Although I’m not always a huge fan of super fancy restaurants, Michelin-starred menu degustations (tasting menus) in France are experiences perfected to a completely different level. It’s the birth place of the Michelin Stars and it shows. It’s something you need to try if you’re visiting.
What ‘fancy’ means
Restaurant le Meurice by Alain Ducasse has all the elements you’d fantasise about a stereotypical luxury meal.
It’s located just to the right, on the ground floor of the hotel Le Meurice. The tables are large, seats throne-like and ceilings chandelier-filled. They never shy away to make you feel extremely formal in there. So it’s not the kind of lunch meal you’d want to rock up in your most comfortable sweat pants. But it is the perfect place to completely spoil yourself or toast a celebration.
Great value lunch tasting menu – EUR110
Since I wasn’t popping champagnes for a birthday, anniversary or promotion anytime soon, I decided to come on a regular Wednesday and went for lunch.
Lunch is much more affordable than dinner here. OK, it’s a bit ridiculous to label a EUR110 per person meal as ‘affordable’, but I genuinely thought that this meal was amazing value-for-money considering all the wow-factors. Not only were the dishes varied, interesting and excellent quality, the overall portion was extremely generous. We were served two sizeable amuse bouches, bread, starter, main, palette cleanser, dessert and petit fours.
Two amuse bouches
We started off with two amuse bouches which were extremely different, special, and delicious. The green tartlets (pictured above) were filled with a liquidised goat cheese. They were small bites full of surprise and could even have been one of the best highlights of the meal. The second amuse bouche was a signature – these vegetables were cooked amongst rock salt. They were simple but very tasty.
Bread and butter that deserves attention
The challenge is always to resist eating all the bread on the table, and avoid accepting a second round of it. The temptation was especially strong at Restaurant Meurice, as each variety of bread was equally delicious. The bread is always an important detail of the meal and we easily checked this point off.
Three ways lobster ravioli
Ultimately, the best course for me was definitely the lobster tortellini. The handmade pasta was thick, but perfectly al dente. It was served in an intense lobster sauce and topped with delicately peeled tomato varieties. It was also served with a cold light lobster bisque and lobster cracker.
The intense lobster flavours meant that it was impossible not to scrape each drop of sauce from the plates. Plus, this starter portion was also unexpectedly large. So at this point, I was actually already pretty full… Little did I know, there was much more to come.
Apart from the main course, we were also served an interesting broth, a sorbet as a palette cleanser, then dessert, and then petit fours! So it’s not hard to see why I had to completely skip dinner that night.
While it probably makes sense not to cover the whole meal in detail, so that everyone else can have a bit of surprise in their meals. I couldn’t resist writing about the petit fours. It was an exhibition in itself.
Apart from delicately thin sweet wafers, we were also presented with a box of chocolates. I was 100% sure that I would just take one, given how full I was at that point – but it was so good, we ended up finishing the whole box right then and there.
When high expectations are met
All in all, with three Michelin Stars, and a high absolute price tag, it’s hard not to go in with extremely high expectations. In spite of that, I was still thoroughly impressed, and it was difficult to find something to fault.
So the next time you’re in Paris, I’d definitely recommend spoiling yourself with a lunch at Restaurant Le Meurice.
Restaurant le Meurice
228 Rue de Rivoli
Spend per person: EUR110 per person + service charge
Reservations are a must – and can be made online