The In-laws are in town and I had the pleasure of setting up a menu for them at the 3-star restaurant I cook at in Paris. It was great fun to collaborate with the Director and Chef de Cuisine in planning a unique tasting menu for them.
The food is edible art and the owner/chef loves the element of surprise and many dishes are specifically designed for this. He also loves to evoke memories through color, taste, texture and smell. This sweet pea dish was created by the executive chef in honor of a springtime childhood memory he had of eating fresh sweet peas right out of the shell freshly picked.
On the bottom of the plate is a sweet pea jelly puree, cold and smooth in texture. On top are blanched sweet peas (so glad I don't have to shell those) forming a nest for a delicately poached egg. The server at the table slashes the egg open with the point of a knife and the yellow warm yolk floods down over the sprouts and peas. It's table art and delicious.
Following the sweet pea entree the Chef de Cuisine suprised my parents with a new delicate salmon dish he created. The salmon sits on a bed of chard stems and has a wedge of fennel on the top with a frothy cream sauce. Everything is soft and dreamy, the colors the flavors are distinctive yet subtle. To me it looks like a little boat in a make-believe ocean.
Following the delicate flavors of the salmon was the famous artichoke and black truffle soup. If you like truffles then this is mana from heaven, because the soup itself is blended with white and black truffles and served with truffle brioche and smeared (at the table by the server) with truffle butter. The textures are smooth and sensual and the scent is – well – erotic. I make this at work and I never get tired of tasting it (hee, hee)
Unlike American dinners where meat is prepared separately for each person, the meat is often prepared for the whole table and cut by the server in front of the customers – a lost art in America. I love the entertainment quality of carving meat tableside and the skills required to serve that way.
After a little prodding I found out exactly how the Chef de Viande creates his juicy masterpieces. He browns the meat in olive oil on all sides first. After searing, it is roasted it in the oven to desired doneness and let to rest for twenty minutes (collecting the juices to make the jus for the table) Right before serving it is seared again in clarified butter to give a slightly crispy crust and seal in the juices. The meat melts in your mouth.
After four healthy courses the desserts started to roll. My favorite was the ode to peach and bluberries. Countless other treats kept arriving at the table: macaroons, fromage, riz au lait, chocolate mousse, cherry clafouti, marshmellows that melt in your mouth, and more. I will save those pics for another article...
The service is different that other 3-star Parisian restaurants. It isn't stuffy or uncomfortable. You don't feel like there are secret service people watching you at all times trying to anticipate your next move, which can be really annoying. The Maitre D, will be more than happy to accommodate any occasion to make sure it is perfect for each guest. They will also keep track of what you like and dislike so the next time you come in you can be sure to have something that is specifically tailored for you.
If you are in Paris and have never had the experience of eating in a 3-star restaurant you must come for lunch or dinner. It is a once in a life time meal that you will never ever forget.