Last Friday my grad-student girlfriend, who was down from Connecticut for the weekend, and I visited Le Paradou. I know that past reviews on this board have given the place only faint praise, but we wanted to try it for ourselves.
I'm glad we did, because our overall experience was wonderful. The food was first-rate, and the service extremely professional, which is important to us. (As mid-twenty-somethings, we generally are the youngest table by decades -- true here -- at top-tier restaurants and don't like being treated as second-class citizens as a result. As with all our most memorable meals -- e.g., Aqua in SF; Sona in LA; nine-ten in San Diego -- the staff at Le Paradou seemed oblivious to our age.)
The very minor gripes include a rather strange sommelier -- Quasimodo came to mind -- and a spike in noise from the flood of bold-faced names leaving a private room -- this was Inauguration weekend, mind you.
We were seated promptly and offered champagne to accompany the chef's amuses. Per previous posters' comments, I can understand why the champagne "hard-sell" might be annoying. But this restaurant clearly is an indulgence that is meant to be savored, not rushed, so we gladly partook.
We opted for the 9-course chef's tasting menu (course descriptions below), which involved Chef Yannick, who was in the kitchen that night, sending out what he wanted when he wanted. The "surprise" nature of the menu meant a matching wine flight was not offered, so we chose a bottle of champange to sip throughout the meal. (Note - the 6-course tasting did offer a matching flight.)
Now, on to the food...
Wine 1 -- Laurent Perrier brut NV
Wine 2 -- Laurent Perrier brut 1995
Amuse 1 -- lobster "purse" -- lobster meat tucked in a wonton-like shell then fried...like a crisp ravioli
Amuse 2 -- soup -- velvety sweet warm pea puree offset by the tang and coolness of a goat cheese sorbet
Amuse 3 -- coquille st. jacques -- shredded scallops topped with osetra caviar on a bed of corn flan presented in egg shell
Course 1 -- tuna carpaccio -- with tomato confit, the least memorable course but still extremely edible
Course 2 -- foie gras terrine -- topped with apricot sauce and accompanied by thin nutty crisps, it made my girlfriend rethink her attitude toward duck liver
Course 3 -- lobster -- claw and tail meat presented in a carrot and ginger broth
Course 4 -- dover sole -- filet served in sea urchin sauce with belon oyster, the filet was outstanding, but the oyster was, well, a bit too oyster-y
Course 5 -- turbot -- simply roasted and topped with squid ink sauce, this was the standout dish...perfectly textured fish matched with a perfectly flavored sauce
Course 6 -- pheasant -- rich gamey flavor, with truffled boudin blanc (so-so) and sweet potato puree (yum)
Course 7 -- veal -- the roasted chop had an incredibly smooth texture that, pardon the cliché, melted in the mouth, with girolles and baby turnips
Course 8 -- meringue -- jasmine tea leaves and pomegrante seeds and orange ice cream, it was good, not great. But note that I am not generally a dessert person, and my very-dessert-person girlfriend loved it
Course 9 -- raspberry tower -- with raspberry ice cream and meringue, also good, not great
Petit Fours -- I can't remember all of them, but they were quite nice