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living in Paris (once again, Chee’s favorite city in the world) and Chee had gone on and on about how the reviews were outdated and that the restaurant was now helmed by Alain Ducasse (with 25 Michelin stars to his name in all his restaurants around the world), I went surfing around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

Fantasy Fridays: Macau, China

For the benefit of those who are reading this blog for the first time, we had earlier decided to give ourselves another reason to look forward to Fridays 🙂  A holiday every Friday! Not exactly a real vacation every Friday but more of a photo re-cap of a trip we or either one of us have taken in order to re-live our past travels and all the related memories of each trip.

FANTASY FRIDAYS!

Destination – Macau, one of the two special administrative regions of China. Getting there is easy – about an hour by ferry from Hong Kong, but leaving Asia’s gaming capital can however be difficult for some…

Temptations abound in the tiny Macau territory of 29 km² (11 sq miles). Be seduced by the variety of Chinese delicacies…

The Macanese welcome. Here’s the contingent greeting you when you get off the ferry.  All ready to whisk you off to the hotels and *casinos*…

The must-see attraction in Macau, the 16th century ruins of a Portuguese cathedral, the Cathedral of Saint Paul…

Macau was the first and last European colony in Asia and remnants of Portugal are still visible in Macau…

BollyChees goofing around in Macau. To be exact, Bolly goofing around 😉 …

One of the 35 casinos present in this “sin city”…MGM Grand…

Enticing those keen on a quick buck with bright neon lights…

Bolly has good luck and Chee doesn’t. Bolly won, Chee lost in the casinos…

We celebrated the unexpected win with a fine meal at 2 Michelin star modern and luxurious Chinese restaurant, The Eight before calling it a night. Highly recommended!No harm placing a few bets for the fun of it.  Don’t forget though, the saying “The House Always Wins” is true…

Hope you enjoyed reading this week’s edition of “Fantasy Fridays” 🙂

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

Lisbon Dining Scene: Restaurant Alma

Chee and I often travel to Lisbon and we’ve come to realise that most of the Portuguese restaurants serve dishes that are soaked in olive oil and heavy (don’t get me wrong, the dishes are flavourful and Portuguese olive oil is of top quality). We searched further and found a number of restaurants where the cuisine incorporates French flair while retaining Portuguese traditions.  One of them is “Alma” restaurant and we’ve been there twice on two separate visits to Lisbon.

Once you pass the main entrance, you feel like you’ve just entered heaven as the restaurant’s decor is all white with a big cloud as a centre-piece light and friendly staff welcome you with wide smiles.

The menu purposed by chef Henrique Sà Pessoa is in 3 parts: the tasting menu with the classic signature dishes of the chef, the seasonal tasting menu and the ‘à la carte’ menu. On our first visit, we tried the classic tasting menu and were impressed. The dishes were cooked perfectly and the mixture of flavours were pleasing to even the harshest critic, me 🙂 As accompaniment, I chose a white Bairrada wine at around €30 by Luis Pato, a very good Portuguese wine producer! The wine list which is made up of mainly Portuguese wines offers a very good selection and good price/quality ratio.

Having had such a good experience on our first visit, I decided to bring Chee back to Alma on our recent visit to Lisbon and we went for the à la carte menu.

Before our meal, we received their sumptuous assortment of home-made breads – white bread, thin crispy bread with sesame and focaccia (  The focaccia was tasty, delicious just heavenly!) – and an appetizer (velouté of chickpeas with truffle oil).

After stuffing ourselves with bread (3 servings of focaccia, no less ;)), we decided to share one starter: Squid & prawns sautéed in chilli and garlic with cherry tomatos, roquette and parmesan.

Very nice and refreshing to start off the meal!

For the main dish, Chee chose the traditional duck rice with Iberian pork chorizo and sliced duck magret. I went for the lamb tenderloin, creamy potato and garlic mash, sautéed cepes and spinach.  The presentation of the duck rice reminded Chee of the duck rice served back in Singapore but that was where the similarity ended. The dish was oozing with flavours and left Chee wanting more. The lamb tenderloin may have paled in comparison to the duck but was still a pleasure to the taste buds.

Greedy BollyChees decided to each order a dessert and we went with the molten dark chocolate lava cake with coffee ice cream and the warm banana and toffee pudding with coconut ice cream.

We left the restaurant stuffed and on hindsight, we should have shared a dessert but who can say no to desserts?

We’ve been impressed by the quality of the food at Alma on both visits and can safely say that it’s definitely a must-go in Lisbon!

Restaurant Alma by Chef Henrique Sà Pessoa

www.alma.co.pt

P/S: Chee also recommends the following restaurants in Lisbon (a list which is by no means exhaustive as we get to try more restaurants in Lisbon in the future):

Solar dos Presuntos

Traditional Portuguese restaurant where we dine in an informal setting. Reservations are necessary. Be forewarned that the restaurant can get noisy as there are many tables and it’s always full to the brim with customers.

Restaurant Eleven

The only restaurant in Lisbon that’s featured in the Relais & Châteaux guide. The view over the Edward VII park is probably one of the best views from a restaurant in Lisbon. Chee suggests going for lunch as the lunch menu is very reasonably priced (EUR 38 for three courses with two glasses of wine).

A Travessa

It may be difficult to find the restaurant as it’s situated in a small street but once you enter and find yourself in the charming surroundings (the restaurant is housed in a former convent), you would know that the search was worth it. The restaurant serves up Portuguese cuisine with international influences. Definitely worth a try though it can be pricey.