I enjoy French food on occasion, although it's not something that we eat frequently. I have to admit, my intrigue was directed much more at the idea of a 16 course menu then on the cuisine type! 16 courses... Looking at a few of my more recent weekly menu, that is more than twice the food types that I eat in an average work week (despite some efforts, Nathalie's protein, starch, vegetable rule has yet to rub off on me).
We arrived early and stopped to see the lions (I may post about this later, but as this post may get long, I'm going to skip pretty much right into the food part). We were still early for our reservation and were invited to the lounge and offered Champagne. Sadly, I do not recall the type of champagne, although I hope Gavin does, it was very good. The lounge was comfortable and pretty and smelled like red roses (I insist they smell different than other colored roses). I failed to photograph this room somehow.
We went to our table in the main dining room which was amazing.
The room is filled with fresh flowers and the impressive chandelier (I'll admit, not too impressed with a few of the paintings)
We were all very impressed with the bread (I especially like the milk bread). But there is something inherently impressive about someone rolling a cart to your table and asking you to pick some bread from amongst the list of seemingly unending type (maybe 20?) Gavin was the first to notice that these butter roses weren't made that way, they were actually peeled off a giant block of butter with a spoon and sprinkled with salt.
I don't have french characters at the ready, so French readers will have to suffer along. First course was caviar on crab and fennel cream. I like caviar, although typically in smaller amounts. Despite my inability to get over the presentation looking like a fancy feast commercial, I enjoyed the dish.
Palette aux Saveurs Estivales
The next three courses were all served together. I liked the sauce around the mozzarella tomato, but as you may recall, I have a garden full of the freshest tomatoes around, so it was impossible to be too excited about the tomato (and I eat 4-5 tomatoes a day...). The lobster part of the dish was good, although not too excited. Probably my least favorite dish was that green stuff on the top... even looking at the menu, I can't figure out which was. I didn't eat it. I remember Emily also didn't like it, I don't remember if the boys ate it or not.
L'EufThe egg yolk ravioli was possibly my favorite dish. It just tasted amazing. The egg on the left is just for garnish and Gavin wouldn't eat it, even when bribed. I suspect had we actually been in France, I would have eaten it on accident because without the waiters instructions, it seems the correct action.
La GrenouilleYep, frog legs. I wasn't very fond of this dish either. I think my problem was the crunchy outside (okay, the frog leg aspect didn't help) The tempura vegetables were very good. This was also Emily's favorite dish.
Les CrustacesEveryone really liked the lobster on this dish, although I did not like the couscous. I loved the presentation and may or may not have borrowed the pearls thing from the bottom right hand corner of the plate for inclusion in the bouquet Nathalie made me for our rehearsal. The broth on the top left was good, but I didn't like the sea urchin. Also, pretty much every dish seemed to have 'foam' on it. If that sounds like the stuff the ocean makes when it crashes, that's correct because that's pretty much what it tasted like. I mostly just ignored the foam and tried to get to the actual food. Onion foam? Really? On this dish it was 'mocha' foam. How do they make foam even? Tiny oceans in cups in the kitchen? /rant.
Les FevettesThis was a very good dish except that they never mentioned the bacon (I don't like bacon). They brought me one without bacon which I very much enjoyed. Despite the inclusion of foam, the dish still won.
La Foie GrasI love how the English translation of this dish still calls it le foie gras on the menu... I guess it wouldn't be very appetizing to write 'duck liver' on your menu. Emily skipped this course, but I thought it was pretty good. It had alot of cabbage flavor.
Matt skipped this course. I probably should have as I don't like cooked fish. I ate it because I'm a good sport. The baby leeks were good. The foam was well.... an emulsion (aka foam).
Le VeauThis was veal cooked like bacon I think. I don't know if I have a much better description. The chefs were very good about making sure to artistically dribble some stuff on all of the plates.
Les Racines et Pousses d'lci
This dessert had coffee in it so I didn't each much of it. They also had a rolling desert cart with tons of yummy truffles and candies so I ate that!
I really like the vegetables. I'm not sure why they came after the meat though. When I eat, I eat the veggies than the meat, but then again I'm not French.La Framboise
DESSERT TIME!!! I actually liked this dessert. This is good news for me and bad news for Gavin (who generally gets most of my desert when I order it). I ate almost all of this one.Le Caramel
I just realized I have no idea what wine Matt ordered (although it was very good). To top off the meal, I ordered a glass of champagne with the last desert. I know, I know... lush.
Overall it was an incredible experience. Even though I'll freely admit that I'm much too American for meals to regularly last anywhere near 4 hours; from start to finish, I never felt bored and was excited about each new dish. The fantastic company helped significantly with this aspect. Like many things I've been lucky enough to experience in my life, it's not something I'd like to do everyday, but it is most certainly one of the most memorable dining experiences in my life.
It may have also inspired Emily and I towards all kinds of culinary genius (or possibly folly) Stay tuned!