I just returned from a wonderful trip to France and our journey began in Paris. It had been a few years since I had visited, so my anticipation was enormous. Paris is one of my favorite places to visit, though I haven’t been there hardly enough. I love the grand city and all its museums, bridges, people and of course the food and wine.
We were staying at the Prince De Galles Hotel on Avenue George V which had been completely refurbished less than a year ago. After doing some research on where to dine, I narrowed it down to a handful of places with a good mix of Michelin Starred Restaurants, Casual Bistros and of course Patisseries.
Our first night we visited Spring for dinner. I had read Chef Daniel Rose from Chicago came to Paris a few years back to open his new restaurant and I loved the idea of an American Chef in Paris. Spring was off an alley in the 1st Arrondissement on the right bank. The two story restaurant had an open kitchen with a bistro feel upstairs, while the downstairs was cozy with wooden furnishings and simple decor. Spring has a Prix Fixe Menu that changes about every three weeks and is focused on farm fresh ingredients.
Our amuse bouche of Smoked Tomatoes, Beet Puree and Fresh Oysters was a welcoming start with a glass of champagne. The bread was absolutely delightful as well.
After a little consult from the Sommelier, we selected a bottle to pair nicely with dinner.
The first course of Langoustine with Foie Gras and Pickled Cauliflower sounded better on paper than it tasted. The vinegar was so strong it was hard to taste the rest of the plate. I love the idea of bits of foie gras paired with shellfish, but in this dish I couldn’t taste it.
Next, John Dory with mushrooms in a vegetable broth with fresh herbs looked beautiful. The fish was poached nicely, but the flavor too bland.
Roasted Veal Loin in Au Jus with fresh Swiss Chard was nicely cooked.
The Head and Feet of Veal cooked together and served over mashed potatoes in meaty jus was much more interesting and delicious.
The desserts of fresh Fig Tart, Dark Chocolate Ganache cup, White Chocolate Mousse and Lemon Curd with Raspberries were another highlight of the evening.
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in Paris and we walked to the Louvre to view the art and get some fresh air. On the way we stopped in at Angelina’s for pastry. We carried our pastry across the street to the Tuileries Garden and grabbed some chairs to people-watch and get a little sun while enjoying every bite.
Our walk in to the Louvre was crowded with locals and tourists trying to get into the extravagant museum. I recommend getting a museum pass online before your trip to shorten your time in line. They will deliver them to your hotel for a small fee upon your arrival.
The Louvre has so many beautiful paintings, sculptures and exhibits, but the most crowded spot in the museum by far is the Mona Lisa.
That evening we went to dinner at 110 Taillevent Brasserie the sister restaurant to Taillevent. The wine bar focused restaurant was dark and chic with tables paired against the wall. The menu paired with multiple selections of wine for each dish in 14cl or 7cl servings.
To start, we had Lobster Ravioli and Eggs Meurette (Red Wine Sauce) both which were good. The eggs were prepared nicely and the sauce was tangy, but nice. No pics, sorry!
Next, we had Seared Duck Breast with Butternut Squash Puree and Vol Au Vent which is a French pastry filled with Sweetbreads, Chicken, Vegetables and Kidneys in a rich creamy gravy.
The Duck was chewy and hard to eat and the Vol Au Vent had too many kidney pieces for me, but my husband enjoyed it.
For dessert and cheese (fromage) we had 30 month aged Comte and a Chocolate Bomb that melted open when the waiter poured the hot chocolate sauce over the top. Both plates were our favorites of the evening.
The next day we tried to visit the Musee d’ Orsay, but it was closed on Monday. Instead we walked around the left bank and popped into a few stores on Boulevard St. Germain in the 6th Arrondissement. We had coffee at the famous Les Deux Magots – one of Ernest Hemmingway’s old hangouts.
For lunch, we dined at 3 Michelin Star Chef Pierre Gagnaire restaurant. The restaurant is located in the Hotel Balzac just a few steps away from the Champs-Elysees. With a quick walk across the lobby of the hotel you are standing in Pierre Gagnaire. The small, but professional restaurant awaits your arrival with pleasure. For lunch there were three different tasting menus and we chose the lightest of the bunch with four small appetizers with one main dish and dessert.
The waiter recommended a half bottle of red wine to pair with our food.
The amuse bouche was most entertaining with a small cake with whipped Chevre, Tuna covered in red gelee’ and a Duck Mousse.
The appetizers were placed in front of us in a circle, but my favorite was their take on Ham and Beans — light white beans, chunks of cured ham with a foamy broth and fresh sage.
Our main dish was Braised Veal in a hardy glaze over Sesame Cake with Kale. A side of Sauteed Mushrooms, Corn and Corn Puree with Shaved Mushrooms was served separately. Both plates looked as beautiful as they tasted.
As you can see the desserts were amazing as well….
And the Petit Fours ….
That evening I hired a guide to take us around to see Paris by night from ToursbyLocals.com. The tour guide Genevieve was full of history, facts and great spots to view the city. The following day she took us for a full day tour of Paris markets and gourmet food stores. I think I had already seen most of what she showed us on a previous trip, but the night tour was well worth the money.
The shops that shouldn’t be missed by food lovers are La Grand Epicerie de Paris owned by the Bon Marche Paris, open food markets by arrondissement and Place de la Madeleine with a ring of food shops such as Maille, Hediard, Fauchon, Patrick Roger Chocolates ( me by the chocolate bears, hah) and many others.
The following day we headed to the Musee d’Orsay to view the lovely impressionist art – one of our favorite places. That evening at dusk we did the Seine River cruise which is quite touristy, but great to see the historic buildings especially at night. For dinner we were craving a little less fancy, so we headed to a Steak and Frites restaurant called Le Relais de l’Entrecote which was a couple of blocks from the hotel.
The place was packed and the tables not more than a few inches a part, but it was the most fun dining experience we had had. The steak was just average quality, but the sauce and frites made up for it. We are still trying to dissect the sauce in our heads to make it at home.
The best part of the dining experience for me was the Meringue, Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream Tower – yes tower! Sooo good.
We were lucky enough to have some friends coming into town the last day we were in Paris so we met them for lunch at Le Fumoir. The bistro was full of diners enjoying themselves and dining on salads, steaks and pork belly as we did.
After lunch, a little more shopping at cookware stores to pick up a few items for home – E. Dehilleron is a good one.
For dinner we dined at Cobea a 1 Michelin Star restaurant which was our best meal in Paris. The degustation menu offered 4, 6 or 8 courses. We began our meal with an amuse bouche of Squid Ink Batter Shrimp – crispy and black as night, a nice way to start.
The first dish was Cep (mushrooms) with Panna Cotta in a mushroom foam. This dish was light and full of flavor from the seasonal earthy mushrooms.
Langoustine with Peach and Coconut in a Thai Lobster Stock was amazing.
John Dory topped with Bay Scallops in a White Balsamic and Butter sauce was out of this world!
Beef 2-Ways – one side was a miniature fillet cooked to perfection with beef cheek wrapped in pasta and topped with a beefy glaze on the other. Wow…
Next came the cheese course of lightly warmed Camembert with a cheesy foam over the top.
Desserts of Mango Sorbet wrapped in Meringue and a Chocolate Log piped with mousse.
Followed by petit fours of almond cake topped with lemon curd and chocolate cake with cream. As you can imagine we were pleasantly stuffed.
Paris is one of the most beautiful places on earth and if you love great cuisine and culture – this is the spot. The people here are friendly and inviting and my goal is to go more often!