Lapérouse is claimed to be the second oldest restaurant in the city and has seen the likes of Baudelaire, Proust, Victor Hugo, Hemingway, Kate Moss, and Woody Allen. It’s history consists of a little bit of everything: infamous brothel, romantic restaurant, celebrity hotspot. Residing on the rive gauche, it is impossible to miss the ornate gold leafing and iconic wooden sign that make up its façade. The lanterns lure you in at night, but only the lucky ones with a reservation can be granted access through the royal blue doors.
After being let in by an old-fashioned security guard and welcomed in a soft-pink rose covered foyer, you ascend the narrow winding staircase that proceeds to veer off into multiple directions. If you can keep up with the long-legged hostess, you make it into one of the salons (dining rooms) out of the several you pass by along the way. (You can reserve a variety of private dining rooms for only a small fee if you have a large group or just want alone time) Upon entering your room for the night, the walls stand lined with candlesticks and you realize how each salon is uniquely crafted to emanate a different rococo sentiment. A large map threatens to take away our attention each time our gaze lifts upwards, compasses encircling each chandelier. Tarnished mirrors line one wall as blue and gold textured wallpaper line the other, embossed with fleur-de-lis. You’re immediately greeted by your waiter for the evening and soon after comes your personal sommelier, carrying a bursting binder of wines by the bottle. Juxtaposed to the victorian decor is upbeat French pop/electronic music, reminding you of the year you actually reside in, the one in which the people on the streets outside are living.
The waiter, sommelier, and aide-serveur are yours for the night; ours happened to be fun, young, unpretentious guys who would slap your back, laugh with you, and not judge you for ordering just one more glass. We told the sommelier what we liked and he hand-picked wines for us to go with each dish. He informed us that in France you must attend four years of school to become a sommelier (!!!), so obviously we gave him full authority to choose what we were drinking.
My boyfriend and I couldn’t decide between the scallops or the beef wellington, so of course we ordered both. The scallops came out on mermaid shells, each placed beautifully in the center along with seaweed risotto and other things I am not adept enough to know. They serve the wellington “the Churchill way”; apparently Mr. Winston was very particular. It is brought out on a platter, being over a foot long at least, and we verify that it is cooked to our liking. They then slice you each a piece, and it cuts like butter. It was the most incredible meal each of us had ever had, my mouth waters just thinking about it.
Of course we sat there for hours, drinking wine, stuffing our faces, and ordering profiteroles for dessert. It was so magical, I never wanted the night to end. We watched as they brought out platters of whole fish engulfed in flames, bottles and bottles of wine, and desserts that resembled art. I absolutely detest that during my time living in France, this was the only night I had ever visited Lapérouse. The night ended walking home along the Seine, having our very own Midnight in Paris moment.