Below are notes from July 2004, by way of comparison.
The point of the Louis XV is not the grand setting but stunning food that never lets up the quest for perfection throughout the meal. There are many examples of lovely dishes, but it is the unrelenting striving for the best in the details that impresses. Not content with getting their cheese from Antony, one of the best suppliers in France, and keeping it extremely well, they have sought out a supplier from Normandie just for the Camembert, because he makes the cheese by hand, and this is indeed the best Camembert I have tasted. For similar reasons there is another supplier just for the Roquefort, and yet another for the chevre. This is a place that had two pages of mineral waters to choose from, and more than half a dozen different coffees (Ethiopian, Columbian, Brazilian, etc). If you order an infusion, rather than someone snipping off a bit of thyme in the kitchen and putting it in a pot, a miniature nursery of herbs is wheeled out and the chosen herb ceremoniously cut off the living plant for you. Similarly, if you order the old classic rum baba, as well as divinely delicate bread sponge, you have a choice of five separate high quality rums to choose from. Bread arrives on a vast chariot – there is corn bread, bacon, olive, baguette, organic, country bread, a veritable bakery of options. Our favourite was the walnut bread, which had delicate texture, beautifully fresh walnuts and a perfect crust, bread that could hardly be bettered. Service is flawless, friendly and effortlessly efficient, without being noticeable.
Highlight dishes include a remarkable cheese and spinach amuse guele that resembled a samosa, but had pastry that no Indian kitchen would ever be likely to create. A risotto of courgette flowers had perfect, fat Arborio rice richly flavoured with stock, but containing surprises like a few baby girolles, and some tiny baby onions that melted on the tongue. A perfect steak was from Salers, and managed to have more flavour than any I had ever tasted up to that moment, accompanied by superb wild mushrooms, some artichokes and a rich demi-glace.
My favourite dessert is the Louis XV croustillant, a simply hazelnut biscuit covered with dark chocolate; sounds ordinary, but wait until you taste the chocolate, which has so smooth a surface it appears solid, yet is actually still soft and has an intensity of taste that makes me salivate just typing this. Fish is exceptionally good here, as in a Mediterranean sea bass with summer vegetables. There is the capacity, as with all the very finest restaurants, to surprise the palate with seemingly simple flavours, as occurs for example with almost all the vegetables here.
A great bargain is the set lunch. This is EUR 90, which sounds quite a bit until you discover what you get for that. There is an amuse-bouche, a small starter (we had a perfect chilled cucumber soup poured over truffle slices) then a starter of your choice: I had a simple dish of pasta with tomato sauce, the pasta perfect, the tomatoes having depth of flavour that it is impossible to describe. This is followed by a main course, for which I had chicken simply cooked in a pot with a few vegetables. The chicken was so corn-fed that the skin was distinctly yellow even after the cooking, with the meat having great depth of taste – what was the last time you found this with chicken? Then you have cheese. There is a pre-dessert of the perfect croustillant described above, and then a further dessert of your choice e.g. an apricot tart to die for. You then get coffee and a dish of petit-fours of the highest quality, some divine chocolates and macaroons and lastly some freshly baked Madeleines. Oh, and a bottle of wine (several choices). Not too bad for EUR 90.