November 15, 2023

The French triangle day 6: le plus beau restaurant de Paris

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Years ago after during my second trip to Paris, my friend Cathy - whose apartment I was staying in during the trip - gave me a present for Christmas. It was a book entitled Les Plus Beaux Restaurants de Paris, and on the cover was a picture of Le Train Bleu - the historical brasserie inside Gare de Lyon. That was the moment I found out the location of the famous scene in Nikita - the Luc Besson film I had loved so much. I did manage to visit the restaurant for dinner some years ago, but while I was stunned by the beauty of the decor, the food was not enticing enough for a return visit.

As I was planning this trip a few weeks ago, I discovered that there was a 6-hands dinner at the restaurant tonight. Since my visit years ago, the famed restaurant has been under the care of the legendary Michel Rostang, with Samir Balia running the kitchen day-to-day. For tonight only, Jean Sulpice of Auberge du Père Bise has been invited to present some of his dishes along with the host chefs. I quickly moved my original plans to accommodate for this special event.

There's some renovation work being done on the restaurant, but the interior is as grand and stunning as it's ever been. The Belle Epoque decor with its series of paintings and brass fittings never fail to take my breath away.

I'm very grateful that they take bookings for single diners, even for a special event like this. Having walked through the restaurant a few times during dinner, I'm pretty sure I was the only singleton tonight.

The meal started with une coupe de Champagne de bienvenue:

Bollinger Special Cuvée - an easy drinking wine. There's acidity here but the palate is definitely more on the sweet side.

Croq Mégevan, par Michel Rostang - on top of the hazelnut Parmesan tart was a layercake of Tomme de Chèvre and Viande des Grisons.

Mousse des bois, par Jean Sulpice - the vegetable mousse came with a sponge biscuit, sliced mushrooms, and cream. This really does taste like the woodlands as it was green and grassy.

Royale de foie gras, topinambours et anguille fumée, par Michel Rostang - this was all about Jerusalem artichokes, and the flavors from the foam on top were very strong. We've got pickled chunks of Jerusalem artichokes as well as some pink radishes, bringing their acidity to help balance out the richness of the foie gras. The smoked eel were delicious and brought their texture into the mix, and surprisingly they were also a little acidic.

Fera du lac d'Annecy, eau de cresson, par Jean Sulpice - the fera from Lake Annecy has been cured and smoked, and brings a nice, bouncy texture. We have watercress purée as well as watercress juice, which were not too heavy and overpowering. They just helped to add a little something extra to the fera, with a little acidity and green flavors. Very nice and refreshing dish.

Langoustine, cannelloni de brochet, par Michel Rostang - I gotta say... that langoustine jus reduction was just killer!

The langoustine was pretty nicely done.

The pike cannelloni was sooo rich and creamy inside with citrus coulis, and wrapped with linguine. Very tasty.

So the guy who looked like the manager of the restaurant came to introduce the dish to me, instead of the waitstaff who have done the introductions up to this point. He basically repeated the name of the dish and did not elaborate. It was the most unenthusiastic introduction I can remember, as if he felt his time was wasted even speaking to me. I haven't missed attitude like his one bit in the five years I have been away from France.

Agneau du foin des alpes, caillettes et pistaches, par Jean Sulpice - the lamb was obviously cooked the traditional way and not done sous vide, and it was very tender and moist. It was also very smoky after being treated on hay from the Alps. There was a pistachio crust, which made it pretty nice. There was a small pile of spinach that had been put through a blender.

The little mound of minced lamb was fucking amazing, as the flavors of the lamb fat really shone through. I wish I could have a whole bowl of this and just some bread...

Oseille, agrumes et vanille givrée de St Philippe, par Jean Sulpice - a signature of the chef, this vanilla blanc manger came with a vanilla crémeux and some citrus gel, then surrounded by confit of various citrus fruits and finally, sorrel granité and a tuille on top. The acidity of the granité was pretty nice and worked well with the citrus flavors.

Parfait glacé chartreuse, crémeux chocolat Guanaja, par Michel Rostang - the chocolate sauce was really rich and came flavored with chartreuse. The parfait also came with chartreuse. Like the other dessert, this was also very refreshing.

I was in no position to take a bottle on my own but I still wanted to drink somethng with dinner, so I asked for a glass of red that wouldn't break the bank.

2020 Pagodes de Cos - ripe and jammy cassis, definitely pretty oaky with that vanilla, some smoky on the nose, too. I could feel the tannins a little but the wine was already soft enough to be drinkable. Soooo minty and fragrant on the nose, this was a vibrant wine and drinking pretty well.

I wouldn't say this was an amazing dinner, but I did enjoy some of the dishes - in particular ones from Jean Sulpice. The flavors were more "green", lighter, and more refreshing. As I come up against a little jet lag at dinner time, this kind of flavor profile really appealed to me tonight. I'm happy that I came for a taste, and perhaps one day I can make it out to Lake Annecy.

I'm still happy about having an excuse to come back to this beautiful dining room, and I was smiling the whole way as I walked back to my hotel.


Markus Schmidt said...

I can unreservedly recommend Lac d'Annecy to you - with Jean Sulpice's Auberge du Père Bise being a highlight, but Yoann Conte in Yeyrier du Lac and Le Clos des Sens in Annecy le Vieux also well worth a visit...

Anonymous said...

Were you just wearing a "T" shirt to this event ? Quelle Horreur!!


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