17, rue de
Beaujolais, 1st. 01.42.96.56.27. Metro Palais-Royal.
Open : Mon-Thur 12h30-1h30pm. Average : 200 Euros. Credit : Amex,
DC, MC, V.
is a luxury theme-park side to
the Grand Vefour, and we were duly impressed as we were led to Victor
Hugo table. Follow up questions revealed, however, that tables are
randomly named after famous people who once ate in the former cafe.
Its days as a hotbed of political intrigue are long past, and the
lunch crowd contained and elegant mix of wealthy locals and tourists.
The view of the Palais-Royal is spectacular and the decor
-featuring exquisite painted panels and mirrors - is a glamorous
historical gem, even if the size of the room means that tables
are slightly too close for absolute comfort. We chose the lunch menu,
which allows chef Guy Martin to show off his skills, without the
obligatory use of luxury ingredients. We began our meal with boned
stuffed chicken, strewn with trompette de la mort mushrooms -
attractively asiatic but not gastronomically startling. A dish of
Jerusalem artichokes was, however, stunning : creamy pallets of the
vegetable were topped with fresh crab, an unctuous purée
was studded with crispy wafers, and seafood and jerusalem
artichoke bisque completed this culinary tour de force. The main course
was tete de veau, not perhaps the sort of dish you expect in these
surroundings, but here it was prepared with a sauce verte and tarragon
salad, and attained a level of sophistication which left other
head meat standing - if such az thing is physically possible. enjoying
our meal as we did, we couldn't help spying the truffles with
everything feast going on next door : the chicken was simply
smothered in the black diamonds. the cheese trolley was outstanding,
including a nutty, long-aged comte and some luscious end of
season vacherin. The layered chocolate dessert was outstanding, with
dark leaves floating over a pale creamy mousse, accompanied by a
sublime praline ice cream. As right to enjoy a glass of Champagne
as this stage of the meal, having previously been lovingly guided
towards quality half bottles of Pouilly Fuisse and a vintage
Margaux. More chocolates and petits fours accompanied our coffe,
and the genuinely welcoming staff made us feel we had experienced that
Victor Hugo really had sat at our table.