Every year on my birthday, Relationnel takes me to a surprise venue. In 2010, it was La Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne and last year it was the Ritz, no less! It was a perfect spring day and we were able to sit outside in the inner courtyard. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember what I ate but I know it was delicious and that the service was impeccable. The Ritz is currently closed for Renovation.
This year, I had suggested we have lunch at Les Ombres, the restaurant on top of the Quai Branly ethnic museum because I’ve seen photos of the stunning views of the Eiffel Tower but with a temperature of 12°C, uncertain skies and disappointing reports about the food, we decided to change venue. What an excellent idea! Because Relationnel chose Michelin 2-star chef Alain Dutournier’s Carré des Feuillants just off Place Vendôme. Not exactly in the same league.
Discreet but warm welcome into a very modern and spacious dining room. We both chose the all-inclusive “Idées de la Saison” menu including drinks, starting with champagne to accompany the mouth-watering mises en bouche. Then the starters: fresh wild salmon on a bed of boletus mushrooms, smoked salmon with horseradish and blue lobster with tiny fried spring rolls, followed by melt-in-the-mouth suckling lamb from the Pyrenées with cress and aubergine lasagna. The cheese was a strong Roquefort with a dried fruit centre.
We had a glass of Montée de Tonnère chablis 2010 from Château de Maligny with our starters, followed by a Domaine Gauby côtes de Roussillon 2002 with the lamb and a Château de Carles 2008 fronsac with the cheese. Relationnel asked if he could try a demi-sec white instead which proved to be a much better combination. The wine did not seem to be limited.
Only the desserts , based on vacherin and raspberries, were disappointing. Either Alain Dutournier isn’t interested in sweet food or he’s chosen the wrong pâtissier! I’m not a big fan of desserts but when I have them, I like to remember them! The petits fours with the coffee were good though. In any case, the service was perfect throughout, attentive without being obsequious and all was well orchestrated. When I was reading the menu, the print was too small so the waiter went and got me some glasses!
Alain Dutournier, who comes from the southwest of France, has three other restaurants : Au Trou Gascon (his first address) in the 12th arrondissement, Pinxo in the 1st and Caves Marly in Versailles. Pinxo sounds very interesting from the blurb on the DVD that you get when you leave : “Original concept conceived and created by Alain Dutournier – contemporary french (sic) restaurant – dishes executed in an open kitchen – surprising combinations, creative and authentic cuisine that focuses on the products – instantaneity of preparation and quick sampling are key words – all the dishes presented by three parts can be easily shared. Wide choice of authentic wines by open price levels (NOT MY TRANSLATION, by the way!). Might just try it sometime.Carré des Feuillants, 14 rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris 01 42 86 82 82 email@example.com – www.carredesfeuillants.fr