B had a party to attend for the conference on Thursday night. I was still feeling pretty under the weather and those parties can be a little much to take, so I bowed out. By the time B got back to the hotel to meet me for dinner, we were staring down the barrel of another 10:00PM dinner.
We walked around the block a couple times and looked at another 5 or so menus (that all looked exactly the same). Finally we decide to head back to the hotel and have dinner at their restaurant. Ma Chère & Tendre Steakhouse looked promising, but I’m normally a little cautious of hotel restaurants.
I asked for a table for two in French. We were seated and promptly received English menus. I was starting to wonder if I should take it personally and just abandon my linguistic efforts. The restaurant looks more or less like a hotel restaurant, but it had a nice energy and was fairly full.
I would just like to say that my new favorite word in any language is aperitif. The concept of stopping and taking time to wind down before you start eating is a fairly foreign concept for us quick-meal Americans. It’s a concept B and I have always followed loosely, but more by chance than by intention. With this meal, we didn’t have something traditional, but we started with a glass of white wine before ordering a bottle of red. I did appreciate that everywhere we ate while we were in France, we could order our drinks all at once and expect that they wouldn’t all be served at the same time. Everywhere we went, even if they brought our bottle of wine to the table, they encouraged us to enjoy our aperitif before even pouring or tasting the wine.
The menu at Ma Chère & Tendre was very straightforward. Our server recommended an option for us to share a larger portion of meat and then a side. We chose a roughly mashed potato dish. I have nothing but good things to say about the food, and after a couple days of heavily sauced meals, it was a really nice change.
The highlight, though, if not from a flavor perspective, certainly from a novelty perspective, was the dessert. We had the Baba. It’s a cake with fruit, whipped cream, and rum. When I say it had rum, I mean, someone came to our table, poured what looked like a half a bottle of rum on top and lit the cake on fire. I’m sure some of it burned off, but when you pour that much, you’re still left with a cake floating in a pool of rum. It was delicious, but maybe a little strong. All that liquid you see? It’s all rum.
The staff was really lovely. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable, and very personable. Things had slowed down a bit and he chatted with us for a while. It was the most at ease I felt the whole time we were there. He completely blew away any stereotypes of rude Parisian servers. Even though I spent most of the day sleeping and B spent most of the day working, it was a very nice end to day 3.