Paris is known as one of the best places in the world to eat and has boasts many fine dining establishments. There are almost 100 Michelin-rated restaurants in the city and I had the fortunate luxury of visiting one of the top restaurants for dinner.
Les Ambassadeurs restaurant is located in the historic luxurious Hotel de Crillon on the world-famous Place de la Concorde, one of the most famous addresses in Paris. Executive Chef Christopher Hache has trained under famous French chefs such as Alain Senderens and Eric Briffard and with his excellent team has already earned his first Michelin star for the restaurant after re-opening in April 2010. He was named “Young Chef of the Year” by the renowned Pudlo Guide, fulfilling a childhood dream and is continuing to grow Les Ambassadeurs.
The dining room is unquestionably one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever set foot in, with classic decor blending tradition with a modern touch. The restaurant is the former ballroom of the hotel with elegant chandeliers and sophisticated marble floors and beautiful decorations.
A piano player welcomes diners to the restaurant, where champagne is served along with an amuse bouche and bread and butter. Tables are spaced perfectly – far apart enough to ensure privacy of conversations but not so distant as if to feel on an isolated part of the restaurant. A second pre-appetizer of quail stuffed with foie gras was included as part of the tasting menu and left us ready to eat.
The first of the appetizers was Normandy scallops’ carpaccio, raw oysters and Parisan mushrooms, topped with caviar. It was paired perfectly with a white wine that reminded me of a fall’s day on the fisherman’s wharf with the ocean air blowing in. Complements to Bertrand Despinoy, the well-travelled and experienced sommelier for his wonderful pairings. It was simply divine and full of flavour from the sea.
Our next course was green asparagus from Senas, smoked duck breast flan with crispy onions on the side. I had never had duck served as a flan and combined with the sauce, there was a very subtle duck flavour that was a unique pairing to the asparagus. The different textures of the soft flan, firm asparagus and crispy onions was wonderful.
My companion enjoyed the pot-roasted duck liver served with wild mushrooms the most. It was served tableside and just seemed to melt onto your fork, then again in your mouth. It was served with a sweet wine that was as smooth as the dish.
The entree was roasted squab with tiny glazed, squab’s leg in a filo pastry. It was served with onion on a pastry, a side of salad and a bold red wine. This dish was perfectly cooked, with the sauce from pigeon redux helping to bring out the flavour of the bird and without any taste of game.
The cheese cart followed with an assortment of fine cheeses served with apple slices and jam and helped to cleanse the palate for the desserts.
Two seperate courses of dessert was served following a refreshing strawberry with frozen mint, some petite fours and a glass of sweet port wine. The fresh gariguette strawberry pie with frosted lemon cream was served first and had a delicious combination of sweet and tang flavour. It was followed by a decadent soft hazelnut biscuit with “Jivara” chocolate mousse and passion fruit sorbet. This was a beautifully presented dish and the tart sorbet complemented the sweet hazelnut chocolate biscuit perfectly.
We enjoyed some complementary gourmet chocolates with our espresso (an additional batch was packed up for us to take home) to cap off a wonderful evening. Of particular note is the service which was unbelievable the entire evening. The staff were all very attentive to every need, available at all times, well educated on the menu and restaurant and complete professionals the entire evening.
The cost of the dining experience was not inexpensive but absolutely was worth it for the occasional splurge or to celebrate a special occasion.
For more information or for reservations, visit the Hotel de Crillon at http://www.crillon.com/