Restaurant Arpege

August 9, 2010

Sign. Obviously.

Do you have  a list of things that you want to do? I mean, eventually, before your time is up? Visiting a Michelin 3-star restaurant was on mine. I chose Chef Alain Passard’s L’Arpege in Paris. The food is considered French inventive based on vegetables but not vegetarian. We decided to go for lunch, the main reason being it’s much more, quote unquote, affordable. Another good reason for me to visit at lunch is that I get tired in the evening. I sound as though I am 90. But I do get tired in the evening, especially during a many coursed meal. Lunch is perfect. There’s a third good reason for lunch being the better choice that I didn’t think of until I was that annoying person in the restaurant taking a picture of every single dish. The light, if you happen to be in a restaurant with windows at lunch, is very good for photos. Dinner, candlelight, not so much.

Table Decor

The centre piece of vegetables was fridge-cold when we arrived. They reminded me of our friends Guy and Mel, who grow good veggies.

Amuse Bouche

This was just one of our six teeny amuse bouche. Miniature chop of fresh veggies tucked into a wee potato crisp. So teeny you could probably eat about a hundred of them.

Gaufrette Potatoes

Delicate, golden, shatteringly fine and salted. There was nothing wrong with these hatched and fried potatoes. Flawless.


… with celery ice cream. I know, that doesn’t even sound good and savoury ice cream is stupid. Wrong. So wrong. You could not not like this, even with ice cream prejudice.

Tomato Salad

I wait all year for tomato season. The tomatoes in this salad were peeled. Now I have to start peeling my tomatoes because it made them even more delectable. Also present in the salad were beautiful light-filled radishes of all hues, thin thin thin slices of mild onion and the dreaded green pepper. I never eat green peppers but made an exception, given their daintiness and the company they were keeping.

Garlic and Zucchini

I don’t even know what to tell you about this. I don’t know what was going on with the garlic. It was so mild, the garlickiness was understated. But it was only just cooked, so it’s not as though the garlickiness was cooked and coaxed into mildness. Must be some kind of crazy, young French garlic. It was piled on top of a gorgeous light-thick zucchini and matcha emulsion with (basil?) olive oil.

Quatre Ravioli

Nothing to say about the broth, it was a liquid vehicle in which to float these fine ravioli. Four flavours in translucent skins of pasta. The notable one was the second one – it was filled with smoked vegetables that were impossibly rich and creamy. To die for.


This is one of those things that you need to eat with someone. I mean, the whole meal was, but this particular dish is the one that made us whip our heads up with wide eyes and the unspoken holler of “Omigod! Why is this so good?” It was, simply, a thin layer of grated potatoes with parmesan cheese. Roasted to a scorching sizzle and finished with slivers of unbelievable lemon confit and purple basil. That’s it. Why was it so good?

Mussels and Sea Asparagus

This was superb. The mussels were tender and delicate, the sea asparagus a perfect salty, crisp-tender.

Beets and Carrots

A warm and brilliant dish of veggies. Tiny, sugary heart-shaped beets, and parchment-like slices of beet that looked just like petals from a rose. The carrots were a vivid purple with a bright orange heart, and little green squash from outer space. And couscous or something like couscous, for texture.

Dover Sole

We have arrived at the main course! Reason number two that it’s good to go for lunch: because this arrived around hour two into the meal. Gorgeous sole filet, sprinkled with matcha and served with steamed sorrel, caramelized onion and a charming (peeled!) stuffed cherry tomato. Getting full. Ish.


There was a massive cheese cart that was wheeled effortfully about the small dining room. We did not choose our own cheese but asked them to create two different plates for us, this was one of the two. The cheese on the left was a four year old Comte. Definite favourite.

Apple Tart

This is probably the prettiest apple tart I’ve ever seen. The apples slices were rolled into little florets, and the whole thing looked like a bouquet. What a lot of labour! But it was utter perfection. The puff pastry was, quite possibly, the best I’ve had. I was slightly perplexed at an apple dessert, though. The entire menu was so seasonally based and there are no apples (are there?) at this time of year. Whatever, this was flawless.

Now that eating at a 3-star Michelin restaurant is checked off of my list I’m going to add something else. Or put it back on.


9 Responses to “Restaurant Arpege”

  1. katie said

    too bad that apple tart doesn’t look very nice.

  2. Julie said

    Oh my. This post is making me hungry… for food and for Paris. Beautiful photos, Dawne and your descriptions make me feel like I am there! Almost.

  3. Ellis said

    My goodness! The French Dim-Sum are so pretty and colourful! I love eating many different items at one sitting. Thanks for taking beautiful pictures and sharing your experience. XOXO

  4. june said

    Oh my goodness! Fantastic post & delicious descriptions. I am left wondering WHY did we not do this very same thing last fall when we were in Paris?!

  5. brian gourley said

    I recall the name of the eary apples “transparent”, they have a short shelf life, thin skinned, damage easily but are good for cooking with. Also there are some winter apples that are the opposite to the “transparent” although I never seen them for sale.

  6. pamela said

    I am so glad you posted these pictures and allowed me to re-live the most amazing lunch experience. It is also so nice being with you because you will take the photo regardless of the awkwardness that may ensue, (photo ok? oui?) it is like travelling with a photo journalist. I think two “japanese” tourists with duelling cameras may have been to much for the l’arpege crowd to handle. BON SOIR!!!

  7. michael enns said

    Very impressive Dawne, fantastic pictures to capture an amazing experience, so real you can almost taste it, but judging from your comments, very, very far from it. Beautiful work

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