We have a foodie friend who travels 330 days of the year for business. He travels well, eats ridiculously well, and has exacting standards for food and wine. He’s our go-to source for restaurant recommendations in Paris. About a year ago he sent us his personal list of favorite places in Paris, complete with his own little “soundbites” summarizing the essence of each place. We’ve been slowly working our way through the list.
Many of these top restaurants are very, very difficult to book, especially last minute. Due to the fluidity of Bryan’s business travel schedule, we often can’t predict super far in advance when we will be in Paris.
Epicure, a 3-Michelin star restaurant in Le Bristol Hotel in Paris, is one such restaurants. Chef Eric Frechon has been head chef since 1999 (!) and the restaurant has maintained its Michelin star since 2009, not an easy feat.
It’s one of our friend’s top 3 restaurants in Paris, and it’s really hard to book. However, Bryan was able to grab a lunch reservation for the day AFTER my birthday. Hee hee, I ended up having two birthday meals in Paris this year. 🥰
The Tasting Menu at Epicure Le Bristol
We began with some amuses bouches, including a delightful pea foie gras veloute, compte cheese tart, and a delicate crisp.
The bread is often one of my favorite “courses” at a French restaurant, and here was no exception. We had two types of bread: a small focaccia plus we shared an entire loaf of their house baked sourdough (SO. GOOD.).
The fantastic French butter together with their fresh baked bread was hard to resist, especially at the beginning of the meal when we were still pretty hungry!
After almost filling up on bread (haha, only half kidding), our actual tasting lunch began.
A luxurious start: uni + caviar
We began with delicate “scrambled eggs” topped with a fluffy whipped cream of uni (sea urchin) and seaweed butter, interspersed with croutons. It came with a fancy spoon shaped perfectly for scooping out every last goodness from the uni-shaped bowl, which we certainly wanted to do because it was so insanely good.
We were first introduced to the decadent butter dominant (yet oh-so-luxuriously creamy) French style whipped” potatoes at Joel Robuchon. Epicure’s version of what they call “potato mousseline” adds a level of luxury, with a beautiful layer of caviar from Sologne on top, smoked haddock inside, a slightly tart dressing.
which we ate by dipping in a buckwheat crisp (not unlike the Japanese snack Pocky) but filled with cream inside!
Seafood + Pasta
It was like a well-timed orchestra. Two plates arrived topped with a dome-shaped glass lid. In synchrony, two servers lifted our glass lids at the same time revealing the next course. We each had a langoustine tail, lightly cooked with lemon-thyme and served with an onion-mango condiment and a refreshing, foamy broth of the langoustine claws together with yuzu and coriander.
The “candele” is the French term for their huge tubular macaroni “pasta”, filled with artichoke and duck foie gras, black truffle, a lovely black truffle sauce (“jus”), and topped with mature Parmesan cheese. The final three stuffed candele are torched. The texture of the pasta was delectably chewy, and the artichoke foie gras filling was lovely.
The restaurant's own website only calls out this one dish, stating it's an "unforgettable dish that people travel to Paris to experience."
The next course was a sous vide Scottish salmon dusted with a fine layer of tandoori powder, fennel and cucumber, and flavored with a rice vinegar and a mint oil. The texture was out of this world. It was so soft, so tender, to the point where it seemed nearly raw yet was still so soft and edible. One of my favorite courses.
Epicure Paris: Signature Dish
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the Bresse Farm hen poached in a bladder. Those who specifically order it as a stand-alone dish can enjoy watching the staff cut open the bladder, revealing the chicken (together with its signature golden feet) inside.
In our case, since it was just part of a larger tasting menu, we likely shared our chicken with many other tables. However, they did bring out the expanded balloon-like bladder for us to look at before they brought it back into the kitchen to prep some more.
The final dish was a piece of the bladder-poached hen breast with yellow wine, crayfish, giblets candies and button mushrooms.
We separately enjoyed the roasted chicken leg with fresh herb salad and corn in a sherry vinaigrette.
The Cheese Cart
A majestic cheese cart rolled up to our table, filled with a variety of cheese (mostly from France) that they keep in their cheese cellar. It must have had over 20 different cheeses.
We chose about 5 different ones to enjoy, and they were lovely.
Our first dessert was refreshing light. A chocolate shell made to look like a half coconut arrived, filled with a ‘Moiito" coconut sorbet made with coconut milk infused with fresh mint, grilled coconut, and topped with lime zest.
A deeply dark experience of “CHOCOLATE FROM EQUATOR” was next, consisting of chocolate shortbread, cocoa nib praline, hot chocolate espuma, and chicory ice cream.
An assortment of beautiful petit fours came out at the end to round out the meal.
General Thoughts: Epicure Le Bristol Paris
What can I say? Epicure is indeed a lovely restaurant and they execute everything at an extremely high level. Highlights for me include the surprisingly refreshing pea foie gras amuse veloute at the beginning, the amazing bread + butter, uni + caviar combo (perhaps I’m a sucker for caviar), and the salmon. Though the presentation of the chicken was indeed impressive, I only found it to be OK, but still not as good as chicken in Asia.
It’s very expensive, at 420€ a head.They use the highest end ingredients at every course, and the entire meal takes an insane amount of planning and execution. If you love French food, this place does it very, very well. Personally speaking, there are equally enjoyable experiences in Paris that come at a lower price point. However, Epicure is certainly top notch, and you can't go wrong here.
Below is a short video I made of our meal. Enjoy!
Epicure Paris France