May 23, 2020

Second chances, 2020 edition

Pin It

It's been a while since we last met up with Mr. and Mrs. Film Buff, and we figured it was time to pop a few bottles together.  I was a little surprised when he suggested we go back to Écriture, but then I've always liked Maxime's cuisine.  The front-of-house, though, have managed to ruffle a few feathers.

Hello Kitty was so pissed off by the service at two previous visits that she was hesitant to go back, despite being a fan of the food.  It turns out that the Film Buff, too, was upset about the service during his only visit to the restaurant.  He had loved the dishes being served, but was so upset about the level of service that he wrote to Maxime to complain - and subsequently never returned.  Knowing that I'm on friendly terms with Maxime, my friend asked me to book us a table to see if the "Peter treatment" would be any better...

I felt bad, though, as I made the booking on very short notice.  Our original plans were abruptly changed, and I pinged Maxime only 4 days ago.  Thankfully he was able to arrange something for us... and ended up giving us the private room.

Écriture has been prominent in their use of high quality Japanese produce, but Maxime has decided that in these special times, they need to do their part in ensuring that French produce suppliers survive the current crisis.  So now they have switched to an all-French lineup.

Japanese bun with quail egg, shaved bottarga, egg(?) panna cotta, black truffle - not sure what the "Japanese bun" was, as it was not quite mantou (饅頭) but still kinda chewy.

Crispy potato curl, coriander hummus, spring flowers - a little salty, and plenty of coriander.

Crispy dough with buckwheat, cauliflower bavarois, nori seaweed, crispy white bait - very savory thanks to the nori (海苔), the whole thing was kinda salty.

Jerusalem artichoke skin - with some acidic gel.

Brioche with vegetal chorizo - the "chorizo" was made with beetroot purée, egg white, and spices.  The staff apologized for not remembering that beetroot is on Hello Kitty's and my list of forbidden ingredients.

Whelk and fava beans, spring onions, lemon confit - everything was covered up by a spring onion mousse with hazelnut and verbena powder on top.

The bulots were diced and served as tartare, along with lemon dressing, lemon confit and fave beans.  Maxime chose bulot for its textural similarity to abalone, and I did like the texture.  There was a good combination of creaminess and acidity, even with some sweet fruitiness thrown in, along with a small dose of bitterness from the fava beans.  A very nice start to our menu.

One of benefits of coming to Écriture is that I get to use my very own, personalized knife...

Next we have a couple of trays brought table-side.  The St Pierre comes from Laurent Daniel of Guilvinec in Brittany. Thinly-sliced and cured between layers of Rubia Gallega ham for an hour.

The bottarga was made by house-curing the St Pierre eggs, which was then shaved over the dish.

Partuis asparagus, braised with seawater, cured John Dory in beef cecina - the Partuis asparagus were roasted in butter with diced spring onions before being braised with seawater from Brittany to add salinity.  They are not dunked in ice water to stop the cooking process to retain their color.  The John Dory slices were placed on top. A bouillon made from roasted John Dory bones and reduced with sake and ginger, then combined with water from asparagus trimmings, and finally lemon, rice vinegar, and diced lemon.

This was a very interesting dish, with crunchy textures coming from both the asparagus and the John Dory.  The combination of flavors was lovely, with good amount of umami as well as a mix of fruity acidity.

Caviar and uni tart: Royal Royal Caviar Club Schrenckii, Hokkaido sea urchin, celeriac cream in buckwheat tart shell, beurre blanc - well, since the Film Buffs haven't tried this out, I encouraged them to cough up the supplement and add this to the lineup.  In fact, we ordered up a tart for two to share so that the crust to filling ratio would be better.  JUST LOOK AT ALL THAT GOLD!!!

I do love the combination of the sweet and creamy Hokkaido sea urchin and the celeriac cream, the saltiness and richness of the Royal Schrenckii caviar, and that beurre blanc.

Roasted purple artichoke, garlic purée, pineberry, basket clams - the garlic purée at the bottom was nice, and worked well with the acidity of the pineberries as well as the bouillon made by boiling the artichoke bracts and accented with elderflower oil.  The tiny basket clams (蜆) were cooked in sea water.  A surprise dish off-menu.

Artichoke flammekueche - with a little Comté.  Pretty nice.

Instead of Japanese rosy seabass (赤睦), Maxime presents us with French langoustine placed on fresh kelp, with little verbena leaves on top.

Instead of sake for steaming, we have vin jaune from the Jura.

Brittany langoustine, steamed with vin jaune, green pea, claw bouillon infuse with liquorice - the langoustine came with tiny little peas sourced locally, lightly cooked with some perilla flowers. These were soooo sweet and tender, and the fragrance from the flowers and licorice was just amazing.  The bouillon was made with just the claw and not the head.

Just look at that doneness... practically raw.  Amazing.  A tad more salty than expected, maybe because of the kelp?  But for some reason I detected a little pungent flavor that wasn't quite ammonia, but nevertheless something was a little strange.

Turbot and foie gras - I would be lying if I say this didn't remind me of Ricardo Chaneton's "monkbread".  The turbot from Laurent Daniel in Guilvinec was cooked with olive oil, while the foie gras was poached in dashi (出汁).  Combined in a roll with nori, then decorated with some turbot wing on top along with lime zest.  The texture of the turbot was lovely, while the dashi came with lots of mushroom flavors.  Another off-menu dish from Maxime.

Blue lobster, flashed poached, mushrooms duxelle, kohlrabi veil, clam jus bouillon with house cured Japanese ikura and saucisson - definitely my favorite dish of the meal.  The homard bleu from Brittany came with thin slices of kohlrabi decorated like a flower.

Then a very interesting sauce consisting of clam jus, parsley oil, salmon roe, and diced saucisson was ladled on top.  Certainly very colorful and pleasing to the eye.

But... WOW!  It was the combination of textures and flavors that floored me.   The tender, springy texture of the lobster, the crunch of the kohlrabi, the salmon roe bursting and releasing their liquid contents, and the firm, chewy saucisson.  The real beauty of the dish, though, comes from the fact that although each ingredient has its own very distinct, classic flavors, they ended up working so well together without any one ingredient screaming for attention.  The house-cured salmon roe wasn't too salty; the saucisson was a little stronger with herbs; and the kohlrabi delivered refreshingly clean sweetness.

In short, symphony on a plate.

Roasted blanc de blanc lamb, grilled maitake, sorrel, uni miso cream - the lamb was, as expected, beautiful with lamby flavors.  The maitake (舞茸) was fine, but I really didn't care for the uni (雲丹) miso cream... just didn't work.  The lardo was really, really salty... and thankfully the diced tomatoes brought some acidity and sweetness to help balance it.  Next time I'll ask for the lamb on its own.

Kagoshima wagyu beef - caviar, charcoal grilled, butter brioche, steamed unagi, Royal Caviar Club Schrenckii caviar, kombujime beef ham, grilled corn foam, espresso coffee foam - Hello Kitty took the beef (surprise, surprise...) and this was the ribeye cap.  But here's where things go a little haywire... I really thought the Royal Schrenckii caviar on top was unnecessary, and then you had unagi (鰻) from Fukuoka, along with beef ham cured by kobujime (昆布締め).

This was the exact opposite of the lobster dish... Just too many ingredients, all with their own strong flavors, fighting for attention.  Too much salt from the caviar and beef ham overpowered the eel.  Perhaps the corn and coffee foam were needed to balance things out, but I didn't get to taste the combination...

Rhubarb, ganache and sorbet, foam of rhubarb and raspberry - I'm normally not a big fan of rhubarb, but this was really refreshing... and I loved the fruity flavors along with the acidity.  The tiny piece of verbena provided a nice little kick.

Buckwheat, mousse, chocolates sorbet, caramelized nuts -    feuilletine of caramelized peanut, buckwheat ganache, buckwheat mousse, and a big quenelle of chocolate sorbet.  A nice surprise.

Mignardises followed:

Charentais melon - very ripe and sweet.

Flan - pretty good, actually.

Chocolate tart

Can't do dinner here without a few nice bottles, especially when I'm with the Film Buff...

2014 Benoit Ente Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Truffière - lovely nose with acidity, a little buttery.  Definitely needed decanting.

2004 Ponsot Clos de la Roche - opened 2 hours prior to serving.  Very fragrant, with good fruit and a bit of leather.  Drinking well now.

1990 Guigal La Mouline - decanted 2½ hours prior to serving.  Really beautiful.  Smoky, minty, with coffee.  Surprisingly didn't get much floral notes from viognier.

A pretty fantastic meal.  There were a number of really beautiful dishes, and the fact that I hadn't had them before just shows how infrequently I come to visit my knife...  Many thanks to Maxime, Marc Antoine, and Vincent for a wonderful evening and the VIPeter treatment...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map