Restaurant Alain Ducasse

Uncharacteristically, I’ll spare you the specifics, but I need to catch up on about 147 hours of sleep. And while we’re at it, I could use a hug. And since the former isn’t necessarily easy to come by here, as is the latter, I was embrassé by dinner at Alain Ducasse restaurant. While it’s been tempting to remove the “sweet life” byline from my header until things return to normal, since one of the sweeter sides of Paris is an occasional foray into fine dining, I dusted off my lone, non-dusty outfit, and rode the métro to a swankier part of town.

When I was in Monaco and I went to visit the chefs and the kitchen at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, Louis XV, the pastry chef asked if I could possibly stay and taste their lovely desserts. Unfortunately I had to catch a ride back to Paris because I didn’t want to miss, well..nothing – I couldn’t stay. Then a few weeks later, a lovely invitation to his Paris restaurant arrived in my mailbox and I cleaned myself up, then headed into the aquarium.

waiter at Alain Ducasse Alain Ducasse restaurant

The aquarium, or “the fishbowl” is a room off the side of the kitchen where guests are invited to dine. It’s rather sparse – just four chairs around a table with marble walls and a big glass door, and miraculously, the temperature could be controlled in seconds. I’m not normally a fan of in-kitchen dining, since I spent three-quarters of my life eating in kitchens – and watching people work when I’m not isn’t necessarily how I relax – but when I saw the set-up, I was excited to be able to be so well-situated.

salamander at Alain Ducasse

I don’t often go to three-star restaurants, which are an interesting aspect of French culture. A few weeks ago a Frenchman asked me, “How come in France we can have such high levels of service, but in general, service is not good?” (He used stronger wording than that.) I wasn’t quite sure how to respond – nor was I sure why he was asking me. Although places like this restaurant are expensive and can afford to hire qualified staff, they also attract people – men and women – who are making a career out of working in this restaurant business; they’re not just passing time until they can pick up their retirement checks. They’ve chosen to go into a very rigorous profession and if they aren’t competent, they won’t last more than a few days, and their career would be over before it even started.

chef and knifelobster and pommes de mer
mini baguettechef at Alain Ducasse

Same with the cooks at restaurants such as this, who start work just about the time most of us are sliding out of bed, ready to have our morning coffee. And they don’t get stop working at full-tilt until well after midnight. I used to work like that and I know how hard it is. And while it’s easy to write off high-end restaurants because of the lofty prices, when you see how everyone is cooking and serving at the very top of their form, from the host or hostess who greets you and takes your coat, to the waiter who brings you a slim tray of just-dipped chocolate Florentines to snack on with your café express, there’s no room for slackers and it shows how polished and dedicated the French can truly be.

toast bread

Even better than the service, the best part of dining in a 3-star restaurant is the bread, and the butter. Normally several kinds of butter are brought to the table, salted and unsalted, and from the first swipe, you can tell that the butter is from a carefully selected producer. I don’t know how they do it, but three-star places seem to get butter far better than you can get anywhere else in France. And to go with it, there was house made rye bread, which was so good, I’d wish they made suit jackets with larger pockets.

tickets at Alain Ducasse

And Romain was surprised there was one person on the line, who sole job seemed to be to make the toast. Lest you think making toast is easy, you haven’t made breakfast for me. (You didn’t hear this from me, but I’m thinking of letting my toast-maker go, and replacing him with the one at Ducasse.) Each slice, wrapped in a starched white towel, was crusty, uniformly browned, and perfect.

Just after the bread came little toasts topped with lardo and smoked fish, humorously wrapped in butcher paper, perhaps a nod to the recent “food truck” trend, that’s getting a little bit of press in Paris (in an interview, Alain Ducasse expressed an interest in food trucks, which had a lot of people speculating), then out came a smartly folded napkin, containing a pile of deep-fried frogs legs, Cuisses de grenouille, with a little well of sorrel dipping sauce.

frogs legs and sorrel sauce

Each time I eat something with sorrel in it, I wonder, “Why don’t I buy sorrel more often?” Because there is something about those puckery deep-green leaves which, when wilted, give off a grassy lemon taste, which can stand up to just about any other flavor that it’s paired with. I’m thinking there might be a batch of sorrel mayonnaise in my future, although I’ll leave rounding up the frogs legs to the professionals.

langoustinesi and caviar

Langoustine rafraîche, caviar, was centime-size medallions of langoustines topped with a perfect curvature of fish eggs; alongside was a tapered vial of rich shellfish bouillon.

I grew up in lobster territory, but never got a taste for them until later in life, which is unfortunate because they went from being two-for-$10, to a luxury item. And in France, I often wonder who buys those Breton blue lobsters from the fish guys at the markets for €75/kg? That’s about €35/lb, give or take, so a whole lobster from the fishmonger might cost you €50.

So I try to get a taste whenever I can manage one, and out came a warm dish of Homard, pommes de mer, which is a play on words of pomme de terre (potatoes) except these are special potatoes, grown near the mer (sea), and take on the salty flavor of the soil. Being a New Englander, I was hoping for a buttery sauce, perhaps flavored with bits of seaweed for the lobster. But even though I was eyeing the butter dish that was still on the table, I thought better than to make a request for “sauce on the side”, and remained a polite guest.

pigeon with mustard seeds

After a generous plate of Pigeonneau topped with mustard seeds and a strip of foie gras and tiny turnips, along with their green tops plucked off and cooked separately, we were barely able to think about contemplating the cheese cart, which is always a marvel in restaurants like this. Because servers at places like this are trained to be intuitive, and miraculously sometimes know what you want even before you do, the waiter sensed our resistance and offered to bring us a little sample of a few that he thought we would like rather than overwhelm us.

cheese course

I’m not especially good at taking notes during dinner, but I jotted down les fromages: Camembert du Normandie, Comté (aged 43 months), Abbaye de Citeaux, Reblochon, and Stilton, served with a little salad of very fresh greens. And I must say, that leafy salad was very welcome before the cavalcade of desserts.

baba au rhum

Looking at the dessert menu lingering in front of us, we weren’t sure where to even begin, so we decided to go with something rich, which was the specialty of the house, the Baba au Rhum comme à Monte-Carlo, and Agrumes (Citrus), which after dipping our spoon into, we agreed was one of the best desserts one could possibly imagine. The Baba was split, tableside, and a bottle of twelve-year old Jamaican rum was left for us to douse as we pleased. But it was the refreshing, lively citrus flavors – a wrap-up of the best of the dwindling season of winter fruits – that had us digging our spoons in over and over again.

florentines raspberry tart

There was also a beautiful raspberry tart, made to order, and pomegranate granita layered over a custardy bed of olive oil cream, which was the perfect pairing with a glass of chilled Muscat wine from Corsica (Domaine Pieretti), which had me making a mental note – something that I seem to do each year, but never get around to – that it’s finally time I visit Corsica.

raspberry granita

But okay, let’s get back to Paris, and that citrus dessert, a goblet with a riot of winter colors and flavors – candied orange peel and kumquats, and a few other kinds of hybrids tucked in there. On the bottom of the glass was a shimmering layer of Champagne jelly, which is one of my favorite desserts (there’s a recipe for it in Ready for Dessert), and on top was a generous spoonful of icy crystals of Campari (you could use my Grapefruit-Campari Sorbet recipe, and scrape it into crystals) – and voilà! – with a little pluck you can recreate it at home. The whole concept was brilliant, and simple.

granita-Camparichocolate truffles
chocolate praline barchocolate-praline bar

With tin cups of coffee, just enough to ensure we’d make it home, out came a reasonable cavalcade of mignardises including marshmallows, a treat I can never resist, even though I was full, bittersweet chocolate truffles, Florentines dipped in dark and milk chocolate, and chewy pâte de fruits, one flavored with pineapple and the other with a liquid center of crème de cassis, which I was careful not to dribble on my almost-new sport coat.

When we left, the staff had kindly wrapped up the unfinished caramels and the chocolate bars filled with crunchy praline, which got finished off before noon the next day.

Alain Ducasse at the Plaza-Athenée
25, avenue Montaigne (8th)
Tél: 01 53 67 65 00



Note: Dinner was courtesy of Chef Alain Ducasse and his team. Thanks to his staff, especially talented Chef Christophe Saintagne, for a wonderful evening and experience.



Related Posts and Links

Le Jules Verne

Great Dining Deals in Paris

Le Pont de Brent

Alain Ducasse (A Life Worth Eating)

Les Crayères

96 comments

  • Thankyou for an entertaining and insightful description of dining 3-star. The dedication and pride that must surely go into such an offering is inspiring.
    I greatly appreciate your slight aside on TOAST. Yes, it is important and so often carelessly and poorly done. I bake in an artisan bakery and hate seeing bread “killed” through toasting.
    Cheers

  • The Alain Ducasse story leaves us with a big question mark:
    “And since the former isn’t necessarily easy to come by here, as is the latter,”
    Why was the latter not possible? Do we need to worry?

  • I was concerned that my regular ‘fix’ of a blogpost seemed delayed! A big virtual hug if that helps…
    Your writing and photography are highlights in my day!

  • Have you cooked from Alain’s beautiful Nature, Simple, Healthy and Good cookbook? Thanks for the review, now it’s on the list for my upcoming Paris trip! Hugs to you David.

  • I got full just looking at the pictures. And then I was starving. This is the first I’ve even heard of Champagne jelly.

    Also, selon the marshmallows, one of the few things I miss about the States are Peeps. But I’m thinking that those will more than fill that void. YUMMY SQUISHY PILLOWY things.

  • Thanks for this review. I recently had dinner at Alain Ducasse in London, and I can honestly say I was disappointed. But I have my hopes up for Paris.

  • Thanks for a glimpse inside the fishbowl. The view inside looking out seems even better! And to think tonight I’ll be dining on Taco Pizza…

  • Oh please tell me what was under the raspberries in the tart, and what was in them? It looks like they were filled. It all looks so gorgeous and divine.

  • Oh lordy I think I just dribbled on my own shirt! Seems like that was a very welcome break for you too! Its surprising what comes along when you feel you are close to the edge. As my mum always reminds me ‘this too shall pass’.

  • Carol: It was a buttery crust called pâte sucré – which was a nice contrast to the juicy – and very delicious – raspberries.

    Lifecycle: Occasionally posts (like this one) are kind of long and there’s lots of photos, so it takes me time to edit all the pictures and write, and check to make sure all the “t’s” are crossed, etc.. glad you like it!

    Craig: Is it that attention to detail which makes places like this special, and why they cost what they do. They’re not the kind of places I go all the time, but I do appreciate seeing professionals working so well.

  • My nephew used to be a sous-chef at two Michelin starred restaurants, so I know that usually I’m not paying too much for that kind of quality.

    Champagne Jelly, you intrigue me…

  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was musing about the gorgeousness of sorrel in the Guardian just last weekend! I’ve never tasted it but will make an effort if I come across it. The dinner sounds fabulous. Thanks!

  • Thank you, David, for another wonderful post. I’ve been following your blog but I’m not a regular commenter. I’m going to Paris in June and now I’m panicking that I don’t have enough time to see and do everything. :D I guess I have to keep coming back then.

  • Your beautiful photos tell the story well.
    Years ago, when I was young, we caught wild Bull Frogs at night along the lake shore. We used bright flashlights to find them and then, very quickly, grabbed them before they could hop away….we were fast kids! We skinned them, gutted them, and deep fried them with a tasty thin batter. We ate all parts, not just the hind legs, because we didn’t want to waste even the smallest amount of meat. One night’s hunting would yield about 20 – 25 huge frogs. I often wonder if anyone else ever did this??

  • I could pin every picture in the post; which one to choose?? You’re the best, David.

  • Wow, incroyable! Although I don’t know if I’ll ever dine at a three-star restaurant, I agree with what you say about the service – I also love fine dining for the service and attention to detail, which shows itself in how you are treated as well as in the food itself.

  • Wow what a feast. Thank you for sharing, David! The chocolates look amazing.

  • the hugest hug ever!

  • WOW-A….amazing….but more important…here’s the BIG HUG!

    hope everything okay…..bon weekend David.

  • I wish you lots of rest and more sweetness in general!

    I very much enjoyed this story and your photos. As someone who’s very particular about her toast, I agree with you, there’s a whole art to it.

  • Thank you for sharing such a wonderful meal with us!
    (Sending big hugs too…)

  • Daveed! {{{hugs}}} The combination of pictures and vivid descriptions made this the most marvelous food porn I have enjoyed in ages. I know it would have detracted from your actual visit, but a soupcon of video of those majestic men in black back-of-the-house would have made MY visit complete. Merci!

  • I’m so jealous. That is all.

    I live so close to Corsica and I tell myself everyday when I see the ferry that I should hop on and go. And yet…

    The wine sounds great though. I’ll have to look for it in the caves.

  • A big hug David and lovely as usual,thank you for letting us into the wonderful evening.

  • I’m with Holly above: I’m totally envious of this meal that you were able to enjoy. (Plus, 12-year Jamaican rum? Being Jamaican and a rum-lover I can only imagine that baba.)

    Anyway, you MUST get thyself to Corsica. We went in Sept last year and had an absolutely wonderful time. The island is beautiful and rugged and the food! Oh the food! In Ajaccio you should try L’Altru Versu. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for such a detailed, beautifully photographed review. This just went on my short list.

  • I’d love to have just the bread, the cheese course with salad and all of those desserts!

  • Reminds me how a dish (serving vessel) can inspire what you might prepare to put into it. Referencing the long white dish holding perfectly measured sweets…..fun! I loved reading this and seeing the pictures. Thank you so much, again, for sharing!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks for the vicarious experience!

  • The thing I relish most about Paris (and France in general) is the range of butters. Over here garlic butter is about the most adventurous you meet – except at home, of course!

  • Oh David, thanks for sharing that gorgeous meal with us. I wish I could share my very quiet guest room with you – it is very dark – and not far from Yosemite.

    I worry about your lack of sleep – that becomes torturous. Is there a spa you can retreat to for a few days? Surely you would love to photo such an experience, too. In any case, I’ll join the group hug.

  • Thanks to your posts, David, I won’t feel such an alien next time in Paris. :) How on earth were you able to eat all this?..
    As for the sorrel, this “grassy lemon taste” paired with sugar will transform it into a pleasing strawberry-like taste – perfect for small hand-held pies that are heavenly with whipped sweetened sourcream. Also perfect in soups, cold or hot. I hope to seed it this spring; once established, it grows like a weed. Finally I will make my favorite summer soup, and you gave me a “kick” to experiment with cold sauces.

    I am sending you a warm (but virtual) hug (I know what you feel… :)

  • Oh, my gosh! I am coming over. I think I would have thought I had died and was in heaven, even before the chocolates came.

  • Any word on your apartment since your March 14th post?

  • A dining experience of my dreams..

  • Oh… my…. this post made me want to hop on a plane to come join you for dinner! Amazing. Somewhat sad too, the thing that made me drool the most was the bread and butter… I’m in Boston, Massachusetts and we do have some wonderful bread here, but luscious, sweet, European butter seems to be in fairly short supply ; )

  • I agree about the bread and butter. I’ve been fortunate to eat at French Laundry, Per Se and Arpege, and the one of the only things I remember about all three epic dining experiences is the bread and butter.

  • that was pure torture to read…mon dieu. What a dream come true.

  • I read the description of your meal as I ate my lunch of two corn dogs. I really don’t know what to say about the juxtaposition of that, so I suppose I’ll just leave it at that.

    I *did* dip the corn dogs in dijon mustard; maybe there is a tiny bit of redemption in that?

  • Love Corsica but strangely the food scene there is not great. I was expecting seafood galore, plenty of citrus fruit and fresh produce) but since Corsicans have been invaded for centuries, they tended to stay in the center of the island and subsisted on chestnuts and boar. The rosé and the chestnut beer make up for the lack of good food :)

    Surely with time and research you will find good things to eat (I would love for you to prove me wrong), but I advise you to stay clear of Porto Vecchio (the hot spot where all the Parisians converge) in August when the crowds are intolerable!

  • On behalf of all of us whole love food and will most likely never eat in a 3 star (never, say never!)–thank you. Franchement, un grand merci. That was amazing and inspiring because as you mentioned, there are simple elements to take away too.

    If I still lived in Paris, I would absolutely meet you for a drive by hug. Alas, I can’t take the TGV up for that but I send you one virtually nonetheless.

  • Having dined in the Aquarium at the Monte Carlo Louis XV restaurant I was awed by all about this privilege – not the least by that terrible rule that part of the kitchen crew after a full day´s work had to wash the entire kitchen before going home, walls and all.
    As Ducasse explains it: I do not have kitchens I have clinics.

  • This is my first time on your blog… Ravishing ! Only disappointment – I wanted to see a photo of your jacket. :)

  • Beautiful Paris dining! I was right there with you!, just had lunch yesterday at “Guy Savoy”service extraordinary! Found a delicious Bistro “La Ragalade Saint Honore” 1st arrondissement very affordable!
    Merci Donna

  • That meal surpassed any hug I have ever gotten. It was the equivalent of an incredible weekend spent with ones favorite lover!

  • mon dieu! what a delightful feast and story.

    you must also get to corsica one day.

  • Wait, is that raspberry puree inside the raspberries on the tart? Extraordinary.

  • Loved your article and enjoyed every mouthful with you. If you liked the sorrel, try making schave borscht …a old Russian Jewish cold soup with cuke and sour cream and a little finely chopped green onion. Oh my , I guess I will just have to go make some of that elegant peasant dish….so simple and delicious. Thank you for all you do. M

  • I love love love your blog; thank you for making the time and effort to describe your experiences. And your photos are gorgeous! Is your kitchen remodeling finished?

  • I can never resist anything with butter or raspberries, but I still have not learned to love lobster. I hope that life has handed you a few more good things to make up for the bad things since this post — and if it hasn’t, tomato soup and grilled cheese is where I go when I need a hug and don’t have a source handy.

  • This looks so ridiculously amazing. I LOVE fried frog legs and the cheeses…oh the cheeses… I can’t wait to go to Paris and Alain Ducasse is on my list if I can get a reservation.

  • And you momentarily questioned the tag “the sweet life”? What could be sweeter? that camembert looked almost liquid and the baba au rhum must have been ethereal. Enjoy! as we mortals look on with envy. Ahhhh . . .

  • Aahhhh after reading this it makes it very hard to go dinner at the local steak place! Thanks for such gustatory experience……..

  • You ate this wonderful, superlative meal for all of us readers, David. Thank you for sharing the experience.

  • You ate all that??

    Big hug

  • What divine food! Thank you for some great photos and words.

  • Oh my God.

    Also, big hug.

  • David, if you do make some sorrel mayonnaise will you please share the recipe? I have sorrel growing in my garden and enjoy using it at every opportunity.
    Thanks for another great post.
    Romain is a lucky man!

  • Hey fellow San Franner-
    Just returned from Brittany, where I tasted a Breton flan like no other. What do you know about this au natural wonder?

  • Oh David, how I look forward to your posts….your text and photos are sublime. And most of all, thank you for sending this glimpse of France & food my way each week- So here are some virtual hugs to you from the Gold Coast. Sending lots of support & appreciation, Lisa

  • There is something about French cuisine that really is like no other. I studied in France a few years ago and am dying to return there to work and live for a while. Great blog, as always. Thanks for continuing to inspire! And feel better soon! Hug.

  • Do you know if Alain Ducasse prepares a vegetarian option? We’re coming to France and I would love to treat my omnivore boyfriend to a fabulous French meal.

  • What an incredible journey of food, beautiful writing (as always), and a lovely reminder that it takes a lot of time to create a meal that beautiful. PS, here’s a hug from the West coast!

  • Debbie: Isn’t that interesting, that the bread (and butter!) are always so memorable in places like this?

    Christine: Most restaurants at this level will create something based on a customer’s requests, if they know in advance. You could certainly call and ask.

    Valérie: Yes, although by the time we got to dessert, they sent us home with all the treats we couldn’t eat in a bag!

    Donna: Eating lunch in these places is usually a terrific experience, at a fraction of the cost of dinner. Most 3-star places have lunch menus priced under €100 which isn’t inexpensive, but is a way to have the “experience.”

    The last time two times I ate at La Regulade, the first I reserved in advance, and they set us at the table right in front of the front door, claiming that was the only table. (The restaurant was only half-full at the time.) So we sat there- then some people showed up and they couldn’t find their reservation in the book, but they sat them at a nicer table away from the door.

    The second time I ate there, the chef (or someone in the kitchen) was standing at the window where the food came out, and each time he needed to summon a waitress, he could clap his hands very loudly, twice, to get their attention. I found it very disconcerting, to say the least…

  • Thank you for a glorious visual and epicurious experience. Actually, my first thought was OMG!

  • Hi David! I always enjoy reading about your Parisian experiences. Do you have a recipe for Baba au Rhum? It sounds very intriguing!

  • Wonderful posts. Truly culinary artists. What are the delights in the picture preceeding the raspberry dessert.
    BarbaraG

  • I am not a advocate of “fine dining” and dislike the starred world of Michelin, but I was totally grabbed by that wonderful menu created by Ducasse. The frogs’ legs and sorrel sauce, the pigeonneau, cheeses and wonderfully clever desserts are beyond reproach. How lucky you were to eat in the kitchen rather than the hushed temple of foodies. I have just been recommended to your blog and I enjoy it immensely..

  • In the May 2012 issue of bon appétit, pages 116-127 are devoted to the “Insider’s Guide to PARIS Think you know it? Think again.” I was wondering if you have access to this magazine in Paris, and if so, would you be willling to comment on the content of this article? Many thanks.

  • Off topic from this – although the experience and dinner look amazing and I appreciate you writing this up for us – almost exactly two years ago you wrote about Speculoos cream/spread. Trader Joe’s has come up with their own version and (after selling out fast the first time) we finally had a chance to pick some up. When I saw the jar I thought “I think David L. wrote about this” and so we went for it. So good!

    It seemed to be impossible to walk through the kitchen without taking a spoon to the jar and so we used up a bulk of the jar to make… cookies. Which is so weird if you think about it. But we used Smitten Kitchen Deb’s recipe for peanut butter cookies, reduced the white sugar by 1/4 cup and added a bit of salt to the sugar you roll them in. They were amazing – disappeared so fast and home and at work that I didn’t get nearly as many as I wanted.

    Thank you for all the inspiration!

  • I bet you felt a lot better after that meal. I’m contemplating re-reading this post whenever I’ve got the blues. Will it make me feel better to live vicariously through your stomach? I’m sensing the potential for a new online fad – meal sharing. Whenever you eat a particularly good meal (I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Mothers Day chilaquiles) you share the description in Lebovitzian detail and, in return, whenever you are down in the dumps, you get to read a description of someone else’s delightful culinary experience. Food for thought.

  • I am one of your more irregular readers. I pop in when I need a mental break or an idea for dinner or just… as it was today, a little “something-something” to think about.

    This particular post was such a delight to read. It started out so down and finished up so perfectly. In between, you really ran the gamut, didn’t you? (And you reminded me to go get out that big wedge of blue that I left in the fridge and carve off a tiny morsel)

    It was really such a pleasure to read. Like a dinner itself that starts off with one flavor and proceeds through course after course, each different and unique. Thank you. Between this and the little dish of strawberries and cream I gobbled on the side while reading, I feel quite satisfied. :)

  • What an incredible meal! Sounds like a good place to visit for toast as well ;)

  • Thank you so much for this lovely description and making this experience accessible! I would never in a million years try something like this but your writing made it come alive for me. Thank you!

  • La GRANDE classe!!! Cocorico!

  • wow, what an amazing experience (at least it would be for me :)). thank you for sharing!

  • Am I counting SEVEN desserts?? Whoah.

  • Sheila: I often get served a lot of desserts (and I’m not complaining!) because pastry chefs and bakers always want to give others a taste of what they make. Fortunately it’s not expected that you’re going to be able to eat all – but we tried. And I was happy they wrapped up all the leftover candies and caramels for me : )

    Marilyn: I haven’t read the magazine but Alec Lobrano, who knows the Paris dining scene, contributed some articles, which I’m sure are excellent.

    Divya: I do…but it makes 200!

    Roger: Yes, I normally just go to small places or more casual spots, but this was (as noted!) an exception and it was nice to experience dining at this level. Chef Saintange joined us for some of the meal, and it was nice to meet him and chat about his cooking.

  • Loved this post….and understand what a great experience dining at an Alain Ducasse restaurant can be. I was treated to a 50th birthday lunch last year at Louis XV…..magnifique!

  • I swear I can get fat just reading your blog. Fantastic to dine 3-stars through you. :)

  • Reading this post was like a trip back in time. We had the extreme pleasure of eating at three three-star restaurants when we lived in Geneva in the 80s. If you haven’t eaten at one it’s really difficult to fully understand the sublime all around experience it is. I remember having lunch at Pere Bise near Annecy one beautiful fall day. What impressed me most, even more so than the amazing food, was the wait staff and how professional they were. Two college kids dressed in jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers, most probably American (clothes used to give it all away), walked in without a reservation but were treated with as much pomp and respect as the best dressed diner in the restaurant. Everyone should eat at one of these amazing institutions at least once in their life.

  • Wonderful article as usual David. How were the frog legs? They seem to be encased in a puff pastry-type batter. Like Mem, my brother and I spent a few nights back in the day frogging in the local ponds on the eastern shore of Maryland where I grew up.We carried around a 10 foot boat in the back of our pickup and dropped it in whenever we thought the pond looked “froggy”. I don’t remember ever catching (gigging) more than 10 or 12…probably because as the night wore on, we might have spend a little more time drinking than frogging. We always ate the whole frog – other than the head and innards – fried just like chicken. And yes, it did taste like chicken. I can remember drizzling a little honey on them but no sorrel dipping sauce.

  • Sooo jealous! Everything looks amazing, from the bread, to the cheeses to the desserts and petits fours! Lucky you! :)

  • Interesting. I ate at Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong and it was terrible. It was the only time I’ve ever eaten overcooked vegetables in HK – an absolute disgrace in a restaurant at that level. Obviously the Paris restaurant is ‘le vrai’ Alain Ducasse.

  • Right, that’s it. Im in Paris twice next month and booking 2 places for sure – Alain Ducasse is 1 and the other is to be at Frenchies at 7pm to try to score a seat at the bar!

  • Sending hugs. Hope life gets back on track soon. Your story/photos are gorgeous.

  • I want everything on there! Those cheese and chocolates look delicious!

  • What a fun little adventure you took us on! I especially loved your comments on toast. As someone who lists toast as one of her top 5 most beloved foods, I appreciate your attention to the subject. I’m considering taking applications for my own toast maker now.

  • I envy you.

    but thanks anyway to share with us this experience.

  • amen to the bread and butter. one of my first introductions into wonderful breads was a lunchtime meal at bouley, which started with a bread cart! i think there was only one type of *heavenly* butter, but it was more than fine for the seven different breads, all of which i managed to sample.

    what an amazing meal- thank you for sharing the experience.

  • Ok… I’m right now sending you a hug and also a huge hang in there message.
    Things will return to normal real soon. It’s just a matter of time.

  • What a great opportunity for all of us to experience the meal right along with you (and your lucky partner). The food looked wonderful, but the written descriptions were the highlight.

    Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us. I was able to be there right along with you. How very sweet of you to invite me along!

    Your blog is among the highlights of my day. Thank you.

  • I am simply blown away. Amazing pictures, wonderful descriptions. Keep “feeding” us, and remember, life is always sweet. It may not be so easily found, but it is.

  • David,

    I’ve been catching up on some of your posts and they are inspiring, particularly, and oddly enough, these restaurant write-ups. I don’t think I am skilled enough of a writer to convey how much I appreciate your words and the care you put into this blog. I am strangely on the verge of tears. I don’t know if I will ever get the chance to experience a restaurant like this, but your write up has inspired me. I am a “lowly” cookie baker (as a side job at that) hell-bent on creating cookies with unique flavor combos and the care in both your writing and the restaurant has pushed me to keep going.

    Thank you.

    Sunshine