After a eventful driving trip around Switzerland, skiing in the sunny alps of Zermatt and exploring a new gourmet city – Lyon, we arrived in Paris around noon on the last day of 2014. Paris is one of my favourite cities if you don’t know that by now, and it was nice to be able to spend it with R and Y here. We managed to squeeze through visiting some boutiques in the afternoon before we arrived at Le Sergeant Recruteur for our New Year’s Eve dinner.
Views of Eiffel Tower after our afternoon of shopping at Avenue Montaigne.
Located on the little ‘island’ of Ile St Louis, a rather unique location given it’s probably the only finer dining option amongst its neighbours and my favourite ice cream shop – Amorino. The restaurant site used to be a former pub but rescued by the dream team – chef Antonin Bonnet, formerly of Mayfair’s The Greenhouse in London and Spanish designer Jaime Hayón, known for his whimsical playful designs.
The facade has a bold sleek black entrance with a rather interesting ‘pink knight’ at the facade, probably the most striking thing at the entrance.
Facade of Le Sergent Recruteur.
The interiors are a mix of Hayon’s modern aesthetics, with simple modern lights, upholstered plush green chairs and banquettes sofa, and simple wooden dining tables. There were touches of marble such as the modern bar that greeted us as we entered. There were also some continuation of the ‘knight’ feel with a large mask framed up in sections of the wall. I somehow imagined the restaurant would be way more whimsical then this, but probably there was a need to balance it with the food and also the historic nature of the building, as he had retained much of the original walls and ceiling.
Interiors of Le Sergeant Recruteur.
The New Year’s set dinner was priced at EUR 280 per guest, exclusive of drinks, with two glasses of champagne selected by their Chef Sommelière. Given the cut throat prices that many fine dining restaurants especially Michelin Star ones in Paris offer, I thought this price wasn’t too bad. I just hoped that we wouldn’t be disappointed by the meal, as often I find I have had to compromise on taste and pay more for Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners, hence I figured it was best not to set any expectations on it.
After being served a glass of Champagne Laherte Freres, Blanc de Clancs Ultratraditions, S.A., our meal commenced with some charcuterie meats followed by a beautiful wooden board of 4 amuse bouches, comprising of toast with vegetables, seafood and smoked fish, squash soup and garnished oysters.
After eating the amuse bouche in a jiffy, one of the staff came forward to show us the black and white truffles that be accompanying some of the dishes tonight. They were unusually large and the white truffle was more aromatic then the ones I have eaten in 2014 so far, this put me in high spirits immediately. Next, we had plump fresh oysters, great with the white wine we had just ordered, followed by scallop carpaccio.
After the refreshing seafood, came one of the highlights of the meal for me which was the foie gras served with jam and warm brioche. It was silky smooth and just glided into my mouth. I ate this quickly in no time.
We then had carnaroli risotto, cooked with Castelmagno D’ Alpeggio and with a good dose of white truffle from Piemont. My verdict was it was a little bit more aromatic the ones I have had in Singapore’s French and Italian restaurants by far.
After having a carb overload, we had the turbot with a heavy cream sauce. I enjoyed the fish although I have never been a big fan of such heavy cream sauce in my meals.
The star of the night was the guinea hen roasted and served with black truffle. After showing us the cooked hen, the staff proceeded to carve it and plate it and of course shaved black truffles over it. I enjoyed this dish very much, I think it was a refreshing change to have a really well cooked hen served with black truffle instead of typically it’s always beef.
After we had finished our main courses, we could have a choice of cheese before finishing with dessert. It was hard to say no to that, even though we were so stuffed. We choose 3 French cheeses – Brillat-Savarin, a soft white milk cow cheese, which I enjoyed the best. And 2 other semi hard cheeses – Fourme d’Ambert, known to be one of France’s oldest cheeses and Tomme d’Estives, which unfortunately I can’t remember so well the details on this cheese.
We were next served a small dollop of sorbet, welcoming indeed to cleanse our mouths that had just gone through a whole load of food, before dessert was served. We were served one of my favourite desserts, a simple classic tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream on the side.
After what we thought was the end to the meal, we were presented with such a pretty cake complete with a bow on top known as the Chocolate Surprise, which was made specially by the chef for all the guests dining tonight. We were each given a slice of it, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It was hard to say no to this surprise for sure.
A trip to the ladies was necessary before we bade farewell to the staff. I enjoyed the service here which was not at all stiff or constrained which can sometimes be found in some French Michelin star restaurants. The staff were friendly, personable and we were even given a bottle of Champagne to celebrate at midnight when the clock striked! We were determined we had to walk back to the hotel to burn off this wonderful but calorie laden meal.
As we walked along the streets towards Notre Dame Cathedral, there was quite a nice festive buzz with lots of people hanging around, some singing on the streets by a busker, we figured we may not make it to Champs-Élysées for the fireworks, so why not just hang around here before we did a slow walk back to the hotel. True enough, the fireworks set off when we were still making our way down Rue De Rivoli past the Louvre to our hotel in the Rue Saint Honore area. What’s important was I had Y and R with me and we had closed the year with a good meal in my favourite city! This post comes rather late but also strangely appropriate as I celebrate Chinese New Year with my friends and family this time of the year too. Here’s to a fantastic year ahead for everyone!
Last views of Avenue Montaigne all pretty with the Christmas festive lights.