Lapérouse is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris and surely one of the most storied thanks to its private salons – it isn’t called the “Maison de Plaisirs” for nothing. I’d been dying to try Lapérouse for quite some time and its recent renovations finally pushed me over the edge to get there.
The restaurant originally opened in 1766 as a wine shop that served a few dishes as well. It was received with so much popularity that the original owner Monsier Lefèvre needed to convert the servant’s rooms on the second level into spaces to host his guests, thus creating the private salons.
Jules Lapérouse purchased 51 Quai des Grands Augustins in 1866 with the goal of transforming the small mansion into a place with renowned cuisine, top service, and an elegant setting. Monsieur Lapérouse achieved his mission and attracted many writers during the Belle Époque in Paris including Georges Sand, Emile Zola, Charles Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, Alfred Musset, and a regular of Lapérouse, Victor Hugo.
During this time, the restaurant became officially known as Lapérouse for both Jules Lapérouse and the great navigator Jean-François Lapérouse. Auguste Escoffier took over in the kitchen which kicked-off the golden era of Lapérouse.
The private salons became favorite places for senators and their lovers to hide out (there’s rumored to be a secret tunnel that connects the restaurant to the French Senate so that the senators could arrive undetected). Mirrors throughout the restaurant are scratched thanks to the lovers (cocottes) testing the authenticity of their diamonds.
Lapérouse continued to be a favorite Parisian hideout for politicians, actors, and the fashion crowd alike. In 2018, the president of Moma Group Benjamin Patou purchased the restaurant with the goal of refreshing the decor while meticulously maintaining its authentic “old Paris” allure.
The renovation focused on restoring the original glory of the space and only replaced things as necessary. The mirrors remain with scratches intact – you can even see a message Kate Moss scratched into a mirror in the bar that reads “It’s 2 late 2 go 2 bed.”
Review of My Experience at Lapérouse
We began our evening at Lapérouse with a cocktail in the bar. The bar space is a perfect blend of elegance and comfort. A pianist added a nice touch of “old Paris” and the cocktails were delicious. In fact, the cocktails were so delicious that we opted to stick with them throughout our meal instead of testing out something from the exceptional Lapérouse wine cellar. For the record, a spicy margarita pairs well with everything.
We went on a Saturday night and when we made our reservation the private salons were already booked. We didn’t mind as the main dining room was still cozy and romantic. Our table was by the window with a lovely view overlooking the Seine.
I can’t say enough good things about the exceptional service at Lapérouse. It’s the kind of place where little details matter and they get them just right. The bartender personally delivered our cocktails to us from downstairs. I received a menu without prices. Our waiter continued to refill our butter without judgment (more on that below). And the list just goes on.
Lapérouse has a storied gourmet history as it is the first restaurant to receive three Michelin stars, which they kept until 1969. Now, Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato, previously at Apicus, is at the helm.
We tasted our amuse-bouche with our cocktails at the bar. When we arrived to the table we each had our choice of bread and butter. The butter at Lapérouse is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Originally I chose the piment d’espelette butter and Romain chose the salted butter, but we ended up switching our preferences. I could’ve eaten the bread and butter all day long.
We started with the Foie Gras and Potato Charlotte with Lapérouse caviar. They were both truly heavenly starters and again, I could’ve eaten them all night long.
We split the Lobster and Ris de Veau for our main dishes. The Ris de Veau was truly fabulous, but unfortunately the Lobster was a little off. Lapérouse did the right thing and took the lobster off of our bill.
We both finished the meal incredibly full, but luckily we always have room for dessert. Christophe Michalak is the pastry chef at Lapérouse and we shared the most divine profiterole I’ve ever tasted.
The Lapérouse Experience
I won’t soon forget first experience at Lapérouse, and it certainly won’t be my last. There is something so special about it that can’t quite be put into words or photos – it simply needs to be experienced.
Dining at Lapérouse might just be the closest thing there is to time travel.
If you’d like to add this unforgettable dining experience to your Paris itinerary just contact me here.
Restaurant Lapérouse – 51 Quai des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris