We arrived in Paris on our wedding anniversary and what better way to celebrate the occasion than with dinner in La Salle à Manger at eponymously named Helene Darroze, the Michelin starred fine dining restaurant on Rue d’Assas
We were shown to our table in the moodily-lit velvet lined dining room and moments later were presented with the Champagne trolley – always a good sign! We both chose a glass of rosé Champage to toast our anniversary
The restaurant was almost totally full when we arrived and there was a vibrant atmosphere – I had been worried that it may have felt a little stuffy but I needn’t have
As an amuse bouche fan (who can resist an extra little morsel or two before their meal?!) I was excited to see that at Hélène Darroze they do things a little differently and carve wafer thin slices of melt-in-the-mouth jambon at your table, and serve it with freshly baked foccacia!
We also received some mini choux pastry puffs which were extremely light and flavoured with cheese
We opted for the 5 course menu which consisted of 4 savoury dishes and 1 dessert – the menu itself is a list of ‘products’ that you are free to choose any combination of. We mainly chose the same dishes as eachother with the exception of the second starter. Once we’d made our selections we sat and enjoyed our Champage, and as seems customary with all meals in France, more bread arrived along with chilli butter
The first starter we chose was ‘Foie gras’. A disc of smooth rich foie gras was served with finely sliced layers of cooked betroot, slithers of raw golden & chioggia beetroot and tart wild strawberries, each adding a different interesting texture and flavour. A zingy citrus gel and micro herbs kept the dish feeling fresh and cut through the foie gras
The second starter and the only dish we chose that was different to each other was titled ‘Morilles’ or morels. The dish consisted of ricotta ravioli served with earthy morels and green asparagus which was the freshest and most flavourful I’ve ever eaten. The dish was topped with pieces of delicately smoked eel which was incredible and for me was the star of the dish – I only wished there was more of it! One thing I would add is that I didn’t feel that the morels were necessarily that prominent given that they were described as the main ‘product’, but the dish as a whole was a celebration of spring and was delicious
Our first main course was ‘Merlu de ligne’ or Hake. Perfectly cooked flaky hake with crispy skin was served with white beans and chorizo in a hearty fish broth, which was smoky and well seasoned without overpowering the fish. The smooth saffron mayonnaise added another dimension but for me it probably wasn’t necessary as the other ingredients worked so well together
The final savoury course was the ‘Poulet jaune’ or yellow chicken. I have to say that this was my favourite dish of the night as it included so many of my favourite ingredients! The moist crispy-skinned chicked was served with more of the beautiful asparagus and morels, and was accompanied by fresh wild garlic and a wild garlic emulsion. The flavours were complex and intense but still subtle – a real showcase of what’s in season right now
Although it looked and smelt incredible, we decided against ordering cheese and went straight to dessert – ‘Fraise’ or strawberry. A wonderfully fragrant and creamy bay leaf panna cotta was topped with sharp lemon jelly, strawberry sorbet and fresh strawberries. Pieces of sweet shortbread added a lovely crunch to what was a very refreshing dessert
And as it was our anniversary, our petit fours even had candles!
Instead of coffee we were intrigued by the Armagnac trolley and enjoyed learning about the Armagnac which is bottled by the Darroze family. We tried a glass of the 1997 and although I can appreciate the complexity, it wasa little too strong for me!
I was really impressed with the whole experience – from the ease of booking, to the friendly attentive staff and the seasonality of the ingredients on the night. I’m glad we chose Hélène Darroze for our anniversary meal and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend dining there
You can visit the website and book a table here