Le Dauphin: first Parisian « Coup de Foudre »
I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed several amazing meals in my life, and they all remain blissfully leaping about in my head like some crazy never-ending happily-ever-after musical. I can’t resist the insanity!
I especially like to reminisce with pure unadulterated pleasure about my first « coup de foudre » dinner in Paris at Le Dauphin. It was « love at first taste. » It wasn’t really dinner since Le Dauphin is technically a tapas bar, but it definitely felt like dinner. In excited anticipation, I told my kids I was going to meet some friends and have a delicious meal at a really cool, hip place. Their response was, « So why are YOU going? » Love them!
As usual, it all went wrong right from the beginning. I first tried to get a reservation at the celebrated parent restaurant Le Chateaubriand, but I was too late calling with only a week before my desired date. I’m organized with the kids but in complete chaos regarding my own agenda. Reservations open two weeks before you want to eat there so I completely missed the boat. I called Le Dauphin though and was able to confirm a reservation and still make my friends happy.
The rendez-vous was a Saturday evening so I had enough time to sort the kids, clean up, find some decent unstained-by-motherhood clothes and then get to the métro. My friends arrived 30 minutes earlier and (only after dinner in their taxi) told me they used the time to have a pleasant chat with Iñaki Aizpitarte, the celebrated chef of the celebrated Le Chateaubriand who was having dinner with his celebrated staff. My friends of course had no idea who they were talking to at the time, and thought Iñaki was just a kind waiter. Perfect.
Apparently, my name was completely misunderstood by the phone receptionist and written down as something like the Germanic-sounding Kasser. So, nobody knew who my friends were talking about when they asked for me. I thus became the Random German Chinese Lady (RGCL) that night whose true identity was completely erased from reality. Everything going to plan!
Despite the confusion, my friends told me that Iñaki was very considerate and helpful and tried to find my non-existent name on the reservation list before suggesting they wait for me in his wine cave next door. Called Le Cave, it is situated conveniently between Le Chateaubriand and Le Dauphin and sells excellent organic non-French wines as well as a few tasty take-away dishes at night. Once their lovely encounter came to a delightful conclusion, I finally showed up thinking I was early and waited on the street for them, clueless as usual.
In the end, my friends and I found each other and the Le Dauphin team were very accommodating, immediately giving us a table despite my undocumented existence. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for the next three hours, being served a parade of sublime tapas, each bursting with a new combination of fresh flavours we had never experienced before. Raspberry-dotted ceviche, fig-adorned risotto, chickpea-nested lamb, quinoa-draped pork … it was like having a steady stream of delicious dreams coming true one heavenly dish by one heavenly dish. If it weren’t for the usual physical, temporal, professional, personal and financial constraints, I would still be there!
About the author:
RCL is a « Random Chinese Lady ». The author is not random, nor Chinese and sometimes not very « ladylike », but the adopted title fits well for such a misfit. RCL is American and Italian and lives in Paris with two entertaining kids. Her main aspiration is simple – to enjoy family and friendship through food!