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Le Paradou, Penn Quarter - Closed


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My wife and I decided to check out Le Paradou for dinner this past Saturday. No real reason save for the fact we wanted some good food close to the hill. While we received good food, and some dishes were excellent, the service ranged from fair to poor.

We opted for Chef Cam's 9 course tasting menu. As I remember them, the dishes were:

Amuse Bouche - Lobster Croquette. Very, very good, although almost served too hot for a single bite. I should mention that we were seated, without menu, wine list, or acknowledgement for about 15 minutes before this was brought out, along with the aforementioned items.

First Course - Salmon Tartare, Osetra Caviar, and Creme Fraiche (me), Seared Scallop. My wife loved her dish, although I don't remember it exactly. Mine was great, but the combination did more to remind me of our trip to Per Se than it did tell me anything about what was to follow.

Second Course - Tuna Carpaccio with Tomato Sorbet. The Tuna was wonderful, and the texture of the Tomato Sorbet was a nice counterpoint to the Tuna. After ordering our wine ( a Clos de Vougeot) after the amuse, it was finally delivered after this course. The sommelier was unable to assist us with the selection, so it was made by ourselves. The menu was more appropriate to a White Burgundy, but of course we didn't know that ahead of time...

Third Course - Oyster Gratin with Black Truffle. Two large Oysters in a gratin (forgot the cheese) with Black truffles shaved over it. Honestly one Oyster would have been enough - the sauce was very rich, and we had six more courses to go. The Oysters were so good, however, that I was glad that the second was provided, and almost resorted to slurping the last bits of sauce from the shells.

Fourth Course - Langostine w Langostine Flan. My wife's favorite dish. The Langostines were cooked and placed upon a flan, I think drizzled with vanilla sauce. Again, the textures played extremely well together.

Fifth Course - Turbot with butter sauce? Totally unremarkable. The fish was cooked well, but the primary tastes my wife and I remember are that of butter and salt. Lots of salt.

Sixth Course - Foie Gras with Bacon, and can not remember what sauce! While we both love Foie Gras, the star of the dish was the bacon. It was fantastic, but did overpower the taste of the foie gras a bit. Sensing a delay in service was imminent, we ordered a half bottle of wine at this point for the rest of the evening. It arrived and was decanted within about 15 minutes, which for this meal seemed quick. Not acceptable, but quick given how long everything else took.

Seventh Course - Veal Filet. At this point, we were absolutely full, but managed to eat a Veal Filet, perfectly cooked. No recollection of the rest of the dish, but I suppose that's what I get for waiting to post until Tuesday.

Eighth Course - Pistachio Custard with Pistachio cookie. OK, nothing more.

Ninth Course - Trio of fresh sorbets. Again, ok.

Overall Impression - We enjoyed the "smaller" plates at the beginning of the meal more than the two entrees. The room is lovely, and the bar would be a nice place to catch a drink or enjoy a bar menu, if one is offered (I am not sure). The service was attentive, when you could get someone's attention. We left without petit fours, etc. or coffe because it was midnight and we were tired (arrived for an 8:30 reservation). There was so much running (literally) around by the dining room staff that it really began to wear on us. That's fine for a more casual place, but for what amounted to almost $1,000.00 after wine, tax and tip, I think it's reasonable to expect more. The sommilier came by and apologized for not looking after us, and explained that the proprietor of Chateau Haut-Brion was in the house. I wonder if telling us was a good or bad thing. Bottom line, Le Paradou charges premimum prices and doesn't have enough "wow" factor, a la Il Laboratorio, Per Se, etc...

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$500 per person and that is the review it gets? Wow! ;) I would agree that something is amiss. The proprieter of Chateau Haut-Brion being in the house should not affect your meal for the price that you are being charged. While they may receive extra attention, it should not take away from other diners.

:lol:

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If it's still up to the level of my lunch there last year, it's worth a trip to the bar or for the $30 lunch to taste the boudin blanc, the best I've had in the area (sorry, Palena).

Frank used to work for Yannick. That's the boudin blanc connection.

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for what amounted to almost $1,000.00 after wine, tax and tip, I think it's reasonable to expect more.

good lord! I'm not averse to spending big bucks on a meal but you could have 2 meals at the Lab, Maestro or Eve for that kind of money - were you ordering particularly expensive wine?

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I think it would be real hard to spend $500 on dinner for 2 at Eve.

well, it depends - in the Bistro, you're right, no way

in the tasting room, combine 2 9 course tasting menus w/ a couple of cocktails, water, and a nice bottle of wine and a decent tip and you could easily be around $400, no?

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well, it depends - in the Bistro, you're right, no way

in the tasting room, combine 2 9 course tasting menus w/ a couple of cocktails, water, and a nice bottle of wine and a decent tip and you could easily be around $400, no?

I think you are right. So for what these folks spent at Le Paradou, they could have had dinner for 2 twice at Eve and still had $200 left over.

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good lord! I'm not averse to spending big bucks on a meal but you could have 2 meals at the Lab, Maestro or Eve for that kind of money - were you ordering particularly expensive wine?

Was wondering the same thing. The website says the 9-course dinner is (a mere) $145. I'm no math whiz, but that sure seems to leave a whole lot of room for great wines, even after DC taxes and tip. :lol:;)

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I hate to be the odd one out on this but I found the service on my one visit to be superior (to the point where I ranked it top in DC, even with Citronelle). It seems we got lucky? I would be willing to try again, budget permitting, just to be taken care of by waitstaff like those that know their stuff.

The food was, unfortunately, less impressive. Though I was able to discern shadows of Chef Cam's greatness in most every dish, the fact that the lobster amuse was rather tired (a little greasy, muddled) and elements of fish course were over done was to me unforgivable at this level of dining.

Desserts were stellar.

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good lord! I'm not averse to spending big bucks on a meal but you could have 2 meals at the Lab, Maestro or Eve for that kind of money - were you ordering particularly expensive wine?

The money aspect really doesn't bother me, if the meal is worth it. We spent about the same amount at Per Se. To play in this league, Le Paradou has to be much, much better.

To satisfy some apparent curiosity, we did order expensive (and great) wine. We've been to Masetro, Eve, Laboratorio, etc. perviously, and thought we would try something new. The bill, without tip, came to around $816. With tip, that brings things closer to 1000.

The service was fine when they were present. We found the running servers, lags between courses, acknowledgement, etc. to be frustrating. Reading my post over again there were some extenuating circumstances, but overall we'll return for a meal in the bar, if at all.

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I met a friend there for dinner in May, and had a lovely time, with delicious food and nice wines.  It's too long ago for me to give more detail, and I didn't keep notes, but we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

I hear they are starting 3 new chefs and re-vamping their kitchen. It sounds like Chef Cam is taking the reins again and going to give it his all. Will find out in late Jan, if anyone else goes please let me know how the food and dining experience were. Thanks

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Last night I went back to Le Paradou for the first time since their first month of operation. I was very disappointed in my first lunch at the restaurant, however, what I had and experienced last night has changed my mind. The event was organized to try all but one of Gosset’s offerings matched with appetizers. The food was simply spectacular, with one dish that will stick in my mind for many years to come. That dish was a Dry Plums Pudding with Hot Foie Gras and ‘Vin de Paille’ Sauce, matched with the Grand Rose Brut. The sweetness of the plums and was a perfect foil to the fattiness of the Foie. The Rose was an impeccable match for this dish.

The one Champagne that was not served was the 1998 Cuvee Celebris Rose. They had one bottle that was opened afterwards at the bar for the pleasure of a few people who were lucky enough to have not left when they finished their last drop of 1995 Celebris. This was truly a stunningly elegant rose, that I am sure will get better with some further time in the bottle. I would place it on par with the Rose versions of DP, Cristal, and Krug, and for one third of the price.

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That reminds me...

It was the short half-caf vanilla latte, but I ordered 27 of them.

Yeah, but who really has as much fun drinking coffee as they do Rose Champange. I think I remember Joe Riley saying
Rosé Champagne = liquid panty remover   :lol:

What do you think that a Magnum is worth? But then again, I drink Sidecars.

Edited by Sthitch
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I just got this email from MacArthur Beverages who supplies a good portion of Le Paradou's huge wine list.

The second paragraph implies that this offer applies to the restaurant only, and not the lounge.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Le Paradou now has a no corkage policy on Monday and Tuesday evenings.

Reservations are required as space is limited. When making your reservation please let the staff know how many people are in your party and how many bottles of wine you will be bringing.

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My wife and I are huge fans of Le Paradou. So much so, we had our wedding reception/meal there last year in their private room. Anyways, we went this past weekend to celebrate the anniversary of when we first met and were really disappointed by the service. There were a couple of things that stood out:

1. Wait staff were actually kind of rude, which took my wife and I by complete surprise.

2. The clearing of the table wasn't done like it normally was. Usually when we go, the staff somehow magically know when we are done and as soon as we finish they come by and take our plates and replace our silverware. Not this time. We didn't get replacement silverware until the entrees came and the only reason we did get fresh silverware is because the waiter saw we had no silverware on our table.

3. We started with a glass of champagne, and my wife ordered a glass of wine. She wanted the wine with the entree, and it didn't show up with the entree. Long story short, after asking twice, waiting 15 minutes, the sommelier finally came over and asked her if she was ready for her wine. She literally had two bites of food left on the plate.

4. In a very strange twist, during our dessert course, a staff member brought over a plate with a candle on it, and written in chocolate on the plate was, "Happy Birthday!" It was neither of our birthdays, nor did we ever indicate to them that we were there celebrating anything. This isn't a complaint so much as it was just the coup de grace of a unusual evening at Le Paradou.

With all this complaining, I should add that the food was superb as it always is. The food is never an issue for us there, but unfortunately the service was, which was a huge letdown. The service is one of the main reasons why my wife and I return to Le Paradou. I'm sure we'll be back though and I hope it's just a funny story for us to look back on.

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Today I had a lunch with a private group of about 20 people at Paradou; I had never been there before, and admittedly a fixed menu lunch is not the best way to judge a restaurant, but I found the food to be superb.

The appetizer was a simple mesclun salad dressed with olive oil and lemon with tarragon leaves and diced shallots. It could not have been more perfectly executed.

For the first course I had lobster claw with coriander served atop a little avocado terrine and dressed with gazpacho. The presentation, using the various hues of pink and green to great effect, was marvelous. The flavoring of coriander was an inspired way of linking the flavors--an exquisite dish.

Next came a breast of duck with a foie gras tort, garnished with wild mushrooms and turnips. The turnips were classically turned, the duck a perfect medium rare. The tort, I found, was a bit grainy in texture but otherwise delightful, cloaked in a cabbage leaf. The mushrooms were flavorful if a bit tired. I suppose this minor problem was related to serving such a large group, not a fault of the actual cooking technique.

Dessert, even for this non-dessert person, was an enticing "saveur" of chocolate, served with a thyme emulsion and a confit of hazelnut and lemon. Like all the dishes, it was presented with an aesthetic brilliance and panache that one seldom finds in Washington restaurants. The taste and texture of the dish maintained the standard that had been set visually.

The wines were both excellent choices, I thought, and, so refreshingly after so many disappointments in this area, served at the perfect temperature: 2002 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Caillerets" from Jean-Noel Gugnard, and 2002 Charmes Chambertin from Michel Magnien.

The atmosphere and decor of the restaurant also brought to mind those cool and elegant restaurants that one often finds, somewhat paradoxically, in the French and Italian countryside. Overall I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised with Paradou and would definitely return.

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Sounds good, but can't give the sommelier too much credit for picking a pair of Burgundies -- even I can do that (and did, last time I ate at Paradou...Yannick is a known Burgundy whore so his lists are always stron on that regard) - though I'll join you in applauding the serving temperature.

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Sounds good, but can't give the sommelier too much credit for picking a pair of Burgundies -- even I can do that (and did, last time I ate at Paradou...Yannick is a known Burgundy whore so his lists are always stron on that regard) - though I'll join you in applauding the serving temperature.

Actually, picking a pair of good Burgundies can be quite difficult. Of course, I have no idea what their prices were.

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The wines were both excellent choices, I thought, and, so refreshingly after so many disappointments in this area, served at the perfect temperature: 2002 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Caillerets" from Jean-Noel Gugnard, and 2002 Charmes Chambertin from Michel Magnien.

problem is... michel magnien is too modern and battled a outbreak of TCA a few years back and had to toss two vintages completely.. though their wines are soft and luscious, but moderately to extracted (the 1er crus) the GRANDCRUS are killer,,, best run of the lot wast he 2001 from them,,, though theo other MAGNIEN (frederic) is a better deliverer in the end..

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Was lucky enough to have lunch at le paradou today. It was my first time and will be going back. After reading numerous reviews and heard first hand accounts about the stuffiness and rude wait staff I was a little concerned. In the beginning the waiter seemed pushy and kept circling waiting for us to order. Things calmed down after I spoke to the sommelier and placed our wine order. To start we had a Chablis 1st Cru and rolled into a beautiful Red Burgundy. I found the wine service to be excellent. There was a bit of an issue with the water at the table. There were some that ordered tap and others that ordered sparking. The waiter, specifically one guy, would come over to refill and put the sparking into the glasses that were filled with tap water. This happened about three times before he got the message.

For Lunch I had:

App: Lobster Purse, Carrot Ginger Sauce for the App-Everything we well prepared and flavorful. The lobster was succulent and moist. I would have like to have a little more flavor to balance. The sauce was a little short in that department.

Entree: Rabbit ‘Estouffade’ with Olive and Rosemary as an entree The rabbit was perfect. Tender, moist and well balanced with the sauce accompanied by a few carrots and mushrooms. The residual sauce did not go to waste. The nice bread at the table helped with that process.

Desert: Chocolate ‘Saveur’, Thyme Sauce, Hazelnut-Citron Confit Ice Cream Very good. I enjoyed the combination of flavors and textures.

I also had a chance to sample a co-wokers Breast of Duck, Poultry Mousse, Turnips with Thyme, Carrots, Juniper Berry Sauce. I was impressed with the preparation of the breast, prepared perfectly rare, nice balance with the fat. I was also impressed with the Poultry Mousse. It was light and flavorful. One bite and I wanted more.

We ordered off the Pre Fixe Menu, which cost $32 per person. I was impressed with the offerings on the menu and consider it a good value. If you do not have wine. Our wine bill exceed the food bill by a good amount.

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I have gone to Le Paradou several times, for both lunch and dinner, and each visit has been phenomenol. The constant stories of how hit or miss it is have kept me from going to often or recommending too furiously. But, today seemed like a great opportunity to try out lunch at the bar as I had been released from jury duty early. This meal was exactly what I would have expected if I ignored my own experiences and listened only to the reports from others.

The bar at Le Paradou reminds me of going to the spa. It is clean and quiet, with light, peaceful music and attentive service that doesn't overwhelm. In the dining room, the service has always been my one complaint - too serious and severe; not the case today in the bar. The service was excellent; it was formal but lighthearted. The host serves as the bartender, so most of the time there is no one behind the bar, yet I never felt ignored. There were newspapers thoughtfully set on one end of the bar, so I could have distracted myself that way. No need for those for me though, as I was fully equipped for entertaining myself in the jury room. The bar is actually perfectly set up for the jury break, so much so that I was asked upon sitting whether I was on jury duty and needed to return in an hour; very thoughtful.

The menu is a prix fixe three- course deal (for $35, with a few, scattered upcharges), so I chose lobster salad with arugula, quail eggs and parmasan; sea scallops with red snapper and crab ravioli in lobster jus; and, pineapple beignets with date ice cream.

First came a roll, which was warm and had a great texture. But, it desperately needed salt. And, the butter was no help; it too could have used a sprinkling of salt on top.

The lobster salad, on the other hand, was wonderful! Served with a light lemon dressing, there was an impressive amount of freshly boiled lobster, creating a dish that was both delicate and assertive. Perfect!

The main course was not quite a hit though. Again, it lacked salt. The scallops themselves were well-salted and well-cooked. The rest was bland. Salt alone would not have fixed the dish completely, however, as I picked a bone and several scales out of my teeth while eating the otherwise decent fish.

The flavor of the pineapple beignets was quite good, but the texture was not. The "beignets" were actually just pieces of diced pineapple that were battered and fried. Nothing was done to compensate for the moisture in the pineapple, or that in the rather nice date ice cream that was served with, so the beignets were too soft.

Overall, it was a nice, elegant experience, and - with a bit more salt - it would have been a very good meal.

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We had a business dinner here over the weekend, and had mixed results. As most business dinners force kitchens to play conservatively, I can't comment on Chef Cam's creativity. The quality of the ingredients was high, as I would expect in this price range. Our lobster purse appetizers were very well made, with a subtle ginger sauce that complemented and never overwhelmed the lobster. Bread service was mixed--the brioche was fantastic, a buttery mid-meal treat that wowed us, but the roll that came out with our mains was too hard, the crust having more crunch than crackle. The rack of lamb entree was well prepared, with just a bit of fat left, and perfectly cooked. The side vegetables were fine but didn't play a role in the dish, and the sauce was underwhelming--not bad, just really not anything memorable.

Dessert was a pistachio creme brulee, which didn't look so appetizing (something about the green custard underneath the burnt sugar gave the dish an almost pavement-like appearance) but had great flavor. Service was pretty good, with a few minor slip-ups that were surprising given the caliber of the restaurant--having to ask for tableware for dessert, for instance.

Overall, it was a successful dinner, and I wouldn't mind going back on my own to see what the chef can do.

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Our lobster purse appetizers were very well made, with a subtle ginger sauce that complemented and never overwhelmed the lobster.

I agree with SVT. The lobster purse is an incredible dish. One of the best in the city. I would be happy with an entire meal of lobster purses!

(But everything else I've had there has been exquisite as well. I've never been disappointed.)

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Really nice long lunch today. Creamy Morel Soup with Parma Ham-wrapped scallops [incredible mushroom flavor, perfect texture on the scallops. a total win]. Salad of lobster, parmesan, hard-boiled quail eggs, arugula [another great dish, although the arugula's bitterness didn't really have any balance...the lobster and quail were excellent]. Entree of pheasant, boudin blanc, apples and a sugar crisp [the menu said it came with duck foie, a fact i forgot until after we'd left. a good dish, but not as impressive as the previous two]. The website is out of date, btw...lunch is $35 for two dishes and $45 for three. With two glasses of wine [Hartford Chardonnay $15, Emeritus Pinot Noir $16] the whole thing topped $100 after tip. Not a cheap lunch, but a very good one. Leisurely pace and problems with their credit card machine at the end meant the whole affair lasted a little over two hours.

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Amanda McClements is reporting that as of April 13th, The Willard Room will become a private dining space.

Not just the Willard Room but also Yannick's Le Paradou! Wow. Sincere appreciation and gratitude for Yannick introducing the Washington area to his wonderfully delicious cuisine. He has played a major role in the elevation of Washington, D. C. on the national stage. Thank you, Yannick.

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I had the best duck ever there. But I've also had the worst service also. It's kinda bitter sweet to see it go away.
My experience was very similar, one very very good meal but the way they treated the table next to us was simply shameful. The reports of inconsistency kept me from going back.
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My first, and only meal, was uniformly excellent. My service was efficient. I just decided never to go back because I couldn't afford a bottle of wine.
My only meal there was also excellent, including the service. I recall the lobster risotto being extraordinary. Since we don't dine out extremely often, there aren't too many restaurants at that price point we get back to again (or more than a few times). We keep trying new expensive places :rolleyes:.
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Le Paradou was a place we frequented over the years, usually deciding on a whim to have dinner in the bar and lounge area - sometimes off the bar menu, sometimes not. We always enjoyed speaking with nicholas, the on-again, off-again sommilier. Wonder where Yannick will end up next?

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I had the best duck ever there. But I've also had the worst service also. It's kinda bitter sweet to see it go away.

This has been my experience at every one of Yannick Cam's restaurants, even when he was at the hotel in Alexandria. Excellent food, but the service was always horrible. My one visit to Le Paradou was enough to show me it was the same there, and the food alone was not enough to justify going back.

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