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)!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

L'HOTEL -- Restaurant Review


13 Rue des Beaux Arts, 75006
Tel:  01 44 41 99 00
Bus: 95/39 (Jacob)
Metro: Line 4 (Saint-Germain de Prés)
website: http://www.l-hotel.com

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+)


4.80 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 1 - Bell


Last night was a special treat. It was our 40th anniversary and I thought let's do something special. So I made a list of restaurants that we've been wanting to try in Paris. We both selected L'Hotel, primarily because we live in Paris, we don't really care so much for the view when dining as we do about he food and ambiance. So, I made reservations, (Note: you must reconfirm a day before). The hotel has been around a long time and the restaurant has a Michelin star. I'm not impressed by Michelin stars, because I personally think there's a lot of politics that are involved, but that's another story altogether.



One word to describe the interior "romantic." As you enter you see a beautiful, well stocked bar tucked into an alcove. As you reach the restaurants you see big comfortable chairs, nicely spaced and there was a cute enclosed little courtyard as the main feature, very zen. It brought me back to fond memories of "Fleur de Lis" in San Francisco, at one time rated one the most romantic restaurants in the world. L'Hotel has been rated as one of the most romantic restaurants in Paris by several publications.


Notice how squished I am in the corner table with the wall to the side of me.
I turned for this picture, but my head was literally hitting the oddly placed lamp.
DO NOT get this table. Ask to move, if it is given to you.

I am very particular about where I sit at a restaurant, in my personal opinion, we got the worst table in the restaurant. I wanted to move, but Jack was comfortable and wanted to stay put. I was pushed back into a corner, next to this lamp that was more of an obstacle and I hit my head on it a couple of times, so I moved the table a tad. And, next to me was an oddly placed service table. Yet, later to find out the restaurant was not full, it did not start off well for me. And, this is the second time wherein we went to a Michelin starred restaurant and we got the worst table in the house? What's up with that? But I made the best of it.



AMUSE BOUCHE.  We started with a glass of champagne and Jack had a martini on the rocks, French martini, which is more like a vermouth. We were given some amuse bouches and I have to say, what a nice combinations of different flavors from savory, sweet, sour, so every sense in your mouth was literally tickled. A great start.

















They had a prix-fixe dinner tasting menu, chef's choice of either 5-courses (110€ or 155€ with 3-wines) or 7-courses (135€ or 190€ with 4-wines), and they had an option without meat or fish for 75€, which I assume is a vegetarian option. As most know, I'm not a big eater, so to keep the timing in sync for both of us we opted for the 5-course with 3-accompanying wines chosen by the sommelier. NOTE: They will ask if you are allergic to anything, so they can make adjustments to the menu.




1ST COURSE. Onion cold souflée. They weren't joking when they said it was onion. You could definitely taste the onion, but it wasn't overpowering. The anchovies were mild and the crisp shaved fried onion gave it a nice crunch. We both enjoyed it a lot. A simple refined light start dish.










2ND COURSE.  Loctudy crab – Yuzu mousse Sweet mustard, avocado. This was a beautifully presented dish. Atop the crab sat the thinnest most delicate sugar wafer you can imagine.  The sweetness actually brought the dish to the next level when paired with the sourness of the yuzu and made it a little more refined and sophisticated.  The crab meat was perfect and the dotted avocado with the yuzu was such a nice accompaniment. A+ for this dish.





3RD COURSE. Saint Pierre fish (John Dory) with spinach rolls. Another beautifully presented refined dish. The fish was perfectly cooked, very moist and the potato cannelles were actually cooked al-dente which gave it some firmness. I liked it cooked like that since it gave the dish some texture, was making a clear statement, and it was not mashed potatoes. The spinach was beautifully rolled into a cannelle shape. I'm not big on sour, but the potatoes were topped with a single pickled sour onion that Jack loved. Another well composed dish.



4TH COURSE. Ris de veau with butternut squash.  Loved the way the ris de veau was cooked. It was nice and crispy on the outside and the  interior was smooth and buttery. The accompanying "jus" (demi-glace) really complimented the dish. Underneath all of this there was a surprise. I thought it was a black grain of some sort, so I asked our wait-person and he said they were various mushrooms "riced". It was delicious and a great accompaniment.  Surprisingly the squash was raw, but thinly sliced. It was a great combination. Beautiful, executed well, and lots of different complimenting flavors.







PALETTE CLEANSER. Foam grape juice with Thai basil. Once the foam settled you got more of the grape juice flavor. To be honest, I really didn't taste the Thai basil, but the grape juice itself was a nice palette cleaners and a nice change from the more common lemon glace. So, it was a nice refreshing interlude.










Note: The wait-person did ask if we wanted a cheese course, at this point I was really, really full, so we opted not to.



5TH COURSE-DESSERT. Italian chocolate with ginger. As a general rule, I don't eat dessert, but I made an exception since our wait-person said it was very light and not overly sweet. He was right. It was one of the lightest, refined desserts I've ever had.

The chocolate was on the bottom and the ginger cream was sandwiched between a thin cookie wafer with a hard chocolate center at the bottom. The top was one of the thinnest cookie sugar wafers I've ever had. This was a hit, and may make me want to go back to eating sugar.



WINES: For the 3-main courses, the sommelier selected our wines.

1. Chablis Jean-Marc Brocard 2015. Jack doesn't typically like white wines, so it surprised me he liked this wine. This was served with our first courses. It's known for its tasting notes of spice, with mint and citrus fruit aromas.

2. Viognier Les Galets 2015. Another white that I liked, but Jack was not as impressed when compared to the first one. This wine is known for tasting notes of herbs, with aromas of chamomile, lavender, thyme and even a hint of pine.

3. Chapelle de Potens medoc 2011.  Jack loves medocs. Typically they're known for their assertiveness with very strong notes, but this particular vintage was much lighter. Typical tasting notes are black cherry and black chocolate; some oak, but this particular vintage was much lighter (as Jack assumed, and confirmed by the waiter, this cepage has a higher percentage of cabernet franc than other Medocs). We both enjoyed it a lot.

To end the meal, we had a degustif of grappa and calvados.





A parting gift of small wafer cookies.












SUMMARY

If you're looking for a small romantic, cozy restaurant then this is the restaurant for you. This restaurant sits maybe 30 people. The plushness and the interior design harkens back to the days when elegant dining was about the meal and ambiance, and the view secondary.  If I could describe the food in one word, it would be 'REFINED'. The food was beautifully presented and the simplicity as well as complex flavors was an exploration of the various tasting buds woken up in the mouth. The service was impeccable. I would've given this restaurant a perfect 5 rating, but my one big complaint was our table. I did not like being squashed in the corner with an oddly placed lamp and side service table (see photo). It felt cramped. They need to rethink using this table or redesigning that corner. Would we go back, IN A HEARTBEAT, but I will definitely ask for a nicer table.

For two people, 5-course meal with 3-accompanying wines, a bottle of water, 2-cocktails, 2-degustifs our bill came to 359€ or $418.

NOTE: A little history trivia: Oscar Wilde died in this hotel in 1900 and the room where he was a resident still exists. 












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