• French elegance at Lasserre (Paris)

Entering the palatial building, the staff opening doors in their suits, we were asked for our reservation name and then escorted to the old elevator with antique regal wallpaper into the dining room.  The clinking of gold, silver, porcelain and glass was mixed with jovial French among the well dressed women with their long hair flowing, Channel bags hooked onto their seats and high heels (marking it a special occasion).

The main dining room can be described nothing short of luxurious.   The high windows are adorned with lavish silk.  The tables are set with the finest silverware.  The opening roof is hemmed with frescoes.  Flowers are everywhere.

The waiter, dressed in tails, took us to a table in the back corner, where we could observe the room and its happenings in their entirety.

The wine list is equally extravagant.  With many bottles costing in the hundreds, we opted for something cheaper but still an experience – a 1975 bottle of Chateau Pontet-Canet.   It was a brownish red, as expected for an old wine.  The first mouthful was bloody and metallic but it still held soft tannins.  Soon it opened to hold caramel aromas, and soon after ripe red fruits.  It was holding up extremely well for its age with the tannins still giving a hint of the unripe.

The set lunch menu is fair value given the usual opulence of the restaurant.  We began with bread with goats’ cheese (cooked but cold), broad beans, raw square shavings of beetroot in red and white with red streaks.

Parmesan fingers also entered us into the meal showing buttery pastry with parmesan baked on top.

My entree as a vegetarian was exceptional.  It presented a series of tomatoes, cooked in multiple ways.  A cold tomato soup tasted like mum’s minestrone but more peppery and with a bit of chilli (she puts bay leaves and basil in hers).  It was refreshing and hot at the same time.  The wine was soft in comparison to this dish with the food bringing out the caramel notes on the end.

A range of tomatoes were served with baby basil leaves.  Some were skinned, some dried, some roasted but cold and clean.  The green tomatoes were intense but not sweet.  There was a hotness in the wine after this, more metallic.

Meringue with sugar, salt and egg whites were in sticks, served with a strong tomato sauce.  Tomatoes were on the bottom which had been skinned, seeded and chopped.  The meringues had a perfect consistency of crispness letting them melt and bubble in the mouth.  The wine became salty and herbed on the end with this dish.  It still tasted bloody but a complexity was opening.

Main course was disappointing – perhaps all creativity had been used up on the entree.  Lots of healthy veggies were served in a silver pot.  There were thin slices of cooked but crunchy zucchini; earthy, big, yellow carrots which were bitter with a bit of butter; big, orange carrots which were sweeter than the yellow but still earthy; baby peas which were halved and skinned; broad beans which were fresh with a bit of crunch; lettuce which was warm but crunchy without being wilted; mini okra; mini flavoursome mushrooms; and asparagus.  Time would have gone into this dish, cooking each vegetable separately before bringing them together.  Unfortunately the effort did not pay off, the dish was boring and it was difficult to finish for its lack of flavour.  The wine with this still had a metallic edge and its last mouthful was salty with tannins still.  It tasted best with the tomatoes.

Mum ordered the charlotte for dessert.  It was beautiful with vanilla, raspberry and strawberry tops recreated.

My brother had a soufflé; mousse-like in texture, rich and warm.

My chocolate dessert had a fine layer of chocolate on top, mousse, sponge and apricot sorbet.  The chocolate was rich without being heavy.  There was a shortbread base on the sorbet which held a strong flavour of poached apricots.  The chocolate, chocolate mousse, vanilla cream, hazelnut and chocolate sponge were in layers.

Finishing, were chocolates and madeleines.  The chocolates were intensely rich with cream and chocolate coated in cocoa.  The madeleines were warm and soft like a vanilla cake but with citrus.

A meal at Lasserre is an exceptionally special experience.  Whilst disappointed with the vegetarian main course, the other dishes were beautifully balanced and thought-out.  The atmosphere is uniquely Parisienne.

17 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt
75008 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 43 59 02 13