Paris — ‘Fancy’ Lunch/‘Romantic’ Dinner

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Ah, but then I make the distinction between the two in the title of the thread! It’s not fancy+romantic meal, but rather fancy lunch and romantic dinner.

I did want to splurge for lunch at a place that is preferably worth the splurge; the idea of romance wasn’t mandatory. But I also want a romantic dinner, where the fanciness is incidental.

@Annegrace thank you for the wine bar/small plates suggestions. Oysters at Istr look perfect.

@Monchique actually I think @MaxEntropy did suggest La Tour D’Argent. I did look into it, but didn’t go for it due to prices — it’d have to be dinner, and I would rather splurge at lunch. And I might be wrong here, but it looks a tad too formal and buttoned up for my taste. Same for @danlind3 ’s Lasserre tip.

But thank you all for the picks!

Any votes for Sadarnac vs Jeanne Aimee for lunch?

And that Japanese chef lunch — Eunoe, Maison Sota, A.T., or L’Alliance?

Indeed, that’s what I was alluding to. Can a fancy lunch be romantic? A romantic dinner fancy? And what makes a meal “fancy” or “romantic”?

For example, would sharing a tin of ossetra caviar with potato chips as scoops while sitting on a quay count as a fancy lunch?
And what makes a meal romantic?

It seems to me one can conceive of counter-intuitive juxtapositions

Thanks, @PN for starting this thread!

Okay, I’ve been thinking about the Sadarnac vs Jeanne Aimée question and I have to go with JA. Aside from being a long trek to get to, Sadarnac is frequently very quiet at lunch - think one or two tables. So the vibe isn’t all that lively. I feel slightly traitorous saying this since I really love Lise Deveix’ adventurous cooking and irreverent style.

And for a French restaurant with a Japanese inflection, I would probably opt for Alliance, but I haven’t been to Eunoé yet.

It all depends on what you want.

Sadarnac vs. Jeanee-Aimée are just very different experiences. The former is off in a charming, quiet neighborhood that seems more in the provinces than in Paris and the cooking is the cheffe’s very individual expression, varying daily, I believe, by what she feels like and what the market gives her. The latter is a bright, airy, modern space in the middle of a bustling part of Paris with a fairly chic clientèle and a menu that only changes bi-weekly or monthly.

As for the Japanese chef lunch, Eunoé is the least expensive and most colorful (literally); and as it is the least expensive – for the moment, at least – it is a very good local bistrot, not what the French call a restaurant gastronomique. Consequently, it will lack luxury ingredients and peripheral touches that you will encounter at Maison Sota or L’Alliance. I didn’t have a good experience at Maison Sota shortly after it opened, but others who had similar problems say it has now gotten things in gear, so I have no current opinion there. No experience at A.T. Finally, Alliance is simply our favorite restaurant in Paris and has been since it opened.

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I should add that we used to visit restaurant AT regularly, but our favorite server left and so did the wry humor and joy he injected into an otherwise very eclectic, artistic, but oh so reverential cuisine.

@onzieme, I’ll be curious to get your impression of Stéphane Manigold’s (eighth?) new restaurant (Hémicycle). Some of them I’ve liked, such as Granite, but others have left me cold, despite delicious plates.

I’ll echo onzieme and SFcarole that Alliance for lunch is our favorite French-by-a-Japanese-chef place.

Not been to Enoué but looking forward to it. Much less expensive than Alliance.

I went to Maison Sota once (alone, on a business trip). Even though the chef is Japanese, I don’t consider it to be like most of the French-by-a-Japanese-chef restaurants I’ve been to. IMO best way to think of it is as a more upscale Clown Bar. Very different experience, more daring/adventurous food. I enjoyed it, especially the food, and I would return. But it’s nowhere near the wonderful, warm service at Alliance, not at all the sensibility in service or food of Alliance, AT, Montée, Sola, Kei, etc. So IMO apples and oranges.

Not been to AT (or if so, only once years ago).

As one of those who is a big fan of Pierre Sang (it’s one of the 3-4 places to which we always return), if you were going to Paris for 10+ days and wanted a fun, great-value meal, I’d strongly suggest you try Oberkampf or Gambey.

But if you’re only in Paris for 4-5 days, and lower cost not a priority, I’d agree that you’re likely better-served saving it for a future trip.

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Thanks for the notes on differences between Eunoe, Alliance and Maison.

On Alliance, any preference between the three or four course lunch? Three is fine, or does the four offer something special?

I have been fascinated in the renewed interest in the (renewed) Petrelle. It appears that it is being taken entirely seriously now, albeit with ambiance far from what we usually expect of a restaurant serving at its level.

I have been wondering about this myself–is this the same Petrelle, low key, “romantic,” and thoroughly delicious where I dined over a decade ago? Or am I thinking of someplace else? I must have missed hte story of its renewal.

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I would not call Eunoe ‘fancy’, and everyone has their own idea of ‘romantic’ but, boy, such a delicious fun place! Just need to be patient with Felix and his team when things get busy but everyone will get fed! Can not wait to return to Eunoe.

Great restaurant!

My commentary on Hémicycle is now up.

Oh wonderful, thanks very much.

I think I am going to pass on this one. The ambiance and overall ‘feel’ of a restaurant is important to me, and based on your description — hard edges, higher decibel levels etc. — it seems like the kind of place I wouldn’t enjoy even if I am impressed with the food.

A bit of a shame, I know, given I did want to try the food from the ex Flaubert and Le Clarence chefs. But I am in Paris only for a few days and have to be brutal about hacking names off my list.

Le Clarence lunch booking is done, Jeanne Aimee dinner booking done (based on what I see on Google and Instagram, their dishes seem to be getting more daring and experimental every week).

Now debating between Alliance, Perception and Geosmine for one lunch. And Petrelle, Source and Hectar for one dinner. Extremely arbitrary choice list, yes, but opinions welcome!

Great review, onz, thanks for trying out Hémicycle. What is splendid is it’s proximity to Fondation Custodia, which like you and L, we never fail to miss on a visit to Paris. And the plates truly look excellent, so we’ll probably give it a try. But I may reach the same “soulless” conclusion as I did with Substance.

Given that my dynamic as a local is very different than yours as a tourist, I nevertheless suspect you are in danger of food fatigue and hitting too many one-note (a very high note) restaurants in a city that is such a wonderful symphony of food and restaurants. But to each his own.

I work in an industry that requires a lot of expense account dining. If more than one-tasting menu a week, I find the second (or third) menu dégustation a chore rather than a delight no matter how good the meal is. So, pacing and variety are important. At least for me.

As much as I like Perception (and I like it even more than the very likeable Jeanne-Aimee), I like it less for the a la carte lunch (which is a very—maybe too-- pared down sample of the chef’s extraordinary talent) than the tasting menu dinner. It does offer a tasting menu for lunch but, groan, you already have too many tasting menus on your list.

Petrelle would provide some much needed variety. Both in terms of à la carte cuisine and ambiance. I would also throw in the cheap, cheerful and very good Eunoé for the fun factor as well as for the cuisine.

I adored my lunch at Hémicycle for the food as much as the ambiance. But a very power lunch insider kind of ambiance and lots of table hopping to say hi to business contacts and old friends from uni. And, the day I was there, a bit of glamour thanks to the presence of a few famous fashionistas. Yet, I agree that it is far less suitable for tourists, especially older ones. Because the clientele is not supplied by central casting, the tone and restaurant theatre likely change daily and from lunch to dinner. I’ll also note that my parents went for dinner with friends and enjoyed it immensely.