From Nouvelle Cuisine to busy brasseries to a restaurant that serves in total darkness with blind waiters, Paris has its share of unique dining experiences. This month we take you to a refurbished Dutch barge for the latest unique Paris dining hotspot.
In 2007 a young American couple who just moved to Paris started The Hidden Kitchen, where 12 strangers would feast on a six-course dinner prepared by them in the dining room of their apartment.
Ever since The Hidden Kitchen, the community dining experience has been replicated many times in various forms and its newest version is Once Upon a Table.
The setting for Once Upon a Table is a converted Dutch barge moored on the Seine in the scenic Latin Quarter with a heart stopping view of Notre Dame. The dinner event starts at 8PM and when you arrive at the outside deck, Stephane the sommelier greets you. Stephane hands you a glass of Champagne to start the festivities and proceeds to give a lively presentation about the history of the Champagne you are drinking.
After you meet and greet the other guests, the fun moves downstairs to the dining room. A formal table is set with crystal, crisp linens, soft candles, and fine white china. Chef Max, who trained with Alain Passard at l’Arpege, the George V Hotel, and Laserre, prepares a five-course haute cuisine meal including a cheese course. What makes the dinner unusual is the fascinating Powerpoint presentation in between each course about the history and cultural importance of each dish. For instance, the night we went, a topanimbour (Jerusalem artichoke) soup with truffle oil, was served for the first course and we learned the very important role topanimbour played as a survival food during WW II. Throughout the night we were regaled with stories from French and European history from Esmeralda and Notre Dame to Santiago de Comopstela, as reference points to the dishes we were having. A different wine was served with each course including Champagne Fallet Dart at the end of the meal.
Once Upon a Table is part of www.lefoodist.com, a newly formed company started by Fred Pouillot, specializing in food and cooking events. Another fun food event they organize is Daring Pairings, where wine is paired with unusual foods including 10 different types of chocolate.
The cost of the Once Upon a Table experience is 120 euros per person.