Paris, June 10, 2012
On a drizzly Sunday afternoon we walk over to the Eiffel Tower where a thick line of people snakes through the legs of the structure. I imagine the line is much longer than usual as large signs apologize for the inconvenience created by having only one elevator in use due to mechanical difficulties. While sympathetic towards the poor souls suffering the seemingly endless wait in the rain, we jaunt past over to the Jules Verne private elevator that whisks us to the Michelin-starred restaurant located on the tower’s second tier, literally above the masses at one of the most coveted tables in Paris. Reservations generally need to be made 60 days in advance, I overhear the maître d’ explaining to a walk-in client “and no, there have not been any cancelations today”.
Sure, it’s a tourist restaurant. The room is filled with more foreigners than French, but like other high end tourist establishments in France (our Bouillabaisse lunch in Marseille comes to mind) it’s a fun mix of tourist excitement and French sophistication wrapped up into one elegant over the top lunch. So go ahead bring your camera along with your credit card.
The dining room, barely decorated, is all about the amazing views through the thick iron beams of the tower that never allow you to forget where you are sitting.
The service is impeccable without being snooty, as it should be, happily accommodating guests in French or English.
But really, after the view it’s about the food and Jules Verne does not disappoint, starting with a tantalizing amuse bouche. A small oblong glass with a thin layer of orange jelly topped with smoked salmon, shallots and tiny croutons doused tableside with an asparagus and white wine velouté. A combination of flavors and textures that truly leaves you wanting more.
First course dishes included pigeon prepared two ways – slices of barely cooked breast layered with fois gras and a pigeon pâté served with a spring salad.
The daurade filet marinated in lemon juice and served with finely grated egg and caviar.
A delightful blend of flavor, color and texture. And d vegetarian choice of a slow cooked stew of spring vegetables garnished with a dollop of soft sheep’s milk cheese.
For mains we tasted the Turbot filet, a thick round of just cooked firm white flesh served on a bed of tiny button mushrooms and sweet crawfish pulled together with the acidic finish of a mild vinaigrette.
The volaille of Bresse, a moist tender roasted chicken breast served with roasted tomatoes on top of crostini, a mild tomato relish,
and the most delicate nest of fried potato strings I’ve ever seen.
The desserts were stunning, with flavors to match the creative presentations. A tart rhubarb tarte crowned by a cap of small meringue cones alongside perfectly poached rhubarb spears topped with a spoon of ice cream.
The vacherin was an artistic mélange of meringue sticks and fresh strawberries served with a lemon and strawberry ice cream in a puddle of strawberry sauce.
And that’s not all. A tasty tray of small delights accompanied coffee.
One of those quintessential Parisian experiences that will live on in our memories.