Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Breakfast at Restaurant Les Etoiles, Sheraton, Charles de Gaulle Airport

As you read last week, I stayed two nights at the Sheraton located at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.  The evening canape selection was very disappointing in the makeshift Executive Lounge, but breakfast was served in the full restaurant, Les Etoilles, so I had hope that it at least was being prepared in a real kitchen.

Breakfast was a large buffet, with continental and cooked items, plus a made-to-order egg station.  It was poorly managed.  Many stations ran out of food and were not replenished in a timely manner.  Nothing was labelled.

The food itself had lots of duds, but there were few decent items.  I was quite happy with my made-to-order eggs and my cereal, not items I'd normally opt for.  But overall, certainly not worth the regular price (included in my stay as a Platinum guest).


Table Setting.
Tables were set with basic silverware, cups, and mugs.  This made it seem like coffee and water would be provided at the table, but actually, you had to take your mug from the table and go to coffee machines, or drink station.  It would have been easier to have the cups/mugs provided at this station rather than at the tables?

I actually prefer being able to help myself to drinks, most hotel breakfast buffets have you order drinks from a server, so this is just a minor nit.

Food & Drink

Coffee and Tea.
Coffee and tea were self-serve.  The robot machine did grind whole beans (regular and decaf), and made assorted lattes, cappuccinos, and basic espresso.

I opted for a few decaf Americanos, and they were fine.  Not great, but not bad.

The teas looked decent quality, and tea pots and a hot water dispenser were on the side to brew a pot at a time, as seems customary in France.  I never saw anyone just get a single cup/mug of tea anywhere.  No rooibos tea offered.
Cereal, Cold Drinks, Yogurt.
Cold drinks were a few assorted juices and milk.  None of the multiple milks were labelled, but when I looked at them quizzically, a staff member told me one was skim and one was soy.  It really seems like there should have been labels on these at least, as it is really not obvious what is soy milk from looks.

Cereal was corn flakes and other basic Kellogg's offerings, but an interesting looking granola.  I opted for the granola, and tipped the dispenser over a bowl to pour some out.  The lid immediately fell off, and all the granola dumped everywhere.  Grumble.  Perhaps get some dispensers with lids that actually attach?  I'm still not sure what I did wrong, it looked like it was meant to pour.

Drama aside, I did really like the granola, and wish I knew what it was.  Large clusters, with bits of chocolate and hazelnuts too.

I didn't try the yogurts, but they looked like the same selection that was available in the club lounge the previous evening.
Day #1: Toast Station.
The toast station was ... sad.  Two baskets with a few slices each, and a toaster sitting off on the side.  It was only 9am when I arrived, and they had service for another hour, but clearly this area had been depleted and not replenished, as the two small baskets baskets were each inside larger, empty baskets.
Day #2: Toast Station.
The next day, I arrived at 7am, and the pickings were much better.  Baguettes were included as well.  This made more sense.  Protip: come early for bread.
Bacon & Sausage.
Moving on to hot foods.  The bacon was flabby and horrible looking.

The sausages however somehow appealed to me.  They were shriveled up, horribly greasy, but, for some reason, I wanted them.

So I tried one.  I know it was gross, but I liked it.  The casing was crispy and shriveled.  It was insanely oily.  But ... I liked it.  What can I say.  I was in the mood for sausage?  Ojan just laughed at me.
Roasted Tomatoes, Baked Beans.
I didn't try the roasted tomatoes or baked beans.  Again, quantities were low, and they still had an hour of service remaining.
Hashbrowns, Hardboiled Eggs.
The hashbrowns didn't look fully cooked, and hardboiled eggs aren't interesting, so I skipped.
Sausages, Scrambled Eggs.
Next was another type of sausage, fatter, lighter colored, not as greasy.  Perhaps chicken sausage?  I didn't try these and again wished items were labelled.

The scrambled eggs looked dried out and horrible.  I guess there is a reason this was still full, when everything else was near empty.
Made to Order Egg Station.
The hot food all surrounded a made-to-order egg station, manned by a chef.

She had the makings for omelets and eggs any way you wanted them.

I opted for two eggs over medium, with sautéed mushrooms and cheese. This was an ambitious order, given the langauge barrier, but I was delighted when I saw her sautee the mushrooms in the pan alongside the eggs, so they'd be fully cooked.  She didn't really melt the cheese on top, and the eggs weren't quite over medium, but overall, it was almost what I asked for.

And ... I liked my eggs.  Yes, just fried eggs, but decently prepared.  The mushrooms were great, perfectly cooked.  And the cheese ... tons of it, and it did melt somewhat from the hot eggs.  I have no idea what kind it was, probably a generic cheddar, but it went nicely with the eggs and mushrooms.  I added salt and pepper from the table, and devoured my eggs happily.  I really was in a strange mood this day, as I'm not usually excited for eggs!
Now we were getting to the good stuff ... or so I though.  Baked goods!

In one basket was chocolate croissants, in another regular croissants.  On the tiered stands were waffles, pancakes, and crepes.  The fourth tier was empty, I'm not sure what was there before.  A large bread board with crumbs and a knife indicated that perhaps there were baguettes earlier?  A basket of hard rolls were on the side.

I gleefully grabbed a waffle and a crepe and then realized something.  They weren't under any heat source.  I looked around for a conveyor toaster to warm them.  Nothing.  I walked over to the regular toaster, far away from this area.  I tried to fit my waffle in.  It didn't fit.  Cold waffles, pancakes, and crepes?  Um, what?  I tried a few halfhearted bites, but these just weren't good.  For toppings, there was butter, and jam on the tables, but wow, fail. (Edit: there was a condiment station I didn't see the first day, that did have some better toppings).

I didn't try the chocolate croissant, but the plain croissant was very generic, a bit spongy, a bit crusty on the outside, clearly not very fresh or quality.  The raisin snail was worse.

The second morning, after discovering the condiment station, I tried a (cold) pancake.  Maple syrup saved it slightly, but I still don't understand the cold pancakes thing.  Is this normal in Europe?
Condiment Station.
The condiment station was back behind the buffet, where I didn't see it the first day.  It did have mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup, along with balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and a few other things.  And hand wipes, random, but, useful, particularly in a buffet setting.
Fruit, Parfaits.
A cut fruit lineup came next, with hard kiwi, mediocre grapes, and assorted other fruit I didn't try.

Behind the cut fruit was lines of parfaits.  I got one, but the granola layer was soggy (who knows how long ago these were composed!), the yogurt was too tart for my liking, the strawberries weren't ripe.  The only thing I liked was the raspberries on top.
Meat, Seafood, Cheese.
And last, a selection of meats, cheeses, and ... seafood.  I didn't try the roast beef or ham, but the salami was oily and not great, and the mortadella was too spiced, in a strange way.  The sliced cheese was generic, and the swiss was the same as they had in the lounge.  For seafood, there was mushy smoked salmon, shrimp that I didn't try, and some kind of spiced white fish that was ok.

This section looked much better than it tasted.


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