Dining on an outdoor terrace in Paris can be a rare pleasure when there’s a wet summer. I dashed between the raindrops and gave three places a try.
La Table du Lancaster: Chef Michel Troisgros designed the menu at this Michelin-starred restaurant with a cozy garden terrace. Dishes are arranged according to themes, such as radiance, spiciness and liveliness.
Puffy and light best describe a starter of ravioli (29 euros/$36) stuffed with hazelnuts, the tiniest girolles and creamy mascarpone. Spider crab aspic (42 euros) was reminiscent of a fresh crustacean at the seashore.
A glass of 2010 “Sans Papiers” from the Souch domaine (24 euros), a slightly sparkling white wine, was the perfect accompaniment. It was like biting into a Granny Smith apple. (“Sans Papiers” indicates the wine is without an appellation.)
Serving of the Wagyu prime rib (86 euros) is an interesting ritual: The waiter presents it raw to the customer as if it were a wine to examine. Once the meat is cooked, the waiter serves the center first, followed by a second portion with the rest. The meat was tender and full of flavor.
Sole prepared in a light, breaded crust with chives (62 euros) was golden and crunchy. It’s a Troisgros recipe dating back to 1975 and I can see why it still is served today.
Desserts aren’t overly impressive, except for the chocolate-mint souffle, a burst of freshness offsetting the bitter creaminess of chocolate. The service was impeccable: informative and attentive.
Cost: Starts at 94 euros for three courses, plus wine.
Maison Blanche: If you are looking for a place to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle as you dine, Maison Blanche, decked in white linen on the rooftop of the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, is a good choice. The ambience might be perfect if the tables weren’t so close together. An arguing couple on one side and a cigar smoker two tables away detracted from the magic.
The creativity of Chef Sylvain Ruffenach, under the direction of twin brothers Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, is evident in well-thought-out associations of ingredients. An appetizer tart (26 euros) layered with tuna and sweet tomatoes on a crunchy curcuma crust was a great mix of flavors and textures.
The boneless pork rib main (32 euros) served with saffron risotto, Bellota chorizo and calamari was more paella than risotto. The smokiness of the meat and taste of the sea made a good surf-and-turf combination.
Advice on dessert (16 euros): Avoid it. The rum baba showed little evidence of rum. Pan-cooked cherries were ice cold, served over a rubbery custard.
Maison Blanche has a selection of more than 380 wines, including some unusual varieties such as the Cote Rotie Jamet 1995 (194 euros) that the sommelier, who was very knowledgeable, recommended.
Cost: Starts at about 70 euros for three courses, plus wine. There is a 69 euro three-course “gourmet menu” and 110 euro six-course tasting menu.
Restaurant Laurent: Dining on the lush and spacious terrace of this establishment, a former hunting lodge tucked away in the Champs-Elysees gardens, is almost like being on one’s own private patio. Under a canopy of chestnut trees, it’s the perfect place for a romantic tete-a-tete.
Chef Alain Pegouret, who heads this Michelin one-starred restaurant, works with traditional French produce and adds a touch of creativity. His food is delicious -- and expensive.
To start, four large langoustines (87 euros), each in a crisp crust and served with a basil sauce, were light and tender. An appetizer of whole lobster (98 euros), prepared at the table and served over salad greens, was cooked to perfection, but the mustard-based vinaigrette was overpowering.
A juicy center cut of beef (88 euros) was served with “pommes souffles,” paper-thin puffs of crisp potato, releasing a burst of flavor with each bite. Desserts were fabulous, especially the apricot-verbena souffle (30 euros). It was airy and the verbena refreshing on a warm summer evening.
Although the restaurant offers a good selection of bottles, wines available by the glass such as a Gamay 2010 (20 euros) were ordinary. Servers were pleasant but we had to ask numerous times for basics like water: a shame at a starred restaurant.
Cost: Starts at 143 euros for three courses, plus wine. There is a 170 euro, six-course seasonal menu.
What the Stars Mean: **** Incomparable food, service, ambience *** First-class of its kind. ** Good, reliable. * Fair. (No stars) Poor.
(Adria Cimino writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
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