First time Paris visitors who plan to visit the Eiffel tower in the evening and stay until the "light show" is completed. Is dining at the Jules Verne restaurant a good option, or would those with experience suggest an area restaurant?? We would be looking for a moderately priced experience--perhaps under $500 for four, but desire a memorable experience.
The light show is for 5 minutes, at the top of each hour, once it gets dark. Plus, I don't know how much of it you can see from the restaurants actually in the Eiffel Tower. So, I wouldn't let that determine your plans.
Two great places to see the light show are the top of the Arc de Triomphe (included with the Paris Museum Pass), and the Trocadero (free and very festive).
Jules Verne, while apparently excellent, is more like $250/head without wine, and the other restaurant on the first floor is grossly overpriced for only slightly above average food. Plus as others have said... You won't see the tower light show from the tower itself.
À much better bet is Les Ombres atop Quai Branly museum, has great Eiffel Tower views and more or less fits your budget. Bookings critical.
Another splurge possibility for dinner with a view of the tower is a terrace table at one of the restaurants in the Shangri-La Hotel.
Same criticism applies as above, though -- you're paying a premium that might be better spent at a spot with a great kitchen.
The real light show is watching the lights come on in the city. As others have said, you won’t see much of the Eiffel Tower light show from the tower, but watching the lights come on in Paris from the Eiffel Tower is a far better experience. You could then walk down the tower steps and walk a short distance away from the tower and watch the light show on the tower.
My wife and I dined at Le Jules Verne in the summer of 2008. Back then the bill came to over $500 including wine. Truth be told, we had much better meals elsewhere for a fraction, and the chef was really into using foam on almost everything (pork foam = yuck!).
Would I do it again? Probably not, but the memory of dining with my bride as we watched the sunset over Paris was one of the highlights of my life.
When paying a lot for dinner I consider ambiance, quality of food, value (was the food worth the money). Here is how I ranked Jules Verne: ambiance, A, quality of food, C, value, F. There is such good food to be had in Paris, I would avoid this tourist trap unless the view means that much.
As someone else suggested in this thread look at Les Ombres !