First things first, I want to thank everyone that helped answer some of my questions in my previous thread about our Paris trip. The advice was more than helpful and allowed us to put together an amazing itinerary for our trip.
My wife and I live on the east coast in the US and our airport recently got direct air service to CDG so we decided to plan a relatively last minute 5 night trip to Paris for Valentines Day. Being that the weather on any given day in February could be a crapshoot, the thing we knew we could really plan out in advance was our meal itinerary. I mean, that's the main reason we were going to Paris anyways… I don’t know what to do with myself now that I’m not pouring over restaurant reviews every day. I guess it’s time to start planning for the next trip back!
TL:DR We did lunch at Alliance, L'Astrance, and Pierre Sang on Gambey. We did Dinner at La Condesa (VDay), L'Arcane, and eels. We absolutely loved every meal but were blown away by L'Arcane and La Condesa. Every meal we had was great to mindblowing in experience but our favorite were our dinners at La Condesa and L’Arcane.
I'll do my best to expand below but I have to admit, without notes, some of the details of these meals will have to remain in Paris. Too much wine...
Day 1 Lunch: Alliance
Landed at CDG around 8AM local time on Valentines Day. We were lucky enough to come over on lay flat seats (burned some airline miles) so we got a decent amount of sleep on the way over to hit the ground running. I thought it was a bit risky to book a meal like Alliance as the first thing to do when getting to the city but everything ended up working out, timing-wise. First off, I think this was my favorite space out of any of the other restaurants we visited. Loved the decor of the room, refined but nothing over the top or gaudy. And you had a tone of space at your table! (I know, I know, we’re in Paris…) We took the lunch menu with the wine pairings, which included an amazing terrines-in-puff-pastry thing (pictured) that was as visually appealing as it tasted. We also had an amazing pork dish served with a side of "pork rinds." The pork rinds, or pork skins as some call them, are especially hilarious to us as they are very big in Southeastern US, where we reside. Can't believe I ate pork rinds at a Michelin Star-ed restaurant! The food was great, the service was amazing, and very personable.
(I'll take this time to mention that we speak VERY elementary French. Not much beyond general pleasantries and basic phrases. Every restaurant we went to was extremely accommodating in describing the dishes as best they could for us in English. Very considerate.)
Day 1 Dinner: La Condesa
Even though we got some sleep on the way over the night before, we were exhausted and had to crash after our lunch at Alliance. After napping it out for a couple of hours, we meandered up from our hotel in the 1st to La Condesa for our dinner. We were in town to celebrate so we decided to take the 7 course Valentines Day set menu and split a bottle of wine. Service was amazing, was great to meet Indra as he brought out some of our plates that night. Funny Story: After the meal was finished, I reached into my pocket for my wallet only to realize I had left my it in my other jacket pocket. I was horrified. Guess it was time to roll up my sleeves and wash some dishes... Indra and his team couldn’t have been nicer and allowed me to run back to my hotel to grab my wallet (without leaving my wife for collateral…).
When considering service, atmosphere, and food, this was one of, if not the, best meals of the trip. The tastes were amazing, included a salmon dish garnished with potato chips! We also tried a seared foie gras dish as well as a seared pollack dish that was beautifully plated with balls of green apple prepared in different manners. Both desserts were amazing but the greek yogurt with ginger ice cream may have been the best sweet we had all trip. It seems simple, but the greek yogurt was so light and refreshing and complemented the ginger ice cream and the chocolate crumble (of sorts) perfectly. I really can’t put into words how much we enjoyed each and every taste we got here. Unbelievable dinner, this will definitely get a repeat visit from us.
Day 2 Lunch: L’Astrance
Call it what you will, but we had set out to have lunch at one 3 star restaurant on this trip. We have dined at many 1 and 2 stars but still hadn’t had the chance to experience a 3 star. So we decided to take the “value” option and check out L’Astrance for lunch. Upon arrival, we were quickly seated downstairs and handed menus. One of the reasons it’s taken us so long to check out a 3 star is that the level of service required to receive such an honor sometimes feels too stiff and/or stuffy for me. The team at L’Astrance did a great job of offering polished service while still remaining extremely personable and keeping the experience enjoyable. We never felt like we didn’t belong or that the atmosphere was too stuffy. We took the lunch menu with wine pairings.
For the food, we started with a couple of small bites as well as the famous toasted bread soup, which was very tasty. The toasted flavor was a nice way to bring us in from the cool, rainy weather outside. For the first course, we had a raw scallop dish with beets and what appeared to be something from the plantain family but I could be totally off… This dish was good, but not very memorable if I’m being honest. The second course contained probably the best piece of fish we ate on the entire trip, just wish I could remember what it was! Very lovely flavor and (obviously) cooked perfectly. I had not seen this type of preparation before but since they were serving the dish with two different cuts of the same fish that needed to be cooked differently, they served the filet in a separate bowl with minimal accompaniment. It was nice to be able to taste the fish alone, especially as it was prepared so perfectly. Now, onto the signature dish, the foie gras and mushroom “galette.” I’m glad we got to try it (so I could snap a pic of it) but was rather unimpressed. The dish wasn’t bad by any stretch but it also didn’t blow me away. I’ll be the first to admit that neither my wife and I have the most refined palette but it just seemed like the various elements of the dish didn’t “go together.” I tasted raw mushroom, foie gras, and green apple in each bite, as opposed to a unified flavor profile that contains elements of all three. The final savory dish was a chicken dish served with greens, piquant peppers (I think?), and another something from the plantain family. Very good dish, suffice to say the best piece of chicken I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Did seem a little strange to have chicken as the “main” in that setting but it tasted amazing none-the-less. Had a very nice palate cleanser, a ginger sorbet/foam that was very light and refreshing. The palate cleanser was followed by a delicious chocolate tart and, of course, the famous jasmine eggnog, which lived up to the hype. My comments may sound a bit negative but that was not at all indicative of our experience, we had a great lunch and left fat and happy, to say the least. I have to say though, this was middle of the road as far as our favorite meals on the trip. That is not at all a disparaging mark to L’Astrance, that’s just how good the rest of the meals were!
Ok, will update with Part 2 soon, back to the real world for now!