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Suggestions for a brilliant 40th birthday meal in Paris?

Suggestions for a brilliant 40th birthday meal in Paris?

Oct 20th, 2007, 01:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 14
Suggestions for a brilliant 40th birthday meal in Paris?

Hello fellow Fodorites ...

I'm living in France for a year (poor me, I know) and my wife is turning 40 in November. I'm surprising her with a trip to Paris and I'm wondering what your suggestions would be for a brilliant meal. I know Paris pretty well, but I'll admit in the past that I've not indulged in the higher-end eateries. (I'm usually too busy wandering the streets and museums with my jaw hanging open.) This time, though, money is no object; I just want to ensure she has the most brilliant meal of her life.

I'd like to take her somewhere marvellous, but not necessarily the tourist's version of marvellous. So I'm not really thinking Tour d'Argent, for instance. I'm wondering about Taillevent, though, or one of Joël Robuchon's places. I'll admit I find the choice of excellent places daunting to wade through.

So this is where you come in. What's your candidate for a flawless, brilliant, perfectly Parisien, no-holds-barred, celebration meal?

Many thanks!

barksducks is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 05:12 AM
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I don't frequent those kind of restaurants, so can't suggest anything -- but I have been to Joel Robuchon's Atelier in Paris and liked it a lot, for what it was. However, I don't think it is appropriate for what you are seeking and would never recommend it for that kind of experience. Even though expensive (it really wasn't too bad when I was there near its opening, I think it's increased a lot), it is a more casual dining experience. It was fun, but we sat at a counter around the bar. I'm not even sure they have tables, can't remember. It was a fun and good experience with some friends, but believe me, it will never be the most brilliant meal of someone's life.
Christina is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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Are you wiling to celebrate at lunchtime or are you set on dinner?
ekscrunchy is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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I agree that Atelier is not the place you are seeking for this occasion..the JR place for you would be Table de Joel Robuchon...I have been only to Atelier and thought the food was superb....but it is counter seating..
ekscrunchy is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 07:02 AM
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Hi B,

I think that Taillevent would be a very good choice.

Also check out www.restaurantlaperouse.com,
and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée

ira is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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What do you think would make "the most brilliant meal" of your wife's life? Would it be over-the-top food, or great food plus a special ambiance? What would make for a special ambiance?

I'm bringing all of this up because a special restaurant for a special occasion isn't necessarily the most high-end place in town. And if you don't usually go to those kinds of places, at least partly because you don't choose to, you may spend more time thinking about the prices on the menu than the event. (Though, as a caveat, don't think that going to a place like Taillevant will be too formal, or that the wait staff will be too stiff. The first time we went to a high-end restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and kind the staff was (but as they should be). We had the same positive treatment at Taillevant.)

For example, does your wife like to eat at creative, very contemporary places? Or at small, romantic restaraunts? I wouldn't call Taillevant either of those. What kinds of foods does your wife most enjoy? Two places that we've enjoyed, not necessarily on the top of restaurant radar screens, are Jacques Cagna and Michel Rostang. Both are smaller and cozy spaces, with somewhat, though not totally, traditional cuisine.

Whatever restaurant you're considering, use the restaurant's website (most of them have them these days) to look at pictures of the restaurant, and the menu, if it's posted, to see if there are items that sound good to you.
Lexma90 is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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I don't go to those places, but for a special evening, I would want a place with a view -- even something like the Ciel de Paris on top of the Tour Montparnasse or the Georges on top of the Pompidou Center. For such an evening, the atmosphere is more important than what you are eating.
kerouac is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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I had the pleasure of celebrating my 45th birthday at Taillevent this past July and it was brilliant! It was my second time at this restaurant and will always be a special memory. To begin they sat us and I know that the fact all of our wait staff spoke flawless English was not coincidental. The head waiter had a wonderful sense of humor and made us feel very special. The owner Monsieur Virant greeted all of his guests and took time to talk with us at length. The food was amazing. The service was the best I've ever experienced in any restaurant. They saw how much we enjoyed the little cheese puffs with our champagne and brought more throughout the night, (it turned into a joke between all of us) The best part...we never told them it was my birthday, they overheard us talking and at the end of the meal the most beautiful sugar sculpture came out with a sparkler and I hate that sort of stuff but it was fun. Finally at the end of our meal, Monsieur Virant came by again with a bottle of cognac to finish our meal and recognize my birthday. A truly amazing evening. Your wife will never forget this milestone birthday!
chevre is offline  
Oct 20th, 2007, 06:33 PM
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First thing I would do is subscribe to Zagat.com - I think their reviews are the best I've seen. That said, I'd suggest you look at L'aperouse (sp?). Overlooking the Seine, it's seriously romantic. Need I say that the two of you will create the evening? Have a wonderful time
Rhardy5554 is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 01:50 AM
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I agree with kerouac about a view. I think I'd chose
Les Ombres . A friend had their 90€ tasting menu and said it was excellent.
avalon is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 05:22 AM
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Yes, I should tell you all a bit more.

My wife and I are experienced restaurant-goers with what I like to think of as excellent taste and both food and wine are important to us. I have to say though that I do like to encounter the modern with my classic and I would lean toward a brilliant restaurant that has one foot in the contemporary.

I also like to feel welcome and special in a very fine restaurant (such as they can make you feel in Babbo, in NYC, for instance), and I am inclined to not want to repeat an experience, no matter how good the food, if I feel that the restaurant has communicated to me that it was my privilege to eat there.

To give you an example of a great meal I wouldn't repeat, I was at Pierre Orsi in Lyon with my wife last summer (to celebrate MY 40th!) and although it was one of the most spectacular meals I'd ever had (although they are almost entirely a CLASSIC French restaurant) I felt, how can I say this, a little intimidated. They did nothing to create this impression: they were entirely professional, the service was excellent and even personal, but there was something just 10% too precious about the place, as if there was a very subtle subtext that I ought to be careful not to break anything.

So I am looking for a SPECTACULAR meal in a place where our worldliness and intelligence as eaters and drinkers will be rewarded with warmth and welcome and give us a sense that we belong there, while also taking us to new heights in terms of food. I do not want to feel that I am lucky I got a table, nor that it is a place where one's voice should be kept low out of respect for the restaurant's reputation.

Does that help narrow the list some?

PS: I am still leaning toward Taillevent, but I am very surprised to hear on other boards that some consider the food to be second to other places. I've never heard that before; the impression I get of Taillevent, as well as Ledoyen and Les Elysées is that they are impeccable. Do any of you feel the same? (I also lean toward Taillevent because they lost their third star in the 2007 edition of the Michelin Guide through some caprice of the editors, and it seems to me the very best time to eat there would be in the period they are working to regain it, as it appears they will in the 2008 edition ...)
barksducks is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 07:09 AM
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Hi B,

>..nor that it is a place where one's voice should be kept low out of respect for the restaurant's reputation.<

One's voice is kept low out of respect for the other diners.

I think that the restos I suggested would be what you want.

Also "Jules Verne".

ira is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Could add Benoit's.

Go there each time in Paris- the epitome of a French restaurant- decor, service and refinement. Alain Ducasse now owns it.
mweiner is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Have you considered Alain Sendrens? It's the old Lucas Carton (same website)--chef gave up the Michelin stars to turn into more relaxed atmosphere. Inventive cuisine paired with wine each course (or you can order off the list). Some cuisine with Asian/French theme. Lots of Parisians vs tourists. I had one of the best meals of my life here.
LoriS is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 10:38 PM
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I wouldn't dine at Taillevent again anytime soon as I was there when they had an "off" night.

I've had wonderful meals at L'Espadon, Les Ambassadeurs, Le Cinq, Jules Verne, and Le Grand Vefour. Hard to pick the best of these, but if pressed I'd have to say L'Espadon.

luveurop is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:54 AM
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I have never been to any restaurants in this category, but the one that would tempt me from reports I have read would be l'Ambroisie.
Nikki is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:04 AM
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I have never been, but Les Magnolias is on my list for next time; a bit of a trek but from all accounts, might be worth the trouble:

ekscrunchy is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:48 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 517
My personal favorite for service, food, wine and romance is Restaurant Jacques Cagna on 14 Rue des Grands Augustines.

My husbands's all time favorite was La Truffiere , for their tasting menu with wine. Truely extraordinary.

We both absolutely loved Taillevent.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of these.

I'm drooling just thinking about dining at any one of them!
Lucky wife.

Ralstonlan is offline  

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