Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Remembered It!

The name of that insanely expensive French restaurant that I visited with my family when we took our trip to Europe in the summer of 2005.  It's called L'Arpege.  I remember the experience well because when we sat down at our table, we immediately felt out of place.  The restaurant was full of business execs in suits and middle aged 'high rollers' with their hired dates; most likely aspiring models who were trying to buy their way into the industry with sexual favors.  We ordered drinks, and after a few minutes, received our menus.  The menus were very simple; white paper with black print.  In fact, they looked a little something like this:  

Right away, my parents noticed that something was off... the prices of the food were listed only on my step-dad's menu; they were conveniently absent from all of the others.  That was when the real fun started.  Realizing that, at 300 euros per person, L'Arpege's tasting menu was not exactly in the price range for a family of five, my step-dad discreetly called the maitre d over to the table to inform him that we would not be able to dine with them that night and that we would just pay for our drinks and go.  Of course, being a master of French hospitality, he insisted that at this time of night on a Saturday, there would be no reservations left at any restaurant worth going to.  So, the chef prepared a special half-price menu just for our family.  Every dish served was plant-derived.  I guess the cheap Americans don't get meat.  The dishes were strange, especially to the palates of three children who had grown up on country ham and green bean casserole.  

I remember the first dish being a tiny poached egg with some sort of maple flavoring.  It was delicate and delicious, but only big enough to provide a little taste bud tease.  The dishes that followed included a tomato tart, a risotto dish, and the strange combination of tomato gazpacho with a scoop of mustard ice cream.  I was actually able to find a picture of this one:

It was strange, but not entirely unpleasant.  For dessert there was a tart beetroot sorbet.  We all left the restaurant feeling amused, confused, and not totally full.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience both for us, and for L'Arpege, who I am sure doesn't see many families of American tourists, no matter how refined their tastes.  I guess that's what Mike gets for taking restaurant suggestions from the bartender at the Four Seasons hotel in Paris.  It should be a given that he would send us to the most expensive restaurant in the city.

I think the funniest part is that from the outside it looks pretty harmless!

Well, here's to adventures, and good memories, and life's unexpected curve balls.



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