Where did I eat? (Paris)
So I recently registered for this here Chowhound board after using the site as a powerful food reference tool to educate myself these past few years .
And upon registering I was presented the question everyone here is presented for your profile: the best meal you ever ate.
Well this wasn't a problem for me to remember. I remember my meal vividly. It was the late 90s, and I was staying at the Intercontinental Le Grand (near the Opera house), I entered the restaurant through a back door through the hotel and preceded to have the most spectacular meal. The highlight of which was a surprise first course. We had ordered foie gras, but what arrived was much more than we expected. Presented to us with the lifting of a silver lid was the entire lobe of foie gras. Why, I (we) had never and still to this day have never seen such a preparation of the liver. It was perfectly cooked and just plain perfect. Despite my proclamation of "vivid" memory, I don't remember the sauce that accompanied the dish, but I remember it was beyond sublime. And the suckling pig entree that followed was supreme, as were all the other we dishes ordered.
So in my head I am 100% certain the name of the restaurant at which we ate was Restaurant L'Opera yet I have not been able to find any confirmation of this online. And the food options currently in the Le Grand are certainly not where I ate. It either closed or it moved. I'm looking to return, and would love eat at the restaurant or at least a similar preparation of foie gras. As such I pose this question to you, those of the France board: where did I eat?
Unfortunately I just can't remember the sauce! ...other than that it was sublime, of course.
Nevertheless, I did go on the Café de la Paix's website and after browsing through their photo gallery I do have to admit that the decor does resemble what I remember about the restaurant that I thought was called l'Opera -- except of course, I do not remember there being an terrace area whatsoever.
Also, I thought to search for photos of the the Cafe's foie gras preparation, and it does not resemble what we were served. This is what I found:
What we were served was literally the entire lobe -- as in 3/4 of a kilo of foie gras. What was similar to the Café de la Paix preparation was that it was very simply seasoned (such as salt and pepper), and it was not seared (but it was hot). Perhaps if multiple people at a table order the foie gras they prepare the dish differently than if a single order is made? I don't know. Does anyone know if indeed the restaurant will serve the entire lobe if multiple people order?
Café de la Paix is part of the Grand Hotel and has a terrace facing the sidewalk on bld des Capucines.
I remember Le Grand Hotel has a very opulent hotel restaurant inside. Am not sure if it is part of the Café de la Paix.
One thing is certain. There is no restaurant called l'Opéra. With all the "perfect" and "sublime" and "supreme" things you were experiencing, you probably confused the resto name with the Opéra Garnier outside. :-)
You go in the entrance on rue Scribe, through the reception area, into a great hall with a beautiful rotunda, where afternoon tea is served. The restaurant is in an adjacent area to the tea salon, both under the rotunda. The restaurant is several steps up from the tea salon. Is that where you had your enchanting dinner?
If so, the restaurant is still there. I don't know if the menu has been kept unchanged since you were here last. I wish you the same enchantment next time you visit. Enchantment is priceless.
Ah ha! A little further investigation into your claims of a perhaps unnamed restaurant has revealed some interesting information.
There are indeed two semi-private dining areas within Le Grand -- and one is named Carre Opera, and the other Place de l'Opera. So this does give some credence to my remembering a Restaurant l'Opera even if neither of those two are exactly that. We did not eat in a semi-private area, but this is an interesting development. Will investigate further.
And so I believe you've answered my question.
According to the Simon & Baker Travel Review (never heard of it before) here is some biography on Christian Le Squer:
"About the executive chef: A native of Britanny, Le Squer discovered his passion for cooking at the tender age of 14. Prior to working at Ledoyen he worked at Taillevent, Lucas Carton, L’Espadon the restaurant at The Ritz and Opera at Le Grand Hôtel."
Well there you have it, I was correct!
Very interesting to read that I was able to eat at his restaurant before his recent acclaim (of which I was unaware) and that the meal which we chanced into (we had another reservation we cancelled for some reason) was the immediate predecessor to his being awarded 3 stars in 2002. At least I know I have good taste!
I can't find a menu for Ledoyen, but it seems this will be a must stop on my next journey. Anyone have the foie gras there?
Thank you amrx and thank you all!
To be fair, I have a pretty good memory and I've been telling the story of the foie gras at that meal the for the past thirteen or so years, and saying the name of the restaurant each time. So even though you made me start to doubt myself, all is forgiven!
As for my chosen handle, not much to explain really, and I'm afraid the name would probably be considered rather lame in certain countries with strong food foundations such as France.
I am/was simply trying to communicate that one, I consider myself part of the nascent food movement in America that is about using all parts of an animal and reducing waste; and two, that I am quite partial to the "lesser" cuts of meat (and that I do not consider them "lesser" at all).