When I attended the Flemish food event in early February (sorry this post has been waiting for months) I connected through Paris and had a nice opportunity of lunching at Le Meurice on 9th February 2010.
Pierre Gagnaire was my first 3-star experience in Paris and I felt I needed to explore the more classical type of cuisine of the highest Michelin standard. Furthermore, I was curious to try one of the most opulent places in Paris.
Luckily, this time Luxeat was able to accompany me and she was fine going for Le Meurice. For a long time we had tried to align our schedules to share a meal.
I was late to the restaurant. Parisian traffic is… well, Parisian traffic, and Luxeat was already at our table waiting for me.
The waiter immediately asked what I would care to drink amongst his offerings and I randomly picked 1996 Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs. A full-bodied and wonderful champagne.
We chose the menu decouverte since the price of two courses is almost at the same level as the tasting menu, and because I wanted to try as much dishes as possible to get the best impression of chef Yannick Alléno’s cuisine.
PRAWNS AND SEA URCHIN CORAL UNCOOKED Steamed turnip in a broth, shiso and delicate jelly with Yuzu
The scrimp, sea-urchin dish was interesting and the more I ate, the more I liked the Asian-inspired flavours dominated by sweet and bitterness.
DUCK FOIE GRAS IODIZED IN SUGAR CRUST Turnip chutney with vinegar and seaweed
Despite the few veins in the foie gras, I really liked this one. The liver-taste and fattiness appealed to me and the sugar and vinegar suited it.
SEA SCALLOPS WITH TRUFFLE STEAM AND SPINACH Champagne butter sauce
I liked the scallops a lot, but the black truffles had a too light a taste to them, and as a whole the dish wasn’t that interesting to me.
THINLY-SLICED SEABASS WITH CHOPPED PARSLEY Stuffed macaroni, clams prepared simply
Then followed the sea bass. The taste was good and in particular the pasta was great and tasty, as were the small clams. But the sea bass was no way near the incredibly tasty sea bass I got at Oud Sluis.
The veal had character and more distinct taste than the previous dishes. The strong flavours of the parsley and olives balanced the richness and fattiness of the veal which was good but somewhat too bland for a 3-star place like Le Meurice. By the way, we had flipped this veal with the lamb course which was originally part of the tasting menu.
MONT D’OR VACHERIN WITH CHÂTEAU-CHALON Warm potato salad with shallots
The cheese was very delicious and full of taste, but the potatoes were a too heavy thing for me after many, quite rich, courses.
Baba au rhum
POACHED ALOE VERA AND CHILLED WITH PINK GRAPEFRUIT Peppered soft fresh cheese and olive oil juice
COCOA MERINGUE SHELL WITH LIGHT CHESTNUT MOUSSE Tender chocolate heart and Cognac jelly
Desserts and pre-dessert were very good too with surprising textures and intriguing flavour combinations.
The highlights for me were the sugar-baked foie gras and the first light and fresh dessert of aloe vera and pink grape fruit. They were both completely balanced in flavours and delighting at the same time.
From a 3-stars point of view, though, I had expected more. Food-wise I wouldn’t characterize Le Meurice worth planning a trip for. To me, it is not on par with neither Fat Duck or Schloss Berg, not to mention Oud Sluis. I felt that the menu was clumsily composed and that the dishes were randomly picked without a clear target.
As I said, the foie gras and the aloe vera were really special but the rest of the meal missed something – it was good but not memorable. It may well have been me having a bad foodie-day, not being at my best in taking in the food, analyzing and appreciating it, as I had a plane to catch at six from CDG airport. But the feeling I was left with was that it should have been better.
I loved the luxuriousness of the room, the very comfortable chair, the sound of the my heals against the floor when I walked, the escort to the loos, the way that my suitcase, jacket and sweater I took off during the lunch were taking care of while I concentrated on the dining experience. It was awesome and only to be found in places like this.