June 1, 2011

Lisboa tour: Robuchon a Galera

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After our interview with Joël, KC and I were treated to lunch at Robuchon a Galera.  It's been a long, long time since I came for lunch... and back then the restaurant was mostly empty despite the bargain price of just around MOP 300 for a 3-course lunch...  My gala dinner experience last year was also a little underwhelming, so I was very curious to see how lunch would work out today.

There is no more proper way to start a meal than with some butter, and what can be more beautiful than the sight of two mounds of gorgeous Bordier butter?!  I, of course, asked for the salted variety... and watched the staff create rolls of it with a dinner spoon.  Like Pavlov's dog, I'm already salivating at this point...

Galera is famous for its various trolleys, the first of which comes bearing a magnificent selection of bread on display.  We picked a few varieties to go along with our butter.

The amuse bouche was white asparagus panna cotta with tomato coulis.  Subtle, delicate flavors of asparagus accompanied by the cold and refreshing tomato.  Garnished with some green asparagus stems and crunchy bits for texture.  A very good way to kick off the meal.

This was a very romantic lunch, with just the two of us sitting across the table from each other... and made more romantic by the decision to share each dish.

Le caviar - with compliments from the chef.  As we were drinking Champagne, I guess caviar was pretty well-suited as an accompaniment...  Thankfully we didn't have to share this one.

Beneath the layer of caviar is a layer of crab meat, followed by a layer of anise cream.  I must say that it's not very often that the caviar gets upstaged by something else, but today the crab meat took center stage and dominated, with caviar providing secondary flavors along with a hint of anise.

L'asperge blanche: pochée à la minute servie dans une émulsion au citron et une royale au mimosa - the royale and mimosa looked pretty familiar... definitely bore the Robuchon signature.  Light asparagus flavors enhanced by the bacon/egg.

The white asparagus spears are poached and served in a nice and acidic lemon emulsion.  I didn't really mind the slightly bitter flavor from the asparagus, but this was because we are nearing the end of the season.

Le foie gras: en copeaux et le maïs en espuma avec une délicate gelée acidulée rafraîchi à l'huile verte - the foie gras shavings were nice, but methinks there was a little too much salt which robbed it of its natural sweetness.  The light sprinkle of cracked pepper picked up the flavors a little.  The acidity from the citrus jelly helped cut down on the fat from the foie, while the sweet and yummy corn mousse balanced the acidity.  Very interesting overall.

Le champignon blanc: en fin velouté servie sur des ravioles de foie gras et une julienne de jambon ibérique - the ravioli were lovely... with the signature foie gras purée filling that was silky and slippery on the tongue.

The velouté was really delicious... full of mushroom flavors, with little mushrooms, herbs and julienne of jamón ibérico which seemed to add just to right touch into this symphony.

Le crabe: dans une eau de tomate parfumée aux herbes fraîches et sa gaufrette moelleuse et croustillante - this was definitely the surprise of the lunch.  I took one sip of the tomato broth and the first thing that popped into my head was the Campbell's tomato soup... Even though this was a clear broth, it was just packed with concentrated tomato flavors.  Wow! The julienne of herbs included mint and shiso (紫蘇), which - when you consider the presence of crab eggs inside the ball of crab meat - suddenly gave this dish a Japanese bent.  Totally awesome!

The waffle toast was also surprisingly delish... with yummy crab flavors.  I inhaled this in no time.

Le Saint-Jacques: le calamar et la crevette aux fregolas safrané et une émulsion au basilic - the scallop was good, and the shrimp came in the form of a sausage-shaped mousse.  Squids were stuffed with chorizo, which was very Mediterranean in flavor.  The saffron fregola from Sardinia put the dish firmly in the south.

Le cabillaud: gratiné à la provençale servi dans un bouillon d'ail frais et grenailles fondantes aux algues - the cod itself was OK, although the gratin on top made it more interesting.  What I really liked, though, were the little bits of periwinkle (bigorneau) in the bouillon that added some chewy texture.

La caille: caramélisée au foie gras et sa pomme purée - I'm familiar with how Robuchon does quail, so while this was very delicious it yielded no surprises.  The stuffed blocks of foie inside were yummy, as always.

L'agneau: la croupe grillée, l'épaule en samoussa aux légumes primeurs façon Navarin - I love lamb, and the lamb rump was pretty delicious.  A little chewy than the usual chops or what-not, this cut of meat brought with it a lot more of the meat flavor and less of the lamb fat.  The little samosa with lamb shoulder was really delish.

I wanted some cheese and had a selection of three.  Brillat-Savarin was very creamy, salty, slightly nutty and oily with a mild bitter finish.  Selles-sur-Cher was a little acidic and nutty.  Époisses was pretty ripe and soft by now, although I didn't get much of the ammonia that I was expecting.  The cherry jam was amazing.

The dessert trolley was wheeled in front of us, and as much as I wanted to... I just couldn't have one of everything.  So I settled for just two little bits:

Lemon tart - very nicely done.  There was a crunchy, powdery layer just above the crust... thinking it was perhaps raspberry.

Baba au rhum - very good indeed, with plenty of banana bits, vanilla and a little caramel.

Wild strawberries with sugar ball - a complimentary dessert from the kitchen.  The strawberries from Málaga are always intense and delicious when in season.  Inside the shell of sugar were strawberries, strawberry cream and crème anglaise.  The quenelle of yogurt sorbet worked really well, and there was a blob of what I could only guess as yogurt panna cotta or something jello-like.

The mignardises trolley came and it all looked so good.  Unfortunately there was no more room left in my stomach, so I picked up only a few small bites:

Lemon lollipop, fruit jellies and financier

2006 Cédric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne Le Creux d'Enfer - I was tipped off about this by my friend Mr. Cat.  I tried asking Mathieu the sommelier if I could purchase an extra bottle to take away.  He politely shook his head but gave me a wry smile that said "In your dreams, boy!"

This rosé Champagne made with the saignée method using 100% Pinot Noir had such a beautiful color... almost crimson.  A full-bodied wine, very smooth on the palate with a really long finish.  Nose of strawberries and minerals.  Very, very delicious to the last drop.

After I finished the Champagne, I asked for a single espresso to help digest the food.  Instead of bringing me sugar, a small pitcher of warm, liquid caramel sauce was placed in front of me.  How sinful is that?!  KC had been sipping spoonfuls of it earlier, and now it was my turn.  It wasn't the richest, thickest caramel sauce I've ever had, but it was the most memorable.  There was alcohol in the sauce, which left a distinctive fragrance in my mouth.  We inquired about the kind of alcohol used in the sauce, and were told that the chef used Louis XIII de Remy Martin .  O-M-G...  What kind of nut uses cognac that costs USD 2,000 a bottle to make sauce?!  I couldn't finish what was in the pitcher, but seriously considered the idea of pouring the contents into my now-empty Champagne bottle so I could take a few swigs later...

This was a pretty perfect lunch.  No failed dishes - and there shouldn't be any at a 3-star restaurant - and a few pleasant surprises.  It is clear that Francky is doing a great job in the kitchen, and the execution today was very, very good.  Now I get a 3½-hour break to digest lunch, before having steak for dinner...

1 comment:

Roger said...

So much food but only one bottle of wine Peter? Sacre bleu!


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