Paris Dispatch: Fancy Lunch on a Nasty Day

Today kind of sucks. The weather is drizzly, sleety, and cold, which means the subways are crowded and foul-tempered souls on the streets are even more foul-tempered than usual. But hey, I’m in the City of Light, and the weather hasn’t stopped me from exploring. I did go to Angelina, a cafe/bakery specializing in chocolate and sweets, and where I might have discovered Laduree‘s greatest rival: the macaroons here are just as indulgent as the famed patisserie’s. While I was there, I checked out the super posh Le Meurice hotel just next door. I admit I’m a sucker for fancy lunches at places any grandma would adore, but ever since Philippe Starck redesigned the public spaces in the hotel three years ago, it’s achieved a new level of le cool. Besides, Le Meurice was always cool. What really drove me inside was the fact that the adjoining hotel has been a home away from home for aristocracy since 1835, including Alphonse XIII, King George VI, and even the Sultan of Zanzibar. Weird but amazing.

My friend Norre and I parked ourselves at Le Dali (a hell of a lot cheaper than the three-Michelin-star Le Meurice restaurant). The dining room is pretty elegant – imagine a bunch of royalty sitting around for high tea. The ceiling mural is commanding, painted by Philippe Starck’s daughter, Ara. The restaurant is named after Salvadore Dali, who was a frequent guest, and somewhere in this room Picasso once sat with his wife for his wedding dinner. So history resonates.

The food was awesome. There are two menus: one that’s traditional French (so rich and bad for me) and another that’s more nuevo, like a cooler, modern selection. I had veal ravioli and this complicated mushroom /egg dish that came out boiling hot in a small pot and made me warm and fuzzy. Oh, and I was a waiter once, so I’m familiar with the concept of “camping out” – we were doing just that, but it was just so cozy, so damn good, and I definitely needed to get my money’s worth (not cheap!). Pretty sure I did.

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