About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Le Grand Restaurant -- Restaurant Review


7 rue d'Aguesseau
75008 Paris
tel: 01.53.05.00.00
Metro: Line 1 (Concorde)
Website: http://www.jeanfrancoispiege.com/fr

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

4.50 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 1 - Bell


Le Grand restaurant location is in what we know as the "Golden Triangle." An exclusive real estate area of Paris which houses some of the most famous shops and restaurants in Paris.  The restaurant did not have any large signage, but can easily be found.


As you walk into the restaurant you get a long view of the myriad of chefs working different stations. The stained-glass skylight gave the restaurant a nice bright ambiance. It's a very modern decor, but very cozy, comfortable and pleasant. There is seating for 25-people, the tables were nicely spaced and we were fortunate to have had a private alcove. Each table had a purse/murse stool, so it doesn't have to sit on the floor. Our table was quite large for 4-people, net-net they do not skimp on space.


At the helm is Chef Jean-François Piège a French celebrity Chef who has appeared on several TV shows and written several cookbooks and more importantly was recently awarded a prestigious 2-Michelin stars in 2016, so our expectations were quite high. We perused the menu and decided it was too difficult to make a decision, so we all opted for the prix-fixe menu at 80€.


AMUSE BOUCHE


We had an assortment of 4-amuse bouches. Each very distinct in flavors. First was a little "scaled" bread stick. It was flaky and a little salty but was unique in that it had an egg wash to give it a nice sweet contrast and added dimension and flavor.











The other 3-amuse bouches came as a group, and our waiter recommended we start it in a particular order, but we didn't follow his instructions, regardless they were excellent in any order. We had a Parmesan cream, a fish with a crispy wafer and a crispy cracker akin to Asian shrimp crackers. Each distinct in flavor but complimentary to one another.  Interesting to note, we were not given utensils for the amuse bouches, since in essence they were little "finger-foods".  I  found it amusing since many Europeans do not like to touch their food, so maybe this cultural European "quirk" is changing. Regardless the amuse bouches were nice little tidbits of palate teasers.


ENTRÉE

Asperges vertes du Domaine Roques-Hautes, étuvées au plein beurre noisettes comme un pralin, jus de clementines, oxalys sauvage. (Green asparagus of Domain Roque-Hautes, steamed in butter hazelnuts and a praline, juice of clementines, wild oxalys (plant)). This particular asparagus is grown in a region of France known for this artisanal type of asparagus. Asparagus is in season and I have to say this dish was absolutely delicious. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and the orange was a nice added citrus that brought this otherwise simple dish to the next level. The praline was a nice textural components. Overall, we had nothing but compliments on this wonderful tasty dish.


PLATS

Fin biscuit d'omble chevalier légèrement souffle, morilles, reduction de savagnin a l’oseille sauvage, crouton a la creme ou la piece de viande, traitee comme un mijote modern sucs de cuisson. (delicate biscuit slightly charred, morels, savagnin reduction of a wild sorrel, crouton with cream or meat pieces, treated as a modern simmering cooking juices).  We opted for the meat, which we were told would be lamb and that the lamb would be coated with a quinoa crust. We loved everything on this dish except for the coating. In fact, one of us commented that as she bit into the meat she thought she had a piece of bone, but it turned out to be the quinoa. However the other components of this dish were excellent. The meat was succulent and perfectly cooked. I would suggest they use another crust coating.


We were given two-sides, a dish which I thought was a dark mashed potatoes, but turned out to be a creamy walnut concoction that was absolutely delicious, and a side of greens; nice accompaniments to the lamb.










Note: Several types of breads were served, all excellent.


DESSERTS


As typical, I had the cheese plates.  It was served on a beautiful different level-tiered chopping blocks.  All I can say is wow, what a nice variety. There were sheep cheeses. goat cheeses as well as cow cheeses. With it came some sweetened sour cherries and some confiture.  Overall, excellent choices.






And, we were given 2-desserts, each came separately. The first was a soft, very light tender cream custard topped with a crispy sweet tuile. I didn't notice it, but my friend said it was also speckled with gold. It was a very light refreshing dessert.

The second dessert was a lemon sorbet nice and tart sprinkled with nuts and some crispy sweet shavings of a lighter tuile. Also excellent.






Then came this intricate box that when opened up had little tea-cups filled with just a spoonful of what I believed to be creamy almond milk. It was like an amuse bouche, but served after the lovely desserts. So I have to assume it was meant as a palate cleanser.






Then when we thought all was said and done, our wait-person came with what looked like a large chocolate egg on a egg-stand, lifted the egg and threw it on our table. When it cracked, it revealed little morsels of sweet goodies. This was a very  "Grant Achatz"   moment. FYI..., he invented the "Pollock" style of using the dining table as a gigantic dessert canvas.


WINES

The restaurant does have an extensive collection of wines, prices raced from 38€ to a whopping couple of hundred Euros. We ordered a bottle of Chateau des Tours Côtes-du-rhône blanc. We actually enjoyed it. It's a much drier white wine, but still had some smoothness that went well with our dishes.














SUMMARY

I can see why Chef Jean-François Piège was recently awarded 2-Michelin stars for this restaurant. The whole dining experience was excellent from start to finish. The service was beyond reproach. The timing was like a well orchestrated ballet but instead of dancing shoes, they wore gloves. The restaurant in its simplicity is beautiful, comfortable and well laid out, filled with natural lighting provided by the skylights. The only complaint was we unanimously did not like the quinoa crust on the lamb. With the exception of that, everything was exceptionally delicious. My rating would have been almost perfect had it not been for the crusting. Would we go back, absolutely.

For 3-prix-fixe lunches at 80€ and a bottle of Chateau des Tours Côtes-du-rhône blanc, our bill came to 285€ for 3-people, or 95€ each.

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