This restaurant was for the Le Cordon Bleu Superior class dinner. During each term, there is a class dinner that is included in the course. The restaurant for Basic Cuisine was dreadful: Chai 33, a too-hip, too-trendy, more about the scene than the food kind of restaurant. Since our class was the largest the school had ever accepted, they scrambled and found a restaurant that would accommodate a large group. Unfortunately this meant a hike out to Bercy and food that looked like it had been dished by cafeteria ladies.
For Intermediate, we ate at the Park Hyatt Hotel, a step up from Chai 33. The setting was nicer, it was two blocks from my apartment, and the experience was more upscale overall. The food was also better, but we didn't actually eat in the restaurant- it was a multi-purpose room downstairs. I was still slightly unsatisfied because I felt that a cooking school, especially one which charged me a gigantic tuition, could have found a better restaurant.
I was relieved when we found out that the Superior dinner would be at Pavillon Ledoyen, a legendary 3-star restaurant in Paris. From talking to some other students, I discovered that this was the usual place for the Superior dinner. And after going to a special Chef Invité at school featuring the Ledoyen chefs (photos below), I knew that the food would probably be spectacular.
Did Ledoyen meet my expectations? The food yes, the service no.
Upon arrival, we were shown to a patio for drinks and hors d'oeuvres. It was one of the first warm nights in Paris- the city felt languid and beautiful, living up to its romantic and magical reputation. Our chefs were already there- relaxed and less intimidating in their non-chef clothes. Quite a change from the barking chefs in our kitchens just a few hours earlier.
We were shown into a private room for our dinner, where we sat at plush round tables laid out with beautiful silverware. The whole atmosphere was more hushed, more refined than previous dinners.
I found the food great but not spectacular. Everything was well-executed, and the portions were even larger than I expected. To be honest, nothing stood out in my mind, but then again, it is quite a challenge for an excellent restaurant to come up with original dishes that can be served to over 70 people at the same time.
The fun part of the evening came at the end: desserts. The number of them was amusing- a première douceur (literally translated "first sweetness" or pre-dessert), dessert, then little plates of petits fours to follow. If only every meal featured pre-desserts, I'm becoming rather addicted to them!
The one miss of the night was the service. Since we had no menu options except for those who were vegetarians, the service could easily have been smooth and lived up to the 3-star designation. But water and wine glasses remained depressingly empty, even with plenty of staff hovering about. My table became so desperate, we just got up and took the bottles off the trays ourselves. Some might say this was rude, but we were separated from the other non-Cordon Bleu diners and dehydration was a serious risk!
I would love to go back and try this restaurant again without being part of a group of 70 people. The beauty of the dishes they made during the Chef Invité gave me a glimpse of what the kitchen could do. While I thought the tastings I had then had some hits and misses, you couldn't really argue with the sheer imagination and creativity of the food.
The only remaining question is, who will take me back there? Alas, the minuscule student budget will never afford such a treat!
Mise En Bouche
Aspic with Fava Beans
Saveurs "Terre & Rivière" Fumées et Acidulées
Beetroot and Smoked Fish (Trout?)
Côte de Veau de Lait Dorée
Cannelloni d'Herbes et Roquette
Veal and Cannelloni with Herbs & Arugula
Grapefruit with Cream (Custard?)
Fine Barre Chocolat Noir, Amandes Râpées Facon Polignac
Dark Chocolate Fondant, Grated Almond Ice Cream
Café & Friandises
Wines: Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Domaine Duband, 2003
Croxes Hermitage "Esquisse," Domaine Faugier, 2004
Sea Bass Wrapped in Rice Paper
Truffle & Fine Macaroni Timbale
Dark Chocolate Puff Pastry, Spun Sugar
Carre Des Champs-Elysees
1 Avenue Dutuit
Tel. +33 01 53 05 10 00