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Paris: Dinner at Arpege, The Most Expensive Meal of My Life

84,rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France.
Tel: 01 45 51 47 33

On February 16th, 2010, I had the most expensive meal that I have ever, and probably will ever, consume. We had made our reservation for three at Arpege weeks in advance, although we really had no difficulty obtaining it. I like that Arpege, unlike many of its 3-starred siblings, has a book-by-email obtion on its website, sparing me from costly international phone calls and time difference calculation headaches. In fact, even though it’s pretty un-foodie, Arpege’s long-distance accessibility was one of the main reasons that we chose it for our splurge.

Weird-shaped squash displayed on each table of the restaurant

Compared to other three-starred Michelin restaurants in Paris, Arpege is one of the pricier ones. Its evening tasting menu equals a 350 euro wallet-drain, while at Astrance it’s only 150 euros. Also nothing the fact that Arpege specializes in vegetables (which it ferries daily from some organic homestead 100+ km away), this is definitely not a place to exercise typical Asian stingy-ness. Too bad I didn’t warn my parents beforehand…opps.

Well, but since we were there, may as well enjoy it. My parents ordered a la carte in the vain hopes of minimizing wallet damage while I squarely dashed their efforts by getting the 10 course tasting menu.

Amuses Bouches (sorry for the blurry photo)

Oh, right, but before we ordered, the very nice bilingual waiters served us amuses bouches, although now I can’t recall at all what they were…

But while on the subject of waiters, I must say that the service at Arpege was impeccable. My dad noted that there must have been at least 0.5 waiters to each table, and not every table was filled. Although of course, this is what one would expect forking over so much.

Awesome bread

There was very good Poilane bread as well, served one slice at a time on a little bread plate next to each diner. The butter was also great, as is often the case in France.

Celery/Celeriac Spaghetti with Truffle Shavings

I’ll go through the a la carte dishes first. The appetizers include the celery (or was it celeriac?) spaghetti, which was definitely one of the most interesting foods that I’ve ever tasted. The spaghetti looked just like normal pasta except for its crunchy texture; apparently, it was made from celery or some other similar vegetable. The dish was served in a creamy sauce with shaved truffles on top (oh, and btw, I think I ate more truffles in this one meal than I’ve ever had in my lifetime).


The other a la carte appetizer was the ravioli. It was served in soup, and there were several different fillings. Hmm other than that, I can’t remember much else…

Grilled Scallops
Grilled Lobster with (more) Truffle Shavings

Next up, a la carte entrees. My mom had the seared scallops (it was the cheapest entree), which were fresh and plump, and my dad had the grilled lobster, again with the truffles on top. The vegetables served at the side of each main were of note because, well, they were really really good. You know how veggie sides often seem to get thrown in only as a side note, as a buffer to lessen the guilt of consuming whatever less healthy option was on the plate? Well, the vegetables served at Arpege reside on a completely different echelon from their common kindred. These buttery, shining baby potatoes, asparagus, and whatever other model denizens of the plant kingdom that had the fortune to be beautified on Alain Passard’s chopping board stood loud and proud on our dinner plates that night. Indeed chef Passard does have a way with vegetables…

Right, now my 10 course tasting menu. Since it’s been soo long since the actual event, the details are foggy. I didn’t save the menu from that night, so I can’t even correctly recall the precise order of the dishes. So I’ll just give it my best shot:

Gratin aux Oignons

Course 1: Gratin aux Oignons (Onion Gratin)
Nice and cheesy. It was a pretty thin layer.


Course 2: Vegetables? I think…


Very Cool Egg and its insides

Course 3: Very Cool Egg
Of course the actual name of the dish was something more sophisticated, but this was one very cool egg. Basically it was very creamy & smooth egg custard with expensive stuff served inside an egg shell. One of the highlights of the meal.

Raw scallops

Course 4: Scallop Carpaccio
The scallops were sliced really thinly and served with some crunchy vegetable, creating a very nice texture contrast.

Frilled Crayfish

Course 5: Crayfish (I think…)
Like my dad’s lobster.

Foie Gras w/ a Mejool Date

Course 6: Foie Gras w/ something underneath it and a date

Quail and stuff

Course 7: Poultry
There was quail and other previously-feathered creatures on the plate.

Cheese with (evermore) Truffle Shavings

Course 8: Cheese w/ Truffle Shavings
They brought out a huge wheel of some cheese and shaved some onto a small plate before throwing some more truffles on top. The cheese was sweet with a slight nutty flavour. I don’t usually like hard cheeses but this one was pretty good.

Chocolate Macaron

Course 9: Macaron
It was a pretty big macaron.

Life-changing Millefeuille…

Course 10: Millefeuille
The BEST millefeuille that I’ve ever had; it was awesomely buttery and the fork had no trouble AT ALL slicing through the layers intact. AMAZING; no millefeuille that I have had or will ever have will be as good, I think.

Petit fours!

Lastly, at the culmination of the meal, they brought out a plate of interesting petit-fours. Nothing too memorable here, although those macarons did have strange vegetable flavours (broccoli macaron, anyone?). The flavours worked, though.

And that ends our meal, which lasted a total of three hours. The bill came to 799 euros, much to the chagrin of my mother (although, funnily enough, the next day at the Galeries Lafayettes she had no reservations on forking over 800 euros for a LV bag). But well, despite the cost, which I know is pretty atrocious, three-star dinning is just one of those things that you can’t expect to walk out of feeling financially unscathed. All in all, the food was amazing, the service was great, and if nothing else, at least I’ve crossed out one more item on my list of to-dos-before-I-die.

July 20, 2010 - Posted by | French, Paris, Restaurants, Travels

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