"The evolving 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, August 13, 2017

Don Juan II dinner cruise -- Restaurant Review

Port Henri IV 75004 Paris
Limousine service available upon request (recommend Uber or Taxi)
Open: Dinner every night from 7:45 pm to 11:15 pm
Website for practical information: 

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+)

4.75 - Star......................................................€€€€......................................................... 2 - Bell
(Disclaimer: It is a very expensive boat cruise)

I love Paris for our spontaneity. We were invited to join some friends on a dinner river cruise. I've done a few, but wanted to go more for the continuing visit we were having with our lovely new friends more than the dinner itself. But I was later surprised how truly excellent this river cruise is.

The top deck was cozy and more romantic than touristy. As the evening progressed, blankets were provided.

The ship is small and very intimate.  The maximum capacity of the dining room is 40 people. We were about 20. It appears it's a special place you go to celebrate a special event. In fact, there were several couples who were celebrating a birthday. We weren't celebrating, but none-the-less it felt like it was something special with special friends.

We had drinks on the deck at sunset. We were served some hors d'oeuvres with drinks on the deck. The hors d'oeuvres I thought were steaming, like dim sum, much to our surprise they were actually chilled and the "smoke" was from the dry ice. A pleasant surprise of the visual as well as taste. They were small morsels of a molecular composition of peas and carrots. Tasted great with our drinks and was not heavy, but cool and light.

Entrée #1. The Peas and Lemon, soybean wheat tuile. It wasn't heavy but packed with flavors. The creamed peas actually covered some heavenly smoked salmon. Before you got to the salmon there were pieces of very al-dente fresh peas; in fact they may even have been raw, but delicious. I don't know how the chef was able to make the wafers so thin, but they were paper thin. We were served various breads, with sweet butter and a seaweed butter that was just out of this world. What intrigued me were the plates. It looked like there was gold leaf on the plate, but they were actually gold encrusted in the porcelain itself. Quite elegant.

Entrée #2. The Langoustine with Southern flavors, infused and chilled tomato water. the simplicity of this dish made every element work well together. Sometimes langoustines can be overcooked and rubbery, but this was perfectly cooked, moist and succulent. Great 2nd entrée. After this entrée, I couldn't wait to see what was to follow.

Plats. The Champagne Chicken cooked two-ways with courgette flower. Talk about a moist chicken, this chicken breast was perfect. It's always been French philosophy to cook e.g., fowl to taste like a fowl, in other words natural and simple. It was probably one of the most moist chicken breasts I ever had. Then when the maitre'd poured the demi-glace it really brought the chicken to the next level. It sat atop some thin slices of zucchini. The second chicken was the dark part of the chicken chopped roughly with other vegetables encased in the zucchini flower. The dark chicken had a lot of flavor, but wasn't overwhelming. What didn't work for me was the slice of cheese over the dark meat. They could've done away with it. It really didn't add anything aesthetically nor enhance the taste. What I loved about this dish was the contrast of 2-different chickens cooked 2-different ways. It was also accompanied with a tiny metallic cup of puréed mixed greens topped with parmesan.

Cheese. Like a Fontainebleau, caramel relish, nuts.  When the cheese arrived, I thought how odd, they must've made a mistake because it looked like whip cream. So I tasted it, and it does taste pretty much like creme fraîche, but in reality fontainebleau cheese is like a mild cream cheese. After digging into this dish I really started getting into it,  the more I dug the more surprises. The nuts with the caramel bits at the bottom and the thin gold shavings, made it really special and a truly light cheese course. A new experience for me, since I typically have different slices of firmer, richer cheese.

Dessert. The Scintillante : variations on chocolate and raspberries. I don't normally eat desserts for health reasons, but the devil made me eat it tonight.  When it was served, it was covered with a bowl and sat atop what I thought was the handle, later turned out to be a chocolate bonbon filled with sherbet.  I just have one word for this, DELICIOUS. I love bitter sweet chocolate, but this must've been 70% or higher dark cocoa. The plate was encrusted with a gold Eiffel tower. And, the sauces were dotted a long the side. This was a rich dessert but at the same time very light. It had a light chocolate ganache and wafers of rich, rich chocolate. And, when I bit into the chocolate bonbon, which was more of a milk chocolate, it was sublime. Needless to say this dessert was a hit.

We did have some "mignardises" (parting sweets) of various chocolates and nougats; unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of it. But basically there was a tray that came out with various chocolates, I think every chocolate that France makes. It was pretty abundant. You selected what you wanted. I decided I wanted to savor the dessert I had previously so I skipped the "mignardises".

I have to mention the breads, they had quite the variety. I especially loved the bread sticks, because they were so light.

Wines. Sancerre.  I wasn't able to take a photo of this, because as soon as they poured,  they whisked it away to keep it child. But true to its nature, the Sancerre is the most recognizable appellation for French Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley. Has a characteristic tasting notes of ripe gooseberry aromas, strong acidity, and flinty-smoke flavors. Needless to say, it was a great accompaniment, since we did have relatively, light delicate dishes.


What an absolutely fabulous experience. As I mentioned this is a smaller dinner cruise, very upscale and a lot of attention has been paid to not only the ambiance, but the service. The service was beyond reproach. At the beginning we had apéros on deck, as it cooled they brought out blankets. And, of course as you went along the Seine you had great views. They did not have that glaring loud speaker describing every single juncture. They did, however, provide a little card with a map of the Seine with points of interest. The food was near perfect. The chef definitely had some whimsy with e.g., the trick of dim sum that was actually cold, and the contrast of different textures "Ying-Yang", e.g., the 2-types of chicken, the creamy peas contrasted with the whole raw peas. This dinner cruise is a winner, but by no means inexpensive. Would we go back?  absolutely, but first I'll have to save my centimes.

The fixed cost for the dinner and cruise is 220€, which includes all the food. Libations including water are additional. So, for 7-courses (included the hors d'oeuvres, chocolates), 2-bottles of Sancere, 2-bottles of water. Our bill came to 1,096€ for 4-people or 274€ ($323) per person. So this is not inexpensive.

1 comment :

  1. Sounds great but way out of our price range even accepting the fact that a boat trip is included!