From a boiled egg to the complicated Bisou Bisou, Grand Café Fauchon’s elegance and dexterity is exceptional. This one should be a fixture in your Paris itinerary
By: Soumya Jain Agarwal
Posted on: November 18, 2019
LF Says: ★★★★.5
There are few places that are courageous enough to have survived many cruel eras of wars and financial downturns, and yet stay true to their DNA. They become legends. Fauchon in Paris, France, is one of them.
Founded in 1886, Fauchon is a French gourmet food and delicatessen company. With its first, original store on Place de la Madeleine still running strong, all you have to do is utter the name “Fauchon” in Paris and hear people sigh with satisfaction and longing for this fine food company.
Chocolates, champagnes, foie gras, macarons, caviars, teas and oh-so-many other delicacies are available at their stores. Their ready to eat tray meals have been termed exquisite, fresh.
After opening more than 70 stores across the world, Fauchon has now entered the world of hotels, by opening its first property in Paris in 2018. The hotel, partnered with Leading Hotels of the World, is located not far away from the original store. Bathed in the colors of pink, beige and black, it echoes the packaging of its sweet and savory products.
And if you are in Paris, then there is no way you should skip an experience at this Parisian establishment. We decided to step into its restaurant – Grand Café Fauchon – to get the best of all worlds – the food and the hospitality.
As soon as you step inside Grand Café Fauchon, you’ll notice the pops of pink, balanced glamorously with gold and white accents. The walls are covered with a mosaic of gold and white hexagonal tiles, all placed in different angles, to give a textured effect. A modern, widespread gold ceiling art installation shimmers with the light coming from the large windows. The pink bar is the main highlight. And apart from displaying the liquor bottles, the bar also has display cases for sweet and savory.
The staff is courteous, eager to service you perfectly, even if it’s with broken English, giving us a glance into true Parisian cordiality.
Sitting down on our table, the bartender, Mei, came up first to assist with our drinks. She asked us about our tastes and preferences, offering to make something new for us based on our inclinations! And she surpassed our expectations!
My husband, a life-long whisky enthusiast, got his wish with a cocktail made of Jura scotch, ginger, cherry, and Fauchon’s in-house black & vanilla tea. This innovative drink was strong yet refreshing, fruity, with a very subtle tea flavor. Not a sugary sweet drink, as he had requested it to be, the cocktail highlighted the flavors of the scotch while making it a stimulating drink.
My wish for a minty non-alcoholic cocktail was rewarded with a creation fashioned with Fauchon’s red fruit tea, ginger, lime, Adele flower and cucumber. It was piquant and quite uplifting! Again, quite a wonderful, subtle use of Fauchon’s tea selections.
While we were drinking up, our server Rugi offered us some fresh in-house made goat cheese with focaccia bread. The goat cheese was a perfect, creamy texture! Oh la la! Made with honey, it wasn’t all tangy, but a wonderfully subtle sweet-tangy flavor. Our hopes had risen quite high with the display of skill till now. But what came later was even more extraordinary.
Finesse & Invention
Grand Café Fauchon does not offer their menu with usual categorisations of appetisers, main course and sides. Instead, it offers ‘plates’ of dishes. How many plates you can eat? As much as your appetite will allow! But on an average, two plates per person are more than sufficient.
My husband called for a soft-boiled egg. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. It came as a beautiful preparation surrounded by cream, sauteed mushrooms and cress. The egg was cooked to perfection – as soon as you pierce it, the yellow runny yolk would ooze out! The fried mushrooms and cream paired very well with the egg, making the texture of the entire dish smooth and velvety in the mouth. Sliced almonds in between would add drama by providing a crunch. It’s an art to cook the egg that impeccably!
I got my side of the table furnished with the Riso Pasta with summer truffles from Bourgogne and Fauchon’s own truffle oil. The tiny pasta looked and tasted just like a risotto. Topped with a fluffy foam and fresh shavings of a truffle, the littlest pasta is an unsung Italian hero. It was creamy, subtle and balanced owing to its rich ingredients. I added some black pepper on mine to add some zing.
As we were waiting for our second set of plates, I couldn't help but notice the bright pink blankets which Fauchon had kindly offered to its guests seated outdoors. The chilly evening certainly called for blankets, and Fauchon’s gallant gesture was certainly appreciated.
My husband’s Baerii Caviar soon arrived, placed on a bed of ice, and accompanied with small slices of Brioche like bread. These black, shiny pearls, produced from the Siberian Sturgeon fish, are as rare as they come. And we don’t have enough words to describe it – smooth, silky, buttery soft, melt in the mouth – this caviar fabricated a variety of such sensations on the palate. And as delectable as it was, my husband tried to savour it (and not quickly devour it) for as long as possible. Indeed, it was a dish to relish.
For my second plate, I chose a cold tomato soup with avocado and crunchy brioche on the side. The soup was poured into the bowl on my table, adding some excitement to the presentation. The soup was fresh, but needed a lot more to make it interesting and unique!
The restaurant also offers set menus with wine or tea pairings. From salmon and foie gras to pork and beef, each dish on the menu is a showcase in creative combinations and culinary knack.
Rounding up his meal, my husband had called for another cocktail with the same preferences, and he was delighted with another perfect mustard-colored concoction. This time it was created with Amaretto Liquer, yuzu (a citrus fruit originating from China and Tibet) and a signatory scotch matured in bourbon barrels. It was strong, smoky, not too sweet and served in the ideal temperature. The restaurant certainly receives full marks for its cocktail innovation!
By this time, we were so full, that we couldn’t even think about desserts. But their appetizing display of desserts on the bar can sway even the staunchest sweet-haters. Caving into our lust for all things saccharine, we got two desserts packed for us – Bisou Bisou (meaning Kiss Kiss in French) and an Éclair.
The Éclair was exquisite, chocolaty and just the right size. But it was Bisou Bisou which took our breath away! It had a core of cake, which was surrounded by the freshest cream and then covered with a glaze of raspberry. It offered a melange of flavors inside – an explosion of textures – with crunchiness and softness coexisting, and flavors ranging from tangy to sweet to subtle. How the chefs achieved such a dessert is baffling, yet much welcome! It topped Pierre Herme for us…
What awes you about Grand Café Fauchon, and the Fauchon property in general, is its allegiance to heritage – to the art of fine foods and humble, traditional European hospitality – while reinventing itself over the decades, continuously, to appeal to the modern sense and style. It’s not an easy feat, but only achievable by those who understand the true essence of luxury. Fauchon’s century-old experience shines through in the city of Paris.
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Coordinates: 11 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris, France