One fairly sunny and always glamorous afternoon in Paris, two bunnies took a long pretty walk past the Jardin des Tuilleries, down to the even prettier and quieter Grand Palais gardens, and settled down at Le Grand Vefour for lunch ^^
It is a beautiful, historical little restaurant that’s tucked away in an exclusive quiet little corner of the gardens that is generally free of camera-toting, windbreaker wearing, photo-happy tourists on Rue de Beaujolais, and is also the first fine dining restaurant to open in Paris, France.
It celebrates fine French dining and is also the place where the quintessentially class French sauce, sauce Mornay, was first conceived.
At 2 Michelin stars and with a reputation as being the dining salon choice of France’s hoi polloi, how did it fare?
The happy bunnies went to check it out for you what it was like breathing in the rarefied air in the pretty little Neo-Classical restaurant graced by the likes of Napoleon and his Empress, Josephine, as well as famous French personalities like Balzac and Colette !
The interiors were very ornate, what I loved most were the floor to ceiling views through the old windows of the Palace Gardens beyond. The set up of the salon was arranged around the central cheese and wine tables, and it felt very interactive and comfortable, not pretentious at all. 🙂
And the wait-staff? Everyone from the Maitre’d to the head waiter and wine waiter were full of gracious Parisian charm and especially nice to the funny Asian bunnies with too many packages and no coats for the cloakroom.
The confused bunnies stared at the purely French menu and decided on the degustation menu recommended by chef Guy Martin after a very long and detailed English interpretation by the head waiter, ordering in my abysmal and barely understandable Frenglish.
We started off with an enchanting little appetizer on the far left that was some sort of crispy rice crackers, mint, passionfruit, and seaweed? I don’t know exactly what went into it, but it really cleansed my palate and woke it up in preparation for our very hefty meal.
The routine mini white baguettes were served with a choice of salted and unsalted butter, the salted being far superior and spiked with some amazing fleur de sel. We had to control our bread eating to make room for what followed.
Little details that added much to the old world grandeur of le salon.
Les entrees ..
My wonderful monkfish trio on the left .. clockwise, monkfish sashimi sandwiching some really smooth, creamy monksfish liver, some more sashimi with sweetened pickled fresh carrot shreds, and finally, lightly cooked, impossibly cottony fish topped with more pickles.
Sounded Japanese, tasted fresh and sweet, and wasn’t fishy at all, despite my initial fears.
Bunny A went for something heavier, the foie gras de canard with a courgette confit perfumed with bergamot (a la Earl Grey Tea). It was sinful, rich, and heaven paired with the slices of crispy toast. Such generous portions too!
And then our mains, where we both opted for les poissons (fish dishes)
I had the turbot fillet on a bed of broad-bean risotto decorated with little tear drops of squid ink and avocado and a little seafood broth perfume.
The fish was perfectly cooked, tender to the fork, and paired beautifully with the risotto and the little tear drops to make an impossibly fresh, summery, green tasting dish. If I closed my eyes I could have been transported into a sun-filled little valley in a French chateau overlooking a blue bubbling brook and fields of lavender. No I’m not exaggerating, I’m just really into my food.
There’s greedy Bunny A, sporting her utterly indulgent Ferragamo hair band, enjoying her fish dish as well. I can’t remember if it was cod, it was sitting pretty on a risotto cake and according to her, was similarly awesome.
Then the cheese waiter swung around with his heaving board of all the cheeses one could possibly imagine. Bunny A, tummy bulging from her mains, almost declined but how could I ? It seemed a sin to eat at a 2-Michelin star restaurant and not at least sample their carefully selected cheese board.
I chose their house camembert, which the waiter praised as a wonderful choice “made with triple cream, this is sooo melty and very milky” he enthused. And then bravely, their very blue and hole-ridden Roquefort.
Both were exceptional. The Camembert was almost overwhelmingly milky and creamy on its own, but would have been perfect with crackers and fruit. I have never tried a more decadent tasting cheese.
The Roquefort was very developed and may have been too strong for some, but I actually loved its pungency and complexity and raved to Bunny A how wonderful it would have been crumbled on a juicy burger beef patty.
A palate cleanser came in the form 0f the most fun dish that night-
A jell-o grenadine with a fruity sorbet topped with.. pop rocks!
You got it right! The bunnies giggled with glee as the pop rocks fizzled and crackled in their mouths. It was such a playful and irreverent touch in a fine-dining and traditional restaurant that it cracked me up (pun intended) completely.
As you can guess, by now we were full to the brim but our sweet endings had only just begun.
Adorable petits fours
From left : Macaron Pistache, a cherry mousse tartlet, cream filled choux, and a dark chocolate ganache tartlet. All fun to eat and bite sized deliciousness.
And then for the real desserts –
I had the house signature dessert, which was simply a chocolate coma on a plate.
No, it was more than that. It was like a playground of chocolate – a chocolate “tower” tube filled half with pure chocolate and then a lighter chocolate mousse, and a tiny scoop of absolutely divine sea salt caramel ice cream that melted past a crispy ‘net’ to perfume the tube’s contents, juxtaposed with the most gooey dark chocolate tartlet with a feuilletine base (my favourite). Also loved that little luxe touch of edible gold leaf.
I couldn’t stop eating. Bunny A continually attempted to engage me but I was silent.
Here was hers, pretty in pink !
A’s – Watermelon cubes with red fruits, grapefruit and avocado paired with a ylang ylang tube-shaped meringue and a citrus lemon sorbet.
Impossibly summery and almost like eating a very fresh, flowery, fruity perfume. Perfectly married flavours and so many fruits on one plate! Like a delicate beauty.
And a funny bunny moment to share before we end this gastronomic highlight of our Bunny vacation –
Head waiter –
“Compliments of the chef for you beautiful ladies, a delicacy, a cake, from his hometown.”
– Bunnies rub their hands in anticipation –
-Bunnies chew, munch, contemplate-
A: “This tastes really, really familiar.”
L: “Yeah, I know right ..”
L: ” OMG OMG OMG I KNOW! “
A:” What !!!”
L: “Its … its.. its Kueh Bahulu!”
A: “Omg you’re right!”
Yes, Guy Martin’s hometown delicacy was the French rendition of our CNY Nonya favourite – Kueh Bahulu, or the pretty flower shaped sponge cakes sans coconut milk.
We laughed for about twenty minutes straight after that, and I hope it burned off at least a third of the calories we consumed.
But we did nothing but lose weight in the time we were in Paris – if that’s not proof that French women just never grow fat, I don’t know what that is – it must be something in the water !
The happy bunnies then headed off for more shopping at Place Madeleine, their very expensive but very fun meal another memory for a lifetime !
Le Grand Vefour
Infos pratiques –
Adresse – 17, Rue de Beaujolais
75001 Paris, France
Acces sur les Jardins du Palais Royal.