PARIS, FRANCE, July 12, 2017 – Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is everything you could possibly ever hope for in a fine dining experience in Paris: a fabulous location, amazing food, brilliant service and the guiding hand of 2 Michelin starred Chef Jocelyn Herland. Over the course of 3 hours it delivers a quintessential experience of Haute Cuisine in one of the most beautiful locations imaginable.
The Hotel Le Meurice is a Paris landmark, opened in 1835 on the Rue di Rivoli near the Musee de Louvre, right across the street from Tuilerie Gardens, and is one of most notable and historic hotels in the city.
It has hosted royalty and the cream of society since the era of Napoleon. The King of Spain was a regular guest in the 1920’s, and Salvador Dali always used to stay one month a year in the Royal Suite.
Having undergone a complete renovation in 2016, this incandescent property of the Dorchester Collection of 5 star luxury hotels captures the imagination with its history, its presence, and its remarkable current incarnation.
In 2013 Alain Ducasse took over the restaurant at Le Meurice, bringing Executive Chef Jocelyn Herland from the Alain Ducasse Dorchester in London to remake the menu, and the internationally renowned Philippe Starck to bring a fantastic and surrealist redesign of the interiors.
The result is a brilliant success, revamping the feel and interior of 2 Michelin starred Le Meurice Alain Ducasse, retaining its opulent presence and feel, while also completely revamping the adjoining casual restaurant, Le Dali, remaking it in the style and design of its namesake, Salvador Dali.
The lobby is a beautifully situated gateway to the expansive ground floor of the hotel Le Meurice, a grand entranceway of a rounded room with the fine dining restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse just off to one side in the stunning Baroque chamber at the front of the building.
The lobby flows effortlessly into the splendor of Le Dali, a surrealistic dream under a massive ceiling mural created by Ana Starck channeling the visual style and feel of Salvador Dali himself.
Le Dali has a specialized menu emphasizing smaller shared plates of food, designed by Alain Ducasse, and presented with impeccable style from the kitchen of Executive Chef Jocelyn Herland.
The room is a spectacle, shimmering with style and presence, and is a terrific gathering place for a casual dinner or an evening with friends.
Specialized tables and banquets incorporate the feel of Dali all the way down to the cushions, with a signature taste for the métier of the surrealist master as if he is still in residence in rooms 106-108.
Just off of Le Dali is Bar 228, a classic room of dark woods and low light where guests and Parisians of distinction gather for an evening of cocktails, socializing, discreet rendezvous, and high culture.
A jazz combo plays in the anteroom between the bar and le Dali, the sweet sound of saxophone and piano filling the room with soft undertones of the 1940s and 50s.
The feel is effortless, classically stylish, like stepping back into a Paris of our dreams, brought alive in a contemporary setting without shedding the classic aura of the past.
But as elegant as Bar 228 is, and as splendidly beautiful as the revamping of Le Dali may be, the driving experience of coming to Le Meurice is to be immersed in the glory of an evening of Haute Cuisine in the exquisite setting of Le Meurice Alain Ducasse.
The dining room is as awesomely historic as its current seamless incarnation remains overwhelming, a step into magnificent elegance, measured and expounded by the beauty of the seamless merging of past and present.
Walking into Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is like stepping into a Napoleonic dream, grand baroque ceilings with a stunning 18th century mural in the center surrounded by an array of crystal chandeliers, the room bursting with the aura of the ages, eloquently evoking a grandeur fitting for the occasion.
The settings and table are stylishly modern, with white leather chairs evoking a futuristic comfort in the midst of a classic setting, complementing the evocative nature of the room without compromising its grandness.
Restaurant Manager Frederic Rouen conducts the evening for his array of guests like a fine string quartet, gauging the needs of each guest and overseeing a crack staff whose precision teamwork and polish creates an evening of sheer sophistication and unusually vivid splendor.
Alain Ducasse has worked with Chef Jocelyn Herland to create a sublime menu that emphasizes the freshest farm to table ingredients with a special care given to sourcing based on their provenance, seeking out combined flavor profiles though refined and laborious technique, and with deserts having less cream and sugar.
The Sommelier this evening is the lovely Irina Meyer, a young lady with a ready smile and enormous depth and understanding of wine, part of an increasing cadre of women who are rising in the ranks of the profession throughout France.
The night begins with an aperitif of Pol Roger Rose Champagne, whose light and classic character is a soothing opening round as we drink in the surroundings as well as the splendid champagne.
A fabulous and whimsical opening amuse bouche of a crunchy of goat cheese served on black stones in a lacquered bowl is followed by a tantalizing selection of vegetables cooked in salted crust.
Our server this evening is Marion Pepin, who brings a charm, beauty and effervescent enthusiasm to her work that is infectious and delightful.
Over the course of the evening she is a brilliant presence, personable and charismatic, precise and meticulous, immaculately professional, donning a single white glove to cut the fresh bread as the grand room splays out behind her.
Marion is a part of a team of players at Le Meurice, a theatre of Haute Cuisine, whose instincts and seamless, almost telepathic interconnectivity creates the kind of intricately exceptional fine dining experience to savor for the ages.
Green spring Asparagus de Piolenc, with a wonderful cream of almonds and a dusting of Comte’ embers is fantastic, a freshly crisp, visually beautiful presentation of a classic dish.
Petit pate chaud de Pintade, foie gras et chau is an exceptionally fabulous warm Guinea fowl, duck foie gras and cabbage pie in a pastry crust with a texture and sauce that is unambiguously trail blazing in presentation, style, and taste.
Bar de ligne “ikejime, or line caught sea bass with peas and rhubarb is spectacular, the fish crisp, tender and flaky, the sauce sumptuous and light in a presentation that is as delightful to enjoy in as it is to consume voraciously.
Homard Breton, or Britanny lobster with a waving dune of sea potatoes delights and enthralls with a rich flavor and gentle sauce, the lobster perfect, tenderly moist, meaty and firm.
The talented Sommelier Irina Meyer has helped us select a ridiculously fabulous 2008 Echezeaux Grand Cru – Les Loachausses from Domain Anne Gros.
It is a wonderful choice which complements each dish in spectacular fashion as it delicately opens over the course of the next two hours, revealing a soft complexity that is awe inspiring.
Anne Gros is one of the few women proprietors of a major Burgundy Domaine, having taken over and revived the family business and blazed a trail of success for others to follow, much as Irina is doing now. The comparison is not lost on us as we take another sip.
Poulette de la ferme de Culoiseau, or chicken from Culoiseau farm with morels and wild garlic is a signature dish of select poultry, succulent and juicy with a crisp outer glaze, morels resting on the edge of a tangy sauce.
Silk grain veal with eel and olives is a taste triumph, a lovely combination of textured flavors, ingredients and sauce, stunning in its audacity, beautiful in its complexity, and sensational in combination with a matured glass of Eschezuax from Anne Gros.
Then it is time for the fromage course, as the ever enchanting Marion Pepin brings out the special glass covered rolling cart with a spellbinding selection of cow, goat, sheep and blue cheeses to choose from.
The ritual of the cheese course, of fromage, is a highlight of any genuine Parisian fine dining experience, indeed is one of the pillars of French culture, and at Le Meurice they have made it into an art form.
Marion carefully selects and cuts an array of our personal choices, making the presentation an integral part of the joyous experience that is to follow as we taste 6 or 7 different expressions of the finest of French culinary wonder.
A series of deserts begins with a light and delicious palette cleanser of Mandarin, poivre Timut, the Mandarin orange slices tangy and juicy under rolls of sorbet.
Chocolat de notre Manufacture, a special chocolate dish from Alain Ducasse’s own private niche factory, is a holy grail of rich taste and stately cacao flavors, an extraordinary finale that is gratefully devoured and nearly gone before it can be properly admired.
Chef Jocelyn Herland has created an interstellar dining experience combining the grand traditions of French architecture, style, and fine dining with intriguingly wonderful, undeniable, contemporary innovations on Haute Cuisine.
He commands Two Michelin Stars by raising the experience of Le Meurice Alain Ducasse to memorably transcendent levels, illuminating the next frontier of fine dining in the process.
He graciously shows us around the kitchen and has the air of a man in his element, surrounded by his team, in command of his destiny, carving out his own distinctive path in a grand Parisian culinary firmament where 3 Michelin Stars lie squarely in his future.
An evening at Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is a peak dining experience during any stay in Paris, a worthy trip through the ages to savor the culinary edge of the future, a singular fine dining pleasure that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
It is a tribute to the talents of Chef Jocelyn Herland and his entire staff whose collective talents create the experience, night after night, with genuine enthusiasm for the honor of being here.
From the grandeur of the fine dining restaurant, to the casual elegance of Le Dali, to the jazz inflected comforts of Bar 228, the historic grandeur and almost holy traditions of the Le Meurice Hotel stretch back almost 200 years.
This Grande Dame of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels has so much to embrace and indulge, to appreciate deeply, with such Joie de vivre and presence, and Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is the shining centerpiece of that experience.
@LeMeurice @Alain_Ducasse1 @JocelynHerland
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Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal
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