As a reward for enduring me for six years, M and I celebrated at the 2-star Michelin, Le Grand Véfour.
I knew that the food would be superb and fully expected a warm welcome but I was truly blown away by the graciousness of the staff, beginning with Chef Guy Martin, who made a point of coming out of the kitchen to greet us upon our arrival.
Chef Guy Martin
Christian David, the maitre d', ushered us to a table, signaled for the sommelier to bring us flutes of Ruinart rosé and told us the story of Le Grand Véfour.
Opened in 1784, it has been a destination for writers, artists and politicians, including regulars like Victor Hugo, Jean Cocteau, Colette, and Napolón and Josephine. So it wasn't surprising that as I walked under the Palais Royal arches, en route to this lunch, that I swapped bonjours with Laurent Fabius, until recently Minister of Foreign Affairs, and a mainstay of the Socialist Party for over thirty years.
In the aftermath of the French Revolution and the dispersal of the kitchen staffs who served at the whim of the nobility, dining out become necessary and fashionable. The first great, celebrity chef Antonin Carême. had a huge impact on culinary matters, most notably the replacement of the practice of service à la française(serving all dishes at once) with service à la russe (serving each dish in the order printed on the menu) after he returned from service in the Russian court.
Prior to our first bites, Yann decanted a 2007 La Reserve de la Comtesse de La Perdie Pauillac. M nearly fainted with delight as she applied her professional nose and palate to the task at hand. We allowed it to breathe before tasting a complex amuse-bouche of white and orange carrots in an emulsion of carrots and salt. Next up was a cold soup of pineapple and cucumber juice with a touch of grapefruit.
The wine was poured and Chef Martin's signature butter-soft ravioli, filled with foie gras and drizzled with truffle oil, melted in our mouths.
We finshed these palate openers with crab meat,vegetables and ginger rolled in a wafer-thin slice of white radish.
The main course was thick, roasted medallions of monkfish stuffed with radishes, on a bed of black 'venere' rice, green pea risootto and a sweet pepper condiment. Off to the side, silky-smooth potato purée with truffle oil, a tip of the chapeau to Chef Martin's mom.
When I got a look at the cheese tray I instictively let my belt out a notch. We had just enough La Reserve left to accompany Jean-Marc's selections that featured many from Chef Martin's native Savoie.
As we rose in search of our coats we bumped into Nathalie and her boyfriend, the couple reflected in the mirror behind Margaret, and during an extended chat, Yann emerged from the kitchen with the rest of the magnum of Ruinart that he generoulsy poured into fresh glasses for a farewell toast.
Yann & Jean-Marc
It's very easy to fuss over an important client or an up and coming celebrity, but I was immediately impressed with the kind and gentle way that Christian, Yann and Jean-Marc pampered Margaret-that came from the heart and speaks volumes about the Grand Véfour experience.
Grand Vefour is the best there is today, for my money. Beats the you-know-what out of the others on food and service, and does it in unique and beautiful antique surroundings. Sans pair... Richard Aherne, Ret, US Diplomatic Service
While living in Paris for over forty years, I often had lunch in one of the restaurants in the gardens of Palais Royal, but I had never eaten at the GRAND VEFOUR. As one of the top gourmet restaurants,it was also a center of political, art and literary life, beginning in the 18th century and today is still a glamorous destination. While sitting on the royal, dark red sofa, I imagined the souls of Napoleon with Joséphine , Victor Hugo and not a long time ago Jean Cocteau with Colette (she lived in the same building). A very unique expérience that I will remember forever. –M
LUNCH SERVICE : ENTRÉE, MAIN COURSE, CHEESE AND DESSERT - 115 €
17 rue de Beaujolais • Palais Royal
Reservations: 01 42 96 56 27