For the ultimate luxurious and grand Parisian experience, we had lunch at the famous 3 Michelin star Le Meurice restaurant of Le Meurice Hotel in the chic and beautiful 1st arrondissement. In the heart of Paris across from the Tuileries Gardens, the upscale hotel that was loved by Salvador Dali is tastefully designed by Philippe Starck in tribute to Dali’s art and life. The entrance, lobby, Restaurant Le Dali and Bar 228 are all an interesting mix of classic Starck flambouyance and elegance with furniture and artwork reminiscent of Dali’s inspirational vision.
My favorite item was the miroir givré, or frosted mirror, which is a large stainless steel frame with a refrigeration system that stands at the entrance of the hotel. You can write messages, draw pictures and leave your handprint on this cold frosted surface. Such a wonderful and fun innovation!
The historical Le Meurice hotel has been a landmark since 1835, and the grand dining room of Le Meurice restaurant has kept the same interior since it opened in 1907 except for the curtains and chandeliers that have been designed by Starck. The ornate ceiling frescos and elaborate gold trimmed rococo paintings and mirrors on the marbled walls are the same as what the early 20th century bourgeois looked at as they dined in the same room many years ago. One step into this handsome and luxurious dining room, and you are instantly transported into a different but comfortable space of old world aristocracy. With perfectly ironed white tablecloths, Hermés leather bag stools, plush silk sofas and well crafted wooden dining chairs, large elegantly draped windows that look out onto the Jardin, elaborate handmade tiled floors, impeccably polished silverware, and flawless fresh dark red roses on each table, the dining experience itself is worthy of more than 3 stars. The uniformed dining staff are of elite class, executing perfect flow of service down to the millisecond and never allowing so much as a crumb to fall on your lap.
The handsome Yannick Alléno heads the kitchens of this 3 star establishment. He makes what he calls ‘Parisian cuisine’, incorporating modern global flavors and techniques with seasonal French products. We had the wonderful privilege of enjoying the Printemps spring menu at Le Meurice.
Delicious glasses of Billecart Salmon champagne started our meal with 2 canapés- the mackerel, carrot and dijon mustard canapé was light, tart, not fishy at all. The goat cheese and tomato with chopped black langoustine coral was more creamy and deep flavored.
A refreshing and light amuse of basil and leeks gelée with salmon roe came in a beautiful dainty gold tin. A nice balance of natural leek sweetness and salmon roe saltiness.
They also served us another complimentary dish of celeriac purée with cubes of carrot and beef, legume gelée, deep fried ravioli, vinegar and mustard seeds. It was nice to get different textures from the crispy ravioli, smooth gelée and tender beef cubes. The entire dish was nicely tart and acidic.
The first appetizer dish was Langoustines on a melba toast with sliced raw Paris mushrooms and seasoned artichokes. Tender and sweet raw langoustine slices on a crispy thin melba toast, topped with thinly sliced raw mushrooms with a salmon roe in the center, drizzled with aromatic olive oil and citrus juice. Seasoned thinly sliced artichokes with sautéed oyster and shimeji mushrooms were side accompaniments. A dainty feminine dish with wonderfully sweet langoustines.
Crabmeat in a canneloni of squid with pink grapefruit and seaweed chutney, and almond ice cream. The vibrant colors and shapes made this beautifully plated spring dish come alive. The slightly slippery texture of the thinly sliced squid canneloni was really wonderful, and the overall balance of flavors was delicate and refined.
Blue Lobster with Madras Curry, pincers served in small raviolis with a spicy broth. The lobster meat was fresh and tender, and the madras curry was deep and aromatic, though the pincer ravioli dish (not photographed) was way too salty.
Sliced breast of pigeon with duck foie gras and hazelnuts, with sautéed spring vegetables with jus. Wow, this was an amazing and delicious dish, and one of my favorites on this Europe trip. The pigeon was fresh and perfectly cooked medium, so tender and juicy, with very little gameyness. Although I’m not a fan of nuts, I understood why the chopped hazelnuts were essential to this dish. Its earthy flavors really rounded out the robust flavors of the pigeon and foie gras. A spectacular dish from start to finish, and the bright colors of the grilled spring vegetables (radish, turnip, asparagus, baby artichokes) really stood out.
It came with an extra dish of roasted pigeon leg with spring vegetables and quail egg in pigeon jus, and lardo colonata on melba toast. The pigeon leg was a bit more gamey, though the Italian lardo toast was crisp and delicate in texture and appearance, yet full-bodied in flavor.
The larded fillet of beef marinated with French seaweed jam, stuffed polenta with soft fresh cream and raw vegetable shavings. This was cut, plated, garnished and served tableside like an orchestrated symphony by a team of 3 experienced and efficient servers. It was amazing to see them working in perfect harmony to produce this beautiful and delicious plate. The beef was cooked to perfection, and extremely juicy, tender and flavorful.
For dessert we ordered the soft chocolate cream with hazelnut praline, crunchy mousse with frozen lemon dish. The plating was superb, and the presentation was breathtaking. A refined and noble dessert dish with gold leaf accents and multiple layers of textures and flavors.
The last 2 dessert plates were complimentary from the restaurant. It was a celebration of and tribute to raspberries! I love raspberries and loved these delicate desserts even more. The first was an apple ice cream with raspberry coulis, accompanied by a marshmallow with lemon perfume and raspberry powder. The deep crimson reds were sexy and intoxicating, and the flavors were refined and perfectly tart.
From the top going clockwise: donut with raspberry filling, violette macaroon with whole raspberries, slice of green apple and vanilla bean custard, raspberry financier with a cube of beet root, lemon zest and lemon mousse, and finally a sable with salt perfume, raspberry mousse and green apple jelly heart. All of these desserts were amazing, each presenting a different yet equally delicious interpretation of the raspberry. A true feast for the eyes, and an absolute joy for the palate.
Le Meurice…the ultimate Paris experience. One step into this hotel and you will be instantly whisked away into a special eclectic world of modern Starck fantasy and majestic French aristocracy. Dine in the elegant Le Meurice restaurant and let the attentive staff treat you like royalty as time and the outside world come to a silent halt. Close your eyes and take a deep relaxing breath, then fully embrace the experience of being at Alléno’s mercy as you take in his cuisine with all of your open senses. Walk around the hotel and interact with the playful Dali-inspired furniture and artwork. Leave your handprint on the frosted mirror as you bid farewell to this magical and exclusive world. Once you step outside of this world, you will be dropped back into the reality of honking taxis, scurrying tourists and pooping pet dogs. If it’s too much for you to handle, run quickly across the street into the Jardin de Tuileries to enter back into a tranquil and serene dream. Repeat as necessary.
Random trivia: Did you know that pigeons are monogamous?