Paris: dinner at the Bristol, oh, yes, oh, yes

This was a very special evening... The dining room glows, is elegant in an impressionistic, fin-de-siècle way, the chairs are comfortable (yes, that's important, because we planned to occupy them for a looonnng time), and everyone makes you feel welcome. The chef, Eric Fréchon, brought the restaurant to the 3-star pinnacle in 2009, but we didn't get here until last fall. And after one bite, we looked at each other and knew: we'd be back. And here we are.

Opening volley: champagne, accompanied by the goodies to the right. I was amazed at how casually the waiters held the little rectangles as they brought them to the table. Look closely: the porcelain rectangle is magnetized, as are the porcelain objects (small cup, wedge with hole for pick) on it. We decided to eat the food first and play with the tabletop stuff afterward. Wise choice. The most amazing: the pale green oval to the left is to be popped into your mouth and consumed in one bite. The inside is - well, essence of cucumber. Cool, liquid, smooth, and absolutely the way to eat cucumber without bothering with seeds, glop or peel. 
On to the menu: responsive readings, everything sounded wonderful. 
We decided not to do the entire dégustation, and finally chose:

My entree: still on the asparagus theme, I had a (warm) light mousseline of asparagus, with black truffle ice cream. That's the truffle ice cream, decorated with truffles and teeny asparagus tips.

And to the right, the dish after the asparagus creme was added.
He began with macaroni tubes filled with truffles, artichoke heart and foie gras, topped with two sauces and old parmesan. Also some edible acacia flowers which disappeared just as fast as the rest of the dish.

Main courses:

Pork is having a moment (or maybe a century) in France. The dish we're looking at now was described as "Cochon fermier cuisiné de la tête aux pieds" (farm-raised pig from head to foot) and crushed potatoes, and so it was. We were particularly enchanted by the waiter's identification of one of the morsels on the plate as "the snoot," and essentially what had happened here was the meat had been picked out from the "snoot" and the foot and cooked with appropriate herbs, the pork belly (farthest right on the plate) browned and braised, and a sausage added. No innards. I am glad to report that mashed potatoes are also everywhere, and whether they are described as truffled, pureed or smashed, the family explanation that the lumps are where the vitamins are, is nowhere necessary.
My turn: farm pigeon roasted with cinnamon, served
with girolles, baby peas, and pommes soufflées. The breast was perfectly rosée, and to the right is a spring roll made of the meat from the rest of the bird and presented on its own little plinth.

And now dessert. Just the sound of the words Manjari chocolate origami (in any language) did it for me, and there it is, a chocolate gift box unfolded to reveal impeccable chocolate mousse inside. Also coconut milk ice cream, and hot dark chocolate "elixir." And yes, that's edible gold on one leg of the star. Guess that's where the vitamins are.

And there is elegance in doing a simple thing something perfectly: he could not stop raving about his Madagascar vanilla ice cream, with salted butter caramel sauce, and hazelnut and pecan praline.

The post-dessert parade included house-made marshmallows....


  1. Wow, what lovely dinners you have been enjoying. You are making me hungry with all this wonderful food. Sounds like a fantastic trip!

  2. hi, xoxo - we've decided that eating is one of the things we do best!


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