Lausanne Palace

An imposing Belle Epoque palace, the singularity of a privileged view, and the art of welcoming, make of this Lausanne Palace one of the best hotels in Switzerland.

Located in the heart of Lausanne, with the stamp of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Lausanne Palace was one of the best experiences I ever had in a hotel.

A palace that witnessed the beauty and bohemia of the 20’s, kept, since June 1915, the same premise – the Swiss hospitality, with the happiness and comfort of its guests as the main goal.

Since 2016, with Ivan Rivier in charge, the Lausanne Palace perfectly represents the success of luxury hotels, in which the Savoir-être and the Savoir-faire are the great pillars of hospitality.

We arrived at the hotel after a beautiful train journey from Lucerne (see), and once the central station was just 500m of the hotel, we walked there.

First Impression

The first thing we see as arriving is the facade, going back in time and imagine ourselves as part of a glamorous story from the Belle Epoque. The balconies with their red sunblinds give it the typical elegance of a Parisian hotel.

The hotel is surrounded by the city, the Geneva lake, and the Alps.

We entered and were welcomed with the so delicate “Bonjour Madame”!

The lobby is huge, and ahead of us is one of the bars of the hotel, full of guests with the typical combo of bustle and relaxation.

It’s the Bar 1915, with an intimate ambiance, while in an open space. Surrounded by flowers and decorated woth sober colors, giving it a comfort atmosphere.

You feel like experiencing it even before the check-in!
We were forwarded to the reception, to our left, and welcomed by the team that took care of our check-in without delays.

The reception, with high marble ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and neo-classical columns, shares the grandiosity of the facade of the hotel!

Bedrooms
There are 140, including 30 Suites and Junior Suites.
We stayed in a Suite Lake View, by far one of the best rooms I’ve ever stayed at!

With some generous 100m2, distributed by a living room with sober colors and a comfort ambiance; an elegant bedroom, breathing relaxation and luxury; and two bathrooms, the smaller one with a shower and the bigger one with bathtub; and lastly but most importantly, two balconies with one of the best views ever, the Lake Geneva and the magnificent Alps, covered in snow, a magical combination with the sun felt that day.

It was here we spent half of the afternoon, with a dreamlike scenario, accompanied by chocolate, fruit, coffee, and tea we had available in the room.

To perfume our afternoon there was a red roses bouquet with a welcoming letter. The atmosphere was just perfect – of comfort, elegance, and familiar as if that was our house (and oh! if it could be!).

Besides the free wifi, here the minibar is also free, with juices, non-alcoholic drinks, and some snacks.

In the bathroom, the products we have available are from the renowned British brand Penhaligon’s.
The bedroom is extremely functional and can be controlled from the bed. About it, and unfortunately for me, they invested in the mattress firmness and not in the wrapping softness as I like.

That night, we also got a bottle of Champagne Deutz, some snacks, and another rose! And at that moment we were sure there is no hospitality as the Swiss!

They are unbeatable in the art of welcoming (and happily they discovered my passion for “bubbles”!)

Restaurants and Bars

One of the hotels’ ex-libris, because it has several spaces with very high quality.
The Bar 1915, that I mentioned before, is the center of the hotel, where guests and locals come together for different breakfasts, cocktails along the day, or business meetings in an interesting space. Besides it, there are three more bars.

The LP’s Bar, with an urban-chic atmosphere. Basically a place in Lausanne where you go to see and be seen!

A modern decoration with touches of colonial, it is prepared to satisfy our wishes from the morning till dawn! The panoramic terrace enchants those who decide to stay there and relax.

At night, the bar transforms into a bohemian place where anything can happen, with live music from Tuesday to Saturday.

In this bar there is the famous Krug Room, an intimate space, combining two of the biggest pleasures the comnon mortal can have, books and wine – particularly the selection of the best Krug champagnes!

Another place of interest is the Habana Bar, as the name indicates, a space for the tobacco lovers, and not any tobacco, but the famous Cuban one! A place for very peculiar tastes!

With a decoration between the elegance of wood and the sparkle of leather, this bar is a space full of personality.

And to finish the bars, we have another one, quite different from these, a Vegan Bar, the Yogi Booster, the first vegetarian and organic restaurant of Lausanne, with a series of menus with healthy and natural foods, and a detox cuisine.

This food experience can be made with the detox treatments of the spa as well.

And on to the restaurants, there are four, one of them with a Michelin star!

Between the four spaces, the choice is very varied, with options to every taste: the Sushi Zen Palace, a traditional Japanase to the lovers of this type of food; the Côté Jardin, famous for the brunch, with mediterranean flavors, serving all the meals of the day, and where we had the chance to have a great breakfast with the Alps as scenario; the Brasserie du Gran Chéne, with its Parisian style, taking us back to the past with the elegance of the Parisian Brasseries and the flavors of the great French gastronomy. One of the spotlights is the oyster bar.

  And lastly, the acclaimed and starred La Table D’Edgard, headed by Edgard Bovier, one of the main gastronomic references of the city and the region, combining haute cuisine with one of the most beautiful views of the city.

Services
The Lausanne Palace is a luxury hotel prepared to satisfy every need of its guests.
Equipped with five rooms for events and celebrations, prepared to welcome hundreds of people, without ever neglecting an excellence service. But, if the focus is business, the hotel is also a step ahead, with its eight rooms technologically equipped to welcome dozens of people.


If like me, the goal is to relax, the CBE Concept Spa is the perfect place. Constituted of an interior warm pool, jacuzzi, two areas (men and women) of a Turkish bath, treatment rooms and the best gym I ever saw in a hotel.

Nothing is left to chance and the feeling of well-being and plenitude is a constant in this space.

Besides these, the hotel as all the typical services of a luxury hotel and some more you may need. You just have to contact the concierge or any other member of the staff.

Of my stay, I’m left with nostalgia, gratitude and mostly, fascination. How can a centennial hotel be so timeless, be so traditional and at the same time so cosmopolite, be so genuine and so caring of its guests, and when it has the size of a palace be so authentic and perfect in the art of welcoming?
But yes, a hotel can be all this!

And of my experience, I take, above all, authenticity and hospitality.

See you soon Lausanne Palace!

Lausanne Palace
Bedrooms from 270€
Rue du Grand-Chêne 7 – Lausanne
+41 21 331 31 31
info@lausanne-palace.ch

Versão Portuguesa

 Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Lucerne

Located in central Switzerland, the geographic and historic center of the country, Lucerne is one of those cities taken straight out of a fairy tale.
It’s the biggest of central Switzerland, situated in the margins of Lake Lucerne.
Started as a fishing village, but from 1220 it had an important role in economy and commerce with the opening of the Gotthard Pass.

Mainly Catholic, marked by its history in leading the Catholic resistance during the Reformation period. Currently, and since the XIX century, tourism is the main economic activity.

One of the many reasons millions of tourists are drawn to Lucerne is the Classical Music Festival.
Lucerne is one of those cities you can easily see walking around, being able to explore it in a day. Two days well spent are enough, three to four days if you also want to explore some more cities around the Lake Lucerne.

The city is divided into North and South by the Reuss River. In the North margin is the medieval Old Town and in the South margin the train station, where you’ll probably arrive in Lucerne.

Focusing on this last item, how to arrive in Lucerne?

Flying to Zurich and taking the train to Lucerne is the simpler and quicker way.
Train tickets should be bought in advance (see), and brace yourselves ’cause they’re expensive!
If you intend to visit several cities in the country, one of the options is flying to Zurich or Geneva (depending on the cities you want to see) and rent a car or travel by train.

What to do in Lucerne?
There are some mandatory places in Lucerne, and whether you like it or not, you’ll have to accept there will always be tourists in the must-see spots. Well, what are we anyway? Tourists! Can’t fight with that. You can always visit and explore the less seen side of the city but you must have to see the ex-libris as well! Right?

To see

South Margin

Right next to the train station arises an imposing modern building, entirely built of glass. The KKL or Kultur-und Kongresszentrum Luzern, aka, Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre.
Here you can find, besides conference and showrooms, the Kunstmuseum with Swiss paintings from the XVIII century to the XX century, as well as temporary exhibits that regularly change.

Around 400 meters to the left (facing the river Reuss) and if you wish to maintain the Art environment, you have the Rosengart collection, where many of the works collected by Siegfried’s art negotiators, and his daughter, are exposed; it also has works of Picasso, Cézanne, and Monet.

But museums aside, let’s discover another type of art, in a very specific style, religious art.

Lucerne Jesuit Church

Also on the south bank of the river, we have symbols of religion, the Jesuit Church, from the XVII century, with its onion topped towers built later in the XIX century. The interior is baroque and on the ceiling is possible to enjoy the apotheosis of Saint Francis Xavier.

Very close is the Franziskanerkirche, an older Franciscan church, from the XIII century, initially built in a Gothic style but altered throughout time with baroque and renaissance.

The Lucern History Museum is also on the Southside, in a renaissance building, and here you can see all the history of the city. Beside it, there is a great option for families and kids, the Natural History Museum, with highlight to Zoology, Paleontology, and Geology.

North Margin

Crossing to the North side of the city, we immediately get to see two of its spotlights, the SpreurerBrücke and the KapellBrücke, the most emblematic bridges of Lucerne.
The first, the oldest wooden bridge in Europe, dating from the XIV century, crossing the river sidewards. It was a part of the old fortifications. In the middle, the bridge is connected to the Wasserturm, an octagonal tower, that once has been a lighthouse, a prison, and treasury!

Walking along the tower take a good look at its ceiling, you’ll find paintings about the history of the city, as well as the life of St. Leodegar and St. Mauritius (martyrs who became patrons). Some are very worn out, and some of the panels were destroyed during a fire in 1993.

The SpreurerBrücke, also made of wood, is a bit more recent, from the beginning of the XV century, and crossing it is also staring at its ceiling panels of Kaspar Meglinger that showcase the Dance of Death culminating in Crist’s triumph (North-South way).

But let us now focus on the Old Town!
This was my favorite area, staying at the Hotel des Balances we were right in the old town, and each time we stepped outside the hotel and walked around, we kept finding new details, a new alley to explore, a new story!

The Old Town managed to stay well preserved and real until today. The facades of the historical buildings are painted with frescoes and provide beautiful moments of wonder to those watching. The historical neighborhood of Lucerne is a vibrant place, full of stores, bars, and restaurants.
A place where you can truly feel and experience the life of its inhabitants and the essence of the city.

Weinmarkt

One of the most beautiful squares is Weinmarkt, the old square where wine was sold, its composed of lovely houses, mostly former guilds. Another interesting square is the Kapell-Platz even more vibrant in the market days. It’s named due to the Peterskapelle, a chapel built in the place of a church from the XII century.


The beauty of Lucerne is to just walk around it, without any worries, nor looking for something specific, just let yourselves go by your curiosity and be amazed at each alley, each detail, and enchantment of this little medieval town.

Above the Old Town is the imposing Museggmauer, the well-preserved north section of the medieval wall that surrounds around 850 meters of the city, from the north of River Reuss to the North Margin of the Lucerne Lake. The wall has nine towers, but only three of them are open to the public, and only during summer.

Northwest of the old town there are some highlights to be seen, the Bourbaki Panorama, one of the few left panoramas in the world, that portrays the marching of the French army against Switzerland at the orders of the General Bourbaki during the Franco-Prussian war; the Richard Wagner Museum – the composer lived in Lucerne for a period of time where he composed some of his works; and lastly, the emblematic Löwendenkmal, the figure of a giant dying lion pierced by a spear, to pay homage to the Swiss guards of Louis XIV of France, who defended the Palais des Tuilerries in 1792 when it was attacked by revolutionaries. This sculpted lion, in a sandstone cliff over a small lake, emanates drama! (Much more exciting than the Manneken Pis in Brussels!).

If you have more time to visit the city, you should also take time to enjoy the Swiss Transportation Museum. An excellent option for a family trip. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to go there.

Another option if you have the time, is to visit other cities around Lake Lucerne.

But, if like us you only have two days, the ideal is to just walk around town, absorbing the best Lucerne has to offer, its authenticity, the medieval beauty, the history and natural beauty.


Waking up in the morning and getting to see the sun reflecting in the lake while rivaling with the white from the snow on the Alps is an unforgettable privilege.

See you soon Lucerne!

Where to stay
Hotel Des Balances

Versão Portuguesa 

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Hotel des Balances

Located in the enchanted city of Lucerne in Switzerland, the Hotel des Balances is a four-star Boutique hotel, that could easily be a five!

Being a part of the old town, the sensation is of being in another era, initially medieval but quickly we can identify very bohemian and cosmopolite features, being its restaurant one of the most trendy and elegant in Lucerne, with a terrace and bar with privileged views over the river.

The roots of the hotel, or at least of the region, date back to the XIII century, perfectly located between the fish and wine markets, an area always considered noble, with its view over the lake, the best look over the city.

But, the life of Hotel des Balances starts in 1837 and evolves as one of the most emblematic hotels in the city, by the hands of Jean Haecky and Fritz Rindlisbacher.

First Impression
We started our visit to Switzerland in the small city of Lucerne and went straight to the hotel. I knew it was near the river Reuss, and the views supposed to be amazing, but I never thought our stay could be as incredible as it turned out to be!

As soon as I saw the hotel from a distance I realized the beautiful balconies overlooked the river, and the Jesuit church on the other bank, also to the left was the KapellBrücke and to the right SpreurerBrücke, some of the city ex-libris!

The picturesque balconies, the refined and elegant aspect, and the connection to the river reminded me some of Venice’s palaces.

As we got close to the hotel the bustle of its restaurant was already noticeable.

 The emblematic facade of the Hotel

Going around to the entrance, we have one of the most beautiful facades in the city. It demonstrates the style of the famous Swiss artist Hans Holbein, and surely no one is indifferent to it.

We entered and were welcomed efficiently and with sincere smiles.

The reception reminds us of the 20’s and the Belle Époque, and the room was decorated for Christmas, very simple and elegant. A very cozy environment, I must say. A Boutique Hotel, with all the comfort and coziness I love.

Our check-in was quick and we were offered a cocktail voucher to the bar, and a free pass to the public transports, easing our trip around the city.

Bedrooms
They are 56, of several types, Single Room, Double Room, Junior Suite, Suites, and Romantic Suite (specially designed for a perfect honeymoon!).

We stayed in a Junior Suite, constituted by a very comfy living room, a bathroom with a wonderful kit of L’occitane products, and an elegant bedroom. The sober and neutral colors plus the golden details, give the right amount of comfort versus simplicity to the area.

But the true highlight of this bedroom was the balcony and the amazing view from it. The river Reuss became our confident and the Swiss Alps covered in snow our most perfect horizon.

At our disposal at the bedroom were coffee and tea, and to spoil us a little, the Hotel des Balances decided to show the Swiss hospitality is the most complete of all – offering us a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, fruit, and chocolates. And what a beautiful moment we had on our balcony. A moment to remember, for sure!

The only negative was the poor soundproofing of the bedroom, otherwise, it would’ve been just the perfect stay!

Restaurants
Inside the space of the hotel, there is the Restaurant Balances (awarded with 14 points in the guide Gault-Millaut), the Bar Lounge and the Terrace. Considered one of the best spaces in the city, probably one of the trendiest, with a cosmopolitan environment with a bohemian touch and of a constant party, with all the relaxation needed for us to feel good.

An extremely elegant place, similar to the rest of the hotel, with a breathtaking terrace, where friends from around Lucerne meet daily.
We enjoyed a very tasty dinner, with a constant in-n-out of tourists and locals around us.

From the dinner, highlight to a contrasting beetroot, salmon, and spicy radish dumpling, with a good contrast of earth/sea flavors, and freshness.

 

 Beetroot dumpling 

Seabass, parsley emulsion, pumpkin risotto with cranberries and bacon

There was also time for a flawless seabass, a great selection of refined cheeses and an excellent dessert of Chocolate with yuzu and hazelnut.

 Chocolate, Yuzu and hazelnut

After the dinner we went to the bar, accompanied by some Portuguese friends in a joyful coincidence, where we had the chance to see an amazing moment like a Piano Batlle! A usual moment in the nights of the bar.

At the bar and Lounge is also possible to enjoy a meal and wine.

Regarding the breakfast, you can have it at the restaurant, similarly to the other meals of the day, but we opted to have ours in the room next to the reception. A more intimate environment, with a Christmas-y decoration, and a range of fruit juices forming a true color palette. An excellent breakfast!

Services
Besides the usual services, like room service, wi-fi, laundry service and concierge, the Hotel des Balances also has other services to its guests.

You can also say the location is probably one of the best in town, making our life easier.

Concerning business trips, the hotel has three rooms for either conferences, events or celebrations, and two of them can even be joined to form a bigger one.

If you like your stay to be personalized, just talk to the concierge and the plan will be prepared to your taste, from visiting museums, a shopping day, go to a show or take a boat trip to other towns around Lucern.

 

Service 
The Swiss hospitality turns any stay in a moment of perfect harmony, and that is noticeable at Hotel des Balances.
The team is young, nice and caring about details. The environment is elegant but relaxed, and being a relatively small hotel, you still get that feeling of being at home.

I felt so welcomed and spoiled (and I just don’t say that because of the Veuve Clicquot!!!).

Hotel des Balances is one of those cases where we see sometimes some of the four-star hotels are better than the five ones!

Located in one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in Switzerland, it makes us feel special.

 

A magical place, full of history, but at the same time trendy and cosmopolitan.

A place where you leave already wanting to come back!

Hotel Des Balances 
Bedrooms from 150€
Weinmarkt, CH-6004 – Lucerne
+41 414 182 828 
info@balances.ch

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Chryseia 2015 and the cuisine of Vítor Matos

In a time when the launch of the 2016 edition of Chryseia is for sure being prepared, it’s impossible not to say a few words about one of Douro’s greatest wines, even more about such a peculiar year as 2015.

The presentation started very well, in a sunny day, at the elegant terrace of Antiqvvm, the refined Pol Roger champagne and the fresh snacks of Vítor Matos, with shrimp ceviche, cheese&prosciutto and fresh cheese&tomato “sandwiches”.

Cheese&prosciutto sandwiches

At the table, and without the usual presence of Bruno Prats (the renowned oenologist who associated with Symington to embrace the Quinta de Roriz project), we had the chance to taste some of his wines, starting with a peculiar Chilean ChardonnaySol de Sol 2012.

A very well tailored white, with citric notes, some dry fruit, good greasiness and great acidity.

Atlantic Turbot, peas, potato, spinach and truffle 

To kick off the menu, Vítor Matos chose a very well accomplished dish, around the Atlantic Turbot. Perfectly cooked fish, nice balance of flavors and textures, with body and weight, without any other element outshining the fish. Worked very well with the wine!

 Charles Symington

Followed the so desired 2015 edition of the classic Chryseia. A wine that follows the line of the 2012 edition, that while not being as powerful and recognized as the 2011 (3rd place in the Top 100 of Wine Spectator), showed much more elegant, sophisticated and harmonious. Wines that give pleasure to drink and discover, because they don’t show everything at first sight.

The nose brings us Touriga Nacional notes, with floral aromas and some rockrose harmonizing with lots of fruit, spices and joyfulness, a nose that transports us through Douro. On its turn, the mouth brings us a great structure, marked tannins, but molded, and a rare freshness that gives it the elegance and lightness that many times lack in the great Douro wines.

Time will take care of making this 2015 one of the best editions of Chryseia, the secret is to manage to keep the bottles hidden a few more years!

 Royal pigeon, foie, maronesa veal tail, parsnip and beetroot 

Accompanying was a fat and rich dish, with a great balance of sweetness, in a combination of royal pigeon, foie and veal tail. Great contrast of textures and meat flavors, missing just a bit of freshness to elevate the dish to another level.

Followed one of the highlights of the afternoon, the tasting of one of the greatest wines created by Bruno Prats, in his former property in Bordeaux, the Grand Cru Classé Cos D’ Estournel 1986. A Bordeaux classic, in great shape, with the Cabernet Sauvignon making us travel through aromas of tobacco, spices, mushrooms and some smoky notes. A great wine!

Azeitão and Serra da Estrela cheeses 

Vítor Matos’ double interpretation of two classic national cheeses that share their origin. Very good pairing and imagination, especially with the onion and Port wine jam and the red fruits, making of this a very interesting moment concerning working with cheese without disrespecting it.

As any good Douro house worthy of its name, the lunch could not end without the Port wine, in this case, a Vintage 2000 from Quinta de Roriz. Still with great color and full of dark fruit, starting to get some harmony with tertiary aromas. Very pleasant in the mouth and went really well with the dessert of Resende Cherry and Chocolate.

 Resende Cherry and Chocolate, aged balsamic and coffee

A very well accomplished dessert, with notes of coffee and chocolate working harmoniously. Elevating the dish was the final kick from the balsamic, in a combination where the pistachio cream did not add much.

It was a great lunch, that not only comes to prove the creativity and quality of Vítor Matos cuisine, but also a new path, more elegant and subtle, with fewer elements on the dish, and centered on produce and flavor of the main element.

Concerning the wines, there’s no doubt this partnership between Symington and Bruno Prats, creates, year after year, one of the great wines of Douro. If the following years are in the line of this 2015 profile, I’ll always be a very happy man while tasting a glass of Chryseia!

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

Disclaimer
We were at the presentation of Chryseia by invitation from Prats & Symington, whereas this does not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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Quinta de La Rosa

When the world was created, Douro was one of the chosen places to represent perfection! And I get more certain of that each time I return!

This time we came to get to know Quinta de La Rosa, located very near the center of Pinhão. This Quinta, very familiar, was offered as a Christening present to Claire Feuheerd, grandmother of the current manager (Sophia Bergqvist), in 1906. The wine export company was sold in the 30’s, however, the La Rosa was kept and managed by Claire.

In 1988, Sophia and her father Tim Bergqvist decided to restart the family business, launching Quinta de La Rosa as one of the first producers and bottlers of Port wine at Douro.

Nowadays, the Quinta is managed by Sophia, with her brother’s help, and the oenologist Jorge Moreira, who’s been creating a very strong connection to the brand these past few years.

The vineyards at Vale do Inferno 

The 55 hectares of vineyards, located in the heart of Alto Douro, on the right margin of the river, allow an annual production of 50000 liters of Port and the triple of table wines.

Quinta de La Rosa is in the family for several generations now, but also several generations have been working here, the reason why it’s so familiar and cozy.

We came to La Rosa to know the Hotel and enjoy the opening of its new restaurant, A Cozinha da Clara, as the name suggests, an homage to Clara Feuheerd’s memory.

First Impression
There’s no possible description when talking about Douro!

Quinta de La Rosa stays in one of Douro’s hillsides, with the vineyards going down to the river in terraces, with mixing colors that create nature in perfect harmony.

We were welcomed by a young and nice team, in a reception that’s also the shop and tasting room for Quinta’s visitors. A modern space, where wine, olive oil, and vinegar are displayed.
From here we were accompanied to our bedroom, at Quinta Amarela, very close to Casa Principal (main building).

 Bedrooms
The Quinta has been receiving guests for more than 20 years now, developing a refuge for the Douro (and its wines) lovers. And, in 2012, Quinta de La Rosa was redeveloped to accommodate more guests, with more quality.

 Quinta Amarela

The Quinta has 21 bedrooms and a house with capacity for 6. There are bedrooms at Casa de Familia, where we have direct contact with 100 years of history; also at the vineyard, which names refer to family members, and there are also two houses, Quinta Amarela (where we stayed), with 5 bedrooms (but that you can rent as a whole); and Quinta das Lamelas, with capacity for 6 people.

Quinta Amarela

So Quinta Amarela has 5 bedrooms, and a common space, a living room with all the comfort of a family home. Also we also have a terrace and private pool. We stayed in the bedroom Amarela 1, but it is interesting to think of joining 4 couples and rent the entire house to us!

Our bedroom was a Superior Double, more rustic than the recently renewed bedrooms of the main house. The Bed was comfortable, and the view from one of the windows was Douro. At our disposal, we had water, tea, and coffee.

However, I missed some little things, like a welcoming detail and a robe (I can’t live without a robe!). The best of Quinta Amarela is maybe its terrace and pool, which views take us to the paradise called Douro!

 Restaurants
The Cozinha da Clara, a space to honor Sophia’s grandmother, is the only restaurant at the Quinta, opened in May 2017, and the reason that brought us here.

A space that imitates the interior of a cask, with family paintings around the walls, but in my opinion, it could be less modern and more traditional. Here we had breakfast and dinner!

We had breakfast on the balcony, where we get the sensation we can touch the river! Amazing!

Small repair for the fact of the eggs being an extra option on the breakfast menu, even more in a place where the majority of the guests are British.

For dinner, Cozinha da Clara‘s proposal rests on national flavors, revisited by the young chef Pedro Cardoso. A signature cuisine, transporting not only Douro’s heritage, with the olive oils, wines, bread, and sausages, but also some national flavors from different places like the suckling pig or the sardines.

Sardine samosa with peppers 

 Suckling pig and mushroom tureen

Harmonizing were obviously the good wines of the Quinta, from the Rosé to the Reserva Tinto, and of course, the classic Colheita 2008 and the Tawny 20 years, in a “challenge” to accompany the chocolate and red fruits based dessert.

A new cuisine, a new restaurant joining the each time more interesting, but still short, gastronomic offer at Douro.
Services
Quinta de La Rosa offers a series of options and activities for making the stay a moment of real contact with Douro, with wine, the vineyards, and nature.

So a visit to the cellar is mandatory, and see the entire production of the wine, as well as tasting it to finish with a plus.

At La Rosa is possible to accompany all the production process, from the vineyards to the bottling. The visit is possible every day from April to October, at 11 am.

 

 
At the end of the visit, you have a wine taste at the shop in the main house, where you can also buy the wines, olive oil or vinegar.
During the harvest season, September or October (in normal weather years!), you can also take part of it.

   

But the stay at Quinta de La Rosa is full of activities puting us in direct contact with nature, long walks, namely to the Vale do Inferno vineyard (around 20 min walking along the vineyards), a true work of art; or to Casa das Lamelas (around 1h30), allowing us to see Douro and the terraces from a very high location.

It is possible to make a picnic, organized in different places around the Quinta, always with the best view over Douro.

Around the Quinta, you can visit Pinhão, see the historic train station and taste the amazing things of the Qualifer butchery, or even take a longer trip to the very beautiful town of Provesende.

 
But, for those just simply wanting to relax at La Rosa, the options are as simple as enjoying both the pools, if the weather allows, or simply rest in one of the many spots while reading a good book.

During my stay, I would’ve changed some details (as I referred), that not being serious, could’ve taken the experience to another level.

La Rosa is located in a little piece of heaven, with astonishing views and contact with nature, making it a magical place.

Quinta de La Rosa 
Bedrooms from 125€
Quinta de La Rosa, 5085-215  – Pinhão (Douro)
+351 254 732 254
bookings@quintadelarosa.com

Versão Portuguesa

 Photos: Flavors & Senses

Disclaimer
We were at Quinta de La Rosa by invitation, whereas this does not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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Kei

KeiKei Kobayashi is one of the most famous names in the city of light, with a passion for French cuisine hard to match. A passion that started very early in his life, still in Nagano (his hometown) when enchanted by Alain Chapel’s work in a tv show.

And there started his own path in cuisine, first in Nagano, following Tokyo, where he worked with Paul Bocuse. At 21 years old he decided that France would be his destination, passing through several kitchens, like Gilles Goujon (L’Auberge du Vieux Puits), the Le Prieuré and Le Cerf, before joining Alain Ducasse’s brigade at the famous Plaza Athenée, working under Jean-François Piège and Christophe Moret’s wings.

Kei-3 The minimalism and aesthetics of Kei’s cuisine is also present in the identity and aspect of the dining room 

In 2011, young Kei decided to step up his career, opening the homonymous restaurant, next to Les Halles, at the number 5 of Coq Héron street, where previously worked Gerard Besson’s starred restaurant.

Focused on developing a signature cuisine, all about the product and the finest aesthetic care, his cuisine was soon recognized, achieving several individual awards and the famous star. In 2017 the second star in the French guide arrived, in the opinion of some, sinfully late.

Kei-5 Kei-4 The centre of the room with highlight to the aged beef Rubia Gallega. 

But on to our experience! Arriving at the restaurant we soon get the fusion of modernity, minimalism and classic aesthetic of a French haute cuisine restaurant, all clear, clean and harmonious, with the team flowing around a full room with the balance and elegance of a great orchestra.

After comfortably seated, we started with a champagne De Sousa Brut Réserve Grand Cru, a 100% Chardonnay, with strong aromas, floral notes, dry fruits and some forest. Pleasant and fresh in the mouth and a great pairing to the snacks to follow.

Kei-6 Red Shiso granita

And we started immediately by awakening and refreshing our palate with a red shiso granita, highlighting the fusion of cultures we’ll find on the menu. Followed a smoked yoghurt tartelette with sardine and red onion, a small snack full of contrasts, crunchy and creamy, with an excellent smoky ending.

Kei-9Smoked yoghurt tartelette with sardine and red onion

Kei-7 Barmejan peas with ricotta 

Interesting in texture and lightness these barmejan peas, filled with ricotta. Followed by a wedge clam with bouillabaisse gel, with the classic sea flavor, without its usual intensity and spiciness.

Kei-8 Clam with bouillabaisse gel

A great start, and preview to a great experience, and the bread and butter were yet to come – yes, I’m an easy man to please – and in this case, I was immediately conquered by the flavour of the butter, the crunchy crust and slightly bitter aroma of the bread.

Kei-10 The butter is hand shaped at Kei 

 Kei-11Moruno shrimp tartar, shrenki caviar, peach soup
Flawless image of a delicious dish, where the sweetness of the shrimp and the peach combined nicely with the richness of the caviar, while the smoked notes of the yoghurt foam elevated the dimension of the dish. Excellent!

Kei-12The crunchy vegetable gardensmoked salmon from Scotland, rocket and spinach mousse and olive powder 
One of the iconic dishes of Kei Kobayashi, and that so well represents his cuisine of flavour, elegance and textures. A perfect marriage between texture and flavour, where nothing overlaps and all is harmonious and subtle, like only a Japanese hand can accomplish.

Accompanying was a Pouilly Fumé, La Moynerie 2015 of Michael Redde et fils. A good Sauvignon Blanc, still young, with notes and interesting structure given by the wood and enviable acidity making an excellent job along with the food.

 Kei-14Foie Gras, apricot foam, ginger confit, mirabelle plum and poppy coulis 
Foie will always be foie, and the light cooking of an excellent piece shows just that. Great combo with the sweet notes of the fruits, good contrast of sweet and savoury, and an intensity kick by the poppy coulis.

Why can’t I eat this on a daily basis?

Kei-15Seabass, crunchy scales, tomato vinaigrette and Barolo reduction
Just the technical work of making the skin and scales crunchy is worth a standing ovation. Flawless execution, on top of which we also have the lemon, caviar, samphire and anchovy. For an even greater contrast of flavours, and endless well-orchestrated notes, we have the vinaigrette, shiso and the Barolo reduction, the anchovy puree and the courgette flower. All working beautifully together even without a sauce or a broth.

Kei-16Smoked Scotish crawfish, shitake fricassé, chive, and homardine
The crawfish arrive in the same bowl they’re smoked in, while Charles Weyland (a brilliant dining room manager, by the way!), explains us the same go through 3 different types of cooking: first poached for a few seconds, then cooked at low temperature and finally put in hot stones and smoked. A dish close to perfection, for the simplicity of its elements and the Japanese touch in the French cuisine. The mushroom fricassé and the chive gave earthy notes to the dish, creating more dimension and structure, and the homardine (bisque based sauce enrichened with butter and cream) elevated the bar with the shellfish flavour.

On the glass, the choice went, instead of the obvious Sauternes, to a Chassagne-Montrachet 2015 of Domaine Coffinet-Duvernay, rich, creamy and deeply elegant, making a great harmonization.

Before passing to the meat, there was still time for a classic palate cleanser – with a lemon and mint ice.

Kei-18Seared vendée pigeon with miso, roasted fig 
This pigeon is one of the most emblematic dishes of Kei’s cuisine, and it’s easy to understand why! Firstly for the French-Japanese combo of ingredients, and then for the restraint in adding elements. The cooking of the bird with the miso, the reduced sauce of its cooking, the foie, shallot and lime paste and the brilliant roasted fig with red wine, created a symphony of great brilliance. Certainly one of the best pigeon dishes I ever tasted in life!

To go with, another Burgundy wine, this time a red, Gevrey-Chambertin vieilles vignes 2012 of Domaine Rossignol-Trapet. An elegant wine, marked by wood and elevated by an impressive acidity.

Kei-19Pre-dessert  

As pre-dessert, we had a goat’s cheese ice cream with cherry jam, Sicilian olive oil and Modena vinegar. Light, fresh and delicious, a good substitute for the usual cheese plate, that would’ve become heavy after so many dishes.

Kei-20Peach and Basil soups, poached nectarine, raspberry and tapioca  
A light and fresh dessert just as I like! Notes of fresh fruit and herbs, with the basil not only in present in the soup but also in the ice cream. The dish presents a good contrast of textures, and surprising elegance and lightness.

Kei-21Baba au Rhum
The chef’s version of the classic French dessert is, in this case, covered with rum, whipped cream, Okinawa sugar cane and cane ice cream. Good contrast, sweetness and above all no excess of any type, in a dessert that often has too much alcohol.

To finish an already long lunch, nothing like a Japanese green tea and some delicate mignardisesguimauve with lime and salted caramel tartelette.

Kei-22As I mentioned before, the service flows like a great orchestra, without impositions, good rhythm and technical domain making us think that also to the dining room that second star came late!

Kei-24Kei Kobayashi

Final Remarks
In a time when young Japanese chefs are taking the French cuisine, and Paris, by assault, Kei Kobayashi is, probably, alongside Shinichi Sato (Restaurant Passage 53), the great leader of this change. A change that brings restraint, passion, simplicity and harmony, like only the Japanese cuisine is able to transmit. The flavours are purest, the dishes lighter, the presentations simpler, but the final result is of an elegance and finesse that makes us blush of pleasure.

And that’s what I felt in the end of a long lunch at Kei, a signature cuisine, based in respect for the product, in the passion for French cuisine and in the brilliant combination of ingredients. For sure one of the most interesting tables in the city!

Kei-23For our usual #wineontour, we gave the chef a delicate vintage Port 1980 from Warre’s

Besides all this, Kei can be a discovery even for those not wanting to spend the highest prices of Paris’ starred restaurants, with a lunch menu for 58€, it is for sure, one of the best offers in the city.

Kei
Average price –  Lunch Menu: 58€; Tasting Menu: 110/199€  (without wines) 
Rue Coq Héron, 5 – Paris
+33 1 42 33 14 74 

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

Disclaimer
The wine presented in this edition of our #wineontour was kindly provided by Symington Family Estates

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Champeaux

I remember visiting Paris as a young man, and trying to avoid the metro station Rer de Chatelet-Les Halles as much as I could, for the bustle of the thousands of people crossing or the suspicious environment of the Les Halles area.
Gone were the times that area was the “womb” of the city, being home of the main food marked in the region of Paris, that moved to Rungis almost 50 years ago.

Fortunately, nowadays, everything’s changed! A few years after starting the construction, and many millions of euros after, Les Halles is revitalized, appealing for international brands to install; and with its Canopée, an architectural structure covering the Forum des Halles, with over 18000 glass roof tiles, it’s a touristic attraction as well.

And below the Canopée, the master Ducasse decided to make his foray into the renewed world of the station Brasseries, similarly to Eric Frechon or Thierry Marx, creating a democratic idea of the signature cuisine, available to all (or almost!).

Opposite to what he’s been doing at Aux Lyonnais and at Benoit, Ducasse and his associate Olivier Maurey wanted to modernize the Brasserie, and adapt it to the ambiance of Les Halles. The atelier Ciguë was in charge of the decoration, creating a minimalist atmosphere, with some touches of the 70’s industrial era, allied to a contemporary design that leads to mixed opinions – you either love it or hate it!

A key piece in this decoration is the giant panel on the wall, reminding us an airport or station display, but instead of flight info or schedules, shows the menu and the chef’s suggestions. An irresistible detail!

But let us begin our gastronomic journey then, starting with a toast of Champagne Baron of Rothschild Extra Brut, a classic in Paris.

Followed a classic and delicious au levain baguette, crunchy outside, nice aroma, light and airy inside, always nicely paired with butter and the delicacies to follow.

Confit Duck Foie Gras and fig jam 
Wishing all the beginnings could be like this! Perfect tureen, rich, unctuous, of great flavor! The Foie went perfectly with the fig jam, slightly spicy. Very good!

Croaker, carrot, lime, and ginger 
The picture is not the best of the illustrations of this tartar, aka marinated fish with carrot, ginger, and lime. Delicate fish, right texture, nicely seasoned, and good sweet and sour balance.

“Grand Mère” Pate, pickles 
Continuing the saga of good dishes and sides to the great bread arriving continuously at the table (the anti-gluten brigade forgive me!). Classic pate, nicely prepared, great balance of fat and meat. Perfect were the homemade pickles, not only giving beauty to the dish but also taking it to another level.

Steak tartar
Then came the steak tartar and with it the first disappointment of the evening. Perfect looks, a preview of good flavor by the hands of the Ducasse team. But that was the flaw, no flavor of the seasoning, and mostly the quality of the meat. To compensate the blandness of the tartar, the chips were really addictive.

Coquilletttes with ham, comté, and black truffle
One of the famous dishes of the restaurant, also an allusion to children’s food, transporting it to luxury ingredients and haute cuisine techniques. Who never ate pasta with cheese and ham? And those who did, won’t ever go back after this combo. A dish that makes us smile, giving us the comfort of simplicity, raising the flavor bar for its ingredient combination. Delicious!

Entrecôte, chips, and Béarnaise 
And back to trouble, and with the same ingredient. The medium rare came to well cooked, and the flavor and texture of the meat also didn’t please us. A small flaw, paid for with the brilliant Béarnaise and the potatoes, worthy of a meal themselves.

Apricot Soufflé, almond ice cream
“After the sun comes the calm”, and so it was! After a less accomplished dish, a moment that’s been making the restaurant famous, the soufflés, here in a fantastic version of apricot, very well paired with the almond ice cream. Excellent technique and ingredient combination. A beautiful ending!

The wine list, without the extension of the great houses, contemplates a bit from all the French territory, with special emphasis on Bordeaux and Burgundy, of course. And the latter we chose for wines by the glass.

To say also, the service is great, nice and helpful, making us feel welcomed, even with all the rules and standards the Ducasse group must impose.

Final Remarks 
The Champeaux is part of a new wave of brasseries, where the great names of the French cuisine present more down to earth proposals, comfort food based in French traditions, and affordable by the majority wanting to visit a signature space, in this case, of the master Ducasse. The space and decoration were a nice surprise, with modern details and very tasteful. The cuisine had some flaws, namely the meats, but fortunately overcome by the quality of everything else we ate.

Therefore, and considering the many restaurant options in Les Halles, despite the slightly higher prices of the Champeaux, we recommend the visit, mostly for those searching for delicious classics like the soufllé or the foie gras, in a cosmopolitan and modern environment. See you soon!

Champeaux
Average price: 50€ per person without wines 
La Canopée – Forum des Halles, Porte Rambuteau – Paris
+33 01 53 45 84 50

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Akrame

Akrame Benallal may not be under the World’s 50 Best spotlight and other publications, like others whose the PR work is higher than the chefs work or cuisines. But since he opened his namesake restaurant, acknowledgment has not been missing. From Michelin stars to opening other businesses and restaurants, perseverance is this young chef’s middle name, even when the Michelin guide decided to take away his second star (nowadays he has one in Paris and another in Hong Kong), one could think his quick rise was over, but Akrame Benallal opened the also successful Bistrot Atelier Vivanda a bit all around the world, the Cave Brut, a cheese&wine bar in Paris, and, also in the city of light, the Shirvan Café Metisse, a kind of Arabic Bistrot, where he honors his roots and his travels.

Today, while having fun in the new location of the Akrame and creating his new Haute Couture collection (what he likes to call his cuisine), the chef is also preparing to embark on the reformulation of all the structure of the Printemps warehouses.

But on to the restaurant itself, the reason that took us to the number 7 of the Tronchet street- a building famous for a certain adventure of Kim Kardashian! A space was once used as a “pop up”, but with some flawless work on the kitchen and some remodeling on the room, it became the home of Akrame.

A space worthy of an impetuous and creative brain with a unique artistic vein, where aesthetics and good taste walk side by side.

Entering the restaurant we are absorbed by the dark, clean and modern environment of the reception that opens into the kitchen. In dark tones (the chef’s favorites) we are required to hold our look for some time while accompanying all the bustle of the work.

The impressive and minimalist cuisine of Akrame 

At the table, we started lunch without wasting time, and the snacks arrived at a good pace. Wakening our palates couldn’t have been better, watermelon infused with Pastis, which freshness and combination refreshed our palates and accelerated salivation as intended.

Watermelon and Pastis

Potato and smoked eel 

Followed by an elegant “slate”, aka potato chip with smoked eel and a fromage blanc cracker with cucumber gelly. Both delicate, with a good combination of flavors and textures – cheers to good beginnings!

fromage blanc cracker and cucumber 

 Bread is life!

“Hold your horses” cause the bread is coming!! Good crust, good hydration and the aroma and sour tang that makes of it almost the perfect dish.

Tomato and almond
A visually peculiar starter, that when in the mouth conquers straight away, a kind of Ile Flottante of tomato and almond, that almost becomes a “provocation” to desserts. Intense in flavor and delicate in texture, simply delicious!

 Razor clamsAmaranth and milk veil 
The amaranth was cooked in two textures, firstly almost like a risotto, nicely paired with the delicate and perfectly cooked clam, and secondly fried and crunchy working as a cape. Adding to that the greasiness and richness of the milk and the fresh notes of the oil. A really artistic combination of textures and flavors, positively surprising!

Accompanying the starters, and being in Paris, we started with a Champagne, Lallier Blanc des Blancs, a wine of great elegance with citric and brioche notes, a very elegant wine, of wide and long flavor, which finesse and acidity made the perfect pairing.

John Dorypalmito and spinach 
Another apparently improper combination, resulting in an amazing dish. Perfect fish, paired with all the textures of the dish and the smoked notes of the heart of palm and the roasted onions, freshened by the “green” flavor of the spinach. Bravo!

On the glass a trip to Meursault with a Les Casse-Têtes 2015 from Domaine Chavy-Chouet, a difficult area to grow vineyards – therefore the name – that brings us a simple wine, in the good sense, with interesting acidity that will give it years of life. A balanced wine, elegant and less opulent and rich than usual in Meursault, with brioche, spices and fresh fruit notes, and an ending with good minerality.

Veal, white beans, coconut, and charcoal
A dish where the beans and the meat shine, and the rich, brilliant, sauce was crying for some bread slices. Still, a combination with some flaws, namely in balance, so characteristic of the previous dishes, both for the sweetness of the coconut and the acidity of the cream.

Harmonizing was, and well, a Morgon, Passerelle 577 of Domaine Mee Godard, from 2015. Mee is a South Korean producer who grew up in France and established in Morgon in 2013, currently in her 3rd year of production, with this 2015, the wine shows the huge potential of the vineyards and her work. A completely different wine from the usual Beaujolais, elegant and pure, with cassis and blackberry notes, well-integrated wood, fleshy palate, matching very well with the dish and with some marvelous tannins. A harmonious wine!

Iced limoncello to cleanse the palate 

Strawberry
Taking advantage of the last strawberries of the season (by the time we visited), Akrame came back strongly with the desserts, with two proposals and different textures of strawberry, fennel, and white chocolate. Amazing strawberry sauce to go with the ice cream!

Truffle, praline and milk
To finish the desserts, a deceptively simple “roof tile”, with praliné and a delicate milk ice cream! But, and with artists, there’s always a “but”, there’s also a “truffle” sprinkled over the dessert, to look like the fungus itself. An amazing and well-prepared combination of truffle with chocolate, with notes that elevate the dish and transport us to something more complex. Very good!

And like a sweet never comes unpaired, there was also time for the petit fours, and for some madeleines so good I could pack a dozen to bring home just as if was in a Pâtisseries in the area!

A word also for the service, diligent and perfectionist, as in any Parisian table but with an informal and relaxed touch of a modern fine dining. High score also to the wine service, spot on, from the glasses to the choices and temperatures.

Final Remarks
I remember disparate critiques regarding Akrame Benallal’s work in the past, acclaimed by many, criticized by others for lack of consistency, or for putting aesthetics before substance and taste.

What process of metamorphosis? What simple state of grace and inspiration brought the various changes in his path? But surely today, the talented chef is living one of his best moments! Bold creations and unusual combinations resulted in a fantastic experience, both artistic and gastronomical!

A mandatory visit!

 

  The amazing Warre’s Vintage 1980 that accompanied us in this edition of our #wineontour and with which we awarded the chef at the end of our meal.  

Akrame 
Average price: 130/160€ per person without wines (lunch menu: 65€)
Rue Tronchet, 7 – Paris
+33 1 40 67 11 16 

Portuguese Version

Photos: Flavors & Senses

Disclaimer
The wine presented in this edition of our #wineontour was kindly provided by Symington Family Estates

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Le Narcisse Blanc

The subtlety of a ballerina’s movement, the mysterious expression of her look, and the eternal beauty of a muse, are the inspiration that led  Laurent and Laurence to create the unique Le Narcisse Blanc.

Cléo de Mérode was a Belle Époque ballerina (let’s say it was the first It Girl there’s memory of!), her beauty inspired some of the most emblematic artists of the time. She was called “small and beautiful Narcisse”, and that subtlety inspired the ambiance and decoration of (now) one of my favorite hotels in the city of light.

First Impression
Located at the Rive Gauche, between Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower, the hotel’s location best coordinates with the seductive and mysterious beauty of the ballerina.

As we approach the building of Le Narcisse Blanc, we can see the perfect architectural mind of Georges-Eugène Haussmann.

When entering the hotel we are invaded by an intimate and private luxury sensation. Making us feel like we’re the only guests at the hotel, transforming it immediately in our home.

The entire decoration and essence of the hotel mixes Art Nouveau, Art Deco and some almost Arabian details. Inaugurated in 2016, Le Narcisse Blanc is still a child fighting in the midst of centenarians, but already one of the best hotels in the city.

Created by Laurent and Laurence, it also has the mark of its owners and the team of interior decorators Thierry Martin and Thibaut Fron. The predominant colors are white, beige, champagne, pearl, grey, and pink.

The ambiance is comfortable and glamorous, with a touch of seduction.

And just like that, we were being welcomed by the reception team, that readily took care of our check-in and accompanied us to our bedroom.

Bedrooms
There are 37 bedrooms, of which 7 are suites.
Classic and contemporary, taking our hearts right away, not the usual classic nor the usual contemporary, a mixture of both, combining in perfect harmony, making them timeless bedrooms.

Some are gifted with terraces over the Eiffel Tower, other over the Invalides, and a few others over the Parisian roofs.

We stayed in a Classic Suite, with a generous 36m2, and a patio, reminding a private shelter inside the city of light.

The bedroom was for sure one of the most elegant and comfortable I’ve ever been in, and the bed, by far, the best of all the hotels I’ve experienced.

The pearl, beige, white and champagne tones combine with unpaired subtlety with the satin and velvet fabrics in the bedroom, giving it such a great harmony.

Waiting for us was fruit, water, candy and a present of the emblematic Angelina, and they were being replaced during our stay. The bedroom also has a coffee machine and different tea options. All this in the huge room next to the bedroom.

In the bathroom prevails the dark marble, the exclusive fragrance of the hotel in the hygiene products (wonderful!). Here the faucets are glass balls with small, beautiful, narcissus inside!

For me, with my love for bathrooms, this area could’ve been a bit bigger, considering the generous dimensions of the bedroom, however, that is compensated by the actual toilet being in a different area from the rest of the bathroom!

Restaurants
The space working as restaurant breathes glamour, and Cléo is its name! Here are served the several meals during the day.
In the access to the main area of the restaurant, the pink color comes to join the other soft colors of the rest of the hotel, assuring a very feminine, sensual and elegant environment.

Here you can have a drink or snacks during the day, or before going to rest at night. Here is also served the delicious “Tea Time”,  with small sweets and finger foods, accompanied by tea and coffee. Right next to it, there’s a terrace, also elegant and comfortable.

Breakfast at Cléo!

At the restaurant the tones go around the beige, brown and champagne, the environment is completed with mirrors from the ceiling to the ground, giving it amplitude, as well as the chandeliers with medium lighting that give a quite seductive atmosphere.

Here we had the chance to have breakfast, buffet and à la carte, and also experience a surprising dinner.

The amazing bread at Cléo!

It is wonderful when we arrive at a table without expectations, and dish after dish we are conquered and surprised. This dinner with the signature of the Canadian Zachary Gaviller, and a combination of influences from the French cuisine to Spain, Portugal, and even Japan, captivated our taste buds, starting with the amazing bread!

 Mushroom broth with black chanterelles and corn

Confit salmon with shiso

We started well with a rich and slightly spicy mushroom broth, balanced by the sweetness of the corn; and a brilliant confit salmon with shiso leaf, beetroot, and citrus. A nice surprise!

Codfish with capers and mussels 

Followed a codfish dish, and a strigoli pasta with nduja, squid, and tomato, both excellent in flavor. There was still time (and space) for an excellent tuna steak and a delicious chestnut puree. To finish, nothing like a good cheese plate, us being in Paris.

Cléo! is for sure an option to consider, with menus between 29 and 55€, not only for the hotel guests, but also for those searching for good cuisine, in a unique space, full of identity, without the madness of some more famous spaces.

Very close to the restaurant is a room where you can organize private lunches or dinners, with a capacity for 10 people. A mix of meeting room and library.

Services
Le Narcisse Blanc has all the services of a luxury hotel, from room service, laundry, wifi (and wifi pocket), personalized parking service, business center with computer and printer, national and foreigner press, among others. The hotel has also a meeting room, as I mentioned before.

The hotel assures a unique experience in partnership with the Domaine de la Soucherie, spending a day/night in the heart of a vineyard, at La Maison des Amis and La Maison des Vignes, just 2h30 out of Paris.

For the gym lovers, the hotel has a small room with treadmill, bicycle, and a few weights.

 João in artistic selfie mode 

But, the real spotlight of the hotel is the Spa, one of the prettiest in town, for sure.
With elegant lines and cozy atmosphere taking us immediately to a relaxation state, the spa is constituted by a heated pool with hydrotherapy jets and countercurrent, a jacuzzi, a hammam, a sauna and an ice fountain. It also has treatment rooms, signed by the luxurious brand Carita.

Le Narcisse Blanc is intimate, seductive, charismatic and gifted of an extremely perfectionist team, attentive to details, without being invasive.

 A part of the enchanted Spa at Narcisse Blanc *

It’s the new luxury that assures us the privacy we seek for, nowadays. Glamor is present in every detail, you just have to pay attention; and the narcissus, for sure, the super highlight of this elegance atmosphere. They’re present all around the hotel, in the door handles, staircases, in the gold paint on the walls, and the simple and feminine paintings we find around the hotel.

They give the hotel its name and are for sure its distinctive brand, with all of Cléo de Mérode’s beauty and subtlety.

One of the best hotels in Paris for those wanting to experience luxury, and one of the few I wouldn’t mind calling home in the city of light!

See you soon, my little narcissus!

Le Narcisse Blanc
Bedrooms from 300€
Boulevard de La Tour-Maubourg, 19 – Paris
+33 1 40 60 44 32
contact@lenarcisseblanc.com

Versão Portuguesa

 Photos: Flavors & Senses and *Press release 

Disclaimer
We were at Le Narcisse Blanc by invitation, whereas this does not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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Le Duc

Having just landed in Paris, still without a lunch reservation for Saturday, the choice was easy – trying to get a table at Le Duc, since we were already very convinced by our dear Aiste’s (Luxeat) recommendations and praises for a long time now.

A call from our concierge, and 10 minutes of Uber after, we were standing outside a gastronomic institution, open in 1967 by the Minchelli brothers, nothing or few changed since then (and in this case, that is a very positive point). Let’s see, the Le Duc was one of the first restaurants to exclusively dedicate itself to sea produce, and in the birth of the Nouvelle Cuisine, these brothers revolutionized the way of cooking and serving fish, saving it from diving in thick and heavy sauces, and from being overcooked. Probably also the first to put up raw fish in the city.

The decoration, idealized by Slavik (the Lázaro Violán of the Parisian restaurants from the 70’s), takes us to a classic luxury yacht, a weird way to make us travel to the golden years of the south coast of France.

If the interior can be considered oldfashioned, it also gives it enchantment, when you walk through the door you feel you’re really experiencing Paris, as a good and refined Parisian would. And that’s what you get at the table, surrounded by usual clients, from the French political and high society scene, the majority almost retired, and few tourists, bless the guides that so often forget to honor the true temples of the haute cuisine! Yes, because haute cuisine is also subtlety, care, and super high quality product, as it was presented to us here during our visit.

Warm periwinkles as appetizers

We were readily welcomed and soon announced in a seafood restaurant with freshly cooked periwinkles, full of flavor and perfectly cooked, a good omen for the following dishes. Then, mandatory being in Paris and in a classic restaurant, the bread, and the butter; pressed butter with the name of the restaurant, by the books, and a great bread to go with it, making it hard to concentrate in reading the menu.

We ended up opting for the lunch menu (55€: two starters, a main and a dessert), revealing a good option, even if I ended up flirting with the crawfish from the table next to us – another good reason to come back.

Seabass and Salmon Tartar
Plated in a small silver bowl, the tartar was even more precious than the piece it was served in. Perfect cuts, super high quality fish and good seasoning. Simply a perfect dish, I could easily eat everyday and not get tired!

Salmon au naturel 
A carpaccio of Scotish salmon, simply sprinkled with a dash of olive oil and capers. Rich, unctuous, and full of flavor, showing what can and should be a true salmon.

Oysters  
Slightly cooked oysters until open and warm, with a buttery and fresh sauce, and flawless flavor. Product, product, product!

Fried squid
Perfection can be as simple as these little squids, brilliantly fried, crunchy, and with a light kick of spice from the espelette pepper, contrasting nicely with the acidity and the freshness of the lemon. Addictive!

 Surmullets and Seabass with lime
Followed some great surmullets, which looked a bit overcooked but when tasted they were immaculate, allowing us to taste their unique flavor, which makes me like this fish so much.

The seabass dish is one of the classics at Le Duc, with thin fillets of seabass being cooked in the hot plate and combined with a light butter and lime juice sauce.

Two great dishes, very well paired with a black rice of excellent flavor and celery gratin, which texture and flavor revealed as a nice surprise.

Baba au Rhum
The time came to choose a dessert, and the famous dessert cart arriving at the table made us think a bit more than needed about the options. In a Parisian classic like Le Duc, the Baba au Rhum was mandatory. A generous slice and nicely drizzled – the bottle stays on the table in case you didn’t use enough! High score to the texture and flavor, with an excellent whipped cream.

And yes, my alcohol levels went past the recommended after the dessert!

And speaking of alcohol, the wine list follows the excellence of the menu (and the prices!) where there’s room for the great French wines, especially from Burgundy, pairing perfectly with the cuisine and the refined products. We went for a Roully 1er cru of Olivier Leflaive from 2013 (50€), that kept up to the dishes tasted.

The service is also classic and refined by the years of experience, where the younger elements were certainly well taught by the previous generations.

The always delicate petit four to end the meal 

Final Remarks
Le Duc is one of those restaurants that stays off the spotlights and the media, there’s not a celebrity running it, and it doesn’t direct the majority of its budget to public relations or marketing. The scheme here is pleasing the clients, the majority being usuals, presenting them the best products in the market, simply and purely prepared, enhancing all their features, as the Minchelli did in the past, and nowadays, chefs all around the world recreate, even not knowing who was behind the creation of the method, in reality, more of a philosophy.

Nowadays the kitchen is in the hands of Pascal Hélard, who continues to draw the future with all the emphasis in the produce and an aesthetic simplicity so refined it looks like a Japanese master runs the place. Surely one of the best fish restaurants around the city, and one of those spaces you go to as a shelter, where tradition remains still and the product is the hero!

Now, we must return one day!

Le Duc
Average price: 100€ per guest without wines (lunch menu: 55€)
Boulevard Raspail, 243 – Paris
+33 1 43 20 96 30 

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

Posted in Restaurants | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses
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