I have no great fondness for the rather preserved-in-aspic Vendôme quartier. Life is dominated by high-end tourism with a little sprinkling of fashionistas here and there, too many examples of the triumph of plutocratic style over substance, and not much of appeal to my Parisian style tribe.
I used to like trendy Balagan for after-work cocktails and rendezvous-ing with friends before heading off to somewhere else but it just closed so bad timing for you. The rather rarified hotel bar of the Meurice used to be fun during one of the fashion weeks but very hit-and-miss at other times and I haven’t been since its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, introduced the death penalty for homosexuality. (I suffer from bouts of liberal sensitivities). The Ritz Bar is way too old farty and mega-bucks touristy for me. Which leaves the usually sparkling and rather dressy bar of the Hotel Costes as one of the few places in this immediate area that I actually enjoy. The door policy for non-guests not known to the house can, however, be a little whimsical. Since my retired ex-boss and mentor is such a dedicated bon viveur and it’s his favourite hangout spot, I’ll also add the bar of the Le Bristol Hotel on rue du Faubourg St Honoré… maybe a 20-minute walk from the Westin Vendôme.
Le Matignon, hmmmm. I’m a bit ambiguous about it after a very bad meal made even worse by a neighbouring table of excessively annoying upper-class British twits worthy of a Monty Python skit. Since these assertively chic and self-consciously “exclusive” supper clubs like Le Matignon (Arc, Raspoutine, etc) are strangely cookie-cutter in terms of style and clientele and I’d be hard pressed to choose which is better. Silencio near the Bourse is more my style even if it is much less enjoyable than it used to be.
For restaurants, I am at bit of loss because I and my friends rarely prowl around the Vendôme quartier looking for a restaurant. Given your penchant for trad, Flottes on rue Cambon is probably a good option foodwise and good for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, or dinner but I haven’t been for years. And a reluctant recommendation for the restaurants (Café Lapérousse and Jean-François Piège’s Mimosa inside the Hôtel de la Marine/ old Admiralty on the place de la Concorde… the setting is sensational but the food and vibe can be hit and miss. Yet, definitely worth a try when too tired to wander far from your hotel. The food is not exactly memorable but good enough, Le Rubis wine bar on rue Marché-St-Honoré is stubbornly old-fashioned and has a great lunch vibe… it’s the sort of atmospheric, authentically olde-worlde place that many tourists look for but rarely find and the lunch clientele is mostly Parisians and suburbanites working in the area.
Outside the Vendôme quartier but close enough. For the power lunch vibe that you are looking for , Le Griffonnier on rue Saussaies is the obvious choice… however, it’s much more of a “tout-Paris” resto and I’m not sure how well interloping tourists are treated or if they would enjoy the “insider” vibe. I should also note that I have never been to the once-a-week dinner and don’t know if the dinner vibe/ clientele is different from lunch. A tip for what to order: bone marrow for starters and the boeuf tartare or andouillette sauce moutarde.
With the caveat that it is a not a one-size-fits-all place, I’m a huge fan of Le Grand Véfour in the arcades of the Palais Royal. Because of its history, vibe, and associations with Colette and Cocteau (admittedly, this has greater pull for us French), I like it better than sfcarole’s also very good Restaurant du Palais Royal (which, for me, is much more of a summer restaurant because of the glorious outdoor dining overlooking the gardens of the Palais Royal). Even though it serves modern French rather than the trad cuisine that you prefer, Le G V is still an excellent, very civilized choice for a foursome… and a surprisingly good price/quality ratio now that Chef Martin has given away his Michelin stars.
For very authentic time-warp trad that rises above the usual tourist-fodder standard, Le Bougainville on rue Banque @ Galerie Vivienne. More fun for lunch than dinner. More up-market but a shorter walk for you, Chez Monsieur on rue du Chevalier de Saint-George (and why oh why do short streets have the longest names ?.. but living in the Netherlands, you are probably used to that). Impeccable trad standards, especially the exemplary blanquette de veau. For lunch, lots of suits discussing deals and more diverse for dinner.