I’ve had a passion for food that has bordered on gluttony for many years.  To feed that passion (pun intended), I’ve always sought out new restaurants and types of food – from elegant meals in 5-star restaurants to a $0.50 curry dish on the streets of India.  For me, a trip to Paris is pure heaven. 

The restaurant I’ve most looked forward to in Paris was A Beauvilliers, a small, old French and absurdly romantic restaurant in the Montmartre district recommended by a former colleague of mine who also has the food affliction.  A BeauvilliersThis is the kind of place where you shouldn’t even look at the prices on the menu since you know they’re outrageous; luckily, the restaurant partially assists in this area.  When we sat down at 10:45 p.m. (jet lag is still fully intact), Shanna and I were each handed a menu.  As I was perusing my menu, Shanna asked on 3 separate occasions where the prices were located.  After telling her the location 3 times and starting to wonder if I had really made the right marriage decision, I finally looked at her menu and realized that the restaurant had given her a menu without prices – a patriarchal effort on the part of the restaurant to reduce the heavy burden a woman must feel when presented with financial decisions.  I doubt this practice is alive and well in many American restaurants.  From that point on, I requested that Shanna only talk when spoken to unless she’s talking about raising babies, cooking dinner for me or cleaning the kitchen.  Surprisingly, Shanna rejected this request.

We ordered from the prix fixe menu, where you order an appetizer, entree and dessert from a variety of choices – a style of ordering that gives you a cheaper price than if you ordered all 3 dishes separately but mainly a brilliant effort on the part of the restaurant to trick you into ordering dessert since there’s no way you would ever do so after stuffing yourself with the appetizer and the entree.  Since the menu was only in French and Shanna dropped the ball on learning the language on the plane, we basically ordered our dinner by pointing randomly at the choices presented.  This method proved very effective.  The highlight of the meal for me was braised beef braisedbeef.JPG(a dish that tasted like your Mom’s roast beef on crack), covered with a wheel of perfectly-cooked potatoes and some sort of foam (that, we’ve learned, comes standard with almost all fancy Parisian dishes).  The other dishes included asparagus soup, trumpet mushrooms and sea bass (served almost rare – the only way to eat fish this good).  One of the desserts included 2 small chocolate cakesIMG_0299 062.JPG with a warm, chocolate center that oozed out of the cake once we dove in.  Needless to say, we were without words for several minutes.

The food was almost upstaged by the service.  Our waiter was working so hard that he was visibly sweating – not a visual highlight of the meal, but indicative of the attention we received.  At one point, Shanna tried to pour a glass of water from the mineral water we ordered (as a side note, it seems no one drinks tap water in Paris, but instead doles out at least $7 each meal for a bottle a water; the Nashvillian in me wanted to reject the bottle on a couple of occasions and instead order a glass of the “Cumberland River’s finest” or, more appropriately, the “Seine River’s finest”), but was quickly scolded by the waiter who practically yelled, “I work; you no work”.  

When people ask me about my favorite dining experience, I never have a single answer.  There have been so many great ones – the tasting menu at Le Bernardin in New York; the beef brisket at Kreuz’s Market in Lockhart, Texas; the soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai in New York’s Chinatown; a cheeseburger on French Bread at Rotier’s in Nashville; the shrimp noodle soup made by an old Vietnamese lady (wherever you are, God bless you) on a side street in Saigon.  Without hesitation, I can say that our dinner at A Beauvillier will quickly come to mind the next time that question is asked.