Paris Holds the Key to My Heart Part 6: A Truly Divine Dining Experience
To round out my exciting and delicious food adventures on my trip to France, I wanted to share my experience at one of the best restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying: Virtus.
Choosing a restaurant
When we were first planning our trip, I knew I wanted to have a classic French fine dining experience at a Michelin-rated restaurant. Restaurants can be easily found through the Michelin guide website where you can easily filter based on the different distinctions, the types of cuisine, and so on. There are just so many great options to choose from, but I narrowed down my search by proximity to our lodging since I knew I wanted to close out our trip with this final fancy meal as well as by dish offerings and price point. This was definitely a meal that I wanted to splurge on, so I felt less limited by the pricing, but it was still something worth considering.
My Virtus experience
What struck me the most initially about Virtus was its Japanese and Argentinian fusion flavor. Virtus is run by a married Japanese woman and Argentinian man, so I was so excited to experience what flavors would come of their combined creative minds and distinctive cultures.
I had a wonderful experience with this restaurant starting from when I first made our reservation. Virtus has a very accessible website where you can easily find the degustation menu along with the current price and make your reservation for your party. And let me also just take a moment to mention the price of this meal. For around $83 per person, my family and I had such a wonderful, exquisite, and unforgettable meal. That is an unbelievable bargain for the quality of dishes, for the atmosphere, and for the entire experience! You would definitely be hard-pressed to find something quite as extraordinary as Virtus regardless of the price. The price has since increased from when I visited, but it is still a considerably affordable Michelin-star meal.
The reservation process
Another nice thing about Virtus was that it was easy to get a reservation here. I started really looking for a restaurant about two weeks or so before our trip, which is pretty late if you’re looking to get a table in extremely popular Michelin-rated restaurants (some require reservations almost 60 days or so ahead of time!), so I felt really lucky that this restaurant still had openings.
Upon making the reservation, I received a confirmation via email, and they were considerate enough to email me regarding any possible food allergies for them to be aware of.
Now onto the meal itself. Since we knew the whole meal would take a couple of hours and we had a flight to catch the next day, I got a reservation for their earliest time, 7:00PM. As someone who likes to be punctual, we got to the restaurant around 15 minutes before our reservation time, but the restaurant itself wasn’t open yet since we were in the first seating for the evening. We walked around a bit in the surrounding neighborhood to kill some time and it was nice to have a little stroll before dinner.
When the restaurant opened, we were the first party to arrive. Throughout our trip, my family and I were often mistaken as Japanese people, and this dining experience was no exception. There was nothing wrong with this per se, but the host welcomed us with Japanese phrases which I found a bit funny (since we got that a number of times already at this point).
One thing I loved about this restaurant was that the decor was very eclectic; the tables were of different materials (some wood, some metal), the chairs were not of a single set, the lighting fixtures were different at every table, and yet it all still fit so well together.
Our meal started off with some amazing amuse-bouche.
We had a delicious egg that was topped with a cheese foam with a presentation that was akin to a bird’s nest.
The next item was a salted and roasted tomato that was juicy, flavorful, and tender.
And the final amuse-bouche dish was a set of breadsticks with a topping flavor that tasted just like pizza and came with a creamy dipping sauce. This dish was also presented on a bed of twigs which matched well with the egg and was absolutely delicious.
Before our first course, we were served bread, and in addition to the traditional bread you would usually expect at dinner, we were also served a bread that is unlike any other I’ve ever had. The bread served at Virtus is a cross between a brioche and a croissant. As explained by our server, this bread has origins stemming from the husband owner’s Argentinian background. This bread was phenomenal. It’s flaky like a croissant but light and fluffy like brioche, pulling all of the best qualities of each bread into one perfect piece of heaven.
The funny thing about a French dining experience is that even before the first course you feel like you’ve eaten enough for a full meal...and then the actual dinner starts!
Our first course started off light with a tuna tartare topped with a thinly sliced piece of daikon, and mashed avocado. This dish, as with most of them, was almost too pretty to eat! But eat it I did. Each ingredient had a light but very pronounced flavor and the slight spiciness from the daikon made this dish very refreshing.
The next dish was a corn dish with corn prepared three different ways. There was roasted corn, puffed corn, and a corn pottage (very Japanese-inspired) topped with some rice puffs and herbs. Each preparation of corn had such a distinct flavor when eaten separately and gave such a pleasant aroma and taste when eaten together. They each also introduced a different texture that just made eating this dish such a wonderful experience. Because of the corn pottage, this dish provided a bit of heaviness, but was lightened up a bit by the herb toppings.
At this point there was a short remission as we finished up our dishes. The servers brought out the duck to our table that they would be serving to us later on.
After our short break, we were served a fish course, complete with a sauce and roasted carrots. The fish was flavorful, moist, and flaky, and the roasted carrots added a crunchy texture.
Finally, for our last main course dish, we were served the juicy and yummy duck. The duck was cooked to perfection; the meat was tasty and tender and the skin was nice and crispy. The mirabelle plum sauce that dressed the duck lended a tartness to the dish that worked really well to balance out the richness of the duck meat. The dish also came with a side of roasted vegetables that were equally tasty and well-balanced.
Now, I was already feeling pretty satiated at the tuna tartare, so by the time we finished the duck I was unbelievably stuffed...but of course there’s always room for dessert!
Our pre-dessert started off very light and refreshing (and very much needed!) We were served a scoop of ice cream on a bed of crushed ice soaked in some bella grappa and topped with a thin sheet of ice. This dessert was almost too cute to eat! Cracking the top ice sheet felt very reminiscent of and just as satisfying as cracking the top of a creme brulee. Though I personally am not a big fan of alcohol, the alcohol flavor in this dessert was very light so still very enjoyable for me.
And now onto one of my favorite dishes of the night: the dessert dessert. I think I’ve already made it pretty clear that I’m a huge fan of Asian-inspired flavors, and this dessert was no exception! We were served genmaicha ice cream with chocolate cream topped with toasted rice puffs and matcha powder. YUM. The genmaicha ice cream had such a strong and yummy tea flavor, the chocolate cream was the perfect amount of chocolatey-ness without being too rich or sweet. And the toasted rice puffs were absolutely divine, adding a nice slightly smoky to the otherwise sweet dish. Even though I was so full, I could definitely have eaten a couple more plates of this!
And finally finally, though this itself doesn’t count as a dish, we were given some small sweets to enjoy that consisted of some matcha cookies, fruit jelly, and the cutest mini madeleines.
Compliments to the chef
And with that we wrapped up our final meal in Paris. But the night wasn’t over yet. As we were finishing up with the bill and preparing to leave the restaurant, the host actually approached us and asked if we wouldn’t mind waiting a short while because the chef, Chiho Kanzaki, wanted to meet us. I repeat: Chiho Kanzaki wanted to meet us! So of course we agreed, and we had the immense honor and pleasure of meeting the mastermind of our amazing meal herself and being able to express to her just how much we enjoyed it.
Remember how I mentioned earlier that the host had mistaken us for Japanese visitors? Well, I believe that he expressed this belief to Chef Kanzaki, and that could have played in part in her desire to speak with us...but I’m not complaining!
So with full stomachs and full hearts, we left Virtus having enjoyed possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I can say with absolute certainty that this restaurant is a gem. With the amount of uniqueness in its flavor profiles and ingredients, the care put into each and every dish, and the relatively affordable price point, Virtus is definitely a spot for the books.