MichelinStarDinners's Profile

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michelin-starred izakaya

@Robb S - You are absolutely right. Let's move on. Keep up with your great advices.

Aug 09, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

michelin-starred izakaya

@Wekabeka- This was not directed to you. Not even to Robb S, whom I respect a lot and whose advices have been extremely helpful, but to the general idea that Michelin = disappointment . As/per Chowhound rules/policies, let's not spend time on this. Let's move on with more constructive material. No offense. I appreciate you all.

Aug 09, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

michelin-starred izakaya

Folks, no need to take this personal, but aren't you tired of putting down Michelin at every single opportunity? By now, I swear...everyone has got it: the review starts with something like ''a Michelin-starred ...''' and it inevitably ends with ''a a disappointing experience'''. Seriously, I appreciate your generous contributions and I respect all of you, but this Michelin bashing is getting way too old. Please let's assess a restaurant as it is, Michelin-starred or not. It is not the fault of the restaurant if it is has a Michelin star. If it's not to your taste, fine, but what has Michelin got to do with the restaurant? Michelin's opinion is just as good and yours and mine, which means the usual subjective stuff!

Aug 09, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in Japan
1

South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

Whatever you do, try to drop by Bistrot D'Antoine in the Vieux Nice (27 rue de la Prefecture). Book in advance (1 month or 2/3 weeks in advance). Nothing life shattering, but food can taste really great here in a way that few bistrots in the area are doing this well. And if you are a fan of big plump oysters, give a try to Café de Turin on Place Garibaldi (I was not floored by the rest of their menu, but their big size roumegous oysters will be remembered as long as my memory serves me right -- though, as expected from a seafood place, it is costly -- no reservation, just show up. Even if it's a busy place, it' so big that you'll find a table. The service was just Ok, but go for the oysters)

Mar 23, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France

Ledoyen: A Sad Experience

Sorry Chef. I did not see your comment. The strongest item was the dessert and that was of solid known / tested great 3 star Michelin pastry standards in France (that is what made it special, as such technical performance stands as special by most dining standards). The dessert was a Fraise “guariguette” parfumées coriandre/hibiscus - basically, on this instance, a sable pastry with strawberry + creme anglaise / coriander/hibiscus accents. Simple by description, but a stellar dessert in mouth and overall effect. Because of that dessert and the high standard of the amuse-bouches, it's clear in my mind that they can reach really strong heights. But I've got to rate my meal (8/10 was a mistypo, sorry for that) through the angle of an overall food performance, and as such the savouries I had on that lunch were weak by any dining standard (haute or not). I have no doubt that they can cook better than that, but I can only talk for what I know (which was that specific lunch I was writing about).

Mar 23, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France

Arpège or not?

Typical 'normal" restaurant experience, however exceptional is the restaurant. It's impossible to hit remarkable meal after remarkable meal once you are used to a restaurant. All our favourite restaurants will be inconsistent no matter what, especially when they are known to be creative (trying new things, repeating things different ways, etc) . We just need to eat many of their items and attend regular meals to realize that L'Arpège is as inconsistent (?? I am not comfortable with this term in the case of L'Arpège...the fact that I prefer one item better than another version they made of it..does not qualify as inconsistent in my book. Inconsistency, for me, is really about technical issues such as I request my meat medium rare and you serve it well done, or serious wrong doing such as sometimes serving good produce, sometimes bad ones, to take an example) as any other restaurant around the globe.

Mar 23, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France

Arpège or not?

Sounds like you went À la Carte. An option that, indeed, I do not favor at L'Arpège (for eg, that beet at 60 euros ++, nope, I am not sold to that...i mean whatever you do to that beet, it will not worth its cost in my mind). But the long tasting menu is the way to go for me (despite strong online recommendations to the contrary).L'Arpège is definitely a restaurant you need to judge over couple of visits and not solely through the vegan point of view .

Mar 23, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France
1

Arpège or not?

Sorry to 'resurrect" this thread, but I think it is important we get varied opinions about this subject
1) I do not know about being known at L'Arpège or not, but I can confirm that if you want to remain 'unrecognized', you will: In Sept 2013, I went there for the 5th time in 15 years (almost once every 3 years) and I was treated like anybody else they would have met for the very first time. This is admittedly my choice since I want to experience things the way a normal diner would. I know this is lots of money and it's tempting to get the most out of our hard earned money, but on the other hand I am not excited by blurred reality. I want to experience the real normal stuff. My point here is that being a regular or not, I am pretty sure they treat everyone the same way and give their 100% no matter who you are unless you really s*c* up (for eg, pretending that you are a food journalist, famous food blogger, etc) which I find disgusting (manipulated reality...).
2)Inconsistencies - Listen, if you want something safe all the way, there's obviously no shortage of such in Paris. Chose something 100% classic: Lasserre, Taillevent, Le Cinq, Le Relais Louis XIII. In my view, you can't ask for creativity --which L'Arpège is all about --, therefore risks to be taken, then turn around and complain about the meal being not safe / consistent enough. This just can't fit.
(3)Inconsistencies? ...this time with a question mark. My 5th meal at L'Arpège was actually a ...hit and miss? Yep, notice the question mark. There's a reason I am using question marks here. On that meal, there were items I did not like at all....but NOT because they were bad...NOPE..to the contrary they were incredibly well executed and thought out (ravioles potagères, arlequin de légumes, tartelettes de legumes) BUT were simply packed with flavors that challenged my palate, which means flavors I was not used to. That is not inconsistency in my book. In that same room, next to my table, other patrons were enjoying them. Inconsistency for me is when something is really bad (for eg, I ask you medium rare for my meat and you burn it! or you serve me something completely uninspired, bland, off-putting) . I can see what you mean by 'inconsistency' as I could have described my meal as such if I wanted, but again, this is a cuisine that takes risks, it does it well and on 5 visits within 15 years, the items I did not like had to do with a matter of personal pref/taste rather than inconsistency.
(4)L'Arpège is obviously a bit different from the conventional /traditional/classic Parisian grand tables (though it does also deliver classic cooking really well, too) in that they follow Passard's personal interpretation of French cooking. So it's logic that one informs him/herself about what makes L'Arpège unique and deliberates on whether that is what she/he looking for. As such, I'd personally never ask if someone else would recommend L'Arpège to me (mind you, I do not even do this for safe / classic restaurants..).
(5) Last but not least, my meal was exactly what it should have been: items that challenged me, which happens on long meals , but what mattered is that its 'higher highs'" blew most of their peers away because they have what plenty of kitchen brigades do not: a palate! And when you have that...well, your best items can be life shattering.

Mar 23, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France
1

Matsukawa - Probably (the current) Tokyo's greatest restaurant

Thanks Bu Pun Su and Gargle for the extra infos about Matsukawa. Absolutely, I'll try it myself (In Autumn, if all things go well) and sorry for using the word 'useless' (sounds rude). I am not against reports of exclusive restaurants, just thought that their exposure will lead to disappointments (for eg, you see all that beautiful description about a meal, but no..ain't gonna happen for the most ;p). But I absolutely respect your opinion on the matter, Bu Pun Su. @Wekabeka - Glad to hear that they seem to have dropped that introduction-only policy. PS: regarding L'Ambroisie: it was same experience as Bu Pun Su, for me, which means normal reservation process (opened to public / I just called and booked).

Dec 15, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

Matsukawa - Probably (the current) Tokyo's greatest restaurant

Bun Pun Su, I am a big fan of your food adventures but Matsukawa is, to me, a private club as confirmed by your statement ''''newcomer needs to be invited by the restaurant’s regular patrons''. They seem to do great and I am glad for them, but as a private initiative they are useless to the most (I mean, normal diners who are looking for a normal / non exclusive dinner).

Dec 14, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

El celler de Can Roca - Way too over-rated

Hi Erica: Thanks for your question. So, as explained, disliked: the déjà vu gimmicky take on the olives, the desserts, the elderflower course. The proteins (so, roasted chicken in my case, was casual /normal stuff anyone with basic cooking skills would have been able to cook) Liked: no dish in particular, but as mentioned, we had great experience here (well treated, and we love Spain). In Spain, we loved: Abac, DiverXO, plenty of other less popular eateries but it really does not matter given that we had none of them in mind when eating at El Celler (El Celler, we judged it as a restaurant that's known as one WORLD'S finest, not a competitor of our favourite eateries in Spain, which are countless since we are really fond of plenty of the casual / traditional eateries of Madrid as well as Southern Spain...so no fair comparison to make with a place like El Celler that needs to be judged as a completely different type of restaurant ). What we liked have no impact on our appreciation of El Celler (we've cooked for 20 years, both my wife and I, so we do not trade in terms of this is great because that other restaurant is bad, but we certainly know what to expect at X standard of dining) .Again, as I stated: we love El Celler (especially for its cost performance) but found the idea of electing it as world's #1 over-rated. To each, their own, but that is our personal/subjective opinion, of course.

El celler de Can Roca - Way too over-rated

This was our second visit to El Celler de Can Roca. First time was over 5 years ago and I remember finding El Celler deserving of its 2 star Michelin at that time, though not one that was going out of the way of what is expected from a good 2 star Michelin (read: a good but not an great 2 star Michelin). Then in September 2013, we seized the opportunity of a hard earned reservation (1 year) at El Celler as an excuse to also re-visit France. We basically spent just that 1 day in Spain with the sole excuse of dining at El Celler then moved on to France. Well, given that Restaurant Magazine has rated El Celler as World's #1 restaurant and in light of their now 3 star Michelin, we logically hoped that the meal would have been way better than what we have experienced over 5 years ago. Unfortunately, even with food items that were different, it was even less impressive. I mean, what they are doing is good, make no mistake about that, and would certainly impress people who do not dine a lot at this calibre of restaurant or cooks with experiences in casual restaurants, but if you are used to the usual high level expected among, say, a typical top flight world class gastro destination, you'll find the cooking level ordinary (their gimmicks with the olive tree is déjà vu, their Elderflower infusion is very pretty to espy, but really, at this level, more is expected, especially in terms of the work of the flavors, charcoal-grilling proteins is sublime, but again...not revelatory for this standing of dining, , even the desserts...although good... are not that special for this level of dining ). I love the Roca brothers, have the highest respect for their hard work (few tables have worked that hard to earn the highest respect) and I always had some good time here, and we'll go back there, but in my view, their job is way too over-rated (if this is #1 world's restaurant, then Noma and the Fat Duck, let alone Alinéa in Chicago --we are not even fans of those three tables --- deserve better. I am sorry to insist on this, but really, if you have spent years cooking at high level, you won't fail to understand what I mean). Again, a really great table, an amazing value for what you get...my problem is when people try to sell it as what it is NOT: world's #1 table. That can't be the case. As best value restaurant in the world, it will get my vote with not one single hesitation. As best restaurant in the world, it would make my top 50, indeed, but not a top 20. Honestly, we love Spain and El Celler is a place we enjoy visiting. We are just not comfortable with overselling as what it is NOT.

Japan trip report in Nov '13

Very helpful and informative answers. Thanks, Bu Pun Su.

Nov 28, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

Ishikawa

Thanks for your answer

Nov 28, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

Ishikawa

Hi Bu Pun Su, another great review from your part. Question: just for the sake of comparison, what other kaiseki places would you score higher than Ishikawa?

Nov 27, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

Japan trip report in Nov '13

At Shima, what type of beef did both of you have? Its grade? Also: now that you are there, did you get to sample various types of beef. kobe beef Vs matsusaka beef or any other variety of wagyu? If Yes, what do you think in regard to their differences/nuances, etc. Did they impress you enough to turn your back to, say, Black Angus, or any other of your favourite red meats? Tokyo is also a dream for me. Had to postpone it for financial reasons, but it is a matter a months before I make it there. Thanks for sharing!

Nov 27, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in Japan

L'Arpège, Paris - The best dishes will be remembered

Re-visited L'Arpège recently. Full text and review on my blog (see the link on my profile). Eventhough I was not excited by the vegetable tartlets (my god, so tiny...in reality, not ...on pics!!!) , the arlequin robe des champs (bitter, on this lunch) and couple of other dishes (the egg coquetier was subbar, the ravioles were creative but the version I had on this lunch was forgettable) it was all long forgiven in view of of the remarkable deliciousness of such items as the pigeon/lamb/corn risotto, benchmark creative takes on the gazpacho/red pepper velouté. I was immensely impressed with the best dishes of this meal which were so inspired and had such high impact (on my palate). There are always restaurant meals which finest dishes are impressive, but this one was something else. The heights of this meal, for their benchmark joyous flavors and superb creativity, will rarely be paralleled. L’Arpège continues to rank among my favourite 3 star Michelin destinations around the globe

Sep 28, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in France

Louis XV, Monte Carlo - Fabulous experience, even if I was not floored by the overall food performance

Event: Lunch at restaurant Le Louis XV, Monte Carlo
When: Saturday September 21 2013, 12:15
(full text and photo review on my blog - the link can be found in my profile)
What I ate: Velouté rafraichi de courgette trompette, homard bleu court-bouillonné, caillé de brebis/Cookpot de petit épautre, girolles et jeunes légumes/Loup de la méditérannée (seabass) en filet piqué d’Olives, garniture et bouillon d’un minestrone, basilic pilé au mortier/Poitrine de Pigeonneau des Alpes de haute Provence, foie gras de canard, pommes de terre nouvelles sur la braise, jus gouteux aux abats.
All in all, this was some good and properly executed classic French/Med cooking. I just wished that the flavors of the savouries would have been more expressive. For eg, the Cookpot de petit épautre had flavors too discrete for a dish using pot cooking technique, a technique that usually allows flavors of ingredients to be at the forefront.
Conclusion: I may not have been floored by the overall food performance on this specific lunch (remember, nothing was wrong with the food, it is just that I tend to be partial to strong /bold/eventful flavors like those found in the dip of the crudités or while enjoying my baba au rhum ) , but Le Louis XV is a dining experience of superlative attributes (stunning decor, world class service, cheeses of the highest standards , choices of wines that will please the most demanding wine lovers and I can go on and on with the qualities).

Sep 28, 2013
MichelinStarDinners in France

Barcelona - food recs - hotel near Mercat de la Boqueria

Thanks so much, Erica

Barcelona - food recs - hotel near Mercat de la Boqueria

Hi Aleta,
Sorry to resurrect the thread, but would you by chance (apart Paco Meralgo) have some delicious tapas eateries (no splurge, so at decent prices) to recommend around that same central area (I will be staying on Jazz Pelai, L'Eixample) . Thanks

Barcelona - your latest favourite tapas near in central Barcelona

Thanks C Oliver. I'll give a try for Paco Meralgo.

Barcelona - your latest favourite tapas near in central Barcelona

Hi all,
I know, you have suggested many great places for great tapas in Barcelona , but could you kindly help out to select some great ones around the area of Hotel Jazz Pelai, 3, L'Eixample, 08001 Barcelona. This is pretty much central, from what I gathered. I never visited Barcelona before, but if that can help, I am expecting tapas places that are either equal or superior to San Sebastian's most popular pintxos (I know, I should not compare San Sebastian to Barcelona, but this was just to constructively convey my expectations as much as I could). So, great tapas even for the locals, of good value, at walkable distance to that hotel. In Spain, asking for delicious food at reasonable price is not impossible from what I could observe in San Sebastian, therefore I believe I am not asking for the moon in my request for Barcelona. Also: if you have great recs for breakfasts (great value, delicious food), please let me know, Thanks!

Spanish part of the Basque Country dining report

Thanks for the highly useful infos about Etxebarri. My wife and I are planning to go there perhaps next summer (a long way to go, lol, I know) but this is precious info for us (for ie, the info about the tasting menu cooked for only a few tables simultaneously is important).

My year in France - Paris part 2 (Ledoyen, Le Cinq, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Arpege)

I am glad to see that you have enjoyed Ledoyen. This year, I'll visit them for the 3rd time in 2 years and your review really gives me the hope that my two past meals there were just some bad luck and that the 3rd visit will be a charm. I tried them twice, once for a lunch in summer of last year (I rated the overall food performance with an 7/10. It could have been a lower mark but I still found a 7/10 more accurate only because the dessert was stunning. On that lunch, the food was of course technically well executed, but not enoughly remarkable compared to what I do usually sample at most tables of this calibre, especially in France, my own country . Then I went there towards the end of last year, for a dinner this time, just to see if it would make a difference. This time, the overall food performance was no more than 6/10, and I am being generous. Largely what I,d have expected on most 1 star Michelin that I am used to, in France. Not 2 and certainly not 3. Not that the food was bad, but all savouries were just average for this standard, in my view (no sparks, not enoughly delicious, eventhough technically well conceived). But the dessert kept shining at high level, exactly as on the 1st visit. I'll give them a 3rd chance this year so that I can have a definite idea (and not permanent, I hope). As usual, a subjective matter (interestingly, you had a less impressive meal at Le Cinq, a place where all my meals have always ranged in between 9/10 to 10/10, which goes to confirm just that: a subjective matter ) but I thought it would be constructive to share about it. PS: On the 1st lunch, I took 2 signature dishes ( Grosses langoustines Bretonnes, émulsion d’agrumes + Toast Brulé d’Anguille ) along with le menu dejeuner.. The 2nd meal was a multiple course tasting comprising of their grand classics.

Jul 28, 2012
MichelinStarDinners in France

Le Calandre, a Report

Thanks for your kind consideration, Jen Kalb. You are absolutely right: I wished the savoury courses would move as well. Have a great one

Jun 21, 2012
MichelinStarDinners in Italy

Dal Pescatore ratings fell from being in the top 10 to 70 in the World's Best restaurant list???

Plufmud, as you know: ratings are just ratings. Subjective stuff. I ate at Dal Pescatore this past Thursday, and honestly..whatever the folks of San Pellegrino think..I just couldn't care (not meant to be rude, just upfront): it was an amazing meal.

Jun 20, 2012
MichelinStarDinners in Italy

Dal Pescatore or Osteria Francesana

Plufmud: so how things went? I went to Dal Pescatore couple of days ago but was frustrated for having missed Osteria Francescana (I was too exhausted and had to cancel).

Jun 20, 2012
MichelinStarDinners in Italy

Le Calandre, a Report

Just lunched at Le Clandre this past Saturday. I'll avoid opening a new thread and just add my review to yours:

Event: Lunch at restaurant Le Calandre, Sarmeola di Rubano
When: Saturday, June 16th 2012 12:00
Michelin stars: 3
Type of cuisine: Haute Italian (Mix of Classic & Contemporary)
Addr: Via Liguria, 1 35030 Sarmeola di Rubano, Padova
Phone: 049 635200
Url: http://www.calandre.com/

Overall food performance: 8/10 I am forgiving the 'just ok' initial part of this meal, since the ending was so spectacular on this Saturday June 16th 2012 lunch.
Service: 10/10 A great balance between being professional and yet fun, charming. I find that 3 star Michelin standards of service, tranposed in an Italian context, adds a zest of appeal that I have hard time putting in words. Might be the magic of the gioia di vivere.
Overall Dining experience: 9/10 They do a lot to make the dining experience optimal: the decor, the choice of dinnerware , the modern ambience, the fun and playful interraction with the staff. It is amazing how they balance so well the formal (3 star Michelin standads of service and what goes along is respected and fully applied) with the casual (how fun..fun..fun..fun were those folks on this lunch! Amazing).

INTRO - This concludes an interesting journey of several days in Northern Italy (Lombardy, Veneto, and Liguria). Tiring to say the least, but this is Italy: a borderless ‘open-air candy store’ where everything is tempting. It is, as we all know, one of those rare countries where each parcel of land worths its weight in gold. This is not my first time in Italy, and everytime I visit this country, I regret of not having spent more time.

Gastronomy is, to me, as important as culture, history and architectures. Italy obviously offers plenty of those and this trip was the excuse to enjoy some great food as well as visiting as many historical vestiges as I could in such a short period of time. The dining part (((( I have always paid attention to Michelin starred ventures only in France. Just recently, in Germany. In Italy, I preferred traditional dining destinations of which my long time favourite has been Da Maria in Zanzo, Piemonte now in good company with my 'coup de coeur' of this gourmand week in Northern Italy : A cantina de Mananan in Corniglia - Cinque Terre . This is the first time that I am trying some Michelin star restaurants in Italy)))) of this journey is crazy: quick lunch at 2 star Michelin Trussardi alla Scala in Milan on Wednesday, a big lunch at 3 star Michelin Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio on Thursday, a dinner at the iconic 2 star Michelin Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan on Friday, and finally this Saturday's lunch at Le Calandre (for those who may ask: I never review restaurant meals when I am eating with other ppl since I personally find it mannerless to take notes of my meal in such occurence, the only exception is when I dine with my wife since she is supportive of my ideal of knowledge sharing ) . It is absurd to enjoy as many meals in seven days, alongside so many places to visit, but absolutely understandable given the circumstances. I only regret to have missed a dinner at 3 star Osteria Francescana that some of my foodie friends have invited me to partake in. Alas I was just too exhausted and could not make it to Modena.

I came here to Le Calandre because I heard that Chef Massimiliano Alajmo was mastering, to a level that outstands what is usually found at most tables pertaining to this caliber of dining, the aspect of food that I favor the most: unveiling what's left to be discovered from traditional cuisine. He (Chef Alajmo) is doing it with a fresh new (modern) approach, though: from what I gathered, the cooking techniques are mostly modern, but the intent is to push traditional fares to their contemporary revised versions. In a world where there is a lot of babbling about classic cuisine being boring, you would think that trendy modern cooking would bring the supposedly exciting palatable emotions that comes along, but years after the rise of those novel cooking trends, few modernist Chefs are really capable of offering the true excitement that pertains to the splendid impact that classic food can unleash in skilled hands (the Spaniards remain among the very few whose depth of modern cooking creativity can indeed rise at palatable heights of the fabulous taste of the kind of successful classic cooking that I am praising). So many people are lured by the superficial aspect of food that they can’t even make a difference between an average, above average, superior or excellent straightforward food item such a soup or a tartare. You get the idea: I pushed opened the door to Chef Alajmo's dining room expecting classic food's inspired creations to be brought to their glory.

Chef Alajmo was the youngest Chef to have been awarded three Michelin stars for his creations at his restaurant Le Calandre (he still holds those since 2002). He started with some studies in restaurant management, which obviously explains his great business sense with several restaurants, a food store, books, and plenty of other entrepreneurship ideas you will not fail to notice on his web site. Before taking over the kitchen at Le Calandre (a family affair, his mum was the previous Chef there), he worked for several Italian restaurants (for ie, Ja Navalge in Moena) as well as a relatively brief presence alongside France's star Michelin Chefs Michel Guerard (perhaps the focus on light food that I sensed on most of the dishes during this meal came from here) and Marc Veyrat (It would be interesting that a journalist ask him a bit more about what he thinks of Veyrat and what he learned from that phase - I have always been curious about Veyrat and regret to have never been able to sample his modernist creations when he was actively behind the stoves. I do not know Veyrat so it was impossible for me to identify any Veyrat's influences all along the meal I was sampling at Le Calandre). Despite his young age, Chef Alajmo has been a mentor to many successful Italian Chefs such as Chef Stefano Merlo (Rossini's in Bangkok) or Relais Galu's Sergio Preziosa. In 2012, Chef Alajmo's Le Calandre restaurant features in Restaurant Magazine top 50 best restaurants of the globe.

The restaurant Le Calandre is situated in Sarmeola di Rubano, at approx 6 kms away from the city of Padova, less than 50 kms away from Venezzia. The restaurant itself is inside the family's restaurant/hotel building (They have another of their numerous restaurants in that building: Il Calandrino). The inside decor is contemporary minimalist- chic with tones of black and grey, no tablecloth on the tables. The room itself has elements of great artistic value such as the tables made of a century-old type of ash-oak tree wood as well as dinnerware/Italian hand blown crystal glassware worth of prime attention (they seem to pride themselves for putting lots of thoughts and care in this aspect of the dining experience; as an ie many restaurants have famous sommeliers who serve great wines and yet you look at the size or shape of some of their wine glasses and have quibbles to raise. At le Calandre, even such detail is not overlooked as clearly demonstrated by glasses designed for optimal flow of the wine onto your palate) . It would be interesting to incorporate some ideas of a great Venetian achitect like Carlo Scarpa in that contemporary interior.

Wine list: Over a thousand of wines, catering to all budgets, presented on an electronic display device (Ipad). Needless to describe that wine list since you can peruse it online (I found it very practical to have the wine list on the web). They do also, I am pretty sure, have more gems that do not necessarily feature on that online list. On this lunch, they initially served some glasses of Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage 1999, then followed by some choices of wine by the glass that I appreciated a lot (I chose the default wine pairing to the ingredienti tasting menu). The highlight of this wine pairing was, for me, the 2007 Domaine Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Narvaux.

On with the FOOD:

Vegetable salad comprising of marinated beets, boiled carrots, sunflower cream, celery, tomatoes. The idea was to present the veggies in various textures (crunchy, dried, boiled, marinated, etc) and temperatures with layers of different piquant flavors (gingery, and dijon mustard in this case). Playful and interesting although I wished that some ingredients of this dish would have left a higher palatable impact as so oftenly expressed by ingredients in the Mediterranea (especially the tomatoes and the beets) 7.5/10

Next was cream of tomato/marinated and sauteed aubergine, fresh basil (Sorry for having taken the picture after sampling the food). The tomato part was essentially a take on the idea of a gazpacho. Top quality Sardinian Paue Carasau tomato featured on this dish. Refreshing with an interesting use of complimentary ingredients. 7/10

Followed by Ricciola raw fish carpaccio and a tartare of seafood and red meat. Lemon cream bringing the needed balance of acidity to the seafood, caviar adding extra textural dimension and cabbage was served alongside those ingredients. Good 7/10

Then linguine (spelt linguine), black truffle, scallops, cuttlefish cream - the overall dish was properly cooked, had good flavors and was prettily presented on stone support.
Good 7/10

Most of the dishes served to that point were paired with a fabulous Meursault Les Narvaux 2007 (Domaine Vincent Girardin).

Next was Rose risotto/peach/ginger. Chef Alajmo oftenly came in the dining room, exchanging with his customers, and he explained to me that this is his reference to Italian renaissance art. A great idea indeed, playful, creative and this was certainly a good risotto with rice achieved at ideal bite, the cheese counterpoint matching really well with the aromas of the rose, ginger and peach flavors adding to the complexity of the dish in a perfectly well balanced way. Very good. 8/10

Followed by veal cutlet and sweetbreads/curry sauce - The veal being of prime quality, the curry sauce thickened ideally and tasting good. On the side, a classically made fresh green salad. 7/10

Then lamb chops served with a roll of cabbage. Nice acidity coming from that roll of cabbage. Good 7/10 (this was paired with a glass of Il Poggione San Leopoldo 2004, an interesting blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, barrel-aged for 12 months in French oak, and that expressed superb structure and long enjoyable fruity finish of dark berries.

Whereas the previous dishes were certainly all well executed, I found them to be a bit short on sparks. Still, the overall experience itself (with the fun and yet professional service, the charming ambience, the way they go above and beyond to make every little moment as memorable as it can be) was so fantastic that nothing was going to alter my high appreciation of their work. Well, it is as if they did not want me to leave with the impression that the kitchen could not deliver. The proof: a big surprise would follow next, and it would come from the kitchen ->

They suggested that I move to a different room, where I'd be alone to enjoy the dessert phase of my tasting menu. That phase is untitled 'Game of Chocolate 2012'. In the room, some music is played with the sole intent to connect memories
of the basics of life's evolution with different items of an array of mini desserts. Now, while the previous dishes varied in between 7 to 8/10 in my personal assessment, I was now in a completely different arithmetic logic (which in my case is just an extra effort to convey, in the best constructive way possible, the emotions and palatable impact brought to me by a dish). Interestingly, here's what was written on a little piece of paper that I had to read prior to indulge in what was going to stand as the spectacular finale of this meal: """In & Out choco game 2012 is something that we have all experienced before from our first heartbeats (IN) to our entrance into the world (OUT). During this passage, there is a moment of darkness that suddenly turns into pure light. IN & OUT is a simple expression of a large message". Rfaol, upon reading that note, I said to myself "That is it, I got it now...Lol..the darkness was the first part of the meal (just kidding. The 1st part of the meal was no darkness at all) and now I was going to partake in the "pure light" phase of the meal. Laughs. Joke aside, this part was simply spectacular with an array of mini desserts that kept the bar of palatable excitement to memorable heights. I'll let the numbers convey how of an awe-inspiring level the choco game 2012 phase was: a delicious shot of dark choco was a benchmark of its kind (10/10), vanilla topped with a milky concoction of their own had my tongue leaving my mouth and start dancing in the room, Rfaol - It was that spectacular in mouth! A 10/10 for that vanilla/milk mixture. Then a shot of ginger/peach (10/10), some benchmark choco truffles (10.10), a shot of cold expresso with dulce di lecce underneath (10/10), a cracker with impossibly perfect sweet goat cheese in between (9/10), an impressive citrus flavored lollipop with white choco and pineapple (a Blast! 10/10 ), an exciting shot of their own take on pina colada and it went on and on with creative and exciting mini creations of that sort, but of world class perfection and palatable impact worth of superlatives.

A fantastic end to a meal that started on less impressive grounds.

PROS: The spectacular ending to this meal (fabulous flavors brought to surprising palatable heights in each bite of that memorable choco Game 2012 mise en scène) ...
CONS: ...had that same amazement being expressed towards the first part of this repast, the entire meal would have been an epic culinary achievement. Regardless, this was still a very enjoyable experience and where many fail to seduce their customers, Le Calandre is succeeding at being a charm.

Ciao!

Jun 20, 2012
MichelinStarDinners in Italy

Ledoyen: A Sad Experience

Event: Lunch at Restaurant Ledoyen, Paris
Full text and photo review: http://tinyurl.com/6bgjpjs
When: March 24th 2011, 12:30
Overall Food rating: 8/10 (was not impressed by the savories, dessert was great
)Service: 10/10

The meal:

Tartare de dorade à la tahitienne: great ingredient as expected (the fish was of superb freshness, same could be said of the thin slices of scallops disposed atop the tartare ), perfect balance in taste and seasonings. A good tartare, but at this level, I need this tartare to shine a bit more in creativity or at least with surprising flavors. The apple-lemon gelée underneath was nice, but kept the tartare in a ‘pedestrian’ registry. 7.5 /10

-Jardins de légumes vert à l’émulsion de radis – peas (superb quality), green beans (good quality), onions, dried tomatoes in a radish emulsion. Cute like a bug, that dish…enjoyable too…but not a dish that I am expecting at this level of cuisine neither. Do not get me wrong: I am not expecting fireworks here. Just a touch of next-level daring-ness may it be in the taste or overall gustatory enjoyment of the course. Good 7/10

-Sole de petite cotière étuvée de petit pois – The sole was superbly presented in the shape of a tube. Enjoyable taste, perfect moist consistency of the flesh. Indeed, some great cooking technical mastery in there. The green rolls were filled with a cream of peas and the truffle sauce retained a remarquable ‘smokey’ flavor that I enjoyed a lot. Well done. 8/10

-Grosses langoustines Bretonnes, émulsion d’agrumes: The citrus fruit emulsion, emulsified with the usual olive oil, which basically turned out to be a citrus/olive oil based mayonnaise was certainly well executed (it was somehow light enough to not overwhelm the lobster meat and added a pleasant dimension to its enjoyment) …but as far as in-mouth enjoyment goes, it was suprisingly discrete (where is the punch?). still fine enough (the lobster’s meat was nicely cooked + the effort and idea they did put in the kadaif deserve a bonus point) for me to rate it with a 7.5 over 10

-Toasts Brules d’Anguille: A 10 over 10 for the creativity, the idea, the fun execution. An 8 over 10 for its gustatory amazement (It was more cuter than tastier, but tasty enough to be considered as a good / to very good creation). fyi: What you see on the side is a cube of potato filled with “creme de raifort” (just ok)

The dessert was the strongest item of this meal (Fraise “guariguette” parfumées coriandre/hibiscus)

Apr 07, 2011
MichelinStarDinners in France