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French hotels offer haute cuisine room service in COVID lockdown
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French restaurants have been closed because of lockdown for months. But some of the country’s chefs have found an outlet for their talents that COVID-19 restrictions allow: room service. In some hotels, the crisis has turned eating in your room into a new culinary art.
At Maison Albar Hotel – Le Pont-Neuf in the center of Paris, a waitress delivers to room 607 the kind of meal that French chefs are famous for. It features ricotta ravioli with a green-pea coulis and chicken ballotines, along with asparagus, warm quinoa and lemon confit salad. There’s a chocolate desert.
Speaking in French, guest Albertine Palle said it’s nice dining in while dining out. “I love being able to dine barefoot and with my hair still wet, but making a little effort to dress for dinner nevertheless because we’re tasting such delicious things in such beautiful surroundings,” Palle said.
The cost? About $78, for a meal that was more like $50 when it was served in the restaurant. But, said hotel manager Franck Louapre, it is a unique experience. “A lot of guests said, ‘Ah, it’s nice because we can eat, with my friend or my wife, a real dinner in our own room.'”
Down in the hotel’s kitchen, chef Rémi Hénaux said the main challenge for him was temperature. He said starters designed to be eaten lukewarm work, as do main entrées in sturdy casserole dishes that keep them hot. Ices and fragile creams, however, aren’t good bets.
Other hotels are trying this, too. Paris-based writer Lindsey Tramuta said there could be demand for this style of dining even when regular dining resumes. France’s restaurant, bar and café terraces may reopen at half capacity on May 19.
“For some people, including women when they’re traveling by themselves for whatever reason, there’s this reluctance to be alone in a restaurant,” Tramuta said. “But I find I often end up in a hotel restaurant alone simply because the room service options are not developed enough.”
The Maison Albar Hotel plans to keep the service going after lockdown ends, Louapre said, because it’s been so popular.
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