The best meal of my almost middle-aged life was, hands down, the fancy dinner we had in Paris on our honeymoon. Take my advice. If you're ever in a city that is known for its food, like say, Paris, scrimp and save but at least ONCE, eat at the BEST restaurant you can possibly afford. You will not regret it. So, we ate mostly at chinese delis and pubs, sometimes getting duck and wine from the shops and taking it back to our hotel to eat, and we saved our money for one big dinner. We asked our hotel staff where we could go for a really nice dinner, but we could get in that same evening. They made us a reservation at a restaurant named Laperouse. We arrived at a restaurant that looked like it used to be a house. We arrived at the ungodly hour of 8pm, and we were the first people there, which may have been why we could get a reservation at such short notice. The waiter was just putting on his jacket as we arrived, so I think they were just opening for dinner.
We were seated in a small room that held a buffet table, our table, and one or two others. That's it. The maitre d' informed us that the special dessert that evening was a peach tart, and if we would like to have it, we should order it now, as it is prepared fresh to order. Of course, who can say no to a peach tart? Not us. We ordered a drink, vodka tonic, and they brought us a glass of ice and vodka, and filled it about 1/2 way with tonic water, then left us with the tonic bottle. Very nice. Ted could have his drink stronger, and I could have mine with more tonic, and we were both happy. We ordered a bottle of wine, which the waiter brought to us, opened, then set on the buffet to let it breathe. Very nice. We ordered lobster salad and escargot ravioli for appitizers. We ordered lamb for dinner. (Maybe Ted had duck? It's been so long...) I didn't know the french word for lamb, so when the waiter took my order, I pointed at the one item that I knew wasn't veal (veu), beef (beuf), duck (canard) or chicken (poulet) and asked, "Qu'est que c'est?" (What is this?) The waiter didn't speak English, so he said, "um....C'est petite 'baaahhh'". Perfect. J'ai voudrais sil vous plait. (I'll take it!) Turns out that our meal also came with small appitizers that they brought out. I think it was canetelope wrapped in prochuto or something very similar. Very yummy. Then our salad and ravioli came. Oh. My. God. So good. Melt in your mouth, creamy, rich, but not so rich that you couldn't enjoy it. Then our wine and lamb (duck? Maybe not...Ted? Do you remember?). Again, SO GOOD. The lamb was prepared perfectly, very nice medium rare, very tasty. The veggies were crisp and yummy. After we practically licked our plates from that, they brought us our peach tarts. They were huge. We thought, "oh no, we should have shared one!" Good thing we didn't, because one of us would have lost a hand if we had tried to take it from the other. It was amazing. The pastry was light and airey and delicate and flaky. The peaches were ripe and juicy and delicious. Again, we had to stop ourselves from licking the plates. Another couple had been seated in our room by this point (9:30 or so, probably), and they might have frowned on that. Then, it turns out that there was a little dessert that came with our meal. The waiter brought out a little tray with tiny chocolates and fruit tarts. No way. Too full. Couldn't eat another bite. What happened to our desserts? Oh. We ate them. SO. GOOD. Every single bite of that meal was FLAWLESS. The atmosphere was lovely and romantic. The service was friendly and professional. We left after paying with our funny looking francs that made it seem like monopoly money, and walked back to our hotel along the Seine. Reminded me of a scene in "Babette's Feast", walking home, feeling SO good, full but somehow not painfully stuffed.
Again, I cannot stress strongly enough. If you can, eat like this once in awhile. It's truly wonderful. Truly an art. Worth EVERY penny. (or franc...)