• Vegetarian Degustation at Les Ambassadeurs at Hotel de Crillon (Place de la Concorde, Paris)

From backpacking to opulence, I now found myself in Paris.  It was a family reunion and a good meal to celebrate.  My dad had chosen Les Ambassadeurs in Hotel de Crillon for its two Michelin Stars and beautiful interior.

Perusing the menu, I found vegetarian only applied to an entrée.

“I’m vegetarian…”

“Well, we can make you some steamed vegetables.”

“Steamed vegetables, it’s not possible something more interesting?”  For some reason my English has suffered after months of travelling.

“Well, you don’t eat meat, so we can make steamed vegetables.  Or what do you want?”

The next waiter suggested green asparagus with mushrooms.  I was disappointed but agreed to try it as it was the chef’s ‘vegetarian speciality’.

The waiters were in a huff, how could a vegetarian be at their beautiful restaurant?

I was in a huff too.  How could a two star restaurant offer steamed vegetables?  We had told the staff when booking that I was vegetarian and they had said that was no problem.  We were a difficult table, one vegetarian and one allergic to nuts.  My brother’s entrée arrived full of pistachios.  He used to stop breathing whenever he ate nuts.  We were difficult customers sending it back.

So with ordering out of the way, the food starts to arrive.

Appetiser: cauliflower emulsion with radish
This was soft but rich with an aniseed flavoured garnish.  The crunch of the radish went well against the soft emulsion.

Wine: Domaine St Nicolas, Plante Gate, Fief Vendeens, 2000
This red wine was served slightly chilled with condensation on the bottle.  It smelt like wood and dust.  It had soft tannins but was quite dry and still opening.  After letting it sit for a while it became drinkable.   It wasn’t such a complex or lasting wine, and the flavours were more savoury than fruity.

Entrée:  artichoke with mozzarella
This dish was part of the standard lunch menu.  Sadly, I still had to navigate around drops of squid ink they had used to decorate.  Cutting into the mozzarella, it was filled with milk, a cheese parcel tied at the top.  The artichokes had been pureed whilst others were tempura.

Main: asparagus with mushrooms
The cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant at home could have created a tastier version of this one, although perhaps not as artistically presented.  The mushrooms were chewy.  The asparagus soft.  A pea mash held the dish together.  Each ingredient had been flavoured with too much salt and nothing else.

Dessert:  chocolate cookies
Thank goodness the meal picked up with dessert.  The chocolate was intensely hazelnutty too and the biscuits were more like tuiles than cookies.  It was beautifully arranged with domes of passionfruit sorbet, layers of hazelnut mousse and thin chocolate wafers on the bottom.  The flavours reminded me of the signature cake at Le Petit Gateau, only nuttier.  I enjoyed the texture combination of icy sorbet, soft mousse and crispy wafers.   It was a fine dessert.

Dessert wine: Chateau La Rame, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, 2003
This wine was a highlight of the meal.  The waiter recommended it as good quality but cheaper than sauterne (with the winery located just across the river from the prized region).  It was delicious.  Golden in colour, it smelt subtly of cheese and French oak.  It had a beautiful French oak taste on the end that translated to a syrupy, smooth vanilla.  The fruit was that of white peach.    I loved the finish.  It was a good recommendation.

Petit fours: orange cake, macaron, chocolate
The orange cake was moist with syrup on top.  The macaron was crisp on the outside and mousse-like in the middle with a dollop of strawberry jam.  The chocolate was a ginger praline.

Final verdict?
Overall it was a very nice meal.  The main was disappointing, as was their approach to vegetarianism.  But the dessert made up for this.

Les Ambassadeurs
Hotel de Crillon
10 Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris
+33 (0) 1 44 71 15 00