Le Bristol in Paris: My First 3 Michelin Star Restaurant Experience

Posted by on Nov 25, 2009

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.




After much research and with some help from Stephane (Zen Can Cook) who has cooked in several top restaurants in Paris, I made lunch reservations at Hotel Le Bristol.

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.



Stay classy…

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 :)



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  • http://www.ladyironchef.com ladyironchef

    wow 3 michelin stars! and the most-delicious-piece-of-fish-in-yr-life? enough said! :)

  • http://zencancook.com zenchef

    Wow!!

    I’m totally speechless. Eric Frechon is an incredible chef.. a true master. I can’t even begin to tell you how jealous i am! Everything looks stunning. For the funny anecdote, my big bossman was at the Bristol when you had that amazing meal. Maybe he was next table over? hehe

    I’m happy i could be of assistance in suggesting this restaurant. Glad you liked it! :)

  • http://amyblogschow.com Amy Blogs Chow

    “I did not want this dessert to end and wanted to sneak under the table to lick the plate clean.” That line just about summed it up for me, but I couldn’t stop reading! You are my All-Around Favorite Foodie for your sincerity and ability to deliver the whole food experience (review, recipes, photos, approachable prose!) Thank you for taking the time to share your world. (I was considering a long holiday in Italy next year, but might just make it a French immersion instead…)

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com Melody Fury (admin)

    zenchef: Yes, Frechon is indeed incredible. I actually wondered whether those working in the kitchen ever got jealous, as they are surrounded by the food all day. Does it make the food lose its appeal? Did you ever nibble behind the scene?

    Yes, I recall you told me boss was there! haha what a small world. Thank you again for the awesome suggestion. I’ll have some for you too when you visit Vancouver.

  • http://www.prettybythebay.com Beth

    Absolutely. Amazing.

  • http://chowtimes.com Ben

    Oh wow! Your pictures are stunning, befitting the three stars experience. What was the damage?

  • Stan

    The food makes me hungry and inspires me to create more new dishes.

    I recommend you to try Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli in Spain if you plan to visit there anytime in the future

  • http://yayasyumyums.blogspot.com/ Moya

    wow, can’t think of anything to say, just WOW!

  • http://cooking4theweek.blogspot.com Mary

    Bravo for you for treating yourself to such a fabulous experience. If I could ask a very practical question, what was the cost for this meal. I’m not a penny pincher when I travel, but I would love to know what a meal like this would set me back.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite

    THAT LOOKS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Did they mind you taking photos???

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com Melody Fury (admin)

    @ Stan: I would give my firstborn to dine at El Builli… who wouldn’t? I looked into it when I planned to visit Barcelona but it’s closed from Oct – Mar.

    I’ve read that sometimes, people cancel (wtf?) so call in the morning to check. Have you been?

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com Melody Fury (admin)

    @ Mardi: Thank you :) No, they didn’t appear to mind me taking photos. I even took videos (haha nerd) so be on the look out for that!

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com Melody Fury (admin)

    @ Mary: Thank you :) I’ve updated the price at the bottom of the post. Hope that helps!

  • http://cooking4theweek.blogspot.com mary

    Thanks for the update. 85 euros seems pretty reasonable for that lunch (lunch, urp!) Your warning about the cost of spirits is to be heeded stateside too. Went to Le Bernardin for an anniversary lunch. I wanted little aperitif to start my meal. My server suggested a kir royale variation they had on special. When the bill came it was $24/glass. Special indeed.

  • http://stumptownsavoury.com Stumptown Savoury

    Only €85 for lunch? For that glorious meal? Wow. Seems like an incredible bargain. The pictures are wonderful, as always. I really must to learn how to make those liquid ravioli. They look beautiful and playful. Thanks for the post!

  • http://invitadoinviernoeng.blogspot.com/ Miriam/The winter guest

    Oh my, it sounds and looks awesome. I’ve never eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant in my life… maybe I will some day… when my kids are grown up :-). And you managed to take wonderful photos in such a light… difficult. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://cookerati.com Diana

    Did you sneek some into your bag to take home? I don’t know how you would be able to finish it all otherwise.

  • Lynne Faubert

    Wow! Looks wonderful but, honestly, the French usually cook until your pleasantly satieted but not full. I was FULL just looking at the picture. You’re sure you didn’t just roll out of there? My girlfriends and I are doing a 6-course tasting menu at XO in Montreal in December. They had a 9-course but we were afraid it was just too much. Might reconsider….. might not make it out alive.

  • http://gotlicorice.blogspot.com/ Katja

    That is such an amazing experience, I am so happy to read about it!
    I need to learn how to make those liquid ravioli too!
    Andrea

  • http://indonesia-eats.blogspot.com Pepy Nasution

    I was just talking with my blogging pal about Michelin. Now, I’m reading your story. Thanks for the write up. Such an amazing experience!

  • http://shizuokagourmet.wordpress.com/ Robert-Gilles Martineau

    Dear Mel!
    Greetings!
    You seem to have enjoyed a great feast!
    Beautiful posting!
    Congratulations!
    I hope you didn’t have a hard time in notoriously unsafe Paris!
    Cheers,
    Robert-Gilles

  • http://pierre.cuisine.over-blog.com pierre

    Hi mel you lucky girl
    this restaurant is so hype at the moment this is the top of the top ! I believe you when you say thsi is perfection I have planned to go next year ; your phots are really great and Eric Frechon a a super chef thanks for the sharing !! Pierre from Paris

  • http://freshlocalandbest.blogspot.com Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    This looks like an amazing experience! Each of the dishes are visually stunning!

  • Java Joe

    omg…im so jealous,yet so happy for you

    “I know nothing more dangerous than cooking for a 3 star michelin restaurant”

    =)!

  • http://www.farmsteadwines.com Jeff Bashford

    Fantastic post, really enjoyed it but….what about the wine? I can’t imagine what the cellar was like. What did you drink?

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    A wonderful meal! We were just looking at all of the three stars in Paris as we are hoping to go next summer. It is not easy to select the one 3 star meal :) Le Bristol sounds like it may be a possibility.

  • http://cookandcraft.wordpress.com mel harjono

    thanks for the report! i will be in Paris March 2010… and i’m saving up for that glorious lunch, or any other gastronomic adventure.

    also, how do you take those pictures? discreetly, or just totally out and out “i’m a tourist, who cares”? i still feel a little weird about taking pictures in restaurant/ food… but i do want to post something.

  • http://atinymorsel.wordpress.com atinymorsel

    wow, that looks absolutely amazing. your photography is also amazing! love it. thanks for posting pictures of a meal most of us can only dream of.

  • Stan

    @Melody Fury – i have not been to El Bulli, would like to when i am free to travel to Europe. my European friends have and they recommend me to go there. Ferran Adrià’s brother has a restaurant that offers as good as those of El Bulli but in different style presentation

  • http://deganbeley.com degan

    WOW. that looks absolutely amazing.

  • http://www.dessertsmag.com Jill

    That’s look like an amazing lunch!

  • http://www.geoffstwitchen.com Geoffrey Wu

    Hi Mel,

    This is Geoff from Geoff’s Twitchen & you previously dropped me a note regarding Robuchon. I was actually in Paris around 2 weeks ago & I am amazed that you have taken such beautiful photos. I tried taking photos in Paris & all the Frenchies gaze at us with very strange looks. I didnt visit any Michelin Star restaurants as I thought every street in Paris has its own unique food.

    Keep up the good work & I have added your blog to my favourite reads.

    Happy Eating!
    Geoff
    http://www.geoffstwitchen.com

  • Kristen

    Your lunch looked absolutely amazing. It’s definitely on my to do list now!

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Oh it was! Let me know how you like it ;)

  • Chesco

    amazing.

  • Chief Scout

    I mentioned this post to a friend who has retired to France. He likes to eat and gets to Paris on occasion. Here is his review.

    http://loren24250.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/royalty-rock-star-or-just-rich/