Enjoying almost a week of non-stop lunches and dinners out, the best of the lot was saved for last Friday at lunch.
The publicist for Le Table du Connetable restaurant at Auberge du Jeu de Paume in Chantilly liked a recent article I wrote so much about the restaurant, she invited me for lunch at another restaurant, which her firm represents.
Le Grande Cascade is in the Bois de Boulogne near the Longchamp Racetrack. Marie, the publicist was kind enough to pick me up in her car by the Arc de Triomphe, as it’s difficult to get there by public transport.
As we pulled up to the restaurant, I realized this was going to be a special experience.
The façade of the restaurant was a glass pavilion with a dramatic butterfly glass awning and the ironwork and the planters were colored an eye-popping blue/green. Originally a hunting lodge built for Napoleon III, the building was donated to the city and transformed into a restaurant designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1900 Universal Exhibit. The restaurant evokes romanticism from La Belle Époque era with its sumptuous design and garden setting and I imagined well-heeled women with parasols in their elegant horse and carriages attending the horse races after lunch.
The entrance foyer with a burgundy flowered brocade couch and chairs trimmed in gold was the precursor to the lavish decoration I would next find in the dining room.
I admired the private dining room with crystal chandeliers, wine colored velvet dining chairs and gorgeous table setting. The main dining room, dripping in luxury, was airy with the tables set far apart, Venetian glass chandeliers, silk drapery panels of chartreuse and dark red and a painted sky mural on the ceiling.
Our table was meticulously set and a lovely colored glass table lamp in Art Nouveau style was designed by Daum especially for the restaurant.
The menu choices looked divine and the extravagant descriptions made my mouth water even before I had a single bite. My starter of macaroni and cheese with foie gras and truffles (yes, it’s as decadent as it sounds!) is a house specialty and million light yeas from Kraft macaroni and cheese. Surprisingly it was not heavy or too rich, in fact it was light and glided effortlessly on my palate. Marie had the St. Jacques thinly sliced with a white and red beet sauce. When the breadbasket was presented, Marie highly recommended the brioche, which she said tasted more like cake. She was right, as it was one of the most delicious brioche I’ve ever eaten.
Lobster served on a bed of orzo with Iberian ham bits was sophisticated but earthy with the ham bits off setting the rich texture of the lobster.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had Crepes Suzette, let alone remember having ever tasting it at all. Since the caliber of the food had already been superior, I thought it would be a special choice. In a throwback to classic French restaurants in a forgotten time, the Crepes Suzette were made from scratch in front of us. The young, good looking waiter rolled a table in front of us dressed in a long white tablecloth and topped with the ingredients plus a burner. The first step was filling the oval copper pan with a thin coat of sugar and then caramelizing the sugar over a flame, while flicking the pan with his wrist to even out the caramel. Next he added lemon juice, slivers of orange rind followed by heavy cream. Let the calorie count begin. Once the mixture came to a boil, another waiter scurried with pre-made crepes from the kitchen. The waiter now placed the crepes in the pan, poured Remy Martin on top and proceeded to take a match and set the pan on fire, with flames flashing in the air. The final step was pouring Grand Marnier into the pan and again setting it on fire for extra effect. It was a glorious high wire act and I almost applauded when it was over. The result? Yum, yum and more yum, a delirious taste riot of bitter orange, caramel and doughy crepes. Although nothing could have topped my Crepes Suzette, Marie’s orange cigarettes tasted like an adult version of a Creamsicle.
After our phenomenal meal, Marie took me on a tour of the spotless kitchen lined with metal and stainless steel cabinets, countertops and appliances. I was introduced to the executive chef Frederic Robert, a distinguished, silver haired man in his 50s, and I complimented him on his superb creations. Before arriving at La Grande Cascade, Robert worked at the three-star Michelin restaurant L’Ambroisie and Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton. Le Grande Cascade has achieved one Michelin star but I think it deserves at least two and hopefully the second star will come soon.
Le Grande Cascade is a stellar example of French cuisine, service, style, presentation and décor at its finest. Every detail about the experience was superlative. It’s that rare combination of instilling French tradition while still being modern and viable.
Although the prices are high, I believe it’s worth every penny for the experience and if you want to celebrate a special occasion, this is the place to come. If it’s too much for your wallet, a good alternative is in the spring and summer there’s a lovely outdoor terrace where you can have drinks and small plates at more reasonable prices. The restaurant has a number of private rooms.
Checkout the video below of the making of the Crepes Suzette.
Pavillon de la Grande Cascade
Alle de Longchamp, Bois de Boulogne, 75016
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner
Eye Prefer Paris Photos
I am happy to announce a new series of Eye Prefer Paris photos for sale just in time for the holidays. Give the gift of Paris to for your Francophile friends, relatives, colleagues and co-workers.
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Click here to see full selection of images.
Below are some sample images.
Eye Prefer Paris Postcards
I am thrilled to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Postcards, a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription service where the subscriber receives three physical postcards of my iconic Paris photos every month. Each month will have a specific theme, from architectural street scenes to romantic outdoor cafes to beautiful gardens to unique shots of iconic monuments. Each mailing will include two postcards in color and one in black & white or sepia, beautifully packaged in a special French Blue postcard holder with a custom designed seal.
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Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour