LASSERRE, A FRENCH CLASSIC

Our recent scientific trip to Paris was intense to say the least, and started with a curve ball from my beloved, who tried to be casual when he advised me – twenty-four little hours before our departure –  to “place a change of clothes in my carry-on.”  Because, “… who knows if the hotel room will be ready for us early in the morning?”   American visitors typically land in Paris around 7am, and on further (insistent) inquiry he revealed that “our first meeting at Institut Necker will be at noon.”  Five short little hours after stepping out of the plane.

I don’t do scientific discussions very well after an intercontinental flight, no shower, and with a sleeping pill hangover, so to put it mildly, I wasn’t thrilled. Our exchanges on the subject ended with his usual “it will all be fine.” Maybe that’s true, but I’d like to get some credit for it: I wrote the hotel and begged them to get us a room as early as they possibly could. The wonderful folks at “Hôtel Londres Eiffel” had our room ready by the time we made it to Paris, after the usual tribulations of customs, luggage retrieval, and train ride. So,  I only had to deal with the sleeping pill hangover. Isn’t life grand? ;-)

As usual in this type of trip, our schedule was hectic, but we promised ourselves three things: wake up early each morning to go running under the Eiffel tower like in the good old days, walk to all our commitments instead of taking the metro, and enjoy one special meal (just the two of us) on the weekend.   Phil made a reservation for lunch at Lasserre, a place we had been before when we lived in the City of Lights, back in 2002.

Restaurant_Lasserre_avenue_Franklin_D._Roosevelt_Paris
Lasserre opened in 1942, got its first Michelin star seven years later and its second in 1951.  The restaurant, under the talent of Executive Chef  Christophe Moret is located at Avenue Franklin Roosevelt in the 8th arrondisement,  a place surrounded by embassies and with that majestic aura that comes so naturally to some neighborhoods of Paris.  Once you set foot inside, the adventure begins… You will be greeted by a stylish maître d’hôtel and led to a cozy lift that will take you to the second floor where the dining room is located. In all its glory and splendor.  Glory and splendor are indeed the two words that will be in your mind throughout the whole meal.

Lasserre1
The restaurant offers many options for a lunch meal. You can order a la carte if you prefer, but a better deal is to pick one of their prix fixe menus. They have several kinds of menus: {Starter + main dish + dessert},  (Starter + two main dishes + dessert},  and also a more extravagant option with several desserts in very small portions at the end.  Their pastry chef,  Claire Heitzler, is well-known for adapting classic recipes and turning them into slightly lighter fair. That’s what we were told, but even with that assurance, we opted for one dessert only, merci beaucoup.   ;-)  Of course, Lasserre also offers a menu including one type of wine matched to each course, but I don’t care for wine at lunch (I know, I’m a bit odd, right?),  so Phil was happy sipping a single glass of Bordeaux with his meal.

On a quick side note: all my photos were taken after I asked for permission.  To keep things as discreet as possible, I used my cell phone and only snapped one picture per plate, so don’t expect great quality in the images.

Let’s get this show on the road…

Starter Course

FoieGrasSoup

Phil went with (no surprise!) foie gras.  The foie gras was first poached, then grilled, and served in a delicate ginger-broth with daikon, a touch of passion fruit juice and seeds (that gave an unexpected crunch!), mango and shaved, toasted coconut.  The foie was superb and the combination of flavors was delightful.

GreenPeaVeloute
I chose a green pea veloute’ soup, poured on top of lettuce leaves and very small croutons made of… foie gras. I am clueless as to how they were prepared,  but each small crouton retained a delicious,  rather subtle foie flavor, with a lot of crunch.  Wonderful!

Main Course

VealPicatta

For his main dish, Phil had the veal piccata. The preparation surprised me, I thought it would be a type of fricassee with the meat in small slices, but instead there were two large pieces of meat, cooked to perfection, in a wine-reduction sauce over wilted spinach.  Luscious…

Lamb

I opted for the lamb, served with farro in a sauce with dried figs and warm spices such as cinnamon and coriander.  The lamb was carved by the waiter using a spoon and a fork, so that the tenderness of the meat becomes evident, and acts as a great advertisement for other guests who might be trying to decide what to choose from the menu. You can see our waiter carving the lamb on the second photo of this post.

Dessert Course

Phil closed down his meal with their  version of tiramisu, which happens to be one of his favorite desserts… It was spectacular, with an absolutely perfect coffee ice cream crowning it.

tiramisu

I went with the Paris-Brest…which Claire Heitzler assembled with an almond-based whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. A small portion of raspberry sorbet was served alongside. The presentation was spectacular, as you can see.

Paris-BrestSorbet

Once our lunch was over, they offered a batch of very small lemon-scented madeleines, fresh from the oven – comme il faut – and tiny cubes of a chocolate concoction that reminded me of flourless chocolate cake in texture and taste.  Superb!

MadeleinesChocolateCubes

Back in 2002, when we were in Paris for a full year, we went to several special restaurants like La Tour d’Argent, Le Jules Verne (at the Eiffel), Taillevent, Le Violon d’Ingres, Benoit, Clos des Gourmets, and Lasserre (at that time for dinner).  In my opinion,  Taillevent (reviewed here) and Lasserre tie for first place as far as dining experiences go.  Of course, the view from Jules Verne is spectacular, the location of La Tour d’Argent cannot be beat, but Lasserre has a touch of elegance and charm that is quite unique. Also, a special added bonus: a ceiling that can be kept closed (showing a painting of dancers and angels by Touchagues) or open to the sky on beautiful nights and sunny days.

Ceiling

In our dinner in 2002, the ceiling was closed, but they opened it a couple of times during the evening.  In our  visit a couple of weeks ago, the weather was spectacular, so the ceiling stayed open full-time, except while the waiter was preparing Crêpes Suzette for guests, and getting ready for the final flambee. The ceiling slowly closed, the lights were dimmed, and the whole restaurant stopped to pay attention to the show.  If it was me trying to prepare that dish under the scrutiny of so many people, a lot more than the crêpes could be set on fire… but the waiter was impecabble, bien sûr!  ;-)

I hope you enjoyed our recollection of a very special time in Lasserre…  

I close this post with my favorite photo of the week, taken on our way to dinner with a colleague.

P&S_SunsetParis2Au revoir, Paris… et a bientot!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

TWO YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

THREE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

41 thoughts on “LASSERRE, A FRENCH CLASSIC

  1. What an elegant restaurant at which to enjoy a romantic meal for two. By a strange coincidence I first heard of/saw a Paris-Brest less than a week ago and seeing it pictured in your post was most amusing. And such an attractive couple in that last shot. :)

    • What a nice coincidence that I picked the Paris-Brest then! I almost went with a banana tart with tropical fruits that I saw passing by on its way to another table and it seemed amazing, but I thought the Paris-Brest would be most appropriate, such a French classic!

  2. I am almost ‘crying’! Have been to ‘Lasserre’ about 4-5 times and thought it an experience sans pareill! And to go back four decades or more :) ! If i enumerate those who were in the restaurant at the same rime – well, the names would be incredible! The ‘lift’ in to the restaurant made one feel the chance of the atmosphere [and the food ] was indescribable! For me it wa always always the ‘Taillevent’ ! The number one onre could not pass in the city!!!!

    • wonderful! My first time in Lasserre was pretty amazing, I think it was the first time we went to a real nice restaurant in town, and the whole thing blew my mind, in fact it took me a while to relax, I was feeling a bit out of place. During dinner Phil handed me a little box with a gorgeous set of necklace and earrings – as a Bday gift. Isn’t he special? Yeah, I am lucky, what can I say?

    • Great meal indeed – and the fact that it was lunch makes it even better, in my opinion. The atmosphere in the restaurant is more relaxed than at dinner, and of course I prefer to be able to walk for a couple of hours to help burn the excesses. ;-) a multi-course meal at dinner is never that great for a nice night’s sleep.

    • I hope you get to go soon…. I have never had a bad meal in Paris, and some of my best were in unexpected places, small bistrots, simple places. But every once in a while it’s nice to visit one of the starred restaurants…

    • Glad you liked it! Some of the photos were not centered, I wish I had been more careful, but I am not wild about taking photos in restaurants, find that a bit rude and I like to enjoy the experience for what it is, not what it will look like on a photo… I guess it passes the atmosphere and the quality of the food, so that’s ok , right? ;-)

  3. Another little teaser. :) What a wonderful post Sally and such great photos! I’m very impressed you were able to arrange to get in the hotel early in the a.m. That had to be a huge relief! We’ll be in touch soon. :) Au revoir!

    • Don’t tell anyone, Michael, but I confess I could not finish the Paris-Brest. And I barely touched the sorbet… I would have to ask for a doggie bag to place the banana tart in! ;-)

  4. I am SO jealous, but so happy for you both…what an amazing meal! So glad you made the time to visit Lasserre, and so grateful that you shared your experience. Makes me want to be back in Paris right NOW!

    • Lovely recollections. Your fotos are great..you even had a white plate with texture working against you! The lamb does not look like lamb. Was it a braised shank? I love Paris-Brest. A dessert named after a bike race, can’t have many calories..non?
      mac

      • I am sure that if I would jump on a bike and go from Paris to Brest the lunch would be even as far as calories go ;-) I think it was a braised shoulder of lamb, but indeed it had a very light color and super mild taste… young lamb maybe?

    • That banana concoction we did not order looked amazing, I was tempted to grab the waiter and ask him to pose for a photo on his way to the next table… :-) (just kidding, I was already feeling bad for taking shots of our own food…)

  5. What a lovely dining experience, Sally! Your photos are great, better than most that are taken when dining out. Each dish looks better than the one prior. That was some meal, to be sure.
    How lucky that the hotel was able to accommodate your early arrival Having traveled to Europe a number of times, I usually spend the morning walking around while I wait for the room to be readied. You’re right. It isn’t the best thing to do while feeling the effects of a sleeping pill but at least I never had to attend a scientific discussion immediately afterward. I give you credit for pulling that one off. :)

    • John,I tell you two things. First, I did pull that one off, but by 7pm I could barely remember my name. Second, we won’t be doing this again. My beloved agreed that next time we use the first day to recover from the trip and face commitments NEXT MORNING. Doesn’t that sound amazing? ;-)

    • Well, the handsome stud is walking around now with a huge smile in his face…. Loved the compliment… but, I agree… he is one attractive man, and I am not letting him go ;-)

  6. The next best thing to actually having lunch there! I could almost taste the foie gras in the croûtons, feel the fragrant lamb melt in my mouth (I love the pic of the waiter carving with a spoon at the next table) and savor the plump Belle-Époque Paris-Brest. What a treat! Thank you! And you guys look very glam with the Seine in the background… What a great memory!

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