I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to dine at several Michelin Stars restaurants:
1 Michelin Star – Gordon Ramsay, Tokyo
1 Michelin Star – Alkimia, Barcelona (stay tuned)
2 Michelin Stars – Picasso, Las Vegas
But my most memorable meal of all was at…
Hotel Le Bristol, Paris – 3 Michelin Stars
Executive Chef: Eric Frechon, Pastry Chef: Laurent Jeannin
When I planned my European travels, I said I was willing to gnaw on baguettes indefinitely in order to enjoy one 3 Michelin Star meal. Of all cities to choose from, I was smitten by the idea of dining lavishly like a princess in Paris.
Yes, lunch. Let’s be real now. I wasn’t about to auction off my first born child.
When the much-anticipated day finally arrived, I hopped onto the Metro without a clue of what awaited me.
I put my gameface on when I arrived at the hotel as to not reveal how eagerly I’ve been anticipating this afternoon.
The hotel interior is simply stunning. My feet barely touched the gleaming floor as I swept towards the curtains that separated the outside world from a food lover’s fantasy.
Upon telling her my name, the hostess informed me that my table was ready. She took my leather jacket and handed it to a woman in an actual Frenchmaid outfit. I had no idea those still exist!
Stepping into the dining room felt like stepping into a movie and travelling back in time. Whoa… straight oldschool, I thought.
Let me try again with more eloquence. I was surrounded by gorgeously lush curtains, ornate detailing, and glistening chandeliers. That’s better.
I admired the pretty tables as I settled into the plush dining chair. Perfect.
All right, I know why you’re really here. For the food, right? Without further ado, may I present the stunning menu.
Following a glass of Champagne, I was greeted by…
Amuse Bouche: Salt Cod Mousse on Concord jellie.
It might be because it was the first thing to hit my tongue or it might have just been that good. This was the most memorable thing I tasted. The creamy, velvety mousse swirled around my mouth, interspersed by lively hits of intense grape flavour. The garnish was mysterious crunchy bits that brought the perfect textural interest.
On the subject of perfection, please pardon this interlude. I never use the word “perfect” loosely. In fact, my standard for perfection is absolute. In order for something to be perfect, it must be utterly flawless and leaves no room for improvement.
In other words, perfection must be blow my mind, knock me off my feet, and leave me breathless. Dare I say, almost every bite during this lunch was perfect in its own right.
Is that really possible? or was I sipping through rose-coloured glasses? I’ve said my piece and I’m not going to convince you. See for yourself :)
Appetizer Trio: Olive “Ravioli”, Tuna Tartare “Pizza”, Foie Gras Custard
When the liquid ravioli burst, the deliciously briny essence of olives flilled my mouth. The tuna tartare hidden under the cloud paired wonderfully with the thin, crispy “pizza”. The luscious, savory foie gras custard carried a hint of bacon and incorporated seamlessly with the mysterious eggy foam.
The bread basket could not be overlooked. After travelling to Italy and Spain, I have a new-found appreciation for French bread. The French know bread, period. After France, whenever bread was set before me (like bland, holey, crusty Tuscan bread…no offense), I particularly reminisced this incredible basket at Bristol.
It’s my regret that I couldn’t just sit and stuff myself with all the bread and special butter that I wanted .
First Course: Hare Soup, chestnut strings and shavings, duck foie gras ravioli
It was game season in France so everywhere I went, menus were filled with all the game meats, foie gras, and patés my little heart desired. Here, the intensely rich soup tasted of pureé hare… no jokes! Little foie gras stuffed ravioli rested on braised hare meat, atop pipped chestnut spaghetti.
I’m completely obsessed with chestnuts so this luxurious soup was a dream. Unbeknownst to me then, there’s more chestnut to come… wee!
First Course: Scallops, coated with Tandoori spices, green cabbage with ginger and lemon
One reason I decided on Le Bristol was because I liked the notion of enjoying innovative, modern French cooking in contrast against its regal, elegant setting. This scallop dish exemplified this experience by incorporating Asian flavours without abandoning classical French technique.
What astonished me was the scallop’s consistent level of doneness throughout. It’s as if someone pared down a huge scallop to leave only the juicy core. Was it poached in butter? Sous vide? Magic?
Main Course: Wood Pigeon (from the hunt), giblets, chanterelle mushrooms with juices
More game meat, yes. oooh yes. The tasty bird was succulent and pink in the middle and rested on a generous bed of chanterelles.
To this day, I still dream about this bundle of the ultimate shoestring fries. They were created with nothing short of pure magic.
Freshly caught Sea Bass, mushroom crust, hazelnuts, beurre blanc
This was, hands down, the most delicious piece of fish I’ve ever relished in my life. Its tender, buttery texture was surreal. Buttery fish on buttery butter… *shiver with glee* I adore how every minute detail contributed to the dish’s overall flavour, such as these dainty baby chanterelle mushrooms.
Intermezzo: Lychee sorbet on mango coulis, chocolate brittle
At this point, I was thoroughly stuffed and lightly glowing. This fruity palette cleanser presented itself as a delicious breath of fresh air. A deep breath… because here comes the desserts…
Pear poached in vanilla syrup with almond Florentine crunch
Where’s the ice cream, you may ask? This perfectly poached pear held a surprising center of oozing ice cream. The server fills the plate with a dark, warm caramel sauce that swirls into the melting ice cream. Simply divine.
On the side: Spice-swirled vanilla cream and caramel sauce flavoured with chicory… with a gold leaf, no less.
Something so sexy deserves a shot from another angle
Mont Blanc: chestnut pureé on chestnut macaron, shortbread, creamy centre, vanilla ice cream
It was my lucky day. The sorbet on the menu was replaced by my favourite winter dessert made with my beloved chestnuts. If you haven’t experienced a Mont Blanc before, please give it a try if you have a chance.
Smooth, sweetened chestnut was piped around a fluffy cream centre. The puffy macaron and crispy shortbread base delivered a lightness against the dense chestnut strings. I did not want this dessert to end and wanted to sneak under the table to lick the plate clean.
Le Bristol: Represent!
Interesting tidbit: This dessert is wildly popular in Japan where they love to adopt French pastries. They can be found throughout many bakeries and cafés in Tokyo.
Hibiscus Jellie, Caramel Macron
Another generous piece of gold leaf rested on the liquid ravioli filled with apricot and the floral fragrance of hibiscus flower. Needless to say, the macrons were also delectable.
I thought these treats concluded the meal until I saw the waiter push a cartful of glass jars filled with confections to my table.
Mint marshmallows, salted caramels, peanut butter filled chocolates
The waiter snipped fresh marshmallows from a coil of fluffy, green sweetness. He fetched the remaining candies out with long, silver tongs.
The caramels were gooey, sticky, and had just the right balance of saltiness and sweetness. I adore peanut butter cups and if you do too, try to imagine the silkiest, nuttiest and savoriest chocolate pb cup ever.
And that, was the final conclusion to the most extravagant meal of my life.
Phew… enough superlatives yet? Need I even write a conclusion?
Thanks for reading.
Readers’ Inquiry: How much did this set you back?
The lunch menu is priced at 85 Euros. Expect more for à la carte. This is only a fraction of the dinner menu prices, hence my choice to dine at that time. At this standard, I don’t feel lunch would be an inferior option.
Naturally, all drinks are extra so ask clearly about wine prices if the sommerlier is pairing your courses by the glass. Before your bum hits the chair, the sommelier will also wheel over a tantalizing cart filled with champagne and offer you a glass as if it’s water. That is, as if. Be aware.
Lastly, if you are a lady dining with a gentleman, do not be concerned about the cost. Gentlemen are expected to pick up the tab, as there are no prices listed on the lady’s menu. One’s pretty little head should not be concerned by such trifling matters.
Hope that helps :)