Saturday, June 26, 2010

Paris - Lunch at le Bristol

A screaming bargain at 85 euros (about $105) for lunch? OUI!

Together with two close friends, my wife and I recently had lunch at Le Bristol, the gastronomic restaurant at the Paris hotel of the same name. This is the real deal: a three-star restaurant with spectacular food and great service served in an uncrowded gracious room.

The 85-euro lunch menu is a fantastic treat. It includes a choice of appetizer, main, cheese and dessert, together with a pre-amuse-bouche, an amuse-bouche, a palate cleanser, a pre-dessert and several post-desserts. The food is creative and strikingly beautiful, most notably a zucchini blossom that appeared to be devouring a small red mullet (rouget) that in turn was stuffed with cumin-spiced eggplant caviar. A "Tomate Ancienne" that included a tartare of green tomatoes, tomato soup and tomato sorbet was a fantastic starter, although I opted for perfectly deep-fried frogs' legs -- yes, they do taste a bit like chicken, but like minuscule perfectly fried drumettes. For the main, in addition to the gorgeous rouget, there was a perfectly pink saddle of lamb with an unctuous shiny jus. Desserts, too, were dazzling: a mousse atop coffee gelée or rhubarb poached in hibiscus with strawberry sorbet and fromage blanc.

Three-star dinners in Paris have become insane -- 250-300 euros per person -- but many three-star restaurants have lunch menus in the 85-90 euro range. This is a great way to experience the best at sort-of affordable prices. And le Bristol is certainly one of the best of the best.

Bobby Jay

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