Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

An Orgy of Souffles

It is almost unimaginable that I have reached my current age (which will remain undisclosed) without ever tasting a soufflé! Until recently, that is.

Throughout my life I’ve read about soufflés in cookbooks and learned of their temperamental attitudes. I’ve admired gorgeous magazine photographs of soufflés in all their airy splendor. I’ve watched Julia make child’s play of them on her old TV show. But not once has even a mouthful of soufflé passed between my lips. The only reason that can account for this gaping hole in my gastronomic experience is that the opportunity never came my way.

Well recently it came my way, big time. And I took full advantage of it.

I was in Paris for a week and had heard about this little restaurant that specialized in soufflés called, appropriately enough, Restaurant Le Souffle. It was time to lose my soufflé virginity! I only hoped I would still respect myself in the morning.

Darwin and I made reservations for dinner at Restaurant Le Souffle, located only two blocks from the Place de la Concorde. That evening as we emerged from the Metro we were greeted by a gorgeous nighttime view of the Place. Its beautifully lit fountain, lovely lampposts, and tall golden-tipped obelisk framed the illuminated Eiffel Tower in the background. As we were walking the Tower suddenly began its hourly twinkling. We had to stop for a few minutes to admire this wonderful scene.

The restaurant was cozy and comfortable and the staff very nice. They offered an all-soufflé prix fixe menu (29.50 Euros) that included a soufflé entrée (appetizer), a green salad, a soufflé plat (main course) and a soufflé dessert. Since it was my intention to try soufflés, we both ordered different items from that menu. Because we tried each other’s dishes, that night I tasted six different soufflés! Yes, I admit it; I went from a soufflé virgin to soufflé whore in one short evening.

We started with the wild mushroom soufflé and the classic cheese soufflé. They were light in texture but rich in flavor and just melted in my mouth. Having no previous soufflé experiences with which to compare these, I don’t feel qualified to judge them, but I can say that we enjoyed them very much.

After the salad, we had a foie gras soufflé and a crayfish soufflé as our main courses. Although there were small bits of foie gras in the soufflé, the entire soufflé was nicely flavored with foie gras throughout. I wonder how they did that. The crayfish soufflé was studded with seafood and served with a flavorful sauce on the side.

I had been particularly looking forward to dessert from the moment I spied the Gran Marnier soufflé on the menu because it is one of my favorite liqueurs. We also tried the raspberry soufflé, which had an intense fresh raspberry flavor and a gorgeous pink color.

I enjoyed the Gran Marnier soufflé experience most. The waiter placed it in front of me and poked a few holes in it. As the fragrant steam escaped he poured in a couple of good glugs of the amber nectar. When it hit the hot soufflé its vapors were intensified, just like heated brandy. Then he left the huge bottle of Gran Marnier on our table so I could continue to flavor it as I ate my way through it. It was all good!

After all that food and a bottle of wine, we were more than satiated. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening of soufflé excesses. Although everything was delicious, later that night I developed a bit of indigestion, due to the unaccustomed rich overindulgences, I’m sure.

I would certainly go back to Restaurant Le Souffle again, but next time I would have soufflés for only one or two courses, definitely dessert.

Restaurant Le Souffle
36, rue du Mont – Thabor
75001 Paris
(33) 01 42 60 27 19

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