August 13, 2022

More than 10 Euros a head

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Thanks to our respective travel schedules, we haven't been able to catch up with the couple in the Tiny Urban Kitchen for a few months. I left the choice of venue up to my friends, and in they end they wanted to try Écriture. This gave me a good reason to return, as it's been more than 6 months since my last visit.

I was a little shocked when I was handed the menu. There was... only one option available. Sankala and I had discussed trying the now-defunct vegetarian menu at some point, but oh well... I guess we were in for a stuffing.

The meal started with some of the premices:

Gougère, hay cream and caviar - the panna cotta hay cream inside the gougère was under-seasoned, and really needed the salt from the caviar. Unfortunately I didn't mix them well enough in my mouth, so the first hit was salty and then the rest of it was... well... bland.

French mussels yakitori - Mont Saint Michel mussels were glazed with peach syrup and smoked with pine needle, served like a Charentaise eclade.

Iwashi on French toast with tomato compote - the tomato jam may have some sweetness but the sharp acidity of lemon gel shouted pretty loudly for attention.

"Tartatouille" - with the usual eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini. Tart base made of chick peas and almonds.

Amaebi "à la cuillére" - the bottom was a creamy mousse of Japanese sweet shrimp (甘エビ) along with a shrimp reduction at the top.

I don't think we got the vegetal and floral feuilleté...

Cucumber flowers: leek confit, kiwi dressing and tonka beans - I'm not sure what "cucumber carpaccio" is... but whatever. This was nice and refreshing, and the scent of tonka beans was nice, but for all the work that went into the dish, it was a little underwhelming.

Duck foie gras: like a chawanmushi, passion fruit jelly infused with roasted coffee bean, Hokkaido sea urchin - foie gras custard came with a little coffee and was cooked inside the passion fruit shell, I guess that's why the description reads "like a chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し). We've also got tongues of sea urchin - ones which have been soaked in sea water - along with a jelly made with passion fruit juice infused with coffee. A little bit coffee extractI have to admit I found the dish really interesting. The fragrance and the acidity from passion fruit was there but it was pretty toned down, and everything just seemed to balance out and come together. I don't think I tasted the coffee.

Red mullet: trompette zucchini and flower - a dish in two parts, the first of which was a zucchini flower stuffed with red mullet soufflé, served with red mullet sauce and mint oil. Pretty nice.

Red mullet: bellota, mint, fresh almond - sitting atop some cream made from fresh almonds and trompette zucchini were slices of red mullet cured in beef ham, which have been brushed with fat from bellota jamón and torched. The bowl also had some "consommé" made from the bone and the fat of the jamón - which sounds like an oxymoron - and then clarified. The whole thing sounded so complicated and circular, but in all honest this was really, really good. Sooooo full of rich flavors here.

Ratatouille: whole indigo tomato "enratatouillé", wrapped in kombu, oven roasted - I was pretty happy to see this dish again, as I rated it among one of the best dishes I tasted in 2021. The tomato was roasted while wrapped with seaweed from Brittany along with (no parsley) rosemary, sage, and thyme. The sauce made with tomato seed jus, bell pepper jus, and rooibos tea was as delicious as I remembered, which worked beautifully with the oil from thyme and tarragon.

Line caught turbot: fava beans and "fraise de veau" ragout, concentrated turbot sauce infused with tagette - well... I guess we weren't special enough to get the dry-aged "flying turbot" so we just got the "regular" one when they ran out... This was "just" cooked in olive oil. Served together with "fraise de veau" - the ruffled membrane surrounding veal's small intestines - along with fava beans, green beans, and turbot wings. The sauce was a reduction made with smoked turbot bones, vin jaune, and marigold. Yes, the turbot had a very nice and springy texture, as one would expect. Easy to see why so many people love this fish.

Then we were presented with the head of the turbot. I was instantly reminded of the head I ate by myself at Au Passage in Paris, which cost me the princely sum of 10 Euros. I think this head was bigger.

Just look at how delicious the cheeks and other jiggly bits are!

Tourteau: cooked on the legs, spicy peach jam, Brittany curry sabayon and sauce - the meat of the Tourteau crab came with some peach jam, a crab sabayon, and seasoned with "Brittany curry"... which apparently is not Kari Gosse. I definitely tasted the peach, and yeah, the whole thing kinda tasted like crab curry with lots of herbs.

Earlier in the evening we were shown the veal which would be served to us. This was wrapped in tobacco leaves, with herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme on the side along with potatoes and apricot.

Basque country milk fed veal: chop roasted in tobacco leaf, potato dashi - the sauce was made with tobacco-infused potato, together with razor clams and verbena oil. Served with charcoal-grilled fatty backbone... which was certainly fatty and very tasty.

Oven-roasted with apricot compote underneath and verbena.

Delicatessen potato over roasted, apricot and verbena - also infused with tobacco, served with veal jus and fat. This was a really interesting dish as the apricot brought the acidity, the sauce had a spicy kick, and the tobacco smoke was definitely there.

I was wondering why the staff insisted on changing our napkins before desserts were served, but as it turns out these were custom napkins which were used in their event with Van Cleef et Arpels.

Citrus: timut pepper meringue and coconut sorbet - inside the meringue was a combination of diced lemon, lime, and orange mixed with lemon cream and coconut sorbet. Not sure I tasted much of the timut pepper.

Gariguette strawberries: basil pana cotta and Moshida tomatoes - I think they meant "Mochida tomatoes", as in ones that come from Mochida Farm (持田農園), but we were told the compote was made with indigo tomatoes. We've got a basil and mint panna cotta and a quenelle of tomato and strawberry sorbet sitting on top. Gariguette marinated in lemon and basil oil on the side tasted very good, too.

Les gourmandises to finish:

Charente melon - nice and sweet.

Classic French flan - with vanilla.

Madeleines - these were much, much better than most of the ones I've had around town. There's that richness of flavors coming from the brown sugar that just put them a notch above. Served with caramel and chocolate sauces on the side.

Chocolate tart - our friends took this home.

Maxime very kindly started us with complimentary glasses of Champagne:

Charles Le Bel Inspiration 1818 - nice notes of lemon citrus, toasty, and yeasty. Good balance with roundness and ripeness, very smooth.

I took it easy tonight we only opened 2 bottles:

2016 Bass Philip Chardonnay Premium - a little reductive some 45 minutes after opening, perhaps too toasty? Got the buttery corn on the palate, and the nose improved with further aeration.

2010 Rotem and Mounir Saouma Châteauneuf-du-Pape Arioso Rouge - served 1½ hours after decanting. A little oxidized and slightly stewed nose. Smoky 15 minutes later, and drinking pretty nicely after opening up. Obviously evolved a lot since I last tasted it in 2011.

No surprise that we ended the evening by rolling out of the restaurant... with goodie bags for our friends. Pretty happy to have tried many new dishes, and I look forward to come back soon to visit my knife...

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