Hello fellow Chowhounders!
I have been stalking this forum for a while, but I think I need to go directly to the source for help. I just graduated from college and my parents are taking my girlfriend and me on a trip to Paris and San Sebastian in April to celebrate. We will be spending 5 nights in Paris and 4 in San Sebastian. We all love food, but my girlfriend hasn't been exposed to ultra fine dining before. There are perhaps no better places to introduce her to it than European Michelin starred restaurants, but I am struggling with where to make our big meal reservations. For Paris, we already have a lunch reservation made at L'Arpège, but I am having a really difficult time deciding between whether to go to Pierre Gagnaire or Le Cinq for dinner.
I have ALWAYS wanted to go to PG, but I worry about the potential for risk that is associated with it; we could either have a mind blowing meal or one that is a disappointment. Also, the unusual combinations in the food seem to make it less approachable than the food at Le Cinq. On paper everything about Le Cinq sounds perfect, from the food to the service, but it just doesn't get me as excited as the cooking at PG does. Le Cinq does seem to have a more grand and celebratory vibe than PG, and I have no doubt that the staff would make it a memorable evening for all of us. I feel like my heart is pushing me towards PG for the food, but my head says Le Cinq in terms of celebration and likability. I want to have a meal that everyone will enjoy in a setting that feels special. It also seems difficult to find a more recent review on this site about PG. How adventurous of an eater does one actually need to be to enjoy PG?
In the San Sebastian area we already have reservations at Azurmendi for lunch (unbelievably excited for) and Martin Berasategui for dinner another night. I'm not really concerned about the choices in San Sebastian, but if you have any suggestions that would point to other restaurants I am all ears. The Azurmendi meal is a definite, but MB has some potential to be changed to something else. Another factor that has me more concerned with the Paris reservations is the cost. I mean for 4 people the meal could easily exceed 2000 euros, and I would hate to have my parents waste their hard earned money on a meal that didn't feel like it was worth it for everyone.
I know this seems like a lot of useless worrying, and we probably will have an amazing meal no matter where we go. I just really want to have some special meals that will be memorable for everyone involved, not just me. If it helps, our favorite restaurant here in the states is Le Bernardin, and we don't really have preferences in terms of modern vs classical cooking. We also don't have any experience with Michelin dining in Europe.