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Affordable Michelin Experience in Paris and Italy

Affordable Michelin Experience in Paris and Italy

Jun 26th, 2015, 12:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2015
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Affordable Michelin Experience in Paris and Italy

Hi everyone,

This Aug-Sep we'll be in Europe on our honeymoon, and visit the following cities:

Paris - Milan - Venice - Florence - Pienza - Ischia - Rome

We've never been to any Michelin-starred restaurants, and would love to experience it. The hotels we are staying at in Ischia and Rome have them on-site, however I can imagine it will be rather expensive.

Are there any not-sky-is-the-limit restaurants you would suggest? I found D'O restaurant in Milan after reading an interview with its chef and it seems like it's not too expensive, however it's quite far out of town.

Do you have any recommendations? We will only have a car for our Tuscany trip, so would be good if we can easily get to that place via short taxi ride or public transport.
mxmmv is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 12:53 PM
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We really enjoy Ze Kitchen Gallerie in Paris which is a Michelin starred restaurant. It is not especially pricey and wonderful if you like fusion cuisine.

We have also found that the Michelin "Bib Gourmand" restaurants are a good bet. They are noted for good food at reasonable prices.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 02:10 PM
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There is a very affordable Michelin starred restaurant in Naples' Hotel Romeo. It's across the street from the port. You might be taking a ferry to Ischia from Naples maybe ?

Blueeyedcod is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 02:18 PM
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In Paris, consider lunch when more inexpensive menus may be offered rather than dinner. Also consider one stars. Of those I have had lunch at Kei, Sola and Les Tablettes Jean Louis Nomicos and dinner at Septime. I felt all were good value for the quality.
Patty is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 03:12 PM
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There is a generally an enormous difference between most Michelin one-stars in Italy, and the Michelin 2 or 3 stars in Italy. There are many Michelin one-stars in Italy that do traditional cooking, and who retain the feeling of a family enterprise -- and indeed, usually there is just one family running it and the service, while gracious, is informal, and so is the decor. Prices are generally only a few euro more per plate that any neighboring trattoria.

A Michelin two-star or three-star in Italy is most often a much different "experience", with fixed menus and a procession of plates, mostly creative cooking, formal, fussy service from a large, precision-trained staff. Prices do tend to climb up, as high as 200+ euros per person, exclusive of wine, in the most stellar places. That is what many people expect of a "Michelin experience" -- so be sure you are getting what you are looking for.

Very often in Italy a high-end Michelin-starred chef will operate a more informal trattoria next door where you can sample the cooking without the fussy service and hefty price tag. Cibreo in Florence has a sister-restaurant (I forget its name). A couple of the "Romeo" chefs also operate informal trattorie in Rome. Sorry -- I don't really follow the Michelin ratings, but if you go to the Chowhound website and look on its Italy message forum, you can find people who do.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 03:22 PM
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(Something else to be aware of in case you don't already know is that Michelin, being a French-based company, has been in the habit of rating restaurants outside of France by French standards -- so an Italian restaurant that uses butter and cream, or whose waiters display professional French manners, might get a higher rating than a nearby local restaurant that cooks up traditional food with extraordinary delciousness, and has really warm and wonderful service, and is the most popular restaurant in town, but it will never get a Michelin-star. Although Michelin has gotten somewhat better in guiding people to good restaurants in Italy -- especially if people are looking for hyper-creative molecular food -- which can be found in Italy in many places -- a great many gourmet travelers in Italy more readily follow the guidance of Fred Plotkin, the Slow Food editors and Gambero Rosso (the latter for high-end restaurants mainly).
sandralist is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 04:13 PM
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Can't resist one last thought:

I can appreciate being curious and wanting to have a "Michelin experience" at some point in one's life -- but do bear in mind that the "Michelin experience" is somewhat standardized internationally, and interntional travelers judge each Michelin restaurants by an insider's measurement of the international Michelin standard.

By contrast, Italian restaurant traditions that have developed over centuries are unique to Italy, and it is next to impossible to have this experience anywhere else in the world. Even the best "Italian" restuarant that tries the hardest in America to impart that special Italian way of service and food in a restaurant can't quite duplicate it outside of Italy.

In very ancient times, Romans and other "Italians" very often ate communally, and much of the restaurant tradition of Italy has evolved over time as a constant modification of that communal tradition. Italians who own restaurants also have a special feeling for travelers, far from home, who need the comfort of being taken care of well over dinner, and made to feel it home.

This is really quite a special treat for a traveler -- many tourists will tell you they were treated so well in Italy by restaurant owners it brought tears to their eyes -- so while you (hopefully!) will have a lifetime of chances to visit a Michelin restaurant in America or Tokyo or Norway -- take every chance you have in Italy to put yourself into the hands of an Italian cook who wants to make you -- and only you -- happy.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 05:21 PM
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A Michelin dinner can be a very expensive proposition, esp when it includes more than one wine (which would be traditional). So before investing I would figure out the exact cost and examine the menu carefully to have an idea of what you would want. (If you are not adventurous eaters you may not like some things.)

We prefer professional service but sometimes find service in very well known places to be too pretentious and even condescending (we both have to entertain clients at times and they pick the places).

We typically have one special meal (but not usually Michelin) in each major city we visit and e allow US$300 to $400 for the two of us. This generally includes an aperitif but only one wine. We have had wonderful experiences in places we learned about from food writers or locals in the city, sometimes even wonderful bargains. (About 6 years ago we had one dinner in Prague from champagne and amuse bouche through dessert, coffee and tiny chocolates with water, wine and tip for only about $180 - it would probably have been $500 or so in NYC.)

The point being - be sure of what you want in terms of experience, menu, level of formality and budget. You may find some excellent places (not cheap but not SO expensive) that are memorable but not necessarily starred.

And agree that there are many family places in Italy that have great food at moderate prices - and where you are welcomed in a way not common in more formal Michelin * places. (Try this local wine from cousin whoever's vineyard, you must have these tiny strawberries for dessert, they just came from grandpa's farm this morning.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 07:07 PM
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Guy Savoy in Paris (3 star) offers a single table for an extraordinary lunch deal, fixed price of 110 euros per person. Reservations would be needed LONG in advance! Here's the info:

I second mamcalice's recommendation to consider Bib Gourmands as well -- I've had EXCELLENT and affordable meals at several.

kja is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 09:45 PM
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You can see from looking at this menu that a Michelin-starred dinner in Italy need not be expensive:


Also, at that restaurant, it would be odd to order more than one bottle of wine or wine by the glass. You can do that, but most people would just choose a good wine to go with the meal.

There are more than 200 Michelin star restaurants in Italy where full dinners, and even tasting menus, can be enjoyed for under 100e per person. I am not talking about Bib Gourmand restaurants (in Italy, you do better to go with the Slow Food guide for that, rather than Michelin). I am talking about Michelin stars.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 02:14 AM
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I think there is a bit of confusion here, which Sandra has tried to clear up and in words better chosen than mine will be.

Not all restaurants in the Michelin guides are fancy or expensive. The ones you read about, the ones on the Pellegrino World's Best List (which has come to receive about as much credence as Michelin in some quarters) are the Michelin two and three stars.

In NY, just to offer an example in my own city, the list of Michelin starred restaurants (yes, they are starred but they have ONE star and are not the kind of places the OP is asking about) includes The Spotted Pig, famous for hamburgers, Babbo, where two of us had an excellent dinner for about $120 last week; Pok Pok NY, on the Brooklyn waterfront and celebrated for Thai fare.

Just being listed as a Michelin restaurant in the guide does not place it in the exalted ranks of the Osteria Francescana's of this world.

I would not put too much credence in Michelin in Italy. (Or in the US, for that matter) Much better info might be gleaned from the pages of the Gambero Rosso guide or the SlowFood guides.

I had one of the best meals of my life on Ischia, for example, in a little place up in the hills above Forio. Pretty sure it is not listed in Michelin, but I never cared enough to check.

My sister, on the other hand, had a most disappointing birthday dinner last year at a Michelin multi-starred (two stars, I think) restaurant in Ravello at P. Avino.

Do you really want to spend the hundreds of euro for dinner in a fancy hotel restaurant when you are on the Italian coast in summer?
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 07:59 AM
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The one stars I suggested in Paris all offer multi course tasting menus which I think is what you're looking for? Septime does have very casual service/setting so if you're looking for a more formal white table cloth experience, maybe scratch that one off of the list. We spent around 50e per person not including wine at each which I thought was very reasonable. Les Tablettes was the most traditional with choices available on the menu and I believe the ability to order a la carte (though ordering this way will be more expensive). Kei and Sola were more innovative with either no choice or very limited choice menus with the influences of their Japanese chefs showing through. I've also had lunch at Le Cinq but felt that was more about the experience (though admittedly a very nice one) than the food (but I haven't returned since the chef change) and at 145e per person the "bargain" lunch menu is no longer what I consider affordable.
Patty is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 08:46 AM
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I just checked the summer degustation menu for Joia in Milan, and it is 80 euros. Joia is within walking distance of the central train station, and is experimental vegetarian, super-molecular and trendy. I hated eating there, but I wanted to show it is possible to have the full bore "Michelin experience" in Italy for under $100 per person.


But my suggestion would be to eat a Michelin meal on its home turf -- Paris -- even if it is over the budget, and then have a wonderful time in Italy eating the "cucina povera" -- the traditional food of the "poor kitchen" which in Italy is some of the most delicious food on the planet. In Venice, have fun eating cicchetti (small bites) as you hop from bar to bar drinking wine, for Florence and the rest of Tuscany, go for their glorious soups and bread salads. Track down some panzerotti in Milan plus load up on cakes and coffee . Ischia makes its own wine, has delicious lemony pastas and other treats. Eat with the locals in Italy and eat with the tourists in Paris.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 08:52 AM
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Last time I went to a Michelin starred restaurant, we nearly doubled the price of the menu when addig the wine and a tea... and ?
So what started at 110 € per 'menu gastronomique' ended at close to 400 € for 2 people.
Not really affordable but much better spent than 850 € of repair to my rental car for a few scratches.
It was the 'Pergolese' rue Pergolese close to porte Maillot.
They have a more affordable lunch and menu but not on week-ends.
pariswat is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 02:28 PM
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Hey everyone,

First of all thanks so much for all your extensive responses, a lot of food for thought!

I'm definitely not prepared to spend 300-400 euros for a dinner, we've got lots planned and it wouldn't be the wisest decision in our circumstances.

When in Italy, we are very much planning to experience Italy as authentic as possible, we are even staying at a farm (agriturismo) to get a real experience.

The michelin idea just comes from never been to such restaurant in the past, there are none in New Zealand where we are from. Based on the above it seems like doing it in Paris might be a better idea, and I wouldn't mind doing lunch. I'm also not particularly fussed about the number of stars. So where would you recommend in Paris for a michelin lunch?

I will do a bit more research about other mags/blogs you listed above, haven't heard of them before.
mxmmv is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 02:36 PM
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"The michelin idea just comes from never been to such restaurant in the past, there are none in New Zealand where we are from. Based on the above it seems like doing it in Paris might be a better idea, and I wouldn't mind doing lunch. I'm also not particularly fussed about the number of stars. So where would you recommend in Paris for a michelin lunch?"

Please check again the post I entered above.
kja is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 03:07 PM
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I gave several suggestions above. Be aware that most of the prices being quoted here are without wine so if you're planning to have wine, a menu in the 100e range can easily add up to a 300e meal.

Go to http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Restaurants and type in Paris for location. Results can be filtered by number of stars and menu prices are listed. If the price is for lunch only, this will be indicated. Find ones in the price range you're comfortable spending and check sites such as http://parisbymouth.com/ http://www.alexanderlobrano.com/ http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/ for reviews and photos to get a better feel for whether the particular restaurant is something you're looking for. Also read or post on the Chowhound France board http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/49 If you post there, be very specific about the experience you're looking for and the amount you're willing to spend WITH or WITHOUT wine.
Patty is offline  

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