Since so many of you were instrumental in my choosing La Grande Cascade to celebrate my hubby's 50th birthday yesterday, I thought I would share my blog entry with you:
We took the Canal St Martin cruise on Wednesday morning. The cruise left from the quai near the D'Orsay Museum at 9:30am and takes about 2 and a half hours to get to the Basin de La Villette. Den and I did this cruise 2 years ago and enjoyed it so much, we wanted to share it with our friends.
The Canal has 9 locks, 1 single and 8 double locks. You rise 27 metres from the Seine to the end of the canal at La Villette. You also go through a fairly long tunnel with holes in the ceilings along the way that let in some light. These make for very dramatic pictures. We all had a lot of fun on the cruise, even though it does get long sometimes, especially going through the locks. We decided to walk back along the canal, stopping for coffees and then lunch at different little cafes along the way. It was a nice, leisurely walk on a warm sunny fall day. We took our time and did some shopping along the way, getting back to the apartment around 5:30pm.
We had some champagne to start celebrating Den's birthday early and got ready for dinner. I called a taxi to pick us up outside the apartment but it never showed up, so we walked down to rue St Antoine and hailed one on the street, and so we were a little late for our 8pm reservation.
La Grande Cascade is a Michelin 1 star restaurant in Bois de Boulogne way up in the 16th. It is very old world and ornately decorated with chandeliers, gilt mirrors, silver cutlery and beautiful china place settings. We were warmly welcomed by the maitre d and seated at a large window-side table for 4. One of the many wonderful waiters rolled up the champagne cart and we started Den's 50th birthday celebration with some very nice pink champagne.
We all chose from the Menu du Marche, which includes 3 courses, 2 glasses of wine, mineral water, coffee and all taxes and service for 85 euros. This is an excellent way to enjoy a wonderful dinner without worrying about extra costs, especially in a place like this where dinner could easily run to 300-500 euros per person.
All of our courses were sublime. I had shrimp with a leek mousse for my entree and Den has the foie gras de canard with a fig confit and a sangria gelee. Both courses were delicious, but I think Den's foie gras was the winner. Mine was good, but I found there was not enough contrast in taste and texture to make it stand out. The foie gras was so creamy and light and the sangria gelee just added that extra something.
Den has the veal roast with a side of mediterranean vegetables and I had the white tune medaillons crusted with a phyllo pastry and served with a sesame and acacia honey sauce. I think mine was the winner this time ~ the tuna was served rare like I has asked for and the sweet sauce was such a perfect compliment to the fish.
We both had the Baba Ivre de Rhum with a mango and caramel ice cream. I found it a little rich but Den loved it and scooped up every drop. Coffee and a little trio of mignardise finished off the meal.
I have to mention the wonderful serving staff. I did a lot of research to try to find the perfect place to celebrate Den's birthday. I wanted somewhere that would provide an exceptional food experience that we would long remember without a stuffy atmosphere. La Grande Cascade kept coming up on several food websites as a place that would fit the bill. We were delighted with the waiters who went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and ensure that we enjoyed the special night we had come for. The level of service was certainly up to Michelin star standards, with 4-6 people serving our food at a time, but the staff was friendly and professional at the same time, joking with us and encouraging Den to take as many pictures of our meal as he wanted. No one made us feel less than very special customers even though we ordered from the prix fixe menu. This is a place I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience a wonderful meal in a very special setting and who might feel intimidated by the grandeur of such a place. No worries ~ we were made to feel welcomed from our first moments right until the very end when they called a taxi for us and escorted us out, thanking us for giving them the opportunity to take care of us!
We were back in the apartment a little after midnight, full of delicious food and wonderful memories!