Michelin-starred dining and visiting royal palaces are highlights of any trip to Paris. L’Écrin, within Rosewood’s Hôtel de Crillon, is a “two-fer,” because it delivers the Michelin hallmarks — superb food, fine wines, faultless service and elegant surroundings — within a Neoclassical palace, commissioned by Louis XV, circa 1758. My own limited (but personally, memorable) history there, dates to 1990, when the French publisher who translated my first book hosted me and an editor of Madame Figaro at lunch at the opulent Les Ambassadeurs.
I recall glancing up at Baccarat crystal chandeliers under a 25-foot decorated ceiling, gazing at oversized mirrors framed in seven shades of marble and staring through tall windows of the iconic Egyptian Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. I was thrilled to stay at the hotel some years later, though my husband, who became ill soon after check-in, slept at the American Hospital in Paris, where the English-speaking doctor whom the concierge called arranged entrée.
In 2018, I returned to see the total restoration and makeover after its four-year closure, and re-discovered the historic landmark’s original details: high ceilings, pink marble floors and black, gold-trimmed wrought iron stair rails. There was an elegantly contemporary décor in newly reconfigured public spaces; a brand-new, bi-level SENSE spa; and a popular, all-day-to late-night cabaret lounge installed in the sumptuous former dining room, now called Bar Les Ambassadeurs.
I sipped Champagne in Jardin d’Hiver, a winter garden, peaked into the adjacent L’Écrin, the new gastronomic dining room, and noticed why it’s named: “jewel box.” It’s an impeccably stunning, 22-seat salon, decorated with a pale palette, warm velvets, sofas-for-two, plus splendid mirrors, drapes, artwork and chandeliers. I vowed to return for dinner.
The occasion took place in October, 2021, and started when the sommelier presented Champagne Jaquesson, vintage 2006, Cuvé 736 in a footless glass (the stem ended with a small, circular bauble), like those that Queen Marie Antoinette, who took piano lessons in the palace, favored. On that evening, Michelin-star Executive Chef Boris Campanella custom-created our multi-course meal according to our food preferences: “At L’Écrin, the wine dictates the dish, and the vegetables dictate the plate.” Since then, they’ve enhanced the protocol: the Wine Director, along with Sommelier Xavier Thuizat, guides guests to choose wines for which Chef Campenella and Pastry Chef Matthieu Carlin curate a paired, seasonal menu.
Our amuse tastings arrived in an open log; my favorites were a stuffed brown mushroom rolled in brioche crumbs and roasted; hazelnut-praline stuffed celeriac rolled in hazelnut and roasted; plus an oven-roasted cauliflower from Brittany, with cauliflower purée, sweet pepper and lemon caviar. Simmered Slagou chickpeas originating from Chef Campanella’s home region were served with a crispy fresh Tomme crayeuse cheese and crunchy celery and celery leaves. Then, we enjoyed macaroni stuffed with thinly sliced artichoke and white truffles from Alba. This dish was topped with a Isigny cream and parmesan cream glaze.
The rosy, sliced veal chop was roasted in semi-salted, organic Haute Folie butter from Normandy, served with herb-stewed parsnips, glazed apple, Dauphiné nut praline and veal jus and paired with Meursault 2018 Henri Boillot. It was regal, and much recommended.
L’Écrin, Hôtel de Crillon, Paris
10 Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris, France
tel 33 1 44 71 15 17
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