Restaurants & Bars 9


MATSON JONES | Oct 21, 2003 01:03 PM

A thanks to all chowhounds who helped out with my marriage proposal and related restaurant questions dated way back on 8/7. Just got back from Paris, and am happy to report that the ring was accepted and I'm to be wed next March (gulp!).

As way of a report, we ate at (among other places) Taillevent, Chez L'Ami Louis, and Aux Lyonnais. But before I review, I'd like to say that (by sheer chance) I learned what I think is a good dining trick (in Paris, at least). In the case of both Taillevent and Chez L'Ami Louis, I scheduled our reservations as the first of the day - Taillevent was at 7:30pm, and Chez L'Ami Louis was on Sunday at 1:00pm. As we were the first in the door, the staff was extremely gracious, and in both cases was happy to accomodate moving us to seats we preferred. It was nice to be alone in the two restaurants for the first ten minutes by ourselves to get a feel for the rooms, and soon enough (within fifteen to thirty minutes), both rooms were reasonably filled up with people and bustling. I think if we had later reservations, our greeting would have been a touch more perfunctory, and we wouldn't have been able to have seating options.

As for the restaurants themselves, Taillevent was a traditional, but extremely beautiful experience. My meal consisted of scrambled free-range eggs with Iranian osetra caviar, a cocotte of Brittany lobster and shells with pasta and squid ink, and a fabulous chocolate craquant. My fiancee tried the Auvergne mushrooms ravioli with a marjoram infusion, a line-caught sea bass with artichokes, clams, and arugula, and the "dessert assortment," consisting of a crunchy lemon crepe, chocolate pistachio crème, and three sorbets. The food was, well, flawless, as was the service. There were three eggs included my appetizer (each was served in shell), and the consistency was almost a whipped egg mousse with a generous amount of caviar spooned into each egg. The lobster was extremely sweet and dense in flavor, as was the reduction it was served in. The craquant was made with a very bitter dark chocolate, and was phenomenal. To begin with, we were served with some small cheese puff pastries, as well as a chaud froid. This was a meal I had looked forward to for some time, and I was not disappointed. As it was my first "proper" (or perhaps traditional is a better word) haute cuisine meal in Paris, it makes me excited to go back and explore other top flight rooms.

Chez L'Ami Louis was also extremely good, and good fun. The service (which I had heard can be a little rude to Yanks) couldn't have been better. The meal consisted of Fois Gras for me as a starter (three huge slabs, of which I ate one), escargot for my fiancee, and then we split the roasted chicken. The Fois Gras (at 49 Euro) was delicious, but a half service would have been perfect. The escargot (at 32 Euro) were the real discovery for me. I've had snails in the past, and I always thought that they were basically a chewy delivery system for the butter and garlic. I was wrong. These were the plumpest snails I had ever seen, and were absolutely delicious by themselves (and of course even better with the butter and garlic!) The rosted chicken (at 65 Euro!) was one of the best we'd ever had. All in all, a very expensive meal, but very memorable and delicious, and I feel worth the splurge. I look forward to going back the next time I'm in Paris.

Aux Lyonnais was our last meal, and again, the service was quite good, and the food beautifully done.

All in all, I would say we did very well, and hit three bullseyes. We'll be going on honeymoon to Rome, Florence, and Lake Como in March, but I'll hit this board closer to the date for restaurant ideas then!

Again, thanks to all!

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