Elegance does not beat you over the head. It should not. It does not beckon to you. In fact, you need to look for it. Yes, just a little bit further down the block, and wait, over there, yes there it is. Almost hidden on a quiet street just behind the Trocadero in the 16th behind a brown curtain in a small dining room with no more than 15 tables is the space where L’Astrance spins its magic every day.
You have to work to get into L’Astrance. I had read that getting a lunch reservation was difficult and it was. You call on the first of the month and with the time difference we could never get through. We finally broke down and asked a friend in Paris to help us out and she did.
Do what you need to do to get in. It is a meal and an experience to remember.
We walked into the restaurant at 1:00 pm on a Thursday afternoon. It was 1/2 full mostly Japanese tourists. It quickly filled. What followed was a 3 hour extravaganza of tastes, smells, sights and pleasures. A feast for the eyes, mind and mouth just as an exceptional meal should be.
The restaurant works on a simple formula, two menus at lunch at 70 and 110 euro and a wine pairing for 50 euro should you desire. To say that this a value is not doing it justice. The bill came to under $250 US with one of us drinking. I can’t imagine having more fun for the money.
I am not going to go over what other more serious food critics can tell you. Suffice it to say the kitchen has a fine hand and an asian influence in the cooking style and that it was selected as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world for 2013 by someone.
Instead, let these photos guide you through the journey they took us on. Plate after beautiful plate arrived. Amuse bouche, starters accompanying dishes several mains several desserts I mean it was a show. Dishes were light, flavors forward. Aggressive. Yes, this Michelin Star restaurant was fun to eat at.
And the wine service was genuine and warm, as our somellier worked the room pouring from magnum after magnum you could see his passion in his choices and the explanations he have us for each serving.
Service was flawless smooth and believe it or not funny. That’s right funny. These guys had a dry wicked sense of humor and they didn’t try to force me out of French into English like so many would do. When I was caught checking out the plates of our neighbor table, they gently chastised me, “Monseiur, your eyes should be focused on the beautiful woman across from you.” They were right.
So on with the visual show, I will get them in order and try to remember each plate as it arrived.
At this point we had consumed quite a bit of a wonderful Sancerre and were feeling very good when our waiter announced the next course. The finest pigeon Trocadero, pulling our leg a bit. This bird had not been caught down the block. I overcame my usual reflex against small bird dishes and enjoyed.
It went on from there to desert after a palette cleansing sorbet of piment d’espelette, spicy and refreshing.
No not enough. More.
Finally we ordered coffee and just sat there enjoying the moment. A few minutes later we emerged into the warm Paris afternoon giggling.
L’Astrance. 4 Rue Beethoven, Paris 75016.
01 40 50 84 45.
15 minutes walk from the Yellow Flat and maybe 30 minutes back.