One of the finest dining experiences I've ever had in my life was our meal the last night we were in France recently. My boss treated all the North American regional managers to a wonderful dinner at Restaurant L'Aiguiere in Paris.
Restaurant L'Aiguiere is famous for not only their food, but for their world class collection of fine wine. The name "L'Aiguiere" is French for "The Ewer" which is the decanter used to store wine at a table. The owner, Patrick Masbatin, is a master sommelier and well-versed in the vast wine list the restaurant has.
The restaurant has two levels - the upstairs has a couple of private rooms and a wonderful mezzanine overlooking the main floor. It isn't very large, but will comforably seat 75 to 80 people. They're open for lunch through the week and for dinner Monday thru Saturday nights.
We were seated in a room on the first floor that easily accommodated our group of 10 (two of the guys in our group went down to Corsica to back pack and hike the mountainous island for a couple three days before coming back to North America).
Monsieur Masbatin welcomed us and told us the building that Restaurant L'Aiguiere was in was the home of the Musketeers, Louis XIII's personal guards. M. Masbatin said that it is entirely probable that d'Artagnon, the protagonist of Alexandre Dumas' epic novel The Three Musketeers, as well as Isaac de Portau (the real life Porthos), Armand de Sillègue d'Athos d'Autevielle (the real life Athos), and Henri d'Aramitz (the real life Aramis) lived in the building.
I'd always thought that The Three Musketeers was a fictional story, but it turns out that Dumas' book is fiction largely based on fact.
Anyway, that was kind of a neat beginning to our meal. We started out with a sweet apertif before ordering our meals. For the entree, I ordered the foie gras - one of which was a regular piece of duck liver and the other was mixed with salt flower (sea salt). It was outstanding. No matter what you animal rights activists may say, I did NOT have any guilt in the least when I ate the foie gras.
The main course, I was torn between the veal osso-buco stuffed with foie gras and topped with a mushroom cream sauce; and the beef tournedos yella - beef tenderloins topped with a rich red wine sauce on top of a bed of vegetables. I opted for the tournedos, but my boss, Daniel (who was seated next to me), went for the veal osso-buco.
I just have to say that while my beef tournedos were absolutely fabulous, Daniel's veal osso-buco was out of this world. In fact, we ended up just eating off of each other's plate. We didn't give a shit. When the food is that good, it's a free-for-all. We had a lot of fun that night.
And to end the evening, I had a bourbon based creme brulee with real vanilla. Oh man! I just love creme brulee and that was some of the best I'd ever had. Man, was it great.
And the wine - we had a magnum bottle each of a great French cabernet - a 1999 Mazis-Chambertin Grand-Cru; and a very good French chardonnay - a 2000 Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Even our guy from Winnipeg, who usually doesn't drink white wine, had a glass of the chardonnay and was blown away by the taste.
Before we left, M. Masbatin allowed some of us to take a quick peek of the wine cellar. It was very impressive, not only because of the selection, but because it was a perfect 55 degrees and 60 percent humidity in the cellar.
I don't even want to speculate what the final tab was, but I have to say that I was ever so grateful to my boss for the opportunity to eat in a place like Restaurant L'Aiguiere, to have the great food and great wine, and to experience something like that with my colleagues. I hope that some day I can take Cindy to a place like that.