I’ve always wanted to bring my better half to a Michelin star restaurant coz she’s never eaten at one before and decided it would make a great birthday present for her! I booked a table for two and set aside one day in our Paris vacation for this.
Le Relais LOUIS XIII fits the bill perfectly coz:
- Chef Manuel Martinez got 2 Michelin stars in 2014
- The restaurant serves classic authentic French cuisine
- This is the very spot Louis XIII was proclaimed King of France in 1610 (thus the name)
Oh, and did I mention that Picasso used to live across the street? Relais Louis XIII is a very historical restaurant and they’re proud of it – the interior has the original old stones, wooden beams and valuable portraits of Louis XIII and Marie de Medicis as well as stained glass windows and antique Louis 13 chairs.
I had booked a spot at 12:15 pm when the restaurant opened and the waitress patiently explained and translated each of the menu items from French to English for us! There is no English menu, but the staff can speak English so there’s no worries there.
We were served warm cheese puffs upon arriving and the table is perfectly set with butter, salt and pepper as well as a bread tray. The wait staff to table ratio is at least 1:1 – which meant we had our very own waitress and at least one other staff to help…and help they did!
It was a little disconcerting, the level of service that was given – move your glass a little and they’ll come over with a smile to refill it and move it to just the right spot where it was before, facing the correct way.
More about Michelin star level service in another post, I want to talk about the food!
Ravioli de homard Breton, foie gras et creme de cepes
This is their signature appetizer which got them the Michelin stars. It’s what my dear ordered and it’s absolutely fabulous! I can eat this every day and not get sick! The beautiful ravioli is half lobster and half foie gras.
It’s topped with a porcini mushroom foam that’s so intense I’ve never had anything like it before. A beautiful start to the meal.
Toast de tete de veau / sauce gribiche / encornets
I ordered this solely on the waitress’s recommendation. She said it’s a classic French dish – the kind the restaurant does best. This restaurant serves classic French haute cuisine with minimal modernist touches and I thought this would go well.
It’s toast topped with the brain of a calf and comes with nicely seared pieces of squid that makes an interesting texture combination, especially with the toast it’s served on. However, their flagship ravioli dish is slightly better I have to admit I secretly coveted my better half’s appetizer. Haha!
Lieu jaune de ligne / fricassee de legumes / tomato confite / emulsion aux herbes
This is what my dear had! It’s a John Dory fish with tomato confit and a herb emulsion.
We’ve always wondered what John Dory tastes like and when the waitress explained what this was, she ordered it immediately. It tasted great – the fish was cooked perfectly (moist and tender) but it’s the kind of white fish that is popular in the West – bland by itself but absorbs flavors well, which is where the herb emulsion comes in, as a bit of a modernist touch.
Quasi de veau de lait “Hugo Desnoyer”
My order is sweetbread! I’ve always wanted to eat sweetbread cooked by a classic French chef and here was my chance. I wasn’t disappointed!
There’s an option to add macaroni with morilles (morel mushrooms) for an additional 14 Euros but I opted out as I wanted to taste it by itself and we ordered a lot of desserts. Sweetbread is the thymus gland of the veal and it’s a very rich and creamy dish. There’s also a bed of perfectly caramelized asparagus at the bottom which cuts down on the heaviness of the dish. I loved it!
Assortiment de nos fromages
There’s nothing more French than a cheese course before the desserts and we both opted for it. This is one dish divided into two, instead of sharing from our own plates, French restaurants can actually portion one dish into two upon request!
The selection of their cheeses also came with a delicious apricot chutney on the side!
MilleFeuille, crème legere a la vanille Bourbon
This is their famous millefeuille with Bourbon vanilla light cream! It’s probably their most famous dish and dessert and we opted for a shared dish (one dessert portioned into two plates).
The awesome thing about Relais Louis XIII’s mille-feuille is that it’s deep fried! Words cannot do it justice, the crunchy texture of the dessert and the vanilla bean speckled custard made me nearly lick the plate to finish everything up!
There’s a reason why it’s the restaurant’s most popular dish, you can’t get a better mille-feuille elsewhere!
La Pomme – Gelee au Gin et sorbet Citron basilic
This is my adorable dessert, the mysteriously named “La Pomme” (The Apple). It’s one of their rare molecular gastronomy forays. It’s a piece of art – there’s a cream filling inside the small “green apple” (complete with a fake chocolate branch and candied basil leaf).
I was pleasantly surprised by the intense basil flavor of the crunchy “apple leaf” made of sugar infused with basil and the chocolate stick goes into the faux green apple (which consists of just a very thin layer of real apple tasting jelly) which in turn bursts with the filling. It’s a very intelligent dish that plays with your mind and mouth.
There’s a sorbet on the side to cleanse your palate too!
(along with crunchy bits of juniper tasting sweets)
Tarte minute au chocolat “Grand cru”
This is my dear’s dessert! It’s a chocolate tart that oozes with rich and creamy molten chocolate. Not just any chocolate – Valrhona Grand Cru! It’s on their daily special and the wonderful spin they put on the dish is with the two ice cream you see – there’s a vanilla quenelle and a chocolate rocher.
The interesting bit is that the “chocolate ice cream” is *hot* and the vanilla bean ice cream is *cold*! The former is actually a ganache, plated like ice cream. It really plays wonders with your palate – it’s genius, how they pull off these things!
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 Michelin star lunch at Relais Louis XIII. The restaurant has a few mixed reviews on the net about bad service but we received excellent service throughout, it’s the exact opposite of the snobbish French waiter stereotype.
Our waitress was warm, patient and translated each menu item for us, and one of the younger waiters took this photo of us. It’s an excellent place to go for classic French cuisine in Paris! Relais Louis XIII has consistently been one of the best value 2 Michelin star restaurants in Paris, France – delivering fresh, classic French cuisine you won’t be able to sample anywhere else! :)