Weak Euro Makes Three-Star Dinners Affordable

Europe's hottest restaurants may find themselves filled with Americans this summer as the weakened euro makes dining more affordable for travelers.
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LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- It was only last summer that American travelers found themselves gagging on an exchange rate that hovered above $1.40 versus the euro.

Spain's El Bulli or Paris' Le Pre Catelan weren't just hard to get into, but hard to afford. Many American travelers skipped the gastronomic experience altogether.

The dollar has rebounded this year as the European Union struggles to support the euro amid a growing debt crisis. The continent's hottest restaurants may find themselves filled with Americans again.

ABaC in Barcelona recently added a hotel and spa.

In Paris, there are 10 three Michelin star restaurants to choose from, including multiple award winners Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse at Hotel Plaza Athenee and Pierre Gaganaire. But a new two-star eatery is standing out among the all-stars.

In the relatively unknown Batignolles neighborhood, chef Christophe Pele helms the two-star Bigarrade. Behind a nondescript glass storefront, a dining room with 20 seats sits opposite an open kitchen that displays the culinary prowess of its chef who's become a local rock star. The restaurant offers two multi-course menu options: the Gourmand for 45 euros ($57) and the Gourmet for 35 euros. What arrives on a plate can include anything from fresh oysters to buttery cod with caviar.

In Berlin, MA Tim Raue inside the Hotel Adlon is setting the trend for prestigious dining in one of Germany's most impressive dining spaces. The restaurant's walls are sculpted of bronze panels with cashmere-covered banquettes. There's a 1,000-year old horse sculpture from China's Han dynasty at the center of the eatery.

While it's hard to believe you came to Berlin to eat contemporary Chinese food, an exquisite lunch and dinner seating offers reasonable a la carte options or two pricier tasting menus that range from 118 euros to 148 euros. Diners will find toro tartare, abalone with lemon and Sichuan-style pigeon. Those looking for even more panache can dine in the Krug Room, with offers its own personalized tasting menu built by chef Tim Raue himself in a private dining space that comes with pairings from the Champagne maker.

As the birthplace of Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsay, England has no shortage of pricey and posh restaurants. With the British pound hovering at generational lows, a prix-fixe meal costs 150 pounds at Fat Duck and 120 pounds at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Daniel Boulud, owner of New York's three-star Daniel, joins the fray this year by opening his Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London. In a dining space that's struggled to find its identity over the years, the dark interiors of the Victorian-era hotel have been transformed into playful eatery with cozy booths and a zinc-topped bar. French-born Boulud brings a refreshingly affordable all-day menu of shellfish, chopped lobster salads and charcuterie platters. ,

Barcelona, Spain, has been flourishing with starry hotel eateries, including the newer Lasarte and Evo. AbaC, for example, has become so popular that its clients literally moved in, at least on a nightly basis. In 2008, the famed restaurant relocated so that it could offer a hotel and spa in the most fashionable addresses in the city. At the heart of the hotel is still the grand eatery helmed by Xavier Pellicer, a student of Jacques Maximin, who recently announced he'd be handing over his kitchen to a hot new chef Jordi Cruz. To celebrate the change, the hotel is offering a "gourmet experience" for 290 euros per night, which combines a one-night stay with a prix fixe dinner and kitchen tour.

-- Reported by Michael Martin of JetSetReport.com in Los Angeles.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.