The Best Meal in Paris at 123 Meters

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The adventure begins at the base of the Eiffel Tower.  You diverge from the swarming crowds and enter a private elevator which whisks you up to the second level, already several worlds above Paris.  The door opens: This is Jules Verne, hailed by Patricia Wells as "The Most Celebratory Restaurant in Paris" (and by a neighbor and French Literature professor as "the place you must take your daughter on her first trip to Paris").

First, the obvious question.  Well, yes, there are a lot of tourists. On one side, there was a Dallas family celebrating Mom's 40th: "What a greaaaaaat birthday present, honey."  But as the evening wore on, they were replace by stylish French families, who were also celebrating birthdays and other occasions with varying degrees of fervor: One pained looking father toasted his daughter's engagement to a bespectacled youth, gritting his teeth every time the nerd touched her knee.

In fact, Jules Verne is a marvelous experience.  If you arrive at 8 or 8:30 (too early by Parisian standards), you'll be able to watch the sky turn crimson and then violet, and the lights of the city twinkle on.  The ultra-glam black and grey decor is at its best in the evening when the restaurant takes on a heady, romantic air.  Even the waiters, with their slightly exaggerated good manners, start to have fun.

And the food is great.  Order a simple salade: what comes to the table is a beautifully composed still life of thinly sliced tomato with mache, raddichio and baby lettuces, strewn with coriander and watercress, topped with snow peas, tiny onions and artichoke hearts, and shreds of beet.  Extraordinarily fresh and sweet gros langoustines needed only the contrast of an intensely lemony sauce and crunchy sprigs of tempura-fried dill and mizuna to bring out their flavor.  The succulent fricasse de poulet de Bresse aux girolles was served with fois gras and pommes Anna.  For the dessert there was an airy souffle au citron jaune in a thyme-infused creme anglaise and a ganache tendre praline oozing warm chocolate.

What is most extraordinary is that the descent back to earth is not a let-down.  As the great Champs de Mars looms larger, the swirling crowds reappear beneath the vast illuminated legs of the Eiffel Tower.  One feels buoyant, as though let out into a huge late night party.  Jules Verne, Champs de Mars, 75007 Paris.  Tel:

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