Paris Grill makes for the perfect apology
SEOUL - This is the type of restaurant where the hostess unfolds your napkin and places it in your lap for you, and where the server bows and says "my pleasure" when you thank him for refilling your glass.
Not the kind of restaurant you'd go to for an ordinary dinner out, at least not on a reporter's salary. But the Paris Grill at the Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel in Itaewon may be one of the best places in Seoul for a special - meaning pricey - occasion.
My special occasion was a gift certificate to the Hyatt from my landlord, an apology for an air conditioner that broke for nearly two weeks in July, while my mother was visiting from the States.
And a nice apology it was. With its dark wood decor and American jazz, the Paris Grill is classy and elegant and has a killer view of the Seoul skyline.
The restaurant serves spiffed-up western classics at top-end Parisian prices: steak, chicken, fish, lamb chops, and lobster, with most main courses ranging from 35,000 won to 50,000 won ($39.15 to $55.92).
I opted for two appetizers instead of a main dish: A yummy pan-fried goat cheese roulade with fresh basil and slow-roasted tomatoes (23,000 won, $25.72), and escargot in aromatic butter (20,000 won, $22.37). Chewier than the snails you'd eat in France, but still tasty.
The winner was my mother's main course: A perfectly cooked red snapper with confit garlic, black olives and tomatoes (35,000 won), nestled on a bed of the juiciest vegetables I've found in South Korea. Her dessert, a light vanilla creme brulee with raspberries and a lemon sable cookie (13,000 won, $14.54), was a close runner-up.
Was our five-star dinner worth two muggy weeks inside my rice cooker of an apartment?
Not quite, we agreed, although my mother said she wants to eat at the Paris Grill the next time she visits Seoul.
No problem, I said, as long as somebody else pays for it. And as long there's air conditioning.
E-mail Ashley Rowland at:
Seoul, South Korea
Hours: Breakfast served from 7 to 9:30 a.m., lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m., and dinner from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Brunch is served Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Prices: Most main courses range from 35,000 won to 50,000 won ($39.15 to $55.92). Multi-course set meals cost 99,000 and 139,000 won (about $107 and $150). Expect to pay at least 17,000 won (about $18) for a glass of wine.
Specialties: European-style steak, chicken, fish, lamb chops and lobster.
English menu: Yes
Clientele: Upper-crust South Koreans and expats
Location: Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel in Itaewon. It's not near a train station, so your best bet probably is to get there by cab - about a $4-$5 fare from Yongsan Garrison.
Web site: www.seoul.grand.hyatt.com
Telephone number: 799-8162
Speak English: Yes