A couple of weeks ago, Carol suggested that we go to a high end restaurant in Paris. I’m was interested but the price seemed insane. So we kept to the reasonable but well reviewed places. Then my friend Thomas, whose judgment I trust, especially on things Parisian, asked if we were going to one of the top restaurants in town. He said it was an experience not to be missed and described a dessert that brought tears to his eyes. So on his recommendation we made a reservation at L’Astrance. Not only is this rated as the 16th best restaurant in the world, it has a relaxed attitude towards attire. This is very important when you are travelling with a small wardrobe.
Our reservation was for Sept 30th which was our last full day in Paris. What a fantastic end to the month. We arrived a bit early so we strolled along the Seine across from the Eiffel Tower. At the restaurant the staff was friendly and courteous. The menu is something of a formality as there are very few choices. You choose how many courses you want and if you want wine. We didn’t consider the question of wine a choice and selected the day’s lunch with wine. At this point you are in the hands of the kitchen staff who are eminently more qualified to make food decisions.
What followed was a ballet of food as plate after plate of exquisite fare swept into view. The wait staff coordinated their movements so as to maintain symmetry and synchronicity. Each course was accompanied by an appropriate wine which arrived at the table still swilling around the glass in a tornado of scent. It was without a doubt the finest meal we had ever eaten. Afterwards, we tried to recall the elements but it was difficult due to the complexity of creation and presentation. Briefly, here is what we remember:
Brioche with lemon butter. Almond crisp with apple with praline in the center. Shortbread square.
Tomato juice with sesame yogurt. Very light white wine.
Prawns in veg soup. Made with the broth of the prawn. Veg sliced very thin. Served with Gewürtztraminer
Fish course with tamarind sauce. Grilled squid rings with Asian chili peppers. Spinach condiment
Foie Gras fused to the thinest slice of toast as if it has been grown by the duck. Tender breast of duck.
Indonesian roll (candied outer shell) chili pepper, satay. The roll delivered a succession of tastes. Licorice condiment and black Japanese garlic. Wine – Rich pure Cabernet
Chili sorbet with some fruit.
A dessert of fig, almond foam and toasted rice wafer. Walnut cake with chocolate mousse. Cardamom and coffee ice cream with butter ginger cookies. Eggnog in the eggshell. Wine was Italian, a taste similar to port but not fortified.