While spending time in Paris recently, I decided to lunch at the "restaurant gastronomique" of the Meurice Hotel. I'd spent the morning on an epic walk ending at the Galignani bookstore on the Rue de Rivoli. Then, books in hand and looking slightly disheveled -- more like a graduate student than a lady who lunches, I walked the short distance to the Meurice, also on the Rue de Rivoli.
There are a lot of stereotypes about the French, especially about rudeness. But, I must say that I do not encounter it. This visit to the Meurice is just another example. Even though the hostess gave me a "look" (I had no reservation and I did look less than chic), once I made clear which of the hotel restaurants I preferred, no problem. That's because the French take their meals seriously and they take money seriously -- restaurants gastronomiques have prices that are "astronomique." They placed me at a lovely table with a view of everyone and everything [including an older man with his two nieces -- not DSK] and the waiters and waitresses could not have been more attentive.
So, even with the Euro then being higher than it is today, I proceeded to indulge in the multi course prix fixe menu. For translation purposes, in France, the menu is called a "carte" while a set meal consisting of a number of courses is called the "menu." The first course is called the entrée, the main course (which we call an entree) is called the "plat."
Anyway, my caloric indulgence started with a lollipop shaped bit of goat cheese and a small tomato dried to a crisp like a merangue.
This was followed by a beef consommé with a touch of shredded daikon radish and ginger ... simply amazingly delicious.
Finally, there was the multivariate desert ... oh la la! A dried slice of pineapple so thin you could read through it, a very tart strawberry mousse, a mango meringue with tiny balls of ice cream topped with gold leaf, and a sublime crème brûlée, served rolled in a chocolate crust and decorated with gold leaf.
I left the restaurant heavier in weight and considerably lighter in my wallet. But, so worth the sacrifice. I should have walked back to my hotel to burn off some of the calories, but a taxi was so much nicer.