Metro Station: Concorde (Lines 1, 8,12)
Type of cuisine: Modern French
Days & hours of operation: Tues to Sat noon – 3 :00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Credit card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
Located in the posh 8th arrondissement, just steps away from the Hôtel Crillon and the American Embassy, L’Eclaireur operates as a bar, a salon de thé, and a restaurant. Benefiting from a 50% promotional discount that the restaurant was offering, we had the occasion to dine here recently. Throwing caution to the wind, we ran up a bar tab (not discounted) by ordering expensive champagne as a before-dinner drink. Without champagne, the bill would have come to 86€, a nice price for a chic restaurant!
The restaurant has two main rooms: a bar and dining room in the back, and a dining room in the front that lies under an enclosed canopy that extends into a vast and elegant hallway. We were seated in the front room (under the canopy) at a dark-wood table dressed with a crisp, white runner. The upholstered, cushioned chairs in blue-violet and cranberry fabric are particularly comfortable. Overhead, the fabric ceiling of the canopy displays images of newspaper print, flowers, and butterflies. Subdued lighting and soft lounge music complement the scene.
After we were seated, we each ordered a glass of Roederer champagne as an apéritif. We later realized that we would pay 15€ a glass for this, but we also learned that expensive champagne does taste better than its less expensive cousins. The champagne was delightfully crisp with fine bubbles. It was kind of beverage that one would want to drink all evening if the dining budget would permit it. A small goblet of plump, black olives was served alongside.
Examining the menu, we spotted foie gras prepared two different ways—au torchon and mi-cuit. Au torchon indicates that the foie gras has been wrapped tightly in a dishtowel and poached in water for the appropriate cooking time. Mi-cuit is foie gras that has been semi-cooked in a terrine. I ordered the first, while my partner ordered the second, for our starter. I was served a disk of foie gras on a plate with toasted country bread and morsels of dried and roasted fig. The liver had a pink interior and tasted slightly bitter, not at all an unpleasant sensation. My partner declared that her serving of mi-cuit was dense and buttery.
For the main course, a choice of four different types of sea food and four different types of meat were listed. I selected Saint Jacques rôties, choux fleur et romanesco, beurre noisette citronné. I received a narrow rectangular dish containing four perfectly-cooked, sautéed scallops, each separated on the plate by a dollop of puréed cauliflower. Aligning the top and bottom portions of the dish were morsels of romanesco broccoli cooked firm to the bite. The scallops were wonderfully delicate and succulent, the puréed cauliflower light and smooth, and the broccoli crunchy and tasty.
My partner was not entirely pleased with her Brochette d’aigueillettes de poulet, citron & gingembre, wok de légumes au soja. While she found the chicken breast tender and flavorful, she did not detect lemon and ginger that supposedly seasoned the dish. The wok-fried vegetable accompaniment was carrot, parsnip, cabbage, and green onion, all seasoned with soy sauce.
As a wine accompaniment, my partner ordered a glass of Pouilly Fuissé with her foie gras. She found this wine to be round and assertive – an excellent match for the fatty liver. For the main course, we each ordered a glass of Château Ferran – a dry, medium-bodied red wine from the Bordeaux region. While I enjoyed the wine, it did not harmonize with the scallops as the restaurant’s electronic “wine advisor” had promised. The “wine advisor” was a novelty for us: it was an iPad that the waiter handed to us to consult the wines offered by the restaurant. When the screen was touched at the appropriate spot, it listed the suggested dishes that each wine would supposedly accompany. I touched the screen and was zipped off to cyberspace where I had to find my way back to the wine list and start over. I found this heavy, cumbersome gadget to be more of an annoyance than a helpful innovation. I would have preferred consulting a printed wine list on a standard menu card and asking for suggestions from the server. Human, not electronic, interface please!
Two kinds of sliced bread were served alongside in a metal bowl: poppy- and sesame-seed baguette and standard baguette. Both had soft and chewy crumb. The standard baguette had a crispy crust and its crumb was riddled with large alveoli. Delicious!
For dessert, I ordered a Poire Dame Blanche déstructurée. I had no idea what this was, but wanted to see what novelty the chef would come up with. I was served a small bowl and goblet. The bowl contained a perfect sphere of whipped cream enveloping a vanilla ice cream center, all resting on a warm bed of cooked, diced apple. The goblet contained warm chocolate syrup. It was a delectable, well-presented dessert and I was left wondering how the ball of whipped cream could be made so perfectly spherical.
My partner requested the Tarte Tatin maison. The waiter presented a small portion of Tarte Tatin (caramelized apple pie) in the shape of a half-sphere. A scoop of vanilla ice cream was served alongside in a ceramic cup. While she enjoyed the flavor of the pie, she noted that it was served at room temperature. She prefers her Tarte Tatin served piping hot from the oven.
The service, by multiple servers, was friendly and helpful.
The bill for two, including two glasses of champagne, three glasses of wine, one bottle of mineral water, two starters, two main courses, and two desserts, came to 116€.
Tom Reeves has been a confirmed Francophile since he first traveled to France in 1975. A native of northern California, he moved to France permanently in 1992. Reeves’ love of French language and culture inspired him to create Discover Paris!, a travel planning service that caters to Americans interested in cultural travel to Paris. His book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, has been called “the kind of insider’s view of the French capital…that first or even second time visitors pine for.” He publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Paris Insights about history, culture, and contemporary life in the City of Light, and posts daily information about the French capital on Facebook.