Often I go to bistros and easy restarants...more about them on Travel and Food in a few days along with addresses and telephone numbers for the following...however, when I do splurge I remember that I am at another order of pleasure. Two nights ago, I met with friends At Helene Darroze, a two Michelin star restaurant, on rue d'Assas down at its beginning near the Lutetia hotel which incidentally has a fabulous bar often filled to the brim including a largish room with small tables.
Having just arrived from the States that morning I was a bit tired and showed up at 7:15 for a 7:30 reservation. To my shock and surprise the visible young lady at the desk put up a hand to her head thumb and little finger extended--the sign for I am on the phone. When she finally came to the door, she said the restaurant didn't open until 7:30. She reminded me of nothing so much as the old-time vendeuses (sales ladies) who acted as if they were doing you a favor to talk to you let alone sell you anything, So we walked around to kill the time and enjoy Paris.
Back at 7:30, we went up the stairs to our booked table in the restaurant gastronomic. Down stairs is more casual. We started with glasses of Veuve Cliquot Rose. A cart was wheeled over bearing a large slicing machine (there is also one in San Domenico in New York) and paper thin slices of prosciutto were dealt out onto two dishes one for each pair of us--no reaching across. After much deliberation over the enticing menu, we decided on the menu degusation. I almost never do this prefering to go my own way; but this time it proved irresistible.
We chose a Medoc from the young woman sommelier and proceeded to make our way through an impeccable series of courses. The first was an improbable sounding tartar of oysters with caviar, topped at table with a poured on thin film of cream. It was divine. The raw oysters were cut up and embedded in the lightest of aspics made with their juices. The variations in texture and from caviar's slight pop through the silk of the oysters to unctious delight of the cream and the delicately briny taste of the whole was sensational. It is this kind of dish that makes haute cuisine "haute."
More tomorrow. it is time to eat lunch.