The International Writers Magazine:Dining in Paris
Night at Maxims
it was Valentines day in Paris. We jump in a taxi and I lean forward
to ask the driver, we are looking for a restaurant somewhere
in the quartier latin a hopeless task perhaps.
through the Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde we came to an
abrupt stop in a vast, empirical yet empty street. Met by, an elaborately
dressed doorman. The exterior looked like an art nouveau masterpiece.
The doors are opened and we are ushered in to the reception.
Glancing at my other half's attire they issued him with both tie and
jacket (as my father said, the place has to be good if you get both!)
before leading us down the corridor, past the letters from Picasso et
al to the Grand Salon. The world famous belle époque dining room
is unrenovated from 1893. The sheer amount of mahogany answers the questions
of where the rainforests went, and the mirrors and brass reflect enough
lights to imagine it all lit by candles.
The table lined square room, allows a wandering eye to discover who
else is wishing the night away. Favourite of Edward VII, the Prince
of Wales and Louis Jourdan, this is where Onassis wooed Callas. And
we found ourselves, a student and a young naval officer on Valentines
We were handed our menus and the first thing I noticed was the lack
of prices. I leaned over and asked what I couldnt have. The list
ran to the Lobster and the Caviar. Both of which I dislike anyway. Joe
courageously managed to keep his jaw closed at the wine list. But to
be fair, who else was going to pay for the orchestra on stage. (The
average price per head is Euro 150)
The food? Well to be fair I remember little of it. We had Saint Jacques
as a starter, which the afore mentioned officer decided was on a bed
of cous-cous, so took a mouthful before realising it was salt. Over
the past few years Maxims has got a lot of flak for its food,
and I can perhaps see why. The Bass I had for a main course was undressed
before me with such speed that I was more impressed by that than the
taste. We skipped desert and went straight for coffees.
Surprisingly the service was incredibly good. Not because I expected
the staff to be poorly trained, but we were a young English couple obviously
stumbled into the wrong place. My French, is not without accent, and
the Parisian staff, politely did not find flaw with it.
Halfway through the evening a young man wandered in minus tie and jacket
and sat with a couple in the much desired tables scattered in the centre
of the room. I passed a moment wondering who he was, no doubt if he
was British I would have known.
Somehow Maxims has managed to hold it three Michelin stars (the
highest Michelin goes too) despite its falling reputation. For me, the
sheer history of the place, along with my dining companion, made my
night. The food was merely something to keep me busy.
It snowed as we left the restaurant. Joe finally managed to relax, having
never experienced such spectacle. It was not perhaps the easiest way
to be introduced to haute cuisine. The walk home made you wish, just
a little, that you had stepped out to see a black beret and an artist
walking the streets.
© Cailtin Metland Dec 2005
the Night Away
Caitlin Metland on the dance floor
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.