The Parisian Restaurant is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it's the first restaurant building that I own - and it's also holds a pair of apartments in the upper portion of the building. Thus, it fits in well with the Pet Shop set in that you get actual places for your minifigures to live as well as to eat or shop. I think it's smart by LEGO to include apartments in their modular buildings since there aren't a lot of building ideas that can encompass three stories without feeling forced (I'll discuss the empty areas of the Grand Emporium when I review that set for example)!
The Parisian Restaurant is also notable because the back of the building is almost as detailed as the front of the building. This is a first for the Modular line as most of the other buildings have a back wall design that is more afterthought than anything else. While I do appreciate the model looking good from all four sides, I have to admit that I showcase my models on a high shelf from which only the front is visible anyhow!
The actual set comes in a giant box which holds 2469 pieces. For comparison, the Pet Shop has 2,032 pieces, the Fire Brigade has 2,231 pieces, and the Palace Cinema has 2,194 pieces. Of the four Modular buildings that I've reviewed to date, the Parisian Restaurant has about 200 more pieces than the next closest building! I should note that a lot of those pieces are small 1x1 squares though so you can't judge a set solely on its piece count.
As I mentioned already, the set consists of three floors. The ground floor holds the main eating area (indoor and outdoor) plus the kitchen of the restaurant. The second floor holds a spillover deck with more seating plus a small apartment. The third floor is quite small and features and artist's studio.
Since the instruction booklets begin with the ground floor, that's where we'll begin the review!
As you can see, there are two outdoor seating areas plus another two indoor tables. The indoor tables get their own table lamps which is a nice touch. The kitchen has blue and white tiles for the floor and it contains a bunch of different kitchen appliances including a fully stocked refrigerator (all brick built of course).
Once the first floor is complete, you also get a wine curio plus a few wall hangings (a painting in the main dining area and a clock in the kitchen). There is a nice menu on the outside along with a Chez Albert sign signifying the name of the restaurant.
It's not really possible to make out from the photos, but the name Chez is also built into the design of the ground floor in the outdoor seating area (thus continuing the trend of spelling something out in brick form in the various Modular buildings)!
The back of the building includes a brick built dumpster plus some greenery and a trash can (and a rat for good measure). The dumpster contains a few extra food items such as a pair of hot dogs, a couple of bones, and some cherries. I'll never complain about getting more LEGO food items!
Moving on to the second floor, you actually build two separate components. The first is the second floor apartment and the other bit is the outdoor seating area for the restaurant. Beginning with the apartment, you can see the front is really quite nice - a pair of large windows (complete with flower boxes) and a super small balcony. The back of the second floor contains a second super small balcony as well the stairs to upper artist's loft.
The inside of the second floor contains a fully fledged (small) apartment. There is a small kitchenette (with microwave, stove, and some drawers) along with a small table and stool. There is also a nice recliner by the fireplace and a tall floor lamp in the corner. The bed is actual a stowaway bed which you can pull down when it is time for sleep!
The other part of the second floor is the outdoor seating area. Here, you get another pair of tables plus a pair of lamps (with flower pots). It's definitely a simple build but it looks really nice when combined with the rest of the model!
Finally, we make our way to the third and final floor - home of the starving artist! The front of the third floor is entirely decorative - but it works well within the context of the entire model. The most striking design element is probably the white croissants that serve as some scalloping for the design (notice the white clam shells in the middle of the design)! Neat the bottom, the design features a bunch of feather pieces (which were totally new to me). I love the look - and the dark blue of the roof makes the entire design pop!
The only way to access the third floor is actually from the back of the model. The back portion of the roof flips down to reveal the artist's studio. The studio isn't really a proper apartment as there isn't actually anything in it besides a small wood stove, artist's easel, paint palette, and a small storage area for finished paintings. Perhaps the artist actually lives downstairs and rents out the upstairs just for work purposes?
Overall, the Parisian Restaurant looks awesome from both the front and the back. It is, by far, the best looking Modular Building from all angles - and the front of the building can hold its own against any of the other Modulars in its own right (though I think I give the nod to the Palace Cinema for best front design).
As I said, the back of the building is hands down the best of any of the Modulars to date. I didn't discuss it previously, but there is even a bit of chimney design that goes up the one side of the building adding that much more texture to the finished product. Top to bottom, this is a great set design!
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Play Value: 8
Kid Value: 7
Adult Value: 10
The Modular line isn't exactly catering to the young crowd (as evidenced by the high piece - and high price - count). On the other hand, LEGO is ultimately a toy so kid value shouldn't be totally discounted. I think the Parisian Restaurant does quite well for kids' play in that who doesn't like to play "kitchen"? The included red Vespa also makes for some fun!
For adults, the set is flat out awesome. I think the design is topnotch - quite honestly it's probably the best designed set from any LEGO set that I've ever built. I would have liked to have seen one more minifigure included - you get a chef, waiter, two patrons (a guy proposing to his girlfriend), and one lad who is presumably the artist. I think it would have been nice to have one more patron so that you could make use of both the indoor and outdoor seating (and make the waiter work a bit more)! Other than that minor quibble, this set is awesome and comes highly, highly recommended!