Free Man In Paris – Part Deux

Image(Le Pont Neuf)

Paris is chock full of cutting-edge eateries with hot young chefs, willing to mix culinary metaphors willy-nilly to put their stamp on la cuisine Francaise. These gastro-bistros are all the rage in the age of Insta, but because of it, some of them can be painfully difficult to book. No disrespect, but at a certain time in your life, you simply do not have it in you to pursue the latest culinary fashion, or endure the indignities of begging for a table.

The last time we fell victim to restaurant-of-the-moment syndrome was a few years ago, when we were told we just had to go to Le Sevran, Le Severo, Spring, and Bistro Paul Bert if we wanted to taste real bistro cooking —  the au courtant pillars of bistronomy all the Instagrammers were raving about. We went (sometimes at great inconvenience – some are far removed from Paris central) and found the cooking generally to be precise and delightful, but not worth the travel or the hype. To be fair, Le Comptoir de Yves Camdeborde and  La Bourse et La Vie  (both in the heart of the city) did live up to their billing, but not so much we would sacrifice our time and self-esteem to eat there.  (cf. La Rotisserie d’Argent – where the food is just as good and reservations are a snap.)

Let’s just say we’re pretty comfortable kicking it old school these days, and after a two-year, Covid-imposed absence, we were more in the mood for old haunts than new discoveries.

LE GRAND COLBERT

Image(Gorgeous at any hour)

One battle you will have to fight on your first few days in Paris is adjusting your appetite to the time zone. Hunger always seems to strike us in late afternoon, when Paris affords few options for a full, gastronomic meal. You may be starving and exhausted at 5:00 pm, but the French are still two-to-three hours away from even thinking about dinner. Popping into one of the ubiquitous cafés is always an option, but the better choice is to find one of the great brasseries (Ma Bourgogne, Lipp, Bouillon Chartier, Pharamond, to name but a few), in which to quell those pangs at surprisingly modest prices compared to the grand surroundings in which they are charged.

As brassieres go, they don’t come much grander than Le Grand Colbert —  a Right Bank institution (since 1900) — which we approached at 5:30 pm,  ravenous and ready to gnaw an arm off, even though the sign said it didn’t open until 6:00. As we turned away, ready to concede defeat, a voice wafted from the doorway in that sing-song-y cadence so beautifully employed by French women. “Bonjour Monsieur et Madame. I saw you walk by a few minutes ago. Yes, we are open.”

Image(Monsieur, thees way, s’il vous plait!)

Within seconds we were whisked to a corner booth in the eye-popping, Art Nouveau space and had menus in our hands. At this hour, only a skeleton crew was holding down the fort, and a young French couple were the only other diners basking in its Belle Époque splendor — by equal parts spacious, romantic, dramatic, and cozy. No mean feat that. But the tuxedo-ed waiters treated us like we were regulars, and within minutes we were being happily sated.

Image(Skate it from me: this ray of hope capered our day)

The menu is as comfortable as the design is spectacular. Nothing fancy, just French comfort classics like blanquette de veau, smoked salmon with blinis, Breton skate wing (swimming in butter) with capers (above), and the ever-present Ile Flottante (below), which we could eat every day…and almost did! We polished these off with an alacrity that probably confirmed a few stereotypes to our hosts, but they served everything in good cheer to a couple of famished, appreciative Americans. A half-carafe of house Sancerre rounded things out, and it was as satisfying a meal as we could’ve hoped for at that hour. (All of it coming to 131 well-spent Euros.)

 
Image(Floating island floats our boat)

Le Grand Colbert wears its casual elegance the way only a one-hundred and twenty-two year old Parisian icon can. It is one of those places where everyone looks great bathed in its golden glow, and you can just as easily envision people dressed to the nines there as you can a bunch of businessmen or a mysterious couple pursuing an affaire de coeur. But there’s nothing stuffy about it, the service is sincere, and the cooking keeps everyone happy, whether you’re a local or an esurient tourist looking for a plate of honest grub. Restaurants like this simply do not exist in the United States. They are one of the great treasures of France, and reason enough, all by themselves, to hop a plane across the pond.

Le Grand Colbert

2 Rue Vivienne 75002

+33 1 42 86 87 88

LE GRAND VEFOUR

Image(Once, my happy place)

As you can see, we’re a sucker for historic French restaurants — the older the better. In that regard, they do not come much older than Le Grand Vefour — which has been serving food in one form or another from its corner of the Palais Royale since 1784. There is something so bewitching, historic and lovely about the interior of this grande dame that is almost impossible not to fall in love with it. And in love with it we have been, since we first ate there in 1995.

In fact, it was John Mariani’s own recommendation — read in Esquire magazine — that led us to this jaw-dropping icon over a quarter century ago. We sat in a booth where once Colette held court, right next to where Napoleon and Josephine used to park themselves. Over the years we have been multiple times, and it always seemed like we were dining at the spiritual home of French cuisine when we walked through the doors.

Image(Minimalism got guillotined in 1793)

To me, Vefour has always been the complete package: elegance, historical, from the gleaming antique mirrors to the lush velvet booths, to the service synchronized to Guy Martin’s cuisine: modern in concept, classic in execution, with enough oblique angles and surprises (he’s a wizard with vegetables) to keep you interested. It all worked with the precision of an exquisite jewel box.

The long-suffering Food Gal, had heard me rave about LGV so many times she insisted we make it our first “big deal meal” in Paris. Both of us assumed these restaurants would be over their Covid hangover and back to normal, by and large, most were. From the modest cafes to the grandest palaces, aside from checking our Covid passes, everything felt just as as comfortable as 2019.

Except here.

Nope, here everything was palpably different. The only thing that rang true was the look of the place — not even a pandemic can undo two hundred years of over-the-top, Louis Quatorze decor.

Our first sign of discomfort came from the shockingly shrunken wine list, more befitting a bistro than the grande dame of Parisian dining. The one they offered was a mere wisp of the hefty text we had perused two years ago. Imagine expecting a dictionary and being handed a magazine and you’ll appreciate our discombobulation.

When we inquired of the surly sommelier (once in English, then in French) where the actual, main list was, he pointed to his temple and said dismissively, “Eet eez all up here.” Mr. Happy never cracked a smile and barely acknowledged us as we thumbed through the dozen or so pages. The list was not without its appeal, and we drank well, but it was obvious from the jump that something was amiss.

Then we looked around the room. It was a mid-week lunchtime, and only two other tables were occupied, and the service crew had shrunken to a handful of casually-dressed waiters — not the tuxedo’d brigade of waiters that had moved through the room with balletic grace in a beehive of activity two years earlier. (Mix. That. Metaphor!)

Then the menus came and they were abbreviated as well. We were consigned to a young, bilingual chap who did his best but seemed out of his depth whenever a simple question was asked. The somm appeared when a bottle was to be opened, and then disappeared to who knows where the rest of the time.

Image(Lovely lobster; superfluous truffes)

The four of us ate well, but the meal was but a shadow of the precision and pomp we remember. Brittany lobster brought all the right pungency notes Homarus Americanus never achieves, but the sweet-sour haunch of wild boar was overwhelmed by a sauce both too sweet and too sour(?). A real head-scratcher, that.  I went all-in on the black truffle lunch of 120 euros… it wasn’t worth it. (This from a Guy Martin fan-boy who would’ve gladly paid double for any of his previous meals.)

Image(Truffle salad, not worth the tariff)

The salad peaking beneath a festoon of sliced tubers was pedestrian; the truffles had no punch, and the dressing brought nothing to the party. 

Most everything else was functional but forgettable. The best thing we tasted were the black-truffled mashed potatoes (below), because the black ones need to be cooked in order to properly strut their stuff, and it was the only dish that bothered.

Image(Black truffles at their best)

The three-course prix fixe of 58 euros is a steal, but on the whole, the food felt slapdash rather than refined. Certainly nowhere near the level of Michelin stars we had come to expect.

And then there was the cheese problem — by which we mean the lack of cheese problem — which was the last thing we expected in this temple of gastronomy.  Before we explain, please allow a slight digression.

Yours truly looks forward to the cheese carts in fine French restaurants the way a five-year old anticipates Christmas. Les cartes des fromages are one of the gastronomic glories of France, a reason all by themselves to fly there. By the time our trans-continental flight lands, my chops are already well-licked, and honed to a (cheese) knife’s edge of anticipation.

I attack a Michelin-starred cart with unbridled passion and shameless salaciousness: “Will I gorge myself on Brie so fresh it tastes straight from the udder? Or look to an aged Beaufort shot through with butterscotch-tinged umami? Or perhaps confine myself to a eye-watering Reblochon, a ripe Roquefort, or some obscure goat shapes with bloomy rinds resembling crushed white velvet?”

These are the thoughts dancing in my head as we approach the front door of Le Grand Vefour — as nervously excited as a child entering a candy store.

But not in 2022, mes amis. Not at this lunch. Believe it or not, there was no cheese cart. No luscious wheels of Camembert tempting me, no mighty cylinders of ivory-colored Fourme d’Ambert, no esoteric, nutty Alpines, zero chance to tuck into a type of uncompromising, unpasteurized cheese you’ve never heard of.  In a restaurant that has existed as a showplace for haute cuisine…for 238 years! — we were told by the disconsolate somm: “the chef will select the cheeses for you” — which, to a turophile is about as compelling as having someone pick your porn.

A plate of four was presented, all were fine, but that’s not the point.

Image(Breaking up is so very hard to do)

By the time the desserts rolled around, Monsieur Sourpuss had left the mop-up duties to his young charge. The place was empty and our spirits had curdled harder than a broken Béarnaise. Later in our trip, we shared our disappointment with a famous chef. “I heard they were turning it into a brasserie,” he said with a smirk and one of those Gallic shrugs. He didn’t know it, but his words sounded the death knell of our twenty-seven year love affair with this restaurant.

Which, like most affairs, ended not with a bang but a whimper…and a sigh.

Our dejeuner pour deux came to 480 euros.

Le Grand Vefour

17 Rue de Beaujolais 75001

+33 1 42 96 56 27

LES CLIMATS

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Like many of the restaurants this trip, Les Climats has become an old favorite, even though we can’t tell you very much about the place. To be honest, even after three trips here, I don’t know what the joint looks like.  Truth be told, I haven’t paid much attention to the food either, although my friends tell me it is excellent and my plate always seems to be cleaned. This is because our eyeballs rarely divert from the wine list, and our prodigious proboscis is usually too deep in a glass.

Image(These sardines are an example of the excellent food at Les Climats about which we know very little)

Apparently the design is a good example of Paris’ arts-and-crafts aesthetic, but paying too much attention to such folderol will only serve to divert you from the real point of this place: to explore the greatest Burgundy wine list north of Auberge du Pot d’Etain.

Image(Wine cards in Paris take many forms, some of which can be taken to the gym)

Over 300 winemakers are represented, in a cellar of 28,000+ bottles. “Les paradis des Vins de Bourgogne,” say owners Denis Jamet and Carole Colin, and that pretty much nails it.

It is a list which is a Burghound’s dream come true — a  carte des vins organized according to village, producer, vintage and vineyard. (The term “les climats” refers to the various terroirs, i.e., climates of Burgundy where the grapes are grown.) You can’t nerd out much more on wine than diving into these pages, and the astonishing collection will keep even the most arrogant grapenut occupied for an entire meal.

But enough about me.

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Our technique for choosing a bottle is well nigh perfect and we’ve yet to be disappointed with the results. It consists of studying the hefty tome with the solemnity of a Talmudic scholar parsing the Dead Sea Scrolls, then fretting and fussing over the wealth of choices before us…. and then giving up. With gleeful resignation, we motion the sommelier to our side,  and stab at one of the 465 pages with a plaintive look in our eye while indicating a general price point. On cue (this is not his first rodeo), the  sommelier smiles at our defeat at the hands of the weapon he wields and makes a joke about how overwhelming it can be. He then says something like, “Mais oui, monsieur, I theenk we can find for you some-zing you will love.” Invariably, a fantastic bottle arrives, slightly underneath my budget and far above my expectations.

Neither a grand café, nor a classic brasserie, nor a gourmet palace, Les Climats occupies a middle ground in the firmament of Paris dining. The food is haute but not haughty; the rooms are pleasant but not baroque; and the settings are proper but not showy. Service is attentive but not intensive care, and the customers more casual and local than you’ll find at the “worth a special trip” addresses. It may have a Michelin star, but as I cruise into my golden years, I care less and less about such things. You will eat and drink very well here, and feel like a Parisian while doing so. If there’s a better place to drink Burgundy in Paris, I haven’t heard of it. 

Image(Curd, glorious curds)

BTW: they also had a cheese cart of impeccable pedigree, and a waitstaff who knew their curds. Take that, Le Grand Vefour!

Dinner can get to 150 euros/pp in a blink, and even with bargain Burgundy (by American standards), your wine tariff will exceed 50% of the bill.

Our dinner, including several trophy bottles, came to 671 euros. I have never been here for lunch, but like most better Paris restaurants, they offer a prix fixe three-course bargain (56 euros).

Les Climats

41 Rue de Lille 75007

=33 1 58 62 10 08

ImageParis is always a good idea – Audrey Hepburn)

 

Gone With The Wind

Joël Robuchon Restaurant Las Vegas | Centurion Magazine

“Actually, the true gourmet, like the true artist, is one of the unhappiest creatures existent. His trouble comes from so seldom finding what he constantly seeks: perfection.” – Ludwig Bemelmans

I think I’m going to miss the butter most of all.

Because this was no ordinary butter. No, this was a smooth, oblong, silky obelisk the size of a football, stood on end on its own trolley, waiting to be shaved and savored to your heart’s content throughout the meal.

Bordier butter it was, and we shall not see its like again. Not in a Vegas restaurant; not in my lifetime anyway.

Bordier Butter - - Picture of L'Avant Comptoir, Paris - Tripadvisor

The irony of me missing the butter most of all should not be lost on you, since the chefs did precious little to prepare the soft, spreadable, sunshine yellow sculpture for your table. It probably represented the least amount of work, skill, and creativity of anything on the menu at Joël Robuchon. But it also represented a level of sublime decadence and luxury unseen in these parts before Robuchon planted his very very French flag here in 2005.

And now it is gone. No one has announced its permanent exit from Vegas — the suits running the show are too crafty for that. They will keep everyone in suspense, hoping against hope that Las Vegas will return to its former glory and slabs of sunshine yellow, smooth as silk, milk fat will once again magically appear at your table .

But our best guess is the butter, like the Robuchon restaurants, have departed, never to return.

Have I been told this by someone? Yes and no. Some employees of the restaurants were given their walking papers back in September, and asked not to make a big deal about it. Will the MGM announce that JR is gone for good? Not anytime soon, even if the decision has already been made.  Good luck with that, MGM!

Is there a scenario whereby, a year or two from now, a set of circumstances will come together to re-open one of the best restaurants in the world because Vegas has rebounded so much that gastro-tourists and high-rollers are (once again) clamoring to eat at the mega-expensive, namesake restaurant of a chef who died two years ago? Yeah….but don’t bet on it.

L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon - Best Restaurants in Las Vegas

If a Robuchon restaurant is resuscitated, it will most likely be L’Atelier (above) — a more modest link in the JR chain, and certainly an easier one to re-attach. So many more of our temples of gastronomy will soon suffer the same fate. But more on them in a moment.

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I was once married to a gal who had once (in the 1970s) been married to a Vegas casino executive. She told me tales laced with incredulity about how hotels would decide their restaurant lineups back in those leisurely leisure suit days. Everything was fungible; nothing but the coffee shop was sacred. In the blink of an eye and snap of the fingers, an under-performing Italian might be plowed under for a tiki lounge; or some bigwig’s wife would get a craving for kung pao chicken and pow! — in a matter of weeks, in would come a Chinese eatery.

Casino money back then was spent fast and loose; restaurants were amenities; they had to be good, but they didn’t have to be important.

Sometime in the early 21st Century, the restaurants here started to be important. Important to tourists, high-rollers, the reputation of Las Vegas and the bottom line. With importance came quality (Robuchon, Savoy, Gagnaire, Boulud, Andrés, Batali…), with quality came pressure to succeed, and maintain that success. In retrospect, it is a wonder we sustained it for so long.

Back in the day, this storm would’ve been weathered much more easily. International reputations and 30 page licensing/profit-sharing deals weren’t part of the equation. There were no public relations minefields to navigate, nor the gaze of the food world to deflect. Eating out wasn’t entertainment, it was something you did when you weren’t home to stay alive.

Opening and closing casino restaurants was no big deal in 1980. There were no prying eyes or oversized egos to contend with. All you had to do was keep the gamblers happy.

Closing restaurants in the early months of 2021 is going to be a very big deal for Las Vegas. It will signify a sea change in how we eat and how the world perceives us. Like old rock stars, some of the “name brands” will hang around, cycling through their old hits, but one by one, they will slowly be put out to pasture.

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 This is how you do it. (Mon. Bordier with his beauteous beurre)

Back to the butter. It was glorious: rich, fresh, deeply creamy, sweet — like no butter Vegas had ever tasted. In summer it had a savory lilt; in winter, a sweeter one.

Waiters in fine French restaurants talk about such things: such things as butter that takes days to make and is delivered in 50 kilo sizes to the most expensive restaurants in the world so people can swoon over ivory-yellow towers of football-sized thickened, cultured cream to slathered on the best baked goods in the business….or just eaten with a spoon, which is what I did.

The butter was only the beginning at Joël Robuchon. After it, the courses cascaded down, one after one, until the the food and wine and service converged into a single gestalt of gustatory perfection. Food so perfect it would take your breath away. A meal so special only a handful in the world could compete with it.

Las Vegas did not get these restaurants and their fancy butters because we were a town of appreciative gourmets. We got them because for thirty years the world treated us as its playground, servicing all of its seven sins, ready to serve a clientele flush with cash and eager to part with it.

They stood like beacons to the  hungry and starstruck once —  these outposts of Puck, Lagasse, Flay, Trotter, Maccioni, Mina, Ramsay, the Michelin stars, the gastronomic gods — like nowhere else on earth, crammed together, right in our own backyard.

But no more. Those days are gone with the wind. The winds of change, of Covid, of a recovery that will take years. This will not be like the Great Recession of 2008-2012. Then, people retained their hunger for Vegas, their yearning for sin, their eagerness to unleash their ids in defeat of all superegos.  All they lacked back then was equity, or corporate expense accounts — the two things our economy relied on to keep the hotels full. But all of those were in reserve waiting to be unleashed when the economy loosened up. And loosen up it did. And Vegas came roaring back stronger than ever. Until 2020 hit.

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Somehow the butter — from French cows that traveled 6,000 miles to be here — represents all that we have lost. Of course, neither it nor the meals it preceded were for everyone: How many people don’t blink at spending $500/pp on dinner? We’re talking rarefied air here, something even the most dedicated, well-heeled fresser might only indulge in occasionally. (No one appreciates fine French more than yours truly, but even in my haughtiest, haute cuisine heyday, too many supercilious meals in a row would have me craving a burger or pizza.)

But the Robuchons, Savoys, Minas, Ducasses and Maccionis represented something that transcended their super swanky settings: they meant Las Vegas had arrived on the big kitchen stage and deserved to be there.

Now the stage will shrink and with it, our reputation. This isn’t the 80s: we can’t just throw up another in-house concept and keep the customers satisfied.

Chefboyardeepic.jpg
Fifty years ago, a gambler didn’t care who the cook was; neither he nor his wife gave a hoot who was tossing the pasta at the Desert Inn. The only chef any of them could name was probably Chef Boy-Ar-Dee.

And then we became known for such things: for outposts of celebrities we had seen cooking on TV; for the stars who were then gracing the covers of food magazines, appearing on cooking contests, hobnobbing with the cool kids. From anonymity to superstardom in 30 years — it happened to chefs, and it happened to Las Vegas’s food scene, almost on parallel tracks. And it all culminated with that tower of butter in a 40-seat jewel box tucked into a corner of a mega-casino: ruining us forever for other luxury meals — because everything looks like a valley once you’ve been to the mountaintop.

There will always be a place for super-posh ultra-refined dining. The best-of-everything crowd will demand it, and world capitals like Paris, London, New York and Tokyo will provide it. And for a glorious quarter-century, so did a tacky tourist town in the middle of the High Mojave Desert.

Culinary reputations aren’t built solely upon ethereal ingredients, intensive care service, and wallet-bending meals fit for a king. But remove that level of excellence and what continues will be barely an echo of a time when the world took us seriously, we seemed to have it all, and we could boast of being among the best.

Gone with the Wind Movie Review —

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The following represented our gastronomic scene at its peak. These were the important ones; the ones that put Las Vegas on the map. A few will make it; most won’t. (My crystal ball tells me the Vegas of 2030 will resemble Branson, Missouri more than an ersatz Paris.)

Restaurant Guy Savoy (Against all odds, has reopened and is thriving; I’d eat here weekly if my bank account and waistline would let me.)

Le Cirque (If you think I’m sad about Joël Robuchon….)

Michael Mina (Has always been an underrated gem.)

Jaleo (Still sets the Spanish standard.)

‘e’ by José Andrés (Amazingly, has also re-opened. Having only 8 seats helps.)

CUT (Packed five nights a week.)

Emeril’s (Still busy; still good; still a bitch to get to.)

Bazaar Meat (Steakhouses will be the only survivors of the coming gastronomic genocide.)

Spago ( Spago 2.0 has scaled back its ambitions and is still solid, if unspectacular.)

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire (“Temporarily Closed,” but they’re not fooling anyone. I was told it was on the chopping block two years ago.)

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (see above)

Joël Robuchon (see above)

Picasso (For its first decade, as pitch-perfect as a restaurant can be. For its second, a little stale. Those paintings though.)

Hall of Fame

Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare (Still doesn’t get enough credit for the excellence it brought to our burg.)

ALEX (Spectacular, but in so many ways, destined for failure.)

Aureole (Lost its fastball after five years and never recovered its form.)

Bradley Ogden (Was like one of those ensemble movies where the young cast all go on to be big stars. Amazing talent; incredible food. A shooting star.)

Carnevino (If only Mario could’ve kept his dick in his pants. I know Mario, it’s hard when you’re a sex symbol.)

Circo (I treated it like a private club in its early years; Vegas will never again taste Tuscan this good.)

Boulud Brasserie (The original in the Wynn was something special….for about 3 years.)

miX (Ditto, just substitute Mandalay Bay for Wynn in the above sentence.)

B & B Ristorante (Best. Pastas. Ever.)

Valentino (Terrible layout; wonderful wine; never got the traction it deserved, despite awards and accolades.)

Spago (The original; the granddaddy; the restaurant that started our revolution. )

Fleur de Lys (One of the most beautiful restaurants anywhere….until Mandalay Bay ruined it.)

Mesa Grill (Yes, Mesa Grill. You’re welcome, Bobby.)

RM Seafood (Along with Bartolotta, Rick Moonen brought heavyweight chops to our shores, and made us take seafood seriously.)

Charlie Trotter (Charlie was too early (’94) and too late (‘o9) to the Las Vegas restaurant party.)

Coyote Cafe (Was too good for Vegas’s knuckle-dragging hordes. Too authentically southwestern; too spicy; too excellent. The Food Gal® and I had our first kiss at this bar. Sigh.)

Sage (Like Fleur de Lys, an eye-popping design with food to match.)

Napa (Jean-Louis Palladin’s last stand)

Renoir (Alex Stratta’s first Vegas foray)

Vetri (Gone for good, but its progeny – Osteria Fiorella – is packing them in at Red Rock, for good reason.)

…and a few I’ve probably missed.

Heavy Sigh GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I Once Flew to Paris Just to Have Lunch

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I once flew to Paris just to have lunch

To Paris I went without care, without crunch

I once flew to Paris just ’cause I could

On a plane, on a whim, on the hopes of meals good

To Paris I flew, alone as it were

Leaving the wife to her toils, don’t think me a cur

A fantasy it had been throughout my manhood

To fly just for lunch, thinking I should…

Learn French, eat France, explore all things Gaulois!

My fate I once thought, it wistfully was

Today on this day, I thought of such things

And the swings of good fortune which enabled such flings

To meet Mariani, a gastronome friend

Paris did beckon us fellow curmudgeons

On landing that morn, I rubbed out the sleep

Where I’d dreamed to myself of lambs, ducks and geese

Image(Duck confit with summer vegetables)

To the Ritz as it were, did we travel that day

Where a meal was awaiting the French call déjeuner

The difference you see, is one of degree

For in France you can feast, and here we just feed

A pity it seems, so to France I did fly

To eat like a king and kiss troubles goodbye

How much do you ask, would be this repast?

Expensive it is, too much for mere mortals

But walking is free among these luxe portals

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This is insane, I thought on the Seine

To travel for food so many disdain

But undaunted I was, so to lunch I did go

For dining so fine it sets me aglow

The Ritz is The Ritz, as ritz as they come

As were our courses, one after one

So beautiful they were, elegant, precise

Both John and I could’ve eaten them thrice

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And the bread, oh the bread, for which French are so famous

Rising and baking Français are not aimless

Crusty, yeasty, with softness yet crunch

One travels an ocean to have it for lunch

Image(Pan-fried Dorade with mussel tortellini and artichoke purée)

And while we’re at it, did we mention the fish?

Nowhere on earth, is it found this delish

The French have a way with all things that swim

While America flounders with fins the most grim

Image(Raisin Einset en compotée et sorbet, crème montée et meringue croustillante)

Image(aka grapes in vanilla cream sorbet in meringue crust)

And it goes without saying that desserts reign supreme

Anywhere the French are whipping some cream

The Ritz, as you imagine, is kingly of sorts

When it comes to sorbets, meringues, tarts and tortes.

An art form lunch is, in France like no other

With wine, with cheese, with friends or a lover

I once flew to France just for a feast

On food so sublime all troubles did cease.

Image(Crab “Napoleon” with lobster sauce)

Image(Tomate stracciatella, crémeaux basilic poundré à l’olive noire – but you knew that)