Tuesday, 26 February 2013

My Most Expensive Dinner Ever, Like Ever

C'mon now, like seriously, how ridiculous can you get? Well apparently in Paris you are able to get stupidly ridiculous, just because you are renowned to have the best food in the world. To give you an example, the cheapest starter you can order is 85 euros. No, that's not a typo. Our dinner of 2 starters, 2 mains, 1 dessert and 4 drinks was a total of 650 euros, and we didn't even go for the expensive stuff on the menu. 

Excited and ready for dinner. Dress from boutique store in Korea
L'Ambroisie is a three michelin star restaurant in Paris district 4 that is famous amongst food enthusiasts but not publicly or commercially famous outside of it's circle. With very little media and spotlight, the restaurant has a very discreet and professional service, a little too stiff for my liking if I am being honest.  Saad, the man of few words described the restaurant as we sat down as 'Anymore French, you die'. Thanks darlin, for your insightful analysis...Anyway, unlike a lot of high end restaurants in Paris which have old school decor, L'Ambroisie has a contemporary-classic decor that would make you feel like you are dining in modern day Versailles. With only 13 tables, it can get a little quiet in there so I constantly felt the need to whisper every time I wanted to say anything.

Stunning dining room

Saad's menu with the prices...
The menu is very simple and straight forward to the point that I feel, for a three michelin star it needs more creativity and imagination. As much as the food was amazing, nothing on the menu really excited me. You can shave as much truffle or sprinkle as much caviar as you like, I am paying a fortune, I expect a lot more. Actually I had to send one of my chicken dish back because it seriously didn't taste much of anything, despite having a mountain of truffle shavings on top. Serves me right for ordering chicken in a 3 michelin star I guess. If you want real French food with no fancy gimmicks or experimental dishes then this would be at the top of it's game without a doubt. I have nothing against real, simple, honest French food, but I wouldn't pay 3 stars for it. As much as it hurt to look at the bill, I am glad I got to try the real deal. 

Frog leg's starter

Sole and caviar
Their famous chocolate tart - so light and airy

Dining room

Green tea with dessert
650 euros poorer, we walk outside into the freezing cold and decide we needed to walk off that dinner before going to bed. Our driver suggested we visit the Sacre Coeur at night and see Paris lit up. He was right, it was much more beautiful at night, no mad crowds, and seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle made me feel like I was in a Chanel advert.

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Mais Oui Paris!

After 10 days in India I regret to say my passion for food dropped slightly, fortunately 5 days after returning from India Saad is taking me to food and fashion capital - Paris. It will be a weekend full of food and romance. 

Unfortunately for us, it was probably the coldest Paris has ever been, despite packing my most trusted warm fur coat which in its lifetime has never failed me before, I was shivering most of the time we spent outside. We didn't even hold hands once while strolling through Paris because taking our hands out of our pockets just wasn't an option. Well maybe we didn't get romance, but at least we got food. 

Jardin du Luxemburg: Freezing & hands in pocket
L'Opera: More hands in pocket
We arrive to Gare du Nord and went straight to our hotel to drop our bags and straight back out to L'ami Louis -  one of Paris's oldest and most famous bistros. L'ami Louis is famous for its huge serving of foie gras, lamb, and very typically French dishes such as snails, frog's legs and a huge mountain of thin french fries. The restaurant was founded in 1924 and has kept all of its original decorating and framework, which you will see immediately as you walk in. It is very classically beautifully vintage. It has hosted dinner for Bill Clinton, Kate Hudson and numerous other celebrities. With only 12 tables in the restaurant I would suggest you book early. The menu is very small, a one-page list of 5 starters and 7 mains, but that is all you really want. The wine list however is very impressive, the encyclopaedia would be ashamed. The portions are quite big, I would recommend going at least in a group of four. 

No renovations since open in 1924
Generous serving of foie gras
Scallop with garlic and olive oil
Chicken cooked in grapes
Le Frites

Saturday morning we went for breakfast at Laduree followed by a long and lazy stroll around Rue Mouffetard which is a great little street full of little shops and market food. Still very full from dinner last night I was not able to eat anymore so the best I could do was take photos of the amazing food I saw here. 


 Notre Dame: still freezing

Saad mesmerized by the truffle store

Music to my ears
Like most European cities, Sunday in Paris is depressing; empty streets, shops and closed cafes, which is why I love London so much. So we spent Sunday walking around some of the few places that is open - Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees (cliche but whatever). After arguing for 1 hour about where to have our last meal, we head to Hotel Costes for a late lunch before catching the EuroStar back to London.

Lobster Spaghetti at Hotel Costes
Hotel Costes
Gooey chocolate 
It started to snow

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Monday, 25 February 2013

Little Tokyo in Paris

Japanese people have an obsession for Paris like no other. Paris is bursting with Japanese people and tourists who idealize the city as the greatest in the world. Great for them, and for me, because Paris now has a Little Tokyo on Rue de St. Anne, (just off of Avenue de l'Opera) that is bustling with ramen restaurants, sushi bars, Japanese book store and a Japanese bakery. As much as Paris is a cosmopolitan city, I have always felt that Asian food has never really taken off there (I mean, French people are very proud of their food), unlike in London where we can get very good and quite authentic Asian dishes whether its Thai, Japanese or Vietnamese. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered there was a Little Tokyo in the centre of Paris. 

We stumbled upon a very busy restaurant where it's speciality was ramen, cha-han and gyoza. It was 4pm so we thought we had luckily avoided the lunch rush hour but the restaurant was completely packed and we queued for 15 minutes to be given a bar seat. We were soon to find out why. We sat down and ordered gyoza and cha-han (chinese fried rice) to share. Now, I have never hid my love for gyoza to anyone before, it is one of my favourite dishes when done correctly, and this place definitely got it right. They are one of the best gyozas I've ever had. Best part of all? It was fricken cheap compared to all the bistros and michelin places we have been going to. 
The kitchen and bar counter

The Gyoza King
Ridiculously good...
Gyoza & Cha Han

 After filling our tummy with gyoza we go and check out a Japanese bakery in the area. I know I know, how can you compare Japanese bakery with French ones. If you have ever been to Japan, you will understand my obsession and those that have not will be pleasantly surpised.

Various green tea pastries and cakes

Bread bun stuffed with Japanese curry...soo good
Next time you are in Paris and have seen all the usual attractions, I would definitely recommend you going here.

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