There is a new starred restaurant on my list for extraordinary and very fairly priced lunch in Paris. It has been there for sometime but l was never steered there before. One of my constant companions suggested it and off we went. The room in the Hotel Crillon now has it's windows closed as facade work is still being done on the front of the hotel; in fact, there was a very dusty Bentley and Aston-Martin DBS protecting the entrance door of the hotel. The room is marble, not trimmed, but marble everywhere. Waitstaff is very attentive and engaging to a fault. They want to you have a good time and will do whatever they can to get that job done. The meal starts with the arrival of the Champagne cart, which we declined, and water choices, we went for Chateldon at 8.5 euros each and we did two total. The wine carte is lengthy in expensive burgundies, both white and red, and there are some well priced offerings to be had from Chablis, Loire, and Alsace, my usual choices. Today, however, wine was passed as my companion had to work and l have been drinking too much in the City of Light already. We both selected the special lunch consisting of amuse, entree, plat and dessert. A tray of three amuses was proffered, consisting of a deviled egg in toast, a small artichoke, and a tiny bit of mackerel held together with fluff. They were interesting but held no clue as what levels were to come from this kitchen. Next another amuses consisting of a tapenade base with a mayo top and vegetable trim, again nothing wowing me yet. Bread service came which were three breads, a mini baguette, which seemed to have some rice flour in it to give a sharp crackle to the outside,sourdough roll, and a untouched little dinner roll. l preferred the baguette to all. Table accoutrements included a teeny pepper mill with great pepper but while adorable difficult to turn, a small silver dish of Camargue fleur de sel with a very cool very small spoon with point to the right so a righty could pick up one grain of salt if desired, being left handed it was just a spoon. The butter knife was a large chunk of unpolished horn and was a delight to see and use. The butters were a doux as well as a butter to which pepper and smoked salt was added and it was excellent. The courses on our mini luncheon had two choices from the three categories and we both selected the foie gras as the app, expecting the usual foie gras, OH NO, what we received was the most beautiful foie plate ever and a superb rendering of a usually plebian dish, OK fussy plebian. The slab, yes, slab, of foie gras was served standing up with a cantaloupe reduction on top. also on the plate were perfect slices of cantaloupe rolled into coins, mini balls of avocado, foam of the sea, and very,very small toasted bread circles flavored with yuzu. For one of the few times in my life, it was too pretty to eat, but l did anyway. If the rest of the meal sucked, it would be OK. They added a course next and as it was my first time and my companion's second time, l suspect they gave it to everyone and what a course it was. The course was called cepes, cepes, cepes. There were a bunch of perfectly cooked cepes, not greasy, just perfect. As well on the plate were a cepe glaze, two sauteed quail eggs whose mold could not have been bigger than an inch and a puree of cepes that had the consistency of celeriac or squash and was so good, conversation completely ceased till it was obliterated. The next course, my companion ordered calamari that were lightly sauteed and served with a undersalted tapenade that was large in size and tender as butter. My plat consisted of a usual choice for me, squab. The dish had two breasts that could not have been prepared better accompanied by two fried ravioli stuffed with squab liver. It was simply the finest squab ever encountered and l have encountered quite a few. Next came a dessert for my friend consisting of a baba flavored with lemon topped with an egg white dome into which was poured a lemon cream . Luscious dessert but l am not a dessert guy. l ordered the cheese course. Supplied by Quatrehomme, and while not the 4 year comte am used to, had a nice varied selection. l chose the Valencay, Pouligny-St-Pierre, Boulette des Avesnes, Chaource, Corsican sheep, and a square soft one whose name escapes me. They were served with a tart cherry preserve and quince paste. We skipped coffee and were given a frozen raspberry wrapped in plastic from a large ice bowl. Then there were three mignardaises consisting of a meringue macaron, a jam domed sable, and a tiny gingerbread. Then the check was requested and the feast cost us 77 Euros each, just fabulous, 68 for the meal and cost for the Chateldon. Apologies to uhockey as l have tried to make my review less terse than usual and more like his. l would do this meal again in a heartbeat.
Just returned this past Friday for lunch again. The website said the same menu and as was so successful a month ago, thought let's do it again. We went, the menu was totally different. Not necessarily bad but it did not live up to the previous menu. Not really their fault as my choices were the last, not what they served. The fabulous throw in mushroom course of last time was replaced by an even better white truffle polenta that literally had us moaning and licking the bowl. The other courses of tourteau with mayo and chicken breast were forgettable for my taste but that polenta, oh my.
Went again, same menu, same feeling: not bad, not the absolute wonder of the first two times. I'm thinking I need to give them an ALC chance, check if the best they can do is still wonderful, or if the first two times were just lucky strikes.
I have pictures, but they're stuck inside my computer, itself taken hostage by the guys at the Genius Bar. Maybe later.