One thing on my list of things to do in Paris was to eat at a Michelin 3* restaurant. I’d been to one 2* and several 1* restaurants, but never a 3*. I figured that Paris would be a good place to have a first 3* meal. I chose L’Arpège because chef Alain Passard’s vegetable-centric cookery sounded interesting. L’Arpège has held 3 stars for over 20 years, and has been vegetable-focused since 2001. The restaurant uses vegetables grown in their own gardens outside Paris, and one can also actually sign up for delivery of boxes of vegetables from their gardens.
The regular tasting menu was pricy at €390 (!), with similarly eye-popping prices for a la carte items, so I went for lunch and had the Menu “Le Déjeuner des Jardiniers” (gardeners’ lunch), which was a slightly more affordable €175. Gardeners must be pretty well paid here!
Started with an amuse of crispy potato disks topped with various vegetable purées. I think one was made from beets.
Bread and butter. Really good butter. The slice of bread, which I believe is also baked in house, was replenished on the regular.
Next was one of their signature dishes - a poached egg in shell. There was a warm runny egg yolk on the bottom, and it was topped with a slightly acidic egg white foam and crème fraîche. There’s apparently a little maple syrup in there that adds some sweetness.
A beetroot “sushi.” Delicious! The rice was nicely seasoned and had a good texture. It was really like the shari in a good sushi restaurant. A bit of wasabi, and topped with a beet slice.
Asparagus consommé with vegetable “ravioli” filled with beet, asparagus, and something that I forget. Maybe leek or onion. Nice subtle consommé with some surprisingly meaty tasting dumplings.
Sea bass carpaccio with a little citrus, sea salt, and oil. Very good and fresh tasting. Like a very good sashimi.
I don’t remember what this was. Garlic dumplings ? This was the only dish that was only ok. Didn’t really pop.
Purée of peas with a whipped cream. Good and simple - essence of spring peas.
Uni, topped with I think a beet pickle? And some green foam. Served in its shell. Very good. Delicious sweet, briny uni balanced with the slightly sour beet.
Beetroot tartare. This was awesome! Another one of their signature dishes. Beets with a sinus clearing mustard and a parmesan slice on top. A little bit of fattiness. Almost tasted like meat.
I think this was the main course. Fish and squid in a lobster sauce. I think the fish was monkfish. This was also delicious. Rich lobster-y tasting sauce with perfectly cooked fish, which actually tasted a little like lobster as well, and tender squid. It also had some spring onions or scallions that were really good.
Next began the sweet part of the meal. Mignardises. A thyme caramel curl, a macaron with some vegetal flavors, caramels, and some other sweets that I forgot to take notes on. All very good. Pretty generous for one. I ate all the things.
Profiterole with fresh herb ice cream. Very light and refreshing ice cream and a very light puff pastry shell.
Lemongrass ice cream, coffee caramel. Interesting lemongrass flavor, also very light.
This was a long lunch - it took around 3.5 hours - but it was paced pretty well with a large number of courses. Chef Passard was in the house and schmoozed with the customers a couple times. Excellent service that moved like a well oiled machine, which I guess is par for the course for 3* restaurants. Worth the price? For lunch, yes I think so. I was also pretty full at the end of the meal too even though it was mostly vegetables. I wonder how many courses the full tasting has.