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Romantic Restaurants? Merged topics


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Yes, St. Valentine's day is just around the corner. I prefer to not celebrate it -- crass commercialism and all that -- but it did make me wonder about restaurants all of you find particularly romantic; not just in Paris but all over France. Are there any places that have really struck your romantic fancy?

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I thought Pre Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne was very romantic...

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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  • 2 months later...

My husband and I are travelling to Paris for our 10th wedding anniversary the first week in July.

We would like to have a memorable and romantic meal. I would like both fantastic food and decor. I would hope not to spend not over $600. I live near some of the best restaurants in the world already (in NYC) so for this meal I would prefer something more typically "Parisian" in addition to being "great."

I am thinking of (in order of preference): Le Grand Vefour, Laserre, Les Ambassadeurs, Le Violin de Ingres, ?L'Arpege or L'Ambroise.

Also- how do I get dinner reservations ? I thought I had enough time, but have been turned down (via e-mail) at Grand Vefour already. Would going through the concierge at the (very nice/highly rated) hotel at which we are staying get us in ?

Thanks for your help.

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With the exchange rate being somewhat unfavorable to the dollar, you might want to think about lunch at one of the fine restaurants you mentioned. I just returned from Paris where the dinner menu at Guy Savoy and Hiromatsu were around 200 euros per person. Then when you add in wine, an aperitif, water, tax etc., the cost escalates pretty fast. I liked L'Ambroisie for lunch in the past -- very good food, probably in a more classical vein than some other places, and understated but elegant decor. The service was very friendly when I was there, as well.

At Guy Savoy, the couple next to us split the menu between them. That's one way to keep the cost down, but you might not want to have to do that for your anniversary celebration. We also liked Le Carre des Feuillants and Michel Rostaing in past visits.

To get reservations, I usually send a fax with several alternative dates and a request for a table at any time, and my e-mail, phone and fax information for them to respond.

Bonne Chance!

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I would say that using the concierge would probably help quite q bit. I have no idea why your reservation request was turned down. It may well have been that they are already booked, but I've heard rumors that indicate it may be harder for an American to get a table at some restaurants in Paris. Calling directly and making your request in French is reported to help.

Saycheese notes the current exchange rate. Comparing meals from two years ago, I note almost a forty percent increase when paying in dollars. Six hundred dollars will buy a five hundred euro meal and the top restaurants in Paris are quite a bit more expensive than at the top restaurants in NYC. That's probably true even if the currencies were at par. The tasting menu at Arpège runs some 300 euros, although you can eat comfortably at around 200 euros, or spend even more, ordering from the carte. Arpège is one of the more expensive restaurants however. Wine prices at expensive restaurants in Paris tend to run high as well and the entry level may be higher than in NYC. The current Guide Michelin will give you a reasonable level of expectation. Tough the indicated prices don't take wine, water, or coffee into account, they do include tax. Theoretically, they include service, but many leave an additional tip.

If may be easier to get reservations at lunch, but don't assume that the lower prices some restaurants offer at lunch necessarily constitute a bargain. In a few cases they are, but in many cases the luncheon prix fixe doesn't include a real representation of why the restaurant has three stars. In at least one instance we found the degustation menu at dinner to be twice the price of the luncheon prix fixe, but a better value in terms of quality for the price.

Saycheese's practice of asking for alternate dates has the advantage of also sending the message that it's a meal at the restaurant you seek and not just a place to eat on a specific day. As for the time, that's of little consequence as a two or three star restaurant will not turn tables and a specific time is only helpful to the house in planning their service. No one will look askance if you come a bit early or late, assuming you arrive within reasonable dining hours. Americans have been known to arrive well before a restaurant opens and Spaniards arrive when the restaurant would be wanting to clear the tables and go home for the night. :biggrin:

All restaurants have their own style and ambience and haute cuisine has become so international that which restaurant most exemplifies Paris may be subjective. I suppose you want one that has a traditional decor though I find good contemporary design to be just as European as a historical setting. You may want a touch of history. You may also want more traditional French food as well, although I note the Taillevent is not on your list. All of your choices seem typically Parisian to me. Violon d'Ingres is perhaps not quite in the same category as the others, particularly in terms of formality and elegant ambience. Violon d'Ingres has three black forks/spoons in Michelin while the others are all four or five and in red.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 1 month later...

I think that Braisiere would be a fantastic place for a romantic dinner; It is a one star place in the 17th; onb Rue Cardinet. It's specialties are from the Cotes de Gasgogne. It is small and intimate; the service is fantastic. There isn't a degustaion menu, but if you ask the chef will be more than happy to come a discuss one with you. when we were there the menu cost us 70 euros, and it has a good value wine list, particularly if you choose the gascony wines.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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I may have a different concept of "romantic" than you do, but fancy dinners at starred places are hardly romantic to me. The food usually get in the way. :laugh:

I mean, really, eating at these places is quite a production, and one often ends up rolling out of the place after far too much food and wine, hardly my idea of romance.

Why not a jovial bistro, one that's perhaps a bit more dimly lit than others, with a small carte or three, or four courses at most, splurge on a nice bottle of wine, and go for a lovely walk in a beautiful and balmy summer night in Paris.

One place came to mind, for both the food and the environs, Mon Viel Ami, which is on the pretty Ill St.Louis. The food is lovely, solid cooking with excellent ingredients and some creativity. The decor is fancy for a bistro, and dimly and romantically lit.

After the dinner, turn left as you leave the restaurant, walk to the end of the block and turn right, just to your right at the end of the block is a lovely cafe (forgot the name) which opens late, where you can sit outside gazing over the river at the gorgeous view of the river and the Notre Dame at night.

After you're nice and rested après the meal and ready for another stroll, walk east along the river until you reach Pont des Artes (hopefully all the drunken kids would have moved on to a rave somewhere), where you could sit again on a bench to gaze at the beautiful Paris night.

Now that's my idea of romance. Happy anniversary--10 years is duly impressive. :-)

Edited by pim (log)

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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My partner and I ate at Le Violon d'Ingres (spelling?) last year, as well as in Allard and l'Atelier de Joel Roubechon. Allard was nice, Joel Roubechon's place was very good - almost worth the half-hour wait in a queue (that's "standing in line", I believe, for our American friends) - but Violin d'Ingres was the highlight.

I had researched all of the places you have listed and whilst all receive rave reviews, as one of the other esopondents noted, they are far more expensive. Our 3-course meal, with a glass each of manzanilla and a bottle of red wine (around 40 pounds) between us came to about 200 pounds sterling. It was well worth it.

I should also say that we booked the table (for around 8.30pm) on the day we ate -a Saturday night in July. There were still a couple of free tables on the night - I think July just after (or just before) Bastille Day is quite quiet.

A nice touch is that the chef (M. Constant I think his name is) comes round all of the tables at the end and asks what you thought of the meal. His English is not great so unless you speak French (which I don't) it's a short conversation, but no less nice!


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My partner and I ate at Le Violon d'Ingres

Shoregirl: My partner and I ate there as well (lunch at the end of March) and I can enthusiastically second this recommendation. Excellent food and impeccable service with good relative value.

And for purely romantic atmosphere you can't beat Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon, although food-wise it's merely OK and not comparable to the places you mention.



See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii


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Two thoughts

For a romantic lunch in Paris take a picnic to the Bois de Boulogne. Champagne, some bread, some pate, some cheese and strawberries and chocolate. Or a boxed lunch from Hediard or Fauchon.

We totally agree with the out of the way non starred or one star restaurant with a light dinner and a wander around the banks of the Seine afterward. Of course, thinking back, one of the most romantic meals we ever had was at La Tour d'Argent at a window table, overlooking Notre Dame and the Seine, during our first trip to Paris eighteen years ago. And they gave us a tour of the roof deck/garden for at least a half hour, saying that they would be right back. Of course, we kissed.

Romantic dinners don't require haute cuisine, but do require haute atmosphere.

Philly Francophiles

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  • 1 year later...

Forgive me if this is an often-asked question: we've a 24 hour trip to Paris in a couple of weeks' time and I'm trying to pick a restaurant for a Saturday evening meal.

I'm looking for somewhere romantic and typically "Paris" (or at least, an experience we couldn't have in London) but, whilst I dine out quite a lot in London, I've no experience at all of the Paris restaurant scene. We're staying near Place Charles de Gaulle, but location not that important. Budget perhaps EUR250 all in.

Would be really grateful for any recommendations...

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La Truffiere in the 5th. Ask to be seated downstairs in the "cave." Here's a review I wrote of our meal there last June...we'd had lunch at Robuchon which had been amazing...and then dinner at La Truffiere...truly a wonderful day!

Another magical, amazing 3-hour meal experience. Should people be allowed to have 2 of these in one day??? I had forgotten that La Truffiere was as pricey as it was, but it was worth every euro. (The bill came to 211e for both of us.) We were seated downstairs in the cave, which was mostly lit by candles (a small strip of unobtrusive track lighting was on the ceiling)...the stone cave with just 8 small tables created a cozy and very romantic atmosphere. Given the price and caliber of cuisine, this could have been and incredibly stuffy place, but the staff was probably the most wonderful of the week, not going overboard (as they do at La Tour d’Argent...and rightfully so there!), but being so warm, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and even funny. We felt instantly welcomed and relaxed and settled into our corner for some of the most unique and splendid food in the city. The sommelier suggested a red wine cocktail for an aperitif, which he said he liked better than a kir, so we took his suggestion, and it was delicious, a bit like sangria. Not sure I liked it better than a kir royale (champagne being a favorite!), but this was a lovely change of pace. The menus came and mine didn’t have prices on it, so I knew we were in for a big bill. :) The specialties of the house all involve truffles (hence the name of the place) so I decided to go with the flow, and order the specialties recommended by our server. But first, they brought us an amuse-bouche of the cutest little tureens, filled with cream of courgette (zucchini) soup. Glenn does not like zucchini, but he ate his whole serving. It was masterful...creamy, delicate, with a drizzle of white truffle oil...a perfect start. We split the starter of a pressed potato cake with foie gras and morel mushrooms. Lovely textures and flavors, very earthy and rich. Lovely sauce with little vegetables about. I’m glad we split it as we were starting to get full and much was ahead. To our surprise, they brought us each a tiny foie gras creme brulee, which was fantastic. What a divine idea...foie gras silk with burnt sugar on top. We were sorely tempted to take our finger and lick the little bowls clean. Of course we did not! My main was the last “make me sing” food moment of the trip -- duck leg stew with mashed potato cake and black truffles. I had pictured a shallow bowl of the stuff, but what came to me was a lovely plate, with a layered timbale in the center -- the duck stew on the bottom, potatoes on top, paper thin slices of truffles on the outside and a piece of cooked foie gras resting on top with a fried herb piercing the very top... all surrounded by an outstanding truffle sauce which was also drizzled over it. I took my first bite, and decided to eat very very slowly. This, like the pork at Le P’tit Troquet, was a dish that needed to be savored. I had a glass of wine hand-picked by the sommelier...wish I had written down what it was...but it was the first time I truly understood what it’s like to have the perfect wine with a dish. Each bite and each sip married together. I’d heard of this before and thought people were exaggerating, but now I get it. Red wine and steak will never be the same. Oh well. Meanwhile hubby is across the table swooning as he eats his tuna and foie gras in a filo crust, with a lime and honey sauce. He said he never would have thought to put tuna and foie gras together, but that it was amazing. Next came the cheese TROLLEY...a beautiful thing of wood and brass, carrying at least 20 different kinds of cheese. The server took the time to explain each one, and then asked us to choose a few, then he added one or two, and then put them in clockwise order from mildest to strongest, and told us to eat them in that order, and also gave us certain condiments to be eaten with a few of the cheeses. This was a wonderful thing we hadn’t experienced at any other place. I remember having chevre, and a cheese made with Calvados (apple brandy) and then something really strong that was fabulous. Can’t remember the other 2. There was a drizzle of the most delicate orange honey (and I don’t like honey as a condiment usually) to go on the chevre (fabulous), cumin seeds for one of the other cheeses, and then an apple chutney to eat with the Calvados one. The most wonderful cheese course. If this wasn’t enough, our pre-desserts came next -- a little glass with rice cream (the silkiest rice pudding ever) topped with an apricot-mango sauce. Dessert for me was the house specialty of (and I quote the menu from the website) Hot Black Truffles Soufflé, Caramelized Custard Cream with Truffles, Yoghourt Sherbet Flavoured with Truffle Honey. Not mentioned in this description was the little pitcher of cold mango coulis the server poured into the center of the piping hot souffle. (Love that hot-cold thing!) Well, this was the most unique thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. Every bite, I’d say to Glenn, “This is so weird!” but I couldn’t stop eating it! The earthiness of the black truffles (and they didn’t skimp here!), with the sweetness of the souffle and the fruit sauce, along with the creaminess and sweetness of the sherbet (which really tasted like ice cream)...just amazing and bizarre and everyone should try this once because it is something that is totally unique to this amazing restaurant. Of course, a tray of apres-desserts was brought to us with our coffee one of which was the teeniest little chocolate tart with one blueberry on top. Fabulous. (I love blueberries!) We rolled out of there, totally amazed at the level of cooking we had experienced in one day.

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211 Euros for two isn't much

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY


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211 Euros for two  isn't much

The national average net earnings in France is 30K Euros per annum. Sounds like a pretty big splurge for most of them. Not much?

That's why most of them drive small diesel cars. It's the 'Savoir-Vivre', you know. The other day I met a lift technician who has been to many two and three-star Michelin restaurants all over France(at least two to three times the price of La Truffière).

Anyway, that aside, La Truffière is fine for a romantic dinner, but you've certainly got me scratching my head as everywher can be romantic if with the right person. You could always try the Jules Verne on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. They do A 59 Euro lunch menu, and although the food is not astounding, it is very impressive form the start to the end due to the breathtaking lift trip and view. It would depend on how 'foody' you are!

Food glorious food, nothing quite like it...

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