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living in Paris (once again, Chee’s favorite city in the world) and Chee had gone on and on about how the reviews were outdated and that the restaurant was now helmed by Alain Ducasse (with 25 Michelin stars to his name in all his restaurants around the world), I went surfing around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

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

The Best Crêpes in Paris

I don’t know from where/when/how, but somehow the idea of buying a freshly made crêpe from a crêpe stand on a Parisian street, biting into it as I stroll along the River Seine seemed very Parisian/French to me when I used to visit Paris as a tourist.

When we moved to Paris, one of the ‘goals’ I had was to find the best crêpe in Paris. I’ve since come to realise that it’s quite a mean feat considering the panoply of choices here.

From what I’ve tried and have been recommended to, Breizh café in the yuppy Marais district in the 3rd arrondissement, Le Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie in the 11th arrondissement and Ty Breizh in the 15th arrondissement are worth a visit.  Many also flock to the crêperies along Rue du Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement (though I must honestly say I’m a sceptic as I visited one of the supposed standout crêperie of the street, the Crêperie de Josselin and found the restaurant way too crowded, noisy and the dishes were almost literally plonked down on the table as the waiters hurriedly rushed from one table to the other. From another perspective, some may actually enjoy the buzz of the place so I guess it’s quite subjective…) What I would recommend is to get a crêpe from the crêpe stand just across the street from the Eiffel Tower, walk towards the Champ de Mars Park behind the Eiffel Tower, sit down enjoy your crêpe while you people-watch and admire the Eiffel Tower.

Though truth be told, I’ve stopped searching for the best crêpe. Not that I’ve given up but I’ve actually found the best crêpe ………….

BOLLY’S HOMEMADE CREPE!

The fact that it’s home-made means that I know what exactly goes in, am assured of the hygene standards, pay a fraction from what I have to cough up at a crêperie and most importantly, Bolly’s home-made crêpes are lip-smacking good!

One particular recipe is the crêpe with ham, cheese, mushrooms with home-made béchamel sauce…

The mouth-watering ensemble of ham, cheese, mushroom and home-made béchamel sauce

Bolly makes it look so easy…

And here’s the BollyChee homemade crêpe – a joint production since Bolly cooked while Chee took photos 😛

Paris Dining: Bistro Les Deux Stations

We don’t usually blog about our less than satisfactory dining experiences. That doesn’t mean that we’ve only ever had sumptuous and mouth-watering meals.  In fact since we eat out quite often, we’ve had our fair share of ‘not-so-pleasant’ dining episodes.  Keeping quiet about these experiences is our way of erasing the blah memories…

That being said, we both decided to go ahead with writing about our disappointing experience at “Les Deux Stations” in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.  I had read some good reviews of this bistro populaire and gave it the benefit of the doubt since it was also on Le Fooding.

We’ve dined at restaurants/bistros that’s wowed our socks off through a combination of the following – quality of ingredients and cuisine, attentive and professional service, great decor and quality-price ratio. Les Deux Stations barely met any of the above conditions. The hangar steak and steak tartar we had for our main dishes were lacklustre. Service was lacking  (even by a bistro’s standards). It didn’t help that one of the waiters had his pants hanging below his briefs and each time he walked in front of me, I was reminded of the colour of his briefs.

The final bill came up to €64.70 for an entrée, two main dishes and a pitcher of wine. While the amount wasn’t staggering, it just was not worth it based on what we ate. Suffice to say, Bolly wasn’t a happy paying customer.

What “Les Deux Stations” has going for it however is its central location within the 16th arrondissement and its proximity to Roland Garros (where the French Open is played) as well as a rather funky diner-style decor.  I don’t think we’ll be back again unless we’re starving after watching a match at Roland Garros.

The one thing that distracted us  from the disappointment was the sighting of one of our favourite monuments in the world on our way home 🙂

The Eiffel Tower…never fails to take my breath away 🙂

Getting Away from Getting Away

A staycation in Paris was what my system needed after the recent travels. No packing of suitcases, checking in online, rushing to the airport, crossing our fingers upon arrival that the taxi driver is an honest man, planning our itinerary in order to maximise our holiday, catching the flight back to Paris and once again crossing our fingers that our suitcases would actually appear on the luggage belt. Just me and Paris, accompanied by Bolly and girlfriends. What more can a gal ask for?

A visit to the Cinémathèque Française to view the re-creation of the world of eccentric film-maker Tim Burton and picking up a souvenir from the visit…

Life isn’t easy for the Pin Cushion Queen
When she sits on her throne, pins push through her spleen

The discovery of another good Chinese restaurant in Paris, Shan Goût in the 12th arrondissement…

Window-shopping for us girls. Love the French term for it, “lèche vitrine”, which literally means licking the shop window. Thereafter an afternoon at the movies…

Ending the leisure afternoon with a drink at one of the newest and hip addresses in Paris, Beef Club Ballroom (58, rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, 75001).  Followed by a mouth-watering burger at the Beef Club. I usually am wary of these hip new addresses but Beef Club did not disappoint…

How about visiting a museum after dinner? It was the annual Night of Museums which meant that museums were opened late till midnight. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one with this idea.  The queue outside Louvre was (way too) long….

Sleeping in the following morning. Having breakfast and watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy = bliss…

The Grand Palais’ retrospective on famed photographer Helmut Newton beckoned…

All the calories consumed had to be burnt off with a 16km run. Post-run reward, quality Japanese cuisine at an affordable price @ Restaurant Zen…

A leisurely stroll around this beautiful city as the sun was setting…

Sometimes the simplest pleasures of life are just around us. No plane tickets needed to find bliss, maybe just a metro/subway ticket… 🙂