It was only my second trip to the idyllic Enghien les Bains, but I was getting the hang of the relaxing, paused nature of the town located only 10 minutes away from Paris. The first time I was here, we had just missed Le 85’s lunch service but this time we had the pleasure of enjoying a delightful gastronomic afternoon lunch on Le 85’s outdoor terrace. Located inside Le Grand Hotel Barrière, the restaurant is not only a favourite among hotel guests, but also locals in the area who are looking to treat themselves to modernly envisioned French cuisine.
As we considered the menu, we started off with some aperitifs recommended by the maitré d, a glass of light Burgundy white wine and Le 85, a non-alcoholic cocktail which is a signature of the restaurant. The wine was light and fruity, while the tropical-esque cocktail was a concoction of pineapple and pear juices with grenadine syrup. Before our appetizers arrived, we whetted our appetites with an amuse bouche of Seafood Salad with Chives & Cream which was fresh and delicious and had us impatient for our next courses.
C: The amuse bouches looks good! They’re even served in a tiny little glass…
C + M: It looks like a shot glass!
C: Ahaha, jinx!
M: It’s actually really good, there’s mussels in here, calamari…
C: Clams too, and it works really well with the cream.
M: I know that they serve really good food at this restaurant, so I’m happy to be able to try everything.
C: Yeah, not all restaurants serve an amuse-bouche, so this is a treat!
As the terrace slowly began filling up with other diners, we were presented with our entrèes, the Foie Gras Maison and the Salmon and Haddock Tartar. Both starters intrigued us from the moment they were set on the table. The foie gras was served alongside toasted bread and a glistening strawberry carpaccio garnished with rhubarb compote and a balsamic vinegar reduction. The salmon and haddock tartar, on the other hand, was infused with lime and chives, with dollops of guacamole, mango and white balsamic reduction to accompany the dish.
M: I’m going to be so full after this meal… It’s a good thing I didn’t wear this body lingerie thing that I just bought, I had to wiggle out of it because I could not think of having a three-course meal wearing that…
C: Oh no, yeah thank goodness you didn’t!
M: Yes! Anyways, let’s dig in to the salmon and haddock…
C: Mmmm, the salmon is super tender. And I like the fact that the haddock is not too salty, cause I’ve had a lot of haddock in the past that was too overpowering.
M: What is haddock? What sort of fish is that? Sometimes I get grossed out if I see what sort of fish I’m eating… Look, I found a photo of it… so that’s what we’re eating.
C: Ew, that looks ugly, hahaha. Do you feel better about eating it because it’s ugly?
M: Well I really like it with the mango balsamic, that’s a really good mix.
C: Try the foie gras with the strawberries! I’ve never had that with foie gras before.
M: Oh my god, it’s works really well together!
C: That’s true, it brings out this acidity which you usually don’t get while eating foie gras.
M: I wonder what it means when they say foie gras maison, since I don’t see any ducks around here…
C: I think it means that they buy the foie, then cook it with herbs and case it themselves.
M: Yeah this is really delicious!
C: You can go ahead and have more of my entrèe, I have a foie gras quota…
After philosophising about dining etiquette and finishing our delicious and generously portioned starters, we moved onto our main course. At this point we were already beginning to feel quite stuffed, and this is why I should remind myself to refrain from too much bread nibbling in the future!
For mains we decided to go with the Duck Magret and the Veal Piccata. Both presentations looked mouth-watering, and we were served a glass of red wine to accompany the course. The duck magret was cooked to perfection in a raspberry vinegar and had an amazing color to the sear of its outer edges. It was served with a lasagna of zucchini, eggplant and mozzarella. The veal was accompanied with a bed of cheesy, fava bean risotto with a tangy bell pepper chutney on top.
C: The risotto looks amazing!
M: The veal is really tender and the sauce is really good.
C: The risotto is very cheesy, I love a cheesy risotto and the bell peppers are perfectly pickled.
M: I really like the fava beans inside the risotto.
C: Try the duck, it’s amazing too!
M: Yeah I love the fact that it’s cooked in a raspberry vinegar reduction and they serve raspberries alongside it, which is cool.
C: The sauce is nice and thick like a gravy, and you really taste the strawberries here!
M: I have food envy now, because both your courses were better than mine.
C: Well we’re sharing everything, please take as much as you want!
M: I think my favourite part of these courses is the duck.
C: I really like the sauces on both dishes here, you can tell they put effort into it.
M: And the cooks on both meats are really done to perfection.
C: I have to say that I have a soft spot for duck… So I’m in the beginning phase of my food coma… I’m slowly blacking out… which means we have been well fed until now!
Not going to lie, it was quite a feat to continue on to the dessert course, but after seeing what the menu offered, we couldn’t resist! Turns out we definitely made the right call, as it would have been a crime to pass by the Pistachio Financier and the Fruit Rouge Tart. The former was served with dollops of pistachio cream and glazed raspberries, with meringue batons decorating the ensemble while the later was served on top of a crispy biscuit base, and creamy, squares of raspberry as well as a blackcurrent sorbet. This was the best-looking course that we were served today, and it was almost too beautiful to eat. But luckily, we quickly came over that sentiment and proceeded to pick up our forks.
M: Oh my god these desserts look amazing!
C: It’s already like a delicacy for the eyes.
M: There’s different kinds of berries, and these squares they look spongey!
C: Let me try one of these squares, and I think that’s a raspberry coulis.
M: Ooh and this is a blackberry sorbet, amazing!
C: I really like the squares, they’re not acidic at all! Let’s dig into mine then. This is the financier I was telling you about, it’s like a cousin of the madeleine but it’s made with almond.
M: What are those sticks?
C: Oh it’s meringue, try one! Do you like it?
M: Oh it’s so good, I really like it with the pistachio cream! I think we’re gonna have to roll out of this restaurant, I don’t know how we’re going to walk out of here.
All in all, we had a wonderful lunch on a beautiful sunny day out in Enghien les Bains. Whether you’re taking a break from the Barriere Casino, or looking to escape from the hustle of Paris or just simply in search of a great gastronomic experience, Le 85 is a choice that will surely not disappointment. The ambiance, service and especially the quality of their dishes have left a strong mark and we look forward to see what else the restaurant has on its menu.
Photos and text by C. Wai