Eating Out

A Dreamy Garden Dinner at Epicure Le Bristol – Paris, France

One of my favorite meals this year took place in the manicured gardens of Epicure Paris in Le Bristol Hotel. This was the perfect trifecta of ambiance, excellent food, and the best(!) service I’ve experienced thus far.

The staff absolutely nailed my core service checklist – timing, knowledge of ingredients, a clear passion for their product, and anticipation of needs. At the three Michelin star level of fine dining, I really feel like these elements are to be expected.

What took Epicure beyond was the unexpected – the jovial and almost comedic flair to the night. The maitre’d and servers had a fun rapport going, inserting just the right comments at the right moments. Even the way they tossed the rose petals for our anniversary celebration (purposefully goofy and haphazardly) put a smile on my face. I was delighted and laughing all evening. This was especially refreshing given the cold service we experienced elsewhere in Paris.

Epicure - Lovely Outdoor Dining in the Garden
Lovely Outdoor Dining in the Garden

A delightfully buttery ham brioche was the first bite, and throughout the night we were offered an endless variety of incredible bread. The salty bacon bread stick was also a favorite. Accompanying the bread was plenty of butter – oh that butter! Both the salted and unsalted varieties had a lovely depth only found in quality French butter.

Epicure - Brioche with tomato, olive, ham. So buttery!
Brioche with tomato, olive, ham. So buttery!
Epicure - Amuse bouche - Pea, popcorn, cream. Salmon, turnip. Curry chip, fish.
Amuse bouche – Pea, popcorn, cream. Salmon, turnip. Curry chip, fish.
Epicure - Great bread selection - seaweed, cereal, olive
Great bread selection – seaweed, cereal, olive. And wonderful butter – unsalted and salted.

The next complimentary course was a modern spin on niçoise salad, featuring a hidden tuna liver center in a ball of white tuna foam. The red pepper jelly base with olives added a burst of flavor while the tiny croutons and onion cubes provided nice texture contrast.

Epicure - Nicoise salad
Niçoise salad, white tuna foam, liver cream, red pepper jelly, olive, crouton, onion

Epicure - fennel round and bacon stick
More bread! – fennel round and bacon stick

After the amuse bouche and bread, came the substantial first course. I got Chef Eric Frechon’s signature stuffed macaroni with a delicious black truffle, artichoke, and foie gras filling. I thought the noodles were a tad thick, but they had great chew.

Epicure - Stuffed Macaroni
Stuffed Macaroni – black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras, gratinated with mature Parmesan cheese

My husband’s chilled crab course featured perfectly picked meat, with the claw tips still distinct. The crabmeat was set in a green tomato jelly with unexpected curry notes. The colorful coral and tarragon mayo drops were a nice pop visually and for the taste buds.

Epicure - Crab from Roscoff
Crab from Roscoff – in green zebra tomato water jelly, mayonnaise infused with tarragon and coral

Next were the main entrees finished tableside. My seabass was cooked in a salt crust and cut open with flair. Unfortunately the meat was over-seasoned and overcooked. I would have also preferred the variety of bass with large flakes. However the mussels were perfectly tender and the fennel notes worked well.

Epicure - Sea Bass
Sea Bass Prepared Tableside
Epicure - Sea Bass
Sea Bass – cooked in a salt crust spiced with “Vadouvan”, fennel cooked in a “Bouchot” mussel juice

Like the crab, the lobster dish also featured perfectly picked claw meat. The claws were tender, though the tail was rubbery. I enjoyed the firm crunch of the zucchini, and the pressed lobster head juice had nice depth.

Epicure - Blue Lobster
Blue Lobster – roasted in its shell with salted butter, juice of pressed heads, violin zucchini mousseline with pistachio

I was beyond stuffed at this point thanks to the generous portions, but how could I resist a lovely cheese cart in France? It’s hard to go wrong with cheese in Paris and this selection was excellent. Of course, we had special bread just for this course – a walnut raisin cranberry bread that had quite the impressive crust.

Epicure - Cheese cart
Cheese cart
Epicure - Cheese course selections peppercorn goat, aged orange cheese, triple cream, garlic
Cheese course selections – peppercorn goat, aged orange cheese, triple cream, garlic
Epicure - Cheese course selections - roquefort, comté, goat
Cheese course selections – roquefort, comté, goat, with dried fig and apricot
Epicure -
Walnut Raisin Cranberry bread with cheese course

For a palate cleanser, we enjoyed a bright orange blossom sorbet with mango jelly and lime zest.

Epicure - Mango, orange blossom vanilla sorbet, lime
Mango, orange blossom vanilla sorbet, lime

Then out came our desserts complete with gold flake wrapped candles! My dessert course was hazelnut lover’s dream – a bird’s nest of perfectly(!) crispy noodles made from roasted hazelnut foam with a decadent hazelnut praline ice cream center. This was topped with raspberry sauce. My sweet tooth was flying high on happiness.

My husband had an equally decadent chocolate treat of Peru chocolate, complete with an edible cocoa pod shaped bowl. The chocolate sorbet filling was creamy and crunchy, with lemongrass gelee bits.

We also had a dessert amuse bouche of a lemon ice tea sphere – more gold flakes in here as well.

Epicure - Hazelnut from Cervione
Hazelnut from Cervione – roasted hazelnut foam refreshed with crushed raspberries, crunchy biscuit, and hazelnut praline ice cream
Epicure - Celebrating our wedding anniversary
Celebrating our wedding anniversary

After the dessert was, of course, second dessert. I was truly ready to pass on the tempting dessert cart but somehow found myself ordering a few after being egged on (in the most pleasant and gentle way) by our server. I tried three macarons – passionfruit milk chocolate, nutella, and black current. I thought the macarons had wonderful chew and flavor, though they were overfilled for my taste. The passionfruit marshmallow was the softest ever! Oh yes, I also tried the quality dark chocolate coffee discs and buttery, salted caramels.

Epicure - Petit Fours Cart
Dessert Cart
Epicure - Petit Fours selection - passionfruit milk chocolate macaron, nutella macaron, dark chocolate with coffee bits, salted caramels
Dessert cart selection – passionfruit milk chocolate macaron, nutella macaron, dark chocolate with coffee bits, salted caramels

After this we went on a kitchen tour, and wow did it felt great to stretch my legs after that filling meal! I was so uncomfortably full the rest of the evening, yet I couldn’t help but to smile through the pain thanks to the lingering aura from that exceptional service. Merci to the Epicure Paris team for making such a wonderful memory for our anniversary trip!

Epicure - Kitchen dessert station - assembling the hazelnut from Cervione
Kitchen dessert station – assembling the hazelnut from Cervione

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