Monday, October 25, 2010
With all of the spa treatments, Louvre tours, and personal shopping appointments we enjoyed on our press trip to Paris’ Hotel Le Bristol, my fellow travelers and I worked up quite an appetite. Lucky for us, the hotel had no shortage of high-end cuisine on offer. Even luckier, the staff was incredibly generous in inviting us to experience all of the various culinary options.
On our first night at the hotel we were invited to dine with the general manager and the head of sales and marketing at the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gastronomique. The dining room was an ovular space that was all elegant wood-and-tapestries, and we couldn’t wait to taste Chef Eric Frechon’s cuisine.
The meal started off well with Laurent Perrier rosé all around. As we settled in, we learned that the GM, Didier Le Calvez, had joined Le Bristol earlier this year from the George V. This came after previous stints at The Pierre in New York City and other impressive international hotels.
Our first course, large langoustines and caviar with celeriac and yuzu, arrived alongside a glass of Domaine Ostertag Riesling. As we dined, the conversation with Didier continued. He explained to us how important it was that the hotel have a very Parisian feel. While some hotels leave guests feeling like they could be anywhere in the world, Le Bristol leaves no doubt that the visitor is in Paris. From the locals that frequent the hotel’s bar to the distinctly French decor and dining, the hotel is unmistakably Parisian.
Our second course, stuffed macaroni with black truffle, artichoke and foie gras, came with a Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet. During this course we began discussing wine with the chef sommelier, Marco Pelletier. As the conversation about our preferred varietals continued, we began eating an incredibly delicious third course: scallops a la plancha with potato gnocchi and white truffle. The truffle brought back many good memories of my trip to the White Truffle Festival in Alba two years ago.
Next we were served a surprise course of lamb in a nori seaweed crust with pureed turnip-cabbage. It was excellent with a glass of the Domaine de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. At this point I was getting full, but the food was so good that I couldn’t resist the cheese course (with a glass of Domaine Confuron Vosne Romanee), or the dessert: black Provencal figs poached in strawberry juice with ice cream on gingerbread biscuits. All of this went with a Domaine Guy Lheraud Pineau des Charentes. Amazing.
So amazing, in fact, that the next morning we went back to the restaurant for breakfast. Despite having eaten so much the night before, we couldn’t resist the lure of Eggs Benedict with black truffles. We weren’t disappointed.
But the Restaurant Gastronomique wasn’t the only restaurant we enjoyed at Hotel Le Bristol. No, there was another one. The hotel recently opened 114 Faubourg, a more casual brasserie for business travelers, locals, and guests that prefer a less formal meal. On the second night of our stay we dined there with the communications manager. The restaurant itself was decorated beautifully with deep orange walls, sleek black tables, and purple banquettes.
Chef Eric Desbordes’ food was as impressive as the ambiance. For our first course we enjoyed a creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup with foie gras. This was followed by delicious king prawns with vegetables in a satay sauce. For dessert we were served a mouth-watering warm Grand Cru chocolate tart with Amarena cherry sorbet. The food was excellent, and the conversation was so enjoyable that we all wondered how we had only known one another for two days.
But alas, those two days had to come to an end. The next morning I woke up early and ordered room service for breakfast just to get one last taste of the amazing cuisine at Hotel Le Bristol. The continental breakfast came on a huge tray, and as I ate my croissant and pain au chocolat, and drank my grapefruit juice and tea, I savored every last bite.
After breakfast we were off to travel on the Eurostar back to London, and to catch some sleep along the way. As we sped through the French countryside en route to the channel tunnel, I had wonderful dreams of my excellent stay at Hotel Le Bristol. When I awoke at St Pancras, I began a new dream: finding a way to stay at Le Bristol again in the future.