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For a Peek inside Marie Antoinette’s Private Chamber: “Le Boudoir”

"The cellar-speakeasy hidden in Brooklyn Heights is a cocktail bar fit for a queen".

I am a lover of all things French the people, the places, and most certainly the food. Oh the food!! I went to Paris for four days earlier this year just to eat, and oh how I ate. There are certain foods I have enjoyed that bring a tear to my very eye with just the thought. And anyone who has seen me this past year knows how I feel about cutting open a cheese omelette to find French fries or more aptly put Pommes Frites inside. I have talked about that one dish so much I have a friend who is aching to recreate it any day now. Once she nails it I will be over there for breakfast every single weekend.

So when it came time to celebrate my thirty-fifth birthday I was looking for a venue that was well, me. I had a ton of suggestions and did a lot of searching when one day the answer was right in front of me: Le Boudoir.

Le Boudoir was mentioned in my favorite periodicals like The New York Times, Time Out New York Magazine, Zagat, and of course New York Magazine.

The most intriguing quotes are:

·  Zagat: “It's the secret, Marie Antoinette-themed bar you never knew you really needed.”
·  New York Magazine: “The bathrooms are replicas of the Queen's powder room, and there's an original engraved doorknob from Antoinette's bedroom.”
·  Gothamist: “Dessert offerings include Chocolate Mousse and Creme Brulee, but, disappointingly, may not include any cake.”

I believe I was three words into a description when my heart leaped out of my chest and onto my phone and began dialing. Before I knew what had happened I had a reservation. From that point on I was destined for a brand new French love affair.

Upon arriving my friends and I were confused as to how to enter. I had not read too many specifics about the space because I wanted to leave some mystery but apparently that also included how to enter.

Chez Moi is a restaurant run above the bar but I did not know at that time that they were related. Thus it seemed odd to enter that way although that is apparently the way we should have gone. There is a hidden staircase behind a panel of books in the restaurant leading to stairs that go directly down into Le Boudior. But there was another way to go, as we did.

After a few minutes outside we noticed the small sign and a staircase leading down into a dark exterior. I went first and opened the door and inside was a short hallway lit by candles only. I walked towards a door at the end but it said employees only. We were at a loss. One friend said “I hear people on the other side of this wall” and as we approached we realized we were on the other side of a hidden door. Once we push it open we had entered Le Boudoir appeared!

It was just like those hidden rooms the movie Clue has embedded in my brain. I simply LOVE the idea of secret rooms and hidden passageways. Le Boudoir was giving me that from the moment I arrived.

As soon as I entered the high quality and friendly service of the staff was more than obvious. Since I had a reservation our table was made readily available. The table was made of a solid block of marble with velvet couches on one side and short bar like stools on the other. Our coats had been checked and there was more than enough room for all of us. I am so above of the age where standing in a crowded bar, holding onto my things, struggling to get a drink is no longer cute. Actually I was never of an age where I could tolerate that.

When our waitress approached us for our drink order I became memorized. Sure she was friendly and beautiful but I became lost in her accent!! I swear to God for a second I thought I really was in Paris. Her French accent couldn’t have been more authentic and that was thrilling. I only wish I had one or could pull it off but neither unfortunately are true.

Second to my very French waitress was the manager Donnie. He was hysterical and we all got alone so well every time he came over to check on us. Coincidently his birthday was the next day so I like to think we gave him a good start to celebrating his big day.

Although the menu had a plethora of delightfully theme sounding drinks and wines I very much wanted to try, I went with what I was craving; a Grey Goose dirty martini, shaken not stirred, with all the olives they could spare. It had always been my drink of choice and now that I was medically allowed to be back on off the wagon this was way overdue. I have to say that when I put it to my lips it tasted as good as water would to a man stranded in the dessert. Happily it was no illusion though. Better yet were the chateau style glassware they used. Each of us had a different glass depending on what we were drinking but they were each so beautiful. I loved that I wasn’t drinking out of an ordinary martini glass, which happen to cause more spills than any other type. Plus this touch added another layer of depth to the experience.

However I suppose the most exciting surprise this evening occurred in the salle de bains; the bathroom. It is an exact replica of the one Marie had in her boudoir including a doorknob from the original. What is fascinating about the bathroom is the wooden box design and the golden frame around the flush button. One by one we went to in to check it out and use the facilities. I have to say I have never had so much fun in a bathroom in my life.

No wonder Marie Antoinette loved having her girlfriends over for a visit, to laugh, and have a few drinks in her private boudoir, a room, allegedly, that not even her husband King Louis XVI knew about.

The only thing better than the allure and appearance of the bar was the food! I now know it came from the restaurant above, Chez Moi, and now need to try brunch there sometime soon. We ate more than we needed but each dish was better than the next.

We started with a double order of French fries and those went fast. The garlic aioli it came with it was a major plus. From there we ordered the cheese plate that came with strawberries, some unknown fruit jam that was heavenly, three cheeses: Brie, Blue, Goat, and warm multigrain bread. It sounds so simple but it tasted like it came from a five star restaurant. We practically licked the board it came on clean.

At the same time we had a dish of olives and nuts that I was mixing all together. There were no undesirable combinations. At one point, out of bread, I was taking nuts and dipping them into the goat cheese. I made the others do it too and it was quite popular. Keeping in mind that I arrived at this bar after a FULL day of eating myself to death, these foods were clearly not planned but we couldn’t help ourselves. Everything was so good we kept returning to the menu to see what else we should try. Although I was afraid at the time, I am now thinking their frog legs are probably magnificent. There doesn’t seem to be any chance at this point of being unsatisfied.

Naturally since it was my birthday we needed dessert and yes I had already had a ton but on your birthday you can never indulge too much. I had to have the Crème Brulee and the chocoholics I was with had to have the chocolate mousse.

I only had the Crème Brulee and seriously it is the best I have had outside of Paris. The only one that could rival it is at Artisanal Bistro ( my favorite French restaurant in New York City. That is the highest compliment I could ever pay to Le Boudoir.

Le Boudoir is the most original space I have ever been in. I was literally transported in time and space. It appears that whatever was good for that queen is good enough for this one too.

This wasn’t the first time Marie Antoinette arrived in my life. We have a prior association which makes my trip to Le Boudoir all the more appropriate.

During my very first trip to Paris back in 2009 I was sure to visit Place de la Concorde, formally known as Place de la Révolution. It was the execution site of Marie Antoinette in 1793. The plaza is marked by an obelisk that was once at the entrance to the Luxor Temple that was gifted to France in 1833. I took in the spot and took a photo of the plaque that marks the historical event.

The only place for me to visit now is the Place de Versailles, Marie Antoinette’s home, and I fully intend the next time I am in Paris, which I hope will be sometime this year. Now that I have been in her boudoir I feel even closer to the late Queen.

I yearn to have my own boudoir someday and even a Versailles but I think I will work my way up towards that. At this point this visit will satisfy me just fine.

Naturally those wine glasses and goblets we couldn’t get enough of are produced by Cristal D'Arques-Durand for Longchamp.

It doesn’t get any more French than that, and neither does Le Boudoir.

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