Travel: Top Table - Drouant, Paris
Saturday 19 June 1999
View: There are more spectacular views from Parisian restaurants, but few as authentic. During my visit, a white-haired gent in a three-piece suit and red bow-tie walked past the window at 7.45, leaning on a cane. An hour later he returned, slightly dishevelled, being towed by a beribboned Pomeranian dog. Who knows what delightful Parisian fourberies he was up to between our starter and main course? 7/10
Design and service: All soft peaches and creams and big, comfy chairs. A shock (for Paris) is the serving staff: young, smiley and professional. 8/10
Clientele: Marta and Maria, the raven-haired twins sitting opposite us, had just finished their baccalaureats and were being treated by doting parents. They all spoke in the hushed tones Parisians use for the rare occasions they'll admit to doing something special. 7/10
Romance factor: The street outside looks oil-lamp yellow. The room is cosy and enveloping. The service, the wine, the risotto au tartufe: all were aphrodisiacs. 10/10
Best table: By the window.
Unsolicited entrees: Little nests of caviar clinging to puff-pastry, as if to desert islands.
Snoot factor: Drouant is so sophisticated it can afford to be magnanimous. Not wearing a tie? An indulgent smile from the manager. 10/10
Toilets: A bit of a haze, as they were reached with difficulty after champagne, claret and rum (see below). But I remember signed photos of writers, and lots of marble. 9/10
Finishing touch: Had I been offered anything so crude as a mint with the bill, I would have exploded.
Menu: Never less than perfect. Lamb in rosemary sauce, turbot in saffron and truffle crust, and always a dish with a hint of curry. Vegetarians can have, er, wine. The dessert list is almost as long as the wine list. 9/10
Wine List: Thirty-five pages long but, like the restaurant itself, not intimidating. I had the 1989 Lynch-Bages (Fr800), blood red and intense, which they decanted for me when I rang beforehand. 10/10
Price: Praise the euro, sell your children, and book a table now. Dinner for two with a bottle of decent red wine costs, at the current exchange rate, around pounds 100. Set menu at the Cafe section for Fr200 per person. 8/10
Oh yeah, and the food: Drouant's is the food of erotic fantasies. Fish and meat have an unearthly harmony of flavours, as if cooked by God, though even He would be strained to match the moist, fluffy dessert of baba au rhum, creaking with spiced Jamaican rum. 10/10
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