For days in advance I was eagerly looking forward to visiting 114 Faubourg. The new restaurant located within the ultra-fabulous Hotel Le Bristol in Paris. The restaurant is known for its traditional French cuisine set within a more casual Brasserie-Rotisserie style atmosphere in contrast to its high gastronomy 3 Michelin starred big sister known as “The Restaurant” in the same hotel. This hot new destination restaurant is so popular that there is currently a one week reservation wait just to get a table. So needless to say the walk down Saint Honoré leading up to the hotel was filled with as much anticipation as the traffic filled streets were filled with pedestrian shoppers. I was joined by my friend Danielle for dinner. She’s a down home American Southern lady by birth, but has as broad and sophisticated a palette as anyone I know and hence the perfect person to join me at 114 Faubourg.
After a short walk through Le Bristol upon entering the restaurant the hostess was enthusiastic and while leading us down to the lower level floor of this two level restaurant, she helped create a feeling that we were going to receive something very special. The giant, colorful Dahlia’s gracing the walls in contrast to the wide open-faced kitchen with chefs making their magic within our site added to the enthusiasm that was flowing in the air. We were greeted by our maitre’de, Pedro for the evening who suggested a glass of champagne to start and we agreed without hesitation. Our much needed glasses of Diebolt-Vallois bubbly arrived. Oh boy did this champagne deliver -the chalky under tones were balanced by a sweetness that made my tonsils sing as it swished down my throat ever so gently. I couldn’t resist an encore of this delightful champagne so I enjoyed a second glass of the Diebolt. I’m normally not one to drink two glasses of champagne in a row but I was feeling spumante and the Diebolt was just marvelous and worthy of acclamation.
Now it was time for us to navigate the menu. We were handed French menus which we stared at for about one minute before Pedro came up and asked if we would like to look at the English menu –we said yes. I expected the menu to be challenging, for everything I order, there’s going to be something else I want. After flipping back and forth through the pages I decided we would first start by ordering a few simple yet ace starters. The Butternut Squash Soup with Delicate Cepe Mushroom Foam and the Hard Boiled Egg with Fresh Mayo and Shredded Crab looked like the best options –simple and uncomplicated yet highly appetizing. The soup was the first thing I tried and it sent me reeling and a wheeling, splishin’ and a splashin’. This was no ordinary butternut squash soup, I literally had to sip very slowly to comprehend all the flavors happening at once. The Hard Boiled Egg had some big shoes to fill, which it did with its tangy and creamy taste of egg and mayo combined with the crab –I was in heaven and I let it be known right then and there. Danielle ordered the Poached Egg and judging from the look on her face, she had no regrets over this decision.
All this and we still had not ordered our main course. Once we cleared the table again we opened our menus, endorphins surging and a few glasses of wine emerging, decisions…still not forthcoming. I must say, our maitre’de was a real pro; he had great suggestions and gave real substantive detail on the dishes. Danielle was also indecisive, but I kept repeating the words, “Spit Roasted Fish” in a hushed whisper until she was hypnotized into ordering the fish, in the aforementioned rotisserie style. The menu at 114 Faubourg offers both seafood and meat including chicken, steak, lamb and more. Since Danielle decided to “surf”, I decided to take a walk on some “turf” and I ordered a Beef Rib.
The entrees arrived and affirmed the feeling that we could do no wrong. My Beef Rib was nearly the circumference of a baseball, set upon parsnip puree, surrounded by wild mushrooms, game sauce that had a taste of a smattering of chocolate. Danielle’s spit roast chicken looked impressive as well, but I could hardly take my eyes off what was in front of me. The chop was cooked to perfection, seared on the outside and just the shade of pink I like to see on the inside. The puree was decadent and dreamy mixed with the compressed pear. In all of this I had lost sight of Danielle who was having a sensory overload of her own. I hadn’t noticed that she had given me a little sample of her fish. This fish was heavenly; it practically melted in my mouth as I heard that faint voice repeating, “Spit Roasted Fish”.
Our maitre’de had informed us well in advance about the desert selection because there are so many good things to choose, and we knew we would need some proper time to decide how to approach the ending an already amazing dinner. At this point a Homemade Rum Baba sounded like a very good idea to be split between Danielle and me. Once it arrives we start dipping in, Danielle and I are both reeling at this point from a parade of amazing flavors.
114 Faubourg raised the bar in terms of staff, atmosphere and of course the out-of-this world amazing food. I highly suggest taking my lead and refrain from over analyzing the menu and just allow your inner chef to guide you. With no advice or guidance on my part, 114 Faubourg proved incapable of being anything less than impressive across the board.
114 Faubourg (Inside the Le Hotel Bristol)
112, Rue Du Faubourg
Saint Honoré; Paris