A Birthday Surprise – Dining at “Le Jules Vernes” in the Eiffel Tower

eiffel1I had always been under the impression that “Le Jules Verne“, the restaurant located on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower (altitude of 125 meters) was a tourist trap serving horrible food with the view of Paris being its only saving grace. Since we’re living in Paris (once again, Chee’s favorite city in the world) and Chee had gone on and on about how the reviews were outdated and that the restaurant was now helmed by Alain Ducasse (with 25 Michelin stars to his name in all his restaurants around the world), I went surfing around online and to my surprise, I found rather positive reviews of the restaurant.

Jules Verne was one place Chee would never have thought that I would bring her to given my fear of heights. SURPRISE!!! Jules Verne it was for Chee’s birthday (Tip: To land a table right next to the window, book at least 1 to 2 months in advance).   With its own private lift access, we were swiftly led up to the restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower.  Restaurant diners can also head to the viewing platform through a private access from the restaurant.

Jules Verne

The lunch menu (88€ or 125€ with 3 glasses of wine) which we decided on had a choice of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts plus the suggestions of the day.  A nice cute touch was the butter molded in the form of the base of the Eiffel.

Jules Verne2

Appetiser was a pumpkin velouté with chestnut. Simple and well-presented. As for starters, we had the preserved duck foie gras, fruit and orange marmalade accompanied by toasted brioche and the ravioli of crab meat with crab sauce. Once again, great presentation and a good start to our meal.

Jules Verne3

The main dishes did not disappoint. Chee’s dish of roasted pork chop served with stuffed tender onion, straw potatoes and cooking jus as well as my dish of slowly cooked ox cheek and carrots both hit the sweet spots for us. Flavourful, gratifying and thoroughly yummy.

Jules Verne4

Chee’s desert was a chocolate/mint variation whilst I chose a light desert of a contemporary vacherin of passion, mango and fresh ginger. Being a chocolate lover, I realised I had made the wrong choice when Chee’s dessert arrived. I kept looking over to her yummy dessert.  If you’re still hungry by this stage, the complimentary mignardises (small sweet tidbits) of chocolate truffles, guimauves (marshmallows), macaroons, and brownies would definitely make you keel over.

All in all, it was a very good experience.  The wines served paired well with the dishes.   Did I freak out coz of the height? Thankfully, once I was in the restaurant, it wasn’t all that bad. Nevertheless, heading out to the private viewing platform of the Eiffel Tower was indeed a challenge for me. Doubt I’ll do that again!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHEE 😉

Le Jules Verne
5 Avenue Gustave Eiffel, 75007
+33 1 45 55 61 44
Open 7 days a week
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Goodbye August, Hello September

It’s been quiet around here on the blog…Summer/August has been hectic (not that we are complaining :)) with the trip to London and Iceland, work, friends’ visits to Paris, trips to Belgium and La Rochelle. A fruitful month it was and as September comes along, hints of La Rentrée – i.e. the French “return” to work and schools after a long vacation in August – are popping up everywhere. Gone are the days of quiet Parisian street, devoid of traffic and semi-empty metro rides during the peak hours. Summer is also bidding farewell as the mercury drops and the long daylight hours are slowly dwindling. A tad sad I am but September and the months ahead will be full of new adventures and encounters so I’ll say farewell to l’été with a big smile, thankful for all that we’ve got to experience and looking forward to new exploits and memories in the months ahead.  A toast to summer 🙂

Meanwhile, it’s our first weekend to ourselves in Paris since July and we are looking forward to it. Enjoying the last bit of a quiet Paris before everyone comes back from vacation. The day started off on a great note with a 15km run together around the Champ de Mars park where Eiffel Tower stands, followed by yummy sushi and ramen. 🙂

🙂 The simple pleasures of life 🙂

Bon week-end à toutes et tous! We’ll be back with more updates and posts on “Fantasy Fridays” soon 🙂

Experiencing 3-Michelin Star Chef Alain Passard’s L’Arpège

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to have lunch – a gargantuan one to boot! – with Mr Hugo Desnoyer and Mme Chris (hailing from one of, if not the best, butchery in Paris “Boucherie Hugo Desnoyer”) and Mr Inada Saburo (my ex-boss and owner of my favorite restaurant “Chez Inada” in Brussels) at Alain Passard’s 3 star Michelin restaurant, “L’Arpège” recently. Sadly, Chee couldn’t join us as she had work commitments.

First things first, many write off L’Arpège as an expensive 3 star restaurant serving only vegetables.  To be frank, I was somewhat apprehensive at first but went ahead with the choice made by Hugo and Inada. It was a “risk” worth taking.  The fact is that Alain Passard serves what he describes as “la cuisine legumiere” which is way beyond plain vegetarian dishes.  For one thing, Alain Passard only uses vegetables from his organic farm located just outside of Paris.  Furthermore, the white meat served in the restaurant comes from Hugo’s boucherie. Due to this special link, our lunch was nothing short of an exceptional menu. Since I was too caught up with the great company and fine cuisine, I must say I did not note down the names of the dishes but hopefully the photos will do the talking 😉

Our amuse bouche and first starter (tartlets and spinach, confit of shallots and puree of sweet potatoes with orange)…

Followed by a few more starters: sushi of vegetables, velouté of fresh peas with foam of speck (a type of Italian ham), lobster garnished with marinated radish, as well as one of L’Arpège’s signature dishes, fine ravioli in a hot broth of root vegetables…

Moving on to our main dishes: Roasted monkfish with smoked potato as well as 3 dishes of milk-fed veal (from Hugo nonetheless!) each cooked in a different style…

Hugo chose an incredible, exceptional, fantastic, wonderful (you get the idea…) assortment of wines from the wine list (which I may add has to be one of the best wine lists in a Parisian restaurant) to compliment our meal…

And to top it all off, our dessert was the signature dessert of L’Arpège, a beautiful creation of Tarte aux Pommes “Bouquet de Roses” (apple pie shaped into a bouquet of roses) which tasted like…pure bliss…

I’m indeed grateful to Hugo and Chris for this memorable lunch.  Without them, the experience and certainly the menu would not have been the same. With excellent food and great company, what more can one ask for? Yes, just one thing, the presence of Chee…

L’Arpège

84 Rue de Varenne  75007 Paris

+33 1 47 05 09 06

Boucherie Hugo Desnoyer

45, rue Boulard, 75014 Paris

+33 1 45 40 76 67

Chez Inada

Rue de la Source 73, 1060 Brussels, Belgium

+32  2 538 01 13

Our Patisserie of Dreams

On a day where most French businesses, shops, museums and restaurants in France were closed for the Labour Day public holiday, I was excited to find out that the pastry shop “La Pâtisserie des Rêves (The “Patisserie of Dreams” in English and is helmed by renowned French pastry chef Philippe Conticini) was actually opened for business!

We frequent La Patisserie often as it’s (thankfully!) conveniently located near to where we live.  Unlike the dreary but oh-so-chic black-lacquered look favoured by some well-known patisseries in Paris, La Patisserie is literally a breath of fresh air as the interior of the boutique is flushed with light and cheerful colours.

When I first entered the shop, I wasn’t too sure how to go about laying my hands on the pastries as the pastries were displayed on a table in the centre of the boutique under a clear glass bell suspended from the ceiling.  What I subsequently learnt was that the glass bells were temperature-controlled and the pastries were meant for display, i.e. do not attempt to lift the bell to pick out a pastry.

What you need to do is to queue up at the cashier and order your items and the orders will be prepared and delivered to you from the kitchen (through a rather sleek-looking pulley system as seen below).

Conticini has re-invented classic French pastry items such as Paris Brest (a baked ring of choux pastry that is cut in half and filled with hazelnut praline cream), eclairs and Le Saint Honoré and the result, both visually and more importantly taste-wise, have wowed us. For instance, while the conventional eclairs are pastries filled with cream, at La Patisserie, the eclair is turned inside and the pastry is wrapped with a layer of chocolate.

Our favourite item at La Patisserie has to be the Grand Cru. Savouring the Grand Cru is in and of itself an epicurean treat… Imagine sinking your teeth in a chocolate cake/bar that’s made up of five different layers of Dominican chocolate. The rich and silky chocolate frosting outer layer gives way to a luscious chocolate mousse followed by a soft chocolate ganache, an indulgent biscuit fudge and underlying it all is a delicate touch of crisp chocolate biscuit….dazzling, decadent, delightful, wonderful…you get the idea! 🙂

Paris Breast that has apparently been selected as the best in Paris.

The featured fruit in the seasonal tart is rhubarb.

Everything looks so tantalising that we end up taking a long time to decide what we would like to have each time we are there. This time round, we left with the simple pain au chocolat for breakfast and the rhubarb tart for afternoon tea. Mmmmmmmm!

La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Left Bank store – 93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris

Right Bank store – 111 Rue de Longchamp, 75016 Paris

L’affriolé – a gem in the 7th arrondissement!

Here’s a warning to start off this post. Do not leave it to the last-minute (unless really unavoidable) to make a reservation for a dinner (especially from Thursday onwards) at a decent/good restaurant in Paris. Chee and I did just that one day and found ourselves without a reservation at a restaurant at 18hrs. I was about to be rejected not once, not twice but six times within the span of 15 minutes as restaurants were all fully booked. We were about to stay in and enjoy a home-cooked meal until I decided to try to call restaurants awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand . [What’s a Bib Gourmand? A  Bib Gourmand designation is a recognition that a restaurant offers good value for the money, where one can find a good three-course meal for less than €35 in Paris and €29 elsewhere]. Finally, I managed to get a table for us at ‘L’Affriolé’ in the 7th arrondissement whose chef cum owner, Thierry Verola, had previously worked for Senderens, a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant.

The restaurant looks attractive with a modern and cosy dining area where tables are well spaced apart. The restaurant’s menus were found on the chalkboard mounted on the interior walls and thankfully a traditional menu was also available and saved us some physical headache from trying to read the menu off the wall.

Basically, the formule was €35 for a 3-course meal comprising of a starter, main dish and dessert. Although the wine-list was not very long, the wines offered were clearly well-selected, of a good quality and the price range was affordable. We chose a wine from Languedoc, “Villa symposia 2006” that was very fine and smooth and was priced very reasonably at €30.

The attention to details started with the bread and amuse-bouche that were served before the dishes arrived.  Creatively-shaped bread and radishes accompanied by black olive butter broke the monotony of the usual bread basket served in many French restaurants. For the first course, Chee chose the crispy mackerel with an emulsion of olive oil. Mackerel and herbs were wrapped in a brick paste which was then deep-fried and eaten with the emulsion.  It reminded us of fish & chips, the gourmet version. I chose the viennoise of black pudding which was essentially a loaf of black pudding stacked on top of a bed of apple marinated with a refreshing sauce made of passionfruit. Sumptuous!

Off to a good start and on to the main dish. Chee chose the duck magret (duck breast) with spices and mushroom samossas while I chose the grilled swordfish served with squid salad and mashed potatoes. Chee clearly enjoyed the magret so much so that she even ate (and this never happens!) the crispy skin. With a very generous portion, I was able to enjoy one piece of the duck magret as well. As for my fish dish, rather exceptionally, I was asked to specify the preferred ‘doneness’ of the fish, either medium or rosé. I chose the latter and it arrived perfectly cooked and tender.

How many times have you dined at a restaurant and everything goes well until the desserts are served and they are a letdown? We were anxious to receive and taste our desserts to see if L’Affriolé would continue to dazzle us. We were not disappointed. Chee went along with the dessert of the day, chocolate ganache and I chose the crunchy ‘praliné chocolate’. As with the starters and main dishes, we were impressed by the effort and creativity of the chef and promptly (in spite of the protest of our waist-lines) wiped out every last bit of our dessert.

Though we did not order coffee, we were given some sweets – coffee and vanilla puddings as well as homemade marshmallows – to end our meal. A thoughtful gesture to top off what had been an undoubtedly satisfying meal.

We left the restaurant beaming from ear to ear as we had enjoyed a most unexpected and thoroughly pleasurable meal.  Burp.

L’Affriolé

17 Rue Malar  75007 Paris
+33-(0)-1 44 18 31 33