Sunday, July 31, 2011

A au Kei - Bangin' with flavor !

I've been intrigued by this new table for quite some time: a Japanese former Alain Ducasse second at the Plaza with seven years under his hat, the former Gerard Besson space, now a minimalist zone serving studious, classic and good looking French gourmet cuisine.

All well and good. I'm not sure I can be totally impartial to my excellent experience here, as this drunch (c) was enlightened by the presence of a Maltese/Australian foodie who made me lose my concentration and normal common sense. I remember wine, laughter, humorous blunders and tomfoolery, and an interminable afternoon happily shared with a likeminded friend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Le Dauphin

A lot of ink has been spilled on Le Dauphin, so I’ll keep it brief. It’s one of the funnest tables in town. The tapas-y style menu lets you eat as much as you want. The arty farty crowd is perfect to make fun of while swilling decent natural wines and cracking jokes at their expense. The interminable line forming in front of the next door Chateaubriand is also quite amusing. Standout dishes were a delicious wagyu with onions, their usual amazing burrata and roast potatoes on the side as well as the ribaut ice cream. Tandoori octopus needed more spice and the mixed mushroom and ricotta dish lacked zing. But we really didn’t care.

Mixed mushroom and ricotta dish

Tandoori octopus

Melt in the mouth wagyu

Creamy buratta 

Lait Ribot ice cream

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Agapé Substance

This “gourmet counter” opened a few weeks back by Laurent Lapaire (former Arpege alumni and creator of the one star Agapé) and David Toutain (the brilliant chef at the helm) is the new insider darling of the Paris blogosphere and one of the best tables I’ve done for a looooong time, IMHO, the numero uno taste sensation of the moment. 

After raves of “genius” from the establishment food press , I was understandably cautious, and luckily no critics or undercover blaggers were to be found (although François Simon did pass by the night before) basking in the mirrored neon glare of the communal dining room. Toutain, who did time at L’Arpege, Veyrat, Mugaritz and NYC’s Corton, looks, at the tender age of 30,  to be one of the most exciting (and modest) of chefs in Paris. A little birdy told me that Alain Passard once termed him his spiritual heir and that he thought his talent even rivaled that of Astrance’s Pascal Barbot. Indeed, he should have been the chef at the original Agapé, but shit happened. 
The menu is composed of a list of ingredients, from which the diner chooses either three (39€) or four (51€) dishes or the carte blanche (65€)  surprise tasting menu. We went for the latter. Each and every dish was a subtly kiss ass culinary karate chop to the taste buds with each dish eclipsing the one before. The amuse bouche of berce (a plant coming from the Jura mountains) with a yuzu jelly and crispy rice wafer set the tone for an onslaught of unique and pristine ingredients. Other dishes included fresh hen’s egg with verbana and garlic cream, crab with pink grapefruit and grey shrimp consommé, carrots from Annie Bertin with galanga, zucchini with baby squid, monkfish with tonka bean cream and a fab nutty crumble and red forrest fruits with pistachio sponge cake and avocado ice cream. The wine (nature heavy bottles presented in iPad form) was a delish 2009 Domaine de Montrieux. I won’t go much further (the table has been covered better than moi by others) , but I do encourage to reserve now before it’s too late.
Oops, it already is.

Agapé Substance
66 rue Mazarine, 6th
+33 1 43 29 33 83

Friday, July 15, 2011

L'Absinthe - 69 word review

L’Absinthe Saint Honoré
Good value less than 40€, three course menu in high rent district. Skanky waiters. Menu of hot and cold fish and meat and a few blackboard additions. Annoying smug, self satisfied and all together strange clientele. Starters of shrimp/courgette rolls and ceviche good although uninspiring. Black Angus with béarnaise delicious with side of grenailles. Pork jarret NOT (overspiced). Go again? Jury’s out. I’d say probably not. 

Friday, July 08, 2011

Figaro figaro figaro figaro, figaaarrrrrrrr-NO! (Restaurant L'Opera, first look)

I was pretty excited to check out the new restaurant (and the first since 130 some odd years) at the Palais Garnier Opera House yesterday. It's been open since June 27th and for an establishment which (proclaimed from the rooftops by their PR people), combined cutting edge design by Odile Decq that "affirms the historic building's character" and a cuisine by two star Michelin chef Christophe Aribert, it wasn't that impressive. And even less at more than 100€ per head. The curtain of glass enveloping the front of the restaurant gave strangely distorted views of passing Asian tourist groups and the concentrate of traffic and pollution outside, however the the red-tinged interior with ho-hum furniture, a real let down for a supposed 6 million € investment did resemble the culinary character of the place, a sort of gastronomic equivalent of a Fiat Multipla (with all options). The menu is short. The portions are tiny. We were offered two, yes two! gougéres with our champagne (I was surprised they weren't doled out with white gloves and a pair of golden tweezers). The following "contemporary" smoked salmon with a mustard sorbet was ok, as was the trout, although as with the following Pata  Negra pork chop (sprinkled with popcorn and with a honey sauce made from opera honey) , vastly overpriced. The oeufs a la neige in a red berry soup were ok as well. Just ok. When the server explained that they "opened too early" and that the chef "wasn't really in the kitchen, just a consultant" , it didn't really surprise. Clients all around were complaining about their bills. Noone seemed to be having a good time with phrases like "bof.." and "ho hum" being bandied about. The only ones who really seemed to enjoy it were the American tourists next to us being invited out by their French friends: eyes rolling in ecstacy, dribble running down their chin. What curiously deluded creatures!

"Thus begins the story of one of the most long awaited restaurants of all time" says the press release.

Smoked salmon with brioche and mustard sorbet

Pata Negra pork chop with popcorn, honey and side of polenta

Oeufs a la neige

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Tomorrow I shall blog