228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris
Lunch on Oct 20, 2004
Is it possible to dine in the Napoleon Apartment Salon of Louvre? Slim chance. But is it possible to dine in a place as aristocratic and elegant as there? Yes, in the Le Meurice. The décor of this establishment is as breath-taking and grandeur as you can possibly imagine. I said to myself the moment I stepped in that this is the place I would like to treat my better half a dinner on the first night of our honeymoon (it is good to imagine regardless I’m single). With this dinner, both of us will have an occasion to remember for the rest of our life. The painted ceiling, the shimmering crystal chandeliers, the antique beveled mirrors and the gigantic canvas hung on the walls all remind me the impressive Napoleon Salon I’d just visited in Louvre. If an opulent, lush and romantic dining room is what you looking for in Paris, look no further than the Le Meurice.
As usual, I chose the prix fixe menu. At E68, the “Dejeuner en liberte” offered an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. Very economic when you consider the least expensive appetizer and main course a la carte charges you E50 and E85 respectively. That said, I didn’t think my alchemist, Yannick Alleno would treat me bad with his prix fixe menu anyway. After all, he is the one who helped the Le Meurice to clinch 2 Michelin stars from zero in just one year, a first in the history of the Michelin Red Guide.
For the appetizer, I ordered the grouse terrine with mango chutney and toasted bread. The terrine was sliced in my table front by my headwaiter. What a show he put on. With a cleaver on his right hand and a carving fork on his left, he virtually orchestrated a ballet show on the wooden cutting board and the tub of terrine was swiftly cut into five sections in no time. I asked him specifically to save me the fatty residues of the grouse terrine from the rim and put on my bread dish. I love fat, I love lard and I love grease. I think they are gorgeously meaty and succulent in the mouth. Calories? I care not. That said, the grouse terrine itself was delicious. The meat was plump and complex in flavors. The high spot, however, was the foie gras of the grouse stuffed in the middle of the terrine. The chunkiness of the foie gras cast a stark contrast to the softness of the meat, mixed up well in the palate. A dip of the mango chutney did add wonders. This got to be the most whimsical and stylish terrine I’d tried in my life.
For the main course, I ordered the civet of garenne rabbit ‘a la francaise,’ accompanied with homemade pasta. It was a well-seasoned stew of rabbit flavored with onions, mushrooms and red wine. The meat of the rabbit was moist and anointed well with peppery flavor of the sauce after the long stew. In all, it was a showcase of classic French haute cuisine doing in the right way.
The pre-dessert before the dessert was awesomely beautiful. I must say Le Meurice has one the most gracious and fashionable pre-dessert offering in Paris. It has chocolate with citrus ball, meringue with gold crust and two glasses of honeydew melon glace. It was the first time I ate a pre-dessert down to the last morsel.
For the dessert, I ordered the passion fruit gratin with chocolate with a passion sorbet on top. The gratin was spongy while the creamy jus of passion fruit proved to be a perfect match to the hot chocolate hidden inside the gratin. A very hearty dessert indeed.
The wine I ordered was a glass of 2001 Durand Saint Joseph Les Coteaux. This inky garnet was quite peppery, woody and leathery to smell; whereas in the mouth it was lovely savory, showing a trace of dark plum at the same time. Overall, it was a dry and full-bodied wine with a fairly long finish. It went gorgeously with my grouse terrine and rabbit.