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40th Birthday for 20; serious foodies, but varying budgets

I am coordinating a 40th birthday celebration with 3 other hosts. 3 of us are serious foodies but we all have different budgets and want to think of a way to create an evening for the best food with the least amount of money.

Ideally there is a restaurant in Boston/Camb/Som/Brookline that has excellent food and we could pre order several appetizers or family style food and let people order their own drinks. The trick is a reserved or private area for the group to mingle a bit and hear each other.

This would be an elegant, much needed stylish night out for mothers who get to leave their families at home.

Thank you for any ideas.

Apr 14, 2012
hbfoodie7 in Greater Boston Area

Returning to Memphis after 20 years, what restaurants offer healthiest, freshest local ingredients?

I need a few recommendations for good, healthier restaurants for an upcoming trip. Where do the locavores or slow foodies go out who really care about what they eat?

All price ranges are options.

Many thanks!

Sep 06, 2010
hbfoodie7 in Kentucky & Tennessee

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

Yes, I was going to say a black and white outfit, but that is all I remember, as I am not sure we ever made eye contact. We were not exchanging gifts, however.

Since we seemed to have the same impression of the meal, I feel confident in recommending Astrance to you and would be eager to hear your recommendation for a delicious choice our next trip.

Jun 26, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

Were you wearing a brown pant suit? We were sitting on the window side of the room closer to the entry flower arrangement. We arrived on the later side, too, but we were there for the entire Saudi entourage. Were you sitting next to their rather conspicuous body guards, who stood out more for their table manners than their size. We were the couple in our late 30's. There was one couple in between the woman in the brown pant suit that may have been you, which means you were to our immediate left. All of the men to my left looked very French, though. Is your husband?

Jun 25, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

And I do think even the people watching there is really fun. I don't regret our meal there. Just wouldn't go back until I tried your other recommendations, Souphie, for the other greats with a more modern, inventive flair.

Jun 18, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

I noticed Fuffy in another post ate there this past Monday as we did. Perhaps not its best day of the week to eat there? I am dying to know if Fuffy is one of the people who ate next to us on his or her way to Nice. What a small Chowhound world!

Jun 18, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

Yes, but all drinks were separate except for that first glass of champagne that was inclusive. I ordered one glass and two half glasses of wine, we each had coffee. I will see if i still have the ticket.

Jun 18, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

My husband doesn't drink, so what they did for me at Le Cinq is select a nice wine for the first few courses and then pour me a half glass for the cheese course and a half glass for the dessert course. I am not a big drinker either but the wine was so great, that it didn't feel like too much.

There is no wrong question to ask at Le Cinq, which is a big plus for Americans nervous about being snubbed or judged by French staff. We had really warm receptive service everywhere we went, though, even though my French is dismal compared to how it was when I lived there years ago.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

Le Cinq was so fun for the experience, great people watching, and I think many people would appreciate the food.

Based on the three different glasses the sommelier gave me, I think the wines would be excellent, too, for those ready to spend on that. Every glass was outstanding and memorable, but my food experiences are much more extensive than my wine experiences. I am easy to please in that arena.

Our food tastes are pretty pure, however, eating mostly vegetables with poultry and seafood much of the time. I would happily eat at Astrance every return trip to Paris.

I would not return to Le Cinq without trying L'Arpege, where we should have gone, and a few others first. Le Cinq, to me, is where I would take friends and family who have less developed palettes and other foodies whose palette can enjoy richer food and great wine.

FWIW, Our Astrance meal came to 170 Euros with 2 glasses of champagne and bottled water, where as our Le Cinq bill quickly climbed to 267 Eu with wines.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

food from le cinq

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

I cannot say that any food we were served matched the sensory experience and service of the restaurant. Most dishes were dumbed down in terms of flavor.

The fried shrimp and calamari and champagne were yummy, but it was really crude, like clam rolls in Rhode Island. A very heavy way to start.

The Amuse bouche of shrimp with tumeric was one of the better flavors of the whole meal. The entree of raw salmon and horseradish mousse disappointed because the horseradish was barely detectable, resulting in a bland, but beautifully presented, dish.

The main course fish was well-executed but not worth remembering but the other highlight for me were the accompanying vegetables with small fried black olives.

The desserts were fair; my husband had no interest in eating his chocolate dessert, which is really unusual for him. My strawberry and fennel mousse was light and fresh; nothing super memorable.

I had the server select for me an assortment of cheeses and the sommelier select 3 different wines for me and those were all outstanding.

Le Cinq offers so much more than food, which is a good thing, since the food is the least of what I remember.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

I am in the process of loading all of the photos and it keeps crashing, including my typed description of the meal!

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

Flowers everywhere, taking up really large spaces in every corner.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

So Le Cinq has service and atmosphere down like no other; the Four Season's training of "let me fulfill your request in the most accommodating way possible" is felt through out. When I asked to have the name written down of a wine I had had, the waiter gave me an envelope when I left. I opened it this morning while unpacking at is is a laminated wine label. That kind of touch.

The flowers are as impressive as the room, but when the Four Seasons purchased the building, they destroyed everything inside and rebuilt from scratch. It has a very polished "reproduction" feel that may or may not please. There are reproductions of Sargent paintings on many of the walls.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

More pics of Astrance.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

More pics.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

L'Astrance: heaven on earth vs. Le Cinq: really expensive comfort food

We had the simple lunch menu on Friday at L'Astrance and found to it be the absolute best of our trip, hands down. The restaurant is intimate, about 30 seats, modern, and minimalist. The wait staff was wonderful, spoke to me slowly in French so I could understand, and some of the staff would speak in French and English.

Every herb and every vegetable had meaning on the plate. Flavors were so distinct and perfect.

An entree of shrimp in a soy broth with herbs was so simple but powerful. I ate each herb or flower by itself because the flavors needed to be savored by the broth on its on.

The next course of a steamed fish ( I couldn't catch the name) was the same in that there was so much flavor in that marinated red onion slice or spinach leaf. The thyme and razor clam meat was excellent as well.

I was surprised to be served chicken breast, but it was flawlessly prepared, and the fresh peas and sour cherry compote were out of this world.

Our sorbet was an incredible combination of lemongrass and chili pepper.

The desserts were plentiful. The least interesting was the white chocolate cup of apricot preserves. The Elderberry Flower and gelee were wonderfully subtle. The green tea ice cream inside the gigham meringue cookie were just plain fun! The home run was the caramelized sugar wafer set on top of a light creamy foam/mousee with a really tart sour cherry compote underneath. An incredible combo of crunchy, sweet, and tart.

Chilled eggnog served from their shells were delicious and meticulously picked berries and cherries and chestnut flavored financiers were perfect.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Guy Savoy or Le Cinq for Lunch?

Hey, we were there on Monday, too! Were you there for the Saudi Royal Family's arrival?

I have to say that the service experience lived up to my expectations, and many of the courses were good. We had lunch at Astrance a few days before and nothing would have been able to top that for food for us, as it was exactly the sweet spot of our taste.

I asked the waiter to write down the name of the wine I had at lunch and I just opened the envelope at home while unpacking. It was the actual label laminated. These service touches are what stand out at Le Cinq.

I would say that the Four Seasons motive for ultimate comfort for an international crowd dictate much of the meals; no flavor was meant to challenge or make you pause; it was designed to be the ultimate in comfort food.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Please Advise Between these Choices in Paris and Also, Need Help for Versailles

This message keeps double posting. Sorry.

Jun 17, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

solo birthday dinner in paris - suggestions?

I would like to wish you an early happy birthday!

Since my trip is in June, I can only offer suggestions based on what I have inferred on the boards, not from experience. We have chosen to celebrate our special meal at Le Cinq because it seems like the food, while not the most inventive, is superbly prepared and the service is over the top in terms of orchestrated polish.

Two more I would have loved to try if time and budget allowed would be Arpege and L'Astrance, where I think the food would have been more mind-blowing, even if a few dishes miss the mark.

May 02, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Simple, simple lunch in the 6th?

PERFECT!!!!!!!!!

Thank you!

Apr 30, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Simple, simple lunch in the 6th?

It has been so many years since I studied near Vavin, I can't remember if it is the boulangeries that sell really upscale sandwiches or what type of store. We will not make lunch plans the day we are shopping around the 6th, but I would love the name of one of the best places for a simple salad or sandwich. Will the places that cater to business lunches be open on a Saturday?

That is the day we will also be sampling whatever strikes our fancy from Hugo & Victor, Christian Constant, and Gerald Mulot. Any lunch items there?

Thank you!

Apr 30, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Michelin Discounts!

My French is too rusty to read the fine print. Is the quoted rate for many of these menus for 2 people? The quoted rate is higher than the lunch rate I had written down for most of these restaurants.

Apr 26, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

One day in Paris... where to eat?

You can take this advice with a grain of salt, but I don't think your itinerary sounds very feasible or enjoyable. If it is your first trip to Paris, I would carve out a very small piece, simply focusing on the Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis and its immediate surroundings. You can tour Notre Dame efficiently and soak up the beauty of the river and its bridges, iconic Paris imagery. if the weather is bad, you can pop into the Louvre or head over to the Musee D'Orsay. I was never a fan of going up the Eiffel Tower when I lived in Paris, but when I visited as a tourist, I found it more thrilling to see it from far away than from its base.

Apr 19, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Feedback on our prize trip at the Ritz

OK, so maybe we should do ZKG on Saturday for lunch instead and find a more reasonably priced first night dinner. I would like to be near Ile de la Cite area in the 5th or 4th, so maybe Au Fil des Saisons?

Phil, which Christian Constant places do you like? I enjoyed his website at your suggestion. They all look good.

Apr 18, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Feedback on our prize trip at the Ritz

Thanks to everyone on this board who has gotten me this far in my planning.

We won that trip at the Ritz (throw tomatoes now) for my husband and I to have our first time alone since becoming parents, so this trip feels so much more significant to us than our honeymoon (when we took alone time for granted back in the day).

We need to spend "consciously" but we are going to have two nice meals, so the rest, I am looking for the 30-40EU menu range or less. We enjoy walking, so I prefer to stay in areas concentrated near the 1,2,8, 16, 7, 6th, 5th, 4th for the small amount of time we are there.

Thursday arrival:
thinking of simple tea room lunch/snack (not knowing if we will have an appetite) at something like Jean Paul Hevin, or other suggestions. By the time we get out, it may be after 2pm, so I need something serving between 2-5. Carb eye candy sounded fun to welcome us to Paris.

Thursday Dinner:
Ze Kitchen Gallerie- can anyone tell me if there is a dinner menu, or if the 35 Eu is lunch only?

Friday:
Need someplace here to take a leisurely stroll around the 16th. (First planned on lunch at L'Astrance, but decided it would be fun to do a nice dinner one night instead)
Dinner at Senderens

Saturday:
Lunch: Need someplace while strolling around the 6th or 7th and Jardin de Luxembourg area. (I have resisted CLJ and Le Comptoir de Relais for reasons I cannot articulate )

Having dinner with local friends who live in the Marais at Le Gaigne

Sunday:
Wondered if afternoon tea at Le Meurice would be worth anything since the pastry chef is supposed to be excellent. Also if maybe Le Bristol offered tea in their courtyard. How would this compare to tea in London? Purpose is to find a place for nice conversation with our local friends after taking a tour of the old Opera House. Doesn't have to be tea.

Dinner at Fish

Monday:
Lunch at Le Cinq
Dinner at Maceo (Where I assume we can order lightly)

Tuesday:
We are off to spend the night at Versailles and know to avoid the Gordon Ramsey place. Other ideas in town?

Thank you to Souphe and John Talbot for many of these ideas.

I welcome any comments and feedback before we send off the reservation list soon.

Apr 18, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Evaluation of Engagement trip to Paris

http://www.insidethetravellab.com/par...

Here is a better pic about the Pont des Artistes and the padlock tradition. Even if you do not propose there, I think adding one of your own might be a very sweet gesture, a nice surprise to pull out of your pocket after you let her see them and identify what they are first.

swoooooon.

Apr 13, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

erotic dinner paris

That is way too much money to spend to learn to choke.

Apr 04, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

erotic dinner paris

I am fascinated by this trip. I hope you have a wonderful time, and I think the courage to be open to something like this, even if the executions falls short, usually pays off.

Apr 03, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France

Suggestions for 1st night in Paris

Now, my trip hasn't occurred yet, so take my suggestion with a grain of salt, but a highly regarded place (on this board) near the Palais Royal is Macéo, and it strikes me as being a good fit for your potentially mixed energy level. We are also going to Le Gaigne.

Mar 30, 2010
hbfoodie7 in France