Hotel de Crillon, Paris
[Editor’s Note: This edition of “Travel with Lawrence and Lawrence” was originally intended to run on Sept. 28, but due to space issues and forgetfulness, it never saw the light of day. Here it is, straight from the vault of The Tolucan Times. As they say in Paris, better late than never!]
Hotel de Crillon, Paris
DAVID: Paris, the city of lights, is also the city of palaces. Some have become museums, some private homes and some fabulous hotels, like The Crillon, recently Awarded “Best City Hotel in the World 2011.” But first, a word about our own palace, our happy home in Paris. Our “palace” for three glorious weeks is on the Rue Cherche Midi on our favorite Left Bank surrounded by marvelous cafes, shops and the elegant Bon Marche department store. The apartment is owned by Porter Scott, an American in Paris, who has a successful business managing and renting lovely places to stay in this city on the Seine. We lovingly recommend his I Love Paris website if you want to live like a native with all the conveniences of home.
JACKIE: Back to the Crillon, it was the palace owned by continuing Comtes of the same name who lived there from 1788 until 1907. It then became one of the most important hotels in Paris. It reigns over the Place de la Concorde with the Obelisk of Luxor dating from the eighth century BC and its glorious fountains and proximity to the Tuileries gardens, the Louvre, the Champs Elysees and the epitome of fashion and chic, gracing the Right Bank shops, of the great designers on the Rue du Fauborg Saint Honore.
The restaurant of the Crillon is Les Ambassadeurs, the home of the new and talented (as he is young and handsome) Chef, Christopher Hache. He is responsible for a fresh and exciting and more affordable menu, plus their first Michelin Star.
DAVID: This is the restaurant of your dreams, once the ballroom of the Counts and still the style of royalty. The décor is Louis XV (and he was no slouch when it came to elegance). There are five varieties of marble, crystal chandeliers and lovely frescoes on the ceilings. The cuisine has a lot of competition with the look. But it still wins the night! We started our winning night with lovely Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne. First of a parade of excellent wines selected by The Chief Sommelier, Jerome Moreau.
JACKIE: Pierre Jung, the enthusiastic and charming Director of Les Ambassadeurs restaurant, helped select our delicious and inventive menu and after dinner joined us for conversation that shed light on the excellence we enjoyed. The young leaders, from the staff out front and the kitchen staff, are good friends and work together, to make perfection of the whole experience. And they appreciate the kindness and considerate nature of the new owner, an eminent Saudi Prince, who is revitalizing the hotel, bringing it back to its original glory, but with ecology and technology to serve the community at large.
I also must personally thank Pierre for allowing us to abandon our senses and bring us masterpiece desserts by the wonderful and whimsical Pastry Chef, Jerome Chaucesse. Picture chocolate with a secret tunnel filled with ice cream, lucky David. I almost shrieked with glee when I was served the pink cotton candy, over a structural cookie that held verbena sorbet, over sensual syrup filled with fresh peach slices. Like something out of Dr. Seuss, the truly most fantastical dessert I’ve ever had.
DAVID: So we leave Les Ambassadeurs with dreams of Chef surprises including Tempura Mussels, delightful courses of a unique roll of blue lobster from Brittany and mozzarella, Fois Gras of Duck with the teeniest mushrooms in the world, smoked butter (!), perfectly pink rack of lamb wrapped in crispy noodles, eggplant and quinoa, wine, wine, wine, French cheese with joyful jam and nut breads, and then the march of desserts, starting with little wrapped candies that turned out to be tart mint sorbet bits, tantalizing. A memorable and magnificent evening….
If Paris is within your possibilities – go all the way, visit a Palace, The Hotel Crillon and treat yourself to a once in a dream dinner at Les Ambassadeurs.
JJ AND DL: The economy dictates to us all. We arrived, at this palace, not by coach and four, but by bus, an easy, comfortable and safe means of transportation from and to almost any destination in Paris. And for tourists, using the money-saving Metro Card helps make Les Ambassadeurs more affordable. Back to reality, we’ll Travel…