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Great food at not-too-expensive prices in Paris


onocoffee
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Host's note: Theses posts were moved from the "Bresse Chickens in Paris" thread, which was getting a bit off track.

So far, I've dined at Chez Pierrot, Chez L'Ami Jean, Robert et Louise, Angelina, L'Arpege, Brasserie d'Ile St. Louis. I'm looking for places that have great food at not-to-expensive for this American Dollar spending traveler.

Thoughts again?

thanks!

Edited by Felice (log)
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

So far, I've dined at Chez Pierrot, Chez L'Ami Jean, Robert et Louise, Angelina, L'Arpege, Brasserie d'Ile St. Louis.  I'm looking for places that have great food at not-to-expensive for this American Dollar spending traveler.

Thoughts again?

thanks!

I would not miss La Regalade. Amazing food for the unbelievable price of 32E for the 3 course menu. Definitely Michelin star quality food but in a typical elbow to elbow bistro setting.

We also loved Au Gourmand, as I mentioned above. An elegant setting, fabulous service and great food (including bresse chicken) for very reasonable prices.

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...I'm looking for places that have great food at not-to-expensive for this American Dollar spending traveler.

Thoughts again?

thanks!

I think what you're looking for doesn't exist. *Great food* is expensive. Even here in northeast Florida - not exactly an expensive place - the best restaurants will cost $200-300 for 2 with modest wines. I would expect to spend at least about $500 for 2 for a great meal in Paris - and that would probably be a lunch special with a glass or two of modest wine. As for dinner - you are easily talking about a lot more. Easily $750 to $1000 or more for 2 people.

Delicious food - yummy food - really nice food - that of course can be bought for less. But great food is expensive everywhere (and certainly more expensive in Paris than most other parts of the world).

OTOH - there are a lot of excellent dining opportunities in countries like France - and lots of other countries too - which are below 1-2-3 star Michelin standards - and a heck of a lot better than Olive Garden! And they change from month to month - year to year. Michelin says of "Le Regalade" - "Who hasn't heard of [it]..." Apparently relatively cheap and ok (by French standards). Well - after hearing it mentioned maybe 10,000 times - it makes me want to pu**. Why don't you put on your best walking shoes - pick a neighborhood - and walk around until you find a place with an affordable menu that looks interesting? Maybe it will be a dud - but who knows? Report back to us what you find. Unless one is willing to take risks in terms of exploring anything - including restaurants - one will not experience the "thrill of victory - or the agony of defeat". Always trying to be safe when one travels is boring IMO.

We will be doing some big deal meals in Paris - with reservations - but we will also be spending some time pounding pavement in various neighborhoods - looking for places that althogh probably not undiscovered - seem interesting and not over-hyped. FWIW - my husband is over 60 - has MS - and wears a huge leg brace to walk ok. So I double-dare you to explore Paris in a similar fashion - to get just a little off the beaten track and explore. Even if you just wind up eating fabulous cheese with fabulous bread and a drinkable bottle of wine for lunch in a park - that will be a wonderful thing. Robyn

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I think what you're looking for doesn't exist.  *Great food* is expensive.  Even here in northeast Florida - not exactly an expensive place - the best restaurants will cost $200-300 for 2 with modest wines.  I would expect to spend at least about $500 for 2  for a great meal in Paris - and that would probably be a lunch special with a glass or two of modest wine.  As for dinner - you are easily talking about a lot more.  Easily $750 to $1000 or more for 2 people.

Hmmm, I am not sure that I agree entirely. Of course great food is expensive, quality ingredients are very expensive (but worth it) but happily I wouldn’t define the only great food out there, at 3-star restaurants with 500$ price tags. What about simply cooked, perfect ingredients? I have only eaten in a dozen or so starred restaurants, and at the 2-3 star level the experience can certainly be unforgettable, but I am happy that I can find almost as much pleasure in eating very simply prepared, but very high-quality food.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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I think that Robyn has implicitly defined "great food" as the expensive food served in the best reviewed restaurants, since she concedes that "Delicious food - yummy food - really nice food" can be found at a lower price. Of course, "great" is flexible enough a word that one could define "great food" in any number of ways, for example, in ways that are more like any sort of delicious or yummy food. And it's not at all clear to me that the original poster was using "great food" in the same way that Robyn was, rather than in any way that means delicious food. I assume that by asking for great food at less expensive prices, in fact, the original poster meant something altogether different than the way Robyn chose to define it.

As for theories of risk-taking in restaurant-choosing during vacation, I've done it both ways, and the style that one prefers is certainly subjective. But probably 80% of why I go on vacation (at least someplace like Paris, maybe not a beach vacation) is for the food, so I find that not doing my research and letting luck have too much of a role is unsatisfactory for me personally. That being said, some unplanned meals are okay, of course, but I was, for example, glad I had spent so much time doing research when I was hungry for lunch one day and stumbled past Le Comptoir du Relais, which I knew was a good bet. So does this approach take some excitement out of it - sure, although I think there is excitement any time you go to a new restaurant. But my bottomline is that even in Paris - where the good to bad restaurant ratio is probably more favorable than in some cities - if a restaurant is not getting a lot of attention, it's probably more likely that this is because it's not a very good restaurant than because it's an undiscovered gem. And I'd rather play it safe than waste too many meals in not very good restaurants.

eta - it was not entirely explicit above, but I do recommend Le Comptoir du Relais for great food at less expensive prices - I understand weekday dinner reservations are nearly impossible, but I found the (more casual) lunch menu to be quite worthwhile in its own right); no reservations possible, but if you go early-ish or late-ish, I think you can usually get in

Edited by HOLLY_L (log)
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I think some thought might be given to the separation of what you are paying for food and what you are paying for service when talking about the starred restaurants.

I have dined at 3 star restaurants and received royal service and excellent food. I have dined at less than star level and received excellent food and very pleasant service. The price difference was quite noticeable!!

Joan

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*Great food* is expensive.  ...the best restaurants will cost $200-300 for 2 with modest wines.

Why don't you put on your best walking shoes - pick a neighborhood - and walk around until you find a place with an affordable menu that looks interesting?  Maybe it will be a dud - but who knows?  Robyn

Robyn,

Some of the "best" restaurants can be a "dud". Some of the better street vendors serve "great food"

You ask, "Who knows?" The answer is eGulleteers and if you only have a day or two, why not ask for a reference, you might avoid that "dud". Just asking does not

mean you are unwilling to take a risk.

It is a shame that you sometimes have to suffer less than the "best" or "3 star restaurants". But then, that would be taking a risk.

Edited by tim (log)
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onocoffee,

To escape philosophizing for a moment and return to your question, I would suggest Carte Blanche, Casa Olympe, Le Café Qui Parle, Au Gourmand, Les Fines Gueules, Bistro Paul Bert, Clocher Pereire, Entredgeu, and on and on ad nauseum.

I am probably the only anglophone to admit it, but I have tried l'Ami Jean 2 times and just don't get it; impossibly crowded with danger from flying elbows, a slammed wait and kitchen staff which in our case resulted in mixed up orders and in one case the St. Pierre entier being served still cold in the middle with the meat still firmly attached to the bone, as in raw, which is fine if you order poisson cru, but unacceptable to my Parisienne guests who had assumed roti meant cooked. Then again obviously I went on 2 off days. Few are perfect all the time. John, Felice and Souphie are far better critics than yours truly.

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...I'm looking for places that have great food at not-to-expensive for this American Dollar spending traveler.

Thoughts again?

thanks!

Michelin says of "Le Regalade" - "Who hasn't heard of [it]..." Apparently relatively cheap and ok (by French standards). Well - after hearing it mentioned maybe 10,000 times - it makes me want to pu**. Robyn

In my experience, there's usually a reason why a restaurant gets mentioned 10,000 times...particularly on E-gullet. Because it's great. Sometimes, after a place gets really popular the quality slips, but most who have eaten there agree that this is not the case at La Regalade. And personally, I wouldn't use Michelin as my food bible. Too much snobbery and politics involved for my taste. It can inform me, but it's not the end all.

I did a lot of research before this last trip to Paris and it paid off. The only mediocre meal we had was one at a restaurant I had never heard of. If I had a month in Paris, I might be more willing to roam around and just choose some unknown place that looked interesting but for a short visit, I'd be looking on E-gullet for recs.

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What the replies on this thread bring home is the importance of having a sense of your own personal dining preferences, both food and dining room, and of painstaking reading between the lines of eGullet as well as Michelin et al. There are many touted restaurants that my husband and I "haven't gotten" (to be honest, there are a good handful of the solid gold recs listed on this thread that disappointed us) as well as many that we adored that some others here have found wanting. I find it most rewarding to read comments reflecting opposite experiences. These can often reveal things that major reviews skip over.

eGullet member #80.

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