ambassadeurs, and Les Elysees. I'm not crazy about a hush/hush kind of atmosphere and want to feel comfortable and welcome. How do you compare the atmosphere and service at these two? I know the Crillion dining room is gorgeous but how does it feel to be in it and what about Les Elysees.

One last question: How far in advance do you recommend reserving for a Friday lunch in early May. I'll likely be using the internet for reservations unless you all suggest otherwise.

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I had lunch at Ledoyen in May, but although I think there may have been a less expensive lunch menu, I got the regular tasting menu if I recall correctly. (But what was weird - I was dining alone, and they gave me menus without prices. I had read about restaurants that do this sometimes with the female guest when a man and woman dine together, but had never actually seen it. I'm pretty sure it was accidental in my case, unless they even seek to protect women dining alone from the indignity of seeing the prices.)

Les Ambassadeurs is a bit formal and cavernous, although handsome enough. I was there for dinner, so perhaps lunch with the natural light would be a bit warmer.

Plafield, there were many places in France where I could not make internet reservations, and had to stumble through on the phone (although many of those to whom I spoke switched to English). Some places that appear to have e-mail addresses never responded. However, Les Ambassadeurs and Le Bristol were exceptions to this, with easy and responsive e-mail reservations. I had dinner at both of those restaurants, so I can't speak to what lunch is like.

Okay, to correct somewhat, I just checked my old e-mail, and apparently also was able to make online reservations with little difficulty at Pierre Gagnaire, L'Arpege, and Taillevent; so in my memories, I may have magnified the difficulty of having to make phone reservations in French just because I had to call a few places. I also confirmed every reservation I made one or two days in advance, just to avoid any disappointment.

I made most of my reservations about a month or a month and half in advance and had no trouble reserving anywhere except L'Astrance, although I was reasonably open about dates and times within my two week vacation.

The Les Ambassadeurs reservation I actually made a bit later (2 weeks in advance or so?), and it was not a problem for a dinner reservation. If you have no reason to delay, I would probably make the reservation about a month or so in advance, and then you'd have it out of the way. For starred restaurants, I think they are probably used to taking reservations well in advance. If you do need to delay, and have some flexibility, then you're probably safe waiting until later, but I can't say how long would be too long, of course.

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As I said somewhere else, would vote against lunch menu at le Bristol or le Meurice, which I find very sub par compared to their "usual", very expensive, food. Apart from les Ambassadeurs, would strongly advocate Les Elysees and l'Arpege, who really play the game of the value menu for lunch, not compromising on taste and quality. Less exceptional food but great restaurant experiences also, offering lunch menu which is not an ersatz of their usual cooking: Savoy, Rostang.

Anyone tried the lunch menu at Le Doyen? Anyone want to?

Also agree that lunch at Arpege is terrific. Le Cinq also has a lunch menu.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Plafield, I have been to quite a few places in Europe, but in terms of lunch special, Guy Savoy offers a €100 lunch special menu with wine €10 per glass. Go to their site and you will see a pop-up window. You must specify when you make the booking.

Also, Le Cinq has a light tasting menu during lunch for €120. In L’Astrance, they have a few lunch menu at various price (€70, €120, and €170).

Here is one of my favourite dish in L’Astrance.

gallery_57364_5484_10535.jpg

Full links and photos here www.finediningexplorer.com/Paris. Take a look and see which one suits your style. Hope this helps.

Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am casting yet another ballot for Les Elysées after yet another amazing lunch there. Chef Briffard is one of the four of five best chefs in Paris, and definitely the most affordable among the best. See this amazing 155eur lunch, with the many dishes you can see here, including the onion and truffle tart, three great glasses of wine (Meursault 2006 from Alain Gras, Volnay 1998, Lillet), water and coffee.

Of course the room, setting and hotel are not on par with le bristol or les Ambassadeurs -- but that's good news for us food and wine lovers, since that means the prices are what they are.

Talking with him, I was impressed by the serenity of Chef Briffard. He is a chef always in the kitchen, chopping vegetables (and truffle) himself and finalising every delicate cooking operation himself. But he does not seem in pain, restless, tormented or sad like the other chefs I know who are/were that scrupulous -- eg Loiseau, Guichard, Girardet, Pacaud, even Passard. There's something quiet and yet on the move, searching about him. He considers himsel as not fully mature yet, and yet his style of cooking reminds me of some great conductors of the past, able to achieve both an incredible of detail and techniques and a sense of unity and beauty. Each dish is a wonder of architecture, fine tuning and technique mastering, as is the meal in its entirety.

I think that "food nerd" would best qualify the place, as well as some of its regulars. While Pacaud or Loiseau seemed to play their entier life with each dish, Briffard is the kind of guy who stays home on sat night, experimenting and practicing. You can tell that, while never overconfident and always aware of the risk taken with each plate sent, he finds daily and sustained pleasure in his work.

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Julot, has anyone mentioned lately how much we appreciate you?

For some unknown reason I have never dined at Les Elysées, but that will change during our Spring visit this year after your descriptions. It is obvious that you are no plouc with a knife and fork in hand.

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