I was just reading in a trashy mag that Jenifer Aniston has been to a familiar Parisian place of ours, Le Jules Verne Restaurant, which is halfway up the Eiffel Tower. Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger, Katherine Heigl and the diva herself Mariah Carey have also dined there – so I’m in great company!! This was also the late Princess Dianna’s favourite place to dine in Paris. I have been reminiscing, so I thought I’d share our experience…
Anyone who knows me would know that I love anything French; from the beautiful architecture, to the food, to the language (Ooo La La – Sexy!!). When Chef and I were on our working holiday in the UK, we popped across to Paris for a bit of sightseeing and French food. We navigated the Metro, had a coffee and croissant in a Parisian café, managed to offend a taxi driver with my bad David Ginola impression…. The highlight of our trip was the Eiffel Tower- hands down. We ended up not only going up the Eiffel Tower, but dining on it. It was an experience! Not for all the right reasons though.
There were hundreds of tourists scuttling about the foot of the tower, stood in long queues to go up to the top. We had a private lift, up to the second floor of the tower. Travelling diagonally, uphill, in a teeny-tiny lift was fun! When we arrived in the dining room, the most spectacular view greeted us! I could barely take my eyes off of it. The Arc de Triomphe in one direction, the river Seine, the Champs Elysees in another and the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur atop a hill, in the far away Montmartre district.
Now this is a very classy establishment, with a Michelin Star, so one does expect a little snobbery. Our waiter was downright rude though, most probably as we clearly were bumbling non-French speaking twits. I did expect that on one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, they would have had a menu in English? No.
We ever so politely asked for a bit of help. The waiter then sped through the entire menu in 10 seconds. We didn’t have a clue what anything was. When I head “La Boeuf” I thought “Yay! Beef”, we’ll have some of that.
We had a Lobster & Carrot Terrine for Entrée, with a salmon mousse. It was very very rich. That was washed down with copious amounts of French Champagne.
Then came time for main course… The waiters came out carrying giant silver cloches. “There must be something very fancy under there” we thought. They were put in front of us and in union the domed lids were lifted off our plates. With all the theatre, I almost expected there to be a drum roll or a “TA DAH”. It was a bit of an anti-climax. The only thing on our large plate was a small fillet of beef. That was it. Our “Boeuf’ was to be cooked Medium rare. Chef’s came out BLUE. He sent it back, it came back some time later well done. It would have seemed that the grill chef had a bit of an attitude too!
Even after spending a small fortune on lunch, we treated ourselves to the Restaurants cookbook of their signature dishes. We had it signed by the then Head Chef (Alain Reix) too. Its a nice keepsake. I’d love to go back and dine there for dinner. After looking at their website recently it would seem that they cater for the non Frenchies now – their menu looked very appealing. The dining room is flooded by light during the day; by night it would be just as spectacular, with the glittering Parisian lights all around.
So that all leads me to the age-old question… A dining-room with a view… beware? Regardless of the Boeuf disaster, we still look back at that experience very fondly – and with a lot of humour! It was one of those “once in a lifetime” moments. It was special just being on the Eiffel Tower.
NOTE – this trip was some years ago, so the pics are not the best quality (non digital!). It also made me giggle that back then it would have NEVER crossed my mind to take pics of the food! My how times (and camera phones) have changed us!