When a dear friend told me he wanted to treat me to a special meal in Paris I went immediately to an all knowing Parisienne for guidance. As I'm infinitely more interested in inventive takes on super fresh produce than anything in the molecular gastronomy realm, she told me vegetable focused L'Arpège was where I needed to dine.
Many months later, it remains one of the single best meals of my life (only dinner at French Laundry could hold a candle to it).
The smell of butter browning hits your nose immediately upon entering the spare space. The aroma is inviting - like going to someone's house on Thanksgiving - and the atmosphere is unstuffy.
Our lunch began with glasses of bubbly from Billecart-Salmon (which made me think I ought to be drinking champagne more often during the middle of the day). Don't try ordering one flight of wine if your mastery of French is subpar. We tried, politely, to explain that we'd share the wine pairing between us. Two full flights appeared instead. Needless to say, we went with it.
Our first dish incorporated onions and pears with Parmesan. Almost like wine, it hit the palette with Parmesan first, continued on to onion and had a pleasing pear finish. The flavors seemed to float on top of one another and yet still stand alone, distinct.
Next came the beetroot horseradish sushi which was probably the prettiest of all the plates. It managed to have the essence of fish whilst containing no seafood at all. The soy sauce was delicate but nearly unnecessary because the sushi arrived perfectly seasoned.
Our sweet sommelier seemed to enjoy our iPhone photos and helped hold up the bottles so we could capture them and left another behind so we could snap it. Service overall was surprisingly light hearted for a restaurant of such a high caliber.
We continued with celeriac so finely diced that it danced on your tongue and afterwards came carrot soup so rich in colour it looked like paint (and I mean that in the best way possible).
Were I to give a theme to the meal it would be light and ethereal. So much haute cuisine relies on meat (L'Arpège serves none) which makes it all the more amazing what's done with vegetables at this three Michelin starred restaurant.
Other highlights of the meal included a veggie blood sausage, an otherworldly vintage Comté from 2007 and an inhumanely light pear mille-feuille.
Shockingly (though I think he does this often) chef Alain Passard came out into the dining room and happily posed for photos with his diners, including us!
This verdant and precious lunch is one I won't soon forget. If you're contemplating multiple dining destinations in Paris and can only choose one, I'd highly recommend you pick L'Arpège.
First off all I can say is WOW!! I'd never been to Michelin star restaurant before and I was sure I wouldn't be able to tell any really difference between Michelin and just high end James Beard quality food and boy was I wrong.
amuse-bouche: one was a carrot puree on a wafer the other I don't exactly remember, but I think it was cucumber.
Beetroot sushi - definitely a wow moment, although the rice wasn't quite right if compared to a proper sushi restaurant.
Asparagus - Where absolutely huge, I'd never seen them like this before, of course I started seeing them all over Paris after the meal...
Spinach and Carrot Puree with grape fruit and beet root - the carrot puree was light but obviously full of cream. Delicious and decadent for a vegie platter. The spinach was perfect as well.
Crispy Lamb sweetbreads - Ok the weird food lover in me had been dying to try sweetbreads since I arrived in Paris and I did love this but somewhat wished I'd gone with what my father ordered. Super filling.
Souffle - chocolaty and out of this world good. I'm going to start working on my souffle's again
Floating Island, basically cake floating on ice cream, you can't go wrong here.
Second desert (we didn't order anything after first desert, but they kept coming)
Tray of cookies and chocolates
Third Desert (by this time I wanted to raise the white flag and surrender, like I said we didn't even order this)
Individual Creme Brulee with (think, can't remember since it's been so long) saffron.
The thing to keep in mind here is that they will bring 2 un-ordered desert courses, so if you are relatively full after the main course splitting a desert isn't such a bad idea. Of course I don't say that from a price perspective, if your eating at L'Arpege price better not be an issue. I will say that it was clear that in every facet of the meal the chef was striving t make the best you've ever had and present it beautifully and creatively yet still adhere to classical wisdom. If you have the money for a meal like this once in a while it worth it but I couldn't see myself as a regular (even if I had the money).
L'Arpege holds the title of THE most expensive dinner we've ever had....also 1 of the most delish & a perfect cap on our luscious 2 days in Paris!
Had something ridiculous like 12 courses - so many, we lost track but we'll try to recreate the experience... please forgive if we miss a bit ( there was a lot of wine! )
First of all, we showed up almost 1 hr early! Extremely rude of us but we had no idea the restaurant was so close to our hotel so we thought why not take a chance & at least we could sit at the bar while our table was prepared? Well, there is no bar - ack! Alain Passard, THE chef opened the door for us & happily welcomed us & joked that we were free to pick our table ( we were the 1st people there...oops! )
Started w/ a glass of Champagne as we were perusing the menu. Offered Brut or Rose & the BF isn't a fan of the sweet stuff & I'm not a fan of the dry but I caved & we went for the Brut. It was just a bit fruity & smooth on the palate - great choice!
Servers asked us if we preferred French or English & we apologized as we asked for English. My 6 yrs of French was 20+ yrs ago & is completely rudimentary & the BF speaks 3 languages fluently, however French isn't one of them....but this was no problem for the staff. *hangs head in shame*
We asked for the Veggie Tasting Menu & after confirming cheese & eggs were okay, it was off to the races!
Amuse - homemade potato chips w/ toppings of cubed radishes; avocado, and chopped tomatoes. Each added to the intense potato flavor but we think we liked the radishes the best
Soft Boiled Egg with sherry & whipped egg white with chives. The yolk was runny & combined w/ the whipped whites - each spoonful was a combination of sweet from the sherry and savory from the egg & chives - amazing!
Gazpacho w/ this incredible ice cream thingy in the middle. Not really ice cream of course but it was super cold & creamy & just a bit sweet - delightful!
Vegetable Raviolis in a broth of cabbage....just a bit bitter from the cabbage (but not in a bad way) and the veggies in the pasta pockets were diced & still a bit textured which we found quite delightful as most raviolis tend to have pureed fillings
Spinach with Preserved Lemon - simple yet flavorful (YES, this girl ate spinach!!)
Tomato with Celery & Mustard mousse - this was a poached tomato with the fluffiest mousse of celery & mustard. Couldn't quite place the flavors until our waiter told us but then they each totally stood out
Ratatouille - eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and onion combined for perfection
Cheese Course - nice assortment of some of France's finest
Pre-dessert of filled chocolates/pralinees
Dessert of some kind of delicious tart but by then the wine had kicked in full force so can't really remember what we had exactly but I do remember every plate was cleaned
1 bottle + 4 glasses wine & 2 Cognacs
€ 1000 including tip
Alain Passard - Je t'aime!!!
Ok, so this one is a tough one to evaluate. Not that I haven't enjoyed almost every moments of it but I must admit, I was expecting perfection, however perfection was not met.
Indeed the whole concept, and passion of Alain Passard is palpable and very enjoyable. In fact, finding fresh, organic, sustainable and tasteful veggies in Paris is as hard as finding raw cheeses in the U.S; almost impossible. Owner of his own organic mechanically pulled farms, chef Alain Passard has his vegetables delivered to his restaurant daily. Indeed, the tomatoes you find in your plate where on the tree in the morning. The whole concept makes it unique for Paris, and the authenticity of long forgotten vegetable resurface in accordance with seasons. The subjects are declined and treated in harmony with taste and simplicity, yet with a tremendous savory creativity. Out of the 15 course diner we had, I was delighted not to feel overfed by the end of the diner, which indeed reveals a perfect management of the catered portions size for each course. Out of these 15 courses, only 5 blew me away, The lobster, The Dover Sole, The Beet Sushi, the Veggie Merguez Couscous, and the Vegetable Ravioli in its Tomato Water. For the other courses, it was great but not mind blowing. Actually some where almost fade for my taste buds which is kind of disturbing when expecting perfection. The truth being that out of 15 courses it is logical, and even mathematical that all does not reach my levels of perfection.
So, in short if you where to ask me if I would go back the answer is Yes! Definitely!
If the question was asking if this was the best culinary experience I've ever had in Paris I would have to say No!
However, I feel the urge to return at L'Arpege for a second experience. Indeed, I have a strong inner drive that tells me that maybe I was partially unlucky, having me hoping to meet perfection on my next trial. The setting of the restaurant is quite simple yet luxurious, along with being very peaceful and enjoyable.
The staff is very professional and keeps a perfect distance with the right amount of attention that makes you feel at home with your own butler.
The prices are way up there, and it is definitely something that entitles you to expect perfection. It is somewhat acceptable as any luxury item or service comes with its price, however I couldn't skip the thought that I found it a bit overpriced. But again, any time we look into a high end watch, car, hand bag or pair of shoes might come to the same conclusion.
The good news in paying such a high price is that such meal focuses on an ephemera experience that is catered at fulfilling and surprising your taste buds. I believe this makes it much more memorable and enjoyable than owning a simple object that in the end isn't unique.
Thus, I am already anticipating my next visit, for lunch time instead of diner. I am truly looking forward at delivering that extra star by the time I am done with that second trial.
I've dined at the French Laundry and Meadowoods in Napa Valley in the last 6 months and the most appropriate word I can think of this restaurant is "underwhelming."
Make sure you don't order the Turbot...over cooked and tasteless. What's more upsetting is not a single waiter asked how the food was even though I left 80% of the first untouched. That's what you call bad service.
My wife did get a great lobster.
There is clearly a big discrepancy with Michelin 3 star ratings.
1000 Euros for a dinner for four. Not worth it.
So THATS what a multi-Michalin star restaurant is like.
This was on my top list of restaurants to try while in Paris, if for no other reason than the influence of L'Arpege on the best restaurant I've been to in California, Manresa. Unfortunately, the famous "L'Arpege Egg" was not available for the prix fixe lunch menu, but the meal still left me dazzled. Excellent service (the chef even came out to chat during the meal - too bad I don't speak French), cozy and friendly environment, amazing and innovative food (the least of which was the best butter I've ever had).
Definitely the most expensive single meal I've ever eaten, but worth the experience.
Before visiting this restaurant I read the illustrated book about the restaurant. I was impressed by what I read, especially that the chef Alain Passard had a farm were he sources ingredients from. I visited for lunch and was fortunate to get a table without a reservation. They were very busy and thus I got stuck at a table with a view of a food staging area. Fine when food is coming out of the kitchen...not so nice when they are collecting dirty plates. So my view was not desirable. I tried their tasting menu which is a very pricey extensive tasting of many dishes that are listed on the menu and many more than are surprise you. The plating was superb. Much of the dishes were excellent although some did not work for me. The vegetable dishes were amazing. The scallops with green tea did not work for me nor did the fish dish which was very lightly cooked (the fish did not flake) and I notice a small parasite in my fish (worm). Thankfully, it was dead. I wish they had noticed it and tweezed it out as it made me squeamish. So, I was less than impressed with shellfish and fish here. The desserts were over the top. Too much. I actually just wanted to leave after seating and eating close to 3 hours. I asked for the check as I was stuffed but the waitstaff insisted that I try more desserts. They were excellent but it was just too much. If I returned I would order a la carte and focus on vegetables. The desserts included in the tasting were a chocolate flakey pastry, a platter of mini cookies, fresh vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit sorbet. Dining here was an interesting experience and the most elaborate tasting menu I have experienced. It was also the most expensive lunch I have ever had.
We spent nine days in Paris and dined at haute cuisine restaurants, bistros and brasseries, and ethnic restaurants and did not have a single bad meal. That being said, of the 18 or so meals we had, our dinner at L'Arpege was the worst. I don't mean to say that it was bad per se, but it was certainly last on the list. Considering the expense, it had the lowest value for the dollar spent of any restaurant in my entire lifetime dining experience. Service was excellent, but no better than one should expect for a Michelin-starred establishment. The meal was good, but underwhelming. The ambiance was spoiled by the restaurant's unwillingness to enforce its own dress code policy and a general lack of warmth or style. When one is paying more the $400 per person to dine and has put on a suit and tie, it severely detracts from the experience to be seated next to a patron in a t-shirt and khakis.
Most disappointing of all was the unnecessary and insulting presence of the Chef himself in the dining room. I've been to restaurants great and not where the chef never appears in the dining room and have never felt slighted by his/her absence. I've even, occasionally, been present when a chef appears briefly in the dining room to greet an old friend or investor. However, most chef's know that if you appear in the dining room and visit tables, it's polite to visit all of them (especially in a small restaurant). For a chef (as was the case at L'Arpege) to repeatedly visit the dining room (a half a dozen times or more over a three hour period) and briefly stop at many of the tables for a chat, but fail to visit all the tables is rude and insulting to his patrons.
I would not recommend a visit to L'Arpege.
This place is heaven for people who love vegetables.
I won't go through the minutiae of every single thing that we ate, but some highlights were the perfect egg and an onion gratin that was covered in slices of black truffles. I'm really not sure how either of those dishes could have been more perfect.
At one point, my dining companion and I burst out laughing given how amazing everything was. From the tenderly sweet roasted endive to the perfectly balanced soup to the intriguing small bites to the specially made Bordier butter to the desserts that seemed to be never-ending. The only miss of the meal for me was the roasted white beet.
Unless you're really rolling in it, I'd recommend going for lunch. Our lunch menu was 140 euro, while the dinner menu for that day was 420 euro. We still ended up eating from 12:30 to 5:00pm, so I can't imagine what kind of an affair dinner might be.
This place is a let down for us as a third-michelin starred restaurant. It is a hype for sure. Not to mention the service was outrageously unprofessional. We have been to so many Michelin starred restaurants, this by far is at the bottom of the list given the service is so not up to par. I was literally stunned!
The restaurant is not big. We made the reservation during our stay in Paris. We were able to get in for dinner, but they told us the main dining room is not available, only the downstairs. We said yes.
It is located in a neat and cute neighborhood in Paris, and within walking distance from hotel. When we arrived and led to the downstairs room, I realized the space was small and there are no windows. It was like a dungeon. I asked if we could be seated upstairs. Luckily we were able to. However, the upstairs was pretty cramped too. They basically put way too many tables in e space, which compromise the space for each individual table. ( a sign that this place seems to care about making money than creating a pleasant experience for the patrons).
First to approach was the sommelier, with no smile on his face and noticeable coldness in his tone, he asked what we would to drink. We said champagne, he didn't anything and walked off. He didn't even ask if we want water, still or sparkling, etc. we were shocked at this kind of opening act. But the worst had yet to come...
An female sever came and offered us the menu. We asked if there is English menu, she said no, but she offered to explained the menu. However, with her not too fluent English and the rusty nature of whole explanation. We couldn't grasp WHAT is on the menu, except some fragmented information about couscous, tomato, lobster. It was utterly unprofessional and shocking.
Throughout the night, from multiple different servers, the service has been not attentive, and it was extremely cold. I couldn't believe this is a Michelin starred restaurant.
Then some guy brought us the bread, without bothering exlaining wha bread apt hat was. And he walked off, without offering the butter, this is down right wrong. Some 10 minutes later, he realized he missed the butter, he quickly shoved it on the table, without apologizing for the error. (during the 10 minutes, we did try to ask, but it was just painfully hard to get their attention, as they almost wanted to avoid eye contact with the customers)
After the sommelier brought the champaign, we asked for one water, and some lemon. He responded again with a cold response, we were surprised that how come this kind of service can even be tolerated, especially in a Michelin starred restaurant. If other good Michelin starred restaurants make us feel like king and queen, this place offered the exactly opposite experience in terms of service. We have gotten better service in a small road side stand in south America than this high end place where we paid hundreds of Euros for a meal!
The lemon took a looong time to come. And the sommelier tried to put lemon into our glass, he dropped one of them. He picked it up from the table and put it right back to the lemon plate! Again, no apologies! As if this didn't happen, as if it is okay for patrons to receive this kind of bad service.
The service had been so bad that it overshadowed the food. We ordered the tomato, couscous with vegetables (their signature dish), lobster and the pigeon. The amuse bouche ( the egg and the cold tomato soup) were good. The couscous was delicious. The main courses were good, however, nothing mind blowing, we have had much better else where ( el cellar de con roca and alinea). And other places offer million times better service!
The chef came out to greet the guests during later hour of dinner service, which initially seemed nice, we quickly realized it was more marketing than genuine act. First, when he approached people, it was just all small talk. He didn't seem to care about what they think about his food. Second, he was giving unfair treatment to guests. He walked some out the door, whereas, he didn't bother to talk to others. It was an explicit contrast and certainly not good for those guests who received the cold shoulder, but we were no longer surprised after a night of continuous bad service.
The bill came out to be more expansive than other Michelin starred restaurants we have eaten in and have higher ratings than this place in 2012. Furthermore, the cost is certainly not proportional to the kind of quality of service we received.
I will NEVER return to this place in my life. This place doesn't care about creating quality of service of customers. It's a rip-off. Don't waste your money in this place. You will have much much better Michelin experience in other restaurants in Paris, or in US, Spain or Japan.
Full review in blog.
Beginning with it's own 100% natural and organic garden some 250 kilometers Southwest of Paris (and subsequently expanding to two additional farms with 14 farmers planting and harvesting through entirely non-mechanical techniques) the restaurant known by some as the most expensive in Paris and by others as "fussy vegetarian food," for me represents a panacea - the way food should be cultivated, sourced, farmed, and served.
Beginning first with the bread, a warm house made Pain de Campagne nearly sourdough in flavor with a crunchy crust and soft crumb - it was excellent. As for the butter - Bordier of course - but this time a whole level above any of the previous (or subsequent) selections. Reportedly made bi-weekly specifically for Passard the butter was the beyond creamy - almost the texture of a soft cheese but infinitely smooth, packed with the finest sea salt in the world, and so fresh that it sweat...it was a butter so good that when the server went to remove our replenished triangle from the table at the end of the meal I asked him for more bread because I couldn't bear to send it back.
Oeuf à la coque; quatre épices." Given my fondness for egg dishes and having already experienced David Kinch's ode to this famous dish at Manresa nearly a year and a half prior I was appropriately excited when the cut egg from the Loire valley arrived and plunging my spoon deep the first bite brought back a flood of memories - the smooth yolk, the aromatic quatre epices, the sour crème fraîche and acidic vinegar mellowed by the maple syrup - it tasted exactly as my mouth remembered, a balance that lands squarely on every part of the tongue and fills the palate.
"Fines Ravioles Printanieres consommé amber - oignon red baron, chou cabus, oseille large de Belleville, ail thermidrome" each member of this quartet of ultra thin dumplings consisted of a different distinct flavor of finely-diced or pureed vegetables in a clean and clear broth kissed with saffron and ginger. With each pocked melting on the tongue the flavors of the afternoon consisted of red baron onion, green cabbage, Belleville red peppers, and roasted garlic with an aged cheese - each entirely distinct, mildly sweet, and the very essence of their respective ingredients.
"Homard blue nuit de Chausey au miel du jardin recolte ete 2010 transparence de navet globe." It would also be the best lobster dish I have ever tasted. Reportedly caught the day prior and transferred live to the restaurant prior to being poached in Bordier butter the lobster itself was tender, meaty, and succulent. Having had excellent lobster in the past, what put the tail over the top was the accoutrements - a layered veil of transparent globe turnips and beet root and sugar cane sauce infused with honey and lime. Impressive in both portion and presentation this was a dish where nothing was extraneous-a sum of flavors greater than the whole of its parts. It was incredible.
"Rotisserie Grand Heritage de Louise Passard grand crus du potager" and dating back to his Grandmother's influence on his previous life as a maître rôtisseur this service presented a Salt roasted strip of rosy Challans Duck breast, confit of thigh, and a bone-in leg alongside confit carrot and onion, orange mousseline, fresh baby leeks and a finishing hibiscus flower sauce added tableside. Yet another dish with plenty of visual pop the duck itself was supple and fresh with a nice layer of fat while the vegetables were all perfect as expected and the bone-in leg paired with the hibiscus sauce was a fantastic pairing.
La Carte de Fromage - and an enormous one despite a small well-culled selection at that. Featuring only six cheeses on a large wooden block supported by a silver cart the afternoon would deliver 6 month aged Auvergne, St. Nectaire, and a trio of aged soft Goat Cheeses from West France - plus Comte de Garde Exceptionnelle November 2007 by Bernard Antony. With each selection a standard-bearer for its respective genre there is no doubt the other cheeses stand in the shadow of the golden comte which is shaved lightly and melts slowly on the tongue leaving behind an unmistakable aura quite unlike any cheese I've ever experienced. Having tasted this same cheese later during our trip in larger slices I'll simply say that this is one case where size matters and thinner is better given the heft of the flavor.
Overall a meal that affirmed exactly what I had expected walking in the door...that Passard's vision is an admirable one and that his food, though not fussy or overly complicated, is at times as close to perfection as is possible - the inevitable result of flawless ingredients and considerable talent. Sure such an experience comes at a price, but sometimes you really do get what you pay for and for anyone with the financial means who truly cares about what they eat and where it comes from l'Arpège is a must visit.
In returning to Paris from our wedding, we decided to test our luck and see if any 3* restaurants had any cancellations at the last moment. To our surprise, we were able to swoop in and take a cancellation at L'Arpège!
The restaurant was a delicious tribute to French cooking. When I heard that Alain Passard had changed focus from meats to vegetables, I was apoplectic. However, I ended up becoming a fan of veggies. And if you know me, that is nothing short of amazing.
That's not to say the surf'n'turf dishes were lacking in any way. The lobster was one of the best I've ever had, covered in fresh veggies and drizzled with a honey mustard like sauce. The foie gras had that solidity that our US foie gras never seems to have, while still retaining a memorable buttery rush to the brain. And Passard's grand rotisserie is exactly as it sounds; a perfect preparation of the meat of his choice. We had chicken.
All in all, if you are going to try 3 star restaurants in Paris, consider L'Arpege. It has a good chance of becoming your fave!
The best meal I had since the French Laundry. Forget about formal jacket and dressy attire. Half of the clients weren't even dressed up that formally and also I asked the servers and bussers while I was waiting my husband to figure out with the manager and they told me that 'require the formal Jacket wasn't them' They were so puzzled that I brought up that subject and wondering where I got that information. Anyway, all the servers and food runners and all were super nice and cordial.
I had the menu and my husband had 2 entrées and 2 mains - half portion each so they could serve same time with my meal, additional to that they gave lots of free stuff and divide my food so my husband never had to have empty plate in front of him. Over and over it was amazing fantastic and cool....
10 courses in 4 hours with 7 to 8 glasses of wine - I don't remember obviously :) the total bill was 700 euros. Super good value with the food, service, quality and surprisingly for the quantity. The manager and sommelier speaks English, French and Japanese - His wife is Japanese he told me. We told him that we were going to Loire valley so we'd love to have some recommendation. He gave us several numbers and winery names so we could contact for reservations and he told us to feel free to mention his name. How cool is that.
Oh just you know, he feel very bad when he has to refuse phone calls from SAME person for a reservation. so If you insist and talk nice about it, you could have the "exception reservation" so try it!
I'm a vegie fan and was really looking forward to revisiting L'Arpege. My husband and I had dined there years ago and had agreed that it was the best meal we had in Paris although we were treated very poorly by the waitstaff. This time we had the opposite experience.
First getting a reservation via the website was a bit challenging - my French is non-existent but I managed to make the request and got the reservation. Given the size of the restaurant (small) and the cost of the meal (up to 350 EUR), they asked for a credit card to guarantee the reservation. I'm not sure what they would have charged if we hadn't showed up - they didn't explain that during all the back and forth of providing my credit card info.
We dined early for Paris - 8:00 and we were the second table to be seated. L'Arpege offers a 9 course tasting menu but we opted to order off the regular menu as we had a late lunch that day and didn't feel that we were hungry enough to justify the 350 EUR cost of the meal.
The menu was in French but the waitress was kind enough to describe each of the items - twice! I started with the asparagus - a HUGE plate of tender asparagus with a sauce. This was good but not memorable...and I felt that I had eaten a full meal of green. My friends and I all ordered the lobster as our main course. They presented us with the 3 cooked lobsters on a silver platter (there were 3 of us) before taking them back to the kitchen to prepare them. The waitress returned with the "First Service" of the lobster. We didn't understand what she was saying and all assumed she had confused us with other diners which had the prix fixe meal - thinking "first service" meant there would be another main dish afterwards. The lobster was split down the middle and served with small potatoes and other vegetables, still in the shell but easy to remove. It was very good - and very filling. After our plates were cleared, we learned exactly what "first service" meant...they brought the second service of the lobster - another huge plate with the other lobster half served in a cream sauce. I was almost tired of lobster by the end of the meal.
Not to give up easily, we ordered one souffle and 3 spoons. L'Arpege was much classier - providing us with our own small souffle's - I'm not sure how big the original souffle is but can't imagine eating the entire thing myself.
- what's with the BIG courses? Everything was huge, not small bites of deliciousness.
- who really goes there to get the complementary knife?? We took it but didn't have any idea what to do with it...definitely not take it in carry on luggage back to the US. My husband said he could use it in the shop as I don't have much use for a single knife.
- I was not impressed with the wine service. Maybe it was my approach to describing what we wanted but I would have expected the sommelier to do a better job of understanding our interests and meal selections before suggesting a wine.
This was the second 3 Michelin star restaurant i picked out of the many there are to choose from in Paris and luckily, it did not disappoint.
After reading that Alain Passard, who at 26 was the youngest chef to attain 2 stars(way back in 1984 ;P), made his name cooking red meat.... drool inducing chops, shanks, steaks... i was a bit sad when i found out that his restaurant stopped serving red meat altogether and was entirely vegetarian initially.
Luckily for this meat eater and his wife(also a meat eater), he has since added chicken, pork and lamb onto his menu.
This is what i would call a complete dining experience. From when you enter, the warmth you receive from the hostess and servers is immediately apparent. The sommelier came over right away and offered champagne(with pricing, to not catch you off guard)... Then our waitress came over and took the time to explain the ala carte menu to us, the different prix fixe menus and get this, they are more than happy to swap items from the regular menu into the prix fixe menu at no additional cost! So my wife and I both ended up with custom courses at the prix fixe prices! It was pretty awesome. Including the tastings/complimentary dishes... somewhere around 13 courses in total for our 3 1/2hour lunch.
Some of the memorable dishes were the signature veggies, the raviolis, served in a herb broth, the pan roasted chicken my wife had, my lambchops... i do not believe there is anything you can go wrong with here. We only chewed ourselves out for not ordering the lobster as well. Especially now after reading others raving about it.
All the recommended wine pairings were also spot on and very affordable versus the experience i had at Ledoyen.
By the time dessert came out we were already stuffed. Serving size all around was very generous... the dessert course covered our whole table... warm cookies, macaroons, tarts, a half slice each (still gigantic) of a pastry cake with cream and wild berries... we couldn't finish.
And the cherry on top? Alain Passard making rounds of each table and posing with us for photos! Making funny faces in all of them!
came here because it is vegetarian friendly- it is WAY too pricey- $350 per person for lunch !!! eekkk !!!! stay in atlanta and go to bacchanalia instead-- anyhow, they have really good wine, superb service -waiters and sommelier, chef greets diners. Nice Souvenir knife--maybe that's why so pricey
During our three hour meal, what passed through my lips was the best meal of my life. The freshest, most wholesome ingredients glowed with so much flavour and aroma & they were composed with such extraordinary skill. It was a gift of edible art.
We chose Le printemps de jardins tasting menu, starting with an aperitif of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve poured from a magnum, and followed by a 2003 Réserve de la Comtesse to enjoy with our grande bouffe:
Amuse-bouche of baby peas puree with onion on a canapé, followed by another of young carrots puree on a canapé.
Mise en bouche L'Oeuf: the house specialty poached egg with four spices, maple syrup, cold creme topped with finely diced chives.
1 Course: Artichoke gnocchi with sage
2 Course: Artichoke soup, topped with smoked ham that was vaporized into a white froth
3 Course: Puree of young carrots, a piece of meyer lemon, a bed of steamed spinach with a sesame dressing
4 Course: Asparagus with lemongrass and lime, slow-cooked for two hours
5 Course: Poteger ce martin - chef's garden served warm and each perfectly cooked: grilled cabbage, beet, radish, turnip, young carrot, a grape, and sweet chard in a sauce with Moroccan almonds.
6 Course: His: Turbot slow-cooked for two hours, served with bitter greens / Hers: Wild salmon served with bitter greens
7 Course: Fromage affineur - a Salers cheese made by the Caldeyroux firm is a four-year old cheese from the South of France. It has a sweet, flowery character. Only one man in the world makes it and L'Arpge is the only restaurant that carries it.
8 Course. Apple tart with apples in the shape of roses. Macaroons & sucres.
9 Course: Soufflé with pistachio with dark chocolate sauce (compliments of the house)
After our meal, Chef Passard greeted us we were leaving and I was able to share my highest regards, "Merci beaucoup. This was the best meal of my life." And it was and remains so.
It was a superb experience that could only be followed by the Rodin Museum (located across the street from the restaurant), and an evening at the Louvre. Romance, wine, haute cuisine, music & fine art - joie de vivre!
L'Arpège gets the honor of my 900th review.
During our 5-week stint in Europe I didn't have it together enough to make reservations in advance in all of the cities we were visiting. Only upon arrival in Prais did I contact L'Arpège for reservations. I know, I know. This is not my first time at the Rodeo, I'm aware that it's near to impossible to land reservations like these (16th best restaurant in.the.world.) on such sort notice. I guess I was praying that someone had fallen sick with something incurable (but temporary) and had to cancel their dinner reservations. In reality, I think you have a better chance of spotting a unicorn wandering through Champs-Élysées than landing last minute reservations at L'Arpège. Needless to say, I never even got a response from L'Arpège regarding my ludicrous last-minute dining inquiry. This is when staying in a 5-star hotel pays off. I walked downstairs, feeling defeated and explained to our concierge at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme that I'm a vegetarian, and that L'Arpège is my Mecca. Once he got over the irony of a vegetarian foodie, in Paris, he picked up the phone, speed-dialed L'Arpège, name dropped, and voilà, we had our dinner reservations.
Tip #1: Make reservations way in advance or have a stellar concierge.
I had read up on Chef Alain Passard and knew he had an affinity for vegetables and was one Michelin chef (French at that) who actually welcomed vegetarian diners like myself. Needless to say, I had a star-struck moment in the dining room when he was walking around and greeting the guests (dining room consists of only 14 tables). Never have I witnessed a chef roaming the dining room, greeting guests in the middle of dinner rush, let alone at a Michelin restaurant (Eric Ripert was frantically running around Le Bernardin while we were there, but no such greeting). Chef Passard, gleefully sporting black mortorcycle boots and his chef whites, seemed quite pleased with the turnout for the evening. He was like a magician, excited for the show to begin to show the guests what he had in store for them. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, ready to see the opening act.
It's amazing from beginning to end. We did the full tasting menu (go big or go home, right?) and it was *very* filling. I'd recommend starting to fast the day before... I'm not kidding. Chef Passard really lets the vegetables shine in each dish. It's not overly heavy and flavors are subtle yet sophisticated. The wine list and service are what you would expect at a three Michelin star restaurant like this, nothing short of exquisite. My only critique is that the dessert was lacking, but at that point I really couldn't consume any more food without risking splitting the seams of my dress.
L'Arpège is a must stop during your visit in Paris.
This restaurant held a vaunted spot on my "must eat at" list. When folks like Corey Lee and Bobby Conroy of Benu are telling you it's one of the best experiences they've ever had, you best be going. It turns out my friends cook at Cafe Coutume which is just a hop skip and a jump away. After visiting them prepping for next day's service, we made the stroll though the very upscale neighborhood where Arpege lies. Not much tells you that Arpege is here. The door is unmarked and their sign on the corner is unlit so if you weren't looking for it, you might miss it. As I pushed the door inward we were greeted my the Maitre D' and few other staff. We had notified them earlier that one our group had been sick so they were more than happy to accommodate us.
The space is elegant but not opulent, a fair mix of modern and historic. There's a portrait of Chef Passard's grandmother who was a rôtisseur in the corner. The walls are adorned with light wood panel embedded with images of figures posed like in the ancient Roman depictions. The main dining area is split into two parts, one behind the host station elevated, while the other is to thw right on the way to the kitchen. The restrooms and cellar are downstairs behind the host station which also houses a private dining room.
After we were seated our sommelier Kevin came out and asked us how we wanted to start with beverages. After just 3-4 interactions with the staff I knew this was going to be a good night. After perusing the menu choices and discussing a custom wine pairing, we were convinced we needed to go with the truffle menu as it was nearing the end of season. It proceeded as follows:
Coquetier "Maison de cuisine"
Coquilles St Jacques de Bretagne à la truffe
Fines ravioles potagères
bouillon fumant aux racines
image du potager ce matin
Robe des champs "Arlequin" à l'huile d'argan
radis green meat, carotte purple haze...
Aiguillettes de homard de Chausey au "Côtes du Jura"
Poularde du Haut Maine en croûte de sel de Guérande
parfum de géranium frais
Fromages de Garde
Millefeuille chocolaté croustillant
Sucrerie du jardin
With a little help from the Google translate web page you can see what we had. All I can say is wow. For a long while Alain Passard shunned proteins in his menu but he's brought them back into the fold. He is however one of the greatest vegetable chefs of all time. One of the dishes we got that was not on the menu was a veloute of vegetables with bacon cream. It was mind alteringly good. Never did a vegetable sit behind a protein whether it was scallops, lobster or the truffles themselves. They played equal stars in the dishes.
As excited as we were about the kitchen and their epic dishes, the front of house were equally spectacular. Who says high French dining is stuffy? Ok so I did get a bit of stuffy from another 3* place but not at Arpege. The service is as comfortable with the best anywhere in the world, which I'll compare to the likes of French Laundry, Per Se, Martin Berasategui, Arzak, Spondi, Benu, etc. A big reason for this is Nadia Socheleau, who runs the front of house with utmost hospitality. We got to talking her for quite a while as we were shutting them down and she not only gave us a ton of great recommendations, she's very well connected (as you can imaging many chefs from all over the world come to eat here) putting us in the good graces of places like Chateaubriand for our dinner the next day. Kevin our somm was also wonderful, talking to us about wine and his recommendations extensively. Every single member of the FOH staff were warm and took very good care of us. It certainly was among one of the most memorable meals I've had anywhere and if you are in Paris, trying to figure out which of the many fine establishments you should eat at, this should be on the top of your list.
Being that L'Arpege is a 3 Star Michelin restaurant. I decided to go there for my birthday. once we arrived, we were greeted by the chef. I felt so special. My wife and I had two different tasting menu. The food is quite different among other french restaurants. A lot of the produce that is used in the menu is grown by himself. The problem is that all the items in the tasting menu had tomato's. There was no variety. It was very refreshing at first by it was overdone. Second, throughout dinner i was noticing that the chef was giving special attention to a couple of tables and not even noticing his other customers or even asking hows the food. It felt that for a small restaurant he wants the interaction with every customers. In addition, i felt he was favoring french people then American. as the meals came closing to the end the service was lacking. I wasn't asked if i wanted more water or wine until the end of the meals. When we were done we waited forever for our check. Then when we left the chef said goodbye. The food or service was OK, i wasn't that impressed or have a dish that stand out. The best thing was that we were able to keep our knifes as a token of his appreciation.
[Non-photo Review] For full review, please see: wp.me/pwXBH-Dj l'Arpège Alain Passard's Perfect Pitch Summary: We had a tremendous meal at Alain Passard's l'Arpège. There were a number of pleasant surprises and a few truly exceptional dishes which will live on in my memory for years to come. His food is simply but beautifully presented, and there is a clever, playful and unique streak running through all of the dishes. Aside the tiniest of niggles, the food was excellent throughout. Service was warm, professional and efficient through four-fifths of the meal, but unfortunately ground to a halt towards the end as the restaurant filled to capacity, something they did try to rectify near the conclusion of the meal. It was the most expensive meal I've paid for on a per-person basis, but after careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that it was worth it to have experienced Chef Passard's creations, if only once. When in Paris, consult a snob When my wife and I decided to spend three days in Paris before heading up to Normandy to spend the winter holiday period with her family, I quickly began ravenously drooling at the prospect of hitting-up some of Paris's top restaurants. But I knew I would have to reign myself in given that Mrs. LF was pregnant and was having very serious aversions to most 'heavy' foods (the truth is she basically fancied bread and butter and not much else at this stage in her pregnancy). However, she did concede the point that we had to book meals 'somewhere' for the three dinners we would be having, so I proposed a compromise of eating at one really nice restaurant for dinner (but one which had 'light cooking'); one nice (but not overly pricey) restaurant, also with 'light cooking'; and going to Le 404 for some couscous one night (we have heard rave reviews from friends, and for those who are not aware, Le 404 is owned by the same guy behind Momo and sketch in London). So, as neither my wife nor I have much actual knowledge of Parisian restaurants although I do have a ton of theoretical knowledge, as I try to keep abreast of what's happening in the top restaurants and general trends in French cooking I knew I would need help if I wanted to ensure that the few meals we did have would be memorable ones. And who else was I to turn to but the master of finer fare, Food Snob himself? After a rather lengthy and exceedingly helpful email correspondence, he helped me whittle down the choices and we booked one dinner at l'Arpège (which is, from what I can tell, his current favorite restaurant in Paris if not the entire world) and one dinner at Le Chateaubriand, plus the couscous evening we already had planned. We had a few places in mind for 'serious' but not-too-expensive lunches with 'light cooking' if we so fancied, also courtesy of Food Snob (they were Frenchie and Yam'Tcha). In the end, due to the Eurostar debacle, we were lucky to have just one-and-a-half days in Paris, and had to cancel Le Chateaubriand and Le 404. But as you already know, we did make it to Chez Passard (aka l'Arpège), and also had a pleasant lunch at Chez Janou on the outskirts of Le Marais on the other day (see my mini-review here in a French food porn photo post). If you want more background information on Chef Alain Passard, whose only restaurant is l'Arpège, I suggest you consult Food Snob's excellent and detailed review. There is also a very nice review from Ulterior Epicure, and both have beautiful photography to drool over. But, as far as I was concerned at this stage, there were three main points of interest: 1. According to Food Snob, Passard was a master of meat ('maître rôtisseur'), having spent 30 years establishing himself at his craft. Then, in January 2001, he declared to the world that he would focus his cooking efforts on vegetables, which created a shockwave throughout the French food community. 2. As Food snob explains, In 2002, he bought the Château du Gros Chesnay, in Fillé-sur-Sarthe, about two-hundred kilometres from Paris, near Le Mans, sharing the property with the previous owner, Madame Baccarach, who minds the house whilst the chef visits the two hectare garden each weekend, employing three gardeners to tend to it fulltime. Using only natural fertilisers, non-mechanical tools (like horse-drawn ploughs), a rotating small-plot system and pesticides made exclusively of vegetable extracts, this organic potager is a 'showpiece of permaculture'; there is even a purpose-built lake on the grounds and four bee-hives to help maintain a balanced ecosystem (and provide l'Arpège with its very own honey)The garden contains one-hundred-and-fifty different breeds of plant and supplies eight to ten tons of produce per year nearly all that the restaurant requires. The crops can be picked at seven in the morning, in time for the ten o'clock TGV to Paris; no refrigeration is necessary and transport times are short therefore the légumes lose very little of their freshness and flavour and
well, i was recommended to come here from a star-cook. but i must say that i am not impressed of its level! i dont recommend anyone to specially come here.
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