228, rue de Rivoli, in the 1st Arrondissement.
01 44 58 10 10. Mon–Fri, lunch and dinner.
Paris has 10 three-star Michelin restaurants, and I’ve eaten in exactly zero of them. It’s next to impossible to have a proper dinner at any of the top restaurants for less than 200 euros per person. If you really want to go all out and experience the tasting menu with wine pairings, that number can be closer to 400–500 euros each. Needless to say, I haven’t had the opportunity to indulge, but that all changed when my dad came for a visit. He wanted to try one of the best Paris restaurants, so off we went to Le Meurice for my first three-star experience.
Walking into Le Meurice is like walking into the most beautiful room in Versailles, but without any of the wall-to-wall camera-toting crowds. There are ornate fixtures, columns and mirrors, with accents of gold on the walls and ceiling, from which low-slung crystal chandeliers hang. Large bay windows along one wall add a dreamy lightness to the room. Our own dream began when we were greeted by five waitstaff ready to take care of our every need for the next four hours.
We started with a glass of champagne and an amuse-bouche, a bacon-wrapped crisp of Comte cheese that I could have eaten all night, but I knew we still had a long way to go. We chose the eight-course “dégustation” menu and opted for the recommended wine pairings as well.
Our first dish was a small bowl of roasted crab infused with a light touch of lemon, served with cauliflower that was cooked in its own specially designed porcelain bowl—allowing the vegetable to stew in its own juices. I will never think of cauliflower as uninteresting again. A dry Riesling let the food do the talking and didn’t overpower the delicate dishes.
Next we were presented with two perfect asparagus spears coated in an anchovy-flecked béchamel sauce. The spears came with swirls of fresh-herb jus, tiny lemon crackers and salty olives. It was a beautiful dish that fit right in with the beauty of the room.
We then moved to a duck foie gras that had been poached in Chambertin red wine. Foie gras is one of my favorite food groups—yes, I believe it should be its own food group—but this was one of my least favorite preparations of the dish. The poaching made the consistency spongy and extremely light in flavor. Foie gras really sings when it’s been seared and starts to caramelize.