MichelinStarDinners's Profile

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South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

Balzi Rossi is romantic/very pretty but I would not compare it to Mirazur (which I finally tried on this second trip): two completely different restaurants/ approaches to cooking. Mirazur was fun, with some few touches reminding of L'Astrance and L'Arpege, here and there, but with somehow less remarkable moments, for me, than at the 2 other restaurants. Still, I enjoyed Mirazur, perhaps not among my favourite in that genre, but certainly a place I would visit again. La Meranda: I was not as floored (meat was way too overcooked, almost dry,the last time I was there) eventhough I am huge fan of Dominique Le Stanc. Still, I would recommend it as you just never know what such a talented Chef could pull off on a great day. Bistrot de la Marine is one of my preferred seafood bistrots in France and it is a breeze to see the legendary Jacques Maximin still around, and how he has not changed that much (those who know him since a long time will understand what I mean).

Sep 06, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France

South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

Sorry Jen.I know itis now too late to answer. Just came back on Chowhound only now because I did visit Southern France for the second time since my last post,recently and dropped by to share a bit. I tried BA on my 1st visit, in Sept of last year. And now Le Comptoir was tried on this second visit. I preferred the former (flavors fares tastier for me)

Sep 06, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France

South of France Itinerary Restaurant Recommendations

I understand the popular belief about the months ending with R and I am myself very careful about that as I grew up in a fishermen village where oysters were sacred. However, this does not apply anymore, at least not as the evidence that it used to be due to the different techniques in harvesting/farming etc. I did not have oysters at other places on the Cote D'Azur on that same week I ate at Café de Turin, but I doubt Roumegous oysters are that popular on most of the Cote D'Azur menus. I know very well the oysters of the Atlantic coast, and indeed they are among the best in France, but the Roumegous oysters I was having were by no means inferior to the finest of the Atlantic Coast of France. As for the mention to the milky fat shellfish, I do enjoy them as much as their contrary. I just love oysters, regardless of their texture,taste,etc. For me, fat milky oyster is no inferior, just different (a bit like the debate over lean meat Vs marbled meat).

Sep 06, 2014
MichelinStarDinners in France

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