The one good day to get on a riverboat cruise.
Time is flying fast. Can’t believe I have to leave in two days. If I were going home to the US I’d probably be just a little sad, but since I have to go back to that horrid place I’m practically suicidal (no, that’s not a cry for help).
Today is the day I attempt to get into Jules Verne. I never made reservations for a lot of reasons. First, I didn’t know if I even wanted to dine in a restaurant of its calibre. Second, in order to make a reservation you have to basically put a deposit. You can cancel but only up to a certain amount of time. I kept going back and forth whether or not I wanted to dine. I didn’t want to reserve and then bail out at the last minute, only to lose my deposit.
Out of all the reviews on Michelin-rated restaurants, this one seemed the least pretentious, catering more to the tourist crowd. It’s not that I can’t eat in some stuffy old white table cloth joint because I don’t know how to conduct myself, it was the whole eating by myself thing. It’s one thing to turn up at McDonald’s alone, or even your neighbourhood bar and grill; it’s quite another when you’re at some place that expects you to be boo’ed up.
I read that I could just walk in without a reservation: I would have to wait or I’d be denied. I dressed in my best outfit and got on the Metro with fingers crossed. Eiffel Tower up close is pretty amazing. There are tourists, but not that many. No one tried to pickpocket me, much to my disappointment. This whole trip I’ve had my valuables duct taped to my body. Haha. I’m just kidding.
I arrived at 1158 and the door was already opened. There is a little lobby area and I asked the maitre d’, “Are there any seatings available?”
He smiled wanly at me and said, “Has Madame had an opportunity to look at the menu?”
View from the restaurant. I am INSIDE the Eiffel Tower
On the inside I died laughing. Bitch, are you asking me if I have money? I was not offended. I think it’s a good thing to ask to save someone from humiliation. I had such an experience about 10 years ago in California. Ty and I visited Los Angeles, and we went to a restaurant called Pacific Railcar. Back then I was the proverbial struggling college student. California at that time did not publish its menus outside. I was shocked out of my socks when we were handed menus reflecting $50 per plate. We were so embarrassed. Since the restaurant specialised in seafood we pretended that we really wanted pasta. The waiter gave us a pitying look so we ordered a glass of $15 glass of wine and a $20 shrimp cocktail to save face, then ended up at a Denny’s because we didn’t have any money left.
These days I have a savings account. I told the maitre d’ I was fully versed in the menu and asked again for availability.
I crossed my fingers as he called upstairs.
“Yes, madame, please, right this way.”
So, for real, the view is spectacular. I felt safe because I was enclosed and there’s no way a divine wind could sweep me to my death. I did not get a window seat, but my seat was good enough. If the window seats are booked and the guests seated there have finished their meals you can ask to be moved. They will accommodate you. I didn’t feel the need to move because I was facing right out the window.
A Suisse and Brazilian couple got the window. The waiter asked if they were celebrating anything special. She said, “I am his girlfriend.” He said, “She is my friend that is a girl.” She said, “Girlfriend.” The waiter smiled and wisely did not say anything. She said again, “Girlfriend.”
King crab with some caviar and a stale ass breadstick on top. Good as shit, though.
The service is impeccable. They take your coat at the door and hand you into your seat. There are about 100 servers just waiting for the opportunity to treat you like a royal.
I should have started off with a glass of champagne as an aperitif but I’m glad I did not, and you’ll see why in just a little bit. Instead, I got plain water and they brought it along with some cheese crisp thing. Again, I’m not big on cheese but I had purposely skipped breakfast so as to be hungry. Then they start with the bread. The server brought out a HUGE platter of various breads: wholegrain, white, soft pastry, crusty, whatever. The one thing I haven’t liked about French restaurants is the hard bread. After wearing braces, I find I can’t eat hard foods like that anymore. I was thankful to get a soft piece of bread.
I ate three.
I ordered the five plate experience and asked for the wine pairing as well.
Course 1: Seafood mush, fish eggs and stale bread stick
The menu called it “delicate sea urchin, gold caviar, seaweed bread stick.” Actually, it’s really good. I’m gonna say the seafood mush was the sea urchin and it was topped with king crab (the waiter said so) and caviar. I never had caviar before in my life and it was deeeeeeeeelicious. I could have done without the stale breadstick, even though I do like seaweed.
A different waiter brings three wine glasses and situates them on the table. He pours a glass of white, while yet a different waiter come by with more bread. Apparently each waiter has a purpose. It’s not the same guy doing everything.
I’m not the only person dining alone, so I don’t feel conspicuous at all. The waiters paid more attention to me than anyone else, but that’s their job.
This was the only thing that wasn’t that great. I ate the shit out of that lobster though.
Course 2: Lobster on baby food, thin slice of carrot, some kind of tuber and half a leek.
…or, “Seared langoustine, homemade pickles.” The names the chefs come up with are hysterical to me. Really, it’s probably just a description of the dish but I have to put it in layperson terms. I would not consider myself a foodie by any stretch of the imagination.
Lobster on baby food tastes great. The lobster is utterly perfect. The texture was exactly where it should be, slightly firm. I don’t know what the baby food was, some kind of orange coloured puree, but it coincided with the lobster in a marriage of excellence. I don’t see “homemade pickles” on my plate. I see a tuber and quite literally half a leek. The tuber was meh, but I like leeks. Too bad I didn’t get a whole one.
Wine guy comes back to pour a second glass of wine. This is also a white wine. I have said for the longest time I do not like white wine. At home, the only whites I ever drink come from the Carolina Muscadine grape, and I only ever drink it when I’m having a barbecue or something like that because it’s super sweet. My preference are dry reds. So now I think I need to clarify. I don’t like *cheap* white wine. Whatever this wine guy is bringing is excellent. The first white had a buttery nose to it. My first thought was popcorn, which sounds gross but it was anything but. This second white was more flowery. Neither were very dry, which is good. It was a dry white wine that led me to believe I didn’t like whites.
A different kind of lobster with vegetables I’ve never eaten before.
Course 3: Bland onion looking thing with cheesy mushroom sauce.
…or, “Chicory, ham, comte cheese and black truffle.” I have no idea what a chicory is but that cheesy sauce was the TRUTH! I don’t even like cheese, but it was light and flavourful. Maybe it was the truffle that gave it the taste. Oh, it was so good. When I first ordered I asked if it could be made without ham and I was obliged. I thought chicory was something you put in coffee.
Here comes the wine guy again. Okay, so I know I ordered the wine pairing. Sometimes I do not fully think things through. Are they really going to bring me five glasses of wine? Halfway through this third glass of wine my face became numb. Once I get that numb feeling in my face I know it’s time to stop because after that comes the loud talking, laughing for no reason and passing out. Should I tell him not to bring anymore? Hahahaha.
I had needlessly worried about what to do with myself between courses. There was a lot to observe. I did play on my phone but that’s because I was writing down each dish according to my own description. I didn’t want to forget and at the rate I was drinking there was no way I would be able to remember anything at all.
Course 4: Lobster on poinsettia leaves, one potato chip in beet juice
…or, “Roasted blue lobster, braises salsify, cooking jus.” Poinsettia leaves are poisonous to some people, so I’m sure it’s not really poinsettia leaves. I don’t know what this is. Are the leaves red because of the beet juice? This dish is the only one I did not care for too much. I don’t like beets or potatoes. There is precisely one thin slice of potato drowned in beet juice and these leaves. It just wasn’t appetising. The waiter comes by and sees me picking at it. He says, “Madame does not like beets?” I shook my head. He gave me a most aggrieved look, “But the lobster!!?” Oh, bitch, don’t worry. I am not about to throw away some lobster. I was able to get it out of its shell without getting too much beet juice on it. Very tasty, but lemon and butter would have been much appreciated.
First dessert: half a teaspoon of ice cream on an orange rind
Because I ordered only the fish courses, I did not get course five which is just as well because I was pretty much a fat horsey by then. The dishes are very small but there’s a lot going on. I have finished three glasses of wine and I know I was smiling like an idiot. The waiter tried to take away glass number three, but I wouldn’t let him because there was a tiny drop left. Bitch, please!
Dessert course 1: Vanilla wafer with ice cream and orange rind
…or, “clementine tartlet, chestnut ice cream.” The ice cream didn’t taste like chestnuts (not that I’ve ever had chestnuts), but instead it seemed like plain vanilla to me. I like citrusy things so this was a home run for me. The clementine is very strong, very chewy, like a gummy candy.
More wine. Oh, God. This time it’s a sweet dessert wine. All these wines are French so I don’t know how it works but in the US, dessert wines are called fortified wines because they have more alcohol than table wines. Halfway through this glass I know that I should stop but I can’t because I’m actually now drunk. I’m glad I’m alone because there is no one to talk to; therefore, I cannot talk loudly and embarrass myself. I just sit there smiling like a fool.
Third dessert: fancy ass marshmallows, macaroons and even more fancy ass marshmallows.
Dessert course 2: gold spray-painted medallion chocolate thing
…or, “Crispy tower nut, chocolate from their factory and praline.” Chocolate, yes. Praline, yes. It’s not spray painted but it’s shiny and gold. I can’t think of how they got it to be that colour, and maybe since I’m trashed all I could think of was spray paint. It looks like the gold foil wrapping on a champagne bottle but it’s edible. (Later, I found out that it’s actually real gold powder. So, like, I ate gold.)
More wine! It’s called Maury, and the only reason I remember it is because of Maury Povich. I thought of that when the waiter was pouring and I busted out laughing. He looked at me like, “what is so funny?” I couldn’t explain, so he walked away looking a little miffed. This wine is not that great. It tastes like prune juice. I drank it anyway.
Just when I though the experience was over, here comes yet a different guy with MORE desserts. This time it’s a little tray of macaroons and some fancy marshmallows. He actually said, “In case you are still hungry.”
What!?!? I am so stuffed and my head, my poor head. I did help myself to a chocolate marshmallow while I waited for coffee to be served.
FOR ONE PERSON!
So, you know, alcohol is a depressant. If you’re not laughing and drinking and having a good time with friends, then you’re thinking about things. As if on cue, Claire de Lune started playing softly in the background. It made me wistful and reminiscent. I got dumped a week before Valentine’s Day in 2014. A month later, I shipped off to Utah to do some training for the deployment. I really liked that guy and I thought we were gonna make it. Here I am dining in some super fancy restaurant alone and he’s …. who even knows?
The next song was Pachelbel’s Canon in D, otherwise known as the Wedding Song. Now I’m truly depressed. I finish the Maury Povich and think about the mythological creature: The Woman Who Has It All. I don’t think such a thing is possible. Either you’re devoted to your family, or you’re devoted to your career. When I went to basic training my drill sergeant used to say there was no such thing as giving 110%. He said, “What’s 100% of you? ALL of you. What’s 110% of you? MORE than you. You cannot give more than yourself.” I have been devoted to my career: putting myself through school, deploying twice, working extra, working over in order to prove myself and get ahead. Since I cannot give more than myself that is probably why all my relationships suck.
Deep thoughts, and that’s why it’s not a good idea to drink so much.
But you know, maybe I’m better off without that guy because that bitch would have never come with me to Paris. He is too awkward. I couldn’t even imagine him attempting to speak French. And eating in some fancy ass restaurant? Yeah, right. Unless it’s chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese and his momma’s meat loaf, he would not try it. But then, you know what, he might eat this boring ass French food.
Anyway, I’m in Paris, so what do I need to think about him for?
I asked for the check and now I’m really about to die laughing. I have some idea of what I spent because I studied the menu for so long when I was trying to decide. I forgot about the incidentals: coffee, water, etc. They charge you for every little thing, but you might as well go all out. Don’t do things in half measures.
I received l’addition and the sum is 297E. Lucky the military don’t charge you rent or food. Shit, if I was home I’d have to eat Ramen noodles for the rest of the week.
Since my mood had turned morbid, I figured the only way to lift my spirits is to go shopping. I’m not sure how I managed to get to Champs-Elysees. I wish I could elaborate for you my adventures on this grand boulevard; however, I do not remember too much. I remember the train making me dizzy. Then I remember being in a store, and that’s about it.
Next thing I woke up back at the apartment with a snow globe on the bedside table. LOL. C’est la vie.